Friday, July 31, 2009

Elegy Part 2: Misterioso (DC)
Detective Comics #855 When: September 2009 Why: Greg Rucka How: JH Williams III

The Story So Far...
Inspired by an encounter with the Batman, Kate Kane joins the Gotham City masked vigilante fraternity as Batwoman! Adventuring alongside her lover and ally, The Question, she becomes embroiled in a conspiracy involved Intergang and a mysterious text called the Book of Crime.

The Question soon uncovers a disturbing prophecy that declares the "twice named daughter of Kane" will suffer a brutal end. An end she only narrowly escaped, having to survive mortal wounds inflicted during a sacrificial ceremony under Intergang's leader, Bruno Mannheim. Recovered; Batwoman returns to Gotham's streets and rooftops to pursue the thirteen covens of the Religion of Crime. An act that brings her into conflict with the newest leader of the criminal zealots - Alice!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Batwoman 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Batwoman 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Batwoman 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Batwoman 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Batwoman 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Batwoman 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Batwoman 2 (Projectiles)

- At the tender age of twelve years old, Kate Kane was schooled in the harsh realities of combat when she, her mother, and twin sister were kidnapped by armed gunmen. Rescued by her military father, Kate was the only apparent survivor of the ordeal, her mother and sister executed.

Kate followed in her father's footsteps, entering the military academy where she excelled in physical and academic pursuits, until lifestyle choices saw her exit abruptly. Returning to her native Gotham City, she encountered the Batman when foiling her own street mugging. Inspired by the dynamic Dark Knight, she created her own modified persona of Batwoman, utilizing the aid and resources of her father in the pursuit of justice. She battles Intergang and the Religion of Crime, who regard her with zealous interest. She also dated and worked alongside Renee Montoya, The Question.

- Little is known of the true identity behind Alice, save that she is a leader of the Religion of Crime, and speaks only in quotations from the works of Lewis Carroll. Her name refers to Alice Pleasance Lidell of Adventures in Wonderland fame, but the esoteric criminal bares no apparent connection to her thematic predecessor in Gotham City, Jervis Tetch (aka; The Mad Hatter).

Serving the prophecy of the Crime Bible, Alice shows particular interest in the exploits of Batwoman. Before plummeting to her apparent death, the villainess uttered a quote suggesting she may in fact be Kate Kane's thought-dead twin sister, Beth.

Math: Batwoman Ranking: Draw (Not Ranked)

What Went Down...
Having hunted her way to the top of the Religion of Crime; Batwoman wastes no time firing a gas pellet at her primary target -- Alice! The compound does it's work, delaying the leader with choking tears, whilst disposable henchman charge head-long into a balletic martial arts assault of neck twisting and gauntlet slashing! The final blow is a stiff punch delivered to the gut of Alice herself.

The caped crusader bundles her newest nemesis under one arm, launching them both into the night air on the end of a powerful grappling line. Their travel brings them to a remote spire at the top of the Religion's church! There; the Batwoman intends to see to the interrogation of her mysterious foe. Alas, in order to do so, she must grant mercy from the effects of the gas which rendered Alice inert.

Alice hurls lines of Carroll, requesting a name, whilst Batwoman throws the villainess' leg-bound knife across the launch to a neutral corner.

The maniacal high mistress of crime proves undeterred by her predicament, staying a strategum of fictional misdirections and curio. Batwoman is not amused by her fancy.

The threat of violence raises the stakes as Batwoman dangles her prey from the jutting turret at the top of the medieval house. A strategy often employed by her predecessor, but rarely with a resulting glee from the threatened recipient. Indeed, Alice reaches smiling toward the oblivion below, forcing Batwoman to recant her threats, and jerk the villainess back toward stone safety.

"I think you might do something better with the time, than wasting it asking riddles that have no answers."

The umpteenth quote tips Batwoman off to the nature of her nemesis, but not to any hidden meanings behind her evasive words, save the obvious.
"How do you know I'm mad?" asks Alice, communicating perhaps more directly than could usually be surmised. The formal introduction is soon interrupted by the arrival of henchman, but a boot heel to a trapdoor has a way of dealing with those sorts. Leaving Batwoman to find new ways to gain the answers she seeks.

The merit of Batwoman's threats goes untested as Alice produces a razorblade from within her own mouth! Poison-tipped and clamped firmly between her teeth, it becomes the instrument of Alice's criminal salvation. A snape of her neck is all that's needed to slice through Batwoman's exposed cheek. The poison goes to work on her equilibrium quickly, leaving her ripe for a stiff boot from Alice.

The High Mistress retrieves her dagger with evil intent, but Batwoman still has the woozy presence of mind to evade her wild swing. Penchant for a landing is less impressive, seeing the poisoned heroine go to her hands and knees. The facade of her long haired wig is the difference between life and death, coming loose in Alice's murderous hands with the grace of a second chance. Batwoman wastes no time taking it, leaping from the turret despite her condition!

Batwoman makes her escape, gliding to the ground below on leather wings. It's a rough landing in the surrounding forest, but one that keeps her alive amidst swirling hallucunations of a traumatic childhood. A trauma that will threaten to play out again when her father recognises her predicament, rushes to her aid, and enters into a gunfight the Religion of Crime. Batwoman will take two shots to the back to rescue her father. She will be helpless to aid him, but other forces will have an interest in this war between good and evil...

The Hammer...
I had a tough time deciding whether or not the latter stages of this confrontation would constitute their own Quick Fix entry, or be included here. I think, as part of a continuous confrontation, they make a nice decider, earning Alice and the Religion of Crime a victory over Batwoman.

It isn't the most auspicious way for a hero to make their debut in the rankings drama of this here Comic Book Fight Club, but frankly, it's lucky we even got that far. I am completing this entry well into October of 2010, which probably tips you off to the state the site's been in for the past year. Suffice to say, the action has been thin and slow, culminating in a grinding hault with the last shipping list of June.

I'm far too stubborn to completely call it quits, but it seems apparent that the enthusiasm I expressed last December just won't be enough to carry the site to regular updates. I suppose now is as good a time as any to thank regular readers and supporters of the site, and assure you that the information it contains will remain live as long as Blogger permits.

Having an issue of the Rucka/Williams collaboration on Detective Comics at the top of my to-do stack was an interesting challenge. I think it's fair to say that it was never in danger of being your average DC comic book, but for me, I'm not sure that's the compliment it was for many other readers.

A frugal reader by necessity; I wasn't compelled to finish this first arc, let alone continue onward into the adjoining Batwoman story. I think it's fair to say that I don't yet have any affection for the character herself, who was overwhelmed by controversy after being announced through mainstream press as a gay heroine, only to tumble out of print shortly after [after the conclusion of 52]. Granted, marketting stunts aren't often the fault of the comics themselves, but it added to the uninspiring hot air that seems to surround this character and her exploits.

The concepts Batwoman tackled in her 52-debut, and beyond, are nice enough, and I think it's reasonably intelligent to try to establish the character with a mind for an independent niche, rather than reducing the concept to female Batman stories. That said, the literary aspirations of Elegy fell short for my tastes, a trait I tend to associate with Greg Rucka's philosophy and manner when approaching writing comics. As the issues unfolded, I found myself increasingly unconvinced by the depth behind the cover of each issue. The Carroll gimmick and it's relation to the story felt more like an unsuccessful attempt at a smoke screen -- a device not quite elaborate enough to make this feel like a developed story, different, or otherwise. It felt a little sophmoric, if I can be so bold. [Not that I'm about to rattle off as comprehensive a list of quotes as Rucka's Alice dialogue!]

I wouldn't be arrogant enough to suggest that it was any kind of confirmation of this assessment of the work, but it certainly came unsurprising that Batwoman would be shunted out of the flagship DC title, and Rucka would part ways with the writing staff. If nothing else, it was almost inconceivable that the company would invest longterm in a Detective Comics without a Batman, even if that fact came a bit more sudden than was expected. You might speculate that it was an abrupt decision to direct the Batwoman scripts toward Detective, with conspiratory clues suggesting it might not have always been devised that way.

It will be interesting to see how Batwoman's future unfolds.
We know, of course, that JH Williams will co-tackle the writing and art chores on an upcoming Batwoman series, which should be very interesting. There've also been those recent DCU appearances in both Grant Morrison's work on Batman & Robin -- which included a meddlesome reference to the Crime Bible that resulted in the brief death of Batwoman [during Blackest Knight] before her Lazarus Pit resurrection; and Justice League: Cry for Justice, which is probably a piece of the canon Batwoman die-hards would be happy to forget, along with many other DC fans...

As reluctant as I am to accept gender-swapped facsimilies, I think there's certainly merit to what was attempted with Batwoman. Whilst sensationalizing the fact did little to create an admirable precedent, we must accept that homosexual characters are as much an absent necessity of plausible fiction as any other grouping, and by putting that trait on such a (potentially) prominent brand, DC made a fair effort. I'd probably rather they administer these types of creations with a bit more accepting non-chalance, which is another criticism I might lay on [Greg] Rucka's shoulders, at least in terms of treatment in the characters' out-of-costume attitude, but it's shared blame.

Kate Kane in her civilian persona takes boystrous to utterly obnoxious levels, flaunting her sexuality in a manner that probably fairly approximates some archetypes, but with the baggage of this character's path to creation, feels more like ham-fisted liberal sentiment rammed through a shallow character. It's needy in it's methodology, shouting pro-gay sentiments like the book is looking for that approval. Which, granted, it certainly seemed to get from some readers.

I'd be remiss if I didn't, in closing, refer to another influence that has a role to play. Darwyn Cooke was recently grilled for expressing his opinion that there's little to be gained from forcing a new sexual orientation or gender on established heroes -- something I personally agree with. His perspective, even when clarified, isn't especially generous to those actively seeking a perceived equality, but is a strong starting point for the creative side of comics.

Killing off classics -- as was done with Vic Sage [The Question] -- in order to shift the role over to a stunt like Renee Montoya, is frought with danger. In these shared corporate universes, it would be nice if new creations could join their ranks, earning their way up. It doesn't share the wealth of the white washed classics, but then, there's a universal truth to the integrity of a consistent creation, especially in a serialized medium. I should note, I'm perhaps paraphrasing Mr. Cooke's words, to add my own take. If you're interested, you should certainly seek out his thoughts, rather than take my word for it.

In closing; this was probably one of the better issues of the Batwoman/Detective experiment, at least in my opinion. Fisticuffs doesn't always make for a better comic book, but in this case, it added some honesty to pages that I feel were unnecessarily elongated. JH Williams has given the character a very distinct and exciting visual take, which might be refined even better with a different script. I look forward to seeing where the character goes with new creators, and hope I will have the opportunity to share that transition with you in future updates. Cheers!

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 4

Batwoman: Elegy is available in a single collected volume.
By using Amazon purchase links provided, you help give back to the site. The Infinite Wars Amazon Shop contains collected editions of most issues reviewed in the five years of Infinite Wars spotlight reviews. You can find more info on all of those in the Secret Archives. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You can probably find complete shipping list updates on most major comics sites. Consider this an opportunity to either do all your info-shopping in the one place, or get a speculative perspective on what might be worth checking out. These are untested reads. Secret Wars on Infinite Earths can offer no guarantee or endorsement of quality. These are simply titles that may be of potential interest. Some items may ship late.

The Infinite Wars now has a gift shop!
Now you'll find Amazon purchase links to hardcovers, trade paperbacks, and other collections, not only on regular entries -- but also new releases at the bottom of the Shipping List, and now a whole catalogue of potential purchases via the Infinite Wars: Amazonian Gift Shop. [Men are also welcome!] By shopping with Amazon via our purchase links, you not only find yourself a great deal, but also sponsor future entries on the Infinite Wars.

Advertise here! Contact for more!

The Independents...

MAY090060 CITIZEN REX #1 (OF 6) $3.50
APR090349 KABOOM TP $14.99
MAY090356 SPAWN #194 $2.95

The Corporates...
MAY090134 DETECTIVE COMICS #855 $3.99
MAY090140 SUPERMAN #690 $2.99
MAY090480 THUNDERBOLTS #134 DKR $2.99
MAY090249 UNKNOWN SOLDIER #10 (MR) $2.99
MAY090125 WEDNESDAY COMICS #4 (OF 12) $3.99
MAY090174 WONDER WOMAN #34 $2.99

The Spotlight...
Y'know, the old issue of price is a dark cloud over comics right now, and it's definitely an issue for Tales of the Corps. If you're the type of reader curious enough to buy the Secret Files, you'll probably be happy enough to drop the big bucks for short stories that elaborate on peripheral character's history. As a $2.99 book, this would be much easier to recommend. Complete at the third issue, you could very easily track the content to decide whether your want to isolate the tale from Mongul II's childhood, learn more about what enraged a Red Lantern, or grab this particular issue for it's venture into Kilowog's training as a Green Lantern. It's a great pick-up, but really targetted at those interested in backstory and character, rather than anything Blackest Night. A more accurate title might've been, War of Light: Tales from the Corps, but that's marketting for you. Tut, tut.

- MAY090516 MARVEL ZOMBIES 4 #4 (OF 4) $3.99
The first Marvel Zombies, spun out of Mark Millar's UFF arc, felt like an overdue realisation of a very basic high-concept. It quickly showed very little depth as Robert Kirkman essentially played out the same joke issue after issue with boffins from Marvel's marketting department leering over him. Fred Van Lente has completely changed my perception about the Zombies brand, however, infusing it with a zest for the Marvel Universe and it's sometimes forgotten characters. Unfortunately, the cheap spin-offs will continue with Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth, but even fathering that particular abomination, Marvel Zombies 4 has very likely been the best outing since the first! Cliffhangers are in abundance as we reach the final issue -- Kale possessed by Dormammu, The Hood without his powers, the Werewolf infected, the zombie plague airborne, Man-Thing dead!

- MAY090450 NEW AVENGERS #55 DKR $3.99
Last issue Dormammu abandoned The Hood, leaving him powerless and brutally injured. Stuart Immonen takes over art chores for the follow-up as Parker Robbins' hold over the crooks of the Marvel Universe as "Kingpin of Super-Villains" begins to dissolve. The Wrecking Crew are at the centre of the mix, but are the villains going to go the usual route of falling apart before victory, or have they been galvanized by their union? As much as Dark Reign has forced it's way into the line of Marvel comics, it feels like New Avengers has finally been liberated of the burden of crossover events, finally living up to it's Marvel superhero team potential (some fifty issues in!). Should be $2.99, but justifiable.


Know Your Trade...
APR090349 KABOOM TP $14.99

Monday, July 27, 2009

Last Legs (Marvel)
Amazing Spider-man #600 When: September 2009 Why: Dan Slott How: John Romita Jr

The Story So Far...
As one of the longest standing villains in Spider-man's list of lethal foes; Doctor Octopus has been a man fighting well above his weight for a long time. With his only noteable superpower being a harness of four tentacles under his mental control, spiralling battles with the likes of Captain America, Daredevil, Hulk, and rival villains in the super-powered criminal fraternity, have taken their toll on his far too human body.

Compounded by the absorbed radiation that first fused the trademark tentacle harness to his body and mind, Dr. Otto Octavius's physical condition has become irreversably degenerative as a result of the many punishments his body has been forced to endure during his life of crime. Conventional medicine rates his future unlikely to exceed a modest eighteen months, inspiring in the Doctor renewed urgency to right the wrongs of his past in a final gesture of scientific brilliance.

With a network of cybernetics, slave drones, and vast upgrades to his tentacle harness technology sustaining his decrepit form -- Doctor Octopus has become more machine than man, able to reach out into the world through it's many dependencies on technology in everyday life. Projecting a digital version of his former self, he promises New York City the utopia of an infrastructure entirely governed by his unparalleled brilliance. Alas; throughout the city, his underlying resentment for former flame May Parker's pending wedding, and Spider-man's lingering presence, result in his subconscious lashing out through the city. Doc Ock's octo-bots kidnapped the groom to be, J. Jonah Jameson, as well as the budding young women investigating his disappearance, cop Carlie Cooper and Front Line investigative journalist, Norah Winters.

With the Secret Avengers protecting people on the streets, and the Human Torch tagging along to lend support; Spidey leaps into battle against his arch-nemesis once more, unaware of the strange new Doc Ock that waits him. A cyber-organic nightmare whose autonomous "octo-bots" have taken three of Peter Parker's closet friends hostage -- and will stop at nothing to destroy Spider-man!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Spider-man 5 (Superhuman)
Intelligence: Dr. Octopus 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Spider-man 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting: Spider-man 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Spider-man 2 (Projectiles)

- A bite from a radioactive spider should have killed high school nerd, Peter Parker, but would instead irradiate his blood, granting him the extraordinary powers of an arachnid! After turning his unique abilities to a life of profit and celebrity, Peter was inspired to use his gifts for good when his decision to selfishly allow a burglar to escape him led to the murder of his adoptive parent and uncle, Ben Parker. Ben's sage-like mantra, "with great power comes great responsibility", becomes the inspiration for the hero of the everyman - the Amazing Spider-man!

Over the years, Spidey's exploits have earned him a multitude of powerful enemies. Among his most lethal foes are: Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Vulture, Chameleon, Kingpin, Jackal, Kraven the Hunter, Venom, Carnage, Sandman, Rhino, Lizard, Electro, and many more. Fortunately for Spidey, he finds himself in good stead with as many heroes as he does villains, eventuating in official membership with Captain America's Avengers, later known as the Secret Avengers.

Spider-man possesses the proportional strength, speed, and agility of a spider. Adding to his arsenal is a precognitive spider-sense that warns him of pending danger. Self-made mechanical webshooters round out Spidey's abilities, allowing him to ensnare opponents in a variety of modes; travel through the city by web-line; and form basic constructs based on the available quantities of his own formula of web-fluid.

- The product of a childhood of schoolyard taunting and abuse from his father, Otto Octavius was inspired at his mother's behest to sharpen a brilliant mind as his ultimate weapon against a harsh world. Expert in the fields of nuclear physics, technical engineering, and atomic science; Octavius served as a university lecturer, whilst being best noted for his invention of a mechanical harness that allowed for the safe handling of radiocative elements in his scientific experiments.

Octavius would forever be changed when a lab accident fused the four-armed harness to his body, pushing his brilliant mind to the breaking point, and into a life of crime. As Dr. Octopus, he unwittingly becomes the arch-nemesis of one of his students, Peter Parker, who is better known to the world as the spectacular Spider-man. The bitter feud eventuating between the two funded much of "Doc Ock"'s early attacks against New York City, eventually leading to his official entry into the world of organized crime in Manhattan's underworld. While a telepathic link developed between he and his four metallic tentacles grants him the power necessary to tackle super-powered foes -- thanks to their adamantium make-up and various upgrades -- it is arguably his brilliant mind that remains his greatest power, however twisted and immoral it might have become.

Math: Spider-man Ranking: Spider-man (#2)

What Went Down...
Having had the destructive potential of an entire city to contend with, it's with help from the Human Torch and Reed Richards' technology that Spider-man takes the fight to the man responsible -- Doctor Octopus! Their feud seems set to come full circle as a phone trace on Spidey's kidnapped friends leads him to the place where it all began, the secret base where Doc Ock first met him!

Following the signal, the two heroes are surprised by an attack from the very hostages they'd hoped to rescue! Tied-up and ensnared within duplicates of Doc Ock's harness -- J. Jonah Jameson Sr, Carlie Cooper, and Norah Winters become weapons almost as deadly as the Doctor himself! Fortunately, the duo make light work of the "octo-suits" when, after a few evasive manouevers and impromptu weldings, Spider-man discovers their easily destroyed power source on the back!

Incapacitated, the trio are rescued and released, surrendered to the safety of the Human Torch while Spider-man travels ahead toward a confrontation with his old nemesis -- over confident in the thought that he is an unimpressive "tubby guy in glasses with four metal pipe-cleaners." An insult that inspires the Doctor in his newly empowered resistance to the wisecracking wallcrawler!

Thus, when Spidey sneaks up on the Doctor in the monitoring room of his lair, the silhouette Spider-man leaps at is not an all-too easily subdued Doctor Octopus, but rather a cunning decoy comprised of hundreds of the Doc's tiny octo-bots!

The gambit leaves Spidey wide-open to a sneak attack of the Doc's prescription!
Metallic tentacles smash and toss, rendering the danger-warning tingle of spidey-sense moot, Spidey's body limp and vulnerable to the four-pronged grappling of Doc Ock's deadly tentacles. With an arm clamping Spider-man's throat, wrists, and ankles, the hero notes the numerical imbalance of the good Doctor's new look. It is invitation for clarification from the reborn Dr. Octopus -- a declaration that reaffirms the importance of his mind and it's power over his form and the form of the entire city.

Doc Ock tosses Spidey into the surrounding machinery, only to have the techno-debris hurled back at him with the confronting fact of his "city of the future" and the destructive influence his electronic subconsciousness has had. It is a truth the frail villain is not ready to hear -- provoking the continuation of the physical confrontation!

The proportionate strength, speed and agility of a spider comes into play as Spidey evades Doc Ock's strikes and crawls through the HQ infrastructure, forcing Dr. Octopus to apply his eight super-strong arms to protecting him from the implosive destruction of his hideout! The act buys Spidey time to access Doc Ock's neuro-interface, allowing him to apply the power of his brain to the battle.

Jakked in via the direct interface helmet, Spidey challenges the influence of Doc Ock's will, interrupting even the villain's control over his own tentacle arms. He desperately clings to focus, fighting to save his twisted vision of a perfect world and a legacy that will see him remembered as something more than the crippled punching bag for greater men than he. As it had been in his life as a crook, his will proves too weak to beat his nemesis.

Defeated, Doctor Octopus crumples like a dying spider, his metallic arms frozen in a twisted shamble. His useless body slumps as his mind reveals a similar frailty, his dreams shattered like the bones in his body. It is in contrast to the message broadcast through the infinite web by a triumphant Spider-man.

In his moment, Spider-man is steadfast in his dedication to justice, bordering on callousness. He brushes off the Doctor's feeble mutterings about his impending mortality, promising a twilight in imprisonment. It is a fate unacceptable to Doc Ock and his remotely controlled octo-bots. The tiny machines flood into the partially collapsed hideout, engulfing Spider-man in black, whilst stealing their defeated inventor away into a trapdoor escape hatch in the floor.

With Spidey engulfed in techno turmoil, the Human Torch returns to make an amazing eleventh hour save! His flames burn away the torrent of tiny hi-tech terrors in the nick of time. The city and Spidey are saved.

The Hammer...
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to give you the exciting victory by Spider-man over Dr. Octopus in this titanic anniversary issue struggle between! There are many reasons to feel joyous about this declaration, not the least of which is the overdue personalized introduction of Doc Ock into the Infinite Wars rankings!

Enthusiastic readers will know Doc Ock currently holds ranking on the site via twin appearances in the Marvel Zombies series, but this is the first true blue appearance of the villain -- one of Spidey's most significant arch-nemesis.
It's a moment of dual significance, given that this was also the big return of the villain to the pages of Amazing after an extended absence. It's the first of what promises to be many classic returns, which as we've seen, might not necessarily be as simple as bringing back an old favourite.

When absorbing this seemingly radical recreation of a classic foe, it's difficult to ignore the recent memory of his apparent death. Doc Ock was a casualty of the infamous mid-nineties Clone Saga, claimed by the violent imperfect Peter Parker clone known as Kaine, only to be resurrected by The Hand in a later, unrelated story. The death, interestingly enough, gave us a female version of the villain, whose plotlines became wrapped up entirely in the prospects of a digital virtual reality, which is an end this new Octopus reinvention might very well lead to.

That possible future weighs heavily on this issue, juxtaposing the fact that the character is given a death sentence as motivation for his rebirth. The ending points in no uncertain terms to another terrible return for the character, who, admittedly, is only dying under the terms of a vague explanation, as opposed to the hard-and-fast death he suffered in the nineties.

This question of causality obviously goes far and beyond one simple character, the predicament of corporate franchise characters in general. If this were to be a lasting change for Doc Ock, one that leads to his eventual permanent death, it would be all the more exciting, I think. In some ways, it would set things right, depending on your view on death in superhero comics. Personally, I think custodians over these characters should be aware of their predicament, and make their decisions with the according understanding. Death should not be taken lightly, and despite the inevitability of the prolonged existence of most characters, I am always disappointed by the decision to kill them off without due consideration.

As mentioned, however, the death sentence of Doc Ock's physical deterioration is really only a malleable motivation -- an extention of the clever and unused fact of physical injury. In a strange way, respect for the causality of longterm injuries has been better managed by comics writers, than death, where frivilously undoing crippling injuries might be even more damaging to the credibility of the material. Afterall, at least undoing death is a completely fantastic fact, which would have a limited meaningful impact to humanity in general, neatly contained by the mythic quality of the typcial resurrection. Medical marvels, on the other hand, would not benefit from any understanding if a hero were to remain actively committed to the betterment of humanity. But I digress...

What I really like about this new Doc Ock is that it doesn't change anything at the core of the character. To a similar extent as fictional death, we can be seen to be jaded by the frivilous claims of adaptations, particularly in film, that an interpretation remains "true" to "the spirit" of the character -- which usually preceeds certain disappointment. This reinvention of Dr. Octopus gives the vernacular meaning, truly representing a faithful adaptation of a character that unashamedly commits to the refreshment of deviation and evolution.

The idea of rendering Doc Ock's body completely irrelevant plays on ideas that were well explored by artists like Erik Larsen, whom I remember in particular describing the use of mundane acts, such as pouring coffee, as a graphic beat to juxtapose Otto Octavius' physical ability, with the power of his mind his vital invention -- the tentacles! This emphasis on the power of the tentacles is also adequately embellished by the introduction of an extra four mechanical tentacles -- something that breaks the cartoon convention of brand management, and gives us a Dr. Octopus who is more interested in being deadly, than the idea of living up to a numerical expectation of his limbs, real and invented.

I also really like the science of the octobots, which have a sense of independent character and seem scientifically reminiscent of the kinds of bug-like AI tech drones that litter robotics offices around the globe. The kinds of little chipped sprites that bounce around on tiny tin legs and communicate with the world through sensors and rudimentary self-teaching programming. I like those types of techno-touchstones in pop comics.

If I had a criticism of this giant-sized issue, it's the value of the Doc Ock rebirth to the overall story. I wouldn't like to wade back into the Brand New Day debate, but the lazy presumption that history could be rewritten was done upon the premise of reinvigorating Spider-man and his supporting cast. That supporting cast, namely the resurrected Aunt May and her husband-to-be, are on show here with a fun recounting of classic Spidey stories [ie; Doc Ock's almost marrying Aunt May way back], but fail to live up to the editorial pressure put upon them, or my interests in general. There's definitely a bit of the anniversary issue blues about Amazing Spider-man #600, complete with gratuitous guest appearances by longtime Spidey allies; Daredevil, Johnny Storm (and the Fantastic Four), and the New Avengers. It's inorganic filler, but utterly forgiveable. I particularly enjoyed the classically tinged DD team-up, which lacks the baggage of the Matt Murdocks solo adventures, content to indulge in B-list villain bashing. That fight was the originally intended subject of this entry, but replaced due to the more important Doc Ock spotlight. DD's appearance might return at a later date.

Scattershot back-up material don't do the issue a whole lot, but that's par for the course, too. It doesn't make it right, but at least it doesn't completely abandon justification for the hefty $4.99 pricetag. I dread the thought that the price might eventually come with out supplemental justification. I'm reluctant enough as it is to support these kinds of prices, but I shant let my thrift engulf this late update.

As a warning shot that forecasts a wave of returns in Amazing Spider-man, I can't help but walk away from this issue enthused. In it's own right, it isn't a defining moment in comics, but it will inevitably be the spiritual predecessor to what is fast becoming one of my most anticipated storylines of 2009 -- The Gauntlet!

Max Fiumara provides amazing artwork somewhere in the league of Paul Pope by way of David Lafuente in a Gauntlet teaser that has me absolutely salivating! It features Madame Web visions of Spider-Woman, AraƱa, Lizard, Rhino, and Kraven the Hunter! It's bound to be a wild ride!

EDIT [July 24, 2010]: Finishing this entry a year late, I'm appreciative of how many significant moments this preview featured. The only noteable disappointment is that it featured the wrong Spider-Woman. Those who've read the recently concluded Grim Hunt know that it was the Julia Carpenter version of the character, better known recently as Arachne. You'll also understand the significance of surprisingly vivid scenes -- such as the handprint scar on Sasha Kravinoff's face, the knife plunged into Spidey's chest, and the apparent return of Kraven the Hunter. Earlier in the year I wrote an unpublished review of an issue of Kraven's Last Hunt, which this story riffs on. The Gauntlet and Grim Hunt issues are also already stacked for feature should the Infinite Wars backlog continue to unfold into 2010.

The Fight: 5 The Story: 4

Those seeking a first-hand look at this turning point in the saga of the Amazing Spider-man should take advantage of the Amazon purchase link provided. By using links, you help sponsor future materials that may feature on the Infinite Wars. You can also find other collected volumes for sale in the Gift Shoppe, which includes editions containing most issues found in the Secret Archive.

Hero of the Week #9: Iron Man

IRON MAN (Marvel)
Real Name: Tony Stark
First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #39 (March, 1963)
Group Affiliation: Avengers (Former)
Gaming Credentials: Captain America & The Avengers (1991); Marvel Super Heroes (1995); Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems (1996); Iron Man & X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal (1996)Marvel vs Capcom 2 (2000); Invincible Iron Man (2002); Tony Hawk's Underground (2003); X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (2005); Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (2005); Marvel Ultimate Alliance (2006); Iron Man (2008); Incredible Hulk (2008); Iron Man: Aerial Assault (2009); Iron Man 2 (TBA); Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (TBA); Marvel Super Hero Squad (TBA)
Infinite Wars Cumulative Ranking: #3

When it comes down to it, Sega's announcements for Iron Man 2 at San Diego Comic-Con were less than impressive. After a mediocre outing with their first game based on the comics/movie license, they definitely needed something to endear themselves to an audience critically scrutinizing any sequel.

Recruiting rising comics talent Matt Fraction into the team is a pretty good way to instantly grab the attentions of comics readers and "graphic novel" poseurs, but when his role is minimized to writing dialogue, you really have to wonder if they aren't setting themselves up for another chrome-lined work in the vein of Piero Manzoni. Granted, this piece of shit will let you grapple with machines and menaces, fly around, and shoot stuff, but like last time, it's shaping up to be an ironically hollow experience.

Sega's first outing with Iron Man was more Michael Bay than Jon Favreau

As discussed in the article partly inspired by the announcement; one of the glaring chinks in the armor of these types of games is the omission of valuable extentions of the license.
Granted, due to the game's ties to the film franchise, there might be a bit of a gag on exactly what they're allowed to strive for, but it's impossible not to think of a game like Marvel Ultimate Alliance which overcame similar failings of plot with sheer volume of reference to the icons of the Marvel Universe. One need only look over the past year of Iron Man comic stories (such as Fraction's, World's Most Wanted) to find more than enough material for multiple games, rather than the thinly woven storyline derived from a single summer film and a couple of Sega developers.

Despite this rather uninspiring announcement, you can't fault the strength of the Iron Man stock.
Marvel's golden avenger returns in the upcoming digital release of arcade beat 'em up classic, Marvel vs Capcom 2. The character will also be front-and-centre with the rest of Marvel's major icons in games making good use of the "universe" of properties, Ultimate Alliance 2 and Super Hero Squad. All this -- plus a massively anticipated feature film sequel, following on from the unexpected success of the 2008 hit, in theatres next May!

Over in the comics, the character's been scraping himself off the boot of the man who ousted him as Director of SHIELD and effective lord and master of the Marvel Universe, Norman Osborn. You and I, of course, know Osborn as the dastardly Green Goblin, but to the rest of the world he's Iron Patriot -- a once smeared industrialist who saved the world from Tony Stark's sloppy management and cowardly treason and became the leader of the Avengers and HAMMER (a replacement intelligence agency that actually is fundamentally corrupt)!
This Dark Reign has forced Iron Man to go on the run, fleeing Osborn's powerful allies whilst visiting various stations across the globe to recruit what tools he can, and delete sensitive materials Osborn hopes to use for his own evil ends. This has even meant deleting portions of Stark's own memory which was partially digitized when he underwent the "Extremis" treatment, which rewrote sections of his DNA to allow him to Matrix-up and communicate remotely with his armor and various electronic systems. Techno-telepathy, you might call it.

As overwhelming as those paragraphs of information might sound, they themselves contain the blueprint for a fantastic Iron Man game! Ranging from unique gameplay options, and the classic format of a gauntlet of opponents to storm through, the latest comics have everything you need for a satisfying dose of Iron in your gaming diet.

Secret Wars on Infinite Earths: The Comic Book Fight Club is updated with varying consistency, promising a feature fight for every Friday on the calendar (even if sometimes they're late). The site acts as an information resource, discussion site, review blog, and a Hulkbusting good time. 

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Originally posted:

Friday, July 24, 2009


Only the Good Die Young (DC)
Green Lantern #44 When: Late September 2009 Why: Geoff Johns How: Doug Mahnke

The Story So Far...
The birth of a yellow Corps of fear-wielding ring barers was the first step toward a prophecized war of light that would usher in the Blackest Night. This Sinestro Corps waged war on the Green Lanterns above the skies of Earth, but when their strongest ally, Anti-Monitor, was destroyed by Superboy-Prime, his powerful yet broken form was sent hurtling through space, toward Sector 666 and the fulfillment of the Blackest Night prophecy.

From the corpse of the Anti-Monitor arose an immense Black Lantern, feulled by the power of death. There it lay in silent wait, while across the galaxy, the spectrum of emotional powers was awoken in force, creating rings of Red, Blue, Orange, Violet, and Indigo, before finally William Hand sacrificed his own life in the pursuit of death, and was reborn as the first of a Corps of Black Lanterns.

Now the dead across the universe will rise as fallen Guardian of the Galaxy, Scar, and Black Hand, march a black plague of death and destruction to every corner of existence. Former allies will rise to strike out at their friends, devoid of emotion and intent only on recruiting them to their order of the dead. This is the fate of the noble Martian, J'onn J'onnz, who was laid to rest on his home world by friends shortly after his brutal murder at the hands of the Society of Super Villains.

The Martian Manhunter's grave is not the first to be disturbed, leading Flash and Green Lantern to investigate the descrated grave of a believed-dead Batman. Little do they know that the missing skull is now a symbol of death for Black Hand, and wielding a black energy ring, J'onn J'onnz is returning to Earth, ready to strike at his old friends! The Blackest Night begins...

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: M. Manhunter 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Flash 5 (Professor)
Speed: Flash 7 (Lightspeed)
Stamina: Green Lantern 6 (Generator)
Agility: M. Manhunter 6 (Rubber)
Fighting: Green Lantern 4 (Trained)
Energy: Green Lantern 7 (Cosmic)

- Experiments with teleportation technology developed by one Dr. Erdel were, by accident, responsible for plucking J'onn J'onnz from his home on Mars. Traversing the gulf of space by unknown means, the unannounced arrival of a lurching Martian figure was enough to startle the aging scientist to his death. Alone in a strange world, the accident forced the Martian to at first adopt the scientist's identity by means of shapeshifting, before he absorbed enough understanding through the observation of television programming to assume his own identity.

Finding aspirational figures in the gumshoe detectives popular on television, the Martian adopts the fictitious identity of Detective John Jones. For a time he was to do as he had on Mars, delivering justice with unwavering moral and character, but eventually circumstances would force a reveal upon the Martian Manhunter.

Though resistant at first to expose himself to humanity's judgment, his unique Martian abilities quickly earned him status with the Justice League of America.
Along with the ability to transform his appearance and form, J'onn J'onnz also possesses fantastic super-human strength, speed, durability, energy vision, vast telepathic skill, and the ability to become invisible and intangible. While these many abilities quickly rank him among the most powerful figures in the DCU, the sole survivor of catastrophe on Mars has a single mundane weakness -- fire!

- Once little more than a carefree daredevil test-pilot; Hal Jordan was given a crash course in law and order when an alien from distant space, Abin Sur, landed in the desert during a test flight. Injured and dying, the alien's powerring found in Jordan the ability to possess great will and overcome great fear. Thus, he was unofficially inducted into a Corps of universe-spanning lawkeepers, replacing the deceased as the Green Lantern of Sector 2814!

As a police forensic scientist, Barry Allen's job required him to be methodical and deliberate, but even within the police force his reputation for being notoriously slow was the only extraordinary thing about him. That is, until once fateful night when he was struck by lightning and thrown into a shelf of chemicals! Granted the ability to move at superhuman speeds by the accident, he learns to innately tap into the pseudo-scientific phenomenon of the Speed Force, transforming him into a hero inspired by his boyhood idol, Jay Garrick -- The Flash!

Green Lantern and Flash are founding members of the Justice League of America and have worked extensively as friends and allies, two brave and bold heroes whose legendary status within the superhero community was only solidified by their legendary sacrifice which led to death. For Flash, the multi-dimensional threat of the Anti-Monitor led him to make the ultimate sacrifice, while Green Lantern, still under the influence of the fear-demon Parallax, sacrificed himself in a moment of retribution to reignite the Earth's sun. Each gained a second chance at life; Hal Jordan restored in-part by his connection to The Spectre, while Barry Allen's return remains more mysterious, coming during the defeat of Darkseid.

Math: Green Lantern/Flash (Ttl) M. Manhunter (Avg) Ranking: Flash (#15)

What Went Down...
The forensic scientiest and the space cop -- Flash and Green Lantern were natural choices to investigate what seemed to be the desecration of an unmarked grave belonging to believed-dead Bruce Wayne (aka; Batman). The duo are also natural choices for a Black Lantern Martian Manhunter to descend upon, seeking to return them to the grave they each escaped! "You should both be dead."

The Black Lantern sees each man bathed in the light of the energy he emits -- Green Lantern naturally exudes will, while the Flash glows blue in the eyes of Martian Manhunter, emitting hope. It is these emotions he hopes to corrupt, but while the Martian's shape-shifting abilities allow him to appear human, a similar scan by the Green Lantern's ring reveals his status as a lifeless shell.

The ruse of his reappearance undone, the Black Lantern is forced to engage!
A giant green energy-fist glides through the Black Lantern's body as it recalls the powers of intangibility used by Martian Manhunter. Intangibility equals invisibility and the BL Manhunter is able to swat both living heroes down, no doubt utilizing the powers of speed and strength the Martian Manhunter also used in his time as a living, breathing member of the Justice League of America.

Psychological warfare is as apparent as the physical manhandling the reanimated Martian intends to unleash upon his friends, declaring his intentions to "help" his former friends, whilst gripping the throat of the Green Lantern!

"Martian vision" gives Flash something to run from while the Manhunter analyzes the past of each once-dead hero. Yellow fear rips through Barry Allen as his mind is telepathically flooded with images of passing into the Speed Force, while the Green Lantern glows with green will, resisting flashbacks to his time as Parallax.

The flood of willpower into Hal Jordan's body appears to play into the Black Lantern's goals, but before he can make good on his threat to reach into his former ally's chest, the Flash goes airborne, vaulting off a makeshift ramp made from a fallen tombstone! The crackling speedster has little influence over he and his fellow's descent, however, forcing him to compell his friend back from the visions projected into his head!

A surrounding green light gives the pair a rough but safe landing into one of the buildings below, but it's not long before the building itself begins to quake with the Black Lantern Martian Manhunter's power. He brings the entire structure down with strength comparable to Superman -- a power he notes is all too often forgotten.

Fortunately, Green Lantern is again able to protect the innocent, housing himself, Flash, and the building's occupants in an impenetrable bubble of his ring's energy. It gives the heroes a chance to regroup and strategize.

Flash encounters an unseen Martian Manhunter first, unleashing a barrage of super-fast strikes whilst appealing to better days when the two discussed their lives as agents of law enforcement. With a super-fast twist of his limbs he blows a chemical tanker into his former ally, rocketting into a devestating follow-up left hook that provokes a whimpered appeal from his opponent, "B-Barry."

Unbeknownst to him, the Flash was the victim of Martian Manhunter's telepathic attack once more, actually unleashing his beating on Green Lantern! The Lantern uses his ring to try to lift the fog and free himself, only to be entangled in the metamorphic limbs of the decayed Martian Manhunter!

The Black Lantern chokes Green Lantern out and tosses him into the night sky, returning his focuses earthbound with a slingshot of his extented limb in the direction of the Flash! It is the final blow in this opening chapter of the battle, leaving Flash sinking in the Gotham waters, while GL floats aimlessly.

The Hammer...
We got the first inclination that this fight would occur in Blackest Night #1 and it's conclusion would have to wait until the second issue of the afforementioned series. However, as an autonomous depiction of the fight, I'm going to declare Martian Manhunter the victor under the logic of rounds. A long way of saying -- welcome back to The Comic Book Fight Club!

Our traditional examinations of superhero smackdown and comic book review has all but screeched to a hault since the slowdown of early 2009. A conspiracy of events has contributed to the necessity of this retroactive backlogging, one of the most significant being the somewhat appropriate struggles of experiencing the closest personal death of my short lifespan. In that respect, I suppose I can relate to the idea of these Blackest Night comics, even if I'm not inclined to read or discuss them with that perspective.

It bares repeating -- this is officially a backlog entry, written in 2010.
You future retronauts might like to know that, as I'm writing this portion of the review during a time when Blackest Night has finally finished, working around only notes from the time when this issue was actually written (and added to the Infinite Wars to-do pile).

It was tough not to be excited about this issue the minute the cover was leaked. It was a great way to immediately engage the longterm readers who, if you were anything like me, were probably anticipating Martian Manhunter's return during his death in Final Crisis [via the Requiem one-shot]. Such was the anticipation built by the Blackest Night teaser housed in the epilogue of Sinestro Corps War!

It was a wonderfully personalized way to get the message of the event across straight away, moreso than perhaps the deaths of Hawkman and Hawkgirl in Blackest Night #1. Martian Manhunter has long been the sentimental favourite of the JLA, engendering a fond following all the way to the naked uninformed of the cartoon audience. Besides, take a look at that cover! Amidst the speculation of who would be among the Black Lantern Corps' number, the image of MM with Flash on his back and GL pounded into the ground is a pretty big statement in the most primal terms! Exciting!

History will show that Black Hand was the first official Black Lantern to enter the fray after killing himself in the previous issue of Green Lantern -- the culmination of plot points explored throughout Geoff Johns' tenure on the title. It was in solicitations for action figures, however, that we first gleaned confirmation of a Black Lantern Martian Manhunter and Earth-2 Superman, which did little to reaffirm the scale of what was to unfold over the course of 2009. The speculation game was a small part of the Infinite Wars, but was quickly rendered moot by this gradual realization that the Black Lanterns would go far beyond the structure of the Yellow Lanterns that were the first of their kind introduced by Johns.

Those are the facts as they were.
Little did I know at the time that Green Lantern #44 would be the very narrow foundation upon which a goliath event would be erected. By the time big bad Nekron showed up, much of the excitement had begun to peter out. It was the sense of mystery in the early goings that really propelled Blackest Night as not only a story, but a monthly phenomenon that pushed DC to a controlling position of the top ten monthly sales chart. GL #44 played to that beautifully, adding a second glimpse at the emotion-vision colour treatment that became a trademark of the Black Lanterns throughout the many disconnected mini-series and one-shots.

This issue was also the first indication that this was very much a story with the newly returned Barry Allen Flash and Hal Jordan Green Lantern at the centre of it. This was something I certainly had not anticipated to such a total degree, but come 2010 have embraced to it's fullest. I had extreme reservations about the notion of permanently resurrecting a character [in Flash] that had contributed such an important legacy with his fictional death back in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Between the efforts of Final Crisis, Flash: Rebirth, Blackest Night, Blackest Night: Flash, and the odd blip elsewhere, it's become very easy to take the Flash of my youth for granted once more -- something I never expected. It's a credit to the nurturing of Geoff Johns, whose greatest triumph is almost always the respect he shows for concepts and characters created decades before his birth.

It's difficult to look back on this issue with the perspective of a typical review.
When the dust has well and truly settled, it'll be interesting to go back and try to reabsorb Blackest Night in a single download. I wonder if an issue like GL #44 will remain lost in the complexity and vastness of the story's eventual design, or if the personal undertones will take on a stronger meaning. To that end, I wonder where this issue will fall in the complicated shuffling of DC's Blackest Night trade paperback program. Both this and the previous issue have a curious disconnection about them, feeling like one-shot curio rather than part of the more elaborative storyline dotpoints that populated Green Lantern later in the event.

What remains true regardless of time is the success of Doug Mahnke's draft to the A-list. His pencils were a pleasure to behold come the conclusion of Final Crisis and I was very pleased to be reading a Green Lantern with his approach. There's a confidence in his line work that isn't always easy to describe. Clean lines and solid inks provided, in this issue, by the team of Christian Alamy, Tom Guyen, Rooney Ramos, and Mahnke himself, are always a feature of Mahnke's artwork, but there's a lot more to enjoy about his compositions and treatment of the superhero/human structure. He is a worthy successor to the hyper-realists that came before him. I'm not apt enough to really give him due credit.

Which probably makes this as good a time as any to cut the review.

I have a big stack of comics to my right that have accumulated each week throughout 2009 and 2010. They are the backlog I fully intend to contribute to the site as I find the time and energy. I've given consideration to other ways to keep the site bouyant with activity, but it's my feeling that this format of fight features and reviews is just too fundamental to the blog to supplement.

In that stack of backlog issues is plenty more Blackest Night, which I hope we can mine for some interesting retrospectives and statistics for this big game we call Secret Wars on Infinite Earths!

The Issue: 5.5 The Fight: 6
Winner: (Black Lantern) Martian Manhunter

Hardcover editions of the Blackest Night event spectacular are currently available from By using purchase links on the site, you help sponsor future entries, with more recommendations available in the Online Store and featured in most posts found in the Secret Archives. For more information about the format of Blackest Night trades, visit

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You can probably find complete shipping list updates on most major comics sites. Consider this an opportunity to either do all your info-shopping in the one place, or get a speculative perspective on what might be worth checking out. These are untested reads. Secret Wars on Infinite Earths can offer no guarantee or endorsement of quality. These are simply titles that may be of potential interest. Some items may ship late.

The Infinite Wars now has a gift shop!
Now you'll find Amazon purchase links to hardcovers, trade paperbacks, and other collections, not only on regular entries -- but also new releases at the bottom of the Shipping List, and now a whole catalogue of potential purchases via the Infinite Wars: Amazonian Gift Shop. [Men also welcome!] By shopping with Amazon via our purchase links, you not only find yourself a great deal, but also sponsor future entries on the Infinite Wars.

Advertise here! Contact for more!

The Independents...

APR090976 2000 AD PACK JUNE 2009 $18.00
MAY090653 ARCHIE #599 $2.50
MAY090659 BETTY & VERONICA DIGEST #196 $2.69
MAY090787 BOYS HEROGASM #3 (OF 6) (MR) $2.99
MAY090877 FAHRENHEIT 451 HC $30.00
MAY090350 INVINCIBLE #64 $2.99
JAN092400 PHONOGRAM 2 #4 (OF 7) SINGLES CLUB (MR) $3.50
MAY090334 SPAWN ORIGINS TP VOL 02 $14.99
MAR090075 USAGI YOJIMBO TP VOL 23 $17.95

The Corporates...
MAY090494 CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 #15 $2.99
MAY090505 IMMORTAL WEAPONS #1 (OF 5) $3.99
MAY090166 POWER GIRL #3 $2.99
MAY090170 SPIRIT #31 $2.99
MAY090124 WEDNESDAY COMICS #3 (OF 12) $3.99
MAY090538 X-FORCE #17 $2.99

The Spotlight...
- MAY090484 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #600 $4.99
2009 looks like it's set to be a good year for Spider-man.
Through the worst of the last few years, the return of classic heroes and villains in the title has easily been the brightest spark. If you don't believe it, track back through the sales figures collected in the Monthly Punch-Up. I would expect Doc Ock to provide the same kind of boost, leading into what looks to be an exciting return for villains like Electro and Mysterio. Brand New Day remains a stain on the Spidey mythos far more insulting than The Clone Saga, but at least the book is well and truly moving toward new positives. If that isn't a ringing enough endorsement for this jumbo-sized milestone issue, editor extraordinaire Tom Breevoort personally assures me that the book will be wall-to-wall story -- no cover gallery filler crap. I'll fully expect back-up material, but give him the benefit of the doubt, eh?

- MAY090548 DEADPOOL SUICIDE KINGS #4 (OF 5) $3.99
Tough not to call this the sleeper hit of 2009!
Initially I didn't expect a lot of the series, but it's putting together the elements of the Marvel Universe that I've long wanted to see in one book: Deadpool, Spider-man, Daredevil, Punisher, Tombstone, and on the horizon, the Wrecking Crew. What more could you ask for? Don't be fooled by other Deadpool books -- this is the one worth buying! I just wish this was the on-going format, rather than the glorified memes and droning Daniel Way plots we're lumped with.

By the end of 2008, and certainly the beginning of this year, I had a grand vision of having reviewed the entirety of Final Crisis and a good chunk of it's tie-in titles. In my humble estimation, it really was the best event series we've seen in the last five or ten years, and I regret having not found the time to do that! Legion of Three Worlds was only tangentially related, but in occupying part of the space that made up Superman's absence, it became a deliciously textured and multi-dimensional sub-plot, which hopefully means you can forgive this last issue for being so damned late. It's not a good look for DC comics, but the material really represents and justifies itself. Geoff Johns continues to make Superboy-Prime a really fun part of the DC Universe canon, while George Perez puts his classic skills to fine use, creating entire casts for three versions of the Legion! It's rare that I would have any interest in the Legion of Super Heroes and yet here, I'm loving it! Great stuff!

- MAY090135 GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #2 $2.99
The cancellation of Catwoman was a real disappointment, so to find the character represented as rendered somewhat timid by her clash with Hush [in Heart of Hush] is a little disappointing. However, moving forward, I'm sure it'll be an adequate replacement for the solo book, which will likely compliment Paul Dini's work elsewhere on the city floor, in Streets of Gotham. Assuming, of course, Catwoman's fellow Sirens, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, don't take her out in only the second issue! With friends like these...!

This is it! The fight you've all been waiting for!
Blackest Night is finally here and it kicks off with a big, old fashioned rumble between a Black Lantern Martian Manhunter and two of the biggest heroes of 2009, Green Lantern and Flash! It's a shame we still haven't seen the conclusion of Flash: Rebirth to get the specifics of his position during Blackest Night, but I trust you are smart enough to cope with a generalized interpretation of events. After last issues Black Hand feature, I'm looking forward to the variety these companion issues will offer to the Blackest Night story!

- MAY090499 INCREDIBLE HULK #600 $4.99
Unlike Amazing Spidey #600, Hulk does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. Buyer beware.
Rulk's true identity almost certainly will not be revealed here. The cycle of love-hate will surely continue as I resist the temptation of bombastic big superhero fights, repelled by the utterly ridiculous carrot dangling that Jeph Loeb's pseudo-mystery has offered. It's just like the Loeb/McGuinness issues of Superman/Batman, only the fun's been smothered to death.


Know Your Trade...
APR090976 2000 AD PACK JUNE 2009 $18.00
MAY090602 CABLE CLASSIC TP VOL 02 $29.99
MAY090877 FAHRENHEIT 451 HC $30.00
MAY090607 MARVEL 1985 TP $19.99
MAY090334 SPAWN ORIGINS TP VOL 02 $14.99
MAR090075 USAGI YOJIMBO TP VOL 23 $17.95