This is it! This is the final week for the current DCU before the big reboot next week, so we will offer a few of the final issues of the Old DCU before we enter the New Universe of DC.
BATMAN INCORPORATED #8 (DC)
If anyone else had written this issue, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second glance. However, it isn’t anyone else. It’s the great Grant Morrison, who has given us some wonderful Batman tales in the last few years, to say nothing of the All-Star Superman miniseries – arguably the definitive take on the Man of Steel. The guy’s a veritable fountain of cool ideas and this issue is no exception. The first thing one can’t help but notice, of course, is the visual similarity to TRON and Pepe Moreno’s gimmicky 1990 one-shot Batman: Digital Justice.
The latter is even referenced in this issue, and the CGI-looking artwork is an improvement by leaps and bounds. However, the visual style is really where the similarities to either end, Batgirl’s “light cycle” not withstanding. In true Batman Incorporated fashion, this seems more ambitious. Turns out, it is Bruce Wayne’s intention to pitch his new Internet 3.0 to various investors, giving them a firsthand look inside the virtual world. The meeting is immediately cut short when a living “virus” called “The Worm” invades and it’s up to Batman and Batgirl/Oracle – appearing as virtual avatars – to stop him and his techno-zombies from taking over the Wayne mainframe and to prevent the plugged-in investors from losing their fortunes.
The artwork is the real star here. I’m not sure what methods the team of Scott Clark Dave Beatty used for this book, but it really does look like CGI… in a good way. As for the story itself, Morrison just gets Batman. Slight touches, such as Bruce Wayne simultaneously conducting the meeting and fighting “The Worm” as his Batman avatar/”antivirus” program – all the while appearing the disinterested billionaire to the investors as he concentrates – are what make his Batman formidable and fascinating.
It also occurred to me while reading this issue that this may very well be the last time we truly see Barbara Gordon in her Oracle identity. Yet, it’s a nice to her impending return to the Batgirl identity, which begins next month in her own series.
This title, as a whole, has been quite different from any of the other Batman books out there. Reportedly, it will be a part of the relaunch, supposedly returning as Batman: Leviathan after a brief hiatus. Though it doesn’t seem likely, it would be a shame to lose what Morrison has accomplished so far with his Batman Incorporated idea. In my opinion, it’s the best thing that has happened to Batman in years, short of the Christopher Nolan films. I’m hoping DC really plays the Batman Inc. organization up in the New 52 and doesn’t chicken out. I say give Morrison free reign to flesh it all out, because I think it could really turn out to be something worthwhile. –Eric Scroggs
*Check out the review of this book by our own Seth Jacob!*
DC RETRO-ACTIVE: SUPERMAN THE 70’s (DC)
While the Flashpoint crossover event has been designed to shake the accumulated continuity of the DC Universe loose in time for a brand spanking new status quo to be launched in September, the much less heralded ‘Retroactive’ event has begun. To illustrate the kinds of stories told during the seventies era, DC tapped Martin Pasko to deliver a Superman script of that time. While there is an element of pastiche at play here – Lana Lang’s ridiculous ‘European’ accent is more Tommy Wiseau than Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina – Pasko has also delivered a story that speaks to the strengths and intriguing weaknesses of Superman. At a glance, the story concerns one really bad day in Superman’s career. Lois and Lana are fighting over him; Clark cannot catch a break romantically, while Superman inspires devotion; his friends in the Bottle City of Kandor are treating him in a stand-offish manner, and on top of all this inexplicable attacks on Metropolis from a series of enemies have begun simultaneously. Bone-weary and irritable, Superman can barely control his temper as he rushes from one crisis to another.
Of course, Pasko then reveals that Mr Mxyzptlk has something to do with all this. What’s really charming about this book is how it deals with the recurring idea that while Superman has no physical weaknesses, he is very vulnerable mentally. Unlike Batman, who challenges himself every day to overcome the limits of his body, Superman’s insecurities threaten to distract him when his immense strength is most needed. Following the John Byrne revamp, attempts were made to humanize Clark Kent, but with the exception of certain writers, most have been caught in the trap of writing the character like an icon. Pasko returns Superman to the lovelorn demigod familiar to old fans, and it proves a welcome reminder of how good the title used to be. This issue also comes with a classic story from Curt Swan and Cary Bates, which is just the cherry on top of the cake. –Emmet O’Cuana
GODZILLA: KINGDOM OF MONSTERS #6 (IDW)
This series is awesome! As there is no connection to any previous movies or stories, this is a fresh take on classic characters. Ever since Godzilla first showed up, the nations of the world have tried to figure out what he is and how to stop him. Then, with the sudden appearances of Anguirus, Rodan, Battra and Kumonga things have gotten worse. Where are these creatures coming from and where are they headed? Anguirus and Godzilla have already fought in the United States, resulting in the near-destruction of Hollywood (payback for the 1998 film?), and now Godzilla seems to be heading east. In response, the President of the United States has ordered the creation of a machine to defend the nation. His order is that Detroit build MechaGodzilla! Once built, the two titans face off and things go fairly well. That is, until MechaGodzilla malfunctions and all control is lost, leading MechaGodzilla to leave the fight and head, for some reason, to Atlanta, GA where it begins to destroy everything in sight! It’s getting bad, but can it get any worse? Well, we’ve been teased for months about a three-headed dragon… THAT would make things a lot worse! Eric Powell certainly knows how to write a Godzilla story. This life long G-Fan is very happy! –Skott Jimenez
KICK-ASS 2 #3 (Marvel)
And now for the bloodiest, nastiest comic in my group. HOLY COW!! Millar and Romita Jr. have not dialed this down from the first series at all. Aside from the crudeness of the subject matter, the return of the Red Mist is marked with mutilation and corpse desecration. What I don’t like about this is how “real life” is portrayed. I don’t talk like the characters and I hope that my buddies don’t have the same recreational activities as the main character. What I DID like about this comic is that when you are reading it, you actually feel nervous and scared for the good guys in this story. You actually feel the vicious malice that drips from the evil. Unfortunately, the pro turns out to be a con as well, because of the irregularity that this book actually ships. I’m dying to see how Hit Girl makes the atrocity that occurs in this book right. –The Andy Kirby
PUNISHER #2 (Marvel)
Rucka’s edgy (and somewhat younger) take on our favorite homicidal vigilante keeps up the intensity in its second issue. It’s a good, solid story. We still don’t know too much about the hit on the wedding — except that only the bride survived the slaughter. What interested me most about this issue was the incorporation of some of Marvel’s other New York characters. In a gritty take on reality, Norah Winters shows up to get the scoop, but more impressive was that Brand New Day’s new Vulture enters the scene, setting up the next issue to have a Battle Royale of primal rage. Although this issue was written like every other “good” issue of a Punisher story, the art is what really makes this book come to life. Stay tuned for a crime drama mixed with the super hero genre unlike anything we’ve seen from this character in the last five years. -The Andy Kirby
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #1 (IDW)
Returning to comic shop shelves for the first time in years! This new series from co-creator Kevin Eastman takes the Turtles back to basics and begins with a telling of their origin. Having not yet read the original run, I can’t say for certain if this picks up from there but it certainly does seem to be a fresh start. The characters and concepts are familiar, but the world and stories are a little different. Having not been a fan of this franchise when I was young, I have to admit to having my interest in them increased with the TMNT movie in 2007, and this first issue is certainly a lot of fun. From a non-Turtle fan perspective, I can say this is a fun read and I will likely be checking out the second issue.
This one begins by touching on the origins of both the Turtles and Splinter. We see their first meetings with each other and April, as well as the introduction of a boy named Casey. Check it out! –Skott Jimenez
ULTIMATES #1 (Marvel)
The great surprise about Jonathan Hickman’s revamp of the flagship titles of Marvel’s Ultimate line is how he manages to accommodate the distinct visions of Mark Millar and Jeph Loeb. This issue follows on from both, with the Ultimates again typified as a military organization specializing in superhuman conflict, while Loeb’s return of Thor to his 616 self is also retained. A third influence is Grant Morrison’s work on New X-Men, with the introduction of his concept of ‘The World’ – a hermetically sealed environment where time works differently – to the mix. Is Ultimate Fantomex going to appear in this series? Following the sudden appearance of The World in Germany, Nick Fury’s day goes from bad to worse. Monitoring incidents escalating in Uruguay and Asgard, Fury attempts to oversee individual members of his team as they work alone to contain these threats. Events quickly get out of hand, and once again it seems some greater plot is at work that the team has yet to come to grips with. The highlights of the issue, which romps along to its cliffhanger finish, include a visit by the new Captain Britain to Asgard and Stark’s treatment of his ‘new Jarvis’. The latter once again demonstrates how borderline unstable Ultimate Iron Man is, possessing a genius-level intellect while at the same time remaining painfully neurotic. The Asgard sequence is a welcome chance to see Esad Ribic’s excellent vision of the realm of the gods again, following on from his recently re-released Loki miniseries. The scenes themselves are dialogue-free, so it remains to be seen whether we’re stuck with Loeb’s Asgardian ‘Ye Olde English’ dialogue or Millar’s more modern speech. Odds are on the former, as the depiction of the gods’ home here is more in keeping with the mythical aesthetic than the Jack Kirby utopia from classic Thor. Hickman’s script takes advantage of the situation to introduce a great piece of silent comedy, with the punch line of Fury’s shocked reaction – a laugh-out-loud moment amongst the rising tension. There’s also a drunk bear. It’s that kind of book. This is an excellent start to a series that promises to finally capitalize on the potential of its premise. Strongly recommended. -Emmet O’Cuana
WOLVERINE #14 (Marvel)
The final issue of Aaron’s Wolverine’s Revenge is here! And true to form, he didn’t pull any punches. I’m going to go ahead and just say it, there WILL be SPOILERS here. At the close of the last issue, we were about to find out what was behind The Door after Wolverine slaughtered those that were sent to kill him. But what do we find: a bunch of angry, frail people of all ages. So what’s the big deal? Well, these people sent Wolverine to Hell. They have devised a way to finally take revenge on Wolverine. But when Logan opens the door, they are all dead. They have poisoned themselves. There is no one left for Logan to take revenge on. Wolverine’s first reaction is to say, “Hope you folks enjoy Hell as much as I did.” But then the “suicide note” video begins to play. Did Wolverine really get his Revenge? No, and that’s the beauty of Aaron’s storytelling. The arc is named “Wolverine’s Revenge,” and as it starts the reader thinks that this is Logan exacting revenge on those that condemned him to the bowels of Sheol. But that’s not what the story really was. The pages of the tale depict the struggle of the helpless to wreak vengeance on the strong. The story was aptly named. I realize I’m gushing, but I was just so impressed with the intricacies of the tale. I had a few unanswered questions (What’s the deal with the big Satan snake? Why interrupt the flow and theme of the story to make a point that doesn’t fit?), but overall I can’t wait for Aaron’s next logical step with his flagship character. -The Andy Kirby
WONDER WOMAN #614 (DC)
Straczynski’s name is listed first on the cover, and nominally this final issue of Odyssey is considered his story – but Phil Hester has been running this show for some time now, shepherding Diana through to this conclusion. Diana finally faces her enemy on an equal footing, and the split from the DCU is resolved – just in time for the entire comic line to get revamped in September!
Bearing all of this in mind, Hester’s script delivers a few good chuckles, with as many meta-jokes as an episode of Community. On the very first page Diana muses about how villains always resort to a ‘last spasm of violence’, that climactic battle that determines whether good will triumph. “I won’t lie; there’s a slight sense of comfort to it. Like things are finally getting back to normal.” The subtext becomes overt text later in the issue. “I’ve lived through so many permutations [..] lately that I know the core will somehow stay intact.” First Robinson takes the opportunity with his last issue of JLA to fire a broadside at DC over the revamp of titles and now this. A character even compliments her on her new costume, for how it has ‘Themysciran themes’ but should be appealing to outsiders. You can almost hear the screams of frustration from fan-sites over the Wonder Woman pants controversy (Really? Ok). Ultimately this is a fitting conclusion to a troubled revamp of a character, landing just in time to segue into yet another revamp. Hester did a good job of keeping things on track. With any luck he will get a book in which he can tell a complete story of his own someday soon. Recommended. -Emmet O’Cuana
XOMBI #6 (DC)
“Too weird to live, too rare to die” seems a fitting quote for this series. In only six issues, this series has managed to deliver some genuinely thrilling and bizarre concepts, such as super-powered nuns, immortals sailing through the skies in the skulls of Nephilim giants, and with this last story, Rozum’s latest invention: ‘The Sisterhood of Blood Mummies’. Frazer Irving’s art is simply breathtaking, allowing the writer’s brain-melting ideas to flow. The aforementioned blood mummies are described in detail over a series of narration boxes as possessing an external circulatory system that provides them with incredible prowess, protected by a gauze of spider-webs. To see this perfectly captured by Irving’s amazing talent is simply brilliant. The story ends, but things are left in such a state that, should Rozum be given the nod on some other occasion, he can return to Xombi and create more wonders. You owe it to yourselves to track down these six issues, because this book is an instant classic. -Emmet O’Cuana
This weeks Contributors:
Emmet O’Cuana: EmmetOCuana@Comicbooked.com
Eric Scroggs: EricScroggs@Comicbooked.com
Skott Of Fables: SkottOfFables@Comicbooked.com
The Andy Kirby: AndyKirby@Comicbooked.com
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Adding the Retro-DC in there…Love IT!!
Yeah Andy I have been loving them myself. Picked up Louise Simonson's 90s Superman which confirmed that the 90s were just…weird in comics (and look the Turtles are back too!). But I really love the snapshots of the different periods provided by Retroactive.
I've been having a blast re-reading my Marvel Comics from the 90's and sharing my thoughts on my new blog, http://bagged-and-boarded.tumblr.com/
I picked up TMNT this week and I LOVED it. I think I am going to add this to my pull list.
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