Go read this blog

Posted: June 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
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A friend of mine recently talked me into firing this blog back up and pushing more content out there. I just wanted to thank her by telling anyone who likes my site to go check out her blog. Monique Jones has created a great blog site that discusses pop culture, movies and Archie comics through the lens of race and culture. It’s a smart place to read lots of smart things. Also, keep an eye out for some of my stuff to be featured there and vice versa. You can also follow her on twitter and facebook.

http://moniqueblog.net/2013/06/book-to-check-out-why-mommy-loves-the-rain/

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Man of Steel has come and gone. And while reaction has been mixed it was apparently successful enough for WB to fast track a sequel and jump start those Justice league rumors again. I won’t review the film here but suffice to say I really enjoyed it. It cuts close to the core of the Superman mythos while still managing to be something new and exciting. It also delivers the best action sequences in a superhero film yet. It’s very exciting but has just enough heart underneath to give it some real weight.
But whether you loved or hated the film, chances are you have some strong feelings about Superman. So, in no particular order, here are three stories that can scratch your krypton itch.
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Superman: Birthright
This Mark Waid written and Francis Yu penciled story, like Man of Steel, is a retelling of Kal-El’s origin story. This 12 issue story opens with Clark traveling the world as a freelance journalist. I love this angle, particularly as its executed here, with Clark spending some time in Africa and writing about tribal disputes, injustice and identity. There is some fantastic dialogue to be had here, particularly about masks and having a place to call home. I also like how all of that builds into Clark’s decision to become Superman. There is far more focus on his humanity than on his alien birth.
Also of interest is Clark’s relationship with his parents. Waid and Yu deliver what I think may be some of the best interactions between Clark and his adoptive parents ever committed to the printed page. It really nails it. Martha is a super supportive mom, always pushing her son to be the best he can be. She becomes a bit obsessed with finding out where Clark comes from, getting involved in UFO searches and constantly watching the skies. Jonathan is his typically inspiring self himself for much of the story but also has some of that overprotective, even jealous  vibe that Kevin Costner portrayed so well in Man of Steel. The other relationships throughout the whole arc are just as nuanced. I love Waid’s take on Lex, full of sadness, pride and a zealous obsession with all things extraterrestrial.  And every single panel involving Lois, Perry, Jimmy and the rest of the Daily Planet staff feels classic, appropriately cheesy and fun. The secret identity issue is addressed here too ( glasses, slouching, acting!) in a way that makes sense. I could write about this story all day but we still have to discuss four more stories!

Short version: Birthright delivers an excellent origin tale that was clearly the inspiration for large portions o the movie. I sincerely hope the next on screen Luthor mirrors this one.

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All-Star Superman
Everyone’s favorite Superman story( for good reason!) was created as an out of continuity tale by superstars Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, possibly the best team in comics today. Unlike Birthright, this story mostly features a very experienced and very powerful Superman. One that solves monumental problems quickly and takes just as much time to stop and encourage everyone he meets. Morrison has a unique voice in comics and really brings Superman to life in a way that is inspiring and immensely entertaining. Phantom Zones, Doomsday, crazy Jimmy Olsen stories, the 5th dimension, Bizarro world and super dates are all here. Morrison throws so many great ideas into each issue of this series that one read through just isn’t enough. And it’s all beautifully illustrated by Frank Quitely in a style that is immediately recognizable and iconic. The basic plot is that Lex Luthor has managed to give Superman a form of super-cancer and the man of steel has to come to grips with his imminent death and put his affairs in order. All while saving the world, or in some cases just one lonely person from various crazy threats. It’s a colorful book that flirts constantly with the fine line between Sci-Fi and superhero storytelling.

Short Version: This is probably the definitive take on the Last Son of Krypton. When I think of Superman, this is what I want to see. Inspiring in its content and execution. It’s damn close to being the perfect comic book.

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Superman: Last Son
Last Son makes it into this list for several reasons: it delivers a great version of Man of Steel villain General Zod and its penned by fan favorite Geoff Johns and the director of Superman 2, Richard Donner. It’s also illustrated by the fantastic Adam Kubert.
Last Son is notable because it features a married Lois and Clark, something we don’t get to see anymore thanks to the New 52 (although I like the Wonder Woman/Superman couple too). Lots of old stories feature comic’s greatest couple but none of them really push the story forward like Last Son. That’s because they become adoptive parents of a mysterious Kryptonian child that falls the sky. Both Lois and Clark react to this forced parenthood differently and it delivers some great drama. I really like Lois as she is written here, Johns pushes the character forward by letting her feel fear, not at falling out of buildings or getting shot at but of growing up. It’s as if Lois is finally forced to grow up and this romance with an all powerful alien just got very real. But of course she matures as the issue progresses and comes to terms with this new responsibility, which makes the ending all the better.  Adam Kubert draws some great fight scenes between Superman and various other Kryptonians. It also features Bizarro and that’s always fun to see. Richard Donner’s presence can really be felt in this story. Krypton, Zod and the Phantom Zone feel very reminiscent of Superman 2  while still allowing for updates to the mythos and a fresh take on Zod and the Phantom Zone, a little of which seems to have influenced Man of Steel’s depiction of everyone’s favorite militant Krypton. This is as close we will get to a decent continuation of the old movies and it delivers everything you want in a Superman story.

Short Version: This is classic Superman and it delivers some excellent character drama while introducing a few new things to the mythos. This was an in continuity tale at the time so it feels like its connected to a bigger DC universe but manages to avoid the drawbacks that come with that.

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BONUS: Superman Unchained #1

This newly launched New 52 series features the best Superman we’ve seen since DC rebooted it’s publishing line two years ago while still feeling new and exciting. The series is penned by one of my favorite writers in the industry at the moment, Scott Snyder (currently making Batman one of the best comics on the stands). Snyder doesn’t hold back at all in the debut issue, bringing his background as a history professor to bear and exploring some new ideas for Superman. Clark’s narrative voice is better here than I’ve seen in a long time as it feels folksy and heroic at the same time. A tough balance to find. Snyder’s great script is brought to life by the excellent Jim Lee, now a legend of his own thanks to decades of fantastic work. Lee draws what is probably the best representation of Superman in the modern age and it’s great to see him back on the character. His sense of scope is epic too and the massive fold out pages in the book will blow you away yet he handles smaller moments as well, as we get to see Clark and Jimmy Olsen share a moment and we see Lois being herself in a fashion that is very entertaining. Like everything else in the New 52, this story is different from the others listed here. It’s a new continuity for everyone in the DCU and that means that some old stories never happened and some things just are not the same. Clark doesn’t work for the Daily Planet, he and Lois are not together and Superman’s life and attitude are different here. But none of that holds the story back from being an eye catching, well written take on the man of steel. Check it out now and get on the ground floor of Superman’s newest adventure.

By Alex Headley

This week brings a lot of change-ups in status quo for several books on my pull list. The highlights include the first and last issue of Andy Diggle’s Action Comics run and an Age of Ultron twist that sets the stage for what’s to come. I also have a brief reviews for Animal Man and Green Lantern.

Pictured: Not at all what this book looks like. Property of Marvel Comics.

Age of Ultron #4

Age of Ultron 4 picks up directly where 3 left off. With Luke Cage and She-Hulk facing down a heavily damaged Vision in Ultron’s fortress. The Vision’s reveal was a big deal last week but nothing compared to what we learn here: that Ultron is controlling events and exacting revenge on the heroes from the future. This time-travel twist isn’t totally unexpected, thanks to solicits and teaser images but it’s interesting nonetheless and it looks there may be some continuity tweaks happening as a result of this time travel, mostly involving Hank Pym and Ultron of course. In addition to that little revelation, everyone manages to make it to the Savage Land and meet up and prepare to execute a plan created by Nick Fury. There is a lot going on in this issue and to get it all in, Bendis has really picked up the pace of the storytelling. A lot goes down in this issue and it all has impact and weight to it. The series still has an alternate reality feel to it, something that is really driven home by the violence and darkness seen in this issue. Whether that’s Red Hulk smashing Taskmaster to pieces or She-Hulk’s unceremonious death at the hands of Ultron bots or Luke Cage’s slow, painful demise from radiation poisoning, the book obviously has no qualms with killing characters in gruesome manners. While that lends a sense of danger and immediacy to this story in the heat of the moment it also takes away from any impact it might have in the long run. Bendis is still delivering some of his best work in years on this book and I think as far as event books go this is still a worthy read. And although, Brian Hitch will be leaving the book after issue 5, it’s worth noting that he is knocking it out of the park in this story as well, Luke Cage’s weird hair notwithstanding. The scenery is especially interesting as Hitch continues to make the Marvel U a depressing, bombed out hellhole. You know, in a good way.

We could have had months and months of beautiful Superman books. Sadly it just wasn’t meant to be. Property of DC Comics.

Action Comics 19

I have good news and I have bad news. The good news first: Andy Diggle and Tony Daniel deliver a great Superman story in issue 19! I loved it. The bad news: it’s pretty much already over. Whatever Diggle’s professional reasons were, they must have been damned good to make him walk away from this story. It’s exciting and new but pays homage to the character in a timeless way. This was poised to be the best Superman book on the market and now all of that is undone with a tweet and, from the sound of it, poor conditions and management at DC. This saddens me greatly. I guess we will see how Daniel does on his own for the rest of the arc but if his run on Detective Comics is any indication at all, the quality will fall dramatically starting with next issue. The worst part is that Diggle really has a great interpretation of one the best characters in the Superman mythos, Lex Luthor and the story looks to deliver that characters first big story in the New 52. The Lex scene in this book is absolutely perfect and Diggle influence will be sorely missed come next issue. One thing that shouldn’t change in the next chapter is Tony Daniel’s fantastic pencils. He really has come into his own lately and knocks it out of the park in this issue. The pages are crisp and clearly drawn, with clean lines and dynamic lighting. Daniel really puts the Action in Action Comics this issue and at the very least, we can expect him to do the same for the rest of his run.

Swamp Thing 19

Ol’ Swampy gets a new status quo this week too, as a new creative team comes onboard and replaces the excellent Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette. Despite the big shoes to fill, Charles Soule and Kano do a great job in this issue at making Swamp Thing more relevant to the greater DCU than he really has been, almost tying right in with Geoff Johns’ JLA and guest starring Superman. The duo also deliver a fun take on the Scarecrow, a villain I’ve always quite liked but that never gets enough to do. Alec still feels like Alec too and that’s a good thing. Having not read too many Swamp Thing stories before the New 52, I was worried that Soule’s Swampy would feel different from Snyder’s. That is not the case and I’m happy to say that this transition is pretty seamless. Alec has a new mystery to solve and a few new powers to explore and that lends some excitement to the issue. He’s keeping himself busy in the wake of Abby’s death and it feels like something the character would do and not at all like a new writer grasping at straws to pick up the pieces. Kano, whom I am utterly unfamiliar with, delivers some great visuals too. First with a dry and dusty setting, and Swamp Thing to match, and later with fuller colors with lush environments. His Scarecrow lurches and hunches in disturbing ways and has an aura of menace to him. Kano also delivers a very cool two-page spread of Holland traveling through the Green. I’m glad to see him working towards keeping the book visually distinctive, even if his palette and staging isn’t quite as good as Paquette’s. I was skeptical of the new team, but this issue won me over and it will officially stay on the pull list.

Green Lantern 19

Geoff Johns’ epic run on Green Lantern nears its final issue and although the First Lantern still doesn’t excite me very much, I very much enjoyed this issue. Largely because it focused on the greatest Green Lantern of them all, Sinestro! Johns lets the First Lantern dig into the life and mind of one of DC’s best characters and delivers a great tale in the process. We also see just how powerful this new villain really is and how Hal plans to escape the Dead Zone. Also, Korugar explodes. Lots of stuff going on in this issue and it all has to come to a head in issue 20 and end with a lead in to the new status quo. It’s a tall order to be sure but it should be exciting nonetheless. Ardian Syaf delivers some great visuals in this issue as well though I still miss Reis’s touch on the book.We’ll see how everything shakes out next month in #20.

Animal Man 19

Jeff Lemire has delivered a pretty big shakeup for Buddy Baker and his family and although it brings back that family drama I enjoyed so much in the book’s early days, it’s so dark and joyless that this is far from my favorite entry into the series. Everyone is angry and everything is bad. There’s a lot of yelling and crying and to be honest, a month of mourning for Damian over in the Batman books has left me tired of comic book grief. Cliff sure did choose an inconvenient time to go and die on us. But dark and gloomy feelings aside, Animal Man 19 is still a great book that sees Buddy Baker trying to make sense of the world after the death of his son and the events of Rotworld. Steve Pugh isn’t at his best with the dramatic emotional stuff apparently as many of the faces of grief and anger seen throughout the issue just look odd. Proportions are weird and although bathing the scenes in black and shadow makes sense for a funeral issue, it’s just too much. The scenes in the Red are far better though and in keeping with the book’s somewhat gory tradition. This is by no means a bad book, but  it’s not quite up to snuff compared to the rest of the series.

 

The cover to Guardians #1 gives us a glimpse of McNiven’s fantastic pencils. Property of Marvel Comics.

By Alex Headley

My favorite Marvel Comics team is back and their debut issue definitely delivers. Brian Bendis and Steve McNiven have crafted an adequate beginning to a new saga of Cosmic Marvel comics and while it’s not perfect, it delivers new concepts to pique my interest and pays just the tiniest bit of homage to what has come before. The book opens up with a focus on Peter Quill AKA the Star-Lord and his relationship with his father. It’s all very personal and dramatic and shows that this book is going to be a little more personal than the last volume, which focused almost entirely on cosmic zaniness. We also get a great little exchange showing off a very roguish Quill that reminds me of Captain Kirk or Malcolm Reynolds. Bendis has definitely done his sci-fi homework and put and effort towards making this feel both familiar to the genre and true to its Marvel roots. Made up profanities, weird aliens and and big laser guns all pepper the book and give it a lived in feeling that is appropriate. Though ‘Flark’ is a much better obscenity than the newly introduced ‘Krutack’, at least in my opinion.

This isn’t just Quill’s book though and Bendis does an apt job of getting each of the team members a bit of action. Rocket Racoon, Groot, Drax the Destroyer and Gamora are all here and joining the cast is none other than Iron Man. Stark still seems a bit of a cash grab addition to the cast but I’m willing to see where things go with it, especially if it ensures the book is a priority for Marvel. A Badoon invasion of Earth gives everyone a lizard-alien to shoot at and make a few one-liners in the midst of battle and gets the ball rolling on what seems to be book’s first major arc. Bendis doesn’t waste a lot of time on setup here, only giving us a brief conversation between Quill and his father, the King of Spartax on Earth’s importance in the Galaxy. I don’ know much about the Spartax as they aren’t nearly as popular as the Kree, Skrulls or Shi’Ar.

McNiven delivers some great stuff in this issue, the scenery is especially notable. It’s easy for space centric books to feel empty and bland (you know because it’s space) but McNiven fills the background with lots of pretty lights and distant planets. The battle sequence is good too with lots of dynamic lighting as weapons are fired and things explode all around our heroes. Most important, since he’s obviously the star of the series, of all McNiven’s  Rocket Raccoon is pretty great, the best I’ve seen outside the Rocket and Groot miniseries from few years back. Drax is exactly as he was in the last volume and Groot has gained some pretty lights but is otherwise unchanged. What doesn’t work for me at the moment though are Gamora and Star-Lord’s costumes. They lack any real sense of personality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad a woman swinging a sword and dodging gunfire is actually wearing armor for a change but the lack of her signature cape or skull motif is disappointing. Star-Lord looks like he stepped out of Mass Effect, which isn’t really a bad thing but again it seems like very little of his classic look has made it back. The patterns are there but I miss the bigger helmet and the coat. Iron Man’s armor is fine but his red and gold stands out as super-gaudy around the rest of the team.

So it seems DC Comics have run off another writer. Andy Diggle announced through Twitter that was leaving Action Comics…before his run has even started. The writer will have exactly one issue credited to him before stepping off the title for ‘professional reasons’. Through the conversations that have followed on Twitter and various comics sites, that those reasons are editorial meddling, maybe on a massive scale. 

It does seem like things are a little wild and unruly over there at the moment. There have been quite a few change-ups, firings, mix ups, mistakes, apologies and scandals at DC over the last couple of months. Rob Liefeld left in a fuss, Gail Simone was ‘fired’ and rehired, Joshua Hale Fialvok quit Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns before he began (allegedly over an editorially planned killing of John Stewart!) and Karen Berger left Vertigo quite unexpectedly too. That’s not to mention the whole Orson Scott Card fiasco.  These are things that do not inspire confidence in a company and considering these are the guys in charge of several HUGE cultural icons, it’s a bit worrisome to see how creators are being treated and to watch them drop like flies left and right. Nobody was too concerned when Rob Liefeld left but fan outcry got Gail Simone her job back. But that seems to be a one time deal. Creative differences  are fine reason to leave a job that involves creativity but when it happens this often, there’s got to be something wrong. I don’t know what that is or how DC should go about fixing it, but it’s something that, to me, clearly needs to addressed. I have been a die-hard DC Comics fan ever since the first time I heard of it really and to think that my favorite thing is treating people so badly that they walk away from their dream job makes comics buying difficult. I don’t want to worry that my $2.99 comic may be crushing dreams and destroying lives. Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers. I just want to read my comics.

What do you guys think about all the drama at DC? Still reading or are we gathering our protest signs yet? Let me know in the comments.

I’m sure everyone is aware by now but just in case, here’s your warning. Spoilers for Batman Inc. 8 are in this post.

By Alex Headley

The cover to Batman and Robin 18 is striking and the comic makes a great reference to it about halfway through. Property of DC Comics.

Batman and Robin 18

I won’t say much about the contents of this issue, as it’s better to just read it but its fair to say that this is one of the most emotionally powerful comics I’ve read. The issue is completely silent, no word balloons at all, as Bruce deals with Damian’s death over in Batman Inc. 8. The decision to make this a silent issue means that all of the responsibility falls on Patrick Gleason’s shoulders and he really pulls it off well. Bruce has lost people before, but never quite like this. His reaction is perfectly in character and very easy to relate to. Every page here works to drive home a terrible feeling of emptiness, guilt and anger. Damian’s dog Titus is particularly heartbreaking to see, as he waits for his master’s return at this bed and in the Batcave near his uniform. Damian’s drawings and list of recommended from “C.K.” give the absent dead a personality and something to remember him by, while the unfinished painting of Bruce and his sons in the library reminds us that Damian lived for only a short time. All these details and more make for a riveting read. It is utterly depressing but excellently crafted at the same time. This issue is a great example of what comics have to offer as an art form and anyone that is the least bit interested in the medium should take notice. Gleason’s use of shadow and quick-cut panels is especially provocative and the final pages will stay with you for quite some time.

Greg Capullo may be absent this issue but his cover is still great. Property of DC Comics.

Batman 18

Scott Snyder teams up with Andy Kubert and Alex Maleev to bring us another issue all about Harper Row, the mysterious girl first introduced all the way back in Batman #7 and she’s just as interesting as ever. This time around, she’s here to help Batman grieve for his dead son, and maybe hint that she should be the next Robin (or maybe a new Oracle?). This is a great issue and it goes hand in hand with Batman and Robin 18 out this week. While it’s not quite as heartfelt and emotional as Patrick Gleason’s offering, it still packs quite a punch and reminds us why Batman is such an endearing character. Harper’s speech late in the issue is a bit cheesy, but it feels appropriate and gives her a lot of personality.I like Harper, and I’m quite curious to see what role she ends up playing in the grand scheme of things. I hate to see Damian gone but his death really signals the passing of the torch from Grant Morrison to Scott Snyder and gives the new showrunner a lot more room to play with the story. Morrison’s Batman epic is drawing to a close and it makes sense that a new status quo should follow his absence. And although he’s a bit of a jerk for killing my favorite Robin and the best new DC character in years, Damian was his creation and it’s fitting that he gets the final say on his fate.

Andy Kubert delivers some fun visuals early in the book, managing to get in quite a bit of action in a short time in a way that still has emotional underpinnings. But the real story here is Alex Maleev on a Batman book. His pages are fantastic and really left me wanting more. I loved Maleev’s run with Brian Micheal Bendis on Daredevil all those years ago and to see him working on my favorite title is exciting. DC needs to find him a steady gig soon.

New York has seen better days. Property of Marvel Comics.

Age of Ultron 2

That’s right, this is a weekly series! Issue 2 doesn’t let up with the doom and gloom, immersing us further into a world that is very unlike the Marvel U we know and love. Heroes kill without question to get by and shiny golden robots gun down citizens in the streets while Avengers stand by and watch. It’s kind of rough to read but Bendis is delivering an incredibly intriguing story here. So far, this event feels very unique and is a breath of fresh air to me. Of course, being an event that promises “Everything Changes!” means that as the story goes on it may be a little less unconventional and a little more predictable. Bryan Hitch continues to deliver cinematic visuals and big, sweeping destruction. The flahsback pages with Spider-Man tell a tale of a battle won before anyone can react. The heroes are all dead or in hiding and nobody can stand up to Ultron, whom we have yet to hear much from at this point. There are still quite a few questions regarding what happened and how all this went down but it doesn’t seem like Bendis is too interested in exploring that, instead pushing the story further along with almost every page, the last page in particular pushes the story forward a great deal.

Just in case you’ve missed it somehow, I thought I would take a moment to tell you guys about the best deal ever. Marvel is giving away 700 comics for free right now! You can grab 700 various first issues from throughout the publisher’s history digitally through the Comixology service. You can get the comics online at the Comixology site or through the IOS and Android apps. You can get them through the Marvel comics app as well. This is a pretty big and bold move on Marvel’s part to pull in new readers through digital. It’s hard to argue with free. This offer only lasts through Tuesday though, so go queue up some comics now! Be warned though, the servers are taking a beating at the moment ( no surprise there) so it may take a few tries to get everything you want.

Here’s a few titles worth checking out.
Anything Marvel NOW (to check the latest and greatest)
Hawkeye by Matt Fraction
Daredevil by Mark Waid
Avengers Academy
A Babies vs X Babies (trust me)
Any annuals (usually $5!)
Any One Shots (get a full story)
All the old Cosmis stuff
The Wizard of Oz stuff

By Alex Headley

The cover to Age of Ultron #1 is pretty cool. The gold foil on the print edition is a little cheesy though, what is this? The 90s? Property of Marvel Comics.

Much has been said of Age of Ultron over the last couple of years. Originally teased in Bendis’ Heroic Age of Avengers and seemingly pushed back for the sake of AvX, issue 1 has finally arrived. And it’s a doozy. Brian Micheal Bendis and Bryan Hitch throw us right into the thick of things, Ultron has already won and the Earth has been enslaved by golden robots. Only a few heroes remain, including a grim and gritty Hawkeye that has no qualms about shooting fools dead with a crossbow. While I’m not a fan of heroes killing, I have to say that Age of Ultron #1 has won me over for what it is. A great big ‘What If?’ tale. At least that’s my takeaway as far issue one goes. I struggle to think how this book will mesh with the current continuity seen in Marvel NOW! and to be honest that’s just fine with me. World shattering events are a dime a dozen in comics, and especially so in Marvel, so the concept of a self contained epic story that puts these characters in a new light without damaging what creators are doing in their own stories is very appealing to me. Recasting Marvel’s cast of characters as the last holdouts of humanity in a bleak sci-fi adventure story is fun and exciting but there is no need for it to be canon. I’m fine with beginning the story in progress, it gets us right into the thick of things without the overdone all is lost but the heroes win at the last second ending we’ve all come to expect from a big event like this and instead delivers something new (at least for the moment, time will tell if that changes as the event rolls on). I like that the bad guy has already won, it gives the event a new twist and casts these characters into a tale that twists the genre a bit and in my book, that’s a good thing.

Now let’s get to the actual issue. Hitch is at the top of his game here, delivering bleak landscapes and jarring, bone-crunching violence with great ability and talent. His faces still aren’t great here (they never have been the best in the biz) but the emotion still comes through thanks to Bendis’ excellent dialogue. I’ve given Bendis a hard time in the past, but it really does seem like the guy has found a new rhythm and depth to his prose lately and I’m slowly coming around to it. His X-Men stuff has been great and this issue is more of that in a way. He works best when his characters are in the thick of it, with bit emotions and dire consequences at stake. In that regard, he’s perfect for this dystopian future. He seems to trust Hitch implicitly as well, there are fewer word balloons in this issue than in anything else Bendis has ever written I think and he lets Hitch do a lot of the heavy lifting, telling the story with quick, choppy action sequences and big bold panoramas of a devastated New York. It’s quite good. The story itself is quite interesting, if a little bleaker than I typically like my superhero comics but as I said above, I’m down with an out of canon ‘What If?’ romp through the Marvel U, and the lack of Marvel NOW! branding on this issue seems to suggest that’s what we will get. I am more than a little confused as to who Spider-Man is at the moment. He seems like good ol’ fashioned Pete but is that just Otto becoming more like Peter or has Peter regained control of his body somehow? I don’t care too much but it’s a question in the back of mind. Still, I’m very interested in seeing how this little even plays out. I may skip out on the tie-in issues for now but I think I’ll pick the main 10-issue book.

What did you guys think? Let me know in the comments.

Hey guys, sorry the lack of updates in the last couple of days, I’ve had a doozy of a week so far. Anyway, I didn’t want to leave you completely empty handed so here’s a little something.

RDJ seems set to deliver a more somber Tony Stark in May 3’s threequel.

The latest Iron Man 3 trailer is online now courtesy of Yahoo! Movies. You can check out the last few trailers here as well.
Go watch!

What did you think? Ben Kingsley looks to be a complete badass here and while I’m interested in the Iron Army(Hulkbuster!) and the tons of new suits, it’s the character development from Tony that I’m looking forward to the most. There are significantly fewer quips and one-liners(though there are still a few to be had near the end) in this trailer than in Iron Man or Iron Man 2 and I hope that signals a darker tone for the whole movie. Iron Man 2 tried to tread those waters but chickened out with the last half hour or so, turning a thriller into just another action flick. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but we got fun action flicks all the way through Marvel’s Phase One and Two, for the new stuff I want a little more substance. Luckily for me, this trailer seems to be sending that message. The movie looks very promising. Share your thoughts in the comments!

By Alex Headley

SPOILERS ARE ON FOR THE REVIEW OF BATMAN INC. #8

This exchange is great, it’s the highlight of my comics week for sure. Property of DC Comics.

Batman Incorporated #8

Well, this is it, the end of Damian Wayne, at least for now. Grant Morrison prepares to wrap up his years long epic run on Batman and the end of his arc begins with the end of his brightest star, Damian Wayne. Morrison introduced us to Batman’s bratty, psychotic killer of a son way back in Batman #655 before the New 52 hit. Damian was not well received at first, either amongst fans or in the book itself. Raised by the League of Assassins and dropped off for Batman to deal with as a distraction, Damian quickly took to making the Bat-Family’s life a living hell. There’s not denying that he was a little brat but over the next few years Morrison and Peter Tomasi would make everyone love the little guy. We first got a glimpse of his potential after Bruce died in Final Crisis (also written by Morrison) and Dick Grayson took over as Batman, making Damian his Robin. That first volume of Batman & Robin, by Morrison and Frank Quitely, was fantastic and quickly established Damian as one of the best characters in the DCU. The new dynamic duo slowly bonded over fighting crime and Damian grew a conscience and a heart , eventually winning over the family while still being a bit of a thorn in their side. Volume two of Batman and Robin by Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have made the character even better, building him up over the last 17 issues into a well rounded and well loved character. I dare say that Tomasi wrote him better than Morrison but it’s ol’ Grant that gets the last word, killing the character on the last page of Batman Inc. #8 as he fights to save his father and the rest of Gotham from his rampaging mother.

This issue is great, but that’s not surprising at all because the whole series has been consistently excellent. And though, the New York Post’s interview with Morrison spoiled what would have otherwise been quite a shocking ending, it’s still heartbreaking to see Damian go out fighting against his mother’s twisted vision for what he should have been. His last words are especially rough because we finally see his bravado crack. Damian has had emotional moments before, especially with his father and Alfred over in Batman & Robin but in battle he is usually quite literally a cocky son of a bitch (Talia is downright ruthless these days). But as death approaches, he cracks, and so does the reader. Up until that last page or two, you really think that he can pull it off (if it weren’t for the spoiler at least) as he takes on wave after wave of bad guys and gets the upper hand against his evil twin early in the fight. But he goes down under a hail of arrows and a sword to the chest. Batman escapes his death trap just in time to see his son dead at the hands of Talia’s monstrous clone and breaks down. I’m not sure where Morrison is taking the story next, but there will surely be hell to pay in the coming months.

But enough about the death, the early bits of this issue are where the real quality lies. Robin gloriously charges into battle, proving every bit the warrior and vigilante his father is before teaming up with Grayson one last time in a sequence that is both hilarious and appropriate for what comes next. It’s a great playback to the first volume of Batman and Robin and it made me want to open up those back issue instantly. The classic dynamic duo double punch even makes a return, although its far less effective than it was before. We also get a great opening scene with Red Robin that makes me like the character again for the first time in years. Jason Masters handles the art for these pages and though I’m unfamilar with him as an artist, I have to say I really enjoyed his style. Chris Burnham takes over the rest of the issue and is fantastic as usual. His unusual layout approach is great for the Damian vs. Damian fight and I love the smoke cloud sound effects earlier in the big battle. But it’s no surprise at this point that Burnham does a great job.

Morrison always has a big game plan for his stories, so we’ll see if Damian’s death sticks or if his Al’ Ghul bloodline gets him out of it somehow. Regardless, we are in for a few months of the Batman Family experiencing their biggest loss since Jason Todd died at the hands of the Joker. Of course this time, it’s not an adoptive son for Bruce. It’s his own flesh and blood. The first glimpse of this will be Batman and Robin 18, an all silent issue as Bruce begins the grieving process.

The cover to Guardians of the Galaxy #1. Property of Marvel Comics.

Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1

Brian Bendis kicks off his run on the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe with a look at the origin of Peter Quill, aka Starlord. This is an interesting tale that puts a much more human, earth-centric spin on the character than we saw in the last volume of GoG and despite my misgivings about Bendis handling my favorite Marvel franchise, I enjoyed it. Much like Nova last week, I was pleasantly surprised by this issue, despite the lack of Rocket Racoon and Groot. Peter has an origin that is both very in line with Marvel Comics and a few classic sci-fi tropes. This story focuses mostly on Quill’s mother and her love affair with Spartoi spaceman, J’son. We get a fun little romance montage that artist Steve McNiven really knocks out of the park. It’s completely silent (a rarity in Bendis comics) and works very well. We also see early evidence of Peter’s heroic nature as he defends kids on the playground from bullies. Iron Man makes an appearance at the end and it looks like he will be full fledged member of the team, something I’m not crazy about but at least his new armor is cool and it’s interesting to see the character branching out a bit. I don’t have too much more to say about this issue, as it is a fairly standard setup story for bigger things to come but one thing I didn’t like is the new costumes for the team, specifically on Gamora and Starlord. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Gamora finally has the sense to wear armor into combat but it lacks any personality. It’s the exact same thing that Peter is wearing and it’s just not memorable at all. It’s generic and feels like a bad sci-fi movie prop. I miss Starlord’s helmet and Gamora’s skull motif. Maybe the costumes will improve a bit down the road (Gamora is in her classic get-up in Nova) but for the moment I’m less than enthused. Drax, Groot and Rocket look fine, if still a bit lacking in classic comic style. The last couple of pages are a bit exposition heavy for my tastes as well but it serves its purpose well enough. Overall, I liked the book and I will definitely be back for more when the next issue hits.