Posts tagged The Shade

How to complicate your timeline, the Batman way!

I’d like to preface this entry with a disclaimer: Last night, I went to bed with a sore throat. This morning, I woke up with a swollen uvula, unable to talk. I’ve been in and out of consciousness all day, in varying states of medication. So…there may be more than a few slips of feelings in here. What I’m trying to say is, shit be cray. Shit be extremely cray.

It’s the second week of Zero Month! I feel compelled to inform y’all that the “first” issue of a new book, Team 7, is out today, but I won’t be reading it, personally. Y’all feel free to make your own decisions. That being said, we’ve got four books to cover, woo! A moment of silence for the final issue of The Shade. Right. Let’s go!

Are you reading Marceline and the Scream Queens yet? No? Man, what’s wrong with you? I cannot say enough good things about this book. If you are a temperamental musician or have ever had to deal with one, this third issue is right up your alley. Bad reviews suck, but they’re also a good way of figuring out exactly what went wrong, and how you can change to be awesome! Though…I’m fairly sure that magazine is owned by the guy whose lips Marceline tried to eat, so it may not be a completely fair judgement. The backup story featuring the Earl of Lemongrab was cute, though it doesn’t make me like the character. Watch for a cameo from Marcie’s ex!

Nope. Nope nope nope. All aboard the nope train to fuckthatville. I don’t know why reboot Superboy is being treated like this. I really don’t. I mean, what’s the point? It’s like, Kryptonians are no longer allowed to just be heroes, they have to be sympathetic creatures, abused by us evil Earthlings. At least, that’s what I’ve been getting from the Superboy and Supergirl books. Okay, so. This origin issue of Superboy features Harvest, of course, and it details the history of the Kryptonian clone wars, more than it talks about Superboy himself. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Harvest is actually Superboy from a thousand years into the future, physically warped and ka-pinged back through time. Y’know, like Time Trapper was Superboy-Prime in Legion of Three Worlds. DeFalco, I have no idea what you’re going for with this book. Do you want to make Superboy a villain? Are you trying to get people to associate the name Kon with negative shit? What are you trying to do here, man? Look. Superboy hasn’t really been Kon since Young Justice ended. Post-Graduation Day, he was Conner Kent. And it was like, with the name change, his entire personality shifted. There was a time where I legitimately thought Kon and Conner were different people. Kon-El was this fun kid. He’d lived in Hawaii, he’d managed an apartment building in Metropolis, he delivered witty one-liners and ogled bikini babes and watched Wendy the Werewolf Stalker. Conner Kent…liked Wonder Girl. He was distressed that he was half Luthor. He died for our sins, at one point. I don’t know where I’m going with this. Preboot Kon? Fun dude. New 52 Kon? One step away from actually being Match. Next book.

How many times can one company do the origin of fuckin’ Batman? Dead parents, swears vengeance, I am the night, boy sidekick, yatata yatata yatata. I highly doubt that even Scott Snyder could…pull off…
That’s…new. Instead of starting at the beginning, the cause and effect process that turned Bruce Wayne into Batman, Scott Snyder instead chose to show the man before he became the Bat, but not before he became a vigilante. We also get our first look at the Joker before he was the Joker, in a unique spin on his Killing Joke Red Hood origin. The madman was always scum, it would seem. But the most interesting thing, to me, was the second story, written by James Tynion and featuring the sidekicks. It’s set five years in the past, which…well. Five years ago, Batman was only just starting out. Dick Grayson’s parents were still alive, Jason was helping to rob convenience stores so he could eat, and Tim was in middle school. Babs hadn’t put on the Batgirl suit yet. Where to begin.
Okay, first off? Five years is not enough time to go through three sidekicks. That’s just bullshit. Dick stopped being Robin because he felt he’d outgrown the role. He disagreed with Batman on many points, and was tired of living in the shadow of the Bat, so he became Nightwing. Jason died. That’s how he lost his Robin panties, he died. In a universe where Steph existed, Tim first gave up the suit to appease his dad, but later came back. The second time he lost the title, it was because Dick needed to keep an eye on Damian, and making him Robin was the best way to do it. All of this happened over the course of more than a decade and a half. Dick first became Robin when he was 8; here, he’s clearly in his late teens. Jason is probably about 15. Tim is 11 or 12. Uh. No? That makes Dick, at best, 24 right now. Not to mention Damian. If this story takes place 5 years before the current New 52 timeline, and Bruce had been gone from Gotham for four years training, and he was already established as Batman when he and Talia did the horizontal hoedown, how is Damian ten?!
And then there’s Babs. In order for this timeline to work, Babs would have to have put on her Batgirl costume the night after she saw the Batsignal for the first time. That’s the only way I can imagine how she could have a legitimate career as Batgirl, a time as Oracle, and the operation that gave her her legs back in the allotted time.
Ha. Did I say most interesting? I meant most infinitely frustrating.

God bless the Shade and all who sail in him. It’s fitting that the final issue of The Shade is his origin issue. I read earlier this week that James Robinson intended this issue to be set before the first issue of the Shade miniseries from years ago (which is a fantastic read, if you should ever happen upon it), but I didn’t realize it would be so…sad. Richard Swift is an enigmatic character, under Robinson’s pen. He has his faults, his failures, his victories. He is good, evil, neutral. He has friends, loves, family. He is something that most writers can only dream of creating, a fully-faceted, rounded, interesting character. It’s funny. This series isn’t connected to the New 52 at all, and yet, aside from Animal Man, it’s my favorite thing about the reboot. Could we have had a Shade book in the old universe? Probably, but as there were quite a few quality books running at the time, it might have been overlooked. Now, however, these twelve issues have been like gold dust in a windstorm. Will we see more in the future? Well, I suppose that all depends on whether or not DC feels that an ongoing book like this could make money. Now, this is just me, but I feel like it would.

It’s entirely too late for me to still be wearing pants. I’m sorry about wordvomiting all over your screens, but…yeah. Punk Rock Jesus also came out today, by the by. It’s a good book, I like it. In other news, one of my eyes keeps falling shut. I think this might be nature’s way of telling me to go to bed. Goodnight, everybody.


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Oh yes, it’s ladies week!

I’ve started to look forward to the second week of the month, if only for the fact that I get to think up new ways to use the term ‘ladies week’ in the title of my review. So, who are the ladies of this week, you may ask? My personal femininity trinity, Supergirl, Batwoman and Wonder Woman! Oh, and of course, Kori in RHatO, the lovely ladies of the Legion of Superheroes, and Brenda over in Blue Beetle. Rock on with your bad selves!

I’m kicking off ladies week with Green Lantern. Obviously, just trying to get the testosterone out of the way as quickly as possible. So, what have we learned this time around? Well for starters, Black Hand is terribly predictable when it comes to one-liners. “Death is at hand!” Really? Really, Geoff Johns? Actually, this issue is probably the first of this new Green Lantern book that I’ve just plain disliked. For one thing, we get to see what was kept from the old DCU in regards to the vast mythos that encompasses the Green Lantern Corps, sort of. John still blew up Mogo, as seen in War of the Green Lanterns. Blackest Night still happened, obviously. The war of light still happened. Kyle Rayner still carries the title of Torchbearer, which means that at one point, he was still Ion, which means that the events of Zero Hour and Green Lantern: Rebirth must have happened, too. How did I come to this? Okay. If Hal Jordan had never gone off the deep end and become Parallax, he never would have ended up destroying the Corps and then ultimately dying. Which means Kyle Rayner never would have gotten a ring of his own, eventually leading him to restoring the Green Lantern Corps and accepting the Ion entity into his body. In conclusion…DC, your reboot makes no fucking sense at all. Hard reboot basically everything else, leave Green Lantern, Legion of Superheroes, and Batman almost completely untouched. This is not how a reboot is supposed to work, get your shit together. Anyway, back to the issue at hand. Now, when I said that the plot twist was predictable, I meant it. It was ridiculously predictable, from the moment I read the words “Hal Jordan is not your enemy” in the Book of the Black. I mean it’s like, hello. If he’s not your enemy…obviously he’s going to be your greatest ally. That’s how comics work. There is no neutral ground with this stuff. In any case, I have nothing more to say about Green Lantern that isn’t a cheap shot at the Guardians being supposedly all-seeing, yet being unable to see that Hal clearly is still wielding a Green Lantern ring when looking right at him. Way to drop the ball on that, guys.

I have exactly one complaint regarding Legion of Superheroes this month. One. And that’s this: Paul Levitz, you’ve been writing these characters for years. How in the hell did you seemingly forget that Nura is Naltorian? She’s not human. Speaking in a purely evolutionary sense, she’s more than human. Above humans. Other than that, way to go. Nura and Luornu kicking major ass, Chuck Taine at his most relevant in years, you even managed to showcase the talents of the new recruits. This was a great fight scene issue, hopefully next time, we get to find out what was up with Grava.

I quit. I’m done. Nothing can top this. I can’t even do an accurate analysis, let alone a proper review, of this month’s issue of Blue Beetle. It can be summed up in a sentence: Khaji-Da finds Jesus. I’m sorry. I’m laughing too hard to even focus right now.

And just like that, I’m back. Now, I’m not a fan of Fabian Nicieza. No, that’s an understatement. I loathed 90% of his Red Robin run, and firmly believe that the only good thing he’s ever written was a Babsgirl/Catwoman comic drawn by Kevin Maguire. So I’m going into this month’s one-shot issue of DC Universe Presents, starring Kid Flash, prepared to dislike it. I’ve not been pleased with the way Bart’s been shown in the reboot. Lobdell and Booth seem to have spliced together his pre-Max Mercury personality and that of the DC Animated Universe’s Wally West which, while not a terrible combination, has been used in the worst way. In fact, Bart has been passed from terrible writer to terrible writer for so long, I think I can honestly say that the only thing I’ve liked him in for the past, oh, eight years or so? Kid Flash Lost, by Sterling Gates. But that’s the past. And technically the present. Enough preamble; how is this issue? To sum it up in two words, not bad. Speedsters tend to be motor-mouths, they even think at the speed of light. I enjoyed all the internal dialogue in this issue, reminded me a lot of KFL. What I don’t understand, however, is how Bart managed to pull a Deadpool and break the Fourth Wall several times over the course of the issue, most notably at the beginning and end. Though I must say, I laughed out loud at, “If you’re a masochist, check out Teen Titans #12”. Something tells me Lobdell will be responding to that one in his usual fashion. Another thing I liked was the art style. Jorge Jimenez is a relative newcomer, I only recognize his name from a Batman: Arkham City comic I never picked up from last year…but I like him. His style reminds me a lot of the art in Empowered. A little bit manga, a little bit rock and roll. I especially enjoyed his take on Bart’s costume, and the design of the new character Teryx and Dac. He’s also amazing at drawing Bart in motion. I hope Brett Booth takes a lesson here, because wow. Okay. I admit it. I’m impressed. The issue managed to overcome the instances where Bart felt the need to flirt with Dac for no reason other than “GIRL SHE’S A GIRL OHMYGOD SHE’S A GIRL” by being completely awesome in other aspects. You win this round, Nicieza.

Guess what didn’t get shorted this week?! When I saw that I had a copy of The Shade in my pile, I got the overwhelming urge to hug the guy that pulls comics. I didn’t because, well, there’s only one person in my LCS that I can annoy like that and get away with it, and Chris ain’t him. Anyway! We’re now officially one issue from done, people! The best thing James Robinson’s done in years is going buh-bye. If you haven’t been able to find copies of the individual issues, please, please try and pick up the trade or trades, when they come out. We need to let DC know that we’re not ready to let go of Mr. Robinson at his best. As for this issue, wow. Wow. When I like a book like this, I find it hard to truly review. In a way, I don’t want to spoil the surprises for those who haven’t had a chance to read it yet. So I will say this and this alone: Richard Swift is a man who can battle gods and win…without killing his enemy, should he not wish to. I implore you, dear reader. Get this issue on your own. You’ll not regret it.

Star Wars cover? Really, RHatO? I…no. I can’t. I can’t take you seriously. Roy, no one will get that reference to an awful book. You are on a star cruiser orbiting a distant world. No one in space has read Fifty Shades of Grey. Oh. Oh no. This isn’t happening. I’ve spent a year badmouthing this book, dismissing it as tripe, I can’t suddenly be starting to…like it, can I? Allow me to explain. Despite Komand’r’s Czarnian makeover, she manages to do a particularly heel face turn and show her true colors…as forever loyal to her sister and Tamaran. On one hand, noooo. I’ve always enjoyed Komand’r as the ‘black sheep’ of the royal family of Tamaran, which is why I liked seeing her in her own right as Queen in the last R.E.B.E.L.S. series. But on the other hand, I do love a good story of betrayal. Because this is what it’s setting up to, right? There is no way the ultimate alien bad girl is…nice, right? Come on, Lobdell. Don’t do this to me. You can’t. You’ve done so much already. Just…let me have this. Broken trust, a nice, fragile emotional state for Kori to use as an excuse to push her friends out of her life. Please. I need this to be where this story is heading. Or else…I don’t even know. Also, next month, yet another fucking origin for Jason. Enough! I wanna know about Roy! Give Roy an origin!

Oh my good lord. I could weep. J.H. Williams III is back in the artistic saddle, and will you guess who’s come along for the ride this issue? The woman of bats and the woman of wonder, together for the first time. Oh, gosh. The issue could be a bit hard to follow, with several plots going on all at once, sometimes even two on one page! Wonder Woman’s story follows her battle with mythic creatures to protect the world. Batwoman’s story has her teaming up with Abbot the wolfman to fight Bloody Mary and discern the location of Medusa, who, as it turns out, is a person, not an organization. Bette’s story follows her recovery, and her desire to don a mask again as soon as possible. And Maggie’s story follows her helplessness at being unable to locate the missing children of Gotham. Thankfully, having read JHW’s stuff before, I didn’t find it very difficult from panel to panel. In fact, looking back at it once I got over being completely overwhelmed at first glance by all the detail that goes into a single page, the stories blend rather nicely. Diana is fighting a visible enemy. She’s getting her hands bloody, seeing her progress as it happens. Kate is fighting an enemy she cannot find. She’s not moving forward, or backward. Her progress is at a standstill. This is a story that should not be missed. If you haven’t been reading Batwoman so far, correct your grievous error and start.

I don’t like Simon Tycho. As bad guys go, he’s no Lex Luthor, but he’s certainly slimy. Harnessing alien technology only to turn around and sell it? Not cool, bro. In any case, whoops, revealed the big plot twist anyone could see coming from a mile away. Simon found the rest of Kara’s pod before she could…and he just wants to talk? I’m more concerned with the Superman/Supergirl interaction. I have a confession to make. I haven’t read a single issue of Superman or Action Comics since the reboot. All of my knowledge of Big Blue comes from Justice League and the appearances he’s made in Superboy and Supergirl. And…I don’t like what I see very much. He comes off as kind of a douche, with more concern for people Kara hurt accidentally than his cousin herself. I mean, Jesus Supes. At least offer to teach the girl English or something.

I’ll get to everything else in a second, but holy hell you guys. The New fucking Gods are coming back. That means Orion. That means Lightray. That means the most badass woman to ever walk the DCU, Big Barda. I mean, I know we got Darkseid back in Justice League, but this is a bit of a bigger deal to me. Darkseid…you can’t go more than a couple of years without Darkseid. He’s like that one really annoying sticky out hair that grows on the blind spot on your chin and will always come back, no matter how often you pluck it. But the rest of the New Gods, you guys! Highfather! The Forever People! Aaah, I can’t stand it!
Ahem, but back to what actually happened in the rest of this issue of Wonder Woman that wasn’t the very last panel. The throne of Zeus has been taken up by Apollo. Hera is banished and made mortal. But most importantly, the messenger of Olympus, the god of thieves, Hermes has shown his true colors. Stealing Zola’s baby just after it is born, he’s delivered it to his aunt, Demeter. But why? Why would Demeter want the baby fated to slay the king of heaven? It’s a mystery, all right, and one we’re not even going to get hinted at until October. Damn it, #0 month.

And that was this week in comics. Ahh, ladies week. Who cares that it’s 4 am. I feel happy and whole. Hope to see y’all back next week. Same place, hopefully not the same time.

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Ladies week strikes back!

This is going to be the biggest week I’ve done in a while, with eight new books and the issue of The Shade my comic shop was shorted last week, so if it’s all the same, I’m going to just jump right in.

So, a show of hands as to who figured the Silk Spectre book would dive headfirst into a plot about drugs. I kind of figured they’d deal with that sort of thing, San Francisco in the 60s hello, but second issue in order to make it the primary plot of the mini? That take balls. Calling it now, Laurie’s boyfriend Greg is going to die. That’s the reason she ends up going back to her mother. As usual, I’m more enamored by the look of this book than the actual story going on. Amanda Conner’s psychedelic clothing designs are really rocking my world, but believe it or not, they’re second to the backgrounds she’s been laying down. From the grim and gritty warehouse in the opening scene to the interiors of the hippie pad where Laurie is living, the scenery is just blowing me away. Here’s hoping DC gives Ms. Conner more work in the very near future.

I’m done with Justice League. I can’t stomach it anymore. I can’t. Steve Trevor hasn’t been mentioned in the Wonder Woman book once, yet he’s all over this book. Hell, he’s probably considered a main character. He’s dead now, though, so I hope none of you were very attached to him. God, this book. Eight pages dedicated to Diana and Hal having a slapfight that the entire League gets pulled into, six pages of stuff that’ll actually be relevant for more than an issue. Nope, I’ll pass. The back up is a bit better, somehow. Billy is still behaving like a little shit, but at least he’s a little shit that is thinking about others? No, I lied, this is still terrible. Ugh, next book.

Why am I doing this to myself? Most people would give themselves a little breathing room between terrible books, but not me, baby! I soldier on! And speaking of soldiers, time for Kori to get yet another origin story. Seriously, she’s had like, three in eleven issues. Give Roy a chance sometime. So anyway, in this new origin, Kori and her sister Komand’r actually like each other! I guess? Because Komand’r does a bit of a 180 by the end of the issue…oh yeah, and this issue is told as a flashback story from Roy’s point of view, so there’s that. For the most part, this isn’t a bad story. The pacing is a bit better, I’m really starting to like the character of Isabel, and Kori’s crew is pretty interesting as well. I don’t really have much to complain ab- hahaha Komand’r what are you wearing?! Girl, you look like you mugged Lobo for his clothes and eyeliner! Maybe it’s just me, but I’m actually losing my taste for Kenneth Rocafort’s art. His women have begun to seem a bit too flawless, and his men, especially Jason, look too scrawny. So, what’s keeping me here? Well, I love Roy Harper. I love Koriand’r. And while I’m not fond of this version of him, I love Jason Todd. It’s a devotion to the characters I adore that’s keeping me reading a book where they are at their worst. This…does not say good things about me.

This month’s issue of Batwoman really did a great job of marrying the three story lines into one flowing plot. Sune the shapeshifter has escaped from right under Kate and the D.E.O.’s noses, the Bette coma plot was resolved nicely, and Kate and Maggie are no longer in danger of breaking up. Let’s start with Bette who, after several issues of unconsciousness, was finally roused from her slumber. Did her body finally heal enough to allow her to wake up? Was she just too stubborn to die? Was the promise of getting to put a mask on again to tempting to pass up? We may never know, but I like to think that it was a combination of the three things that brought her back to us. The Kate and Maggie plot was resolved in a bit of a hurried fashion, with Kate disclosing information about her family, both dead and alive, and Maggie talking about her daughter seeming to bring them closer than ever before. It’s one thing to lose someone you care about, but losing everyone, and feeling like you’re alone in the world, is what really linked them. As for the Sune plot…it’s not over. Not by a long shot. Falchion is dead, and Sune is now in charge of the monsters he created. This story is in its middle game, with the end still out of sight. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

I’m really enjoying Legion of Superheroes again, and all it took was Brainy getting kidnapped. So, to add to the things I was generally unaware of regarding Dominators: they eat people? I guess that can’t be considered cannibalistic, as the people they eat aren’t of their kind, but they still eat sentients. That’s kind of gross. I’m not ashamed to admit that Brainiac 5 is my favorite character in this book, but today, Mon-El came super close to winning my heart. Go Mon! You call Rokk out on his douchiness! In a final turn of ‘the fuck did I just read’, the biggest Legion fangirl in the known universe shoots a core Legionnaire in the back. Why, Grava? Why? I’m guessing post-hypnotic suggestion, as she does say that someone ‘told’ her to, but I can’t be sure. Guess we’ll have to find out next month…before our heroes end up as dinner!

I don’t know what it is with my shop and The Shade, but it’s like no one wants me to read it or something. Why is that? I love this book! The art has me a little thrown, but the writing! The dialogue! The banter, mother of god, the banter! I’m home. Truly, I am home. If The Shade has done anything at all, it has reestablished James Robinson as a fantastic wordsmith, not someone who is completely bugfuck insane. “Welcome to pain.” Pah! Nothing painful about this. In this eleventh issue, we finally find the rhyme and reason behind Shade’s world tour, and that’s…Egyptian gods? Yes, okay. I wasn’t really in this for the ongoing plot, anyway. You see, if there is one thing I’ve always loved about Richard Swift, it’s how clever he is. He sees that his great-grandson and company have gods powered down and enslaved, so he fakes powerlessness in order to free them. Smart man, that Shade. Though, now he has to fight gods to save London, so I suppose that intelligence is relative. The endgame approaches! Two issues until the sure to be stunning finale, and I’m on the edge of my seat. Here’s to not being shorted next month!

Okay, no. Just from the cover, no. Jaime, what are you doing. Booster, what are you doing. Stop that. Be friends. Ahem. The plot of this issue of Blue Beetle is actually pretty cut and paste. Jaime goes looking for someone who can help him, Booster says he can help him, it’s a trick, they fight, rinse and repeat. But the details…Blue Beetle exists to break my heart. I asked about Ted Kord at the New 52 panel at Florida Supercon recently, and I was told to “Forget about him for a while.” I know this issue was written long before I asked my question, but Jaime yelling at Booster that he thought they could be friends, and Booster replying, “Not in this lifetime!” just killed me. I will say, Jaime’s grandmother is pretty badass, and the Paco and Brenda subplot is going to be really good once it reaches its head, but goddamn, this book is just bringing on the heartbreak harder than the Mariah Carey cover.

And the comeback kid strikes another one out of the park! Supergirl is one of two books that clawed its way back onto my buy list simply by refusing to just give up and suck. Now, the fight scene in this issue was pretty interesting, but I’m more invested in watching Kara learn about her powers and slowly grow out of being alternatively terrified and angry at everything around her. Also, Siobhan and her brother Tom? Probably among my favorite new/retooled characters of the reboot, simply because they can just roll with a freaked out Kryptonian. That takes some serious balls. In any case, who remembers Simon Tycho, our Big Bad from the early issues? Looks like he’s paying people to find Kara again, which means that he’ll probably be back in the picture soon. Whoa oh, but not as soon as next month’s guest star, the big blue boy scout himself, Superman!

Diana really just needs to put a harness on Zola, the rate this girl gets kidnapped. Seriously, didn’t they just pull her out of hell? And now she’s ascended, alive, into the realm of the gods known as Heaven. Hey, at least she’s getting some sightseeing done during her pregnancy, right? In any case, with Cliff Chiang back on the art, Strife no longer looks terrifying! Hera, however…in her defense, Hera is just a terrifying individual. She was willing to give up Zeus’ throne to Apollo in order to get her hands on Zola. There’s crazy, and then there’s Hera crazy. You don’t fuck with Hera crazy. So, a battle for the throne is soon to be at hand! Though, an important question I’d like to ask, is Lennox…dead? Because he looked like he might be dying after that fight with Artemis. I hope not, I like him very much. I suppose only time will tell.

And that’s this week in comics. Ugh, late by two hours, again. My sincerest apologies, I’ve been plagued by a migraine literally since I woke up yesterday morning, and it has sort of impeded my ability to focus. I’ll do better next time. Until then dears, I am, now and forever, Touch of Grey.

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Better late than never!

Welcome back to the ToG Blog for, uh, let’s call it hangover Thursday. Not that I actually had a hangover this morning, mind you…ah well. All excuses aside, it’s time to get to those comics!

I’ve got issues with Earth-2 that have nothing to do with Alan Scott. James Robinson, we need to have a chat. While I find it fantastic that you’re apparently enjoying Animal Man as much as I am, having Alan be the representative of the Green on Earth-2 instead of controlling the power of the Star Heart is…a little offputting. Especially considering the third storyline this issue deals with…I’ll get to that in a sec. To address the thing that pretty much everyone reading this book has been bitching about on the internet since the previews came out, Sam is dead. He had one issue of existence, and now it’s gone. I’m very disappointed in you, DC. You had this whole “We’ve got a new gay guy! Very iconic! You’re gonna love him!” thing going on, you give Alan a cute partner that people wanted to know more about, and then you kill him. Way to go, you. So yeah. The first story is focusing on Alan being chosen to protect the Earth as a representative of the Green. The second story involves Jay ‘fighting’ Hawkgirl. I’m actually sort of excited to see which Doctor Fate James Robinson plans to put on this Earth. I hope it’s Hector Hall, if only for the chance that his wife Lyta might be around too. Now onto the third story. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that JR was inspired by the current run of Animal Man for this but…the Rot is on Earth-2, and its champion is Grundy. Last we saw Grundy, in the old DCU, Bizarro was flinging him into the sun during Blackest Night. I’ve always like the character of Grundy. From the infamous ‘Solomon Grundy want pants too!’ commercial from my childhood, to his friendship with Hawkgirl in the Justice League animated show, to ‘smart Grundy’ in The Tornado’s Path, to the Grundymen in Morrison’s Limbo Town, to his various appearances throughout the DCU as a whole, Solomon Grundy has just been entertaining to me, as well as the right amount of creepy. I’m looking forward to seeing exactly what his presence on Earth-2 means for everyone living there. He seems to have the same life-sucking powers as everything we’ve seen from the Rot over in Animal Man, but who knows? Anyway, next month? Al Pratt! Woo!

You don’t want to know how long it took me to get an issue of The Shade. It came out three weeks ago, and my LCS finally got their copies from Diamond yesterday. In the defense of the shipping company, my shop probably orders less than 20 copies a month, because not that many people pick it up. Personally, compared to all the Grimm Fairie Tales issues they order, I find it a travesty, but that’s a complaint for another day. I’m not as familiar with Frazer Irving as I have been with most of the other artists on this book. I know he worked with Grant Morrison on the Klarion mini for Seven Soldiers of Victory, and he did a few pre-boot issues of Batman and Robin (specifically, the issue where Damian beats the shit out of the Joker with a crowbar), and I’m fairly sure I’ve seen his art connected to the John Constantine books once or twice, but it’d take a bit of Google-fu I don’t quite feel like doing to confirm that. It’s funny, I just realized that I spend more time talking about the creators on Shade than I do the actual story. Maybe it’s because, as entertaining and interesting as the content is, the main appeal behind this book, for me, is getting to see different artists at work on a single storyline. Still, the Shade story is coming to a head. Richard is back in London to confront his errant descendant about his cultist activities as of late. It’s really a funny issue, as Shade’s almost condescendingly bored quips at Dudley really showcase his specific brand of humor. As always, I highly recommend this book to anyone who was a fan of Starman in the past, or anyone who wishes to be a fan of James Robinson now.

Goddamnit, Dan Jurgens. I just…what happened between last month and this month that suddenly turned on Booster’s hidden heterosexuality? He’s taunting me, I’m telling you. Anyway, this month was the epic fight scene, as opposed to next month, which will involve burying the dead. Godiva got a chance to be awesome, Guy finally got his internal monologue on, August General kicked some ass, and it was just generally fun. Best part, though, was just after the fight, when OMAC (the team’s giant whiny baby. My god, I hate that guy) is still pissing about on his little half-rampage, and Booster steps up to calm him down, sans-forcefield. It was pretty rad. But then he went and kissed Godiva and I just…why? No really, why? Last issue, he was going on about it being ‘awkward’ that she wanted him, and he didn’t want her, now he’s getting her hopes up with a smooch. Okay, Booster. You do that. Oh, and then we have the new villain set-up. Remember Lightweaver’s brother, who was all, “No, don’t be a dick! Don’t use your powers like that!”? Well, Lightweaver died. So now the brother is going to use his own powers to fight the JLI, probably at Gavril’s funeral. Classy.

So you know how I keep saying that Animal Man is the best thing to come out of the New 52? I finally pegged why. Buddy Baker will do anything for his family, up to and including finding a way to get himself a new body after he dies and his old one is taken by the Rot. This is the one marriage editorial didn’t touch. The one family they didn’t retcon or destroy. No matter how hard the Rot tries, Buddy will never abandon Maxine. Will never allow their enemies to hurt Cliff. He would die for any one of them, Ellen, Cliff, Maxine, even Ellen’s mother. Because they are his family and the place from which he draws his greatest strength. It’s been shown that things will happen to Cliff in the future, that Buddy will eventually die and leave Maxine alone to fend for herself, but for now, he fights on. Also, a good question was raised this issue. Who is the avatar of the Rot? If it’s Grundy again, I’m going to be both pleased and a bit miffed. Who is borrowing from who, in this respect? I suppose it could be an entirely new character, or maybe someone like Garbageman. Oh! Or it could be Black Hand, who was the embodiment of death on Earth for a while, and has recently become a Black Lantern again over in the main Green Lantern book. Before he passed out, Cliff mentioned the name ‘Arcane’. I’m not reading Swamp Thing right now, but could he mean Abby Holland’s uncle, Anton Arcane, a practitioner of dark magic? Actually, a quick search has revealed that yes, that’s exactly who he means…but he also means Abby’s brother, William, who is a new character within the 52. Oh, and apparently he is the avatar of the Rot. Well, then. I guess that answers that! Okay, you’ve got me, I’m more than a little pumped to read Swamp Thing next month. I’ve been hearing good things about it, I may go and pick up the past ten issues early.

Well, that was this week in comics. Sorry it was late but I, heh, I’m only human. As far as you know. See you next week when we take on Batman, the next installment of the Minuteman mini, Superboy, and this month’s issue of the Shade. Here’s hoping I actually get a copy this time!

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Ladies week is back!

So, it’s the second week of the month again…hold me? I mean, on one hand, I’m really looking forward to Supergirl and Batwoman, but on the other hand, there’s Justice League and the Red Hood Night of the Owls tie-in. I’m a mixed bag of feelings, here. Best just jump right in.

Three words: Registering Metabolic Arousal. Tony. Why. I mean, it’s funny, because he’s a teenager and she’s scantily dressed, but really? I’m equally amused and ashamed. Though on the other hand, Jaime is slowly morphing back into that adorably awkward dorky kid that I begrudgingly fell in love with in 2006, while still mourning the loss of Ted Kord. He’s nervous around Bleez not only because she can, and would, kill him in a second, but because he’s trying to remember the stuff his parents taught him about being polite to the ladies, and figure out just how it applies to space aliens. I liked the character interaction in this issue more than I liked the fight, because the fight is connected to the next issue of New Guardians and…yeah. Crossover fever is hitting hard these days, and I’m not pleased about it. Also, and I may not have mentioned this before, but I really like Marcio Takara’s art. He draws a beautiful Jaime, and unlike Ed ‘Tits n Ass’ Benes, he makes Bleez’s suit look more like semi-functional armor than a bondage suit, which is always nice. A moment of silence for Glomulus, who will most likely be back in New Guardians.

Sigh, and it was going so well. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Dominators just because…well, they’re the Dominators. Everything they’re about is in their name. They invade worlds to expand territory, DC’s answer to Skrulls. And while this new storyline is going to focus on Querl and Nura (two of my favorite Legionnaires), and Nura is obviously going to be more ass-kicky than usual, I can’t help but feel anxious. Paul Levitz’s writing has always been pretty questionable to me. His setups are elaborate, but often don’t pan out into anything. I’m still waiting to find out if Mekt was lying about being born with a twin. Francis Portella’s art is fantastic, especially when drawing Nura fighting. Thank you, man who knows how to illustrate a realistic fight scene…with genetically mutated aliens. In any case, this issue is setting up the next arc. Brainy and Dream Girl were kidnapped by Dominators for undisclosed reasons, and Starman quit the Legion to get back the woman he loves without dragging the rest of the team into an interplanetary incident. Let’s focus for a moment on how fucking stupid this idea is. Thom may be Omega-powerful, what with his powers being those of gravity itself, but he’s still healing. He’s still in a goddamn floating wheelchair, but no biggie. He’s just going to steal a spaceship, fly to the Dominator planet, and make everyone fall over or something. Thom, look at your choices. They are bad.

Look at Justice League. No, I’m serious. Just look at it. Don’t bother reading it, you’ll be happier.
Actually, I’m not being entirely truthful. As always, the Barry/Hal interactions are adorably bromoerotic in nature, and Barry is…Barry, stop being so ridiculous. You better tell him what he wants to know, or he’s gonna be so upset with you. Also, can I point out that Bruce has the best way of asking Clark on lunch dates? These boys. These boys. Diana was, for once, less detrimental and more ornamental. She used her lasso, yes, but the main focus of this issue was on her former not-paramour, Steve Trevor. But honestly, don’t try and glean an actual plot from this issue, there isn’t one. It’s a team-up issue without everyone in the team being in the same place at the same time, with both halves of the team (minus Aquaman) coming to the same conclusion: A man named Graves is after them. The backup isn’t much better, because oh my god Billy stop. Stop existing. I would literally prefer this kid to not exist rather than read him like this. Not even Gary Frank’s great visuals can fix this disaster.

I’m going to take a moment to express my excitement over Jill Thompson being the one to tackle this particular issue of The Shade. I’ve always loved Thompson’s Scary Godmother, and her work with the various Sandman characters (especially her Little Endless story books, and the entirety of Brief Lives, my favorite arc), so having her attached to the best mini DC has put out in some time? Yay! This issue deals with Albert Caldecott, another one of Shade’s grandchildren, and tells the story of how his lover summoned, and was then possessed by, a minor servant demon known as a homunculus. That’s literally the entire issue, so let’s ignore it and talk about expressions. Thompson’s expressions are what made me a fan, the first time I read Brief Lives. She’s on par with Amanda Connor and Kevin Maguire when it comes to body language, and could probably do a silent comic without having any trouble telling the story of what’s going on. If you’re only picking up one issue of The Shade, though why you would do that is beyond me, make it this one.

Personal opinion time: Supergirl has gotten better since Kara was given someone to interact with. Siobhan was just the ingredient this book needed to go from yeow to wow! The saga of the Banshee family continues with a bit of history behind the father/daughter reunion. So, my one question is this: If Tommy’s sacrifice ensured that the curse would end and Black Banshee could never harm his daughter again, what plot hole is allowing this fight to take place? Hopefully, that’ll be explained next issue. Another interesting thing is to watch Siobhan struggle with the monster inside that wants to be set free. The fact that she’s fighting it with everything she’s got, rather than submitting to the hunger, is really admirable.

Red Hood and the Outlaws is terrible. So why do I keep reading it? Like I’ve said every time I review a Lobdell-penned book, his dialogue is amateurish, his pacing it enough to make me flip a table, and don’t even get me started on his Jason-narratives. But…then there are moments. Like Jay and Tim bonding over breakfast, or Roy using his arrows to keep a powerless Kori from going into cold shock, or this issue, where the Talon Xiao Loong calmly asks that Jason end his life on his own terms. Scott Lobdell is like…a spec of gold dust in a pile of shit. He’s capable of writing something good, but these spurts of brilliance are few and far between.

Surprisingly, Batwoman isn’t a tie-in to the Night of the Owls event, and I couldn’t be happier. I suppose it’s because this book actually has a plot that isn’t in any way tied to Bruce Wayne and his drama. Several different storylines are running through this issue, so hold on tight. First off, we’ve got the main story, Batwoman and Sune vs Falchion. Badass ladies being badass, I approve. Then there’s the Kate/Sune side-angle which…I don’t want to use the term revenge-gay, but yeah. That seems to be the case, at least until we learn more about her personality. And then, there’s Bette. Coma Bette. Dying Bette. I…I don’t know what to say about this. I’ve never been a huge fan of Flamebird as a hero, but I really did like Bette as a character. She was a minor Titan in the old DCU, and had the potential to become a strong member of the Batfamily…instead, it looks like she’s being fridged. I don’t know. I think this is the first time I haven’t been completely satisfied with an issue of Batwoman. My head hurts.

Oh, Wonder Woman. With every issue, my love for this title grows. How did I ever find you boring?! This particular series is so steeped in mythology, I just can’t handle it. I mean, look at the scene between Diana and her handmaiden. At first, you’re reading it, and everything’s cool…then BOOM the handmaiden is actually Persephone! Who foolishly tried to commit suicide to leave the land of the dead! You think Diana is just going to be getting a normal wedding ring, or maybe a bondage collar of some kind to show that she’s really committed to marrying Hades…then BAM! Noose! Aughhh. I love this book. Love it. But I’m not sure about the guest artist. Tony Akins is nice, but goddamn, bring back Cliff Chiang. Tony, your Strife is hella scary. 

And that would be this week in comics. I’m obligated to inform you that Catwoman and Nightwing came out this week, and they…weren’t complete dreck. They both tied into Night of the Owls and, like Red Hood, their purpose was to humanify one of the Talons. Who knows, maybe this crossover is doing something good, after all.

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Prelude to the Culling? Yeah, I’m going to go with prelude to the Snoring.

A Bat-heavy second week for me as I’ve, shamefully, decided to peruse a book I thought I’d long-since dropped. Pray for me.

I love James Gordon Jr. I always have. He’s a fascinating character; The son of the paragon of noncaped virtue in the DCU, James Jr is a sociopathic serial killer. Everyone in my LCS who knows my feelings on the Bat-villains knows my preferences, and when it comes to Gotham crazies, James Jr is in my top five. So when someone said to me, “Hey Grey, did you know that James Jr is in Batgirl this month?”, I not-so-gracefully flipped my shit. I loved James under Scott Snyder’s pen, but how much would I like him under Gail Simone’s? Luckily, it looks like I’m not going to have to worry about that for another month. James only shows up on the last page, the rest of his appearances take the form of flashbacks from his mother. And as I read this issue, I remembered why I dropped Batgirl in the first place. Babs is…borderline boring. The writer is entirely too fixated on Babs’ time in the chair being traumatic, rather than the acceptance pre-52 Babs had in regards to her disability. And the villain? Grotesque was bit too Larfleeze-esque for my tastes, so I mostly ignored him in favor of the…what do I even call it? Revenge martyring of one of the Joker’s former henchmen? I can see what Gail was attempting to do, but the execution was beyond poor. James Jr, you better be damn worth it for me to continue reading Batgirl.

I’m so done with Batman and Robin. No. I mean it. I can’t do this anymore. Bruce looking over at The Case while worrying about Damian clinched it for me. To read his little speeches about the nature of who Damian is, and how the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…come the fuck on, Bruce. Writers have been condemning Talia as the ‘evil’ parent since day one. Conveniently leaving out all the actual romantic history between her and Bruce. Not to mention his little bit about he holds himself to a higher moral standard…just stop talking. We’re done here. You should’ve got your son a damn cat.

Okay, Suicide Squad. Take a step back and let me in on what the fuck just happened. This issue flashed back and forth so often, I felt like I was watching a Stephen King movie. So, who is the mole within the Suicide Squad? Do I have to go read Resurrection Man to understand next month’s issue? Is Savant going home to Creote now? Why were they able to wipe off the black paint stuff from around Harley’s eyes, but not clear up the grey skin, which is obviously some kind of paint as well, if the normal skintone around her eyes is any indicator? This was supposed to be a cooldown issue, but I’m more confused than anything.

And so ends the adventure in Barcelona. I liked this mini-arc within the Shade’s story, even if it was all for nothing. Richard’s great-grandson is dead, the Inquisitor has been vanquished, and the Shade is off to London. For all that happened this issue, I have very few words with which to explain. I guess I can just call it a fight scene issue, with religious subtext intermixed and be done. And look, I did!

Okay. Scott Lobdell. We need to have a serious chat. This ‘Culling’ event you’re preparing us for has a very…Battle Royale/Hunger Games feel to it, which obviously isn’t so. In fact, we already know who is going to survive to be on this new team of Ravagers, as it was announced months ago as one of the new books replacing the first wave of cancelled series’. So. Aside from Caitlin Fairchild and the new Terra and Beast Boy, our next official Ravager was introduced in Legion Lost (which I actually skimmed through for you people, uchh) this week, the creature called Ridge.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is Scott, you’ve kind of struck out. The Culling is obviously going to be DC’s way of trimming away teenage heroes they’ve got no use for anymore. Fans really, really dislike you as it is, both from the awful comments you make regarding the characters you write, and the actual things you write. You’ve also proven to be fantastic at writing stories that go nowhere and utterly raping well-built traits on characters that you think no one cares about anymore. Well. I care. I care about Percival Edmund Chang. He’s probably dead now, but I care about him, and the rest of Gen 13. Prepare yourself now, because I have little doubt that you’re going to spend quite a bit of time acting as the fandom’s punching bag.

Well, shit. Okay, it’s time for a short lesson in the origins of the different Lantern Corps’. Everyone knows how the Greens came to be, so let’s just start with the ones that have been popping up since 07 or so. The Yellow Lanterns, the Sinestro Corps, were created by Sinestro, who mastered control of the GL’s yellow impurity while he was imprisoned withing the Central Power Battery on Oa. Next came the Red Lanterns, whose rings and batteries were created by Atrocitus from the blood of his fellow prisoners. The Blue Lantern Corps was created by Ganthet and Sayd as a way to help the Green Lanterns during the upcoming Blackest Night. If you don’t know Larfleeze’s story by now, then DC has failed you. And then there are the Star Sapphires. Love warriors who have been shown as able to convert Lanterns of other Corps’ to their cause. Well, guess who has been recycling shocking twists?! Geoff, you’ve done this already, when Fatality went from yellow to pink. Revealing that the Indigo Tribe successfully brainwashed Sinestro and changed the color of his suit is nothing new. However, finally getting some actual info on where the Indigos come from is going to be fantastic. We’ve been getting hints for nearly four years, our time is coming. That being said, this was a pretty great issue, if you like watching Hal Jordan act like an idiot. “Oh, I shouldn’t make constructs because this borrowed energy is unstable? Guess I’m gonna make me some constructs!” This moron, I can’t.

A moment of silence for the art of Amy Reeder, which will be leaving us after this issue.
I really, really don’t like Cameron Chase. Maybe it’s just personal taste, but the ‘driven to the point where sadism masquerades itself as professionalism’ type of character has always resonated with me in a bad way. It’s the main reason I’ve never been a huge fan on Amanda Waller, though I do think she’s pretty badass. You know what? I can’t talk about this issue right now. Not when I’m so upset about Amy Reeder leaving the book before the To Drown the World arc is even finished. I just can’t get over that. Her designs for Killer Croc, this new version of Bloody Mary, not to mention the distinct parallels in body language when she draws Kate Kane as opposed to Batwoman…it’s criminal. Though I understand that she left over undisclosed creative differences, it’s still a really hard blow to an already sore body that is the Batman Family fandom.

That was this week in comics. I’m hungry, I’m sad, and while I certainly didn’t fly off into as blind a rage as I could have, I’m still coming down off my Red Ring high. Hopefully, I’ll see you back here next week. Until then, I’m Touch of Grey.

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Legends and torture and fridging, oh my!

Six titles this week, all DC, all ones I actually enjoy. Maybe this won’t be such a rage-filled week, after all.

I spent most of the five minutes it took me to read Superboy making happy noises. I love Rose Wilson. I love Caitlin Fairchild. I love it when awesome ladies are friends with other awesome ladies. So, the acknowledgement that the two of them cared about each other kind of made me lose my shit a little bit. Also, I just need to say that I don’t read this book to listen to the mental ramblings of Mr. How-Do-I-Emotions. To me, this is Rose’s book. And you know what? I think she’s the first clone. She’s a female clone of Deathstroke. I’m calling it right now, and if it actually happens, you all owe me a soda. Oh, and before I forget, next month…more Gen 13! Yesss! Ahem, I mean, this pleases me. Verily.

Nope. I can’t. I can’t do this. Will someone please go up to Geoff Johns, slap him, and tell him to put his fanfic on his LiveJournal like the rest of us? Because, frankly, if this was good fanfic, I wouldn’t really care. But it has all the standard slashfic cliches: Guy is interested in guy, but said guy is already taken, usually by a woman. Guy makes it so that other guy has no choice other than to work with him. Bondage? Can we just cut to the ending where they make out? And have Marcus To or someone draw it. No offense to Doug Mahnke, but his Sinestro is kind of creepy looking. But enough about the blatant UST which seems to be a central theme in this book. Let’s talk about the Indigo Tribe. Personally, I love this particular Corps, especially because of what they seem to mean to the universe. Their rings, not unlike the rings of the Star Sapphires, completely wipe, and then warp, the personality of the wearer. I mean, they took Black Hand and turned him into a…I want to say militant hippie, because that’s what the Tribe seems to be made up of. And then there’s their manner of speech. I bet Geoff doesn’t actually have a translation guide, he just makes it up as he goes along. I’m a bit worried, though. As they were abducting Hal and Sinestro, Indigo-1 mentioned Natu, as in Soranik Natu, Sinestro’s daughter. Does that mean she’s still around? Do the Indigo have her somewhere? Ooh, I hope we find out soon, I do love my Green Lantern ladies alive, after all.

“Some of my best friends are sodomites.” I love you, James Robinson. I’m really loving the Barcelona stop on the Shade’s world tour. As a character, La Sangre is interesting, charming, and even cute. This Inquisitor fellow on the other hand, is just as interesting, but not as charming. Religious fanatics have always stuck a negative chord with me, especially ones who use their faith as a way to prove they’re better than others. There isn’t much I can say about the actual issue that anyone else won’t be saying. It’s well-written, and the art really suits the arc. To see Shade interacting with country-specific heroes like La Sangre and Montpellier is really a treat, and I hope that trend continues in whichever place he goes next.

Oh, wow. Really now. Hello, fridge! This is going to be a spoilery review, so if you don’t want to know all the happenings of the Suicide Squad, skip to the paragraph after next.
Harley Quinn, we hardly knew ye. No, really, we barely get your updated origin before kaboom, gone. While I find it interesting that Harley wasn’t brought into the life so much as forcibly pushed into it, it really leads me to wonder. What that toxin she was dunked in a last straw that revealed the real madness behind the mind, or did it drastically alter her personality? Also, what the hell is in that juice to make it dye your hair like that? That’s so stupid, it borders on nonsensical. Then again, this is Harley Quinn we’re talking about. Nonsensical is sort of her thing.

What the fuck is wrong with this book. What the fuck is going on in Peter Tomasi’s head. The opening sequence, of Morgan torturing Damian while Bruce rushes to his rescue, is just gross. And then we get into the actual meat of the book, which is a fight scene. Bruce and Morgan throwing each other all over the boat, while Damian just kind of…crawls around aimlessly. And then that ending…what the everloving fuck. Bruce backs down from killing Morgan because he doesn’t want to set a bad example for his son, and then Damian just sort of goes, “Screw this.” and punches him so hard that his fingers go into Morgan’s head. What the fuck, Peter Tomasi. No. I can’t. I really can’t with this book. I want to stop reading it, but it’s the only place where Damian even shows up. Why does this precious hellspawn have to be in the worst Bat-title on my list? Why?

Thank god for Batwoman. While I was sorry to hear that Amy Reeder will soon be leaving the book as artist, she’s certainly bringing her A-game now. Such expressive faces, such beautiful movements, sigh. She will be missed. As for the story, while the Medusa-focused segments did little to forward the plot (mainly because they were flashbacks), they were still very interesting. Sune seems to have more compassion than her brother, Maro. Scratch that. Sune definitely has more compassion than Maro, who sacrificed three women to obtain Bloody Mary. That’s another thing. The horrors that Maro magics up are all based on local legends. The man with the hook for a hand. The Weeping Woman. Bloody Mary. Even Killer Croc represents the pet alligator that someone flushed down the toilet. I like how Falchion wonders what kind of living legend he’ll make Kate into. Don’t you know, B-list supervillain? Batwoman is a local legend, she doesn’t need to change at all, silly.

And that was this week in comics! Also of note, though I chose not to review it, the second issue of Adventure Time came out. If you’re a fan of the show, I’d recommend giving it a read. Anyway, I’ve got to get going now. See y’all next week!

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