Monday, July 27, 2009

Comic Book Reviews - 7/22/2009

I have to make it quick this week as there is much going on. So without further Apu...

What happened? Superboy Prime finally gets what he’s been looking for…and he’s still whining, Carol Ferris debates with a Star Sapphire power ring, Black Lantern Martian Manhunter cracks a joke…and some heads, Covergirl rescues Shipwreck and shows up rather un-covered, Starscream comes out of nowhere with a 24 year old movie reference and Power Girl makes some Blackgate prisoners happy just by walking by.

Pick of the Week

Green Lantern #44
Story by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke

Blackest Night continues to terrify the DC Universe and this issue continues directly from the scene in Blackest Night #1 where J’onn J’onnz appears to Flash and Green Lantern. Doug Mahnke completely steps up his art in a huge way for his GL run and Geoff Johns once again shows why he is one of the superstars in comic writing today.

As he has stated before, this isn’t going to make much sense if you haven’t read Blackest Night #1, but what regular GL reader wouldn’t be reading Blackest Night?? Most of the issue gives us an in-depth look at the encounter between these 3 characters, which gives us the best line of the issue. As Hal and Barry crash through the wall of a firehouse during the fight, there is a loud noise as J’onn is outside literally lifting the building to smash it into another building. As he rips the firehouse from its foundations, Black Lantern J’onn says: “I’m as powerful as Superman. Why does everyone forget that?” As I’ve said before, it’s even creepier that the Black Lanterns have personalities and retain some traits of the original character.

The rest of this issue sets up a cliffhanger with John Stewart, who apparently will be the main GL in the next issue. The issue also shows that the Black Lanterns retain the original character’s powers as J’onn uses his intangibility and telepathy against Hal and Barry during the fight. Excellent continuation of the Blackest Night story and I feel it’s a necessary tie-in.

The Rest

Transformers : All Hail Megatron #13
Story by Simon Furman & Mike Costa
Art by Don Figueroa & Chee Yang Ong

Although not quite up to the level of the main part of this series, the added issues start off pretty well here. As we all know, All Hail Megatron was supposed to be 12 issues, but due to its massive popularity (which was definitely well earned) some extra issues were added to bridge the time between AHM and whatever the next Transfomers story will be.

In this issue we get two stories, one about the Autobots which focuses on Optimus and Ironhide and one about the Decepticons, focusing on Starscream. The Autobot story is honestly a little dull, but the Decepticon one shows Starscream once again attempting to overthrow Megatron while his loyalists cling to the hope that he will recover. The high point of the issue though is Starscream referencing the 1985 Transformers animated movie with this line : “I’d just ceremoniously jettison his (Megatron’s) body out the airlock if I didn’t have the nagging feeling he’d somehow return, even more powerful than before.

This is a direct reference to events in the Transformers movie where Starscream does, in fact, dump Megatron into outer space only to have him be reborn as Galvatron. Galvatron returns to Cybertron to discover Starscream in command…and quickly (and easily) kills Starscream.

I’m really curious to see what the next step in these fantastic Transformers stories will be but the preview image for next issue does involve Galvatron, so we may see Megatron reborn in the comics.

Power Girl #3
Story by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Amanda Conner

Power Girl proves to us that not all blondes are dumb victims, and that freeze breath while not the most impressive of superpowers, can still get you out of a jam if you use your head. Great conclusion to the first story arc and a couple pages to set up the next one. Hopefully the book retains the momentum it built in this first story.

I had to leave out some books from the reviews this week, mainly just due to time issues but I’ll be back with a full run of reviews next week.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

First Look : Superman / Batman : Public Enemies

Click below for the First Look at the animated DVD release of Superman / Batman : Public Enemies along with some new cast information.

Posted on YouTube earlier was a first look at the upcoming adaptation of Ed McGuiness and Jeph Loeb's Superman / Batman : Public Enemies. We get to see some new cast information, including the following :

Power Girl voiced by Allison Mack (Chloe Sullivan on Smallville)
Metallo voiced by John C. McGinley ( Dr. Cox on Scrubs)
Black Lightning voiced by Levar Burton (Geordi LaForge on Star Trek : TNG)
Captain Atom voiced by Xander Berkley (he's been in plenty of movies but I can only remember him as the traitor Secret Service guy in Air Force One)

As well as the return of fan favorites Kevin Conroy as Batman, Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, CCH Pounder as Amanda Waller and Tim Daly as Superman.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Retro Review – (Title Hidden)

Today’s Retro Review is a somber one as we look at an issue chronicling the death of one of the great heroes in the DC Universe. A hero whose recent resurrection in Blackest Night #1 has made the event infinitely more horrifying and heart-wrenching. Do I speak of J’onn J’onnz, the beloved Martian Manhunter? No. How about Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man? No again. Friends and fellow enthusiasts, I speak of....

Ch’p! Yes Ch’p, the bushy tailed alien squirrel member of the Green Lantern Corps. The issue that we’re looking at is, of course, Green Lantern : Mosaic #2 where our hero meets his untimely passing due to a horrible accident.

While Ch’p is helping fellow Lantern Corps member John Stewart locate a villain who is destroying supply roads on Oa, he loses focus and forgets where he is for a moment…but long enough for tragedy to strike.

Ch’p is violently struck down by a speeding yellow truck in much the same way that his Earth cousins often meet their maker. A sad but quick ending for such a valiant rodent. Do we get a huge multi-issue leadup? A twisting and turning Morrisonian psychological breakdown before death? A public execution? Nope. We get a thundering SPLAT and then Ch’p lying in the street, harkening back to the issue’s foreshadowing title : Roadkill.

But death is not the ultimate end for this brave little Green Lantern. Recently showing up front and center (well left of center) in Blackest Night #1, Ch’p has been resurrected as a Black Lantern…overalls and all. I, for one, am dying to see Black Lantern Ch’p square off against either Krypto the Superdog or Dex-Starr the evil Red Lantern cat. Geoff Johns if you are reading my blog (and I know that you do) please give us fans the Furry Fight of the Century somewhere in your epic story.

Ch’p is back from the dead folks…and there is nothing worse than an angry zombie squirrel in overalls.

Guest Review - The Incredibles #4 by Jeffrey Weniger

Check out the review of The Incredibles #4 from Boom! Studios by new guest reviewer Jeffrey Weniger, fellow comics enthusiast and Collector's Edge Wednesday regular. Click below to continue :

The Incredibles #4
Story by Mark Waid
Art by Marcio Takara
Cover by Sean Galloway or Marcio Takara
Lonestar Cover by Tom Scioli

Pixar’s 2004 movie The Incredibles was a “lightning in a bottle” success, combining a great story, fun action, and heart. Even as people were walking out the theater, they were wondering if there was going to be a sequel.

Incredibles fans got a sequel, just in comic form. The problem with any successful project is that sequels almost invariably succumb to the law of diminishing returns. However, the comic sequel to The Incredibles not only matches the style, tone and pacing of the movie, it actually expands the world of The Incredibles making it a worthy successor to the movie.

Boom! Comics has also done something that most major comic companies have been unable to do, put out an all-ages book that appeals to children as well as adults. Also, the comic is just plain fun to read, which also adds to the enjoyment.

This issue is the fourth part in a four-part mini-series, concluding the story line of Mr. Incredible losing his powers and his attempt to hide it from his family. (Don’t panic, Boom! Comics will be releasing this mini-series in TPB.) While they may be super heroes, The Incredibles are a family first. And it was this distinction that made the movie as well as this mini-series successful. Waid was able to craft a story that is sweet, without being saccharine, fun, but also serious, all while being able to appeal to readers from 8 on up. Perfect summer fun for the kid in your family or your own inner kid.

The art is very clean and visually dynamic, incorporating a few splash pages and a clean, easy to follow layout. Waid introduces two new villains for The Incredibles to deal with, as well as giving you an appearance by Frozone (that Samuel Jackson shows up everywhere nowdays).

The good news is that Boom! Comics has announced that The Incredibles will re-launch as an ongoing monthly comic book being written by Mark Waid. So if you are looking for a fun, entertaining read, ask your local comic shop to save you a copy, or keep an eye out on the shelves. If the continuing issues are anything like the last four, you'll enjoy the continuing adventures of the Parr family.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

First Impressions – 7/22/2009

Due to some budgetary concerns I had to leave a few books at the store (Supergirl, Gotham City Sirens, Atomic Robo) but I should be able to grab them next week. Here are the First Impressions of the rest :

Green Lantern #44 – Good stuff and a great line from Black Lantern Martian Manhunter as he picks up a Firehouse to throw: “I’m as powerful as Superman. Why does everyone forget that?”

Final Crisis : Legion of Three Worlds #5 – I can’t think of a better ending, very well done. Also, Starman steals the show with this Gauntlet reference while standing in line at a fast food restaurant : “Warrior needs food badly!”

Blackest Night : Tales of the Corps #2 - The Bleez story was interesting and so was the Carol Ferris piece. The Blume story was a little dull though. Overall, not bad.

Transformers : All Hail Megatron #13 – Did Starscream just reference the 1985 Transformers animated movie?? “I’d just ceremoniously jettison his (Megatron’s) body out the airlock if I didn’t have a nagging feeling that he’d somehow return, even more powerful than before.” Yes, he did.

Power Girl #3 – Just the comments from the inmates as Power Girl walks through Blackgate Prison are worth it. We get such gems as “Cupcakes!”, “I love it that they never wear pants.”, Conjugal, anyone?” and my personal favorite…. “Wanna put you in a fridge!”

GI Joe #7 – Hellooooooo Cover Girl. Way to make an entrance. Ladies, want to impress a guy? Save him from drowning, then stand there all wet in a swimsuit that’s barely there. Works like a charm.

Reviews coming later…..

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Looking Forward to Wednesday - 7/22/2009

Two heavy weeks in a row may require leaving a few books on the shelf for next week but we'll see what happens tomorrow. Click below for this week's pull list :

Most Anticipated Book :

Green Lantern #44 - From the previews it looks like this picks up directly from the scene at Bruce Wayne's grave with Hal and Barry. Duog Mahnke's first issue was tight so this should be the pick of the week.

The Rest :

Blackest Night : Tales of the Corps #2 - Continuing the mini-background stories of key members in the Blackest Night series, alos the second part of the three part linking cover.

Final Crisis : Legion of Three Worlds #5 - Seriously??? Wow, I had honestly forgotten that this never finished. I'll most likely have to re-read the first 4 issues today so I'm caught up. It was good though so hopefully it ends on a decent note.

Gotham City Sirens #2 - First issue was OK but I think this one is the breaking point for me. If it doesn't impress, it's off the list.

Power Girl #3 - One of my favorites right now, Palmiotti, Gray and Conner are producing a stellar book that is more fun than should be allowed in a comic.

Supergirl #43 - Supergirl has been better than it has any right to be since it's new creative team started, let's keep it up.

Wednesday Comics #3 - More giant sized comics goodness :-)

Atomic Robo : Shadow From Beyond Time #3 - THE funniest comic book on the stands continues...

Executive Assistant Iris #2 - This is another book that I may need to drop if it doesn't immediately impress, not that it's bad....I just haev a lot of books right now.

GI Joe #7 - The fantastic re-vamp of the 80s cartoon rolls on with it's current focus on Destro. This has been a great read for this 80s child.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shining Light on Blackest Night Rethought

Hey Everyone,

I had originally stated that Shining Light on Blackest Night would be a weekly feature, but due to time constraints and some other projects that I'm working on it's going to move to being a monthly deal. At the end of each month, we'll recap what happened in the main book and the various tie-ins. I'll also be debuting the Blackest Night Death Board shortly, which will track the number of deaths, per month, that the event generates (as these things tend to kill people off).

Thanks for being patient while I try to streamline the content before taking some bigger steps with this blog.

- Jason

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Judging Books by the Cover – 7/15/2009

In the second of my new feature introductions this week, we’ll be discussing the covers that made the grade or the others that fell short. I’ll try to pick 2 to 4 covers each week, but feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section. On to the covers :

Favorite Cover This Week :

Blackest Night #1
Cover by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert & Alex Sinclair

This cover just evokes the feeling of horror that is contained in the story. It’s even creepier now, knowing that this is most likely supposed to represent Bruce Wayne’s skull which Black Hand is currently carrying around with him everywhere he goes. The VanSciver variant cover was good as well, but I like the simplicity of this cover more.

Runner-Up :

The Last Resort #1
Cover by Darwyn Cooke

OK, I come into this as a huge Cooke fan, and I just realized that I am watching Justice League : The New Frontier while I’m writing this, but this image is well done and brings you into the story. Basically, at first glance, you see a pretty girl in a bikini enjoying a tropical drink. Look closer though, and you see the eyeballs floating in the cocktail which is resting on top of a skull. Cooke is one of my favorite artists for his simple and clean lines and this cover is no exception.

Least Favorite Cover :

Titans #15
Cover by Angel Unzueta & Wayne Faucher

My main problem with this cover is that this image or event occurs nowhere inside the book. This really bothers me with certain comics. In my opinion, the cover should at least have some reference to what is contained inside. The cover shows Tempest, obviously enraged, taking down Cyborg (not Cyclops as I previously wrote in some strange Marvel / DC crossover in my mind) while the other Titans lay defeated at his feet. In an issue where he spends most of it moping about Atlantis not accepting him, this is out of place.

Who are all of those dead Green Lanterns????

That's exactly what I asked myself when I saw the double page spread in Blackest Night #1. After consulting the Green Lantern Secret Files & Origins issue that came out around the time of the Sinestro Corps, I've managed to identify 45 different Green Lantern characters in this image. Click below for more:

Here we have the image, numbered with the names of the Lanterns at the bottom. If you have trouble clikcing on the image to enlarge it, please try the link below the image and make sure to click the Full Size button once you are in PhotoBucket.

If I've missed any or mis-named anyone, please let me know :-)


Prime Panels - 7/15/2009

Welcome to the first installment of Prime Panels, a weekly trek through the comic images that made these titles worth reading. This week’s stack was pretty hefty and yielded some excellent moments and highlights. Due to some technical difficulty, this will only be part one of the images focusing on Blackest Night. Part two will hopefully be up shortly and have some shots from other books this week. Spoilers abound so be aware and click below to continue :


Ewwwww Black have no idea where Bruce Wayne's skull has been.

Hal Jordan : super-powered multimedia device

Play nice now Guar....Hey! Scar, I thought we discussed that biting is not nice!

Guy Gardner sums it up with his usual eloquence. Yes, admittedly you are all f#$%ed. (Look for a breakdown of who these Lanterns are in Shining Light on Blackest Night Week 2, posting soon)

The fact that Black Lantern Ralph acts similarly to regular Ralph is extra creepy

How creepy can Elongated Man be, really? Ummm....very, very creepy. (Panels taken from different pages)

Blackest Night : Tales of the Corps #1

Young Mongul's idea of a tea party. New cartoon idea....DC Villain Babies!!!

This is taking the "I'm rubber, you're glue" thing a bit far as Indigo redirects the yellow fear energy back at an unlucky Sinestro Corps member

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Quick Update

Check back tomorrow (Sunday 7/18) for some updates :

- Shining Light on Blackest Night Week 2 - including a breakdown of the Black Lanterns that appear in the Blackest Night #1

- Prime Panels - a new weekly feature where I grab the coolest panels from books that I read and post them here for all to see, it's spoilerifically delicious.

- Judging Books by the Cover - another new feature where I pick the best (and sometimes worst) covers of the week and discuss.

- New Show & Tell - if I have time there will be a new show and tell....Blue and Gold baby :-)

Thanks for checking out Clever Name Blog, and thanks to those that have been commenting :-)

- Jason

Friday, July 17, 2009

Comic Book Reviews - 7/15/2009

Welcome to my 9 book extravaganza of reviews. It'll be a long one so sit down, grab a cold drink (may I recommend New Glarus Brewery's Spotted Cow? That's what I'm drinking) and soak up the reviewy goodness inside. Yes, spell check I'm aware that "reviewy" is not a word. I'm trying to be more spoiler-free in the reviews except where explicitly noted so bear with me while I make this transition.

What happened? Quite a bit actually : a planeload of tourists are in for a zombie-rific surprise, the mysterious Indigo Tribe remains mysterious, Tempest returns...and it's kind of dull, Mongul was a precocious little scamp, Red Robin kicks some serious ass in Europe, Flamebird does a great impression of Johnny Storm, Hush does a great impression of Bruce Wayne, Nemesis does an impression of the Wheel of Fortune and last but not least, the dead rise...and it is scary as hell. Want more? Click below :


Blackest Night #1
Story by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis
Cover by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert & Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover by Ethan VanSciver & HiFi

Here we have yet another Geoff Johns event that kicks off with a serious bang. This book recalls the same excitement that I experienced after reading the Sinestro Corps Special that kicked off the previous event. As I read through the first half, which is basically a recap of the major deaths in the DC Universe, you can feel the uneasiness building. Then, in true Geoff Johns style, you roll over the top of the big hill and hold on for dear life.

The second half is a rush of "Oh Shit!" moments along with some of the more terrifying and gory images in recent comics. I won't spoil the characters that do show up as Black Lanterns (check back later this week for Shining Light on Blackest Night for spoilers) but I will tell you that one in particular was scarier than I was expecting.

Ivan Reis' art is dead on (hehe...dead) and fits the grand scope of the book which is jumping quickly through different areas of the DC Universe, If I had an actual rating system this would easily be 5 stars or thumbs up or whatever I would use. I also picked up the VanSciver variant cover which is pretty sweet on it's own. Blackest Night is here...and it is seriously f#$%ing creepy.

I think that one of the more frightening aspects that have been introduced is that these are not your classic mindless zombies that walk around aimlessly and moan "BRAAAIIINNS!" (see The Last Resort #1 review further down for that). No, these zombies speak in complete sentences and seem to retain some of the character's original personality, although it is clearly twisted and dark. It might be easier to dismiss them as a threat if they were just mindless slaves which is clearly not the case here, which makes the Black Lanterns more threatening.

This was a phenomenal beginning to the much anticipated event and lets hope that the roller coaster ride doesn't derail. Of course, if it does derail and we all died, we could be recruited into the Black Lantern Corps. I already have my Black Lantern ring courtesy of Collector's Edge Comics, so I'm prepared. Damn, just reading this book will put you in a dark frame of mind, I'd hate to be around Johns and Reis after a marathon creative session :-)


The Last Resort #1
Story by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art by Giancarlo Caracuzzo
Cover A by Amanda Conner & Paul Mounts
Cover B by Darwyn Cooke

The main reason that I picked this book up was my condition wherein I have a lot of trouble passing by a Darwyn Cooke cover without purchasing it. I have the same problem in relation to J. Scott Campbell covers, but that's for different reasons. Anyway, this is the second zombie based book this week, but this is the old school "BRAAIIINS!" zombies instead of the more intelligent and driven Blackest Night zombies.

This first issue is mostly setup as we see the major players fall into place and we get a quick intro to the characters, including the young nymphomaniac couple that typically doesn't last too long in the horror genre. Along with this couple comes alot of gratuitous toplessness but I'm not complaining and it earns it's Mature Readers rating pretty quickly. I'll be giving Issue 2 a chance to see where this is headed but so far, it definitely intrigues.


Blackest Night : Tales of the Corps #1
Story by Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Jerry Ordway, Chris Samnee, Rags Morales & Doug Mahnke

The first of three tie-in issues focusing on key individuals in the War of Light was a hit and miss for me. The first background, which covers the Blue Lantern Saint Walker, was a bit dull and went exactly where I expected it to, but on the positive side the art by Ordway is pretty. The second feature focuses on a very young Mongul having fun and the art by Chris Samnee is a refreshing and different style from the others. I had the opportunity to meet Samnee at a local convention in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin last year and he was a genuinely nice guy who was a blast to talk to. The final feature addressing the Indigo Tribe was confusing, but intentionally so. We can't understand what they're saying but we're supposed to draw the meaning from the images, which are wonderfully rendered by Rags Morales.

All in all, 2 out of 3 aren't bad and we also get the Lantern Corps background pages by Doug Mahnke that are reprinted from the Free Comic Book Day offering of Blackest Night #0 for those that missed it.

Batman : Streets of Gotham #2
Story by Paul Dini
Art by Dustin Nguyen

Continuing the story threads from Detective Comics' Heart of Hush run, albeit with a new Batman, Dini and Nguyen continue to produce a solid read. We begin to see the payoff for Hush after his plastic surgery to look like Bruce Wayne and Firefly continues to climb the ladder of super-crime in Gotham City.

Nguyen's art gets better with each issue as I've become more of a fan of his dynamic style and Dini's storytelling is tight. Unfortunately I'm having the same problems with the Bat Titles as I am with the Superman Titles...they're all good. I was hoping with Blackest Night coming out that I could drop one or two of them but I can't bring myself to do it because they are still quality books. Not that this is a bad thing...just a little expensive.

Titans #15
Story by JT Krul
Art by Jose Luis

This issue was a waste of my $2.99. It has a Prelude to Blackest Night banner across the top so it came in with my Blackest Night event order but it was useless as a tie-in or prelude. We get to hear that Tempest has purple eyes so the Atlanteans don't trust him about a dozen times (OK, a dozen is exagerrating but I counted at least 6 instances). Seriously, you can tell me this once and I'll remember it. The only decent part of the book is the art, which is well done, and the first and last pages are pretty cool. The rest...avoid. By the way, big pet peeve of mine...that cover has nothing to do with the issue interior.

Wednesday Comics #2
Story by...a lot of talented individuals
Art by...some more talented people

DC's new weekly project rolls on with another fun week of stories. Deadman, Supergirl, Flash and Demon / Catwoman are still my favorites but Hawkman, Strange Tales and Metamorpho are growing on me. I'm enjoying Green Lantern's "New Frontier" feel and the Teen Titans art style would have worked well for an animated show (better than Teen Titans Go anyway). Wonder Woman continues to be a difficult read due to the experimental layouts and fonts, and will probably always be the last section that I read every week.

First Impressions - 7/15/2009

An impressive ten comic books came home with me this week (1 from last week and 1 was a variant cover), and I finally read the rest of them after being thoroughly blown away by Blackest Night #1. Reviews for everything should be up by the weekend. Click below for First Impressions :

Blackest Night #1 - I'll say it again....WOW!

Blackest Night : Tales of the Corps #1 - Sooooo.....I still don't get the Indigo Tribe, but I like them.

Final Crisis Aftermath : Escape #3 - This series is ultra-strange, I just hope that it pays off in the end or I will not be happy.

Batman : Streets of Gotham #2 - Hush. Is. Awesome.

Action Comics #879 - One huge fight / chase scene...but not bad.

Red Robin #2 - Can't at least one of the Bat-titles be bad???? It would definitely save me some money. Great second issue.

Titans #15 - OK, if the only reference is a character saying "The dead will rise" that does not constitute a Prelude to Blackest Night banner.

The Last Resort #1 - This was old school fun, although two zombie-based comics this week may explain why I had trouble sleeping.

Wednesday Comics #2 - Keep it up, this is good stuff.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

First Impressions Special Edition - Blackest Night #1

OK, this special edition is due to the fact that once I read Blackest Night about 3 times, I just can't get into anything else tonight and the rest of the reactions will have to wait.

Basically my first impression was : WOW!! This was well worth the wait. I did something that I never do, and that is buy my books, sit on the couch in the comic shop and read the issue right there on the spot. Typically I wait until I get home but I just couldn't. Unbelievable story and art, and a definite page turner.

Reviews coming later in the week for this and everything else.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Shining Light on Blackest Night Week 1

The first week of Blackest Night brings us the official Prologue and some of the creepiest imagery that DC has put out in a while. If you’d like to read a full review of the book, check out my reviews HERE. This article will bullet point the issue, provide some information on major happenings, and be a forum for speculation as to what may happen next. Enjoy and obviously, spoilers will be discussed. Click below for more :

Books Released This Week (1):

Green Lantern #43 (Blackest Night Prologue)
Story by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Doug Mahnke
Inks by Christian Alamy
Color by Randy Mayor
Cover by Mahnke, Alamy and Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover by Eddy Barrows and Nei Ruffino

What Happened :

• Black Hand’s origin gets fleshed out a bit more to cover his creepy fascination with death. We learn that he performed taxidermy, including an unauthorized taxidermy project with the family dog that began his visits to a psychiatrist.

• A very creepy and contently smiling Black Hand lays in the rain in a grave with 5 skeletons while caressing one of them (click on image to the left). Ummmm…what did he just do??

• Black Hand returns to his family’s mortuary and home, after a brief moment of recognition by his brother at the front door Hand proceeds to slaughter his family and when his father asks “Why?” right before his death, Hand responds with “Because it’s what I do.”

• Sitting down at the dining room table just after his killing spree, the voices that guide Black Hand tell him that there is one more death which leads him to blow his brains out as he topples onto the floor in a pool of blood.

• Scar or Scardian as she is sometimes called, appears suddenly and literally vomits up a Black Ring which quickly finds the dead Black Hand, repairs his wounds, and turns him into the zombie-like state that we’ve seen for the other preview Black Lanterns. She explains that he will be on the level of Ion and Parallax, in other words the embodiment of the Black Corps and their lord’s herald.

• We see the first full Black Lantern as Black Hand is reborn as a zombified version of himself. He swears to use his power to extinguish the light (click on image on left).

New Characters Introduced :

The Predator – While I don’t believe this is a totally new character judging by some internet research, this is the first time that we are seeing it as the “Emotional Entity” for the Star Sapphires aka Violet Lanterns.

Black Lantern Black Hand – Described by Scar as an equal to Ion, Parallax or The Predator it seems that Black Hand is not only the leader of the Black Corps, but their herald and “Emotional Entity”. That was unexpected but well done.

Deaths :

Marbles the dog (killed by young William Hand…then stuffed and displayed on a bedside table with a tennis ball in his mouth)
Black Hand’s parents and two brothers (killed by Black Hand)
Black Hand (suicide)

Speculation :

I’m still curious as to who the Black Lantern’s “lord and master” is, but I’m thinking from what I’ve seen online that it points towards Nekron. Not much else to speculate on since this issue was basically setting up Black Hand and had a razor sharp focus on him. Also, I’m guessing that all of the dead heroes and villains that were named here will not be Black Lanterns or might just show up as background characters, but I have a feeling that the characters that have cheated death (Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Hal Jordan, etc.) will be key in the story.

Next Week’s Releases :

Blackest Night #1
Blackest Night : Tales of the Corps #1

Looking Forward to Wednesday - 7/15/2009

This is shaping up to be a bigger week than I initially thought, and these are just the DC books that I’m picking up this week. I’ll update later with the other publishers if there is anything that interests me but the main event this week is the first issue of Blackest Night. I plan on being that geek that is out front of the comic shop just before opening hopping up and down waiting to get my hands on it. Click below for the titles :

Most Anticipated Book :

Blackest Night #1
Story by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis

GL #43 (Blackest Night Prologue) was incredible last week and I cannot wait to get started with what is building up to be the best DC event in a while. Hopefully the book can live it up to it’s press and Johns can pull off the third part of his Green Lantern Trilogy (the other two parts being Rebirth and the Sinestro Corps War). There is also a sweet VanSciver variant for #1 as well that I may consider depending on price. It would be cool to get him to autograph it if he’s at Chicago Comic-Con this year.

The Rest :

Action Comics #879 – This issue should wrap up the first Flamebird and Nightwing arc in Action since the new crossover begins next month. Also, I’m interested in the Captain Atom backup feature. Curious to see where he’s been since the whole Countdown thing where he was Monarch.

Batman : Streets of Gotham #2 – First issue was decent, and I loved Dustin Nguyen’s art so I’ll keep this one on the list for now. The Manhunter co-feature didn’t really grab me last time but we’ll see if it improves this month.

Blackest Night : Tales of the Corps #1 – Three stories that are meant to give us some background on members of the various Corps involved in the War of Light.

Final Crisis Aftermath : Escape #3 – With FCA : Run! being my favorite of the Aftermath books, this runs a close second. Two issues in and I have absolutely no clue where this is going but I have faith that it will tie up in the end.

Wednesday Comics #2 – First issue was a winner, I’m excited to have another weekly comic that I’m interested in.

Red Robin #2 – This is a holdover from last week since, in my excitement for Green Lantern #43, I forgot to grab it off the rack. It has been added to my list now so that won’t happen again :-)

I may pick up JSA vs. Kobra but with a larger stack this week and Chicago Comic-Con approaching, it may have to wait due to saving up some cash. We’ll see what happens.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Comic Book Reviews - 7/8/2009

A very easy week on the wallet, but full of quality…and that’s what counts. Four books (I forgot to pick up Red Robin #2…d’oh!) and all four were up to par. I did finally pick up the Black Hand action figure that I have been eyeing at the comic shop, and he says “Read Jason’s reviews or I’ll get you with the Touch of Death!”

What happened? This one will be quick : Kal-El gets sentenced to death….then he’s fine…then death…then, well it wraps up nicely, the new Batman smiles a lot…it’s kind of creepy, Wednesday Comics made me smile, and Black hand is absolutely one of the creepiest villains ever and how is he supposed to lead an army of the dead if he is still…oh, that’s how.

Want more? Click below :


Green Lantern #43
Story by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke

First I’ll address the cover, which is beautifully drawn by Green Lantern’s new artist Doug Mahnke, but nothing that appears on it actually happens inside the issue. Although on second thought, Bruce Wayne’s grave could be a symbol of all the dead heroes and in that light it makes a little more sense. On to the actual issue.

At no point (except in flashbacks) does a Green Lantern appear in this book, which could have easily been titled Black Hand : Secret Origin. This is in no way a bad thing though, as Black Hand’s story is deep and interesting…and ultra-creepy. I read an interview with Geoff Johns where he said something to the effect of feeling disturbed after writing scenes with Black Hand to the point that he had to step away and do something else to get his mind out of that zone, and now we see why.

If you’ve been following Green Lantern for the past few years then much of this issue will look familiar as we recap Black Hand’s origin and fights with the Green Lanterns. But as we delve deeper into William Hand’s childhood, an uneasy feeling sets in. You’re looking at this wholesome, adorable little boy who already has a monster developing inside of him.

Cut to the present day for the most disturbing homecoming that I’ve ever seen. Let’s just say that I assumed they would have to go down this road eventually, just not so graphically. I’m not complaining though, because these scenes are beautifully rendered by Mahnke, especially the full page panel where Black Hand “joins” the Black Lantern Corps.

Johns does his usual fantastic job of weaving histories and backgrounds together with new material to flesh out these characters even more. We do see the birth of the first Black Lantern, we see another “Emotional Entity” called The Predator who looks awfully violet to me, and we witness Scar (the Guardian) literally vomit up a Black Ring. It looks like Blackest Night ain’t gonna be pretty, but it’s damned interesting so far.

Check out the first installment of Shining Light on Blackest Night later in the weekend for some more in-depth info along with some speculation.


Wednesday Comics #1
Story by ummm….everyone
Art by uhhh…lots of talented people

I will be the first to admit that since this has been announced, I had little interest in this endeavor. I’m not sure if it was the marketing or just my own issues that prevented me from looking forward to it, but I’m glad I picked it up.

From the second I unfolded the large format newsprint comic, I smiled. I remember clamoring for the Funnies section of the Delaware County Daily Times or Philadelphia Inquirer when I was growing up and this brought me right back. Now when my wife, who reads the local Milwaukee newspaper regularly because she cares about local and world events sits down to read her paper when we’re having coffee, I can pull out my own newspaper and update myself on what’s going on in the worlds of Superman, Batman and the rest. Makes me feel brainy, and makes me feel like I should have a pipe and a cardigan.

All of the stories this week were pretty much setup, as was expected from the first outing. My favorites so far are Green Lantern by Kurt Busiek and Joe Quinones, Deadman by Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck and Supergirl by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. The Wonder Woman section could have benefitted from a clearer font and a panel or two less, but otherwise that was decent too.

Since the stories are one page (albeit large pages) each, it’s difficult to review them like standard comics but I will say that these “non-current-continuity” stories are exactly what I’ve been looking for in comics lately. For those that read my review of the Simpson’s Radioactive Man Event, you recall my rant and Kent Brockman’s plug aboutcomics just telling good stories. Well this is off to a definite good start and will be added to my pull list.

Superman : World of New Krypton #5
Story by James Robinson & Greg Rucka
Art by Pete Woods

For some reason, and maybe it’s just me, the panel layouts seemed thoroughly confusing on this issue. On many pages, I had to go back and re-read it because I didn’t realize the flow was supposed to stretch across the pages. That aside, the issue was not bad and was mostly a transition to the next story arc Codename : Patriot. The whole “putting Kal-El on trial for his life” thing was well done, but how suspenseful can it be when you know he’s not going to be executed? Still a decent book though.

Batman #688
Story by Judd Winnick
Art by Mark Bagley

This was a good beginning to Winnick and Bagley’s now short run on Batman. I like how they are really distinguishing Dick’s style from Bruce’s. I’m also enjoying Dick’s frustration at having to adapt to the Batman costume and he really can’t make that many changes to it because of the iconic nature. Alfred once again guides a young Batman through his trials with care and support.

First Impressions - 7/8/2009

The slowest (and cheapest) week that I’ve had in a while, but with 4 purchases there were 4 solid books, with one of those just being phenomenal. Click below for First Impressions :

Green Lantern #43 – Wow. Was not expecting Black Hand to….just, wow. And where the hell did The Predator come from and who does it belong to?!?!? You got some ‘splaining to do Mr. Johns.

Batman #688 – Hmmmm….smiling Batman. Now wonder Two-Face isn’t convinced it’s the same guy.

Wednesday Comics #1 – Surprisingly enjoyable, gather great creators and put them together in one place = new weekly addition to the pull list.

Superman : World of New Krypton #5 – Not a bad end to the first part, panel layouts were confusing, though.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Simpsons Comics - The Radioactive Man “Event” : An Embiggening Review

This past month, Bongo Comics released “The Best Radioactive Man Event Ever!”, a 3-part crossover story in their Simpsons comics designed to mock, well….crossovers and event comics. It did it’s job and convinced me to buy three comics that are normally not on my pull list, but more importantly it delivered on the promised entertainment in a way that most “events” just can’t. Click below for an in-depth look at what happened, and some of my ranting that seeped in while I was writing :

In the first part of this 3-part mini event (Simpsons Comics #155) we see the hype machine kick into high gear in order to boost sales on the sluggish Radioactive Man title. The executives that publish Radioactive Man have a brainstorming session, but all of the ideas have been covered before. To most comic fans, these ideas will sound awfully familiar :

“Why don’t we kill off Radioactive man?” Next to a panel showing Gloria Grand cradling a dead Radioactive Man while his cape blows in the wind on a pole in the background.

“Then how about we just break his back?” Next to a panel showing Radioactive Man being broken over the knee of a muscle-bound, wrestling mask wearing villain.

“How about we change Radioactive Man’s costume?” Next to a panel showing various incarnations of his costume, including an edgy 90s Image-esque version and a blue “energy being” version.

At the end of the meeting, they inevitably run into problem that plagues their real-life counterparts, and it gets summed up rather succinctly : “The problem is with the fans. They want something new all the time…but demand things stay the same!” Get ready rabid fans, if you haven’t noticed yet this book will be harshly making fun of those individuals reading it. Enter Lindsey Naegle, who saves the day by coming up with a brilliant solution that will (hopefully) make the fanboys happy, but more on that later.

During a slow news day, major media (Kent Brockman) picks up the story that changes are coming to the beloved Radioactive Man. This section nicely mirrors the uproar back in 1992 when DC killed Superman and also in 1988 when readers decided to kill the second Robin. In both of these instances, most of the people who were throwing a fit hadn’t picked up a Superman comic in years or still thought that the much loved Dick Grayson was Robin and not the much loathed Jason Todd.

Quickly, as it often does in Springfield, panic ensues. People are infected with Radioactive Man fever and they need to know what the changes will bring. What follows is yet another sharp jab at the “collectors” who believe that they’ll be funding their kid’s Ivy League education by purchasing over-printed, company-hyped “Special Editions” and “First Issue Collector’s Editions”. Speaking as a comic enthusiast, I have no delusions that my collection will be worth anything more than the value of the enjoyable stories contained within the pages. This section of the story addresses those that blindly take the “collecting” aspect of comics a bit too far.

Comic Book Guy, yawning with un-excitement (that’s a perfectly cromulant word, by the way) stands in the backroom of his shop amidst boxes and boxes of unsold event comics with names like Final Crux, Crisis at War, Worlds in Anxiety and Identity Challenge as the mob of collectors swarms his store to purchase multiple copies for hoarding.

In part 2 (Bart Simpson Comics #48) the execs settle in to watch the carnage as everyone is talking about Radioactive Man. In their unbridled state of enthusiasm, the fans demand to know what changes are in store and can’t (won’t) wait for the issue to actually show up on the stands. As in the real world, the fans accuse the publisher of hyping events in order to sell more comics. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the purpose of a publisher to produce books and sell as many as possible to make a profit? Thought so…moving on. Fanboy frenzy in Springfield reaches its peak and Radioactive man WILL change forever!!!

On to part 3 (Simpsons Super Spectacular #9), the finale that will bring irrevocable changes to Springfield’s beloved hero. But some are skeptical, and to paraphrase Martin Prince’s speech : “ We have to face reality my friends. The law of diminishing returns has set in on the “event” comic…the “event” CAN’T live up to the hype!” How true, Martin. You can look back through the history of comics for many examples of this. Just look back to last summer as the over-hyped Final Crisis and Secret Invasion events failed to live up.

In today’s world of comics there is so much hype everywhere that you can’t help but get pulled in. In-house ads in all of your favorite titles, a constant barrage of online previews and spoiler-filled leaks, posters plastering your local comic shop and fellow fanboys sharing their excitement for their favorite upcoming event all fuel the hype machine. I’m not saying this is all bad, I am personally caught up in Geoff Johns’ summer blockbuster hype-fest that is Blackest Night. If the event delivers, which is now rare, then the hype is justified. Unfortunately you can never really tell until it’s over.


On to the big reveal so I can bring this rant-filled review to a close  What changes to Radioactive man could possibly warrant this level of fanfare? What was Lindsey Naegle’s brilliant idea? Was the hype and purchase of 3 Simpsons comics worth it? Absolutely…uber-fanboys, please stand up and lean forward to receive your slap in the face.

Blank comic books…yup, panels and speech bubbles, but no art or text for $3.99. “You don’t like what we do?” says the publisher…then draw it yourself, jackass! To quote Krusty at the release press conference :

“We’re not kidding! Fans are always complaining whenever we comic book publishers try something new. Nothing we do seems to live up to fans’ preconceived notions. With that in mind, we decided to let each reader be responsible for what they want to read! Look here…you get a logo, ruled panels, empty word balloons and we throw in numbered pages too! Now the reader can just grab a pencil and do the comic in any direction he or she wishes. It’s win-win I think!”

In the end, Bart stands up as a representative of the fans against the publisher by creating his own comic indeed! Radioactive Man versus The Big Fat Nothing. Bart’s comic goes old school and gives fans what they want…fighting, team-ups, bloody fighting, fast cars, and some more fighting.

Kent Brockman, staring straight through the 4th wall, sums up the story’s razor-sharp point : “I suggest to you, sir, that instead of staging tiresome “events” that send mixed messages, you should use your publication for what it was originally intended for…to tell stories.” Bravo Kent. Bra-vo. Although I do personally enjoy event comics for the most part, and most of my collection does fall on the corporate DC Comics side of the fence, I do wish that comics could just go back to focusing on telling good stories that are creative and fresh. Let’s loosen up the continuity shackles a bit and just get back to what comics are supposed to be : a fantastic escape from regular life when it gets dull or depressing or a little too hectic. I enjoy sitting down, opening a comic and escaping for 22 pages at a time.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Looking Forward to Wednesday - 7/8/09

This week looks to be a little easier on the bank account, but we have 4 solid books and one to check out and possibly add to the coveted list. Click below for this week’s pull list :

Most Anticipated Book of the Week :

Green Lantern #43
Story by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke

Two more beginnings here as we begin the much-anticipated Blackest Night story and Doug Mahnke begins his stint as penciller on Green Lantern. Mahnke is hit or miss for me but I’m ready to devour everything for the blackest Night storyline. This is billed as a prologue to Blackest Night and if the preview that I caught online is any indication, this story will creep everyone out in a major way and set up Black Hand as one of the most horrific villains in the DC Universe...and I can't wait :-)

The Rest :

Batman #688 – The beginning of Winnick and Bagley’s run with my favorite superhero. Judging from the preview on Newsarama, things are looking good. And I mean good for us the readers, not for Batman...he gets pretty jacked up.

Red Robin #2 – Great first issue, now let’s see if this can continue.

Superman : World of New Krypton #5 – WONK (hehe, wonk) has been surprisingly good and consistent and I’m enjoying this direction for Superman.

Wednesday Comics #1 – I was not interested in this new weekly project for DC at first, but the more I see, the more interested I become. Some of the creators are just great : Batman by Brian Azzarello, Metamorpho by Neil Gaiman, Green Lantern by Kurt Busiek! This could be a new weekly pickup at the shop.

Countdown to Chicago Comic-Con – Part 3 (32 Days to Go)

Well, we’re about a month out now and not much activity on new creators being announced. A bunch of celebrities have been added to the list though, click below for more info :

Here are some of the celebrities that have been added to the list of guests at Chicago Comic-Con this year.

Taylor Dane – Yes, that Taylor Dane. Not sure exactly why, but she will be there.

Jake Busey – son of Gary Busey and star of Starship Troopers

Ernie Hudson – played Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters

Doug Jones – actor who played Silver Surfer and Abe Sapien

Margot Kidder – Lois Lane from the Superman movies

Billy Dee Williams – Lando Calrissian and Colt 45 spokesman, although I just read on his online profile that he refuses to autograph Colt 45 merchandise at conventions….damn.

We’re firming up our plans for the con right now and it looks like we’ll be attending on Friday and Saturday. I hope to get some quick informal interviews with some of the artists and creators there, as well as reactions from some con attendees. Look for many, many pictures and coverage of all aspects of the convention here on Clever Name Blog when we get back.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Comic Book Reviews - 7/1/2009

A slow week for releases brought me 6 books in total, and only one was “blah”. This made the pick of the week a rather tough choice because the rest were pretty damned good.

What happened? I’m not telling….ok, fine : The new and improved Human Flame tries to take the bosses girl, the slavers in Secret Six get even creepier, some heroes “cry for justice” (and that’s about it) although Ray Palmer plays bad cop, the Radioactive Man creators stick it to the fans, the Guardians of the Universe hold impromptu executions and Damian goes off on his own (big surprise). Want to hear more? Click below :

A quick side note. I'm not including the review of Simpsons Super Spectacular #9 because I will review the entire Radioactive Man Event in a seperate post coming shortly. What happened in the event? Well, let's just say it was very funny and I didn't see it coming.

Pick of the Week :

Secret Six #11
Story by Gail Simone
Art by Nicola Scott

Behind the Green Lantern titles, Secret Six has been the most consistently enjoyable book being published by DC. When I says enjoyable, I don’t mean the “happy happy joy joy” type of enjoyable, I mean the “damn I need a shower but that was good” kind of enjoyable.

Still a little unsure about their new contract to work for slave traders, the gang runs into some conscience issues (not Deadshot, his lack of conscience makes him likeable), and the newest team member Jeanette has a talk with Artemis before freeing her from her bonds.

We get to see the plans of the slavers, and the truly disturbing and troubling view of the future that they possess. Simone’s story telling is dead on and her development of these characters has been extraordinarily well done. Nicola Scott’s art is perfectly dark and brooding for this title and her depictions of these characters is always dynamic.

This issue wraps up with the arrival of Wonder Woman, who angrily spouts the line “Which one of you miserable swine killed my sister?” Uh oh….she seems rightly pissed. Best to stay out of her way.

Pick of the Week Runner-Up :

Green Lantern Corps #38
Story by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason

Kyle Rayner poses the question to the Guardians that has been on the minds of readers for months now : “Why the hell are you taking the Corps down this path? It doesn’t make sense!” Unfortunately for the Lanterns, we can look on this event with a godlike perspective and we know what is coming. The Black Rings that are shown screaming through the galaxy on the last page are on their way.

This was my runner up strictly because Secret Six was a little better. This issue continues the amazing run that GL Corps has had since the Sinestro Corps War at least. Tomasi and Gleason put out a stellar book and tie it in beautifully with what is going on in the main GL title. N It is tied in so well, in fact, that I have trouble determining what happened in GL and what happened in GL Corps when I’m discussing the story.

The solicits mentioned a new law, which was never officially announced as the last few were but I’m assuming it’s the new “Eye For An Eye” style of justice that lead to the execution of many of the rioters. Kyle and Guy obviously fight against this but get dispatched quickly back to Earth so they don’t get in the way.

Blackest Night starts next week so we’ll see if all of the hype and lead-in was worth it.

The Rest :

Justice League : Cry for Justice #1
Story by James Robinson
Art by Mauro Cascioli

Let me begin this review like this : This issue is beautifully illustrated in a lush painted style that just screams epic, recalling Alex Ross’ fan favorite Kingdom Come in it’s depth and scenery. With that said, I’ll continue.

Storywise, the first six pages are the best part of the book, and these were previewed online in the past few weeks. With the exception of Ray Palmer’s “bad cop” to Ryan Choi’s good cop in the Atoms scene, the rest of the issue falls off story-wise. I understand that some comics are meant to build slowly and develop a coherent story that pays off in the end, but this first issue just failed to draw me in. I’ll probably wait for the trade to finish it, unless I hear that something amazing has happened within it’s pages.

Final Crisis Aftermath : Run! #3
Story by Matthew Sturges
Art by Freddie Williams II

The psychotic adventures of Mike Miller aka The Human Flame continue as he goes out to use his “new and improved” abilities, runs into Clayface, narrowly avoids a confrontation with John Stewart and Firestorm and then attempts to steal the boss’ girl.

Out of the four Final Crisis Aftermath titles, this is by far my favorite. We get page after page of over the top violence, language and villainy each issue. This is one thing that I miss in comics, complete over the top action that is typically ridiculous but always fun to read. Keep it up guys, and I hope that Sturges brings some of this fun with him when he picks up the reigns along with Bill Willingham on JSA this summer.

Batman & Robin #2
Story by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quitely

The second issue of this much anticipated series has come and gone and I’m enjoying it. This issue dives straight into Dick Grayson’s insecurity at taking over for Bruce. He complains that he’s not used to the costume : “…and I hate the cape, Alfred…the cape was the first thing I ditched when I got out on my own. I’m way off balance.” And has troubles with his Napoleonic little partner Damian.

By the end of the issue, Damian is storming out on his own and as you can easily guess…gets in over his little head. Dick has to step up again to head out after his annoying little Robin.

Morrison’s writing is up to par, but Quitely’s art is creeping back to the annoying status it had with me before. Not horrible, but the characters are looking squiggly and stumpy again. I’m keeping with it for now because Quitely is only on, I think, the first three issues. Although after the last issue of Green Lantern I’m not as excited about Philip Tan as I was before.

First Impressions - 7/1/2009

Kind of a slow week, but my new Green Lantern shirt came in so that's a plus. Six books in total with 5 being "Good" or better, and one that sort of fell flat. CLick below for more :

Batman & Robin #2 – Wow, 1 issue and Damian is pouting and quitting. Much quicker than I thought

Green Lantern Corps #38 – For immortal, unemotional beings, the Guardians sure have lost it. I get the feeling that they’ll be replaced (at least most of them) after Blackest Night.

Simpsons Super Spectacular #9 – Well played gentlemen (applauds) Well played indeed.

Justice League : Cry for Justice #1 – I’m thinking this can wait until the trade. It’s pretty, though.

Final Crisis Aftermath : Run! – That is an exceptionally painful last page.

Secret Six #11 – Nicola Scott draws a bad-ass Wonder Woman…and she looks mighty pissed.