Tuesday, December 12, 2017

POBB December 6, 2017

Pick of the Brown Bag
December 6, 2017
by
Ray Tate

Welcome to the Pick of the Brown Bag.  You’ve hit the right site if you want reviews of Astonishing X-Men, Batman, Doctor Who, Green Arrow, Green Lanterns, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jupiter Jet, Spirits of Vengeance, Red Sonja and Superman.  As always, you can find me on Twitter if you can’t make it through the entire works: #PickoftheBrownBag.


Jupiter Jet is a neat little riff on King of the Rocket Men, an influential serial and favorite MST3K experiment, that inspired such things as Captain Gravity, The Rocketeer and a reimagined adaptation of the chapter play Rocket Man by Chris Moeller.  


In this story our rocket pack wearing wonder is Jacky, one half owner of an engineering/repair shop situated circa the serial thirties.  In the opening act, we see her version of her sky thievery of a ne’er do-well, and then we see how it really happens.  Without detracting from the optimism inherent in the concept of sci-fi staple rocket packs, the writers, Jason Inman and Ashley Victoria Robinson, opt for a little realism.


You may be saying to yourself.  How can kids be allowed to run a business? Actually, a lot of fathers lost their lives in World War I, and to help working moms, kids often took odd jobs or the responsibility of actual labor.  Chuck and Jacky lost their father and mother in a different way, but they inherited the shop, and they keep it going, with the help of their Uncle Gabriel.


This is all the fascinating backdrop in the nature of the rocket pack.  Whereas the Rocketeer went out of the way to explain the terrestrial workings of the device and attributed the construction to Howard Hughes, Jupiter Jet appears to be going for the extraterrestrial.  When Jacky liberated some money from a crook in the opening gambit of the book, she also took something vital to an evil mastermind’s operations.  Herein lies the conflict.   


With the Aranas either dead or in custody, Red Sonja reunited with Holly and Spike.  They learned the elusive Professor Wyatt, foremost scholar on the Hyborean peoples, actually followed their trail while they were following his.  How does a mild-mannered professor keep up with a She-Devil and her two feisty cohorts? Simple.  He's no mere professor.


It turns out that when Khulan Gath cast his spell of escape in the Meruvian village that Sonja attempted to save, Professor Wyatt used Max’s natant magical abilities to widen the scope.  Time travel happens.  Wyatt hasn’t been twiddling his thumbs ever since then.  He’s been preparing for Red Sonja’s return and Max’s rescue.  


Max who grew up in the present day, meeting Sonja as a police officer, fell back through time with Gath.  He’s trapped in the past.  Sonja luxuriates in the present.  She became accustomed to the hot baths whenever she likes, and quickly adapted to twentieth century technology.


From Red Sonja #7

Stellar Red Sonja writer Amy Chu injects some intriguing limits to magic.  I like that it’s not so much a breaking of physical laws than a blending.  In order for Professor Wyatt to work his time travel spell, he needs the power of a fusion generator.  So, he takes the group to Livermore National Laboratory.  Yup, it’s a real place, and artist Carlos Gomez demonstrates that he not only illustrates a literally mouth watering Red Sonja, as well as affable bald heavy-set men, but bearded directors and cutting edge modern day technology.

That’s actually a dead-on accurate depiction of a magnetic fusion containment unit for a nuclear reactor.  Furthermore, Gomez demonstrates strong panel layouts that you wouldn’t expect to find in a simple sword and sorcery production.

Gomez places Holly in the forefront and uses foreshortening techniques to draw her prominence as she explains the Professor’s trickery with Harry Potter lingo.  In a sense, she breaks the fourth wall to wink at the reader, but not fully, for the explanation fits with the story.  So, she remains in the story but not facing the audience to deliver her aside.


When the professor employs the reactor, all hell breaks lose because Gath is itching to return to a world he can conquer.  Bad news for him, Sonja is waiting for him.  Gomez displays his consummate feeling for Sonja in battle, and during this melee, Chu once again surprises by instantly executing Sonja’s prowess with a sword.  Even for Chu’s and Gomez’s run of Red Sonja this is a superior issue.


Silver is the key to the happenings in Spirits of Vengeance.  It all started when an angel delivered a bullet to Johnny Blaze.  Demons masquerading as humans became very interested.  Blaze wasn’t and promptly introduced them to his alter-ego the Ghost Rider.


The Ghost Rider appears almost elemental rather than demonic through artist David Baldeon’s and colorist Andres Mossa's rendition.  That artistic latitude benefits the overall mood of the book.  This isn’t some dark philosophical pontification.  It’s a superhero book.  The heroes just happen to have ties to Hell, but the actual bad guys are far worse.  


Baldeon simply loves to draw monsters, and who can blame him when they look like that.  

Blaze sought out knowledge.  Thus contacting Damien Hellstrom.  Damien in turn sought out muscle in the form of Blade and his sister Satana.  Both latecomers prove to be instrumental in learning the reasons behind the shifts in power of an eternal war between demons and angels.


I love Victor Gischler's and Baldeon's Satana.  It's like she saw what others had in store for her, and decided to step over it all directly from Marvel Team-Up.  She's so humorous and friendly, a sort of occult Mrs. Peel, but that demeanor masks her power.  

Spirits of Vengeance is a blast.  It’s an exciting adult-oriented cartoon with a brilliant design and an easy-going stance on Christian mythology. 


The writer is saying.  Yeah, we all know the story about Judas, but what happened afterward? There’s the presence of physical artifacts to be addressed.  Of course, the reasoning falls apart when you think about it too hard, but such is the way with any alleged magic.  Gischler takes the basis of end-of-days urban folklore and fuses it to the Marvel Universe.  One of the demons for example mentions that he’s related to Surtur’s people in the realm of Musphelheim.  That demon also uses the analogy of automotive engineering to explain why the supernatural badassery the Big Bad desires cannot function without all the parts.  The interconnectivity combined with functionality carves out a very different exorcise.


Charles Soule concludes his first arc in Astonishing X-Men, unfortunately, the artwork Mike Del Mundo is such a distracting light show that you have to divorce yourself from the neon in order to figure out what’s going on.  In one sense, this story plays out how you expected.  The good guys win big time.  The shades of gray X-Men—Rogue, Gambit, Wolverine, Archangel, Psylocke, Mystique and Fantomex all grow a little brighter.  Soule executes the wins with skill and depth.  The cliffhanger however is something special and unexpected.


The Guardians of the Galaxy still ply their trade in the Nova Corps to suss out the corrupt Novas.  In previous issues, Gamora and Ant-Man found themselves besieged by virus plagued cadres of heavies.  Peter Quill and Rich Ryder, the original Man Called Nova, located an off the books Nova base.  

All through this new adventure, Rocket hunted for bad Novas on New Xandria, and he’s been gung-ho and successful in rooting out petty crime.  



You’ve got to wonder.  What game is Rocket playing?  Does the payday really motivate him, or is he out to take over the rackets?  The Guardians are after all heroes by default.  Mostly they’re con-artists and thieves who occasionally save the universe.  The argument against.  Rocket would have to stay to run the operation, and Rocket just isn't that kind of criminal.


This issue centers on Drax the Destroyer.  Drax hails from earth.  He’s a resurrected victim of Thanos who seeks revenge for his wife and daughter, who turns out not to be dead and becomes perennial bitch Moondragon.  Of late, Drax has taken up pacifism, but he’s just not that good at it.  When Drax investigates a telepathic cyborg, things go straight down hill for the Nova Corps quick to kill.  The audience however gets a big belly laugh.

As the story closes, a new player paws onto the stage, and  he's there for more faithful Guardians of the Galaxy fans.  Or maybe space Marvel fans.  I don't know the ins and outs of this fellow, but I understand his significance and comprehend the historical allusion.  That he personally defies the evil Groots growing all over the place suggests greater involvement and greater explanation in future issues.


Last issue, a weird red alien named Bolphunga smacked around the Lanterns, or tried to.  Jessica put in some good ones with the help of a green plasma fish.  So, that should give you and idea of Tim Seeley's mindset.  

In the end, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz discovered Bolphunga's challenges were actually cries for help.  Bolphunga made a deal with an exotic alien lawyer.  She would spring him from the Green Lantern Corps prison if he simply agreed to kill his aged father.  



There’s a lot of love between the two bickering beet facers.  Cruz and Baz weren't about to dismiss the story out of hand, but corroboration and investigation proved dicey.  In this issue of Green Lanterns the truth comes out.  Singularity Jain who sounds like she should be serving up drinks in a saloon from Full Moon's space western Oblivion arrives on earth and picks a fight with Baz and Cruz.


The amusing courtroom drama from the Lanterns details an odd alien incursion that’s powered unlimited, yet Jain likes the personal touch as well.  


Her use of her feet on Jessica is perfectly done.  It's a classic abuse of power, and there's an added purposeful creepiness in the bare skin.  She's trying to throw Jessica off her game using every iota of power and every wile she can.  Drawn like she should be a super-hero, sexual but completely amoral, Singularity Jain is a compelling co-creation by Seeley and artist Ronan Cliquet.


Writer Benjamin Percy takes Green Arrow out of his element and sticks him in a submarine with his resurrected mother Moira.

There’s nothing special about this issue of Green Arrow per se.  It’s just well written with one oddball idea.  Percy uses the concept for all its worth.  For example, he draws upon Oliver’s fear of water, something that I never would have really considered but makes so much sense.  The sea took Oliver’s ship.  His father.  It prevented him from escaping the island.  He probably gets real uncomfortable around Aquaman.

Oliver’s well-meaning yet risky scheme allows Percy to better characterize Dinah Lance as an intelligent independent thinker.  The Black Canary benefitted greatly from the new 52.  Green Arrow and Black Canary didn’t even know each other.  Instead, Duane Swierczynski reintroduced her as a founding member of the Birds of Prey.  She regained her Canary Cry, lost the victimization from Longbow Hunters, and drew upon a richer history as a member of Team 7.  The new 52 Black Canary is in fact a reinvention of the Golden Age Black Canary.  It’s a subtle difference, but she’s not the daughter of the original.  She's the original.  


Percy also develops a subplot into aninteresting straight-forward detective story.  Although I question why this Emily Pool isn’t the Thea Queen that she looks like, I still can enjoy what’s going on and see how it ties into Green Arrow.


The Green Arrow teamed up with individual members of the Justice League to fight the Ninth Circle.  Oliver’s indictment for murder created underlying friction.  Now, I can see what that’s all about.  This is much more engrossing than a stupid Diggle comment and his team-up with Merlyn the Bowman.


Batman.  Superman.  Lois Lane.  Catwoman.  I read this six times.  Just when you think Tom King can’t go beyond his normal level of great.  He gives you this.


The Batman-Superman pairing pertains to the major events in Batman’s life that King has been orchestrating throughout his run.  The seeds of this tale believe it or not started with “I am Gotham” where Batman is about to sacrifice his life for Gotham City.  He however meets two heroes who I originally thought were disguised Legionnaires.


The youths will impact on Batman’s life in extraordinary ways that will reintroduce major villains and draw Catwoman back into the mythology.  

King will deconstruct Batman with a scalpel that demonstrate the characterization possessed from day one.  He’ll then play with longtime lore until the reader arrives here.  

Not a single issue of King’s Batman should be missed, but many of the stories and issues like this one can be read alone.  The reader will benefit from a richer tapestry should she read the entirety.  It's not necessary.  If you just want to read a tale of the World's Finest team, this is for you.  If you want to see a rare team-up between Lois Lane and Catwoman, this is for you.

Artists Clay Mann, Seth Mann and Jordie Bellaire create stunning characters shaped in realism and a visual narrative that times out King’s beats perfectly.  A short mystery wraps around the interaction, and the culprit who I’ll reveal at the end of this post is a classic villain.

The story in Superman started with Geoff Johns’ Justice League.  A prophecy foretold the rising of a new leader for the planet of Apokolips after Darkseid died.  The Prophet described Superman to a tee, but Lex Luthor usurped the Man of Steel’s position, and things got complicated.  Whether or not Johns ever intended to resolve this issue is anybody’s guess, but Superman writer Peter J. Tomasi decided to do just that.  In the first part of the story, the Prophet and Ardora abduct Lex Luthor in the hopes of settling a civil war.  An actual one.


Lex Luthor in turn decides to come clean and helps the Hunger Dogs retrieve Superman.  Inadvertently picking up spares in the form of Jonathan Kent and Lois Lane.


Lois Lane moves from prisoner of Granny Goodness and the Female Furies to semi-trusted adoptee.  This plot twist is indicative of the restored Lois Lane, and her redress of insults is pretty much exactly what I said.  There’s no reason why Lois Lane can’t be a badass, a wife and a mom.

When Kalibak showed up, you knew things were going to move to brutal stupidity, and he pretty much accidentally destabilized the whole planet.  So, Superman to the rescue, but this just leaves one problem.  Who will rule Apokolips? The answer is surprising.  It makes perfect sense, but this decision institutes a definite change, an advancement in the DC Universe.  It’s almost a shame that Lex is in such a snit afterward that he threatens the Lex/Superman bromance, but he was knocked out a lot during this adventure.  Perhaps, he’s a bit concussed.


Superb first issue of Doctor Who by Richard Dinnick and Francesco Manna.  The story starts out classic.


Dinnick pin-points the prickliness of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. 


The Doctor, Bill and Nardole investigate and uncover the survivors, who promptly leap to the wrong conclusion.


The Doctor of course quickly ingratiates himself.  The fact that they didn’t immediately kill him probably looked promising.

Meanwhile, Bill who appeared to escape discovers the echo of the Doctor’s past, catalyzed by a well meaning engineer.


The strengths of this new story are many.  Dinnick characterizes the Doctor, Bill and Nardole as if he had the actors in the room.  He also fleshes out the second tier characters which might comprise an alternate universe Firefly.  The rapid pacing is full of surprises.  When you think Dinnick is aiming for light and bouncy, he goes dramatic, and visa versa.  Finally, the reveal of the nemesis behind what’s happening on the ship is timed for suspense.  

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Doctor X is a 1950s Batman villain that debuted in Detective Comics #261. The mad doctor Simon Ecks duplicated his personality and transplanted it in an energy doppelg√§nger dubbed Double X.  This Hyde persona seemed to be the driving force for future appearances.  Ecks and Double X became synonymous temperament wise.


After attempting to kill Batman and failing, he went on to try to kill Batman and Superman in World’s Finest. Failing again and again.  Doctor X is also notable for choosing to wear a rooster’s comb on his cowl.  His reasoning is beyond me.  Perhaps he just likes roosters.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

POBB November 29, 2017

Pick of the Brown Bag
November 29, 2017
by
Ray Tate

It's Pick of the Brown Bag time.  I’m Ray Tate, and I review the best and worst of the week’s comic books.  Guess what? I'm also available on Twitter: #PickoftheBrownBag. Mind you.  These are encapsulated reviews.  For full force POBB, you're in the right place.  In this edition I'll be critiquing the Batman and Super-Sons annuals, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, John Wick and Silver Sable.  

I planned to review the spectacular television crossover Crisis on Earth X.  That’ll be for next week or the week after.  It’ll give me an excuse to watch the episodes over again.  I feel however it’s imperative that I first review the movie Justice League


Bottom line.  Justice League is a good movie.  Ben Affleck is a good Batman.  Way better than Christian Bale.  Not as good as Michael Keaton, but I’m thinking no actor will be.  Maybe that’s justified.


Affleck’s Batman is intelligent—a detective.  He knows how to fight and he’s approachable.  Mr. Affleck said in an interview that Batman wasn’t going to be consumed with rage.  He’s portraying a normal Batman in Justice League.  I agree.

The story begins in Gotham City where Batman seems to be hunting a penny-ante crook.  This left me puzzled until I realized that Batman is ten steps ahead of the game that’s about to be played.  “Sink me.”  Just as Batman should be. 

The criminal portrayed by Holt McCallany in turn becomes the voice of the audience.  Asking what’s really going on?  Who will protect us now that Superman died?  These questions are key to what I feel sets the successful tone of Justice League.

Ordinary criminals.  Those with families and loved ones.  Those arrested for low level crimes and put in jail.  Those that can reform depend on super-heroes to save the earth from major threats, just as much as law abiding citizens do.  Batman hates crime.  He sees crime as a disease that can be and will be cured, but he doesn’t hate this man, and he already deduced something out of the ordinary happening.

The story tilts to scenes depicting a world in mourning.  You don’t need to know the explicit details of Batman vs Superman.  A movie I still will not see.  You simply need to imagine that Superman died.  Because of Superman’s death, the world feels less safe.  Because of Superman’s death, terrorists become more daring.  The chaos unleashed leads to one of the many great moments in Justice League.  Wonder Woman casually foils a mass murder.  

Ben Affleck uses Justice League to show that he can be Batman, but Gal Gadot is already secure in being Wonder Woman.  She has nothing to prove, and it shows. 


Meanwhile, on Themyscira, the Amazons attempt to stave off an invader from Apokolips keen to steal a relic under their aegis.  I won’t say who this New God is.  No, it isn’t Darkseid.  It’s too early for Darkseid.  I will say that he actually feels like a threat.  In comics, it's very easy to forget this fellow exists.   

The New God’s intent is linked to the Death of Superman.  Superman’s death is a cross between a black hole and a sucking chest wound.  It attracts every cosmic lunatic to a demoralized Earth that seems ripe for conquest.  It’s difficult for me not to see a mirror to reality.  

Batman however intends to hold the pieces together.  He aims to show the world that there’s still hope by forming the Justice League.  There’s irony in Batman’s goal.  He is after all known as the Dark Knight.  He’s considered by many to be a soldier warring against crime.  He’s not.  Never has been.  Even when you could argue that Batman sought revenge for the murder of his parents, he still cared more about the lives hurt by crime than killing criminals.  Batman has always been a dark symbol of protection.  That’s evident in Justice League.


Batman meets up with Aquaman first.  You’ve seen the encounter in the trailer, but only snippets.  In the trailer, Batman seems smug.  In the full scene, Batman is humble.  He's basically begging for super heroes to join him to save the planet.

The first attempt fails.  After an Atlantean encounter with the New God, Aquaman reconsiders.  Arthur Curry played by Jason Momoa isn’t the Aquaman from the comics.  He's Aquaman reimagined to fit his hybrid origin.  He’s an alternate Aquaman, acceptable and enjoyable to watch.

Keep that parallel earth idea in mind when considering Ezra Miller as the Flash.  I can understand the actors of the CW Flash being a touch raw about the film not linking to their work.  I can certainly understand Grant Gustin and his advocate Tom Cavanaugh being upset that Grant wasn’t the Flash, even a unique Flash, but I also can see the rationale behind these decisions.


This is a sister earth.  Miller embodies an isomeric Flash. Like Aquaman, he’s not the Barry Allen from the comics. He's perhaps the oddest duck amongst the League.  Though, I’m happy to say that he’s not dark, as the producers originally promised.  Dark doesn’t fit the Flash.  


The Flash is new to this world of fighting aliens.  In another notable scene, the Flash stammers his fear to Batman.  Batman gives him the antidote.  The Flash just needs a spark.  Affleck imbues Batman with depth and empathy.  He clicks with every cast member.  This moment in particular is memorable for casting Batman’s shadow in a positive way.


The most impressive actor in the movie is Ray Fisher, and I say that because he has the thankless role of Cyborg.  Cyborg was originally created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in The New Teen Titans.  He became associated with the Justice League by default.  He was one of a handful of black heroes in the DCU, and Hanna-Barbera was all about diversity.  Rightfully, so.  Cyborg became one of the Super-Friends.  That association carried him into Smallville, and that meme no doubt influenced Geoff Johns’ decision to make Cyborg a bona fide Justice League member in the new 52.  Nevertheless, when you think of the League, you don’t think Cyborg.  Ray Fisher makes you believe that Cyborg always belonged in the League.  Fisher dazzles as first a brooding man, a man terrified of his own power, then one of the team.  He falls into no black stereotype.  He's not the funny black guy.  He's not the big badass black guy.  Ray Fisher is instead Victor Stone, Cyborg.  A full integration.

Other touches make the Justice League worth seeing.  Danny Elfman scores the film.  So, Affleck gets the boost of the actual Batman theme.  It’s not, well, this is a fake Batman anyway.  So here’s anything.  Affleck is Batman.  He gets the theme.  He also drives something that's recognizable as the Batmobile and later a Batwing.  Smallville alum Joe Morton plays Victor’s father.  Jeremy Irons presents a witty Alfred.  Familiar faces from Wonder Woman populate the island, and sneak guest stars color the film with tickling result.

The rest of the Justice League review can be found at the bottom of this post.  Because, baby here be spoilers.  Big ones.

The Batman Annual by Tom King and Lee Weeks, mostly, details an early meeting of Batman and Catwoman.  Hence the title “Date Nights.”  Catwoman opens the story by breaking into Wayne Manor to steal the Batmobile.


She eventually crashes the vehicle, into a surprising reminder of an odd DC team-up.


Weeks illustrated and King wrote the Batman and Elmer Fudd special.  Either one or both talents could have been the wag behind the cameo gag.  

After the crash, Selina leaves behind a mouse on the passenger seat of the Batmobile.  This strange behavior has a purpose, and it’s actually more complex than you may think.  

I’m sure by now I need not remind you that Catwoman originally debuted as an elegant jewel thief named the Cat.  Batman met her on a ship.  Much later, somewhere between the Silver and Bronze Ages, Selina began committing cat-themed crimes.  Some writers used that motif as a compulsion.  In other words, cat totems triggered Catwoman.  This kind of theft borders on abnormal criminal psychology.

That idea thankfully fell by the wayside.  Catwoman wasn’t a thief by nature.  She was a thief by choice.  She stole to better her life.  She stole to punish evildoers.  Occasionally she purloined a cat statue here and there, but the targets were amusements and nothing more.  Catwoman is in other words mentally fit and a match for Batman.

Catwoman’s thievery continues and Batman is the target.  She foils Batman’s security with ease.  She takes no valuables, just trinkets.  


The scenarios seem to be challenges to Batman.  Clearly, she knows his secret identity.  She does not want to destroy him.  So, what’s her game?

When the reader finds out, she will see that Catwoman’s motive feeds into the current Batman storyline.  King retroactively foreshadows their connection, and within his mythology their perfection.

If the story doesn’t send you, the art will.  Lee Weeks is a realistic artist.  So, everybody looks amazing and bears genuine expressions.  Batman in costume or out is a powerful figure.  Catwoman lithe and beyond sexy.  Weeks employs Catwoman’s attraction to create and facilitate various tones: pure bravado, drama, comedy, empathy and sensuality.  Michael Lark provides the art in the short "Last Rites." It's not quite as polished as Weeks' work despite trying to smoothly emulate.  However, Weeks' renderings comprise the lion's share.  So, the annual is a must for Batman fans.

The Super-Sons Annual is a misnomer.  Peter Tomasi instead teams up with Paul Pelletier and Cam Smith for a seriously deranged tale of the Super-Pets.  


So.  The Legion of Super-Pets was a real thing back in the Silver Age.  Where else? The coterie consisted of Krypto, of course, Streaky the Super-Cat, Beppo the Super-Monkey and Comet the Super-Horse.  

Technically, Comet wasn’t really a pet.  He was a horny Supergirl stalker that was “cursed” to be a horse.  That’s not how the Powers That Be described it, but the former centaur love-obsessed over Supergirl.  He longed to regain his manhood.  Both definitions.  In the interim, he enjoyed being Supergirl’s horse.  She riding him, and Supergirl never learning of the dude’s predicament.  You do the math.  

The Super Pet Family were joined by Proty, Chameleon Boy’s pet shape-shifting blob.  Proty became devoted to Saturn Girl, and he took her shape and place when the Legion attempted to resurrect Lightning Lad.  Since she loved Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl had already stacked the deck.  She intended to take the hit of the life-giving-taking plasma.  Proty died in her place.


Tomasi reimagines a present day roster of the Super-Pets for the new 52.  Only Tomasi.  The writer halves the Super-Pets into Batman Family animals and Superman Family animals.  He includes Clay Creature as a substitute for Proty, and inducts the bizarre and hilarious Plastic Parrot.


Though Titus is Tomasi's creation and preference, he's also okay with original Batman pet Ace the Bathound.  The sleeping Ace cameos.  Batman writer Tom King on the other hand likes Ace.  Tomasi who usually doesn't give a rat's ass about continuity decides to once and for all explain the discrepancy.  Batman has two dogs.  Duh.  I should have thought of that myself. 

Tomasi also replaces Beppo the Super-Monkey, who since gained the tragic pathos of King Kong through giant-size association.  The writer restores a classic lunacy from the Silver Age, and barring the brief but hilarious moments of the Super-Sons, this is the only furry figure that actually expresses any dialogue.  The whole of the book, which makes it even more special is an onomatopoeia of growls, woofs, purrs, etc.  With the exception of Plastic Parrot.


Plastic Parrot.  Let that sink in.  Tomasi makes tear-inducing use of Plastic Parrot in this story of what else petnapping.  The culprit resembles a Neal Adams “alien,” and the whole thing is just one jaw-dropping scene after scene beautifully illustrated by Pelletier who demonstrates a knack for drawing animals.

Silver Sable returns to comics for this legacy one-shot.  Briefly, Silver Sable is a mercenary introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man.  She's paid to capture and kill targets.  Her current mission is the assassination of old Nazi Franka Kraus.

With her mission complete, Sable intends to reach the extraction point and get out.  Like many of Marvel's anti-heroes, Sable is really a hero who just likes to get paid and doesn't mind getting her hands dirty.  Franka trained the next generation of Nazi, and Ulka acted to type.


Sable cannot leave these innocent refugees to die.  So, she breaks covert ops and interferes with prejudice.


On the Nazi killing trail, she meets a fan from the poor side of town and tries to convince her to break rank.  The book really has everything and serves as a fantastic spotlight for Silver Sable.  

Marvel could have scrimped on the talent.  Instead, they hired Christa Faust, the novelist of the superb Money Shot and Choke Hold published by Hardcase Crime.  They could have hamstrung the artwork, but as you can see Paulo Siqueira and Jose Luis, with Cam Smith, Terry Pallot and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg offer the reader a superior presentation.  You don't have to be a Silver Sable fan to want this book.

John Wick.  The name threatens to be become just as familiar as James Bond, and like Bond, Wick premieres in a comic book series from Dynamite.


Mr. Wick has yet to become an assassin, yet to be a former assassin, yet to be a husband and a dog owner.  This is early John Wick, but writer Greg Pak doesn't fiddle about.  The story takes place on the crux of John Wick becoming John Wick.

Well, not really that early.  The above scene takes place in a flashback that looks and sounds like Indiana Jones, but departs when callous slaughter ignites.  This helplessness motivates present day John Wick into action.


The talent is there but not the Continental. Not the lucrative jobs.  Not the network of assassins.  That's about to change.  Since, Mr. Wick meddled on behalf of Charon.


Pak's story neatly apes Kneau Reeves stoic delivery as Giovanni Valletta illustrates Reeves' likeness in breathtaking action.  If you're a John Wick fan, you'll be delighted by the comic book.

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter falls prey to vampires unafraid to venture in sunlight and a powerful head vampire named Slake.

Despite all the advantages, they fail to kill the Captain.  Though his cohorts' words certainly sting.  

Vampires' allergy to sunlight, crosses and the like are pure Hollywood inventions.  The fanged fiends of folklore experienced no such banes.  Garlic and Hawthorne appeared to do the trick for these traditionalists.  The literate Dracula only suffered from lethargy in the sun, and the heroes of the novel kill him with a Bowie knife.  Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter explored these schisms in detail.  Brian Clemens wittily suggested vampires branched out into different species and could only be killed in ways specific to the breed.  Dan Abnett follows suit with our band discussing the ins and outs of vampire killing. 


However, Abnett mainly lets the art of Tom Mandrake do the talking, and that's certainly not a bad thing.  Mandrake is  perfect for this character and his world.  In addition to the expected shadowy ventures, Mandrake also pursues some surprising and welcome levity in Carla's expression.

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It’s regrettable that the Justice League had to keep its greatest strength secret.  The League find a way of bringing Superman back from the dead.


While the whole point of the movie is to save the world, there’s another a more personal story intertwined.  Batman believes that he killed Superman.  This we learn from Wonder Woman is untrue.  Batman clearly acted like a jerk, but he didn’t kill Superman.  However, he is awash in guilt over the possibility he contributed to Superman’s death.  

This movie isn’t really about the Justice League stepping in when Superman’s down, or that the world will be fine without a Superman.  It’s about the Justice League saving their friend.  For that reason, Amy Adams and Diane Lane, Lois Lane and Martha Kent, are pivotal. 


Cast your mind back to the original resurrection of Superman.  It was complicated.  Superman wasn’t in a Kryptonian trance as in Super-Friends.  He was dead.  It took a combination of advanced alien science and the supernatural assistance of Dr. Occult—because he’s a Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster character that predates Superman—to bring the Man of Steel back.  

The Justice League's method isn’t as complicated, but it required them to band together in the first place.  Without the New God’s thirst, without Victor Stone’s affinity with computers, without the Flash’s lightning, Batman and Wonder Woman alone couldn’t have done anything.  Batman applies his intellect to the problem, but without the means to make his observations work, a solution would always hover outside of his grasp.

When Superman awakens he’s less than pleased, and a short slugfest ensues.  He’s really pissed about Batman, but Batman is genuinely regretful.  That’s why he doesn’t bring out the Kryptonite.  He knows that he deserves the punishment that Superman has in store for him.  So, he employs an altogether different contingency plan, something Batman would do.  Something that you wouldn’t expect the writers to be smart enough to figure out.

Soon, Superman is clad in full regalia, and the League kick serious ass.  The resurrection was difficult, but there’s now no doubt.  Superman’s back.  They’re going to win, and they’re a team.  This is apparent when amusingly nobody listens to Batman’s self-sacrificing tactical decisions and instead back him up to the fullest.

The momentum of super-hero movie success will always lie with Marvel, but I finally feel confident that Warner Brothers is back on track.  We can go forward.  The end credits scene indicates an explanation why Deathstroke is the bad guy in the upcoming Batman film.  A movie I will see.  Now, everything starts to gel.