Sunday, May 18, 2014

POBB: May 14, 2014

Pick of the Brown Bag
May 14, 2014
Ray Tate

So after the massive comic book yield last week, a scant few titles show up this week.  Fortunately, Hellboy, Captain Marvel, Justice League United, Smallville, Lantern and World's Finest are all quality reads.  I'll also have a look at a little movie called Godzilla, but first....

Happy 25th Anniversary Road House
"Pain Don't Hurt."

Hellboy continues his tour of Hell.  The story starts out quiet over drinks in a tavern, where two gents talk with Hellboy about the topography of Hell, but it's quickly interrupted by a gambler of Hellboy's acquaintance.  He wants revenge.

The book erupts into grand old fashioned Hellboy action with a monster that's a modern woodcut done in Mike Mignola's style.  The creature maneuvers Hellboy into a unique trap that's at once diabolical and fitting with the Balkanesque setting.

When the trap springs, Hellboy finds himself less than the man he was.  One of the unique attributes about Mignola's version of Hell is that once injured, you don't heal.  Healing is for the living.  The dead carry their wounds with them.

Mignola indicates however that there's still hope in Hell. That makes sense.  Hope must be true and present in order to feel the impact of it being taken away.  That would mean there's a possibility that Hellboy may wrench himself from the devilish place and return whole to the land of the living.

Helena Wayne aka Huntress assails MIT to retrieve the codes necessary to power up Kara's cosmic gateway.  However Kara's a little impulsive.  She starts up the generator and blacks out Boston.  This leads to much chaos, but in a way, it's a good thing.  The lack of power speeds up a terrorist recon mission for radioactive material.  Huntress is on hand to eliminate the potential threat.  

Kara attempts to make amends for her mistakes, but a trigger happy military maneuvered by Homeland Security wastes ammo when trying to stop her.  It's all typical World's Finest goodness courtesy of Paul Levitz, R.B. Silva and Yildiry Cinar.

Justice League United splits its story into battles fought on two fronts.  On earth, the team of the Star-Spangled Kid, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Adam Strange and Animal Man battle the latest variation on the Apellex aliens that the original Justice League of America fought way, way back in the Silver Age.  Writer Jeff Lemire isn't explicit, but what else could a giant that shape shifts into the four elements be?  

The fight offers a lot in the way of comedy, daring-do and genuine drama that feeds off past continuity that salvages Justice League of America during Forever Evil.  The former became Cliff Notes for the latter, but before that, J'onn and the Kid linked minds, resulting naturally, in a closer relationship.  

The Martian Manhunter ended up estranged from the major players in the new 52, but Lemire blends him back into continuity with a winning personality that reflects his past incarnations.

Green Arrow and Animal Man continue to work off of each other brilliantly.  A new double-act, and Animal Man appears to have reconciled with his wife.  Adam Strange suits up, and the way the anthropology professor acquires the accoutrements make perfect sense.  Given user friendly protocols, the question of how a comparative primitive can dope out advanced technology is moot.  

Meanwhile, in space Hawkman and Lobo fight it out, and Hawkman remarks about Lobo's past history with Thanagar while punching the hell out of him.  The maestro behind this shindig reveals himself, and he just oozes with nostalgia.  Another terrific issue by the team of Lemire, Mike McCone and Marcelo Maiolo.

Superman adjusts to his new role as a Green Lantern in this week's Smallville, but frankly that's the least interesting part of this bulging tie-in of wonderment.  When old Justice League villains show up, Superman kicks ass as his own bad ass self.  Yup.  That's a lot of ass, and it's entirely warranted.

Meanwhile, on earth, Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor display their cute coupledom remix.

We also check in with Watchtower where Tess has a field day with the Queens, cheating on their promise to forgo superheroics until their baby's born.  

The hilarious Lois Lane spices up an already enticing brew with Lex Luthor investigating the connection between the Green Lanterns of space and the Green Lantern of the Justice Society.  Add a better explanation for the whole Parallax/yellow rings nonsense, and you've got yourself a fine issue that's also expertly illustrated by Marcio Takara and Carrie Strachan.

Last but not least, Captain Marvel proves to be a lousy diplomat.  The Avenger reacquires her ship from the desperate youth Tic, an insectoid from Bug's species.  Carol discovers that the reason why Tic sought an Avenger... that the Spartax Empire intends to move the population from a poisoned planet.  To do so however would condemn those already fallen victim.

In the middle of the story, a misunderstanding leads to a good bout between Carol and a minotaur gent.  Pretty smooth writing from Kelly Sue DeConnick, and David Lopez's artwork is to die for.

The Saturday Afternoon Matinee

Over the weekend, a debonair leading male retook the cinema by storm.  

I am a lifelong Godzilla fan.  Here is the highest compliment I can give Godzilla, an American reboot no less.  It feels like it's part of the original Godzilla series.  

The movie balances Godzilla as anti-nuclear metaphor and Godzilla as the noble creature that finds himself neck deep in monster blood.  

Gifted with the most misleading trailer of all time, Godzilla left a big grin on my face that lasted well after I left the theater, and the human actors weren't bad either.

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