Wednesday, 25 July 2007
from Marvel, by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting and Mike Perkins
I saw a recent headline that declared “Captain America Still
Dead.” Yup, Captain
Besides the three central characters, we end up following a couple of other characters in sub-plots. The first is Tony Stark, the former Iron Man and the current Director of SHIELD. It makes sense that we spend time with Tony in two ways. One, he was Captain
Dynamo 5 #5
from Image, by Jay Faerber and Mahmud A. Asrar
This book is often compared to Noble Causes- which is understandable, given that they’re both written by Jay Faerber. But I think the better comparison is another Image book: Invincible. Really, it’s that good. And I say this as someone who enjoys Noble Causes quite a lot and has even championed it over the years. Dynamo 5 is better.
Invincible is a book about a teenaged superhero and, as
such, has been compared to the teenaged superhero by which all others are
mentioned: the original Spider-Man.
Dynamo 5 is about a family bound by circumstances as much as by
blood. They’re a family, but not in the
traditional sense. And just as
Invincible is the modern heir to Spider-Man, Dynamo 5 has the potential to be
the modern heir to the Fantastic Four.
Honestly, it’s that good.
The team features five half-siblings. They share a common father, the great superhero Captain Dynamo, but they all have different mothers. For some of the characters, the revelation isn’t that big a deal. In fact, it’s kind of cool if you’re living in a foster home to find out that your dad is Captain Dynamo. For others, the revelation is shocking, even devastating. They had dads that they thought were their real fathers. And now they know that their mothers weren’t faithful to their husbands.
Issue 4 took a break from the action to give us a glimpse
into those relationships and situations.
Issue 5 brings us back to the action, but not in the same way we had
seen in the first three issues. In those
issues, the team had been gathered and mentored by Maddie Warner, Captain
Dynamo’s widow. She had proven to be a
tough leader, setting aside her own grief at her husband’s death and her own
shame at his infidelity. But in this
issue, she’s confronted with the possible return of Captain Dynamo. And that means that she isn’t there for the
team of teenagers as she was in their initial adventures.
Suddenly, the kids are on their own. It’s a necessary step. We see which kids have already established a
loyalty to Maddie. We see which kids are
ready to step up as leaders. And,
naturally, we see that not everything is at it seems. Captain Dynamo hasn’t
returned. Rather, he has at least one
other child that Maddie didn’t know about and her mother just happens to be a
super-villain. Yup, things are getting
Dynamo 5 has it all: archetypical powers assigned to atypical characters, family connections and complications, plot twists, dynamic superhero action and astoundingly beautiful art. This is the next Invincible and it’s new enough that it’s not too late to get on board at the beginning.
from Devil’s Due, by Mark Powers and Mike Bear
I’ll admit it: I was looking forward to this issue more than
anything else in July. That could’ve
been a bad thing. My expectations
could’ve been so high that any book would’ve actually been a
disappointment. And while this issue
wasn’t exactly what I expected, it also wasn’t a disappointment.
This is the first part of a year-long epic called World War
III. At the end of the previous issue,
Cobra Commander was in possession of all of the secrets of GI Joe and all of
the military power of Destro. And he was
ready to wage war. So I expected this
issue to be the opening salvo of a war.
I expected attacks and explosions and things blowing up. But that’s not what we got. We did get the opening salvo of a war, just a
different kind of war.
The issue opens with a couple of Joes taking out some Cobra snipers in Dagestan. It then shifts back to headquarters for a great scene between General Joe Colton (the Joe in GI Joe) and one of his information guys running down the threat board. It reminds me of the issue of Avengers in which Alan Davis joined Kurt Busiek on the title. It’s a fanboy’s dream, seeing all of the villains up on a computer screen.
From there, we jump to
The issue just keeps getting better from there. Eventually, we learn what Cobra Commander is
up to. He isn’t planning to hit the Joes
directly. At least, not yet. Instead, he’s arming factions in every conflict
around the globe: in Dagestan, in
While it wasn’t the explosive beginning that I had expected,
it was still a great issue, building tension to a slow boil rather than
starting out with a bang. Plus, there
are some great fan extras. The cover
features every single Joe to ever appear in comics, on TV or as a toy. There’s a second copy inside, complete with
an index. And there’s an “identified
threat matrix” in the back: five pages of entries regarding every Joe enemy
ever used in the comics, complete with status updates such as deceased, in
custody and at large. The fan in me was
drooling at the extras even as I was enjoying the story as a reader.
from DC, by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert
Geoff Johns and Green Lantern: Rebirth changed my mind. That was one of the best superhero stories I’d ever read. And now, the Rebirth team is back together bringing us the next big epic in the Green Lantern saga. So far, it’s shaping up to be every bit as good as that earlier story.
The basic premise is simple: Sinestro, the Green Lantern’s
greatest foe, is putting together a corps of his own made up of those who cause
great fear. We’ve seen the gathering of
the Sinestro Corps in back-up features for several months. We’ve seen their spies at work in Green
Lantern Corps. And they finally
initiated the war in the Sinestro Corps special, which would have been included
in a Best of June column had I written one.
Now, we get to see how the Green Lanterns react. It’s not going to be easy. They’re bandaging the wounded. They’re replacing the fallen. And they’re bickering with one another. Some Lanterns still don’t trust Hal
Which is great story-telling. We love to root for the underdog. The Green Lantern Corps is so powerful that
it’s hard to cheer for them in that way.
They have 7200 members, each of whom has an all-powerful weapon. They should never lose. But Geoff Johns has taken the Corps’ strength
and turned into a weakness and in so doing he’s taken the concept’s weakness
and turned it into a strength. They’re actually facing a foe stronger than they
are. They’re being forced to fact their
greatest fears. For the Green Lanterns
to win, they’re going to have to overcome the very things they’re afraid of and
come together as a team.
I can’t wait to see what happens next. It was amazing just catching the opening of the story. Now, we’ve gotten flashbacks as to Hal
from IDW, by Brian Lynch and Franco Urru
Furthermore, this mini-series is a sequel of sorts to one of the best episodes of the Angel TV show. Smile Time was an episode in which some demons possessed the puppets of a children’s TV show and used their ratings to suck the life energy out of the kids’ who were watching. Angel eventually shut down the operation, but not before being turned temporarily into a puppet himself. It was a great episode, rich with humor and a little bit of pathos.
This mini-series is that good. Smile Time is back. They’re now big in
Of course, by the end of this issue, Lynch turns both Spike
and Lorne into puppets. We knew it was
going to come, but Lynch manages to make it fun and unexpected anyway. He hits all of the right beats. He keeps the action going. He lets the one-liners fly while he’s doing
so. And he adds quirky supporting
characters and villains at every turn.
Plus, Francisco Urru does a great job as the artist. He manages to convey the likeness of the characters without being slavish to photo-realism, kind of like Georges Jeanty on the current Buffy comic. And he does a great job with some of the action scenes, especially the opening one in which hundreds of felt ninjas doggy-pile on Spike. This issue was great fun. I only wish more people were checking it out.
from Dark Horse, by John Ostrander, Jan Duursema and Dan
I’ve written about this series often, and it’s sometimes
hard to think of new things to say. But
I still had to include it in this column because if I’m writing about “the
best,” than Legacy qualifies. This is a
great title. It’s set about 100 years
after everything else in the Star Wars world, which puts it about 125 years
after Return of the Jedi. The world of Star
Wars is already a rich one, yet Legacy takes it even further. This is no simple line between the good guys
and the bad guys. Instead, Ostrander and
Duursema have introduced multiple factions.
The Sith rule the galaxy openly.
Yet a faction of the Imperial nobility and military have rejected Sith
rule. That’s right, it’s the Empire vs.
the Empire. Meanwhile, the Jedi have
been broken and are either in hiding or on the run. One Jedi-in-training, has even become a
smuggler. Cade Skywalker, the heir to
the great Skywalker legacy works on the wrong side of the law.
This issue furthers Cade Skywalker’s story. He feels bad that he had betrayed a Jedi
healer at one point. And so he decides
to break into the Sith prison on the capital planet of Coruscant and free the
healer that’s been imprisoned in his place.
It’s not that Cade has embraced his lineage. Rather, he simply doesn’t like having anyone
own him, or having to owe anyone. The
issue gives us glimpses of the ruling Sith, the soldiers that fight for them
and the seedy under-belly of Coruscant.
It’s almost like a Blade Runner take on Star Wars.
The Sith remain distant yet fascinating creatures. Duursema has given them some great looks,
from the leaders’ skull helmet to Darth Talon’s red skin and tattoos to Darth
Nihl’s pale face and penetrating eyes.
These are some villains you can be afraid of. Even the minor villains look good. It’s amazing what blood red skin can do for a
It’s also interesting to visit Coruscant’s criminal quarter,
to see villainous versions of familiar races like Wookiees and to have the
protagonist of our story deal with a Hutt on friendly terms.
Plus, the art is beautiful.
I just can’t say enough about how rich and textured this book
looks. Duursema draws handsome men,
beautiful women and incredible aliens.
She knows how to handle the quiet negotiations as well as the vivid
light-saber duels. I admire the art so
much that I tend to read this book more slowly than others.
Finally, there’s a great ending to this issue. In some of the previous issues, there have been some hints that Cade might be ready to reclaim his Jedi heritage and forsake his criminal behavior. But any hint that this book was about to transition to a traditional hero book was an intentional misdirection. Cade’s rescue fails. He manages to free the healer from his prison cell, but he’s caught trying to leave the compound. And Cade may be a Skywalker but he hasn’t worked with a light-saber in years. He’s defeated and we’re left with the sense that he’s about to become a pawn of the Sith. This is another book that has it all: beautiful art, a rich universe, intriguing characters and a true sense that you have no idea what’s going to happen next.
from Vertigo, by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and Jose
There may be some people who think that Y: The Last Man is a
book about a specific science-fiction situation: the last man on earth. It’s about a mystery: what killed all of the
other men? It’s about politics: what
happens when all of the men are dead.
And, yes, Y: The Last Man deals with all of those things. But like all great works of literature, it’s
not really about those things. It’s
about the characters. It’s about the
characters living in that situation.
It’s about how they deal with it, how they respond, how they cope.
This is a great character issue. It opens with Agent 355 and a scene which
clearly indicates that she’s finished her mission and is ready to move on with
the next stage of her life. She buys a
dress. No more work clothes for
her. And since she doesn’t have any
currency, she gives away her gun in exchange.
Yet even though the main mystery has been resolved,
Next up, is the title character and his long, lost
love. Yorick and Beth were reunited last
issue in a scene that fans have been waiting to see for more than four
years. At first, things seem to be going
well. They’re having great sex. But there are other, deeper issues that they
haven’t addressed. Yorick had proposed
to Beth before the cataclysm and had never gotten an answer. Beth finally answers. She tells him, “Yes.” However, while doing so, she also mentions
that she had been planning to break up with him before the cataclysm. Suddenly, Yorick is confronted with a truth
that other people have been telling him for years: that the real Beth may not
match the idealized version of Beth he’s been carrying around in her head.
Beth was breaking up with Yorick because he was content with
his life and unadventurous. Now, with
all that he’s been through in the past four years, Yorick has grown a lot. He’s become the man that Beth always wanted
him to be. But that’s not what Yorick
hears. He hears that he wasn’t good
enough when there were billions of guys to choose from, but that he’s good
enough now that he’s the last man on earth.
Yorick gets dressed and storms off in anger. It’s an incredible scene, full of emotional
twists and turns. It also demonstrates
how nudity can be used to indicate emotional vulnerability instead of
Finally, Beth has one more scene with Yorick’s sister Hero
and the other Beth. She’s just revealed
her secrets to Yorick and now discovers that Yorick hasn’t revealed all of his
secrets to her. It’s a great conclusion, fracturing Beth’s illusions about
Yorick just as she had previously shattered Yorick’s illusions about her. Even though we know that there are Israeli
agents about, the real tension that has to be resolved in the final three
issues is this relationship. Will Beth
and Yorick be able to reconcile, now that their secrets are out in the
open? Or will they go their separate
ways after years of searching for each other?
Sure, there are some plot points yet to go, but it’s the character
questions that are really carrying us forward to the finish line.