Monday, May 31, 2010

The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #37

Well, not to go all "old fogey" on everyone, but Annuals have gone to hell.

Not that there's anything wrong with the content here - the issue contains two fun stories by two excellent writers: Karl Kesel on the first story, revealing the first time Spider-Man met Captain America; and Kurt Busiek revealing how Spidey first met an even bigger name in comics - Stan Lee!

No, the problem is in the comic itself. Annuals were always special issues, packaged into huge, square-ended comics loaded with original stories, special features, reprints, posters and lots of extras. This issue of The Amazing Spider-Man Annual looks exactly like a regular issue of that comic - and it costs the same as a regular issue, with a price tag of $3.99.

(To be honest, I almost overlooked it, thinking it was just another regular issue of Spider-Man. If I hadn't caught the return of "Untold Tales" mentioned in the corner of the cover, I would have passed it by.)

Luckily, both stories are lots of fun. Kesel's story (why isn't he writing lots more comics?) features Cap meeting Spidey during a battle with the Sandman, and then encountering a deadly foursome of Rogue Scholars whose powers are great fun as they're based on some famous names that should delight any nerd (like me). This team, I'd love to see again.

Busiek's welcome return to Untold Tales of Spider-Man features a meeting between Spidey and Stan, following up on the conceit that Marvel's comics are created with the cooperation of heroes like the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. It's a fun tale with several cameos and a few surprises along the way.

So what's to complain about? The product may be thinner and the price higher, but at least the content is solid. But they could have thrown in a couple of pin-ups to sweeten the deal. Or maybe just put the word "Annual" on the cover.

Grade: A-

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Power Girl #12

This issue sadly marks an end to the creative team that launched this new title for Power Girl - writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, artist Amanda Conner and colorist Paul Mounts.

I've bragged about Amanda Conner's art before, and this issue is merely another outstanding effort with amazing layouts, animated characters and expressions, top-notch storytelling and just an overall sense of fun and joy throughout the comic.

The storylines in this series have been somewhat overshadowed by the art - that's how good Amanda is - but Palmiotti and Gray have done an excellent job of giving Power Girl a life outside superheroics, they started building an effective rogue's gallery (which is not easy with a character this powerful), and also gave PG a supporting cast of friends and co-workers, with lots of potential for growth.

This issue is unusual in that it tells a non-traditional story. It gives PG some downtime with her friends, it ties up loose plot threads, updates us on the whereabouts of friends and enemies, gives us quite a few laughs and leaves the house in order for the next team.

It's been an outstanding series and as much as I hate to see this team go, I appreciate their good work, bringing PG to the forefront of the DC Universe where she belongs.

For too long, this character has been on the back burner, and she's just (you should excuse the phrase) bursting with potential. She's incredibly powerful, and in this team's care, she also proved she could be funny, caring and an interesting character.

Power Girl gets a lot of attention because she's such an over-the-top, Marilyn Monroe-esque, unapologetically sexy character. Most comics companies have similar characters, but most are treated merely as sex objects - not "real" heroes.

It would be easy to leave this character there - that's where she's been since her first appearance, frankly. But she has Wonder Woman-level potential as a character (and perhaps more, since her origin has been streamlined). Visually, she's already there - her stature, her sleek, peekaboo costume and (let's face it) her big boobs make her impossible to ignore. The creative team just needs to keep her a sympathetic character - and craft some good stories.

The outgoing team has made her into a (sorry again) rounder, more complete character - and here's hoping the next team can pick it up from there and keep building.

Grade: A-

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Superman: War of the Supermen #4 (of 4)

I have to admit that I lost interest in the whole "New Krypton" storyline early on, for a few reasons.

For one, having a city filled with Supermen seemed like a great way to make Superman less special.

For another, for the story to have conflict, people would have to do stupid things. Should General Lane have attacked a planet filled with Supermen? Is it smart to send an assassin against the planet's leaders? That sort of thing.

Finally, there seemed to be a limited number of ways for the story to end. They could restore Kandor to its "bottled city" status. They could send it into another galaxy (perhaps under a red sun). Or they could destroy it.

Sadly, as we saw in the first issue of Superman: War of the Supermen, (and on the news page of every other DC Comic last month), the creative team opted for the last option.

Of course, that still gave us time for the 100 minute war, which filled this brief mini-series. This final issue gives us the wrap-up to the battle, which involves a bit of a cheat, a near-death of one of my favorite characters, and an out-of-character death for the main villain in the story (and one that sets a distasteful example for readers, frankly).

I expected more from writers James Robinson and Sterling Gates, who are better than this. The artwork by Eddy Barrows, Cafu and Eduardo Pansica has its moments, but there are also lots of panels that are jumbled and confusing.

The good news is, this will (hopefully) mean a return of Superman to his own comics and DC's regular continuity, where he's badly needed.

But that's about the only good that's come out of this series. The story took Superman away for more than a year and we end up with thousands dead, the Earth in shambles and we're pretty much right back where we started. Was this trip necessary?

Grade: C+

Friday, May 28, 2010

Secret Avengers #1

The rollout of the new Avengers titles continues with the Secret Avengers.

It's something of an odd concept - I suppose it's the Avengers by way of Mission: Impossible. The idea is that Captain Steve Rogers (Capt. America, natch) has assembled a covert team of operatives to handle the dark menaces outside of the public eye.

(By the way, shouldn't Cap be promoted if he's going to be the head of SHIELD? Just asking.)

To that end he's assembled a team that seems to be chosen at random. I can understand adding the Black Widow and War Machine for their backgrounds, and I love seeing the Beast back on the team, but the Valkyrie, Moon Knight, Ant Man and Nova seem to be odd additions. Maybe it's just me.

As written by Ed Brubaker, the team jumps right in at the start of the story, invading a Roxxon office to acquire a dangerous (and mysterious) object. That leads them to an offworld site and a battle with a mysterious (yet familiar) power - and a strange organization with a surprising leader.

The art is by Mike Deodato with colorist Ranier Beredo, but it doesn't seem like a good fit so far - the story is very dark and small, while Dedato excels at those bigger-than-life moments.

The biggest problem with the story is that it's all setup - introducing the characters and just hints about the true nature of what they're facing. The whole concept seems shaky - why are they trying to keep their existence a secret? Shouldn't they use less distinctive costumes?

I have to say, this feels like a shaky start so far - but perhaps, as the team comes together and the storyline becomes more clear, these problems will clear up.

Here's hoping!

Grade: B-

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2 (of 6)

We can be grateful that this comic isn't a straightforward time travel story (of course, writer Grant Morrison rarely tells ordinary stories, happily enough).

For the second issue in the Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne series, we find Bruce mysteriously transported from prehistoric times to America's early days, where he finds himself embroiled in a witch hunt.

Of course, there are other twists and turns in the story, which also takes us to the end of time and some unexpected revelations about the nature of Bruce's time-traveling problems.

It's a clever puzzle Morrison has set for us, and there are more mysteries to unravel. Who better to solve it than the world's greatest detective?

Providing the art is Frazer Irving, who will soon take over the chores on the Batman and Robin title. I like the art here a lot - it's a dark and painted view of the past, and aside from one panel that's too murky to decipher, it's outstanding work.

So far this story is a good challenge for the reader (without being completely indecipherable, if you get my drift). *cough* R.I.P.*cough*

More, please.

Grade: A-

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Comics Today

Here's what I picked up today at the comics shop:

- Secret Avengers #1 - Fighting the bad guys - quietly?

- Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2 (of 6) - Definitely a Grant Morrison book, as we wonder, "What goes on here?"

- Brave and the Bold #34 - Couldn't resist a team-up of the Doom Patrol and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

- Fantastic Four #579
- Class is in session.

- Green Lantern #54 - More about the White Lantern.

- The Guild #3 (of 3) - The wrap-up to an offbeat series.

- Power Girl #12 - Sadly, the last issue with Amanda Conner art.

- Secret Warriors #16 - More twists and turns as battle breaks out.

- Amazing Spider-Man Annual #37 - Had to pick this up, since it includes a reunion of the Untold Tales of Spider-Man team.

- Superman: War of the Supermen #4 (of 4) - The final wrap-up.

- Thor #610 - Thor fights Clor.

- Ultimate Enemy #4 (of 4) - The Thing gets a makeover.

The Classics - The Avengers #118

Lots of great writers have done terrific work on The Avengers, but the most influential writer who ever tackled the series - in my opinion, natch - was Steve Englehart.

He wrote the book for some 50 issues and turned it into a comic that was about big events and big ideas, and he managed to bring together disparate elements of Marvel's history and make it all fit together as though it had always been intended that way. (And that's a trick few writers can manage, though many have tried.)

This issue, cover dated December 1973, was the wrap-up to one of the wildest and most purely entertaining series for both The Avengers and The Defenders.

Englehart was (incredibly) writing both team books, and he decided to create what I believe is the first-ever multi-issue crossover between two titles. There had been crossovers before, but usually just one issue spilling over into another one. This series jumped back and forth between the two titles over several months, as individual members of each team faced off, trying to gather the pieces of a powerful object called The Evil Eye (which first appeared in a single Stan Lee / Jack Kirby issue of the Fantastic Four).

This led to some classic battles, including the Vision vs. the Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange vs. the Black Panther and Mantis, and my personal favorite, Thor vs. the Hulk.

Of course, the whole conflict was devised by two of Marvel's biggest villains - Dormammu and Loki, and by this final issue in the series, the bad guys were bringing down hell on Earth, and the two teams would have to work together to save reality as we know it.

The task of drawing (virtually) the entire cast of the Marvel Universe would make anyone this side of George Perez shudder, but the underrated Bob Brown turns in an admirable job here, with clear storytelling and a professional job throughout. If a few panels are a bit shaky in the anatomy department, we can certainly forgive - it's an amazing display here. And I love that John Romita cover.

The whole series is available in reprint form, and is highly recommended. It's loaded with terrific dialogue, some classic battles between heroes, and a knock-down, drag-out final chapter loaded with surprises.

A true classic, and highly recommended!

Grade: A-

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Justice League of America #45

There are things about this issue of the Justice League of America that confuse me.

The last couple of issues of the title have included members of the Justice Society of America, but according to the last page of this issue, the official JLA / JSA crossover doesn't start until next issue. Why?

Then there's the matter of Supergirl and Power Girl (who take center stage on this cover, as if you need me to tell you). Presumably PG (who's from Earth-2) is just a slightly-older version of SG. So why don't they look alike (other than both having blonde hair)?

As this cover and the interiors clearly demonstrate, PG is different from SG in another, ah, upfront category. (Yes, I'm talking about PG's chest. Sue me.)

But getting to the point of the issue - this is a pretty good setup for the crossover that starts next issue (and not a moment sooner). It picks up from last issue, when we saw a green, crystalline meteor crash to Earth, containing Jade, the recently resurrected hero and daughter of the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott).

As a long-time reader, I like the way this story ties in with the Silver Age origin of GL, and it expands on the concept nicely. But don't expect too much - this issue is mostly setup for that crossover thing I keep mentioning.

The art is by Mark Bagley, and it's outstanding - although the colors seem a bit murky on this issue. Still, his strong layouts and dynamic figures shine through.

For quite a while now the JLA has not been what it should be - namely, the top comic in the DC lineup. For the first time in far too long, it feels like it's almost there, and getting closer all the time.

Thank goodness!

Grade: B+

Monday, May 24, 2010

Legion of Super-Heroes #1

It's the moment Legion of Super-Heroes fans have dreamed of - one of their favorite writers returning to the fold to guide the team from the future.

Paul Levitz wrote some of the most memorable stories from the Legion's history, and this issue indicates that he hasn't lost his touch.

Here we get a quick introduction to many of the the Legionnaires (and there are quite a few of them), and we're thrown right into a galactic incident with planetary implications, and lots of side stories and ground-level events.

I think any reader could pick up this issue and follow along (always a sign of a good writer) - we're quickly brought up to speed and the characters are clearly delineated. But longtime fans will find lots of bits in there to keep them entertained, too.

The art is by Yildiray Cinar and Wayne Faucher, and it's quite good, giving the future a clean, sleek look. There's room for improvement, but it's solid work on a challenging comic.

The only thing I don't like about the issue is the cover - which seems like it would have been a better fit for issue #2.

But that's a minor quibble. So far, the Legion is back to basics - and that's a great place to start.

Grade: A-

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Brightest Day #2

Brightest Day should be a comic that's at the top of my list, since it focuses a number of characters returned to life at the end of Blackest Night - and that includes several of my favorite Silver Age characters.

But even with the inclusion of Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Mera, Martian Manhunter, Deadman and Firestorm, so far I still haven't warmed up to this comic.

That's mostly because of the steady undercurrent of graphic violence in both issues so far. Last time around we saw a brutal series of murders (of innocent civilians) by one of Aquaman's old foes, and this time around we see more grisly civilian deaths (and an equally horrific unveiling), along with a few other disturbing images.

But despite all that, the story by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi has plenty of interesting hooks to keep the readers coming back for more, and these heroes haven't "come back" from the other side of death unchanged. It's going to be interesting to see where the story goes from here.

The art works surprisingly well, especially considering the army of artists at work here. It takes five pencilers and five inkers to keep up with the twice-monthly publication schedule.

I guess I'm surprised that DC's turn to the "Brightest Day" still contains such dark and depressing imagery - but perhaps there's no getting away from it. It hasn't chased me away from the book - at least not yet - but it does give the whole thing a funny taste.

Grade: B

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Avengers #1

This issue kicks off the coming tsunami of Avenger titles by resurrecting the original, adjective-less title, and it's a very promising start indeed.

The story begins with an unusual team of Avengers - one only seen up to now in an animated film. That spins out into what promises to be a wild time-traveling adventure.

Writer Brian Bendis sets in motion the always-enjoyable "setting of the roster" story (and giving us some great character bits along the way) with Captain Steve Rogers in place as the new head of SHIELD - and he's the one assembling the lineup when a certain classic villain appears and the action kicks into high gear.

Helping this issue achieve high grades is the exceptional art by John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson - among the best in the business right now. This comic is worth buying for the art alone - especially the page where Thor goes on the attack.

And oh, that final panel.

Glad to see the end of the Dark Reign, and anxious to see where this team goes from here. It promises to be a lot of fun.

Grade: A

Friday, May 21, 2010

Back in Town!

Sorry for the delay in new reviews, but I took a week off to go to Chicago to see my youngest son graduate from college (I also visited with my wonderful family, saw a Cubs game and Conan O'Brien's stage show - great fun!).

Here are the comics I picked up while I was there:

- Atlas #1
- Avengers #1
- Brightest Day #2
- Her-oes #2
- Iron Man #26
- Justice League of America #45
- The Legion of Super-heroes #1
- The Marvelous Land of Oz #6 (of 8)
- Spirit #2
- Superman: War of the Supermen #3
- Zatanna #1

Comics I passed on as looking interesting but not interesting enough:

- Age of Heroes #1
- Avengers Assemble #1
- Enter the Heroic Age #1

The Classics - Showcase #76

It's always fun - and a bit intimidating - to meet the people who create comic books.

It's great to meet the talented men and women who have given you so much reading enjoyment over the years - but I have to admit, I always struggle with what to say to them.

At comics conventions, I always feel like an idiot stammering out something like, "You're awesome," so often I don't say anything at all - I'm just happy to see them and sit in on their panel discussions.

But one of those creators I've been lucky enough to meet - and have a actual conversation with - is Nick Cardy, who's not only an incredibly talented artist and writer, but also one of the nicest guys around.

At a recent Heroes Con in Charlotte, N.C., a friend and I were talking to Nick in the artist's alley, and he was telling wonderful stories - suddenly he stopped and said, "I'm sorry guys, here I am telling stories and you have a convention to see." As if he were bothering us (when it was more likely the other way around)! My friend and I laughed and said, "Are you kidding? We'd stand here all day if you'd let us!"

Which brings us to this issue of Showcase, which I picked up at that con (its original cover date is August 1968). I've always admired Nick's work, but I knew him from his art on Teen Titans and numerous DC covers - somehow I missed one of his favorite creations, Bat Lash.

It's an oversight I've tried to correct in the years since, although I didn't realize this was the first issue until I received the recent DC Showcase collection for Christmas (thanks, son)!

Bat Lash was one of the few attempts to do something original with a Western comic. The main character wasn't particularly heroic or even much of a good guy - he was more interested in self-preservation and the finer things in life - including beautiful women (and few artists are in Cardy's class when it comes to drawing beautiful, sexy ladies).

This story centers around Bat's attempt to get a decent meal in a town overrun with bad men - and how he cleans up the town in spite of himself. It's an entertaining story with lots of unexpected twists and turns.

You can tell Cardy was having a blast working on this comic - the art is even more detailed and lovingly rendered than usual, loaded with creative, dynamic layouts, a great comic flair, loads of character "actors," and did I mention lots of beautiful women?

It's no wonder this series is held in such high regard - it's a high point for both DC and Cardy himself - outstanding work from a master at the top of his game.

I'd love it even if he wasn't such a great guy. Thanks, Nick!

Grade: A+

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Classics - Showcase #60

As mentioned in the last post, I'm on the road for the next couple of days, so new reviews will be on hold until I return. But to live up to the blog's title, we have some classic reviews to hold you over, focusing on a couple of favorite titles from the original Showcase series from DC).

I always enjoyed the idea behind the Showcase comic from DC in the 1960s. It gave different characters (and different comics genres) a moment in the spotlight, and allowed the company to try out different ideas. Some worked, some didn't - but it was the equivalent of a variety pack, and when it was good, it was mighty good.

This issue is one of those "mighty good" ones, as it focused on The Spectre, a Golden Age character who was unlike any other DC character.

Last seen in a Justice Society adventure in 1944, this issue (cover dated February 1966) reintroduced the character, but his actual origin was not in the comic - it was placed in a text page in the issue, perhaps because it might be considered a bit unsettling to kids in the '60s (who were not as hardy as their parents, I suppose).

The Spectre was born when Detective Jim Corrigan was killed by gangsters - his body was placed in cement and tossed into the river! But he was given new purpose in the afterlife and sent back to fight evil.

The '60s version was sanitized - he caught the bad guys and turned them over to the courts, rather than his earlier (and later) excursions as judge, jury and executioner.

In this version written by Gardener Fox, The Spectre seems to be a spirit housed in Jim Corrigan's body, and is suddenly set free during a seance. He soon finds himself fighting a cosmic menace, Azmodus, an evil creature whose power matches The Spectre's (and who is responsible for the hero's 20-year disappearance).

The story is great fun with lots of action including regular fisticuffs and intergalactic battles. As always with Fox's stories, you actually learn lots of facts about historic and mystical sites around the world while you're enjoying a good comics story.

But the real selling point for this comic is the outstanding art by Murphy Anderson, who seems to be having a great time here with towering figures, cosmic battles and the rebirth of a classic character.

The Spectre had a great run under two of DC's best artists - Anderson and Neal Adams - but perhaps the concept of a fighting ghost was just too weird, and the comic didn't last.

But while it was around, it was a heck of a lot of fun!

Grade: A

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Comics Today?

Your pal Chuck is on the road today, so new comics reviews will be on hold for a day or two - but I'll try to catch up as soon as I return, and in the meantime we'll have a couple of classic reviews for you.

As for today's new comics, here's what I'm planning to buy:

- Atlas #1 - The original mini-series was great. Hoping the new series can go back to being like that.

- Avengers #1 - Glad to see this comic (and lineup) back again.

- Brightest Day #2 - This has been good so far.

- Her-oes #2 - A shaky start, but I may give it one more chance.

- Iron Man #26 - This has also been very good so far.

- Justice League of America #45 - Love the art, the story still needs work.

- The Legion of Super-heroes #1
- Glad to see Paul Levitz back on this comic.

- The Marvelous Land of Oz #6 (of 8) - Great comic.

- Spirit #2
- Giving this a few more issues.

- Zatanna #1 - About time she got her own comic.

Comics that sound interesting but I need to look at before deciding to buy:

- Age of Heroes #1

- Avengers Assemble #1

- Enter the Heroic Age #1

And that's it!

The Classics - Silver Surfer #4

There was something special about this issue of The Silver Surfer, but it was difficult to define.

Many years later I read a review that helped clear it up. It seems artist John Buscema decided that he'd really cut loose on this issue. Instead of doing another comic in the Kirby style, he'd make it more his own version of a Marvel comic.

However, when "Big John" brought the finished art in, he was disappointed when writer and editor Stan Lee said he didn't care for the issue.

One can only assume that Stan was having a bad day, or just really preferred John's version of Kirby, because this may be the best art of any issue Buscema drew - and that's saying something.

For most (if not all) of his run at Marvel, Buscema was the best artist in the bullpen. His layouts were dynamic, his figures were stunning and heroic (reflecting his Hal Foster-influenced style), and his storytelling was among the best.

With this issue he also benefits from one of his best inkers, his brother Sal.

Cover dated February 1969, this issue pits the cosmic-powered Silver Surfer against Thor in Asgard. Loki plots to use the Surfer to attack his brother, and the two heroes battle in the classic Marvel manner.

The story features the usual outstanding dialogue by Lee, but the story itself is a pretty standard case of the bad guy manufacturing a misunderstanding in hopes the two heroes would fight.

The Surfer is a figure who never seemed to fit into the comic book hero mold - although he's a powerhouse of cosmic energy, he's more interested in introspection, peace, love and understanding (and all that '60s jazz) than in going out and fighting the bad guys.

Someone always had to bring the fight to him, and as a result he always seemed to be the victim. Perhaps that's why his comic (at least in the first incarnation) never really caught on. Or maybe it was the 25-cents cover price.

But the thing that sells the issue is the artwork - 39 pages of amazing work, followed by a 10-page Tales of the Watcher by Lee and artist Howard Purcell.

Perhaps this issue was a try-out for Buscema's future run on Thor's own comic, but it's also a great look at what that artist was really capable of when he was allowed to work in his own style. A shame he didn't get more opportunities like this, but his work over the decades still shines brightly, and should inspire comic artists for years to come.

Grade: A-

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Birds of Prey #1

This is a comic I first picked up (back when it first appeared) because it was written by Chuck Dixon, and I try to pick up as much of his work as possible.

I enjoyed Birds of Prey and stayed with it for a long time, because the stories were action-packed, loaded with drama and lots of fun to read. And it didn't hurt that the comic starred an assortment of beautiful super-heroines.

But after Dixon left I drifted away from it - but now the comic is back and I decided to give it a try - and so far, I'm glad I did.

Now under the guidance of writer Gail Simone, this issue is all about bringing the group back together (apparently they'd disbanded at the end of the last series). It moves along briskly, re-introduces the characters and sets up a very impressive challenge for them to confront.

I like the characters included, most of them long-time favorites, including Black Canary, Oracle (Barbara Gordon), Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, Dove and the only dude in the group (so far), the newly-resurrected Hawk (via Blackest Night).

Rounding out the creative team is artist Ed Benes, about whom I am conflicted. His art is very good, and he's especially adept at drawing beautiful women, but for some reason his work feels - I don't know, antiseptic, if that's the right word. The characters just never seem to show much in the way of emotion. But perhaps I shouldn't feel that way - his figures are outstanding and his pages are well laid-out - thoroughly professional.

So this comic is back and with its original vibe - what I'd say is certainly a good start.

Grade: B+

Monday, May 17, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #1

Even though it was often very silly, I was a fan of the original Justice League International. The scripts by Keith Giffen and J.M. deMatteis were funny and the art by Kevin Maguire was fantastic.

There have been attempts to revive the concept over the years, but they've mostly stumbled because the comics companies (and DC in particular) seem to have little room for humor in their comics.

So what are we to make of the limited series Justice League: Generation Lost? Is it comedy, drama or what?

The answer: mostly "what." The first issue focuses on the manhunt for Maxwell Lord, the millionaire who first brought the JLI together, and more recently became a mind-controlling monster who used his powers for evil purposes - and he ended up being killed by Wonder Woman.

But he was returned to life at the end of the Blackest Night, and here we begin to see his new plans unfold - and barring future revelations, so far it's a plan that's tough to swallow.

Also at the heart of the story are four of the surviving members of the JLI, as they join the effort to track down Max - and find themselves in a unique position as a result.

The story is by Keith Giffen and Judd Winick, and I have to say that so far, it doesn't do much for me. The whole setup seems very contrived and I just can't buy the formerly comic figure of Maxwell Lord as a scheming criminal mastermind.

The art's not bad at all, with breakdowns by Giffen, pencils by Aaron Lopresti and inks by Matt Ryan, but it's the only bright spot for this issue.

So the series is off to a rough start. Maybe if it was a bit less grim and gritty and allowed itself an occasional "bwah-hah-hah," it would be easier to take.

Grade: C+

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The New Avengers: Finale #1 (One-shot)

With the end of Siege, Marvel also issued, what, about four other comics as an afterword to that event, including The New Avengers: Finale.

While this issue purports to be the wrap-up to the whole New Avengers run, it's actually focused on the end of the ongoing battle between this group of Avengers and The Hood.

The final issue of Siege left The Hood in a bad spot, and he's trying to find a way out, with the help of Madame Masque and another high-powered villain (who shall not be named here). It's up to the New Avengers to figure out a way to track down The Hood and shut him down once and for all.

What follows is a fast-paced and fun battle royale, and a darn good finale to all the Dark Reign hijinks we've witnessed.

The story is (of course) by Brian Bendis, and while there are a few improbables in here, it's also a very entertaining story.

Artwise, the issue features a stunning array of outstanding artists, with most of the issue falling to the always-excellent Bryan Hitch and Stuart Immonen, and a trio each of inkers and colorists. The other 19 artists kick in an impressive series of splash pages and flashbacks that fill out the end of the issue.

If you're a fan of action, then you'll want to check this one out - it's a bit pricey at a $4.99 cover price, but you get a lot of bang for that dough.

Grade: A-

Saturday, May 15, 2010

War of the Supermen #2 (of 4)

I should admit that I haven't been following the whole "New Krypton" storyline. I read the first few issues and it just didn't do much for me.

But since Superman: War of the Supermen is designed to wrap up that story in only four issues (or 100 minutes, depending on your preferred unit of measure), and since I enjoyed the Free Comic Day prelude to this series, I thought I'd give it a try.

It's certainly a different kind of Superman story, a very action-heavy and emotionally-charged tale, as the Man of Steel finds himself poised between thousands of Kryptonians determined to wreak destruction and his adopted world (Earth, that is).

This issue takes a few sidesteps, as Superman has a heart-to-heart with Supergirl, who survived last issue's devastation through improbable means. He also takes part in the battle above Mars. (Who knew we had a military base on Mars?)

The story is written by Sterling Gates and James Robinson, and it's entertaining despite its implausibilities. (Just how is Mars "between" Earth and New Krypton? Why would General Lane want to cause a war with a planet filled with Supermen? Stuff like that.)

The art is by Eduardo Pansica and Wayne Faucher, and it's a bit uneven, with some spectacular pages - but the team seems to have trouble capturing the likenesses of the heroes.

Despite those (mostly minor) gripes, it's an action-packed story, and I'm convinced to add the rest of the issues in this series to my pull list. If nothing else, it's good to see Superman back in his proper costume, fighting the good fight.

Grade: B+

Friday, May 14, 2010

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 (of 6)

It's interesting how similar this storyline - on the face of it - is to the recent death and return of Captain America.

Since the writers of both series (Ed Brubaker and Grant Morrison) are comics pros and darned good writers, the similarity must be a coincidence - and comics history is loaded with similar events (Man-Thing and Swamp Thing, anyone?)

If memory serves, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne picks up from the climax of Final Crisis, wherein Batman was apparently destroyed by Darkseid's Omega Effect blast - but instead was sent back in time to the dawn of man.

It sounds like a problem easily solved, and Bruce (Batman) Wayne leaves a message on a cave wall designed to bring some time-traveling help - but that would be too simple. There's a lot more going on here that Batman (and we the reader) aren't aware of.

What we do have is a surprising and often brutal battle for survival, with Morrison providing lots of twists and turns along the way.

The art is by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story, and it's outstanding. Powerful layouts, great character designs, brutal fights and several outstanding splash pages - really impressive stuff here.

I should add that other than the "lost in time" element (and the hero's inevitable return), this story really has nothing in common with Captain America's recent return - other than great art and story, that is.

Grade: A

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Siege #4 (of 4)

This is what you could call an "old school" Marvel comic.

That's because Siege doesn't mince words, it doesn't dance around the issues at hand, it's loaded with action and it actually has a satisfying ending (along with a shock or two).

What you have here is the equivalent of two boxers standing toe to toe and beating the hell out of each other. The toughest guy wins.

Is it a bit simplistic? Does it skim over the war between HAMMER and Asgard? It is all wrapped up a little too easily? Sure.

But it also offers (for the first time in far too many "events") an actual conclusion and a clear direction for the future of the Avengers from here.

The writing is Brian Bendis at his best - lean, funny and clever every step of the way. His work is well matched with artist Olivier Coipel and inker Mark Morales, with Laura Martin's colors. Power erupts from each page, and there are a few poster-worthy splash pages to boot.

The whole thing does feel a bit rushed - perhaps another issue or two would have made this wrap-up to the distasteful Dark Reign series a bit more fun - but there's no arguing with results.

The Marvel Universe has been placed back in its proper position, and I'm anxious to see where it goes from here. "Back to the basics" works for me!

Grade: A-

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Comics

A big day in comics for me. I got:

- New Avengers: Finale (One-Shot) - Yet another Siege follow-up.

- Dark Avengers #16 - The final issue, thank goodness!

- Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 (of 6) - 'Bout time!

- Birds of Prey #1 - Thought I'd give it a shot.

- Doc Savage #2 - Hanging in there despite disappointment in the first issue.

- First Wave #2 (of 6)
- Getting the pulp gang together.

- The Flash #2 - I'm so glad to see this series back again.

- The Incredible Hulk #609 - More World War Hulk stuff.

- Justice League: Generation Lost #1 - More JLI, less funny?

- Marvels Project #8 (of 8) - This has been very good.

- Prince of Power #1 (of 4) - The follow-up to the Hercules story.

- Siege #4 (of 4) - A good, old-fashioned fight to the finish.

- Siege: Epilogue #1 (One-shot)
- Another aftermath to the Siege issue.

- Ultimate Spider-Man #10 - A surprising turn of events.

- War of the Supermen #2 (of 4) - This one can certainly be termed a "slobberknocker."

The Classics - Tarzan #207

It's interesting to look back and realize how tastes can change in the blink of an eye.

For example, Joe Kubert's art never really appealed to me when I was young, although my only exposure to it was in the pages of of the '60s version of Hawkman.

At DC Comics, I much preferred the "cleaner" art of Murphy Anderson, Gil Kane or Carmine Infantino. (I should add that I never read many war comics, so I sadly missed out on untold years of great Sgt. Rock stories. Thank goodness for DC Showcase reprints!)

But then I picked up this, the first DC issue of Tarzan (which continued the numbering from the previous publisher - this issued is cover dated April 1972).

The issue was edited and drawn (and presumably adapted by) Joe Kubert, and what a revelation! Here was an incredible depiction of the first Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan novel, drawn with amazing skill and power. Here was a master at work, with lush jungle vistas, raw emotions on display, vivid animal life, life-and-death battles and amazing heroic (and villainous) figures.

How could I have overlooked a talent like this? Kubert's style was perfectly suited to Tarzan's adventures, and from that day forward I avidly sought out every comic Kubert worked on.

And the issue didn't stop there - it also included a back-up story starring John Carter of Mars, as drawn perfectly by Murphy Anderson! His slick, heroic style was a perfect match for the adventures of the first man on Mars.

So my apologies to Joe for ever doubting his talent - hey, I was just a dumb kid! I'm glad to say I've learned the error of my ways.

Grade: A+

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Astro City: The Dark Age: Book Four #4 (of 4)

With this issue of Astro City the Dark Age reaches the end - finally!

And it earns the title of being the first Astro City story that I really didn't much care for.

There are a few reasons for that. For one, the story was stretched out over 16 (plus) issues and quite a few years. For another, it focused on a "grim 'n gritty" storyline (not exactly my favorite), and it got very bleak for a while there. It also strayed from the "ground level" stories that the series does so well, wandering into cosmic territory at times. The ending also seems a bit unfocused, although I did enjoy the "afterword."

Which is not to say that there isn't a lot to like here. Lots of great characters, both new and classic (always glad to see the Silver Agent). Outstanding art by the underrated Brent Anderson, who provides some amazing action sequences, incredible detail and emotional sequences. And there's a neat twist at the end.

I wasn't aware that the entire storyline was based on a proposal by writer Kurt Busiek for (what I assume was intended to be) a sequel of sorts to Marvels. Some editing here and slight of hand there, and you have instead an original story.

Best of all, it's great to see this comic back on a (more or less) regular basis, and now that this story has wrapped up, I'm anxious to see what's next for the residents of Astro City.

Grade: B+

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hellboy in Mexico (One-shot)

As much as I enjoyed professional wrestling in my younger days (and I still look in on it occasionally), I've never seen any of the legendary wrestling films from Mexico - which is a terrible oversight, because I'm certain I'd enjoy them. One of these days...

I suspect you can get a pretty good taste of what those movies are about in this one-and-done issue of Hellboy.

It recounts a story about that character's battles with the forces of evil in the 1950s. While on a mission in Mexico, he teams up with a trio of masked wrestlers as they battle an army of assorted demons, monsters and the undead.

It's a mostly lighthearted outing for Hellboy, though there is (of course) a tragic undertone.

But it's a brilliant touch for writer (and Hellboy creator) Mike Mignola to cook up an issue on this topic, since it was released on May 5 (or as we like to call it, Cinco de Mayo).

It doesn't hurt that the art is by the legendary Rich Corben. The characters just leap off the page, the settings are lush, the action intense - amazing work here. If Mignola can't do the art, I'll gladly "settle" for a master like Corben.

This issue is lots of fun and highly recommended. Now to see if NetFlix carries any Santo movies...

Grade: A

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ultimate New Ultimates #2

The Ultimates comic has had what we can charitably call a sporadic publishing schedule, as issues often miss their regular publication dates and show up months (and months and months) late.

The problem has been at the other extreme lately. Two weeks ago, issue #6 of Ultimate Avengers was published, followed a week later by issue #1, Volume #2 of the Ultimate Avengers. Now, a week later, we have the second issue in the Ultimate New Ultimates series (which I must admit, I had forgotten completely about).

This is the series written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Frank Cho. So you know the art is going to be great (and it is), but the story is much more difficult to predict. The first issue's story was surprisingly good - but here, it all starts to unravel.

We start with Ultimate Captain America being his usual self - a colossal jerk. The Ultimate Enchantress shows up and starts recruiting new members of the Lady Liberators (a '70s group of heroines that appeared in a single issue of The Avengers to fight for Women's Liberation). (Really!)

In the meantime, Loki is attacking New York with an army of trolls and dragons, and the Ultimates are fighting a holding action. Meanwhile, Ultimate Thor is gettin' busy (if you get my drift) with Ultimate Hela. Yeah, I know.

The purpose of the story is obviously to give Frank Cho as much opportunity as possible to do what he does best - draw beautiful women and dinosaurs. This he does spectacularly, but the story doesn't really hold up its end of the bargain - it's a mess, as impossible events pile on top of improbable actions, and all the characters have to act like lunkheads to keep the story moving.

It's almost worth it for Cho's art - but that's the only reason to buy this issue.

By the way, I can't help but note that in the indicia, this comic is to be published monthly. On the same page, the ad for the next issue lists its publication date: July 7, 2010. Sheesh!

Grade: B

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Batman and Robin #12

As much as I love Frank Quitely's art, for some reason this cover looks like a dance-off between Batman and Robin, rather than the deadly duel it represents.

Maybe I've seen too many ads for Dancing With the Stars.

Anyway, this is a comic that's all about that final page. Writer Grant Morrison has set up several storylines in his first year on this comic, and one of the most recent involves the mysterious man named Sexton. We finally discover his true identity here, and I have to admit - I was surprised.

We also see a deadly fight between the two title characters, a confrontation with a Mom who doesn't want to loosen those apron strings, a gathering of criminal forces, a mystery beneath Wayne Manor and only a few hints about "The Return of Bruce Wayne (which is trumpeted on the cover - again - as "beginning here").

Stitch it all together with some outstanding artwork by Andy Clarke, Scott Hannah and Dustin Nguyen, and you have an issue packed with events, and another strong chapter in the adventures of the new "Dynamic Duo."

For years, Batman has been a hit-and-miss comic for me. Sometimes good, sometimes dull. Right now, in this series, it's very good.

Grade: B+

Friday, May 7, 2010

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #1 (of 6)

Before I started reading comics someone at DC Comics had the clever idea of teaming up its two biggest heroes in a single comic.

World's Finest was still going strong when I started reading, and it was one of my early favorites.

Marvel Comics has tried team-up comics in the past (such as Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-In-One), but they all featured a rotating cast of guest stars.

As near as I can remember, Marvel never had a single comic devoted to a team-up between two of its most popular heroes - until now.

And they have an Odd Couple working together in Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine - but that's about as close as you can get to a "World's Finest" team at Marvel.

The two characters are, of course, polar opposites - Spider-Man all intellect, introspection and laughs, Wolverine all anger, killing and, well, more anger. Of course, that makes them a lot of fun together, and that's certainly true in this issue, as they find themselves in a strange world, trying to survive in the face of certain death.

It's an odd story that takes Spidey out of his element, while dropping Woverine right into a world that's built for his skill set.

It's still a bit early to judge the story, since this is just the introduction, and it could go anywhere from here.

The best thing about the comic so far is the outstanding artwork by Adam Kubert, with inks by Mark Morales and Dexter Vines. It's powerful stuff, with loads of detail and dramatic storytelling. I suspect the Kuberts (sons and dad) couldn't draw a bad story if they tried.

So we have the beginnings of an unusual tale here - time will tell if it's a good story. But my, doesn't the art look fine.

Grade: A-

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brightest Day #1

Oh, first issue of Brightest Day, you had me at "free White Power Ring."

Luckily, the comic is pretty darned good, too.

It picks up right where issue #0 left off, with the newly reborn heroes trying to solve mysterious changes in their lives and find their place in the world.

We start with the mystery of the White Lantern, which is exhibiting some unusual properties. Then we catch up with: Aquaman and Mera (who take part in a violent altercation with modern-day pirates); we see Firestorm struggling to come to grips with his new, uh, configuration; the Martian Manhunter tackles a Herculean task; Hawkman and Hawkgirl take part in a grisly reunion; (not-so) Deadman finds himself a helpless witness to all the above; and an old villain returns.

And that's just the first issue! Writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi keep the story barreling along, with lots of unexpected twists, guest stars and mysteries to be solved.

The art is outstanding and - surprisingly enough - reasonably consistent, considering it's produced by a small army, including Ivan Reis, Pat Gleason, Ardian Sval, Scott Clark and Joe Prado - and that's just the pencils! Inks are provided by Vicente Cifuentes, Mark Irwin, Oclair Albert and David Beaty.

The team has this series off to a strong start, so I'll be back next issue - even if it doesn't have a free ring offer with it.

Grade: A-

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Comics Day

Here's what I picked up today:

- Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine #1 (of 6) - Can't pass up the Adam Kubert art.

- Astro City: Dark Age: Book Four #4 (of 4) - The final issue (finally)!

- Batman and Robin #12 - Batman vs. Robin - and a surprise guest!

- Brightest Day #1 - Worth it just for the free White Ring!

- Hellboy in Mexico (One-shot) - Hellboy and Rassalin? Save me a ringside seat!

- Irredeemable #13 - Running out of gas?

- JSA All-Stars #6
- Probably my last issue of this, sadly.

- Jonah Hex #1 (Reprint) - A bargain for a buck.

- Jonah Hex #55 - Not a bargain at $2.99, but a good comic.

- Spider-Man: Fever #2 (of 3)
- The first issue was quite good.

- Ultimate New Ultimates #2 - Great art by Frank Cho. We'll see about the story.

- The Warlord #14 - Moving in new directions.

- Uncanny X-Men #524 - "Second Coming" continues.

I also picked up a Free Comic I overlooked - Bongo Comics - and the latest issue of Alter Ego (now featuring 16 pages in color)!

The Classics - Captain America #175

It's a rare comic that manages to actually shock the reader, but this issue of Captain America left us stunned.

That's probably because the shock ending seemed to come out of nowhere - yet it made perfect sense.

(By the way, this is a review that will contain spoilers for this issue which carried a cover date of July 1974. Consider yourself warned.)

At this point in Cap's publication history, he was enjoying a series of strong stories written by Steve Englehart (who I readily admit is one of my all-time favorite comic book writers), with almost every issue drawn by the terrific (and often underrated) Sal Buscema.

This issue was the culmination of a series of stories that had been running for about a year, as a plot to discredit Cap and to establish the original Moonstone as a hero continued to unfold.

It was all a plot by the Secret Empire, a criminal organization (along the lines of Hydra and AIM), and it involved the X-Men, whose title had been canceled months earlier (they got better).

The story included an invasion of Washington, DC, and a threat of nuclear destruction - all part of the evil plans of "Number One," the leader of the bad guys.

Thankfully, Cap and his allies - the Falcon, SHIELD agents and the X-Men - managed to turn the tables, and Cap redeemed himself with a final knock-down fight with Moonstone.

But that's not the shock ending. "Number One" escapes into the White House, with Cap in pursuit, and the chase ends in the Oval Office where Cap unmasks his enemy. Unlike the misleading cover, we are never shown the face of "Number One," but Cap's reaction tells us all we need to know.

The bad guy was the President of the United States! (For those who don't remember, the guy in charge at the time was Richard Nixon, and the Watergate trial was going on at the time.) Before Cap could stop him, "Number One" committed suicide - and the story was over.

It was a stunning conclusion to what would otherwise have been just another good guy vs. bad guy story - and it forced Captain America to confront the feeling that something was terribly wrong with the country.

It was a true reflection of the mood of the country at the time - a brave story that few writers would have the nerve to tackle. It led into another epic story with Cap re-examining his life and purpose - but that's another story.

Still, it was a key turning point for the character, as the distinction was made that Captain America represents - and fights for - nothing less than the American Dream.

Grade: A

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Secret Warriors #15

It's always a dangerous thing for a writer to mess with the characters and continuity that long-time fans have come to embrace.

Sometimes it can be a good thing - the introduction of Elektra into Daredevil's continuity and the return of Bucky, for example - and sometimes it can be a misfire - marrying Alicia Masters to Johnny Storm and wiping out Spider-Man's marriage to Mary Jane being two good examples.

With the ongoing story in Secret Warriors, writer Jonathan Hickman is treading in that same territory, taking characters who have been around for decades and either changing them or making us think they've changed (which is almost the same thing).

Of course, our "no spoiler" policy makes it difficult to talk about these things, but I can say that as one of those long-time readers, I'm not crazy about where the story seems to be going.

On the positive side, the story is moving along briskly, as we learn more about the powers behind the organization Leviathan, which has been pulling the strings behind the scenes of both SHIELD, Hydra, AIM and similar groups.

But Fury and the forces of Hydra are on the move, and a major confrontation is in the offing. And considering the number of heavy hitters involved, it should be an epic battle. That part of the story I like a lot.

The artwork by Stefano Caselli is quite good - dark, raw and rough-edged, but with strong storytelling skills on display. His work is an excellent match for the story.

While I'm on the fence over some of the characterizations involved, I'm certainly enjoying the treatment of Nick Fury, who's one of my all-time favorite Marvel characters, and always in character here.

I'd still like to see some more focus on the young heroes who make up the Secret Warriors - even 15 issues in, they still need some fleshing out - but we're getting there - and I'm enjoying the ride.

Grade: A-

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Invincible Iron Man #25

Now that the mess that was the Dark Reign has finally wrapped up, and Tony Stark's stint as The Fugitive is over, hopefully the creative team can get back to telling some more upbeat stories about The Invincible Iron Man.

With this issue they're off to a good start as Tony begins the process of putting his life back together. This story is set after the Siege (although it doesn't give anything away about that series, other than the general outcome: the good guys won the fight).

While Tony is figuring out the gaps in his knowledge (caused by his recent mind wipe), he's also working with Pepper Potts to rebuild Stark Industries, although the company may take some surprising shapes in the future. He also sets out to build a new suit of armor, which is also unveiled here.

Writer Matt Fraction has things moving in an interesting direction, with corporate and military intrigue bubbling and lots of friction on the personal side, too.

As always, Salvador Larroca turns in some amazing artwork, full of life and detail - but strangely, his rendition of Thor doesn't work for me. Cool new armor for Stark, though.

Since the first Iron Man movie, Marvel has (wisely) adjusted the comic book character to match the film version. With the second movie about to be released, they've done it again.

A very smart move.

Grade: B+

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Free Comic Book Day Reviews

Hey, it's Free Comic Book Day all over the world, and for the first time in a while I actually made it to my local comics shop today - and man, was it packed!

Nothing like giveaways to bring out the mob - but he seemed to be selling lots of comics, too, so that's what it's all about.

Anyway, here are some thumbnail review of the freebies I picked up - as always, I encourage you to send in your comments at the link below, or email me at and tell us about the ones I missed.

On with the reviews!

Iron Man / Thor

This original story by Matt Fraction is mighty thin - one of Tony Stark's old inventions threatens the Earth - but it's saved by some outstanding art by John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson.

But I'm not sure who's more smug in this story - the bad guys or the heroes.

But I love that opening splash panel.

Grade: B

Iron Man / Nova

Gee, Iron Man again. You'd think Marvel had some reason to focus on him.

This is an all-ages issue in the Marvel Adventures vein and it's good clean fun, as the two heroes face the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes.

There's also a back-up featuring the Super Hero Squad (from the animated TV show), which seems just one step removed from Not Brand Echh. But it's fun for what it is.

Grade: B-

War of the Supermen

I have to admit that I haven't been following the whole Kandor / Superman storyline lately, but this issue does a good job of making the upcoming mini-series enticing, as Earth faces an invasion by (and probable destruction at the hands of) 100,000 Kryptonians.

Good art, lots of tension and a good cliffhanger.

Grade: B+

Doctor Solar / Magnus, Robot Fighter

If this issue is any indication, the upcoming relaunch of these comics will also be a reboot, as we start fresh at the beginning of the careers of both heroes.

That's an excellent idea, because the continuity on the last go-around had become muddy indeed. These are two of my favorite characters from Gold Key in the '60s - here's hoping for the best from the new versions.

Grade: B+

Irredeemable / Incorruptible

This comic takes the easy way out - instead of presenting a new story, it's a reprint of the first issues of both series.

of course, that also makes it a terrific value, since you're getting about eight bucks worth of comics for free - and both books are quite good, needless to say.

Grade: A-

Archie's Summer Splash

The only thing Archie does better than high school is summer, and here we have the Riverdale gang taking a trip to the beach, where they encounter their old friend (and sometimes nemesis), Cheryl Blossom, who decides to compete with the band "The Archies" by forming her own musical group.

Good fun and great art!

Grade: B


Now here's another fun comic, this one focusing on the John Stanley Library, including Nancy, Melvin Monster, Tubby, Judy Junior and Choo Choo Charlie (the last two, I must admit, are new to me - or before my time).

This one hides behind a cool cover by Seth, and it's loaded with real comics treasures.

Grade: A

Fraggle Rock / Mouse Guard

Fraggle Rock is a truly beloved show from Jim Henson, and it's well preserved here in the upcoming series by Archaia. The story follows the adventures of two different Fraggles - Boober and Red. Lushly illustrated, it certainly sparks my interest in the ongoing series.

The flip side of the book is devoted to the Mouse Guard, and it's also a wonderfully illustrated "done-in-one" story about the fight for survival.

Grade: A

So all in all, a good haul, and another successful Free Comic Book Day! (At least for me!)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Green Lantern Corps #47

Here we have a good example of a "mopping-up" story, as this issue of Green Lantern Corps deals with all the loose ends left behind after the conclusion of the Blackest Night series (or at least the Oa-related ones).

So we see lots of clean-up, memorials, mending fences, new job assignments, a few confrontations and some general housekeeping.

As such, this isn't the greatest jumping-on spot for new readers (although the next issue should manage that nicely), but it does supply a good finale to the run by writer Peter Tomasi.

The art by Patrick Gleason is also very good, though a bit uneven since four different inkers worked on his pencils. But I really like that splash on page two.

So, a solid issue, everything's ready for the next round of stories, and the Green Lantern Universe is getting ready to add yet another title: Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors.

So thanks to the Blackest Night and the ongoing GL title, business is obviously good in Oa.

Grade: B+