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From the Hoss’ Mouth 05/23/07

This turned out to be a fairly light week for comics but one that didn’t disappoint.  There were a whole lot of great titles that hit stands Wednesday and I give you the rundown of the very best. This week’s reviews feature on Captain America, Birds of Prey, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Wonder Woman, and of course the usual rundown of everything else.  On the trade front, Pendragon Concepts gives us an excellent review of a Batman collection that no Batfan should find themselves without.

Full Review:

Captain America #26
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Pencils: Steve Epting

Good old Brubaker, always a reliable choice when it comes time to lay out the reviews.  Out of all the writers in Marvel’s bullpen currently, I can think of none who deliver as many quality books in a month as Brubaker does.  Even with the occasional miss, like a couple of his recent Uncanny stories, he still entertains and I’ve never once regretted a Brubaker purchase.  But enough about Ed and how easy it is for me to extol his virtues, let’s get on with it.

The first thing I asked myself as I picked up Captain America #26 was, “how in the hell do you run a solo series with a dead hero?”.  I soon found my answer and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.  I’ve read every issue of this volume of Captain America and along the way I never once stopped to realize that this book was never really about Cap.  Instead the whole saga so far has been about Cap’s effect on others. It’s about what Cap brings to the table, not the man himself.  How he inspires those around him and why his enemies fear him.  So when you yank the Cap out of Captain America you’re still left with these same themes.  Fortunately for us, these themes work just as well with a dead Cap as they do with a live one.

Brubaker hits every story beat providing a book of four separate narratives that so seamlessly transition and intersect you’ll never even realize you’re following four separate stories.  The book begins with Sharon Carter then goes into the Falcon and then cuts to the Red Skull before heading back to the Falcon and finally ending on the Winter Solider.  To work these scenes together Bru uses the wake of Steve Rogers, providing background media coverage and man-on-the-street commentary that provides a common undercurrent running through each act.  Not only does the background news help the transitioning but it also provides the context for the “world view” of Captain America’s assassination.  These “real world” angles are a staple of the Marvel Universe and it’s great to see them executed so effectively here.

Another positive point of this story is that Cap’s supporting cast proves just as interesting as Cap did.  Sharon carrying the burden of her love, sorrow, and secret must find a way to cope.  The Falcon has to shift between worlds, being Cap’s ambassador to the masses including the registered, the unregistered, and the outsiders like the Winter Soldier.  The Skull’s victory leaves no time for celebration and he goes right back to the role of the methodical general.  Cap’s death was just one step of his plans and the manner in which he treats his “associates” is so ruthless that I can’t help but respect a villain who’s just so evil.  Finally we come to the Winter Soldier who is the instrument of revenge, in this case misguided, yet nonetheless I imagine the Soldier’s upcoming retribution will be swift and brutal.

Eptings’s art is perfect for this book.  I really appreciated the brighter tone of the art as it seems to have locked in a sense of both mourning and hope at the same time as if the characters were just as clueless about the future as the reader, yet each knows they must continue to go on.

Verdict: Wonderful issue and series for that matter.  Highest possible recommendation.

Quick Reviews:

Birds of Prey 106 – This book should be purchased for the cover alone.  Part three of the Storm Front arc finds the Birds finally engage the Six in an issue that is essentially one long battle.  Now before I give a ringing endorsement, there is no definitive winner and that’s really disappointing.  These big super brawls do have a tendency to end up as draws though.  Anyways there’s not a lot to say here except no one writes these characters as well as Simone and the combination of her two favored groups is a sight to behold.  It’s brutal, funny, dramatic and just all around fun.  Plus the last page shocker even had me scared.  Nicola Scott is a wonderful artist and is absolutely perfect for this book.  I love this book month in and month out and Gail’s upcoming departure to go fix Wonder Woman greatly upsets me.  So buy this excellent series while you can as the next writer that takes over might not be as great.

Verdict: Everything you’d want out of a big superhero smashup including Female Furies and Deadshot.  Great stuff.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Annual – PAD delivers a retconning of the Sandman origin just in time for the movie in a tale entitled “Sandman Year One” and it’s a great story that adds new depth to a great character.  PAD fully explores the origins of the Sandman while adding layer after layer of new details that will make you even more sympathetic to this hard luck villain.  What’s interesting about this particular tale is that Spider-Man is only a background character.  There’s no “Back in Black” or Aunt May hospitalizations instead it’s just a straightforward tale of the Sandman that doesn’t bog itself down with any of the current Spider messes.  The backup tale is a short and sad story about a little girl in desperate need of help that Spider-Man isn’t able to reach in time.  It’s also a story that one may use to examine the necessity of these heroes we’re so fond of. 

Verdict: Great annual that no Spider-Fan should overlook.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #30 – Speaking of creators leaving, this issue of Legion is Waid and Kitson’s last and it’s a doozy.  An epilogue tale following their Dominator war and they manage to resolve all dangling plot lines as well as shove in a ton of content.  The beauty of it is they do it all without bogging down the reader.  This is one of the best, if not the best, all around Legion tale Waid and Kitson have done so far and it’s a shame they’re leaving after pulling it all together.  The story itself centers on the need of the Legion to eradicate the Dominator menace once and for all.  Cosmic Boy is forced to make a decision that would sacrifice a world and the threat it presents as well as the life of one of his own.  Also the book has the Wanderers finding a role, the Ranzz trio forming a relationship, and the Legion electing a new leader.  To top it all off there’s a twist ending that, even when hidden in plain sight, is still a complete surprise.

Verdict: Great final issue for the team of Waid and Kitson.  If you’ve been following this series you’ll not want to miss this one

The Loser of the Week:

Wonder Woman #9 – I got the feeling I was watching an episode of Family Guy with all the inane pop culture references thrown into this book.  They are neither hip nor important to the story and serve as nothing but distractions that take the reader out of the moment and make the characters seem… well out of character.  I am quite ready for Gail Simone to take over this book and for Amazons Attack to be just a memory in my rearview mirror.

Verdict: By and large this book is still a mess 9 issues in. Go on and pass it up, you can thank me later.

Trade Off:
By Pendragon Concepts


From the pages of Detective Comics # 27 in May 1939; Batman has thrilled readers for nearly 70 years. From DC Comics comes a collection of 12 of the best Batman stories. These stories have shaped and defined Batman as a character.

This trade paperback collects 12 of the best Batman stories, such as “The Secret Life of the Catwoman”, “Robin Dies at Dawn”, “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge”, and “Death Strikes at Midnight and Three”. With comic talents such as Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Dick Sprang, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Marshall Rogers, Frank Miller, Alan Davis, and Mark Millar.


These are some great stories. It’s a nice collection of Batman throughout the years.
It’s interesting to see the evolution of Batman.

The only con I have is that I don’t feel these are all the greatest stories. Everyone has their own favorite Batman stories, but still a nice mix of stories.

This is a great collection of Batman stories. It’s a must for any Batman fan.


The Great:

John Constantine Hellblazer – Andy Diggle’s third story so far and it’s excellent.  One of the better Hellblazer stories written in a long time.

Wetworks – It all begins here. Vascar unleashes the imprisoned Night Tribes from Thea Mater in a great ending, plus the return of the original team.

Irredeemable Ant-Man – What could possibly make this book any better? A new love interest who’s almost as unpredictable and mean as Ant-Man himself.

The Average:

Countdown – Some neat surprises, but still a bit average in developments.   The book is picking up a lot of steam with this issue though.

Robin – A really great story with a lot of action that’s only significant setback is the all too easy ending.

Shadowpact – A setup issue narrated by the Phantom Stranger and featuring Zauriel and the magnificently evil Kid Karnevil.  Awesome issue that’s only downside is the lack of Shadowpact.

Superman/Batman – A step up from last issue but I still find the pacing to be off, the saving grace of this story is the Metal Men characterizations.

The Fantastic Four – Another book that settles for victories that come too easy, especially when faced with a force as powerful as Galactus.

Heroes for Hire – Humbug survives and gets a new look complete with heavy foreshadowing for the upcoming World War Hulk story.  Also Shang Chi loses his cool in a very realistic and frightening manner.

She-Hulk – Is it just me or is Iron Man incapable of winning a fight outside of his own book lately.  Here he fights dirty but since he’s now the villain, it’s all good.  Plus Shulkie gets mad… real mad.

X-Men – I expected a lot more from this story then what I got, hopefully Carey can turn it around for next month’s anniversary issue.

The Filler:

G. I. Joe Special Missions Brazil – A $5.50, 48 page one-shot that is simply not worth that amount of money.