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From the Hoss’ Mouth 05/31/07

Due to the most recent of recent holidays, I’m short on time.  Oh, don’t give me that look, I’ve still got something ready.  The comic gods have smiled upon us this week and delivered the grandest of grand books, namely Hellboy.  Read it, it’s fantastic, and I’ve got a review ready inside. Also, there’s not one but two colossally awesome trade reviews this week.  Pendragon Concepts gives us a solid review of Superman: Sacrifice, that I’m sure any Supes fan will not want to miss.  New to the Review Team this week is Ultimate Phoenix who will be taking over for our dear departed Simmo.  Phoenix delivers a fantatsic review of one of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men trades.  Did I mention that the Morrison’s New X-Men run was incredible? No? Well it is, so definitely check out what Phoenix has to say.

By the way, Simmo, if you stop by, give us a visit man.  We miss you bud.

Full Review:

Hellboy: Darkness Calls #2
Writer – Mike Mignola
Art – Duncan Fegredo
Colors – Dave Stewart

For this week’s shortened segment, I felt it just wouldn’t be right to ignore a book as good as this one. Darkness Calls is the first Hellboy series in over a year and even though it’s only in its second issue it already has a hell of a lot of momentum going. For this particular issue, the ominous witches’ coven has begun and they want Hellboy to take on the power stolen by previous cowardly villain Igor Bromhead. I’m sure you can all guess Hellboy’s reaction to this plan. That’s not all this issue packs in though as there’s a last page twist that features the return of deceased nemesis. This particular twist will have HB fanboys jumping up and down.

Fegredo does an excellent job of aping Mignola on this series. In fact I’d hazard to say that if I didn’t already know, I probably wouldn’t have even guessed that it wasn’t Mignola’s hand at work here. It’s really that good!  I also can’t leave out long time Hellboy colorist, Dave Stewart, who fully performs to the high standards he’s already set with his previous Hellboy and B.P.R.D. work.

This is a wonderful series by an incredible team, and for the first time in a long time it’s a monthly book. That means that each and every one of you should be reading this and B.P.R.D. every month. There’s no finer way to spend $2.99.

Verdict: Highest possible recommendation!

Double Trade Off:

New X-Men: e is for extinction
Reviewed by Ultimate Phoenix

A new line-up (featuring first time member Emma Frost) and a new look are the first of several big changes made between the covers of this TPB. The status quo of the mutant population and of the X-Men themselves is drastically shaken after a new villain and new/furthering mutations explode onto the scene!

This re-imagining of the X-Men by Grant Morrison pushed Marvel’s mighty mutants to new heights, kicking off what would be one of (arguably) the best runs on the series in the modern era. Reprinting the 2002 Eisner Award-nominated New X-Men #114-117, plus the New X-Men 2001 annual, this arc redefined nearly every aspect of the X-Men universe. Gone are the flashy spandex uniforms and hiding behind the facade of a school for the gifted, in their place are slick black and yellow leather numbers and taking the Xavier Institute and the X-Men public. All this occurs after one of the biggest tragedies in Marvel history, the genocidal slaughter of sixteen million on the mutant island nation of Genosha. By committing this act, new villain Cassandra Nova makes her mark as one of the nastiest X-Villains in the 40 year history of the team. Regarded as one of the comic industries best, Grant Morrison’s innovative writing not only brings home the action, but takes these characters to places emotionally they had not gone previously. His take on the Cyclops/Jean Grey relationship and Emma Frost in particular shine throughout this trade. The art, provided by Frank Quitely, Leinel Francis Yu and Ethan Van Sciver, is perfectly serviceable but nothing too exciting in my opinion. I don’t care for Quitely’s faces (especially his Jean) and I prefer the sketchy look of Yu’s current work to what he does here. Included in my first edition of the trade is a two-page Frank Quitely sketch book showing us the evolution of the X-Men’s new look. I’ll go ahead and say "good call" on dropping the helmet on Cyclops, Frank!

The writing is unlike anything the X-Books had seen previously, and is far more entertaining than anything written with these characters in the previous decade before its release. The concept of Cassandra Nova and her motivations for being evil and hating mutants are everything you could want in a new villain, and she’s easily the most threatening X-Villain introduced in the last 20 or so years. Cyclops, no longer the straight laced boy scout he once was, is far more interesting and appealing to me here than anywhere before. The way he and Jean were written had been stuck on repeat since their reunion in the mid-80’s and it’s nice to see a new direction for them both.

The art. The trade really suffers as a cohesive package for having three different artists, all without any real distinction. Quitely’s redesigns are all nice (yes, even Cat-Beast!), except for his Emma Frost. We get it, the character has a pair of very lovely assets but her secondary mutation was revealed to be a diamond form, not the ability to defy gravity. Also, the entire layout of the annual portion of the book is a bit frustrating as you have to turn the book on its side to read. A minor quibble yet still one worth noting all the same.

The Final Assessment:
Morrison’s stint on the book proved to be one of the best in its history and volume one is one helluva way to kick the whole thing off! These aren’t your classic X-Men, and if you have an open mind to new concepts, you’ll find this to be a highly entertaining read.

Superman: Sacrifice
Reviewed by Pendragon Concepts

Something is wrong with Superman. He’s having hallucinations and thinks that he’s fighting villains such as Brainiac, Darkseid, and Ruin. While he thinks he’s protecting his family and friends, he’s causing havoc & making people fear him. Superman doesn’t realize he’s being mind controlled by Maxwell Lord, an old JLA ally and now head of Checkmate, a corrupt government agency. Lord is determined to control Superman for his own devious plans. Only Wonder Woman can stop Maxwell Lord and break Superman’s mind control, but her extreme methods only turn the people of earth against the very super-human community that has sworn to protect them. Will anyone ever trust the superheroes again?

This trade paperback collects Superman # 218 – 220, Action Comics # 829, Adventures of Superman # 642 & 643 and Wonder Woman # 219 & 220. Written by Greg Rucka, Gail Simone & Mark Verheiden and drawn by artists including Ed Benes, Karl Kerschl, Tony Daniel, John Byrne, and Rags Morales. This TPB deals with the aftermath of “Countdown to Infinite Crisis” and is a prequel to “Infinite Crisis”. Superman is out of control and he starts to realize that his powers have scared others. Wonder Woman has to deal with the ramifications of her actions.

Rucka, Simone, & Verheiden do a great job setting up this prequel. It shows how people fear Superman and realize that he’s not human. And it shows what happens when he loses control. The artwork is really good in this TPB. It’s flawless. It also has a nice mix of artists.

Wonder Woman’s extreme measure, in my opinion, wasn’t necessary. There were other ways she could have acted. This was killing for the sake of killing. Nothing else. The story could have progressed without the murder.

Bottom Line:
This isn’t a bad read, but again, I feel the extreme actions weren’t needed. Plus, if you liked Infinite Crisis, this storyline isn’t a crucial as some people like to make you think. You can pass on this one.

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