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From the Hoss’ Mouth 08/08/07

Branching out from Marvel and DC this week I hit the the 3 D’s of the not so mainstream comics industry: Dynamite, Devils’ Due, and Darkhorse.  All three have some great offerings and this week they really show them off with GI Joe, B.P.R.D., and Army of Darkness.  For the rest I also hit up Black Adam and Batman as well as the usual roundup of all other superhero offerings from the big two. That’s not all folks, Snowglare has turned in a great trade review of Batman: Snow that you’ll definitely not want to miss.


G.I. Joe: America’s Elite #26
Writer: Mark Powers
Artist: Mike Bear

This issue is part 2 of the 12 part WWIII story.  This is the biggest event undertaken by this title so far and just like the setup issues everything is paying off.  To recap a bit, Cobra Commander impersonated a high ranking government official and through a rather clever bit of deceit and treachery had the Joe’s HQ the “Rock” infiltrated by undercover Cobra operatives who managed to wreck a bit of shop before being discovered.  He also proceeded to learn the secret ID’s and family information of every Joe in the government’s database.  Next in a completely different bit of deceit and treachery Cobra Commander kidnapped the Baroness and Destro’s newborn that the Baroness had given birth to while in Joe custody.  Needless to say the couple sought to get their son back.  Cobra Commander is not a man to be taken lightly though.  In order to get his son back, Destro had to trade all of M.A.R.S. (his family’s high tech weapons manufacturing conglomerate) and get this, he also had to trade his eldest son to Cobra Commander.

Now the Joe’s have been given full permission to up the roster and take a proactive stance in bringing down Cobra operatives and associates, something the government had previously limited them in.  This specific issue’s focal piece is one big fast paced battle royale with Snake Eyes and Scarlett hunting down Firefly and his gang of ninja assassins… in a giant burning dojo.  It’s like the Crazy 88 scene in “Kill Bill” but with fire and guns.  Besides the firefight (pun intended) we also see via Major Bludd’s incarceration that the Joe’s have built their very own Guantanamo up in Greenland and that Cobra Commander is planning to use Destro’s son Alexander to lead his armies.  This issue like the previous ones is rife with action, espionage, political subterfuge, and even some great back to basics character moments like Snake Eyes being welcomed into Scarlett’s family and the removal of his mask.

I can’t seem to find the right positive adjectives to describe how well Mike Bear does on this title.  It’s awesome nay incredible.  Yes, that’s good… incredible works well.  The action is vibrant with sword slash ghost trails, ninja flips, and gun muzzles burning orange as shell casings fill the room.  Not to mention a nice chunk of the fight takes place on the tops of skinny wooden planks adding a great sense of danger to an already burning inferno.  Great pacing and arrangements of scenes and panels and an outstanding fight sequence.

Verdict: This book has it all, even non-Joe fans will appreciate the deep twisting plot and dynamic action scenes.

Quick Reviews:

Black Adam #1 – Taking place sometime after 52 and before his appearance in Countdown, this mini focuses on Adam’s attempted return to greatness.  What I expected in this series was a mopey, whiny Teth Adam crying about lost loves and lost powers.  Instead this book’s got very little of that and a whole lot more action.  Even without his magic word Adam manages to inspire his still loyal followers to lead him on a journey to obtain the remains of Isis.  Along the way he will disguise himself by getting his face punched in on purpose, sacrifice his followers to a hail of gunfire, and resort to cannibalism. So yeah, this book is packed full of action and excitement for a first issue and even has a last page super shock.  I really enjoyed this issue and my only complaint is that Countdown has in a way already ruined the ending.

Verdict: 52 and Adam fans will love this, also be on the lookout for the awesome Ross Variant cover.

B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground #1 – Can it be monthly B.P.R.D. and Hellboy ?!? Why yes it is!  This next Bureau series picks up right after Abe and Daimio’s little romp in “Garden of Souls”.  In this one the whole gang is back at Bureau headquarters and the creepy ass Wendigo from the Universal Machine is being brought in as a prisoner.  In this issue the Wendigo is extra riled up and well you just know he’s gonna get out sooner or later.  As for the rest, Daimio gets defensive about his past and Johann tries out his new body or I should say he attempts to try it out with Kate and Liz which leads to a funny scene later on with Johann enjoying the benefits of a physical existence in his private alone time.  There’s really not a whole lot else to say about this book that hasn’t been said in countless internet discussions and print magazines.  The book is awesome, arguably the best team book on the market. Go buy it.

Verdict: The easiest choice you can make at the racks this week.

Army of Darkness: From the Ashes #1 – So getting back to business after his Marvel Zombie affair.  Ash has skipped through enough dimensions to finally wind up back at home.  Things aren’t how he left them though as Evil Ash Prime, who previously sent Ash to heaven which lead to the subsequent Marvel Zombie affair, has claimed the world in Ash’s absence as well as Sugarbaby and he’s staked his Deadite kingdom in Detroit.  Most of this issue is just Ash (and the reader) discovering just what the hell has happened since our last rendezvous as Ash struggles to pick up the pieces and reclaim the world.  This is another nice story with the usual humor we’d expect but unlike previous AoD series this one has a very epic feel, plus I’ve always found future apocalypse stories to be downright cool.  If you enjoyed AoD vs. MZ, this book is a perfect jumping on point for the regular AoD series and even has one of those fantastic Arthur Suydam covers people are still going nuts for.

Verdict: Like a bit of humor with your apocalypse? This one’s for you.

Loser of the Week:

Batman #667 – It pains me to do this to one of my favorite authors but Grant Morrison has lost me in the labyrinth of mired continuity and books gone by.  I have no idea what old story he’s referencing here and because of that I just couldn’t get into this current story, despite it’s cool for the sake of cool feel.  Compared to previous Losers this book is in a league of it’s own but for a Morrison Batman story I feel it suffers from a lack of much needed exposition.

Verdict: For those of you who know what’s going on here well I’m sure you loved it, but for me, I’m as lost as can be.

Trade Off
By Snowglare

Batman: Snow

Plot: Batman in his early years – year two according to Alfred – fighting a neverending war on crime that takes an unexpected turn for the surreal when he encounters his first supervillain, Mr. Freeze. In typical bat-fashion, Bruce pushes his usual allies away, then recruits a team of civilians to be his eyes and ears, to help him do what one man alone cannot. Together they track run of the mill criminal Peter Scotta, whose evasion of justice inspired the formation of the Bat-team. Freeze pops up hunting Scotta for vaguely related reasons, part of his mad quest to kill anyone who knows about the cryogenic process that killed his wife and made him what he is. This, naturally, leads to Batman skiing through Gotham. Seriously. Skis. He wears them. On his feet.

Background: This trade collects issues 192-196 of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. It’s nominally a retelling of Mr. Freeze’s origin, but it’s not clear where it fits into continuity, if at all. It’s definitely not in the same continuity as Frank Miller’s Year One; James Gordon is only a lieutenant, but has white hair, appearing older than Alfred, and although the story is placed in Batman’s second year of crimefighting, Freeze shows up before the Joker, taking his place as the first superhuman criminal Batman encounters. The writers are J. H. Williams III, best known as the artist and co-creator of Promethea, and Dan Curtis Johnson, who had previously collaborated with Williams on the Chase regular series. Art comes from the inimitable Seth Fisher, one of the tamer tales he’s helped to tell.

Pros: Batman on skis. Isn’t that enough? No? Well, there’s the art, then. I’ve seen artwork that’s more pleasing to the eye, but it’s hard to top the creativity evinced here. And the craftsmanship! Backgrounds are filled with lush detail, characters move and flow (and sit) like they’re as real as you and I. And the sound effects! I don’t know how accurate "ka" is for a gunshot sound, but most artists wouldn’t think twice about it. In Batman: Snow, the sound effects are a vital part of the story, writ large on the page. It’s a serious story, full of drama and death, permeated with a sense of fun to lighten the mood. Each character is given a clear personality and realistic reactions. The story is directed towards an end, the confrontation between Batman and Mr. Freeze, but flows naturally towards that end, with characters going in different directions of their own will rather than because the plot needs them to.

Cons: If you’re looking for an unorthodox story to go with the kooky art, you’ll be disappointed. Aside from the Bat-team, something I don’t recall being done before, and the loveliness that is Batman on skis, it’s a pretty standard Bat-story. Batman is gruff. Batman fights villain. Batman says he’s sorry… Wait, what? Yes, Batman apologizes. Twice! That’s how you know it’s early Batman: he makes mistakes and admits them! So much better than infallible Bats or beat-Superman-without-breaking-a-sweat Bats. Given time to prepare, this version of Batman could still lose.

Overall: Batman on skis! Not to be missed. Solid Bat-story that I’ll happily include in my personal canon, with consistently fantastic artwork.


Must Buys:

Green Lantern #22 – Love the Sinestro Corps and the action in this one, particularly with the defeat of some of the lost Lanterns, highly enjoyable.

Nova #5 – So far Conquest doesn’t have the excitement or exuberance of it’s predecessor but issues like this one showcasing the rebuilding of the Nova Corps are great story-driven issues that provide not only relevancy to the current Annihilation series but a nice epilogue to the previous one as well.

X-Factor #5 – Holy Toledo I did not see that ending coming!

Daredevil #99 – Holy Toledo see my comment about X-Factor!

The Incredible Hulk #109 – What I really loved about this issue is how everyone thinks they know what the Hulk wants but no one really has a clue. 

The Average:

WWH: Front Line #3 – Maybe I’m burnt out because of the dreadful CW: Front Line but this series despite some serious effort just can’t maintain the energy of the main mini, and well because of that I find myself bored with it.

Punisher War Journal #10 – A fantastic ending, specifically with the drama of Frank killing his partner’s girlfriend, without said partner knowing about it.  I expect big things from this developing sideplot.

Omega Flight #5 – If it wasn’t for Kolins’ art this one would be in the filler section.  A heavy-handed forced team-up that does nothing towards satisfying the wants of old AF fans and at the same time forces a new team down our throats that no one really wanted in the first place.  On the other hand it does look cool.

The New Avengers #33 – Hawkeye’s flashback is neat.  This new Hood hostile takeover however… eh the jury’s still out for me.

Ghost Rider #14 – Like Omega Flight, the art keeps this one from the Filler section.

New Excalibur #22 – Why do both of Claremont’s books have to come out in the same week?  This one is the one that fares better but only because it’s mostly action.

Wraith #2 – The origin of Wraith revealed.  I’m still not totally down with this new character and despite his cool name and design; I find his origin as well as his super ass kicking ability to be a little too convenient.   Still not a bad book by any means, it just doesn’t possess the oomph of the other Conquest minis.

Countdown Week 38 – I don’t like what they’re doing with Mary Marvel. I don’t like the art.  I’m with this series until the end, but I’m really missing 52 right now…

The Filler:

Exiles #97 – A book that went from top of the read pile to the bottom.  If only I could bring myself to drop it.  If. Only. This one is just as boring as Doom’s humorless world.

Outsiders: Five of a Kind: Katana and Shazam #1 – Do we have to go through all of this just to pick the new team.  A lot of running in circles that ultimately leads nowhere.  Next time just draw straws or pick something equally mundane.

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