WONDER WOMAN #34
After too many months of meandering, Gail Simone brings some of her SECRET SIX mojo to DC's flagship female superhero and the results are a lot of fun. After basically telling Zeus to go fuck himself last issue, Diana is once more an outcast from her people and seeks to get her won shit together, first by tracking down the not-as-dead-as-presumed Genocide. Needing an "in" to the world of underground metahuman arena fights as her search begins, Diana consults with the Black Canary (who occasionally enters such slugfests to sharpen her ass-whuppery chops) and in no time the two have adopted ridiculous disguises that the Canary states makes them "look like high-end trashy hookers in a Tarantino nightmare." Once they enter into the combat it's entertaining violence galore, and I can't wait for the next issue. The one downside to all of this is the insistence of unnecessarily focusing on the uninteresting goings-on of the Amazons and the new status quo of the Greek gods. Lose that crap and then we'll have a solid winner from cover to cover.
THE WARLORD #5
More monthly barbarian fun, but nothing to that non-fans will take much notice of. THE WARLORD was one of those dependable books from back in the days that only really mattered to those of us who'd been on board since FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL #8, hooked as we were on the characters and Mike Grell's blend of Burroughs-esque sword & sorcery with soap opera-style dysfunction and human fallibility, so if you weren't there for it the first time around you probably won't be all that into the current run. It's not at all bad, though.
TEEN TITANS #73
Is there anyone else out there who hates the Cassandra Sandsmark Wonder Girl as much as I do? She ain't no Donna troy and she never will be, plus the team lineup is a huge "Who gives a fuck?" — Static? Blue beetle? The new Aquagirl? Kid Eternity? Miss Martian? A de-powered Red Devil? You're kidding me, right? — so please do us all a favor and put this flagrant waste of trees out of its misery already.
While TEEN TITANS has generally sucked ass since the team from the 1980's outgrew the "teen" designation, I will always give that same team a chance in whichever book they may appear. That said, I've been largely underwhelmed by TITANS, especially considering how it got off to a pretty good start, and now only check it out to keep up with one of my favorite superhero romances, namely that of Nightwing and Starfire. Hey, Nightwing. Get over yourself already and realize you've got a very good thing going. Here you have a Frazetta-gorgeous, sweet-as-hell alien princess who adores you like nobody's business and you mess with her head (shades of how you treated Barbara Gordon). You, sir, are either in idiot or the most emotionally-sadistic tool ever. That said, this issue of TITANS has poor, confused and heartsick Kory on an analyst's couch, trying to figure out just what's been fucking with her head lately. There's no action, just a look into Kory's mental state, and I dug it. (And what's up with the Flash's ass on the cover?)
POWER GIRL #3
My homegirl Amanda hits another one out of the park, illustrationwise, and something very unpleasant happens to the Ultra-Humanite. Good, fun comics, plain and simple.
THE LAST DAYS OF ANIMAL MAN #3 (of 6)
This much better than average mini-series continues to deliver as Buddy Baker searches for a way to reverse the loss of his ability to tap into the morphogenetic field, and during his search he comes to realize he neglected his family in favor of fighting the good fight as Animal Man. His kids, Cliff and Maxine, offer differing takes on his involvement as a father, and for a superhero book it's pretty sad stuff. Very "Cats in the Cradle," only minus the nausea factor. Meanwhile, Mirror master's bastard daughter, the psychotic Prismatik, escapes from detention and takes the equally psychotic Bloodrage with her, so that can't bode well for Buddy. But the biggie here is Buddy's growing alienation from his long-suffering wife, Ellen, and the agonizingly close proximity of gorgeous, ageless and compassionate alien princess Starfire, with whom he was lost in space for a year some fifteen years before this current story. This potential hookup has simmered for some time in the DCU and as Buddy's world implodes around him, he reaches out for some love and understanding from the not-unresponsive princess, and that can go either way in terms of bliss or Armageddon... Veteran writer Gerry Conway is in fine form, and artist Chris Batista continues to turn in the best work in his career, so this one is definitely worth checking out. RECOMMENDED.
The five-part "Witches" arc kicks off by giving us a look into what's sure to be a nasty power struggle between some of the Fables' "thirteenth floor contingent," most specifically between Ozma of Oz and Frau Totenkinder, who's "looking younger every day (longtime readers know what that most likely means). Also, in the wake of "The Great Fables Crossover," Bigby and Snow White make their way back to the farm and plans get underway for the inevitable direct conflict with the Dark Man. Not much really happens in this issue, but as setup for what's coming it's pretty good. And I love the cover illustration of flying monkey Bufkin as painted by Joao Ruas.
GREEK STREET #1
Vertigo once more mines the realms of ancient myth and this time comes up with a predictable and self-cannibalizing effort. Basically the story of Oedipus transplanted to the modern day and enacted in — where else? — England, this one's a write-off for anyone who's read their classical literature, and as for the self-cannibalization, the story's opening very obviously harks back to the first issue of 100 BULLETS and its strip joint sequence, as well as the bit in Neil Gaiman's THE SANDMAN arc "Brief Lives" that featured the goddess Ishtar working as a dancer in a titty bar. Pfooey, sez I.
GREEK STREET #2
An improvement over the first issue, but I'm still skeptical. This gets one more issue before I make a final judgment, but I'm still not feeling it.
BLACKEST NIGHT #2 (of 8)
The shit hits the fan with some truly jaw-dropping moments, so let it suffice to say that this is a must-read, both for Green lantern followers and not. Oh, and we get to witness Aquaman — a dead and re-animated Aquaman, no less — use his fish-summoning powers in a way I've waited my whole life to see...
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #39
The shit hits the fan on Oa as the rings of the Black lantern Corps seek out and re-animate all of the Green lantern Corps' deceased members, each housed in the planet's Crypt of the Honored Dead. Make no mistake, comics fans, this is the kind of stuff that makes an "event" story work.
BLACKEST NIGHT: TALES OF THE CORPS #3 (of 3)
While I could definitely have done without the in-pencils "director's commentary" version of BLACKEST NIGHT #0 that they stuck in here in lieu of an actual third story, I very much enjoyed the origin tales of GL mainstays Kilowog and Arisia. Too bad this marks the last issue of this shorter-than-usual mini-series. because I will always be happy to read about the back stories of the huge GL cast.
DOOM PATROL #1
Much like SWAMP THING and ANIMAL MAN before it, DOOM PATROL is a series best left alone following what was done with it during its "Vertigo-ization," in other words, don't go there again unless you have something new and/or interesting to bring to the table (THE LAST DAYS OF ANIMAL MAN being a good case in point of how to do it right). This current DOOM PATROL #1 is what, the third or fourth since 2004? That kind of perpetually relaunching does not fill me with much hope or interest, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the Doom Patrol and will always check out at least the first few issues of any new book they may pop up in (as well as any featured guest spots). That said, I'm glad I read this latest first issue, written by veteran scripter keith Giffen and drawn by Matthew Clark (inks by "Livesay"). The D.P. are still among the strangest of DC's stable of superheroes, though by no means as "out there" as they were during Grant Morrison's run, and Giffen appears to be having a lot of fun writing them, so I'll stick with it and see where it goes. Less successful is the METAL MEN backup feature, written by Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis. The robotic sextet is back, upgraded to a septet with the inclusion of Copper (I always felt this team needed another female), and the art by Kevin Maguire is beyond reproach, but the metal men are just one of those teams that just don't work unless the script is just right. This first installment is nothing we haven't seen before involving these characters: shape-shifting, battles with giant threats, "wacky" personality quirks, et cetera, and if not for Kevin's artwork I would not have read it past page three. And, just as I expected would inevitably happen, Platinum's wet-on for Doc Magnus has finally progressed to the point where she is depicted literally offering herself to him as a lover, on his bed with her uniform shape-shifted into pretty much a teddy, no less. That angle in the Platinum/Doc dynamic never worked for me, and I very much doubt if making it explicit rather than implicit will help matters at all. (Plus, she's made of metal; wouldn't her body be physically cold?) But whatever the case, I'm on board for what Giffen has up his sleeve for this book's headliners.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE #1 (of 7)
I wasn't quite sure what to make of this the first time I read it, but it now looks to me like STARMAN scribe James Robinson is fixing to reboot the Justice League with an intriguing blend of old and new members, each apparently striving to provide the justice found in the team's name. The first installment features Green lantern Hal Jordan fucking off out of the Justice League and taking the Green Arrow with him — evoking the pair's Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams "Hard-Traveling Heroes" era — in protest over the current Justice league not being proactive enough in putting down the bad guys. Hal's apparently not alone in his yen for justice, as is seen when the focus shifts to Ray Palmer (the Silver Age Atom), Mikaal Tomas (the blue-skinned Starman) and Congo Bill (whose consciousness is now stuck in the body of Congorilla), and each of the disparate heroes sets forth on paths that are sure to converge.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE #2 (of 7)
The gathering of heroes continues, bringing Jay Garrick (the Golden Age Flash), Freddy Freeman (the post-Billy Batson Captain Marvel) and Supergirl into the mix as some unknown threat concocted by Prometheus looms. That's about it for this issue, but it is entertaining and note should be made of the appealing art by Mauro Cascioli, the guy who drew the unjustly overlooked TRIALS OF SHAZAM.
SECRET SIX #12
Always at the top of my "read first" pile, it's good to see SECRET SIX has made it to the one year mark. Part 3 of "Depths" proves for the umpteenth time just why you should not piss off the DCU's Amazons, in this case Wonder Woman and Artemis, and we also get a good look at what's really up with Jeanette. The issue ends with something potentially nasty about to happen to the Amazon princess, but since she's one of DC's top three flagship characters it's really a bit of a non-cliffhanger, but I won't hold that aginst a book that so dependably bring me the fun.
JONAH HEX #46
"The Six Gun War" escalates as Hex rescues Tallulah Black and bat Lash from a firing squad and subjects firing squad ringleader El Papagayo to some well-earned torture at the hands of the possessed El Diablo. As that idyllic moment transpires we're given a look at the roots of Turnbull's mighty hatred for Hex, as well as a tantilizing glimpse at the "specialists" Turnbull's hired to solve his Hex problem once and for all. Even by the standards of a series as nasty and downright nihilistic as JONAH HEX, these guys seem particularly unpleasant and look to give our hero and his companions a serious dose of Hell on earth. Bring on the next chapter!
MADAME XANADU #13
So much for my plan to save up issues of this series so I could read it as completed arcs...Part three of "Exodus Noir" continues the Mike Kaluta-drawn excellence as Madame X's investigation of Colin Shepherd's spontaneous combustion continues, interspersed with what (and who) she was doing in Spain in 1493 during the Spanish Inquisition. Damned good stuff, sez I.
PRISON PIT Book One
I'm a huge fan of the filthy and puerile work of Johnny (ANGRY YOUTH COMICS) Ryan, so it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to proclaim this upcoming due in late October) first installment in a graphic novel series to be a complete and utter waste of time. Billed as a fantasy adventure inspired by manga and videogame culture, PRISON PIT chronicles the adventures of a masked and unnamed protagonist (identified in the book's press release as "C.F.," a name apparently too offensive to be stated in the press materials) after his unceremonious dumping onto a barren world populated by violent, intergalactic criminals. From the moment he arrives the protagonist fights to survive, and the book amounts to little more than a 120-page festival of poorly drawn violence, gore, cussing and inter-species cock-sucking that I was able to read and process in its entirety during a five minute wait for my train at the Union Street subway platform. Ryan's stuff is not deep or dense by any means, but this work looks and feels like a sloppily-executed rush job that is not only uninteresting, but also has the nerve to end on a real "So what?" of a cliffhanger. Material of this sort would usually be right up my alley, especially considering how ripe it is for parody or tongue-in-cheek handling, but I'm chalking this one up to being a failed experiment and I sincerely hope that Ryan gets back on track as swiftly as possible. Seriously, and I say this as a Johnny Ryan booster, this sucks ass in a big wayand is a strong contender for "Worst Comic of the Year."