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#15 8/24/05 #4

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

Q & @ with Raven Gregory/THE GIFT #13 review


Bill Willingham: Writer
Giuseppe Camuncoli: Artist
DC Comics: Publisher
Vroom Socko: Calling The Hague

Warning: the following review contains harsh language, massive spoilers, and descriptions of immoral acts. Parental discretion is advised.

Can a book be judged by its conclusion alone? This book starts with some great action between Batman, Joker and Black Mask, and remains quite enjoyable throughout, until we reach the conclusion. It is in these final few pages that we learn just who killed The Spoiler back in the pages of “War Games.”

Out of all the characters that make up Batman’s support system, Leslie Thompkins is one of the first. She is the one who comforted Bruce Wayne the night his parents died. She has been a source of support and strength for Batman literally all his life. She has served as a voice of support, and a voice of criticism for Bruce and his mission. She is a woman who believes with all her soul in the sanctity and preservation of life.

To teach Batman and his team a lesson about the dangers of what they do, she withheld medical treatment from 16-year-old Stephanie Brown. Dr. Leslie Thompkins killed The Spoiler.

That final scene has Dr. Thompkins explaining all this to Batman, who informs her that she is no longer welcome in his city. That’s right: the penalty for murder is deportation.

I have been reading comics for over twenty years. I have read books that moved me emotionally, books that have entertained me with every reread, books that have been masterpieces. I have read books that I hated, books that went in the wrong direction, books that just don’t work. This is the first superhero comic I have read that is totally without merit. That is ethically void. That is morally repugnant.

Does this idea make any sort of sense? Does a woman who believes in saving lives more than anything else killing a girl to make a point make sense? Does killing one of Batman’s partners to force him to reexamine his choices make sense? Dr. Thompkins has known Batman for years--perhaps she was remembering how he became more introspective and risk aware after Jason Todd “died.” Oh, wait, she doesn’t, because that death drove Batman to become a brutal, sadistic warrior with a borderline mental psychosis!

What was DC thinking? WERE they thinking? That an editor okayed this story development is reprehensible. That DC published it is sickening. What was the point of this development? If it was to entertain, it fails miserably. If it was to inform the characters, how can it when they are totally misunderstood? If it was to be edgy and controversial just for the hell of it, then congratulations DC, that’s all you’ve done. Nice job, you’re well on your way to becoming the FOX Network of comic book publishing.

Do not buy this book. Do not read this book. Do not touch this book. If an editorial assistant from Wizard were to put a gun to your head and demand that you read it, take the bullet.

I’m done with Batman. As long as the current editorial staff is in place, I will not be buying any Batman books. If not for the company’s exclusive contract with Geoff Johns (is he the only man at that company who has his superhero characters actually act like heroes?) I would be boycotting their superhero line in totality. I’ve had enough.

Note: if you have already purchased a copy of BATMAN #644, here is the proper disposal method. Returning it to your local comic shop is not recommended, because then some other poor sucker will buy it. Burning is not recommended, because of the potential of toxic fumes. Birdcage lining is not recommended, because of the implied insult to the guano industry. No, I must recommend that you have the book slabbed. Sealed in lexan, the book will be safe from prying eyes. Besides, it’s about time CGC was good for something.


Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciler: Gary Erskine
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

Ok, first things first, if you want to pull in some more readers for this book, you gotta do something about that title. That giant JACK CROSS with a simple swirl design running through it just screams "generic" and is very unexciting. And two, I don't know about you, but I think I've gotten to the point where random little exclamated statements on book covers make me roll my eyes uncontrollably. "Now Terror has something to Fear!" Stallone film groan-inducing if you ask me. But I digress.

What we do have here is a genuinely intriguing action title from Warren Ellis, a man who has built his reputation on books like this, and the very capable Gary Erskine. In the vein of the television show 24, we have a here a book with your typical (and yet not-so typical) "Get results anyway I can" male lead, with the usual hot topics this kind of stuff entails: terrorism, government conspiracies and yadda yadda yadda. As far as the initial plot goes it's a nice digression away from the usual "terrorists are planning something and only one man can stop them!" and we get a security threat of a different sort, our own government agencies. Now, obviously, moles in the CIA or moles in the FBI are about a dime a dozen in these stories, but a mole from the CIA in the FBI or a fellow domestic security agency is enough of a different spin to get my conspiracy-theory juices flowing and does well as a set up. But the main focus of this first issue is to, like it should, let us in on just who Jack Cross is.

A comparison of this Jack to the main character Jack Bower of the aforementioned 24 TV show is definitely a warranted one. Both are very cool and calm customers, but will use extreme force when necessary and even come off as crazed when they do so, and they will both do exactly what is necessary to get the job done. What makes our Mr. Cross here different is that he hates his job. He's a political activist living "off the grid" so to speak. He's even called a hippie by the female friend that comes to enlist his services. He abhors violence, but understands he's good at it and that it is oft necessary to get results. To show us this dichotomy, what we're treated to for the second half of the book is one of the most brutal interrogation scenes I've seen in comics or TV as Jack tries to get a captured government plant to talk, and then we're shown a somber Jack as he sits in the corner of a vacant room, obviously shaken by what he has just done. A nice little digression from the norm in my opinion.

And as for art chores I have to say Erskine's work comes out as pretty good for the tone of the book. I've always found his work to be solid, but marred by one of the things a lot of artists are guilty of, and that's lack of diversity in body types and facial features. But, unlike a lot of those other artists, Erskine brings a great talent for facial expressions, which is key considering the nature of the main character. In the last couple pages where we see the tail end of the interrogation scene and then we see Jack's quiet moment afterwards, we see a whole collage of emotions running through all the characters present, and it's easy to see that's how Erskine got the job on this book (Well, that and he works with Ellis a lot. I'm just trying to give the man some props ok? =).

And there you have it. I think the book is just different enough to make me come back for more. It is definitely pure Ellis as far as plot and dialogue goes, though this doesn't have any dramatic or sadistic one-liners and quotables like most his books do. This hasn't hooked me as much as some of Warren's latest batch of projects have, like DESOLATION JONES, but I can see potential. If you're a fan of shows like 24 and whatnot, and aren't yet burnt out on them, I say give this a shot. If you've had your fill on books dealing with stuff like government agents and terrorism then it's probably best to steer clear, or maybe just sample this first issue to see if you find it different enough to change your mind on how those subjects can be handled in a book. But please, god, someone change that logo.


Writer: Mark Millar
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Klaus Janson
Publisher: Marvel
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

I have to admit, the last few WOLVERINE arcs from the team of Mark Millar and JRJR were one hell of a thrill ride. Wolverine has always been a tortured hero--one who struggles for nobility and heroism, aspects that are often not in his animalistic nature. The last few arcs have highlighted this inner conflict by having HYDRA, led by the villainous Gorgon and Madame Hydra, mind control Wolvie into their perfect killing machine. This long road to redemption and humanity leads to issue # 31 which features a knock-down, drag-out fight between Gorgon and Wolvie. Last issue, Wolverine stands skewered by a sword to a wall by his throat. The Gorgon teleports to Nick Fury’s hospital room to murder him, and Elektra is the only one left to stop him.

This issue starts out with Wolverine still pinned and Elektra fallen, leaving Nick Fury helpless against the seemingly unstoppable Gorgon. The action that follows is just about as brutal and intense as one could get in a mainstream superhero book. Wolverine slashes away at the Gorgon for panels and the Gorgon returns it in spades. This is one hell of a finale action sequence and Millar really delivers. Millar cleverly switches between inner monologue, with Wolverine still struggling with the fact that he was manipulated to kill scores of people by the Gorgon and HYDRA, and macho dialog between the two warriors. All the while, Millar adds moments of cool like Nick Fury’s bravado-laden barbs as he lies helpless on his hospital bed. This is a cleverly paced and structured climax which takes full advantage of the big screen-feel these last few WOLVIERINE arcs have exhibited.

But all in all, this is an issue where two guys are beating the snot out of each other. So without the right artist, this could be a real snoozer. Fortunately, John Romita Jr. is the right artist. I have to admit that I felt as if he was phoning it in for the last few issues, being pretty chinsy with details such as costume designs and the like. The splash page from a few issues back featuring a million Hydra-mind-manipulated heroes and villains attacking the SHIELD Helicarrier came off as sloppy and sketchy. There’s none of that laziness in this current issue, though. You can tell this is the issue JRJR was waiting to get his hands on. Panel placement, the use of splashes, the conveyance of action from panel to panel: all spectacular.

On a side note, though, I would love to see a JRJR book done in the painterly style that decorates the front covers of the last few issues. Those images show depth and beauty that I’ve never seen in JRJR art. I’m sure whatever process it is takes longer to do, but the wait would be worth it to see an entire book in this painterly style.

Millar finishes this issue on a pretty somber note. Wolverine is missing and cutting a path back to the grave of the child whose death started this whole fiasco. Narrated by Nick Fury as he reports in to Kitty Pryde, these few last panels pull the camera back from the carnage that has occurred over the last few issues, leaving Wolverine more tormented and alone than before. Of course, this conflicts with the fact that Wolverine is now rubbing spandex with the NEW AVENGERS in that series, as well as a fully operational member of the X-Men, but what’s continuity and bad editorial decisions have to do with a truly great story arc which focused on the character of Wolverine and got it right?


Writer: Greg Rucka
Art: Jesus Saiz
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Prof. Challenger



If you care what happens in this issue and you haven't read it yet, then skip on to the next review.

It's the penultimate issue of this mini-series and all hell has broken loose - specifically 1,373,462 freakin' OMACs with ANNHILATION PROTOCOL triggered.


Sasha's some kind of weird OMAC/Human hybrid thingee.


Somehow Brother Eye made lightning that functions like the magic lightning of Shazam and turned Mary Marvel back to Mary Batson.


And what? Has every writer out there forgotten that it's supposed to be "Magic" lightning? Rocket Red's dead and took three OMAC's with him.

Uh-oh. And big waste. Really, I mean, what good did it do to have Rocket Red sacrifice himself to take out 3 OMACs when there's basically an endless supply of them? Better that he had stayed alive to fight more of them. I'm sure Rocky's wife and children appreciate his pointless sacrifice there, Mr. Rucka.

Fire's all busted up and probably dead or close to it.


Tim Drake better be quick and smart next issue or last month's issue of ROBIN may have been the last one.


I thought this mini-series had a great first issue. It has progressively gotten worse. Based on this issue full of pointless and mindless death and destruction, I can't recommend it. I think the "concept" of the OMACs in modern day is an excellent one and I expect it to work well within the framework of the INFINITE CRISIS. On its own though, the series has tanked itself.


Writer: Christian Beranek
Penciler: Chris Moreno
Publisher: Silent Devil
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

When I saw the first issue of book solicited I knew I had to have it. Come on, two of the coolest mythological/folkloric characters ever dueling it out? The Lord of the Vampires versus the wielder of the legendary sword Excalibur? Sold! But also, like anyone else rightfully would, as soon as I thought about it for a second that "Vs" immediately gave me premonitions of such cinematic greats "Freddy vs. Jason" and "Alien vs. Predator", two movies that made the sci-fi geek in me ecstatic, but almost made my eyes bleed while actually viewing them. And then when I thought about the kind of circumstances that could used to bring these two characters together, well, my enthusiasm waned a bit. Thankfully though, the first issue not only turned out to be a very creative foray into getting these two together, but was very well researched on the history of their respective time periods, and was very good at analyzing the characters' traits given what kind of stories have been told about them over the years. What could have been just a horrible book about some vampires and some random gore and blah blah blah turned out to be a pleasant surprise and one of the more enjoyable new books I've picked up this year. And thankfully, the follow up issue keeps good pace with the first.

The last issue ended with Arthur and the majority of his knights questing out on a hunt for the Holy Grail, rumored to have been lost by Joseph of Arimethea in England on his travels. While the knights are out searching for this powerful artifact, Lord Dracula's power base and grip on the land start spreading, and he uses the opportunity presented by Arthur's journey to make a bid at kidnapping his lovely Queen, Guinevere. Lots of great hack and slash action featuring Lancelot ensues, and this issue gives us some full on vampire hoopla with hypnotic glances, shape changing, and so on. The ending is a little much though, as the writer might be taking too much liberty with just how devoted Lancelot is with Lady Guinevere, but the potential it develops for confrontation and action next issue makes it ok in my mind. Add to all that some still very solid and appropriately dark and moody pencils and you've got another fun issue, even if it is a bit more of a “guilty pleasure” fun.


Written by: Greg Rucka
Penciled by: Karl Kerschl, Carlos D’Anda and Rags Morales
Inked by: Cam Smith, Carlos D’Anda and Wayne Faucher (It took five people to draw this book?)
Reviewed by: superhero

Superman is sad.

See, Maxwell Lord has been making Superman see very bad things. Maxwell Lord has been controlling Superman and making him go apeshit crazy on his friends. Superman is seeing images of his beloved Lois being killed by his most dangerous foe Doomsday. This, in turn, has driven Superman over the edge and in his mind’s eye he loses sight of everything else except his desire to kill Doomsday which erupts in an all out pitched battle that causes Superman to endanger and even harm innocent civilians…

Um, wait, what was that last part again?

Ok, let’s forget that all this book is just a rehash of the past several issues of SUPERMAN, WONDER WOMAN, and THE OMAC PROJECT all mixed into one issue. Let’s try and forget that we just bought a series of comics only to buy this one and have Greg Rucka tell me the whole freaking story all over again. Let’s just try and forget that and focus on the fact that this story features Superman behaving in the most uncharacteristic way possible.

See, in this issue Superman comes to terms with the fact that everything he’s been seeing for the past, what, several days is an illusion. That he hasn’t been fighting Doomsday. That Lois isn’t dead. That he hasn’t leveled Metropolis in a Hulk-like rage. That, in effect, it was all in his mind and none of it was real. That the only reason he was going through it all was because of Maxwell Lord and one of his best friends, Wonder Woman, just saved him from the hell of seeing his friends and family murdered over and over again. Not to mention she kept him from killing his own friends in reality while under Lord’s control.

And what does Superman think when he snaps out of it?

“Gasp” Diana KILLED somebody!

What the…?

THAT’S what Superman’s worried about? That Diana killed a dangerous foe in order to save him and possibly everyone on the planet from a power crazed Superman???? He’s more worried about the fact that WW killed a foe and not the fact that just a couple of minutes ago he was ready to split the Earth in two if Max Lord asked him to?

Let me ask you this…when did Superman become such a pansy?

I mean why is Superman acting like such a rube?

I mean we’re talking about SUPERMAN here.

This is a guy who’s been all across the galaxy. This is a guy who’s fought in intergalactic battles that would make Sgt. Rock crap himself. This is a man who cheats death and saves lives on a daily basis. Hell, this is a guy who’s seen an entire universe wiped out by renegade Kryptonians and made the hard choice to execute them by his own hand. He’s also made the choice to give Batman kryptonite so that if he ever were to go renegade someone would have the means to take him out. Superman’s been around the block. He knows about death. He fights to protect life but he knows that sometimes the tough decisions have to be made. He doesn’t like it. He doesn’t want to be the one to have to do it. But he also can accept that sometimes there are no other options. So why in the hell is he so freaked out when Wonder Woman kills someone in a last ditch effort to save the planet from a Superman who just doesn’t know how to play nice anymore?

Superman’s not naïve so why is Rucka portraying him as such? Ok, I get that Superman was raised on a farm by caring parents. I get that Superman’s family wasn’t gunned down in front of him therefore he’s not as tragically cool as Batman. I get that he stands for mom, dad and apple pie. I get it…but that doesn’t mean he has to be written like some hick that just stepped off the bus.

As I said before, Superman’s been around. Not to mention that he’s been working as a reporter in one of the largest cities in the world for years. Anyone who’s lived in or moved to a large city can tell you that you grow up pretty quickly no matter where you’re from so why is Superman being consistently written as if he’s never dealt with anything harsher than his ice cream cone falling to the pavement when he was eight years old?

I’ve been enjoying most if this INFINITE CRISIS thing from the beginning but this issue of ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN marks another situation where a main character is acting completely out of character or at least being an all-out moron. It’s an issue like this that almost makes me yearn for the days of the Curt Swan pre-Crisis pompous as hell Superman. At least he had some backbone. Superman, as written in this issue, is just written as a whiny little wuss. Not only that but a contradictory little wuss. In the nightmare world Lord created for him he kills Doomsday in a rage but when he snaps out of it he’s stunned that Diana killed to save him? Give me a break. Next thing you know Superman’ll be doing a full on, “My daughter, my sister, my daughter, my sister…” ala Faye Dunaway in CHINATOWN. The way things are being handled in the DCU right now I really wouldn’t be surprised.

If Supes keeps acting like he does in this book they’re going to have to change what the “S” on his chest means from Superman to Sissyman. Vulnerability’s one thing but I’ll take my Superman with a bit of spine and a dose of nobility thank you very much. If I want a crybaby I’ll go pick up an old issue of SPIDER-MAN and save myself the trouble of reading this barely recognizable version of Superman


Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Rob Liefeld has been a joke in the comic book industry for waaaay too long now. It’s seen as cool to rip on the guy and I have to admit he’s done a lot to deserve the ribbing. But the thing is, despite all of the ethical blunders this guy has made, despite the fact that everyone stifles a guffaw when his name is mentioned, it wasn’t long ago that everyone was praising this guy as if he were the second coming of the Fonz. That’s right, the same people lining up to praise such current idols o’ millions as Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, and Brian Michael Bendis not too long ago were French-kissing the bicycle seat of Rob Liefeld (It’s interesting to note the movement from the 90’s artist-praise to writer-idolation of today. What’s next? Bowing to the alter of the letter in the two-thousand teens?). I’ll bet a lot of people have never even picked up a Liefeld comic. Fortunately, DC decided to team him with one of their more talented writers and give the guy a shot at the mainstream once again.

TEEN TITANS #27 is the first of a two part story involving Hawk & Dove taking place on the first Father’s Day after Robin lost his father in the events of IDENTITY CRISIS. The team is coming together to support their friend when he needs them the most. Gail Simone writes some heartfelt lines shared between Robin and the rest of his team. The talk between Cyborg and Robin is especially effective and acts out with a tenderness that is not often seen in comics. Over the span of the twenty-seven issues of this TEEN TITANS series, this group has become very close and that is conveyed confidently and convincingly through the words on the page.

But then this is a comic book and there are pictures that go along with these words…

With my “goin’ against the grain” mentality, I wanted to come into this review and praise Rob Liefeld for a job well done. I wanted to see this issue as a comeback for the guy. I was actually rooting for this underdog to succeed. That Liefeld would take this issue as an opportunity to shut the fanboys up and prove that he has evolved as an artist since most of us last saw him in the 3rd or 4th (I lost count) #1 issue of YOUNGBLOOD.

Sadly, that’s not the case.

I never had a problem with the big waffle guns, or the shoulders two times as big as the head, or the tiny ankles, or all of the pockets and packets decorating every inch of Liefeld’s characters. I saw this as one artist’s particular style. Much like McFarlane’s gigantic browlines or Bart Sears’ bubble muscles or Mignola’s minimalism. I can forgive that stuff because all of those tiny nuances are what makes Liefeld’s art different from the rest of the herd.

What I can’t forgive is sloppiness, laziness, and the complete disregard for conveying action from panel to panel in preference to making a cool looking series of pin up shots. And that’s what you get with this issue. In almost every panel of this book, the characters are looking directly at the reader. This is a paranoid person’s worst nightmare and one suffering from this malady would probably need some rubber room time after reading this book. Every character is posed for action and staring right into the camera. Even when the team (in full costume, mind you) go for a peaceful night of bowling, every muscle is flexed and ready to pounce into battle.

Basically, Simone is faced with the losing battle of linking together panel after panel of action pose shots. She does her damndest to do so, but this issue comes off as something one would find lining a junior high Trapper Keeper and not a professional comic book. Liefeld has not evolved as the artist I was hoping he would become. Characters pop from one location to the next without even the hint of movement in the panel and the over-acting poses Liefeld’s camera-aware characters take make the book a laughable mess.

All artists evolve with practice and dedication. Be they writers or artists or musicians. This evolution can have varying results. Check out Mike Deodato’s early Image-like work compared to the stellar images he produces today. Had Liefeld come onto the scene with this issue and slowed any kind of evolution from the stuff he churned out in the early nineties, I’d give him some kind of props. But that’s just not the case here. And there’s nothing more uninteresting than stagnation and that’s what I got from this issue.


Raven Gregory: Writer
Richard Bonk: Artist
Image Comics: Publisher
Vroom Socko: Getting even

Okay, who here was bullied in school? I bet quite a few of you were, especially you cog smooches in the back. Yeah, YOU! Me, I got all the rough treatment from the “cool” kids. I was beaten up, mocked, ostracized, spit upon … I was even maced once. But enough about the Eighth Grade.

The latest installment of THE GIFT is all about that sort of behavior, as well as being an up front representation of the secret fantasies of every kid who was tormented by some arrogant jackass. The story revolves around a young victim of a cadre of bullies, who soon become victims themselves when The Ancient One gives this child the power to strike back. And boy does he strike back. There’s some vicious, nasty stuff that goes down here, stuff that even managed to creep me out quite a bit. And yet, the book on the whole manages to be quite satisfying in its brutality.

Then there’s the final image, which makes for an impressive and controversial visual. It had me wondering just what was going through Raven Gregory’s mind when he wrote that bit.

So I went ahead and gave him a ring to ask…

Vroom Socko: You DO know you're going to get hate mail, right?

Raven Gregory: You DO know I'm unlisted. Heh. If I do get hate mail I'll just assume I did something right.

What was your motive for the final image of THE GIFT #13? Are you making a political statement, is this controversy for its own sake, or something else?

To me telling a story just to tell a story isn't good enough. If your story isn't trying to say something, if there is not a deeper meaning behind the story, I think it just falls flat and placid. I'm assuming (the scene) it will mean different things to different people. But when I think of high school and life in general, the older you get and the more of life you experience, the world tends to strangle all the innocence and nativity (sic) out of you. It tends to beat you down turning you into something you weren't meant to be. I like the underlining symbolism of the image. It’s not meant to be shock value, it just is. It is a controversial image but I like to think it's saying much more than that. What that is I'll leave to the readers to decide.

This story reads like the sort of fiction that bullied teens the world over write in their journals. Was this story based on your own experiences? How much of the creation of this book was a cathartic experience for you?

This is a story I have been wanting to tell my whole life. It's something I dealt with throughout my school years. I know first hand how it feels to be picked on, humiliated, and victimized for no other reason than being overweight or black or tall or whatever excuse a bully needs to justify their actions. I know how it feels to have that shit eat away at you day after day after day and how after a while there just doesn't seem to be another answer except to lash out at the world around us...because you feel so helpless and incapable of doing anything to make the shit stop. So this is about as personal as it gets, but I try to do that with all my stories. Each one is a little piece of me. This is just a much larger piece than usually.

Has THE GIFT lived up to your expectations, both in content and reader response?

It's everything I wanted and more. The fans really enjoy it and they go out and tell everyone they can about the book. It just doesn't get that much better than that. And being able to tell a story EXACTLY how I wanted to and being able to not have to hold anything back has just been great.

This summer’s convention season was your first as a part of Image. How has the experience been so far?

So far it has been amazing. Everyone has been really great to us. I came to the San Diego con and got a big surprise from the guys at Image. They printed up banner posters of the GIFT #13. They really believe it's gonna live up to the hype and it's nice to have that kind of support.

We'll be getting the origin of The Ancient One in the next issue. What's coming after that, both for you and THE GIFT?

We have a new creative team jumping aboard starting with issue 14. Josh Medors (IN THE BLOOD) will be handling pencils and is just doing an amazing job. We'll also see all the characters from the first 11 issues return in issues 15-17 and see where all this has been building to since the very beginning of the series.

I also have quite a few big side projects coming up as well as some more creator owned projects. THE WAKING will be out sometime next year and is a zombie tale that is a cross between CSI and “Dawn of the Dead”. I also have LIKE A MACHINE, a sci-fi story with artist Ed Sharam coming out later this year, and DEAD @17 Rough Cut Vol. 3 with a short story that leads into the new ongoing series with art by superstar Josh Howard. I'm really excited about the Dead@17 story since I'm one of the first writers Josh has ever worked with. It was a huge honor to work with someone as talented as him. I also have The TIDE coming out through Silent Devil Productions next year with artist Taki Soma, and few other things brewing in the pot as well. It's gonna be a busy year.


Well, crap. I was hoping the Shadow Pact would've already killed that crazy Spectre. No such luck. I really have enjoyed this little mini-series, but I'm not so keen on the idea of the Shadow Pact becoming an ongoing series. Personally, I think the characters would work better as a series of minis and/or one-shots. But, as with ABC and WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE, the Big 2 comics companies are really good at taking good ideas and over saturating the market and basically killing any long-lasting enthusiasm. As to this issue specifically, I'm disturbed by the fact that Capt. Marvel, who should look more like a bulked up Patrick Warburton instead alternates between looking like Humphrey Bogart or that Korean guy from LOST throughout this whole thing. Detective Chimp once again rules the day. Once again I call for someone to kill Ragman, the most annoying character I've read in a long time. This Black Alice girl gets the chance to suck the Spectre's supernatural power away from him so she and the Shadow Pact can beat the crap out of him. Problem is, Spectre's got no physical form. How do you beat the crap out of him? Woops. Question: The Spectre basically has the power of God - absolute power. Right? How come Black Alice wasn't instantly corrupted by such an unimaginable amount of supernatural power? Didn't jibe with me there. Otherwise, another good issue. Looking forward to the finale. - Prof.


If there is anything more adorable than Go-Go the Gorilla chasing butterflies, then I don't want to know about it. The second installment of this series moves the story forward quite nicely, and is exceptionally well written. It's also quite hilarious to boot. But the important thing here is that Colleen Coover is drawing some cute, funny monkeys doing cute, funny stuff. The look on Go-Go's face as he solemnly intones "today this monkey will not be farting" is absolutely priceless. - Vroom


I’ve been on board with this JMS arc, supporting it even through the rough spots (like the issue of talkity-talk that coincided with the release of the movie), but as soon as the giant alien showed up in this issue, this story lost me. I don’t know if it’s the fact that it involves yet another alien invasion or the fact that the alien fugitive mentions that he knows “the ultimate, final truth” (so what, once we know that, there are no more questions?). Or maybe it’s the fact that an alien ship hovers over Manhattan and the Four act as if that’s never happened before. Or maybe it is the lingering feeling that JMS is once again rewriting Marvel history as he did with the Norman Osborne/Gwen Stacy affair over in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN in that the cosmic rays that gave the Richards family their fantastic powers were merely a means of communication from an alien race. Add all of these up and the cool moments in between don’t really save this issue for me. I’ll be sticking around to see how this first arc pans out, but right now I’m not impressed by the guy who blew my socks off with MIDNIGHT NATION and SUPREME POWER. - Bug


Okay. Sue me. I like this book. I didn't want to like it. I wasn't sure I liked it for a good 4 or 5 issues. Here it is issue 9 and I realize it's one of a few monthlies where I count the weeks til the next issue. I'm loving the modern take on familiar old-school clichés. For my book, Mark Waid's LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES has the groundwork and potential to one day battle Geoff Johns' JSA in its ability to rework familiar heroes and concepts but move them forward respectably in storylines and characterization. In this latest reboot, it's been chock full of anger and tension between Cosmic Boy and Braniac 5 as they struggle over who should be leading the group. Clearly Braniac 5 is the logical leader. Here's the problem: Cos has that indefinable charisma that elevates him as a leader whether he desires it or not. Brainy has to work at it. As smart as he is, he's really not a natural leader - he's just a boss. There's a difference and this issue highlights those differences. Invisible Kid is the reader. He's the eyes through which the reader becomes a part of the Legion. And in this issue he steps up to do what the reader wants to happen. Mark Waid's writing gets better each issue. The 3-page epilogue addressing continuity concerns longtime LEGION readers may have was alone worth the price of the comic. The issue has a guest-artist I'd never seen before, Georges Jeanty, and I didn't even mind. Solid work supported by Thibert inks. This might even be a good jumping on point for new readers if any of you have been on the fence about this series. - Prof.

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OK, let’s keep it simple. Out of all of the comic book characters out there today, who is your absolute favorite and why? Who’s your least favorite?

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