Friday, December 31, 2010

Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Vol #3

Jack Kirby

I hadn't read much from Jack Kirby, his style is kinda an acquired taste. I read 52 (good!), Countdown to Infinite Crisis (awful!) and Final Crisis (must read it again!) and I became very curious about these New Gods. I read Vol #1 and #2 at Borders, while Carla worked and I was hooked! I purchased Vol #3 and I must admit that The New Gods have the same magic as the Legion of Superheroes, if you're talking about underrated stories.

In "The Pact" we learn the origin of the feud between New Genesis and Apokolips. It began with Izaya and Avia hanging out in New Genesis and Steppenwolf of Apokolips attacking them. It was a brutal fight but in the end, Avia sacrificed herself to save Izaya. Then Darkseid, Steppenwolf's nephew stepped in to kill Izaya, but he didn't. It was all a ruse to betray his uncle and make Izaya retaliate against Apokolips. Then war begins!

Darkseid discovered Element X which Metron needs to build his Mobius Chair, and so he succumbs to Darkseid. In exchange for Element X, Metron must build the Boom Tube technology. It is after Izaya kills Steppenwolf, that the war escalates impossibly and all is destroyed, there is nothing left in New Genesis or Apokolips. When Izaya finally renounces the ways of war, the Source opens to him. He is one with the Source and turns into Highfather.

The pact between Highfather and Darkseid to end the war (or at least stall it) is to exchange sons. Darkseid receives Highfather's son, Scott Free and sends him to Granny Goodness to live a cruel life. Highfather receives Orion, who at this point doesn't know he is Darkseid's child, and gives him kindness.

It is then more poignant that Scott was never truly squashed in Apokolips and managed to escape and find love with Big Barda, an ex-Female Fury with Special Powers Training. It is then tragic that Orion fights so hard against his nature since he despises Darkseid so much.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games is a YA sci-fi survival story much like Battle Royale. Scratch that, it's exactly like Battle Royale, but in this case it's a plus more than a minus.

A few hundred years have gone by since our present, and the United States no longer exists. The nation is now called Panem, and ruled by the Capitol, a decadent and wealthy city-state. The rest of Panem is divided into Districts, each serves it's own purpose like Agriculture, Factory Production, Coal, etc. There are some Districts wealthier than others, and inside the Districts there are social structures so that it's common for people to starve while wealthier merchants and the Peackeepers (Po-Pos) watch.

There used to be 13 Districts but when they tried to rebel, the Capitol won and punished District 13 and established the Hunger Games, where each District must choose by lottery a boy and a girl to fight to the death as Tributes. The Games are viewed all across Panam like Reality TV. It's gruesome and bloody and it keeps the masses entertained and the Districts hopeless.

Our main character is Katniss Everdeen, a hard 16 year old who supported her family after her father died in the coal mines of District 12 (in the Rockies). She's a good hunter, she's light on her feet (undernourished and half starved) and she's very very cynical.

Katniss knows how to play the Hunger Games (much like people who know exactly what to do and say to keep the cameras on them on Reality TV). She volunteers for her sister and plays the game almost expertly. What she lacks in graces is made up by her partner in the games, an impossibly naive young man called Peetah. In order to win the favor of the audience and so receive gifts from their "sponsors" they play up a "Romance" that for Peetah is very real (stupid, stupid boy) and for Katniss is her ticket to survive and get home (cuz you know... she's cynical).

The Hunger Games run as you would expect and we get tidbits of this depressing future where genetic Muttations were bred for war to spy and destroy. They also play a horrific part of the end of the book, the only truly nightmarish thing in the story, and a clue as to what the Capitol and the Gamekeepers are capable of.

Although I liked the story, I felt there was something missing (maybe I'll find it in the other two books!) There should have been more Americana involved in the Districts, otherwise why bother with the United States setting. The world seems too new with no historical or cultural attachment to the past. We witness some rituals but don't really get the importance of them. This in turn makes it very difficult for me to understand what the Capitol sees as defiant and what could be "drama" played for the audience (which is one of the points of the game, calling attention to yourself and being a camera hog)

Katniss narrates and explains everything but I found myself wishing I was shown instead of being told about this new world. There are tantalizing bits of criticism to our society: body modification, media gluttony, Reality TV, desensitized society, among others that really make this book a nice read. It's an addictive story, today I start Catching Fire, and I'm looking forward to the Hunger Games movie because I can't imagine how they'll film this.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Brightest Day #15 and #16


#15- What is up with trying to push the new Wonder Woman costume in the cover when we have the traditional suit in the story? I would love to think that the MJS story is all an imaginative martian's dream...oh well.

Our hearts continue to break for poor J'onn J'onnz as he lives through a future where peace and prosperity reigns in Mars (and the universe) thanks to J'onn who is now a Green Lantern. Everything is so perfect! His daughter is a Manhunter, his friends have all aged and are kinda happy! He has a dog! But, alas it's not to be, soon the JLA start getting murdered and J'onn starts freaking out. He manages to figure out that the bodies of the JLA have strange markings that resemble the markings on D'kay's boobs. This would have been effective IF those markings were not so sloppy in design. So it was all a dream and hopefully he'll kill D'kay because she's eeeeveeeeel and looooooseeeeee! Oh yeah, and Firestorm needs help what with the Black Lantern Firestorm being a dick.


#16- Aqualad's origin continues to mirror Superman's as Aquaman takes him to a grotto and they find a shell containing his origin and a costume. Turns out he's an experiment or a key to open and close the Bermuda Triangle. The Triangle is kinda like the phantom zone for exiled Atlanteans. Aqualad also gets nifty sword thingies like the Young Justice cartoon to focus his water shaping abilities. The highlight here is Aquaman trying to calm Aqualad down by calling three dead moray eels. Oh, Arthur!

Black Lantern Firestorm continues to be a dick, and takes the White Lantern (now kinda dirty!) to someone. Foreshadowing Alert: If the person hosting the Black Lantern Firestorm dies so does BL Firestorm! My guess? Jason's dad dies! Foreshadowing Alert: BL Firestorm can transmute organics (Normal Firestorm can't) My guess? Ronnie gets transmuted into something.

Ronnie and Jason keep bickering and they go nova and then into darkness. Maybe they restarted the universe, but who knows. My guess? Jason gets his girlfriend back because she was much nicer than his Dad.

The Walking Dead Vol 13

Robert Kirkman
Charlie Adlard
Cliff Rathburn

Rick and the gang are still living in the incredibly naive community, closed off from the undead apocalypse in mind and body. They're all having a hard time adjusting, some less than other. The story makes it painfully obvious just how much the community is hanging by a thread. Secrets keep coming up to the surface whether they help the situation or not.

Rick's instincts and paranoia stem from his past experiences and it's a nice bit of storytelling whenat one point, the community is under attack by jerks, and Rick exclaims "I want to be prepared for anything. Whoever is at the gate could be sitting on a tank for all we know." Because of course he's thinking of the Mayor, and Lori and everyone who died that day. This book was all about past traumas and deaths.

All threats and obstacles are fixed messily but simply, and the book ends with a nice cliffhanger. Promising zombies, and just in time too, they zombies have been missing for a while now!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brightest Day #14


What a confusing little ring that is. It drags poor Boston/Deadman to find Batman and appoint him the White Lantern savior everyone's waiting for. I wonder why the ring ultimately didn't pick Batman/Bruce Wayne. He's a good a candidate as any, and he's saved the Earth I don't even know how many times. But this is not about Bruce, it's about Boston.

While Batman is all-glowy with White Lantern, Boston gets shot and his life flashes before his eyes. He was quite a selfish prick. Seeing the error of his ways (like Scrooge! Xmas tie in!) Boston finally admits that he really wants to live. If his death was all about redemption through vengeance, then his life will be about redemption through fulfillment. He appreciates the cheese burger now so to speak.

Boston also realizes he's been hanging out with a hot young lady who's been giving him the eye, the ever patient and pacifist Dove (of Hawk and Dove). She cries as Boston moves in for the kiss. Why do girls in comics cry when the dude declares their love? It's so annoying. Anyway, they kiss and the ring is satisfied that Boston will chose the correct savior next time which is very suspect if you ask me. Batman disappears though because he's not going to watch them make out like a pervert.

Invincible Ultimate Collection Vol. 1


I've finally started reading Invincible. It's been in my house for a couple of years but I jumped in now that I'm on Xmas Vay-Cay.

What impressed me most about Invincible/Mark is how positive his outlook seemed right from the start. He's like an emo-less Clark Kent and Peter Parker all rolled into one average, happy teenager. His powers come from his Dad (Omni Man), an alien conqueror living on Earth. Mark's powers appear overnight but he's been anxiously expecting them for a while. He becomes a hero with gusto and becomes his Dad's partner and a member of the super hero community fairly quickly. Even when his Dad betrays him, Mark keeps going. For his sake as well as his human Mom.

The other characters are fun and some are more than background extras. Eve is Invincible's equal, and Robot is kinda funny although hard to read (because of his frozen smile).

What I didn't like about this volume were the literal translations of the Justice League/Guardians of the Globe to the Invincible world. There's a fine line between "tongue in cheek" and "so dead on it's boring". They were really obvious, and dull. Then there's the Ape that acts like Rorschach (with "hurm" and everything) and the so-so cameo of the Powers gang. It was very distracting and it cheapened the originality of Invincible.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Awesome Hospital: Malignant

Story by: Chad Bowers and Chris Sims
Art by: Matt Digges
Logo and Lettering: Josh Krach

Read it here! Awesome Hospital

In their second storyline, Awesome Hospital merges with Weakler and Associates or the place where all the weak ass doctors come from. My favorites are Nurse Emo and the horrifying Dr. Casual Racism. There's loads of drama since Dr Dirtbike's Ex is his boss now and gives a promotion to his current girlfriend Dr. Robot, who is pregnant with his baby! There's also an outbreak of Weisinger's disease, and the only doctor who can cure the rash of silver age mutations has gone for a walk.

The art is incredibly friendly but fits the story, balancing perfectly emotion versus comedy. This is the only comic I read where I never know what's going to happen next, truly.

Generation X #19

Creators: Lobdell & Bachalo
Inks: Buckingham

My reading of this issue suffered because I don't have #18 because Jorge didn't get it, I guess. Also, I haven't commented on the art (in the last post and this one) because I love Bachalo, although his panels are hit and miss. In this one, it seems, Onslaught has begun and Emma Frost has semi kidnapped Generation X and taken them to her posh house. Apparently, Emma lost her original team The Hellions, so she's a very overprotective teacher. Years later, another group of doomed teenagers formed another team called Hellions, but she didn't seem to care that much. This must be a fresh wound.

Emma's method of protecting Generation X is to brainwash them and dress them in costumes (with new personalities). For example, Jubilee is in a pin stripe suit, and talks like a gangster, etc. She also force feeds them terrible food. Emma is keeping them from the big fight but her methods leave them susceptible to the Toad, who hires perform surgery on them? Emma projects an image of a childlike Monet as a conscience, and she stops Toad who turns out is there on vacation with Emma's permission.

She also gets assistance from Banshee, and Sasquatch, in what must be the most non-action sequence ever. There's loads of hugs though.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Generation X #17

Written by: Scott Lobdell and Stan Lee
Pencils by: Chris Bachalo
Inks by: Mark Buckingham

This one is from Jorge's vault. It's an in-between issue from a later arc where the kids had to fight Monet's brother Emplate, and are moving firmly towards this Onslaught business. In the way, Jubilee comforts her BFF Everett (who was possessed by Emplate!), and Emma Frost questions Monet in what must be the the most spacious limousine ever.

What really makes this issue stand out is the Stan Lee vignettes that interrupt the story and makes an awkward transition between scenes. It's very hokey even for Stan Lee, and it reinforces the fact that this issue does not flow at all.

The funniest thing though is Skin's (Angelo Espinosa) story. Skin has the most disgusting power, stretching his skin into all shapes with visceral sound effects like "FWAP!". He also talks perfect English except for a few Spanish words here and there. Traveling from Boston with Chamber (Jonothon not a typo!) who has no nose or mouth, doesn't need to breathe but can talk, they were attacked by the X-CUTIONER! A guy who used to be a detective and found some armor and junk and now kills mutants who killed people. He's such a good detective, this X-CUTIONER, that he thinks the mutants Skin who is also Angel Espinosa violently killed...Angel Espinosa! Not even a perfect DNA match dissuades the X-CUTIONER! So Skin and and X-CUTIONER fight their way through a carnival house of wax and the story ends.

The best line is the last one, as Skin carries Chamber and tries to flag a truck or car, he murmurs: "What self respecting truck driver isn't going to pull over for a half-blown away leather clad English man, HIS FAITHFUL PUERTO RICAN SIDEKICK, and six extra feet of skin?" So Skin, who saved the day, casts himself as the sidekick because he's Puerto Rican? OUCH.