After two weeks experiencing a road trip
to San Diego and Los Angeles, the editorial staff can once again purchase
its comics in a timely manner. Thus returns the madness of Hey Kids!
Comics! at its regularly scheduled timeslot. Did you miss us?
Dead Again #1
The Quick And The Dead
Writer: Steve Vance,
artists: Leonard Kirk and Rick Burchett
Geoff Johns finally straightens
out Hawkman, and along comes this mini-series to plunge us right smack
into the event that messed everything up in the first place: Crisis
On Infinite Earths. Do the heroes remember one earth, or five or
more? Does it matter in Hypertime? Or am I just anal?
Probably the latter.
Crisis merely serves as a backdrop for this opening chapter,
as somebody remembered that way back in the eighties, Boston Brand had
been given a new mission: to track down the refugees from Nanda Parbat,
an earthly paradise where evil men would lose their desire for wrongdoing.
One such refugee has reached the end of his mortal life, but hatched
a scheme in which he can imprison the life-forces of dying heroes and
conquer death itself. Over the next five weeks, Boston Brand will find
himself drawn to crucial (meaning permanent) deaths in the DCU.
Vance has set up an interesting
template here, with a chance to retell these famous deaths in the clear
light of Hypertime. For those who had forgotten, Barry Allen gets one
more chance (this year) to shine. Kudos to Vance or whoever assigned
him to remember the more straightforward superheroic Deadman mini-series
that got trashed when Kelley Jones brought a new look to the character.
As cool as Jonesí approach was, itís good to see Kirk and Burchett render
a hero not quite so disgusting looking.
Of course, DC has a vested
interest in reviving Deadman and returning him to his traditional look.
Turner Networks have announced plans to shoot a Deadman pilot, and its
not so easy licensing a rotting corpse in a circus outfit. Our society
still has some standards.
In short, Dead Again
has an interesting enough premise that will be leading into a regular
series. It has to be better than The Spectre.
Writer: Joss Whedon,
artists: Karl Moline & Andy Owens
Our heroine Malaka Fray
has a nightmare reliving the death of someone close to her. Whedon drops
hints that the death came at the teeth of a vampire, but Fray wonít
admit it. At any rate, at this point in a Slayerís calling, she should
be having dreams that help her come to grips with her legacy, but itís
just not happening. Could it have been so long since demons walked the
Earth that the knowledge of Slayers is forever lost?
Whedon has taken a scenario
familiar to his fans and turned it on its head. For those who watch
the show but havenít read this comic, he also fills in some interesting
information about the Slayersí origins, and teases us with a possible
fate for the television show plotlines. More than ably supported by
Moline and Owens, the Slayer creator has proven himself a great comic
writer. Who does he think he is, Kevin Smith?
If youíre a Buffy fan
and not buying this book, we call you fool. There. Iíve said it.
Martian Manhunter #35
In My Life, Part Three: Earthfall
Writer: John Ostrander,
artists: Eduardo Barreto, Cliff Chiang, and Ray Kryssing
At last, we finish the origin
of Malefic and the task of tying Jíonn Jíonnz into every event that
ever happened in the DCU. Evidently, itís Darkseidís fault that Malefic
enjoys piercings and tattoos. It does go a long way to explaining Young
Justiceís supercycle. Jíonn, sainted Martian that he is, continues trying
to reform his brother until finally settling on the solution depicted
early in the bookís run. Things have come full circle, and Ostrander
has one more issue to set the stage for the Manhunterís continued role
The art remains solid,
with pencilling duties split between Barreto and Chiang. Itís a smooth
transition, and barely noticeable.
Writer:† Warren Ellis,
artist: John Cassaday
What does Ellisí daily
planner look like?
9:30 a.m.: Wake up with
9:45 a.m.: Sit down at
9:46 a.m.: Blow the minds
of everyone who reads my comics.
10:01 a.m.: Start drinking.
Well, if you believe
Garth Ennis, it must be something like that.
Anyway, the latest issue
of Planetary continues the trend. Planetary races to stop the
Four from entering the Dreamtime, and Ellis educates us with a lot of
Australian aboriginal myth. Or maybe he made it up. Either way, itís
cool. Having regained much (but not all) of his memory, Elijah Snow
proves himself to be not just heroic but compassionate, which are not
necessarily the same thing. Doc Brass makes a quick appearance, with
hair not quite as skullcap-ish to lessen his resemblance to Doc Savage
The more you understand
about whatís going on in Planetary, the more you want to know.
This is a rare book, indeed, and if you havenít caught up to it, most
of the series has been made available in trade paperback. Go. Now.
The Red Badge of Courage
Writer: Jeph Loeb, artists:
Ed McGuinnes, Cam Smith, and 2 pages by Bill Sienkewicz
Loeb continues underscoring
his story with a famous historical speech, in this case, Kennedyís inaugural
address. If nothing else, the writer has educated us in some great literature,
but this month, the effect really works.
As Kennedy describes
the best mankind has to offer, as well as the threat of the same, Superman
and President Luthor finalize their uneasy alliance with what would
once have been an unthinkable act for the Kryptonian. Left with no time
to mourn in the midst of war, Superman does what he must. Loeb offers
up a poignant reminder of what has been lost as Lois accepts Supermanís
condolences for her father: a quiet ďI miss Clark.Ē Itís a small but
stunning moment that brings the enormity of the Our Worlds At
War event into sharp focus.
In the wake of her own
loss, Wonder Woman tries to connect with Superman, but both know that
they cannot until the war has ended. This is a grim, unstoppable Superman,
and it sows seeds for a rich aftermath. Oh, please, let the Kents be
alive. And for once during this big event, the cover does not betray
the clever twist to this story.
And boy, that two-page
spread by Sienkewicz is cool.
Nobody Dies Tonight
Kelly Puckett, artists: Damion Scott and Robert Campanella
a night in Gotham City, Batgirl decides that no one will die of unnatural
causes. Standing in the way of her goal is a scheduled federal execution
at ďupstate Gotham.Ē (Wait a minute Ė Gotham is a state now?) Batgirl
confronts the condemned man in the gas chamber, and the family of his
victim, in what could have been an interesting examination of the death
have been, except that this book has become trapped in a mire of pseudo-noir.
Issue after issue, Batgirl sets a goal for herself and finds out that
things are more complicated than they seemed. And she has a tendency
to flash back to the same murderous moment of her youth. For regular
readers, the flashback has become tedious. For new readers, it has no
explanation, though it holds the key to why Batgirl has chosen this
night. Please, Mister Puckett, change up the style of story once in
and Campanella, however, deliver one of the strongest art jobs the book
has seen in a while. The action scenes can actually be followed, and
most of the characters look like different people. Best of all, they
really convey the emotion of the masked girl in the all-black suit.
book has a lot of potential, with a potentially interesting lead. Letís
do something with it.
of the Dark Knight
Bad, Part One
Doug Moench, artist: Barry Kitson
beaten and torn up Batman stares into a fish tank, holding a conversation
with a psychotherapist. That opening page alone has been long-awaited.
Of course, the therapist isnít actually for him; he needs her help on
a case. A child-like brute named Jordy has been wreaking havoc in Gotham
City, bursting into homicidal rages that stop as quickly as they start.
The dark knight needs answers as to what could possibly be going on
inside Jordyís head. Is he bipolar, or is there a more sinister answer?
seen this kind of character before, though arguably, Batman has never
faced one with such an overt split personality. Moench has managed to
take a clichť and make it interesting enough to come back for another
issue or two. His art partner Kitson does his usual journeyman work,
and manages to add art touches that support the ambiguity of Jordyís
This is a quieter
Legends story, one you may want to just browse through.
Daredevil: Yellow #3
Writer: Jeph Loeb,
artist: Tim Sale
At this point in
their history, blind lawyer Matt Murdock and his partner Foggy Nelson
have officially opened for business. Their first clients? A certain
fantastic foursome. While Matt still investigates the chain of command
in his fatherís murder, this issue spends most of its time with his
civilian life. Loeb focuses on a celebratory night out with the firm,
as Matt faces bigotry and proves he shoots a mean nine-ball.
Even though this
series seems to contradict the sainted Frank Millerís work, Loeb continues
doing a great job painting a very human young hero. He reminds us that
yes, it can be fun to be Daredevil, even in the grim pursuit
Saleís art just
gets better and better, though his facial expressions do get repetitive.
And though I usually donít mention this kind of thing, Matt Hollingsworthís
coloring really raises the level of this book.
Marvel must be so
glad that Loeb and Sale came their way.
House On Fire,
Judd Winick, artists: Dale Eaglesham and Rodney Ramos
perpetually guilty (but wise) John Stewart visits the paraplegic Fatality
in The Slab. Seemingly disinterested, Fatality drops hints about Stewartís
own disabilities and has adopted a new life motto: if you canít kill
Ďem, seduce Ďem.
the foremost Green Lantern joins Jade in saving the victims of a fire.
Once again, Kyle proves that he has more power than any Green Lantern
before him, by creating duplicates of himself to perform the rescue.
And he realizes what most of us have long before: if a semi-known cartoonist
named Kyle Rayner publicly dates Jade, someone will eventually realize
that Jadeís crime-fighting partner must be Green Lantern.
has been doing a nice job of shifting the focus of the book around,
acknowledging that the name Green Lantern has a legacy, not just a ring-bearer.
And though itís probably building to an earth-shattering event in the
life of Kyle Rayner (say, issue #150?), his lack of doubt is still new
enough to be refreshing. On the other hand, Kyle has grown cocky, and
believably so. He makes simple enough mistakes, but when one wields
the green energy of Oa, simple mistakes can be huge.
art team works in a style reminiscent of former G.L. artist M.D. Bright.
Intentional or not, itís comforting. Month after month, you can be sure
that Green Lantern will be an enjoyable book.
Part Two: The Harvest
Mark Waid, guest artists: Mike S. Miller and Dave Meikis
Superman makes a startling
(and scientifically plausible?) discovery about Earthís atmosphere.
Meanwhile, several Leaguers makes a stand in Russia, trying not to hurt
civilians inexplicably driven into a murderous rage against them.† The
Flash spots the only two citizens seeming to enjoy it, and Wonder Womanís
golden lasso helps the JLA reach a chilling conclusion: the White Martians
are back. Armed with this information, the Batman tries to beard them
in their lair, and things just get disgusting.
Mark Waid, why must you be exclusive to CrossGen after this run? Youíve
proven yet again that you can infuse the spirit of the classic Justice
League stories with a cool new twist. If we think hard enough, we can
actually pick up a little useless scientific information (and, as this
issue proves, it would have been good if Firestorm had tried a little
thinking hard enough) to boot.
Miller and Meikis have worked together before, could somebody please
write in? They easily step in for the regular art team, and Waid has
rewarded them with some of the creepiest scenes JLA artists have ever
had to render.
keeps putting nothing but quality into this main JLA book. Why do the
mini-series always end up sucking so badly?
Brian Michael Bendis, artists: Mark Bagley and Art Thibert
writes the most believable teen-ager in comics. The Ultimate Peter Parker
makes all kinds of mistakes in his costumed identity, but all of them
for solid reasons. Yes, he goes off half-cocked with poor impulse control.
And boy, does he try hard to be the coolest superhero around. But if
you were fifteen and given those powers, youíd do the same thing.
month Peter runs a gauntlet through The Enforcers and Electro before
finally confronting The Kingpin directly. As usual, the battles arenít
as easy as he thought they would be. Though Peter eventually figures
out how to beat the bad guys, it takes him some time. And darned if
it isnít fun.
seems that Bendis has free reign to recreate most of Marvel in his image,
and it works well. This Electro certainly looks more threatening than
John Byrneís retcon a few years ago, and this Kingpin is nowhere near
as cool-headed as the more familiar Wilson Fisk. But it all makes sense;
superheroes (and super-villains) are relatively new in Bendisí Ultimate
universe; when they meet, they donít know how to handle each other.
suddenly, itís all interesting again.
Joe Casey, artist: Sean Phillips
plot threads reach a conclusion this month, as the android formerly
known as Spartan faces off against Noir. A re-tooled and mindless Maxine
has Marlowe in her death grip, while Noir willingly falls victim to
villainous folly: explaining his plan.
in Florida, Voodoo and Maul (look, Iím just going to keep struggling
to remind everyone that this was once a superhero book) go shopping,
and Voodoo meets a man who knows too much about her. What could be next?
this looks like the last issue of Wildcats as weíve known it. Casey
and Phillips close the book but set the stage for another. In a couple
of months Wildstorm will launch Wildcats as a mature readers only book,
a move that has been long overdue. This probably wonít mean gratuitous
sex and violence, but it will mean a continued genuinely mature look
at how people with extraordinary abilities grapple with what they are,
and their place in society.
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