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Old 04-21-2005, 10:44 AM   #1
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Comic Book Reviews 4/20/05 Part I

Sam Wilson’s Reviews

A hefty week this week, I’m back with Amazing Spider-Man (for now), OMAC, new writer on Fantastic Four, cool Steranko homage cover on Wolverine. I’m going to go with OMAC as my pick of the week, and give a special shout out to Birds of Prey. That being said, on to the Reviews!

Manhunter #9
DC Comics
Written by: Mark Andreyko
Drawn by: Javier Pina

As you all know I’m a Marvel Zombie, but I’ve bought DC throughout the years here and there, and I’ve been reading Batman and Detective for the last 20 years, I even remember way back when Detective had Manhunter as it’s back up story. But I’d be lying if I said I remembered anything about the actual story (what was I, 7? Who can remember anything from when they were 7?). Anyway, today the Manhunter identity is taken by Kate Spencer, a LA county DA who has had it with seeing criminals, especially super powered ones, get off way too easy in the conventional justice system.

Kate Spencer is your average career driven single mom. She doesn’t see her kid enough, she always is fighting with her ex, and had taken up the mantle of the Manhunter to go out and whup on bad guys who skate by justice on technicalities (well, that last part isn’t too average). Issue nine puts us in on day three of the Shadow Thief’s trial. Kate Spencer is the prosecutor, and is all ready to kick a little legal tail until she has a run in with “Phobia” (who is kinda like a female Dr. Psycho). Things go downhill from there.

I like Manhunter. I’m not familiar with the characters, but I like the setup. Kate Spencer is grounded in reality as a DA and there is not much supporting cast. She has a techie guy whom she has blackmailed into helping her (he used to make gadgets for the toyman). Surprisingly he seems to actually care for her. The story with her kid and ex-husband isn’t as annoying as one would expect. The art is good. Not particularly flashy, but it isn’t sloppy either. I would recommend this book, or I would recommend at least picking up a trade of the first storyline (if one exists).

The OMAC Project #1
DC Comics
Written by: Greg Rucka
Drawn by: Jesus Saiz

Okay, Blue Beetle is dead, we all know that from the “Countdown to Infinite Crisis” book (you really don’t know how dumb that title sounds until you say it out loud). We know it was some DC universe shadow organization, Checkmate, which was responsible for Ted Kord’s death. The OMAC Project seems to be dealing with the fallout of that action. In the first issue we are reintroduced to an old Rucka character from the “Bruce Wayne, Fugitive” storyline, Sasha Bordeaux. Sasha got a job as Bruce Wayne’s bodyguard, and took the fall with him when he was sent up for murder. Oh yeah, and she found out his secret, and Bruce trained her to be a crime fighter so she could patrol the streets with him. Anyway, when the charges against Bruce Wayne were filed, she was indicted along with him. When Bruce got his charges dismissed, Sasha stayed in jail. Before Bruce could get her a lawyer to get out, she was “recruited” by checkmate, her death was faked and she went off to play spy. Bruce found this out eventually, and also came to the realization that he was in love with her.

The OMAC project opens with Batman trying to link up to a spy satellite now controlled by Checkmate. Sasha seems to be having second thoughts about her involvement with the agency, Max Lord seems to be an overwhelming prick and there is a catfight (whohoo!). I like Rucka, and I really like his character Sasha Bordeaux, she wasn’t the typical troubled teen who came to be involved with Batman. She was more or less an equal, or at the very least a peer. Rucka did the atypical when he introduced this character. The art is decent, I am not familiar with Saiz’s work, but it is fine here. I didn’t care for the Countdown, or Identity Crisis, but The OMAC Project has me intrigued, and I think I will be sticking it out to see what comes of it.


Wktf’s Reviews

This was a hefty week for me, as well: Chronicles of Conan TPB vol 7, Batman: Greatest Stories Ever Told TPB, Catwoman: When in Rome, Superman, Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Hercules, Marvel Visionaries: Steve Ditko HC (reviewed next week), Spider-Man Breakout, Spectacular Spider-Man, Stormbreaker: BRB, and Wolverine. And away we go…

Superman #215
DC Comics
Written by: Brian Azzarello
Drawn by: Jim Lee & Scott Williams

So, the twelve part Azzarello/Lee Superman epic comes to a conclusion. I have not been so disappointed in a creative team or story arc in my life (I never bought into the Spider-Man clone saga. Maybe if I’d read that one this might be a step above it).

This issue confirms Metropia, the place to which a good chunk of the world’s population has vanished, was indeed constructed by the Man of Steel out of the Phantom Zone’s matter as a refuge for Earth in the event Earth suffered the same catastrophe as Krypton. Here we find Superman battling it out with General Zod, imprisoned in the Phantom Zone by Jor-El and furious with Kal-El for manipulating his world, while the priest whom Superman had befriended is turned into some sort of techno-monster to cure himself of cancer. There’s lots of super fighting, Metropia is destroyed, the vanished are replaced and Superman, filled with self-loathing and reproach, separates from Lois and builds a new Fortress of Solitude in the jungle into which he sequesters himself.

What the hell happened here? What was the point of this story? Who could follow this heavy, plodding, self-absorbed dialogue? And, oh, boy, 30 whole pages of the final chapter. What a waste of my time and money. Stick a fork in me…I’m done. And, after almost ten years of faithful reading, I’m off Superman titles for the foreseeable future.

Wolverine #27
Marvel Comics
Written by: Mark Millar
Drawn by: John Romita, Jr. & Klaus Janson

This issue, which gives us part 2 of the six-part “Agent of Shield” story arc, is not quite my pick of the week. If it weren’t for The Spectacular Spider-Man #27, though, it would be. What a great cover, too, created by Greg Land as a tribute to Jim Steranko. I tell you, Elektra has never looked sexier than on this cover. And this series just keeps getting better with each issue. Here, the dead and newly raised heroes and villains, many of whom Wolverine killed in the prior story arc while in brainwashed service of the combined Hydra/Hand, now under the leadership of the Gorgon, attack the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier in full force. Not only that, they’re attacking and neutralizing S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters all over the world. And Elektra, previously employed by Nick Fury to hunt down Wolverine, is the leader of this zombie crew.

Fury’s taken out, as is the majority of his staff, and the helicarrier is going down fast. What do you do? Of course, you wake up the world’s most vicious and effective killing machine to wreak a little well-earned vengeance on these attackers. Brought out of his coma-like state, in which S.H.I.E.L.D.’s doctors were trying to cure him, Wolverine cleans house in one of the most efficient and effectively drawn killing sprees I’ve ever seen in comics. When he’s standing, just dripping blood, crouched over his latest victim and in the midst of a pile of bodies, looking over at the now-evil Elektra and Northstar…well, I’ve just never seen a more ferocious and feral Wolverine, ever. When he suits up at the end and claims he’s going to go after, and single handedly kill, fifty-two thousand combined members of the Hand, Hydra, and Dawn of the White Light for murdering his friends’ child in order to lure him into their clutches, you absolutely believe him.

Great writing in this issue, too. Gorgon’s conversation with Elisabeth, as they are discussing Reed Richard’s genius, and the demand from the dead child’s mother that Wolverine “hurt them like no one in this world has ever been hurt before” are both riveting in their own way. But this issue, like the ones that came before it, belongs most to the Romita/Janson art team who just knock your socks off with each panel.

The Amazing Spider-Man #519
Marvel Comics
Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Drawn by: Mike Deodato

I stopped reading ASM after the Gwen Stacy storyline. I was so disgusted at the retooling of this character, even if her moment with Norman Osborn was a one-time discretion, it simply was too much. Straczynski had written some cool stuff: Peter and MJ’s reconciliation, Aunt May’s discovery of his Spider-Man identity, the 9-11 issue, but this was too much.

I picked this issue up, though, when I saw the New Avengers tie-in on the cover (yes, marketing does work) and flipped through it to see Aunt May having a conversation with Captain America. Thinking that this may be the first time ever in Marvel’s history that these two characters inhabited the same comic panel, I thought I’d give it a try.

Aunt May’s house has burned to the ground due to a Spider-Man villain encounter. May shows surprisingly lucid and delightful strength in light of this disaster and, as our three protagonists wonder what do next, who should pull up in a stretch limo offering assistance but one Tony Stark. Peter is now one of the Avengers and they take care of their own, he is told. Peter, MJ and Aunt May are whisked to New Avengers Tower where they meet the team. May converses respectfully but nervously with Captain America and strikes up a connection and conversation with Jarvis. Wolverine admits confusion over MJ’s taste in men. And all seems well as Peter and MJ decide to enjoy a little afternoon delight. In the meantime, Hydra (ok, wait a minute, aren’t these guys reinventing themselves and wreaking serious havoc over in Wolverine’s book?) pulls a Frank Miller-Kingpin move by eliminating their organization’s current roster of weak-minded leaders (right, didn’t Miller do this one already a couple of decades ago?). They also reveal some home-grown (Test tube? Petrie dish?) individuals with the power of the Avengers to battle strength-with-strength against them (hey, wait a minute, didn’t I just a couple of weeks ago do a review of the “Avengers Under Siege” TPB where Zemo builds a super powered army to take down the Avengers?).

Well, as you can see, I think the second part of this book does nothing more than rehash some already used concepts. Despite kind of a fun and interesting beginning, the latter part of this book reveals nothing new or interesting. No more ASM for me.

The Spectacular Spider-Man #27
Marvel Comics
Written by: Paul Jenkins
Drawn by: Mark Buckingham

This comic is my pick of the week. It takes time to write these reviews and I had no plans to read this issue in time to include it in my selections. But, after the disappointment of ASM I felt compelled to pick this one up and read it. I’m so glad I did. This issue is Paul Jenkins’ swan song on this title which he is leaving due to his health problems. Marvel has decided that this title is his book to write and, so, they’re ending the run with this issue. And, with this issue, Jenkins proves they were right. This comic book just jumped out of nowhere and bit me.

Peter visits Uncle Ben’s grave for a conversation either with Ben’s spirit or the spirit Peter pictures in his mind. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The two talk about May, Gwen, MJ, Peter’s choices and struggles and Ben seeks to help Peter resolve the constant guilt that often consumes him and drives him to act. Buckingham’s art is simply wonderful. He mixes up styles to represent the present, Peter’s past, and even dream states. There also are some terrific panels that I interpret to be Bill Watterson “Calvin & Hobbes” tribute panels.

This comic is sweet, touching, a little sad, and funny but it’s also completely satisfying. May’s visit to Ben’s grave after Peter departs is cinematic in its conception. It also casts some doubt as to whether Ben really was merely a figment of Peter’s psyche. Her reaction to Peter’s gift at Ben’s gravestone took my breath away and made me wish I could look into the little box to see what it was. Please buy this comic. If you’re a long-time Spider-Man fan you’ll be so glad that you did.

Pleae go to http://www.statueforum.com/showthrea...356#post168356 to check out both Sam Wilson's and wktf's reviews of the classic trade paperback, "Daredevil: Born Again."
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Last edited by wktf; 04-22-2005 at 12:25 PM. Reason: Groan! Spelling error...
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Old 04-21-2005, 02:41 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by wktf
Stick a fork in me…I’m done. And, after almost ten years of faithful reading, I’m off Superman titles for the foreseeable future.
Even All-Star Superman???
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Old 04-21-2005, 03:11 PM   #3
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OK, maybe All-Star Superman, but maybe not...I'm more interested in All-Star Batman. More than likely, though, I'll give it a shot.
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Old 04-21-2005, 04:47 PM   #4
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Sam Wilson’s Reviews
As you all know I’m a Marvel Zombie, but I’ve bought DC throughout the years here and there, and I’ve been reading Batman and Detective for the last 20 years, I even remember way back when Detective had Manhunter as it’s back up story. But I’d be lying if I said I remembered anything about the actual story (what was I, 7? Who can remember anything from when they were 7?).
For anyone who hasn't read the '70s Manhunter stories from Detective Comics, or if you want to get reacquainted with them: pick up Manhunter: The Complete Saga. Great stuff, definitely worth the $.

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The OMAC Project #1
Question: is there any indication, this early in the game, of this story leading into Jack Kirby's OMAC? Or is it a "reimagining"?
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Old 04-21-2005, 04:56 PM   #5
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OK, maybe All-Star Superman, but maybe not...I'm more interested in All-Star Batman. More than likely, though, I'll give it a shot.
Never liked superman that much anyway, or spiderman for that matter.

I'm a batman/x-men guy.
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Old 04-21-2005, 05:08 PM   #6
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For anyone who hasn't read the '70s Manhunter stories from Detective Comics, or if you want to get reacquainted with them: pick up Manhunter: The Complete Saga. Great stuff, definitely worth the $.

Actually, I was going to pick this up at some point from my LCS...
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Old 04-21-2005, 05:12 PM   #7
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Are these the Walt Simonson stories?
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Old 04-21-2005, 05:25 PM   #8
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Guys, great job as usual. I don't know why I keep reading your reviews cause you always make me want to go out and buy more stuff!!!
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Old 04-21-2005, 09:35 PM   #9
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Are these the Walt Simonson stories?
Yep, Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson. At the time, Walt's artwork hadn't quite reached the blockier style for which he's more well-known. It's much smoother, but you can definitely tell it's him. Plus, there's a new story set at the end that gives a neat conclusion, sort of. This is my favorite version of Manhunter.
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Old 04-21-2005, 11:20 PM   #10
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I've just ordered this off Amazon.
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