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The Weekly Haul – Week of January 18th, 2017

I think this was just about the simplest, most "basic" week of comics I’ve had in months!

weeklyhaul_01182017a

Just four issues, plain ‘n simple. Granted, that Kamandi Challenge is a monster of an issue…but it’s basically a small collected volume; and much like other similarly-sized issues, it’s squarebound WITH spine text, so skinny as it is compared to, say, Batman: Knightfall or such, it’ll go on the shelf. Somehow I’ve gotten it into my head that all 12 issues of the Kamandi Challenge itself will be this size, and sorta hoping so!

Of course, the latest Superman issue; and I look forward to reading The Ray‘s Rebirth issue.

I gave in on Curse Words for the hype AND actually being able to get the cover with the image I’ve come to associate with the first issue. The FAMILIAR image that’s been used with pretty much anything that’s stood out to me since the series was announced…and I think including the announcement. I do not like the price, at $3.99…but figured I’d try it anyway.

This week? No back issues, no bargain bins, no new collected volumes (if we don’t count the Kamandi issue as one). I do have a major InStockTrades purchase on its way, but that’ll either be its own post, or feed into another post, later.

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Trinity War [Checklist]

JUNE 2013
PRELUDE: Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1

JULY 2013
PART 1:
Justice League #22
PART 2: Justice League of America #6
PART 3: Justice League Dark #22
TIE-IN: Constantine #5
TIE-IN: Trinity of Sin: Pandora #2

AUGUST 2013
TIE-IN:
Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger #11
PART 4: Justice League of America #7
TIE-IN: Trinity of Sin: Pandora #3
PART 5: Justice League Dark #23
PART6: Justice League #23

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source: promotional postcard (pictured above)

JLA/Hitman #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: On the Darkside Part One

Faced with the return of an old threat, the JLA finds itself in close quarters with the Hitman!

jlahitman001Writer: Garth Ennis
Art and Cover: John McCrea
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editors: Peter Tomasi & Michael Siglain

Before I sat down to read this, I noticed some doubts had crept in. When this 2-parter was solicited, something about it piqued my interest–I would not have sought it out if it hadn’t. But seeing it sitting on my desk waiting to be read, I asked myself how entertaining it could possibly be. I’ve never read one single issue of Hitman. All I know of it comes from panels reprinted online and/or in Wizard magazine (such as the main character vomiting on Batman) and that the character was (one of?) the only success story to come from the Bloodlines event that ran through the 1993 DC Annuals. And the 90s JLA logo evoking a feel of the 90s-to-Infinite Crisis version of the Justice League–an era I’m not terribly familiar with–left me wondering if I’d care at all for this.

Thankfully, once I started reading, I just kept going.

We open on a scene with someone asking Clark Kent some questions, ultimately leading Kent to divulge a story Superman had shared with him a long time ago. This framing sequence leads into the core story itself. With information discovered about a returning NASA probe, the JLA realizes that a threat from the past is resurfacing, and that they’ll need access to another remnant of the past–and Batman knows just where to find such a person. Unfortunately, this person is Tommy Monaghan–the Hitman, and he doesn’t exactly mesh well with the JLA. Before too much can go down between the two parties, the real threat arrives, and the JLA finds itself in quite the ridiculous predicament, both frightening and yet almost silver-age simplistic.

Ennis crafts a very entertaining tale here, that takes these characters who–on the surface, at least–should have nothing to do with each other and puts them together in a believable fashion, while allowing the absurdity of things to also show through. The two things that stood out most to me and really tripped my geek-meter were the use of footnotes (which have me stoked to track down the referenced issues, not to merely understand what’s going on here–I get that just fine, but to read the original events characters reference and thus enjoy stuff that much more). And the Bloodlines event is mentioned by name and in broad strokes recapped–showing that other than being a generic "origin" for the Hitman, it’s an event that actually DID happen, that these characters DO remember, that actually MATTERED in the grand scheme of things.

Offhand, I’m not familiar with the artist, though the visual style feels familiar. I know that I like the visuals here, overall–the art just works, plain and simple. Though Batman in particular seems just a bit off with the sculpting of the cowl, something about it feels–somehow–like it fits.

This is the first of two chapters, probably "just" a one-off sorta story that while it references and builds on "continuity," will have no lasting impact on it at present. As a package, though, it’s a fun, enjoyable story. There’s a dark humour present here, and the character interactions speak to a fairly rich history. Also, for a guy that grew up on 90s’ comics, this carries the feel of those mid-to-late-90s comics, while the framing sequence seems pretty timeless, such that it could be taking place in the present.

If you’re a fan of the pre-Meltzer incarnation of the JLA, or of the Hitman, this should be a nice romp through familiar-but-now-gone territory. And even if you’re not familiar with one or both sides, this stands decently as its own story…and you could do a heckuva lot worse.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Brightest Day Checklist Part 2 [Checklist]

JULY 2010
Brightest Day #5
Brightest Day #6
Justice League: Generation Lost #5
Justice League: Generation Lost #6
Green Lantern #56
Green Lantern Corps #50
The Flash #4
Justice League of America #47
Justice Society of America #41
Titans #25
Birds of Prey #3
Green Arrow #2

AUGUST 2010
Brightest Day #7
Brightest Day #8
Justice League: Generation Lost #7
Justice League: Generation Lost #8
Green Lantern #57
Green Lantern Corps #51
Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #1
The Flash #5
Justice League of America #48
Justice Society of America #42
Titans #26
Birds of Prey #4
Green Arrow #3

Justice League of America #39 [Review]

Reunion

Writer: James Robinson
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Rob Hunter
Colors: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Bagley, Hunter & Pantazis
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics

I’m not familiar with the “Detroit League,” and don’t really have much interest in it offhand. However–as with many of the other Blackest Night tie-ins–that doesn’t really hamper the story in this issue all that much. Certainly there are some subtleties that are lost on me for lacking background knowledge of certain characters. But at its heart, ultimately, this is still a good, solid story involving a character with “history” rising to cause grief with those still living.

While Red Tornado, Zatanna, Dr. Light and crew arrive on the sattelite to see what happened, they’re confronted by Vibe (of the Detroit League), Zatarra (Zatanna’s father) and Dr. Light (the guy who raped Sue Dibny, and got his mind mucked with for his trouble, ultimately leading to Identity Crisis and whatnot). The individual confrontations are fairly interesting, though the most disturbing is the meeting of the Drs. Light, and what has befallen Firestorm’s girlfriend. Though it got incredibly annoying trying to read the backwards-speak of Zatanna and Zatarra and I was taken out of the story entirely by the thought, I had a good chuckle when I realized their battle had all but come down to a “yo mamma” spitting contest, their magic given power by what they said: “Disregard what she said!” “No, disregard what HE said!” “No, disregard what SHE said!”

It seems obvious that Robinson knows these characters well, and has a good handle on them–whatever my feelings of the various “eras” of the JLA and such, he crafts an engaging story. Particularly with Zatara, it’s obvious that his fullest potential as a Black Lantern can’t be allowed to be reached and that he’s–like Psycho Pirate–perhaps one of the greatest weapons in the Black Lanterns’ arsenal.

The art is also quite good, and though I’m not yet all that used to Bagley’s art in the DCU, I like it already–and somehow, it reminds me just a bit of Dan Jurgens’ work, which is certainly a plus in my book.

This issue’s by no means an essential part to the core Blackest Night saga…but it’s still a solid read and well worth getting if you’re interested in the Drs. Light or the Detroit League, or just seeing Robinson/Bagley’s take on ’em.

This feels like a very stand-alone sort of story within the title, where it could almost be Blackest Night: Justice League of America #1 rather than #39 of the ongoing series. Though buying the issues for the tie-in to Blackest Night, I’m not convinced there’s enough here to truly, properly “sell” one on the title itself. But as this is only the first of a two-part story, there’s no telling what the next chapter may do.

Recommended.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Plastic Ring quest #4

And now the ‘ring quest’ is complete.  For many others who have also completed this set…it’s a goal poor Larfleeze–“Agent Orange”–will likely never get to do.

As I’ve said before, I think this is just about the coolest promotion for comics I’ve seen.

Of all the rings, of COURSE the coolest wound up being the Green Lantern ring. Because when you come right down to it–whether that first year or so following Kyle’s book, or that brief period after reading the Amalgam “Iron Lantern” issue when I was all the more interested in GL, to more recent years–it’s the “original” of the Corps.

Another thing that I wonder about is what other similar promotions could be done?  Including the year it came out (1991), next year (2010) will be 20 years OF The Infinity Gauntlet; 2011 obviously being the 20th “anniversary.”  How cool would it be to have something like this ring promotion for a re-issue of the original mini-series (6 gems, 6 issues…nice, no?).

Or sticking with DC: what about a Legion of Super-Heroes ring?  As with all these Lantern Corps rings…just change the color of plastic used and the little symbol on the top piece.  Such a ring could be tied to a special Legion issue or annual or issue of Adventure Comics or the like.

And what about a Flash ring?  Given Barry’s back, and I believe the Flash-costume-in-a-ring-for-easy-access was his thing…so why not use the red plastic again and put the lightning bolt on the top piece? And tie this, say, to the new Flash #1 by Johns.

Justice League of America #29 [Review]

Star Struck!

Guest Writer: Len Wein
Penciller: Chris Cross
Inkers: Rob Stull w/Chris Cross
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Ed Benes & Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

Breaking from the storyline introducing Milestone characters to the DCU, this Faces of Evil issue focuses on Starbreaker.

…Who is a character I don’t think I’d ever heard of before seeing this issue at the store this week.

The character narrates his history to the reader, recounting how he first came to fight the JLA and then to make his way to Earth for revenge. After the JLA has defeated him, he finds himself in company of another villain whose name I do recognize.

The art for this issue is a solid mix of “classic” and “contemporary”–it pulls off the appearance of a contemporary comic, while also hinting at a silver age visual style for the characters (and page layout). It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Chris Cross’s work (I remember enjoying his work on the Genis-Vell Captain Marvel series from Marvel a few years back), and I’m glad to say that it does not disappoint me here at all.

The story on the other hand does not work for me. I appreciate the writer’s background, but did not feel this the place to showcase his work. There is a VERY silver-age feel to the story that does not serve in its favor (unlike the origin for Libra in the Final Crisis Secret Files). To be honest, it took me two attempts to get through this issue–I got a few pages in the first time and set this aside where it waited until I’d read all my other new comics for the week, and then finished this off on principle.

I’ve seen nothing obvious stating how long an arc is in this title, but was expecting at least one more chapter of the Milestone arc–strike #1 against this. That this was a guest-written gig–basically a one-shot, I presume–this should have been Faces of Evil: Starbreaker as a standalone instead of an issue of Justice Leaue of America…strike #2 against this.

If you’re interested in a one-off tale with a silver-age feel about this apparently “classic” villain, this issue will probably be very much to your liking. If you’re checking the title out JUST for the Milestone characters, they’re not in this issue at all so you could skip this without missing any of that stuff.

Story: 3/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 5.5/10

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