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The ’90s Revisited: Green Arrow #101

90s_revisited

green_arrow_0101Run of the Arrow

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Rodolfo Damaggio
Inker: Robert Campanella
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Darren Vincenzo
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: October, 1995
Cover Price: $2.25

I’ve wanted to read this for years…maybe 20-21 (it came out some 21 years ago). I’d known THAT Green Arrow had died; that Superman was there, that it was a plane explosion; that his son took over, etc. But until this reading, I’d never actually read the actual issue. Not too long ago, battling insomnia, I bought/read (for the first time) #100 to "finally read the issue where Ollie died." Imagine for a moment my surprise that it DID NOT HAPPEN IN THAT ISSUE…yet had you asked me any time up until then, I would have simply told you, from "knowledge," that Ollie died in #100 and his son took over in #101.

But that leads us to the story of the issue: We open off the cliffhanger from #100 with Ollie pushing buttons on the device he’s trapped in. Remove his hand/arm, and it detonates, and lots of people die. Superman’s solution would be to amputate–save Ollie’s life. But Ollie’s having none of that, and so (knowing Superman would survive because hey, invulnerable!) Ollie detonates the device. Superman finds no remains…and the rest of the issue ties up loose ends from #100 and the story leading into that, apparently…while setting up Ollie’s son Connor to take over.

Really, there’s a lot going on in this issue (and the explosion is a 2-page spread as pages 2 & 3!) so the bulk of the issue is the aftermath (#100 was already a larger anniversary issue…not sure why it didn’t just get the extra pages to have the explosion happen there and repercussions pick up from the "cliffhanger" that would’ve been). I’ve not read a lot of stuff with Connor, but I knew of the character; I even connected a supporting character with an antagonist in the earliest issues of the Mike Grell run that kicked off this title. I didn’t care much for most of this development (so most of the issue), and felt that Ollie really got a crummy send-off…though I have to admit I appreciated the fact that that itself was touched on within the issue.

Visually, I’m not familiar with the Penciller/Inker team, and the art looks it: I recognize characters, obviously, and there isn’t really much of anything WRONG with any of them…but the visual style just doesn’t do anything in particular for me except have the appearance of "mid-’90s DC."

While I typically enjoy Dixon‘s work–especially on the Bat-titles in the ’90s–I did not here; and from this issue alone would only peg it AS a Dixon-written issue because of the name on the cover. Granted, this is an isolated issue read weeks after the previous issue was itself read in isolation, and I haven’t even read the first 4 chapters of the specific story this comes out of. But given that…outside of you either reading the entire story, or (like me) specifically wanting to read for yourself the actual issue where Ollie was killed off for a few years…there’s nothing of particular value to this issue. Alternatively, it might be worthwhile if you settle in to read the run with Connor as Green Arrow. But all in all, this was a disappointing read for me…I’m glad to have read it (past tense) now, but this feels more like an arbitrary thing than the culmination of an event or any truly "heroic" end.

That said…it’s worth 25 cents.

Zero Hour Revisited – Showcase ’94 #10

90srevisited_zerohour

showcase_94_0010Aftermath

Script: Alan Grant
Penciller: Mike Vosburg
Inker: Ron McCain
Colorist: Dave Hornung
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Consulting Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Editor: Neal Pozner
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

This particular story basically sees a despondent, defeated Jean-Paul Valley momentarily existing as a homeless man on the streets. He’s been stripped of his role as Batman, having abdicated his role as Azrael for that, and now hasn’t a clue what to do with himself. He contemplates himself, his life, where he is, what he’s been through, how his life has changed in a year (basically saying that from Sword of Azrael to Zero Hour has been about a year in the Bat-side of things–further backed by the Superman: The Man of Steel issue where Batman mentions to Superman both having quite a year). Valley intrudes on a group of homeless, "hogging the fire," and eventually one is brave enough to approach him and engage him (albeit one-sidedly…or so it seems). When he up and leaves, the remaining homeless crowd around the fire and then are threatened by another group. Valley returns and drives them off, and continues to mope about, though now accepting that he IS a person, like any of these others.

Story-wise, this seems both a sort of quasi-epilogue to KnightsEnd, partly following up on that and bridging that story and the start of the ongoing Azrael series that started sometime later in 1994, I believe. This is definitely where a title like this–Showcase ‘__–excels. You don’t have to have an entire issue of some other title dedicated to a story, but you can have a standard-issue-length story presented once without having to be entirely its own one-shot or Special Issue or whatever. There’s room for this Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley) story, prior to/without an Azrael title (yet), but without hijacking another issue of Batman or Detective or Robin or Catwoman or whatever.

Given that, I like this story, and somehow was kinda surprised that it DID run the "full length" of a standard-sized issue. Then, for only 45 cents more (1994 pricing) we get another issue-or-so’s worth of content spotlighting other stuff.

And the cover–featuring Azrael–is a nice Quesada/Kesel piece with the destroyed Az-Bats helmet on the Az-Bats-period Bat-symbol. Iconic, simple, and applicable to the story.

The Tempting part 1: The Beating of Wings

Writer/Creator: Brian Augustyn
Penciller: Anthony Chun
Inker: Matt Banning
Letterer: Steve Haynie
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Editor: Neal Pozner

I’d swear I’ve read stuff with Black Condor before–specifically in Justice League America–but this did not feel like that at all. I think it’s safe to say this is the first "solo outing" I’ve read of the character, and it felt like a bit of a first-issue thing, introducing the main character, a supporting character, and a conflict. Of course, the hero starts to seem victorious, before being presented with a greater challenge, and we’re left with a cliffhanger (I ought to see if I have the next issue of this, but honestly I doubt I’ll get to it anytime soon…I’m interested, but not necessarily enough to hunt it down for an immediate read. Chances are if I ever get around to assembling the several years of these Showcase Years I’ll read it someday).

The story and art are both good, and as mentioned above for the Azrael story, this is a solid outing that seems like it could lead into an ongoing series; but barring that/prior to that, serves in that stead, being allowed to be put out there as part of an anthology ongoing even where any singular character/story would not support its own thing.

No real complaints, and I do feel I’ve a bit more insight into the character, or at least the context, than I would have had without having read this.

Deja Views

Story: Mike McAvennie
Pencils: Jason Armstrong
Inks: Stan Woch
Colors: Stuart Chaifetz
Letters: Willie Schubert
Consulting Editor: KC Carlson
Editor: Neal Pozner

This story was all over the place, but essentially focuses on a group of Time-themed villains including Clock-King (I believe) and Calendar Man (I think–and not at all like the revamped Rebirth version!). The group is trying to steal some helmet or armor, and stuck in a time-loop, and they got confused in-story right after I got confused reading and jumping to the conclusion that there was some significant editorial error before realizing that was part of the story. And before things are completely sorted out, the story fades to white, signifying the "join" to Zero Hour.

Visually, no great issue on this story for me…it’s not bad, not wonderful. I’m not overly familiar with the characters, don’t really care about them, and this story doesn’t seem to directly come out of anything…it’s just "a story set during _______" (here, Zero Hour). This tie is enough to "justify" including this in reading Zero Hour stuff, but the issue does not sport the official Zero Hour banner or trade dress. Of course, that’s in keeping to the title‘s trade dress of generic fonts for "logos" rather than some bold solo-title logo.

At least it’s more tie-in than a number of tie-ins had, so it’s worth reading for the sake of completeness, though does not ultimately "matter."

OVERALL THOUGHTS

While this title itself–Showcase ’94–may not in and of itself matter all that much, I’m more convinced than ever at its greatness for its time. That’s not to say I could see following such a book long-term in the present, in 2016…but going back 22 years and the three issues I’ve now read for their having a segment each tied to Zero Hour, I recognize what the book’s existence allowed to be published without hijacking other books’ pages or the stories just not getting told. Add to that my not recognizing many of the creators and a slight memory suggesting this: the book was the sort for giving "new talent" a chance without being otherwise committed to a book. Try a writer out, give an artist a story to do, without compromising a "regular" or "ongoing" title, but still get their work out there, see how they do with various characters and creative team lineups.

This issue as a whole is not worth it in terms of Zero Hour, really…but it’s a strong issue, with a distinctive cover, and for the quasi-self-contained Azrael story, it’s well worth a bargain-bin buy (just not worth some collector’s premium or markup despite the issue’s age or cover).

The ’90s Revisited: The Final Night #1

final_night0001Dusk / Week One: Armageddon

Writer: Karl Kesel
Penciller: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Jose Marzan Jr.
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Gaspar
Asst. Editor: Ali Morales
Editor: Dan Thorsland
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: November 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

I’m quite sure I’ve read this before…but I’ll be darned if I can remember it. This actually felt like I was reading it for the first time. Knowing I’ve bought the entire series at least once before in bargain bins or as a cheap set, I can’t imagine I didn’t read it…though that’s entirely possible. I know I’d read the Superman tie-ins, as events from this led to the electric-Superman saga.

This issue sees an alien arrive on early, bearing grave news: an entity that consumes all heat/energy is approaching Earth’s solar system and will destroy the sun, and in turn rendering Earth a lifeless iceball. The heroes–around Superman–gather, and launch a two-pronged plan to repel or distract the sun-eater…but this wouldn’t be the start of an event if things worked out right away, would it? The heroes’ plan fails, and Earth is left in darkness…a final night from which nothing will survive more than a few days.

I can’t say I’m overly enthused at the art. I should like it–I usually enjoy Immonen‘s work–but there’s something a bit "off" about it here. Perhaps it’s reading this out of context, or expecting something different, or just seeing a number of no-longer-currently-familiar characters that doesn’t quite do it for me. The art is hardly bad…it’s just not what I "expected" or thought I remembered. Still, we have numerous characters and multiple super-teams represented in this issue, and things move pretty quickly from introduction to action to result in what I would (by contemporary standards) consider an "ultra-compressed" story.

The writing is good, solid stuff, and certainly makes sense for what’s going on. We have the introduction of a massive threat, a gathering of heroes and plan to confront it, the execution of the plan, and the result. Given this event is one month long, and its core is this 4-issue mini-series while more generalized action plays out in other titles, I am ok with the lack of detail to stuff here in favor of moving "core events" along. It also has me very interested in reading the various tie-in titles to see far more detail to the unfolding crisis.

While it certainly benefits by way of 1990s comics being so cheap these days, this is also the sort of "event" I would love to have today in 2016: instead of having to invest in 3, 4, maybe 6 issues of every single tie-in title as well as an event mini-series or few, the event plays out in a single mini-series as well as just one issue of any given title tying in. I almost wish I’d held off on reading this issue, solely for the fact that I’m ready to dive into the rest of the mini, yet have no idea when I’d actually get around to hunting down all the tie-ins to the event.

I snagged 3 of the 4 issues from one set of quarter bins, and the missing issue from another at a different shop a day later–so I have the benefit of scoring the entire mini for $1 total without putting any particular effort into getting it. As such, this issue is very much worthwhile to me FOR my twenty-five cents, as I can move straight into the rest of the series without waiting. However, I do suspect that taken as a singular issue completely apart from issues 2-4, this wouldn’t be all that great an issue in and of itself.

I enjoyed the reading, and look forward to the unfolding story, and continue to dig in on this run through fun back issues and nostalgia.

Magneto #12 [Review]

magneto012AXIS tie-in

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Roland Boschi
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles and Cory Petit
Cover: David Yardin
Assistant Editor: Xander Jarowey
Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s the cover that did it. I’ve had absolutely no purchase-level interest in Axis nor any of its tie-ins…but the cover of this issue grabbed my attention. Onslaught, with the Red Skull’s face, dwarfing a defiant Magneto. Talk about hitting the right buttons for me. The original Onslaught story was HUGE in my youth–in scope, in tying back to Fatal Attractions, in tying into that X-Traitor subplot that even touched the cartoon series, that played with the matter of Xavier, his relationship to Magneto, to “The Dream,” etc. The reason Magneto as a character is interesting to me is the way the character was handled in Legion Quest and the Age of Apocalypse and afterward–as well as the “Joseph” period and all that. I’d also seen some sort of “preview” or “solicitation” text on the issue referencing Erik dealing with his friend, and all that–I recall an apparent plot point being the Red Skull stealing Xavier’s brain–so that plus the cover, and I couldn’t bring myself to NOT buy the issue.

Getting into the issue was a different matter. I haven’t read anything else involved with this Axis “event”–Axis itself or tie-in issues–nor have I read the last 8-9 issues of this series, so my reading this issue was functionally jumping in “cold,” so to speak.

Apparently Magneto’s already mid-battle with “Red Onslaught” (how original, that name), and he’s gathered other “villains” and allies (Carnage, Doom, Scarlet Witch, Dr. Strange, etc) to combat the Red Skull in Onslaught mode. He has his daughter (Scarlet Witch) cast a spell meant to access whatever there is of Xavier and bring that to the forefront. While this is going on, he recalls a happier time, in his younger days, when he and Xavier were new friends in Israel. The issue goes back and forth, present to flashback and we see an episode where Magneto revealed his powers to Xavier as they fled Baron Strucker and the two men sought to save Xavier’s lover Gabrielle Haller. Something happens and Magneto’s knocked unconscious, coming to to find the other villains gone and the Avengers present. As he wonders if the Scarlet Witch’s spell worked, he encounters the mind of Xavier–apparently the spell worked–and the two converse, the psionic image of Xavier essentially passing the torch to Magneto and telling him his way was right all along.

The art for the issue isn’t horrible, though I’m not terribly impressed–particularly compared to the cover. I know my attitude toward the visuals is partially the actual style and partially that I don’t care for some of the character designs or “new looks” or such. It’s also “tainted” by my presently re-reading old X-Men issues from late 1994 and loving those–for the nostalgia and the art and familiarity from my past. There’s really no way this issue can hold up visually to the likes of Kubert or Jim Lee or other artists whose work I particularly enjoyed twenty years ago. Yardin‘s cover drawing me in the way it did makes me think I’d enjoy his work on the interior, though.

The story itself seems solid enough, and I was absolutely THRILLED at the actual use of CONTINUITY, that the notion of Xavier and Magneto having become friends while working at a hospital in Israel is still there, and the presence of Gabrielle Haller. Stuff that I’d almost have “expected” to be swept under the rug in favor of some other “take” on the characters’ relationship, some other period of time instead of something that’s been touched on before. While I don’t care whatsoever for the Baron Strucker stuff, and struggled to recall what little I knew/know or thought I knew/know, I know the characters didn’t jump from what we see in Legion Quest to a “present day,” and so it makes sense they’d have other adventures and such. I just don’t much care for the constant “inbreeding” of the same body of established characters being constantly revealed to have had earlier and earlier and earlier interactions/involvements with each other, knowingly or otherwise.

But ultimately, while I WANTED to like this issue, it manages to fall short of my expectations–perhaps because this IS just a single chapter of something much larger, and I’m out of the loop and all that. I’m not overly thrilled to have spent $4 on the issue and had so little Magneto/Xavier as well as so little Magneto vs. Red Skull in direct confrontation, etc. I might be somewhat interested in this Axis event later if I can get a collected volume or the single issues cheaply, but despite being a bit intrigued (was it actually Magneto that set the entire Axis thing in motion, I’m curious about and don’t know from just this issue) I’m not motivated by this issue to chase down anything else for Axis, nor am I left with any particular desire to get the next issue.

This is probably a great issue for ongoing readers of the title; I can’t speak to its place or value in the overall Axis story, though…this doesn’t seem to convey anything one can’t get from the main series, and I actually have the feeling one would appreciate this issue more WITH the main Axis series being read.

There are worse issues one could randomly grab from the middle of a run, inside the middle of an event, I’m sure. But unless you’re specifically following the event or this title anyway, this does not seem particularly worth its $3.99 cover price and I am not going to keep chasing the bait of hoping to see more Magneto/Xavier stuff.

Age of Apocalypse #1 [Review]

Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Roberto De La Torre
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Humberto Ramos and Dean White
Assistant Editors: Sebastian Girner and Jordan D. White
Editors: Jody LeHeup and Nick Lowe
Published by: Marvel Comics

I was looking forward to this title. Of course, the last time I was looking forward to an Age of Apocalypse title was back in 2005 when Marvel did the 10th anniversary stuff. Enjoyed the one-shot, hated the mini-series. To this day I’ve refused to–even for “free” through a library–read that mini. Yet last year when it was announced that the Uncanny X-Force would revisit the Age of Apocalypse, I was excited. I was looking forward to it. And in the Dark Angel Saga, it was put to some use. Later I discovered that the AoA Nightcrawler would be part of the team, and decided to continue giving that title a chance. When the 2nd .1 issue in less than 2 years hit, I was suckered in with the classic Enter Now: The Age of Apocalypse logo, as Uncanny X-Force #19.1 was essentially Age of Apocalypse #0, or heck, what should have been #1.

This finally came out, and I very nearly quit reading the issue partway in. For me, Age of Apocalypse is a misnomer. Apocalypse’s “Age” ended in 1995, some 17 years ago. This new series, using that name, does so to “cash in on” the name of this classic X-Men story. I would be of more open mind with this series had it been given some other title, and just made it known WHERE it takes place.

This issue picks up where Uncanny X-Force 19.1 left off–the last human stronghold has been destroyed, the bulk of the remaining human population has been slaughtered. Jean and Sabretooth escape and join up with their allies. Having been stripped of their mutant powers, they’re just as human (or moreso) as these allies, who call themselves the X-Terminated. After a fight with this world’s Daredevil, we’re introduced to a man from Marvel’s 616-universe as well as a surprise player who may change things up a bit for all involved, just by being alive.

The art doesn’t sit well with me here. It’s rather stylistic, and reminds me of the visual feel I got from the AoA mini back in ’05. There were points that I was basically reading the dialogue balloons, with no true sense of what was happening in the panel. There’s something clunky, and sketchy, and perhaps semi-abstract to it, and while it gives this a vastly different tone than some “classic super-hero book,” it’s not in a way that draws me in or leaves me interested–visually–in ANY of the characters or setting.

Story-wise, I came into this assuming there’d be plenty I’ve missed since X-Men: Omega back in 1995 and whatever transpired in the 2005 mini-series. But between that series and the death toll in Uncanny X-Force #19.1 to set this one up…this seems a wholly different world, and at least in this issue, I don’t feel like there’s any TRUE connection to the fondly-remembered world built in my youth. As I read this issue, I simply did not CARE. There seems to be no particular redeeming quality to this world or its few remaining inhabitants. Stripping Jean and Sabretooth of their powers is not a concept that interests me in anything more than perhaps a What If..? one-shot at most. The X-Terminated likewise does not grab my interest, though I recognize a couple character names. I don’t care for the mixed tense of the narration–the last page in particular feels like it’s trying to show the present as someone speaking from the future looking back, which really takes something away.

All in all…it would seem that I’m the antithesis of a target audience for this book. I was honestly shocked when I realized this was NOT a $2.99 book–and though that gives it a slight bit of redemption (I’d’ve been incensed to have paid $3.99 for this!), it’s far from being enough.

If you’re a fan of what’s been done with the Age of Apocalypse “universe” over the years since the original “event” where what was simply an alternate reality became just another world in Marvel‘s multiverse, you may find more interest here than I did. If you like the idea of Logan–formerly Weapon X, now “Weapon Omega” as the Apocalypse-level big bad…yeah, pick this up. Along those lines, if you enjoyed the story set up in the Uncanny X-Force .1 issue, you may enjoy this.

On the whole, though…I gave this an issue, and while the final page reveal was a surprise I did not see coming, it actually disgusts me more than not, and was the nail in the coffin for this title for me, at least for now.

Story: 3/10
Art: 3/10
Overall: 3/10

House of Mystery #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: The First Drink is on the House, The Hollows

A new story is set up as we’re introduced to the present status quo of the House of Mystery…

houseofmystery001Writers: Matthew Sturges, Bill Willingham
Artists: Luca Rossi, Ross Campbell
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover: Sam Weber
Variant Cover: Bernie Wrightson
Co-Editors: Shelly Bond & Angela Rufino
Publisher: DC Comics

I don’t normally read Vertigo books as single issues, especially for their first arcs, knowing I’ll be able to check them out in a bargain-priced TPB for the first arc, and tend to find the stories much more engaging read as full arcs rather than singles.

What intrigued me with this series was the premise that there would be stories within the story…as well as a vague recollection of the "House of Mystery" having a role in Gaiman‘s Sandman series, which I read a number of years ago.

The issue actually opens with Cain and Abel, in their familiar relationship I recalled from Sandman, which drew me right into the issue. While Cain finds himself in an interesting predicament, the story moves forward a few years, and we find ourselves in the midst of a farewell party for an individual preparing to leave, even as others remain stuck. We also get the beginnings of a look at someone on the run with only drawings of a mysterious house. We’re also treated to a story by one of the patrons of the kitchen–as stories are the only currency of any weight here. This story provides some context to who she is, leading into a rather disturbing revelation that she herself doesn’t even seem to realize…though it seems perfectly fitting for a mysterious house full of people who can’t seem to go anywhere.

The story reminds me of a story from the Sandman, at least as far as characters being brought together in one place and sharing stories of their pasts and where they come from and all that. At the same time, there seems to be a certain "framing" story overall that hints at a larger story at play, even while we meet the characters in this house and are treated to the stories they tell one another. That the art team varies for the stories being told is something I really like, more fully illustrating the difference between the main story we’re witnessing as readers, and the story we’re witnessing as fellow listeners while a story is told within the story.

Overall, the art all around works quite well to me, accentuating the story in a very believable way. In something of a rare moment, I feel like I got both a "full" story in this issue where I don’t feel I have to get the next issue…but there’s also enough of something else that I’m interested in seeing what else is to be found. The final page seems to work as well both as an ending and a beginning…a nice "hook" for the reader.

This is a very solid first issue, and if subsequent issues read much in the way this one did, I think it’ll be a nice treat, without even needing to read a bunch of issues in one sitting just to feel like I’m getting the fuller picture.

If only to try it out, I definitely recommend this issue.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Stumptown #1 [Review]

Written by: Greg Rucka
Illustrated by: Matthew Southworth
Colored by: Lee Loughridge
Design by: Keith Wood
Edited by: James Lucas Jones
Published by: Oni Press

This comic begins on some high action, much like many made-for-tv movies I recall from my youth…and from the initial climax we’re taken back to a day or so earlier where the story really begins, and follow events through to the opening pages, and then on to the rest of the issue’s story.

We’re introduced to Dex, a private investigator with a gambling issue. Having racked up plenty of debt, she’s offered a job that–rather than her being paid she’s to take in exchange for her gambling debt being forgiven. She’s sent to find the granddaughter of a powerful woman; and quickly discovers that there are other interested parties.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, but figured it’s the first issue of a new series, so why not? I’d give it a look-see. I’m no fan of the $3.99 price point, but I found myself toward the later part of the issue turning each page expecting to see the first page of a lotta pages of ads. Yet, to my surprise, the story just kept right on going up to the 2nd to last page in the issue. So while this carries that $4 price, it’s a lengthy read, which is quite satisfying.

THe art has a very stylistic feel to it. The color and linework is a bit gritty, and there’s a lot of color shift for tone throughout the issue. Flipping through it, there are multiple page segments that have an overall blue tone or a green, or black and white, and what-have-you. I didn’t really notice it as I read, but this shifting played a nice role in setting scenes apart and setting the mood in each.

The character and her immediate supporting cast come across as fairly stereotypical and formulaic; the situation she finds herself in is also rather cliche.

But somehow, I don’t really have a problem with that. I was pulled into the story, and as with most things: a foundation must be put in place to build upon. This issue has the introduction to the characters and settings, and sure they’re generic right now–but I’m confident from past enjoyment of Rucka’s work that there’ll be more information in the next few issues to make these characters unique and move them beyond mere stereotype.

While I often use the comparison, this was like both a made for tv movie in structure…but works quite well as a pilot episode, introducing things, posing questions to the audience, and leaving me interested in what comes next.

If you like this sort of PI drama, or Rucka’s work, or the art, or any combination of those I highly recommend this. As-is on its own it’s a decent piece of work, worth the $4 cover price to check it out and decide your own feelings on the issue.

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

Deadpool #900 [Review]

Issue Credits

Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Covers: Dave Johnson
Assistant Editor: Jody Leheup
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics

For $4.99, this issue would have to do quite a bit in order to justify its cost. Thankfully, it more than delivered. While I was really hoping it would be all-original content, my only real frustration at there being a reprint in the back (Deadpool Team-Up featuring Deadpool and Widdle Wade) is that that was one of about a half-dozen Deadpool comics that I already own from the 90s–and which I’d spent several hours just last weekend digging through 18 longboxes to find.

As-is, this is far from the “typical” Deadpool comic–nothing here seems to be in-continuity in the sense of advancing either of the main plots for the first two Deadpool ongoings. However, this faux-anniversary issue is a great “primer” for new fans, and presumably quite a treat for old fans. There may not be any real throughline in the book, but we get seven short stories starring Deadpool, but different creative teams new and old that give the character a chance to shine.

And the number is a nice play on the recent re-numbering Marvel has done with its various titles (I do wonder if Deadpool himself might have appeared in 900 comics through the years, which would me nicely appropriate).  It definite fits the character to play with the numbering–and I surprisingly don’t mind for this one character, as it seems an obvious riff on things rather than a serious numbering bit.

I really enjoyed Liefeld’s art on the Joe Kelly story–there was just something to it, perhaps simply the knowledge that the art’s by the guy that created the character. My favorite story of the bunch was Swierczynski’s riff on a certain tv show about crime scene investigators. Having enjoyed these shorts as I did…if Marvel ever decides to move the Deadpool books to the $3.99 price point, I would hope they’d consider having new original content such as these included after a full-length “main” story.

As these stories are not part of any of the ongoing stuff, if you simply enjoy the Deadpool character or are curious, this is a fantastic single issue to pick up. The original content alone is really worth the cover price (particularly compared against Marvel’s standard-sized $3.99 books!), and you get a reprint of an issue from the 90s that you’d be lucky to find by itself for the price of this issue, these days.

Long-time fan, new fan, or just curious about who the heck Deadpool is…I highly recommend this issue!

Close Encounters of the @*#$ed-Up Kind
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Chris Staggs
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Marte Gracia

This story sees Deadpool beamed onto an alien spacecraft, where he is subjected to the aliens’ probing. However…Deadpool being Deadpool, the tables are quickly turned with a chewed-off arm (his own) and turning the aliens’ machinery against them. Rather than simply delivering a carload of dead guys where he was headed…he delivers a bunch of dead guys and a ship of dead aliens.

This is definitely an over-the-top sorta Deadpool story–the bit with the arm I’m beginning to sense may be a running gag with the character. The art’s not my favorite depiction by any means, but definitely gets stuff across quite well in an indie-comics cartooney sort of way.

Silent But Deadly
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Dalibor Talajic

This story opens with a bang…or rather, if we get technical, a “Boom” as Deadpool’s caught in an explosion. Though his eardrums’re blown out by the explosion, it doesn’t take away from his ability to kick butt, facing 3…well, I actually thought of The Joker’s minions, but that’s a whole other sort of thing. They seem to have some sort of invulnerability, at least to Deadpool’s swords. Once he switches to guns…the fight’s basically over. The “punchline” of the story was rather amusing, and seems typical of the character as well.

The art’s not bad, but not what I typically associate with the character. Still, no complaint with it, really–in a quasi-“anthology” such as this issue, I don’t really expect a consistent visual style nor for every visual interpretation of a character to be my personal ideal.

Deadpool: Shrunken Master
Writer: Mike Benson
Artist: Damion Scott
Colorist: Lee Loughridge

With a couple of “light” stories out of the way, this one goes down a much darker path. Here we see Deadpool at a psychiatrist, having an apparently typical-for-Deadpool session. We see the smart-aleckiness of the character, and it’s actually quite interesting seeing him interacting with someone like this, being analyzed and even doing some self-analyzing. However, there’s a twist toward the end as we see that Deadpool’s motive is not to seek counciling, but rather see some justice done.

This was another story that to me comes across as what I can only really describe as “indie”–it’s not typical/mainstream super-hero fare…or at least, none that I’m used to associating with such. Yet, it really carries the mood quite well, and does exactly what it should. Again, not my favorite depiction, but for very well-suited to this particular story.

Pinky Swear
Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist: Rob Liefeld

This was the story I was most looking forward to for this issue, after having read the Marvel Spotlight: Deadpool issue last week. We find Deadpool in the midst of a battle, with a pretty woman hanging on for dear life. We have some…questionable (but fitting) inner dialogue from Deadpool’s voices. Before long, Deadpool is reminded of a date he’s gotta keep–with an old friend from his school days. The boys had a bet over whether his friend would marry someone in particular by a certain time, and mid-battle (with the battle following him) Deadpool finds the guy, and the bet is settled.

I normally don’t care all that much for Liefeld’s art, but it worked quite well here–likely for nostalgia, knowing this is Deadpool as visualized by the character’s creator. The story itself seems to really fit the character–that even in the middle of a gun battle and with an attractive woman at his side trying to stay alive, Deadpool would keep some childhood promise where other ‘dates’ may not be kept. The bet itself really makes it work, as it seems so trivial, and yet Deadpool makes it into this huge thing.

What Happens in Vegas…
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Shawn Crystal
Colorist: Lee Loughridge

This story quickly becomes a rather obvious riff on the tv show CSI. Deadpool’s very much aware here of the “real world,” and the formula of the tv show. The fact that anyone would pronounce him dead and yet he’s cognitive–both of his surroundings and of where the reader might be looking–is an interesting use of narrative further illustrating the character’s nature. As it turns out, the story itself is Deadpool trying to get a particular reaction from one of the investigators–inserting himself into the “mythology” of the show, given the typical, cheesey one-liners. And of course, not getting the intended reaction, Deadpool reacts violently, before explaining to the reader what he was going for.

Not all that thrilled with the art on this one, but it fits the story. The investigator characters are pretty much recognizeable, knowing who they’re supposed to be…without being actual likenesses of the tv actors/actres. As said earlier, this was my favorite story in this issue…it took me by surprise, but the fact that I’m aware of the show and the bit Deadpool’s going for…I just really enjoyed it. All the more because of the pun Deadpool’s going for being right up my own alley humour-wise (though of course I do not condone the violence!).

Great Balls of Thunder on the Deep Blue Sea
Writer: Victor Gischler
Penciler: Sanford Greene
Inker: Nathan Massengill
Colorist: Dave McCaig

This was a rather amusing short. Basically, Deadpool’s on vacation on a cruise ship, and his typical, violent nature is most assuredly NOT compatible with the typical vacationer. Unfortunately for Deadpool…Dr. Octopus is also present, and does not take kindly to the mercenary’s presence. Deadpool suggests some “vacation code” (typical that he’d have something like that in mind, whether or not anyone else even KNOWS of it or recognizes it). The ending’s darkly amusing, playing with scene transition in a way that works very well in this medium.

The art is very cartooney, but that works well for this story. This actually may be one of the least-violent Deadpool stories I’ve read, and it looks entirely possible that–while severely inconvenienced–no one in the story actually dies. Really just an entertaining story.

One Down
Writer: Charlie Huston
Artist: Kyle Baker

This story has a bit of typical Deadpool as the character ultimately continues to break the “fourth wall” since he’s fully aware that he is a comic character. It also serves as some strong commentary on the current/contemporary nature of comic characters, especially from Marvel and DC. There’s also a hint of Jay & Silent Bob here at the story’s ending…or at least, I thought of that film with the way it ended compared to this.

We see Deadpool conversing with the voices in his head as he gets up and around for the day, going through all the stuff he needs to in order to reach a particular target. The identity of the target is what brings the whole story together. Once again, a rather dark place for the story to go…quite morbid, actually. And yet, it puts a certain depth and seriousness to Deadpool that I think I’d actually be very interested in seeing explored.

I’m not all that familiar with Baker’s art, though he’s one of the view names I recognize amongst the artists for this issue. The style works very well for the story. The visual and written aspects work very well in a way that really wouldn’t work in anything BUT a comic, even while this piece itself comments on comics.

This one wasn’t as “fun” as the CSI riff…but next to that, I think this was my other favorite of the issue.

Deadpool and Widdle Wade

Well…actually, this is a whole separate issue, deserving of its own review. Its inclusion here obviously beefs up Deadpool #900, especially as it was already a special by itself.

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