• December 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Nov    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • On Facebook

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Comic Blog Elite

    Comic Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

Zero Hour Revisited – Anima #7

90srevisited_zerohour

anima_0007Suddenly, Johnny Gets a Feeling

Writers: Elizabeth Hand & Paul Witcover
Guest Penciller: Brent Anderson
Inker: Will Blyberg
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Chris Eades
Editor: Rob Simpson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I recall Anima being one of the characters introduced during the Bloodlines Annuals event in 1993, and of course remember the character more than others as she (obviously) had her own series or a short time. That said, this is the first I can consciously remember actually reading of the character.

Reading this issue, though “only” 7 into its run, was not a fun thing out-of-context. I could recognize the main character and associates by context-clues and figure stuff out, but the story seemed (in part for my lack of familiarity with any of the characters or the full context of the continuity/situation at this point) to jump all over the place enough that I’m not even gonna try to summarize it. Suffice it to say that this felt like diving into a mid-season episode of some tv show and maybe not being disgusted or put off enough by it to turn it off, but it definitely was not the most engaging nor (detail-wise) memorable.

Essentially, there’s this girl, known as Anima, with a bond to some sort of demon named Animus. Animus is imprisoned by siblings/colleagues, as others conspire to do something nasty to the realm of Man, and Anima/Animus are key to stopping that, hence an adversarial situation.

Outside of Eliopoulos on lettering, I really don’t recognize the creative team. Then, the fact that outside of probably this issue (seeing it in the Zero Hour stack and as an issue coming up in the queue) I haven’t really even considered the series for years adds to this series’ isolation in history and continuity. This character came out of the DC Universe Bloodlines stuff; carries the standard DC logo, carries in this case the Zero Hour and DC Universe banner, so it was (at the time at least) certainly in-continuity and such (mid-1990s!). But you would hardly know it to look at any contemporary DC lineup, probably not SINCE the actual 1990s (1999/2000 or so).

That lack of recognition, memory, impact, lends to the weirdness of reading this…certainly refreshing in its way as one of those titles that I seriously doubt would even get a publishing chance nowadays, let alone an audience to go seven issues (let alone any further). The parts with Animus and siblings struck me as rather Hellblazer-esque (ok, perhaps this’d fit in with the new Hellblazer title in Rebirth?) and thus in continuity but tucked off into their own little separated section of continuity.

There’s an offhanded reference indicating Anima had gotten Superman’s message (from waaaaaayyyyy back at the start of Zero Hour!) but outside of that and the fade-to-white abruptness ending this issue, you wouldn’t know it had anything to do with a bigger crossover. This certainly fits the “red skies” designation of sorts…that is, there’s a passing shoe-horned-in reference for a panel or two, but otherwise the issue’s actual story is not impacted nor does it in turn impact, the main event story it supposedly ties in with.

I think this issue would probably fit pretty solidly in with its own series as a run–reading Anima from first issue to however long the series ran–but it’s not even really “fun” as an isolated, standalone issue; it does not advance Zero Hour itself, nor does it shed any real light on something that the main Zero Hour just didn’t have space to do. I would not recommend this outside of an Anima read-through; and given (if only) my own conscious lack of memory of anything impactful even from this series long-term, I certainly would not recommend paying more than 25-50 cents for this in a bargain-bin purchase.

The ’90s Revisited: Wonder Woman #112

wonder_woman_0112Game Over

Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

There was little doubt in my mind of Wonder Woman’s survival…more just a matter of “how” the story would end.

We have a much smaller time gap between issues this time, as we open in the midst of the battle with “Doomsday,” which we do know is not the REAL creature, but more a sort of “clone” being fed power from the machine that allowed its creation. Given the enormity of the situation, and the significance of Doomsday (apparently) showing up, it’s no surprise that we get a guest-bit with Superman…a family moment as he places a tree he got for his parents, right before Jonathan pulls up to share a radio report of the creature’s presence. Superman heads off intending to join the battle, despite his parents urging him not to. While Wonder Woman and Champion join forces against the creature, and even Cassie gets into the mix, stuff at Lazarus’ place comes to a head as the authorities arrive to take him into custody over the situation. His “son” the computer spawns yet another creature that kills on the spot, and finally a last-ditch idea is tried…that resolves the situation, allowing the creature’s defeat (before Superman even gets there), and an almost too-neat wrapup to this 4-issue chunk of the series.

As with the last three chapters, this was solid overall, particularly on the art. I liked that the story “expanded” a bit, and brought Superman into play–it only makes sense that he’d be made aware of Doomsday seemingly showing up again, and would NOT make sense to not even give any time to his reaction, or that of anyone who knows him. This is also placed as being during that time when Superman and Lois were broken up…which gives me a better “consciousness” as to the timing of this issue and why I was so totally unaware of Doomsday’s appearances in the previous issue and this one: this came out while I was “out of” comics, between the end of The Trial of Superman and prior to the Superman Wedding and then the Electric Costume saga.

There’s nothing “new” really to say on the art–the creative credits have been the same across all 4 issues unless I’ve misread something somewhere, and what I’ve said before holds true to this issue as well. Perhaps the fact that we get Byrne drawing the mid-’90s Superman with the longer hair is another plus (adding to what I’d said earlier about seeing Byrne tackle Doomsday).

Story-wise, my only primary complaint is the seemingly over-the-top language spouted by Ma and Pa Kent in the Superman bit–that just seemed so shoe-horned in/exaggerated that it didn’t ring true at all to my reading…despite the fact that Byrne was the one that did the early work on the Kents being alive into Clark’s adulthood and seeing him be Superman.

The end of this issue–and ostensibly the “story arc”–seemed a bit quick and almost too-tidy as a wrapup, with some exposition trying to suggest this could never happen again, Lazarus rather quickly coming around about the truth of it not actually being his son truly in the computer, etc. Echoing comments I made with one of the other chapters, this is very much from the era when it was relatively RARE for a collected volume to be put out, with only the biggest, most sold-out stories getting a volume. This was still single issues as the primary focus…such that I don’t even know what to call this four part story. With issue names like “Level 1,” “Level 2,” “Level 3,” and “Game Over,” I suppose it COULD be called Game Over (and probably would with a modern-day collection put out), but there’s no overall title, of which the names would (with a contemporary 2016 comic) would be “sub titles” within the arc’s title.

For an 80-cent overall cost to me for Wonder Woman #s 109-112, this was absolutely a real treat to read, and leaves me confident in the fun nature of Byrne‘s run on the title, and very much interested in carving out some more time (eventually) to read this series at length…along with the likes of the Wally West Flash series.

If you find these issues–this one, or the previous several–they’re definitely well worth bargain-bin pricing (up to $1ish each), as the four issues at even $1 would be the cost of a single current issue…and this story is more than worth the price of a single current comic. As this is not actually part of some large, singular overall story, one could even conceivably dive in here, with the majority of what you need to know being that Wonder Woman’s engaged in battle with fake-Doomsday, and how things go and get wrapped up. The stuff with Lazarus and his wife/companion even give what would seem to be enough context and exposition to let one “get” the basics of what is–and has been–going on to get to this issue.

The ’90s Revisited: Wonder Woman #111

wonder_woman_0111Level 3

Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

This is the third issue of a story, and we pick up shortly after where we left off in the previous issue. Doomsday is on a rampage in Gateway City, despite the fact that–to the best of anyone’s knowledge–the creature was hurled into space some time back, never to return to Earth. As the creature tears up real estate, Wonder Woman is brought into the mix–interrupted from the advisory assistance she’s receiving in identifying the substance the fake-Flash and fake-Sinestro were made out of. Even realizing this is the creature that KILLED Superman, Wonder Woman doesn’t hesitate to engage it in battle. While taking her lumps, Champion joins in–though he takes a Supergirl-like hit that takes him out immediately. Seeking to aid her mentor, Cassie retrieves the Sandals of Hermes as well as an unknown artifact and goes to Wonder Woman’s aid. When she’s hit–and nearly killed–it distracts Wonder Woman enough that the beast gets the upper hand, and it looks like this might be game over for our heroine.

Three issues into the story and I’m enjoying stuff…and actually had to “force” myself to NOT dive straight into the next issue. I’m enjoying this story, the art’s good, and I just want to get more of everything. See more of Wonder Woman in action, see more of Cassie and get details of her background, as well as see more of the rest of the supporting cast–Cassie’s mom, Mike, Champion, Wonder Woman as Diana NOT in action…three issues in and this is simply flat-out an enjoyable book!

I had no idea just from the cover what the context of Doomsday’s presence was, but now having read the preceding issues and this one, the creature is a construct created by a computerized process controlled by the “consciousness” of someone’s son. The “clones” are created and programmed, and then let loose on the world, though Kris–who apparently died, but his consciousness was “saved”–can see through the constructs’ eyes. Even though it’s a “fake,” this Doomsday is quite powerful, and not “just” some run-of-the-mill villain, showing up and totally diluting the character. Flash-forward twenty years to present day, and the character is just another of Superman’s rogues–like Darkseid or Mongul. But in 1996, this was before The Doomsday Wars, so Doomsday itself was still an extremely rare villain to actually (or seemingly-actually) show up.

I like the cover (obviously), even though Doomsday is a bit “off” in appearance. This fits with the story, though, and so I can forgive it quite easily. There’s also something rather gratifying about seeing John Byrne handling the character–both from the writing side, and even moreso from the art side, as so much of the Superman mythos at the time of the Doomsday! / The Death of Superman was still closely, tightly tied to the foundation work laid out by Byrne during his tenure on the Superman titles.

This story started with level 1–The Flash, a hero–apparently accidentally causing damage. It continued to level 2 with Sinestro, a villain–causing damage but not outright killing anyone. Then on to level 3 with Doomsday and untold damage and destruction and death. Wonder Woman is facing one of the most powerful things she’s ever faced, and this issue ends trying to convince us of the bad place she’s in…but it’s a comic, it’s #111 where I know the series passed #200, and I don’t recall any other major “Diana-gets-replaced” type stories, so it’s a given she survives. Still, she and her fellow fictional chracters don’t know that as this ends, so it’s on to the next issue to see what comes of this build-up!

And once again, as noted before…EVEN THOUGH this is the third issue of an arc, it still reads like one could pick this up and be no worse off than I was reading the first part of the story. You’re thrust into the action, get a bit of context and new action, and a cliffhanger to lead to the next issue. One story, but each issue could pretty conceivably be someone’s first without them being as totally lost or “coming in mid-story” as one would be picking up the third issue of a present-day arc.

The ’90s Revisited: Wonder Woman #110

wonder_woman_0110Level 2

Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: June 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

This is only the “second” issue I’ve read in this particular set of issues, but I’m quite enjoying the title. Where the previous issue appeared to guest-star The Flash (only it turned out to be a fake), this issue has an appearance of Sinestro–who at this point in DC‘s continuity was dead, his neck snapped by Hal Jordan just before he went all Parallax and such.

We open on Sinestro/not-Sinestro carving up the city, trying to get Wonder Woman’s attention. Once he has her attention, they battle–or moreso, Wonder Woman battles him, and he just keeps on keeping on…at first seeming like a joke, then an actual-true threat. Eventually, it appears that Wonder Woman’s defeated, and a new guy–Champion–shows up, saving her…though he gets the same result from “Sinestro” as Diana had last issue with “The Flash” as we see that this is just some sort of construct that can self destruct into dust. While Champion (who has himself a back-burner subplot brewing that surely leads to something bigger down the road) and Diana puzzle over the similarities in the Flash attack and now Sinestro, as readers we’re given the inside scoop, as the scene shifts and contextual details are revealed…explaining the fakes’ presence and setting things up for the next couple issues.

As with the previous issue–Wonder Woman #109–I definitely enjoyed this issue. The story and art both worked well in and of themselves, and especially as a cohesive whole. With the same creative and editorial team as the previous issue, this definitely FELT like the next issue. No major changes, no weird oddities…it’s just the continuing story.

Perhaps by comparison to contemporary comics, though, this issue does NOT pick up 100% EXACTLY from the previous issue…it picks up as a “next chapter” without being merely the next chunk of story in a larger graphic novel being ‘serialized’…and I actually like that. I’m all for the singular story of a graphic novel…but for this being a “single issue” I like that–even as a continuing story–it maintains its identity AS the single issue.

The story in this issue fills us in as readers much more than the previous issue…this is where comics worked quite well in the ’90s as both ongoing sagas and having stories that can be collected into a “graphic novel” or such. We (I) had no idea any background on stuff in the previous issue–The Flash simply showed up, turned out to be a fake, and we’re left to wonder what the heck’s going on. THIS issue gives us the context and such on where not only The Flash but also Sinestro came from…and goes beyond that to show us the genesis of the threat for the next issue, serving as setup and cliffhanger, and getting to the last page left me quite ready to get to the next issue. Of course, it wasn’t surprise, as it’s the cover of the next issue that grabbed my attention to begin with.

Even though this is Level 2, a second chapter of a story (though perhaps not quite as solid/singular a story as I’d thought–though it plays into the genesis of these back-from-oblivion characters), one could conceivably pick up this issue and be just as good as starting with the previous issue. You get the characters, some context as you go through, and editorial notes to point you where to go for a bit more expansion of stuff touched on here.

It’s also EXTREMELY REFRESHING that there’s just the one cover, it’s (presumably, since there’s no separate cover credit provided) by the interior artist, so fits both visually AND exaggerates (slightly) a scene that actually appears in the issue, and is not merely some stock or “iconic” image that could be interchanged with any other cover.

First issue, Second issue (in this present read-through, it’s MY second), or just another issue if one is reading a run, this is a strong, solid issue well worth the 20 cents I paid for it!

The ’90s Revisited: Wonder Woman #109

wonder_woman_0109Level 1

Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: May 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

This is one of those ’90s issues that–while revisiting “the ’90s,” is a new-read for me. I’ve dabbled here and there through the years with this book–getting the odd issue because Superman’s on the cover, or something tied to a comic book course in college, or some cover grabbing my attention or there’s a chapter of a crossover I’m following. I jumped on the book toward the tail-end of Rucka‘s run in the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, and then followed for a few issues shortly after, but never stuck with the book for all that long. So while I can’t recite lists of characters–particularly the supporting characters–I’m at least “loosely familiar” with who Wonder Woman is, that the exact “who” she is has shifted a bit through the years, and I know OF some of the major story beats of her series.

So this issue opens with a flight passing over Gateway City, where the Lexair passengers are surprised at the random sight of a girl flying with winged shoes. As readers, we quickly learn that this is Cassie Sandsmark and those are the Sandals of Hermes, and she’s not exactly well-practiced in their use yet. Wonder Woman flies after, and the situation is soon resolved as Cassie figures out–a bit–what she’s doing, and the two get back safely to the apartment Cassie and her mom live in. They then prepare for an evening–Cassie is under Wonder Woman–Diana’s–care, and Diana has a “date” that’s not a date. Unfortunately, the Flash shows up and causes a lot of destruction to the buildings along the street the restaurant’s on and more than a little trouble for Wonder Woman. This isn’t Wally West, though, and when he bursts into dust, no one has any idea what he was or why he was there…leaving Wonder Woman with a mystery on her hands.

I bought a 50-issue run of this series, and one cover that REALLY stood out to me had some iteration of Doomsday on it, which had me quite curious–it’s not an issue I was ever consciously aware of back in the day, nor was it something I knew of AS a Doomsday appearance. Fortunately (or not, depending on perspective) I noticed the “title” of the issue included a “3,” so I checked the previous issue–that had a “2,” so I went back another issue–this one, #109–to find the “1.” I have no idea what happened immediately preceding this issue, nor do I recall what happens after. I’m nearly entirely certain this is AFTER “the Artemis” stuff when Diana ceded her role as Wonder Woman, so she’s “back in the role” now and things are moving along at a good clip.

Story-wise, we’re dropped right into the action, with no immediate context–just story. Being somewhat aware of stuff, I followed along without any trouble. I did not open the issue expecting to “know everything,” and so I was not disappointed. It’s like watching an early episode of some tv series from SEVERAL seasons earlier. I’d forgotten Byrne‘s run on the title, or that it was this early–what I DID remember made me think he’d started on the book more in the early 2000s, so that shows what I know.

Visually, I really enjoy his art here. It works very well with the story, and both Wonder Woman herself and the Flash look good…though through no fault of the art, Cassie does NOT look like I think of her from Geoff JohnsTeen Titans run…which makes sense, as this is from 1996, predating Young Justice by a couple years, and Young Justice itself ran several years before Teen Titans.

All in all, for an issue I had not planned to read, but ended up reading for momentary/immediate ‘context’ to the issue that actually grabbed my attention, I really enjoyed this, and look forward to progressing a couple more issues to the one I actually originally planned to read. This also bodes well for my enjoyment of the run, and of (eventually) filling in the gaps in my Wonder Woman run from the Perez “reboot” through Infinite Crisis.

The ’90s Revisited: The Final Night #3

final_night0003Keeping Hope Alive / Week Three: Shallow Graves

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

Well…that’s grim. And a bit disappointing.

This is the third issue of four under the Final Night title, though there are numerous tie-in issues. And yet, this issue–The Final Night #3–is continued in something else: a special, Parallax: Emerald Night #1 that was apparently on sale simultaneously with this issue.

As things worsen for Earth–the sun-eater’s drawing heat and energy from the sun but not its actual mass–Luthor (with a tip from Ted Knight) realizes that means the sun will soon go nova–incinerating all life in the system, and certainly on Earth. Amidst this, we see Warrior (Guy Gardner) and new hero Ferro getting help for a badly-injured Wildcat, and the Phantom Stranger gives Dusk a tour of humanity, showing sides other than the mob that had attacked and blamed the crisis on her. Etrigan–The Demon–proposes a bargain with humanity, that he and his kind will save the Earth, if a unanimous decision is made to embrace hell; while the Spectre protects Gaia, and Zatanna and Fire save Ray. Not stopping there, the two then enlist Firestorm to bring momentary light to the village, while Jade and Obsidian reunite with Sentinel and Superman visits his parents. Back at Warrior’s, Guy laments what things are and used to be, and then glimpses something Green.

And that “cliffhanger” leads us into the Parallax issue.

Story-wise, this issue seemed a bit more packed, and while I’ve figured stuff with The Ray would play out in his own series (thinking his series was still going on at this time), it seems that it’s been something to play out in this core series instead. I appreciate touches like the Phantom Stranger showing up and helping Dusk to see other sides of humanity–not just the bad–even though it’s a rather cliché thing. It also reminds me that the character exists and was used like this in events of this sort. Similarly, we see the Spectre acting on a global scale while remaining apart from things going on…a difficult character to handle by its nature in the face of something like this.

The art team does a good job, and everything is gotten across pretty well…I have no real complaints visually.

This third issue pushes things into dark territory, as things are looking impossible for the Earth and its heroes. The sun is being consumed, and where the Earth faced being frozen, now it faces incineration…neither condition supports life beyond a few more hours. Even Superman is at a loss–deriving his power from the sun, he’s virtually “normal” at this point, denied the sun’s energy himself. I’m convinced that Dusk does play a role in the end of this story…there’s been enough done with the character (superficial as that’s been) that it would seem a waste to not have something planned.

I’m less than thrilled at the realization that there’s the direct continuation into a side issue: while I know full well there are numerous tie-ins, numerous details going on outside this core story that are relevant to the story–thus far the core mini has technically only continued directly into itself. My satisfaction at scoring all 4 issues for $1 is diminished now, realizing that I missed the fifth issue that would make more sense to have now.

Of course, I have read that issue (though I don’t recall much detail consciously) but it would be much more satisfying to read it now and not have to go on memories from several years in the past.

For 25 cents, this was a good issue, reading in context of the mini-series as a whole, and I’ll be diving into the fourth issue shortly.

The ’90s Revisited: The Final Night #2

final_night0002Darker Grows the Night/ Week Two: Chaos

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

We open on a page of exposition via a news story to bring us up to speed on the current situation, leading into the new stuff for the issue. Lex Luthor turns himself in by way of offering his genius to help overcome the current crisis. Around the world, heroes do what they can for the general populace, assisting where their powers and abilities allow them, overcoming challenges to conventional services–such as fire trucks being unable to get to fires due to gridlock. Implementing a design from Luthor and modified by Brainiac 5, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner gets a probe into what remains of the sun, gaining valuable data. Meanwhile, the Ray and Dusk come face to face with ground-level reactions to the crisis, and we see new figures emerge.

While my initial reaction to Immonen‘s art with the previous issue was less than stellar, moving into a second issue of the art, building from that first, I found it more appealing here, perhaps for a bit of “normalization” of a growing context and expectation of it. The visuals continue to be solid, and I really was not taken out of the story by any weird/odd art…and I’ve noticed as well that despite being a “core event mini-series,” this has been seriously lacking in full/double-page shots despite the enormity of stuff going on…and that is a great thing, to me! We get a full-page image at the beginning, emphasizing the major moment of Luthor and Superman (which also serves as a credits page), and then we get a full page at the end for the “cliffhanger.” Even something as huge as Kyle Rayner descending into the Sun/being in outer space does not get itself a solo full-page. Which basically means there’s more room for story, for moments, to get development, without stuff being padded out.

The same applies to the story itself–there’s simply more content TO the issue for not falling back on several pages of little to no words and just massive imagery. We get bits with the various heroes, their interactions with each other and the world, as well as what I take to be “hints” of stuff sure to be expanded on in relevant tie-in issues. I don’t think I was ever consciously aware (and even if I was, I would not have been able to tell you so prior to this reading) that Kesel had headed up a DC event like this. I like that despite the larger role of “the trinity” we also have involvement from other heroes, and that this isn’t “just” a Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman thing with near-useless cameos of other characters.

As with the first issue, this is very much part of something larger–firstly in itself as only the second issue of a four-issue series, as well as serving as a generalized narrative impacting the bulk of the DC Universe of its time of publication. So this definitely does not stand alone (where one could sample the first issue and go from there, this isn’t even that) so there’s really no context-less point to get this issue by itself. If you’re interested in the entire mini or event, and it’s one you’re missing, it’s certainly worthwhile, but I suspect as a lone single issue one would be far more satisfied simply reading some other title’s tie-in issue to the event.

For my part, having acquired the entire mini in the same week for 25 cents an issue, I’m thoroughly enjoying the chance to read this, and find myself eager to acquire the tie-ins and get to read those as well.

%d bloggers like this: