One that really shocked me was Final Crisis: Requiem, which was simply amazing. I cannot stress how highly I recommend that issue. Another was Secret Invasion #4, which was the first issue of that event to actually make me care about Marvel's summer cash cow. It actually feels like the event has finally started.
I won't spoil all the reviews here, but for those on a limited budget, I pity having to leave the shop with so few books this week because there were a lot of outstanding books to choose from. Hit the jump to read the reviews and make sure to let me know in the comments if you were as impressed with the quality of the books this week.
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank and Jon Sibal
I had a few issues with Action Comics #867, but, for the most part, I really enjoyed the pro-active stance Superman took this issue in regards to Brainiac. It seems like he's always resting on his laurels and just waiting for the next crisis to solve instead of actively hunting down villains. For someone like Superman, it makes so much sense for him to do things like this. Hopefully he'll continue the trend in the future with his Earth-based villains.
Supergirl was surprisingly good in this issue. She added a nice emotional angle to the destruction of Krypton and the threat of Brainiac and it was good to see her and Clark together for a change.
However, this is where one of my problems with the issue stems from. She talks about the annihilation of Kandor and it's like they are talking as if they know nothing about what happened. Doesn't Clark have the bottled city of Kandor? Haven't they known what happened to it for the past several decades? I know it got smashed during that Third Kryptonian storyline, but are they talking about a different Kandor now?
Clark even went on to visit his parents and spoke about how there could be thousands of Kryptonians still out there and he had to go find the real Brainiac to try and help them. Maybe I'm missing something and there were multiple Kandors or the bottled city I know as Kandor is some kind of moon colony or something.
After saying his goodbyes to Lois and his parents, Superman leaves in a pretty cool looking spaceship made of the same crystal formations the Fortress of Solitude has. He ended up watching a video of Non, the lobotimized scientist and mentor to Jor-El that was with Zod. Johns seemed to make a big deal about Non discussing Jor-El's doomsday prophecies for the planet Krypton and how no one would listen to them and that Brainiac's motives might be tied to them. I assume it was to collect a dying species sort of like a zoo, but couldn't really see how this was worth noting or how it was new news, but Superman acted really surprised for some reason.
Finally, Superman caught up to Brainiac's probes and began destroying them with ease, with seems at odds with how one of them gave him a little trouble last issue and even cut him open. This sparks the appearance of Brainiac's mothership and he quickly bottles up another alien city before launching a probe into the nearby star and causing it to pulse (doesn't go supernova, so not sure what he did exactly) and sent a wave out into the solar system, destroying the planet and, apparently, knocking out Superman, who is then captured by the "real" Brainiac.
Verdict - Must Read. Not sure why Brainiac's probes became weaklings or what's going on with this the lack of knowledge about Kandor, but I still enjoyed this issue a great deal and can't wait to see the next one. Excellent use of supporting characters, specifically Supergirl, and a nice proactive approach by Superman combined with this creepy new version of Brainiac have me enthralled with the current storyline.
BOOSTER GOLD #1,000,000
Written by Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Art by Dan Jurgens
I'm not sure why this needed to be Booster Gold One Million, as Peter Platinum and Booster's visit to the year one million didn't really add anything to the story nor did it last long, but this issue still managed to be another amzing issue in a sea of greatness that made up this week in comics.
Contrary to the cover image, there is no fight or dramatic confrontation between Booster Gold and Peter Platinum. After watching Ted Kord sacrifice himself to fix the timeline last issue, Booster got caught in a time distortion as time corrected itself around him and it sucked him into the future, specifically the year one million.
There, he quickly runs into Peter Platinum, who is the year one million version of Booster Gold and has perfected the scam tactics of Booster Gold to become one of the most popular heroes of that era. He thinks Booster has travelled to the future to get his "cut" and offers him 5% and later 10% to not expose him. Booster is disgusted that this is his only legacy as a hero. This is the only use of Peter Platinum and Rip Hunter shows up to pick him up in his time sphere shortly after the
After being picked up by Rip Hunter, Booster, still upset over the death of Ted and pissed about his current legacy to the super hero community, tells Rip off and quits the new Time Masters team.
Upon returning to his time period, he ends up fighting the Royal Flush gang, mirroring the opening of this series, and he's quickly backed up by Green Lantern and Green Arrow, who rib him about probably setting this whole thing up and, in general, talking down to him.
Booster is visibly annoyed and the confrontation is defused by Batman, who contacts Booster and demands he come see him immediately. In the Batcave, Booster doesn't want to hear Batman tear him a new one and quickly starts getting down on himself and lists his own faults before Batman stops him mid-rant and shows him pictures from the Joker's camera on the night Batgirl was crippled that show Booster trying to stop the Joker and getting tortured.
Turns out, Batman knew about this a long time ago (retconned prep-time! does the goddamn Batman have no limits?), but noticed it was an older Booster than the one he had met in the early days of the Justice League and didn't question him until now. While the time travel implications of this are starting to hurt my brain, I loved what came next as Batman began to compliment Booster and telling him to keep doing whatever it is he's doing as he's proud of him and basically tells him to stop caring if people thinks he's crazy or a screw up and do what he thinks is right.
It was a hallmark moment, the second for Batman this week, along with Final Crisis: Requiem, and I'm pretty sure anyone that gets a heart to heart from Batman that doesn't involve him scaring the crap out of you has to feel like a million bucks and Booster is re-energized and heads back to Rip Hunter to rejoin the Time Masters.
There, Rip has a surprise for Booster with the "resurrection" of his sister, who has her own Booster-like outfit on and has been told all about Booster's mission to save time. Seems Rip plucked her out of the time stream at the moment of her death and since it's the future, there are no time ripples like with saving Ted. Not sure how this works, as there should be no concept of the past or future in time travel, but she's back, it's nice and it makes enough sense if you don't think about it too hard.
Here, we also learn the mysterious identity of Rip Hunter. Turns out he's Booster's son, as he tells him to keep up the good work and calls him "dad" as Booster and his sister use the time sphere to go off to Paris to celebrate. They were already gone and didn't hear him say this, but it's a nice touch for the fans and make sense with everything that's happened so far.
Finally, there's an awesome ending page where it shows an image of Skeets in a french beret and Booster and his sister in front of the Eiffel Tower with a historians take on the Booster Gold family and his legacy and they go to great lengths to make it sound like some profound insight into why Booster Gold was the only screw up or black sheep in the family of time travelling heroes and they conclude it by saying he was always smiling, despite his numerous screw ups, and that he was probably just an idiot on top of everything else.
Verdict - Must Read. Pure Booster Gold and I thought it was a great cap off to the Johns and Katz run on the book that really gets to core of what makes Booster Gold great. (not sure if Katz is gone, but it's Johns last issue co-writing). Look for it to dominate the Moments of the Week later this week.
FINAL CRISIS: REQUIEM
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy
Typically, whenever there is a death of a major comic book character, there's the guaranteed cash-in / follow up on it by the company in hopes of selling a few more books at the expense of the death. They almost always have little to no story and are quickly rushed out for the time sensitive aftermath. Captain America: Fallen Son is one such example of this phenomenon.
Final Crisis: Requiem, however, is not one of these cash-in books. Requiem is, by far, one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. It expands on the throwaway, one panel death of the Martian Manhunter in Final Crisis #1, showing off how powerful J'onn really is as he single handedly hands most of the villains' their collective asses even with a flaming spear in his chest, fleshes out the funeral for him, which, again, was a simple one or two panel throwaway follow up in Final Crisis #2, and pays homage and tribute to one of the greatest characters in the DC pantheon.
I was never a fan of Martian Manhunter. I didn't hate him, but I didn't care if he showed up or not. Sure, his choco eating was funny and there were some decent scenes with him every once in a while, but he was mostly a background and supporting character used to fill space by most writers that was conveniently taken out of action due to how extremely overpowered this character, who's easily more powerful than Superman, really is.
This issue was so good, though, that I honestly feel an emotional connection with J'onn and am sad to see him gone. Few comics have done that for me and I can't believe how effective Tomasi and Mahnke were at sucking me into this comic and boiling down what makes the Manhunter such a great character and still managing to make this comic better than the first two issues of Final Crisis combined. And I liked the first two issues of Final Crisis!
The only complaint I have with the book is that it starts to drag a little when they switch over from the death and funeral sections and start the pseudo flashback / homage part. It was handled well, but when a character has 60+ years of backage, it's hard to sum up his history in so few pages and the pace of the story started to drag with the wall of text we were treated to for this history lesson.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it and am glad they put that part in, as it does serve a purpose to this book's goal of paying tribute to J'onn, but I felt I needed to mention that one small snag in the story.
Verdict - Absolute Must Read. Seriously, you have to read this book. You will literally care about the Martian Manhunter after reading it and probably wonder what was going through DC's head when they killed him off. My only worry is they'll have a rushed resurrection shortly after to nullify the impact of this amazing issue, but that's just me being a bit overly cynical.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #3
Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Paul Pelletier
Guardians of the Galaxy continues to be a great, action packed cosmic adventure. There's always a shocking development (which kind of makes it not shocking if you are always expecting it to be shocking, but I digress), some great character moments and the plot seems to always be progressing, unlike other character ladden stories that get too tied up in action and lose sight of the plot or over focus on specific characters and rob the team book of the team feel.
Picking up where we left off last issue, the team is confronted by the Cardinals from the Universal Church of Truth. I'm still confused as to their power levels. They explain they run on the power of "faith", which is collected from by the Church and stored for the Cardinal's use and we're told they can do anything if they believe hard enough. Very vague and hard to classify would be one way to describe this.
My probably comes up with how they deal with our heroes. Starlord is human. He has no powers and his only weapons are the guns he brings with him. He takes several direct hits from the Cardinals and, while heavily injured near the end, walks away relatively unscathed. Warlock, another undefined, but overly powerful character, also takes hits from these Cardinals and is batted around a bit. Are they powerful enough to take on Warlock, but not strong enough to kill Quill instantly? How are other, weaker, characters able to stand up to these guys during the battle?
This isn't a deal breaker nor does it ruin the story for me, but it is something that's been nagging at me and I can't seem to ignore it for some reason.
The battle with the Cardinals didn't end up going too well for the Guardians, but they are "saved" by the anomoly they came to check out, which has somehow formed from the DNA of the colonists and morphed into a monstrous blob-like creature that kills two of the Cardinals and buying the Guardians a small reprieve.
It doesn't last, however, as the Cardinals pin down Starlord and Warlock and proceed to severely injure Peter and another stabs Warlock with some kind of mystic blade. They then teleport away from the installation and it is revealed they only wanted a blood and tissue sample from Warlock to confirm his identity. At the end of the issue, we see that the Church has their own coccoon which they originally thought was Adam Warlock and we're left to wonder what's inside their coccoon. Maybe Magus, Adam's evil alter ego?
Oh ya, the cover image? There's a character that vaguely resembles the amazingly detailed looking Starhawk character that shows up from out of nowhere and attacks both Mantis and Vance. He's cloaked from Mantis' telepathy and she cannot see any future's with him in it, explaining how he snuck up on her. After a brief fight, Starhawk disappears as quickly as he showed up.
As for the giant blob anomoly, the team opens up the sun canopy that the installation was using to protect itself from the nearby star they are harvesting energy from and it incinerates the creature. Gamora had a pretty intense character moment where she was forced to go, unprotected through the searing heat in order to save everyone by reclosing the canopy once the creature was destroyed.
Finally, the narration continues to be a problem for me, as I feel the reality TV style character logs rob any action scenes of any drama or conflict because we already know these characters survive and aren't in any real danger since they are always narrating the issue with random comments. However, this is just a quirk with me and something I've resigned myself to try and get used to as it looks like Abnett and Lanning will be using this style for the forseeable future.
Verdict - Must Read. I love the characters and plot of this book, especially how DnA are drawing on so much past history with the Guardians and Adam Warlock. Add in some great art and lots of great action scenes and it's hard to pass up this new book.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #17
Written by Geoff Johns and Alex Ross
Art by Dale Eaglesham and Prentis Rollins
This is another "Gog shows how great he is and proves he's not evil" issue and is, for all intents and purposes, another setup issue that seems to be what every issue of JSA has been since Thy Kingdom Come started, but I can't help but enjoy it when Johns puts out a book as good as this one was.
The best thing about this issue has to be the character moments. Whether it was Damage and Cyclone's chat, which featured a very cute Cyclone who seemed tongue tied around Damage, who's all smiles after his face was restored by Gog last issue, or Mr Terrific confronting his own lack of faith or just the small things and one line sentences that seemed to capture the essence of every character in this issue, such as Stargirl lamenting about how she used to feel useless when she first started or Gog's "gifts" to the heroes, where Sandman was given a good night's sleep or Wonder Woman's confronting of Gog, they were all excellent scenes and Johns managed to make me feel like I know every single character featured in this issue. And that's quite a feat when the cast is as large as this book's and that's before we count the guest starring Justice League.
The character moments weren't the only things that happened in this issue. Gog's so-called gifts to the heroes could easily be miscontrued as simply eliminating the stronger characters, such as taking Sandman out of action for the next 24 hours with his "good night's sleep" or the spiriting away of Power Girl to Earth-2, which she apparently has always wished for. These gifts could easily cause rifts in the team with those, like Damage, that love what Gog has done for them more than likely siding with Gog in any future events.
There was one thing I wasn't happy with and that was the restoring of Starman's mind, which even he says is "a bad thing". Not sure why he would say that, but I'm going to miss his hilarious rambling. Sloppy Joe Wednesdays will never be the same.
The ending to this issue promises some conflict in the next issue with Gog enraged and screaming he will eradicate war after he senses some violence near by. Will he resolve this peacefully or will it lead to bloodshed and divisions within the JSA and JLA over what to do about Gog?
Verdict - Must Read. It took a while, but JSA seems to be back on track after the slow and filler-like Thy Kingdom Come issues and Gog's creepy smile still gives me nightmares. Can't wait to see where this goes in upcoming issues.
SECRET INVASION #4
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Leinel Yu
The only thing I can say about this issue is that it's about freaking time Bendis started this event. That's a pretty strange thing to say about the 4th issue of a line-wide comic book event, but it's true. Nothing has happened in the first three issues aside from cliched, every other week helicarrier crashes, Baxter Building explosions and New York invasions. The heroes have been in the Savage Land almost since the very beginning and their conflict with the Skrull imposters still isn't even resolved.
Thankfully, Bendis seems to have finally taken one giant step forward and kicked this event into at least middle gear, if not high gear. I'm still not completely sold on this event, but I, at least, don't feel like I'm wasting my money anymore.
The issue started off with something I immediately liked - showing us where Reed Richards is and what the Skrulls are doing with him - and continues with an interesting narration of the events that lead up to the invasion that acted as recap, but was still an interesting read at the same time. This narration started to drag on a bit after the first dozen or so pages, but was still pretty effective as far as the story goes and in a nice twist, it ended up being Spider-Woman / the Skrull Queen talking to Iron Man the entire time, which added to my overall enjoyment of the long winded narrative.
One of my first problems with the issue, however, comes in the form of Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos. For a Nick Fury trained team of newbies, I didn't expect every single one of them, even the little kid, to be masters of banter and to be all using Bendis-speak. I know Fury is good, but these guys should at least play the role of the new guys instead of everyone cracking wise and acting like they've been doing this forever. Also, that gun Fury is using is ridiculous and whoever's idea that was should be shot.
Furthermore, what was the point of Fury's attack? His Commandos take out a few Skrulls and then he shoots Ms Marvel, who is not a Skrull and was busy fighting dozens of Skrulls at the time, before they all teleport out of there, leaving her to the Skrulls to either be taken captive or die. Why didn't he just shoot one of the green skinned Skrulls instead of randomly taking a pot shot at a human-looking super hero and hoping he guessed right she was a Skrull?
This is about when they cut to the Savage Land and we find out it was Spider-Woman messing with Tony's head with the narration thing. Black Widow snuck up on them and, just as she was about to attack Spider-Woman, is, herself, attacked by Pheonix and Beast. If you read the Who Do You Trust one shot, you'll know they went to great lengths to try and make us doubt whether this Beast was really a Skrull or not and it was a great story with him and our non-Skrull Wonder Man.
Well, toss that issue out the window because Black Widow kills both Pheonix and Beast with her, uh, guns and both revert to Skrull forms. Ya, Skrull Pheonix, based on one of the most powerful characters in the universe, died to ordinary hand guns. Moving on.
Widow quickly gets Iron Man back up on his feet with a shot of adrenaline and we cut to Agent Brand, who has snuck aboard a Skrull spaceship, and it appears she will be playing a bigger role than I originally thought in this series as she looks to be the one that will free Reed Richards based on what we see here.
Finally, the issue ends with a bang, literally (well, technically it's a KRAKABOOM), as Thor brings the thunder and promptly kills a large group of Super Skrulls attacking some fleeing civilians as Captain America (Bucky version) looks on with his binoculars. I love the promise this scene has, but thought I was missing the final splashpage after seeing the To Be Continued at the bottom of the page. It was just a series of 4 or 5 panels and Thor is in shadows (despite most of the page devoted to his panel) and we only see a few close up of Cap's shield and his binoculars. I was expecting some dramatic Civil War #3-like Thor splashpage or some combination of he and Cap to end the issue. Not this generic looking finish.
Verdict - Must Read. Despite some complaints, I'm still giving this a Must Read. This issue finally got me interested in this event and I'm honestly looking forward to the next issue, a feeling I haven't had for any of the Secret Invasion issues to date. Add the fact that Thor and Bucky Cap have basically existed in their own bubble universes over in their own books for the last few years and seeing them show up in this event seems to have way more impact than it should for these two characters.