Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason and Drew Geraci
Easily the best book of the week, Green Lantern Corps delivered the goods and then some with a Sinestro Corps War-like battle royal with Mongul that featured a shocking ending that I didn't see coming.
After quickly taking out the assembled Green Lantern Corps members last issue, Mongul orders Mother Mercy to feed the GLC's to her children and harvest the rings from their dead bodies when she is finished under the threat of extinction for her and her children if she does not comply.
Mother Mercy agrees, but secretly frees the GL's after Mongul leaves. We were treated to another glimpse at the GL's deepest fears, which was a great useage of the Mercies on Tomasi's part.
It was, quite possibly, one of the most badass things I've ever seen.
I was, however, really disappointed Ion didn't do much considering how powerful he's supposed to be, but I'll chalk it up to him being weakened after being trapped by the Mercies for the past few issues.
With Mongul badly injured by Bzzd, the Green Lanterns send him flying into Mother Mercy's killing field where she begins feeding him to her children. His Sinestro Corps rings never fly away, implying he isn't dead, but the issue ended by showing most of his body submerged in the Mercy's digestive system and Mongul's severed arm lying next to him. Add in the fact Bzzd burst through his eyeball and I can't see how he survived this encounter, but if he survives digestion, he may show up as a Black Lantern later on.
Sadly, Bzzd, one of the more unique Green Lanterns, didn't survive the encounter, already weakened by the Black Mercies and encounter with Mongul last issue, and died shortly after his assault on Mongul. I didn't think I'd care about the little guy's death, but Tomasi did another great job handling the death of a character (see his treatment of Martian Manhunter in Requiem for another recent instance of this) and Bzzd's death scene was another powerful moment in this issue.
Finally, Bzzd's ring and the Sinestro Corps ring of Mongul's subordinate flew off to find a new host, both choosing Mother Mercy for the job. She (it?) cuts off her own tentacle and hands over the Sinestro ring to the Green Lanterns to take back to Oa, opting to become the newest member of the Green Lantern Corps. I'm not sure how this will work out because Bzzd was Mogo's partner and this will make two stationary Green Lanterns for one sector, one being a planet and the other confined to her planet. Maybe Mother Mercy will migrate to Mogo? Still, that sector is screwed in terms of GL support...
Verdict - Must Read. It's worth it just for the Mongul fight alone, but, once you add in the character moments and death of Bzzd and Mother Mercy joining the GLC, it makes this issue a must have for everyone.
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Fernando Blanco
Wow, Christos Gage brought his A game for this issue of Thunderbolts. After some less than stellar Tbolt one-shots during Ellis' run, I was beginning to think Gage just didn't get these characters and wasn't expecting anything to come from his follow up to Ellis' critically acclaimed run.
I'm glad I gave him the benefit of the doubt and picked this issue up because it was an all around great issue and, while not as off the wall and over the top as Ellis' run was, Gage still manages to channel a lot of the humour and team dynamics (or is that team disfunctions?) that made Ellis' so great.
For instance, this issue kicks off with the team attempting to take down Swarm, an old "Bee"-list Spider-Man villain, and Gage really nailed Norman Osborn's character on the Zeus, specifically in regards to his conversation with Moonstone and random Gwen Stacy fetish jokes.
While not as off the wall and over the top as Ellis' run was, Gage still manages to channel a lot of the humour and team dynamics that made Ellis' so great.
Overall, this opening sequence was a great introduction for everyone on the team and for any readers late to the party or just picking this title up for the Secret Invasion tie-ins.
Speaking of Secret Invasion, Swordsman's "sister" mysteriously showed up this issue and Gage plays it like she was resurrected by Arnim Zola. Norman doesn't particularly like this because he was using Strucker's sister as leverage to keep him in line and under his thumb. If this wasn't labelled a Secret Invasion tie-in, I almost would have believed this mystery return as it was a plausible explanation. However, it is an SI tie-in and, at this point in time, I can't see any other conclusion other than her being a Skrull.
Finally, the last few pages of this issue are dedicated to retelling the Captain Marvel attack on Thunderbolts Mountain and next month should pick up with the Norman / Cap fight. One new detail from the fight was Songbird's mentioning of Genis and Skrull Captain Marvel confusing her mentioning of his son with Hulkling, which was another nice nod to past continuity on Gage's part, referencing the Young Avengers Presents - Hulkling issue, something we don't see too often these days.
While Gage managed to knock the characterization of the Ellis Thunderbolts out of the park, the same can't be said for Fernando Blanco's art when compared to Mike Deodato's. He didn't do a terrible job here, but it's clearly no where near Deodato's level and a drastic dip in quality when compared to the past year's worth of art.
Verdict - Must Read. If you dropped this with Ellis and Deodato's departure or were leary of Gage's work after his lackluster one-shots, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how well this issue turned out and this is also far more than a simple Secret Invasion tie-in or filler issue.
Written by Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction
Art by Terry Dodson
Tracing by Greg Land
Well, this couldn't have turned out any worse than it did. I can't believe two of my favourite writers, who have co-written books together before, managed to put out one of the worst X-Men comics I've ever read. Okay, maybe not the worst, as it's hard to top Chuck Austen's run, but this wasn't that much better.
For starters, the team has moved to San Francisco, as we've all known was going to happen for a while and already saw in Astonishing X-Men a few weeks ago. However, there's no explanation for it other than they had to go out there for that hippy storyline Brubaker threw together.
We're also lead to believe that some random artist was able to buy three fully functional Sentinels, old school ones at that (not the Eva versions O*N*E* was sporting), and was able to import them into America and feature them in a highly publicized art exhibit? Where the hell was SHIELD or the FBI or any other local authority? I can't get on a plane with a bottle of water anymore and he's buying Sentinels at the dollar store. Do they just sell these Sentinels to anyone off the street? How the hell did an artist afford one, let alone three, of them?
It doesn't explain the fact this was a publicized event that allowed a civilian to set up three 20 meter tall walking death machines in downtown San Francisco.
Let's ignore this ridiculous premise and skip to the actual event. Magneto, who was last seen depowered and portrayed like the Magneto we have always known in X-Men: Legacy, walks into the party in full costume, activates the Sentinels with his powers and proceeds to sic them on the unwitting X-Men who were in attendance to make sure nothing bad happens with these giant death machines on display.
This would be fine and dandy, as who doesn't like seeing Magneto and Sentinels and other classic X-Men villains in action, but the Magneto featured here is almost as retarded and out of character as Grant Morrison's drug using Hitler version in New X-Men, but nowhere near as entertaining or well written as Morrison's version.
Magneto isn't the only character written out of character as we've got Cyclops pulling pages out of Jeph Loeb's handbook with the always classy, "Suck it!" and the X-Men getting upset and joking about killing all of the human protestors upset over the Sentinels being used at the art showing.
Hell, Angel, who's the weakest X-Man by far, took one of the Sentinels out over San Francisco bay and destroyed it by himself, all off panel of course. He has no powers other than the ability to fly and the Sentinels were giving the heavy hitters some problems, yet he acts all cocky and ignores orders and requests for status updates while he goes off with the Sentinel in tow.
Later, Emma asks Scott if she can mindwipe a random party goer because he asked them for an autograph and Scott just jokes about not being able to tell anyways if they lobotimized him. Who are these assholes and what happened to the X-Men?
Cannonball, who hadn't been in the entire issue, shows up, slams into Magneto's back and ends the threat before disappearing just as quickly as he showed up.
Speaking of which, this battle ended up being a distraction so that the High Evolutionary could go off and do something to the sleeping Celestial before teleporting away to show that it was he who created Magneto's new costume and the two were teaming up together to do something together to save mutantkind. Looks like they are ignoring everything that happened in Annihilation: Conquest in regards to the HE, too.
Remember all that talk about disbanding the X-Men and the mansion just being a death trap and target for mutant haters to easily find and kill mutants? It is completely ignored as Cyclops sets up the exact same thing over in San Fran, right down to putting the new digs on the outskirts of the city just like the former mansion. He even goes on to, with the aid of Emma, pyschically call every other mutant on Earth and tell them to come to San Francisco where they can all live in peace and be happy or some crap. Obviously, no one is going to attack them in SF like they did in New York. If they wanted to move the team to a new location, that's fine, but don't bullshit the readers with some made up reasons that are contradicted the minute they move.
Regarding the artwork, I was surprised at how well Land and the Dodsons meshed together. I was expecting drastic shifts in style throughout the issue, but, aside from the occasional porn face on Land's part, the art was surprisingly consistent and turned out much better than I expected. I still hate Land's work and can't stand the fact Marvel is giving him such a high profile gig, but this wasn't his worst showing ever either.
Verdict - Avoid It. It might work as a jumping on point for some new readers, but I sure as hell wouldn't recommend it to anyone and won't be coming back to check this book out again for a long, long time.