Archive for April, 2004

Teen Titans: A Kid’s Game

April 13, 2004 | Trades

Teen Titans: A Kid’s Game Geoff Johns, Mike McKone, Marlo Alquiza, Tom Grummett, Nelson DeCastro, Kevin Conrad DC Comics $15.25/$9.99 US (Paperback) ***** (out of five) If comic book writer Geoff Johns hadn’t decided to take that career path he would have made an excellent gardener … because he is a master of planting seeds. One of the hottest writers in the industry, Johns took the job of resurrecting DC’s Teen Titans last year and immediately turned it into one of the top selling books in comics. While the book looks stunning, featuring brilliant art by Mike McKone, is packed with smart dialogue and peppered with the obligatory amount of battles and explosions, what makes this book the best team book on the market today is the pacing. Johns is dropping all these little seeds throughout A Kid’s Game: Why is someone trying to stop the Teen Titans from re-forming? Superman is only one half of Superboy’s genetic makeup. Who is the other? Is there a romance brewing between Wonder Girl and Superboy? Who is Raven and why is she popping in and out of the Titans’ lives? The best part of this ongoing title and this collected edition is that that answers to many of these questions still haven’t been given yet. In a world of instant gratification Johns is making his readers wait and the slow and steady payoffs make it compelling, thoughtful and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Add to that the amazingly cheap cover price and this collection is the best deal around.

Green Arrow: Straight Shooter

April 13, 2004 | Trades

Green Arrow: Straight Shooter Judd Winick, Phil Hester, Ande Parks DC Comics $19.95/$12.95 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Green Arrow’s life is one of excess. The emerald archer goes from adventurous crime-fighting to the beds of beautiful women to fun with his family when things are going well, to having to take on a gang of three-ton ogres, being hunted by an assassin and getting crucified to a morgue floor when they’re bad. Worst of all is that usually his flippant attitude and callous lack of self-control is the cause of all the bad stuff. There are few characters that are such an interesting mix of nobility and depravity, but damn does it make for interesting reading. Writer Judd Winick in this volume brings the adventures of Green Arrow (Ollie Queen to his friends) to the pages and he really nails the essence of the character. Ollie is a lech, a rogue, an obnoxious loudmouth, a thoughtless heel and a dozen more negative things. He cheats on his girlfriend, he lies to his kids, he fights dirty and still he’s the hero. In spite of all these negatives Ollie still carries the nobility of trying to help the people of his city, picking fights with the bad guys, who can clearly kick his middle-aged butt, and more often than not, trying to do the right thing at the expense of his blood and bones. There may have been fears that after Hollywood director Kevin Smith brought Ollie back to a monthly book three years ago and New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer picked up, then quickly dropped, the reigns of this title that wouldn’t be the same. Straight Shooter shows Green Arrow is in good hands.

Voltron: Defender Of The Universe — Revelations

April 13, 2004 | Trades

Voltron: Defender Of The Universe: Revelations Mike Norton, Mark Brooks, Clint Hilinski Devil’s Due $11.95 US (Paperback) *** ½ (out of five) There’s a temptation to write of Voltron as just another 80s product licensed out and made into a comic, but this book is really quite solid. Devil’s Due’s re-interpretation of the origin of the Voltron force, the four men and one woman who team up to pilot the five giant robotic lions which become the robot warrior, is well told. It’s familiar, yet fresh and gives the reader an entertaining ride that leaves you wondering what’s to come. The pseudo-manga style of artists Mike Norton, Mark Brooks and Clint Hilinski suits the material perfectly and doesn’t come off as too childish or cartoony as some anime-interpreted books can be. For those who remember weekday afternoons on the couch watching Voltron kick some robeast butt and new readers alike, this book is a sweet little blast from the past.

The Doom Patrol Archives Vol. 2

April 13, 2004 | Trades

The Doom Patrol Archives Vol. 2 Arnold Drake, Bruno Premiani, Bob Brown DC Comics $76.95/$49.95 US (Hardcover) *** ½ (out of five) The Doom Patrol have always been more of a cult title when compared to other team books from DC, like the Justice League of America, the Legion Of Superheroes and even the Teen Titans. That’s probably why this title has been killed and brought back so many times over the past 40 years. They are a weird collection of misfits: the brilliant, wheelchair-bound Chief; the bandage-covered, mummy-esque Negative Man; the beautiful Elasti-Girl, with the ability to shrink and grow as will; and the man’s brain in a robot body, aptly dubbed: Robotman. But when these characters were first brought together in 1963 the angst of being freaky in a straight-laced world hadn’t been done to death yet in comics such as Marvel’s X-Men and it really worked. When Superman would show up at the scene of a bank robbery or bomb threat in Anytown, U.S.A, everyone knew that the hero was here. He would save the day. When The Doom Patrol arrive at the same situations and offer to help, they are regarded with much more suspicion, because, let’s face it, they look bizarre! The villains they faced were equally weird. The clock-faced Mr. Tyme, Monsieur Mallah, the giant talking gorilla and The Brain, simply an evil scientist’s brain in a jar. This second collection of Doom Patrol adventures from 1964-65 contains eight offbeat tales reproduced at the very high standard we’ve come to expect from DC’s Archive Editons and includes an introduction by legendary comic writer Roy Thomas. The Doom Patrol Archives Vol. 2 is a very fine and often-neglected piece of Silver Age comics worth exploring.


April 13, 2004 | Comics

Spooked Antony Johnson, Ross Campbell Oni Press $14.95 US (Paperback) *** ½ (out of five) Emily Spook’s head is a flophouse for ghosts — and the latest visitor may end up turning Emily into one herself. This grim, dark, gothy piece of work by writer Antony Johnson and illustrator Ross Campbell, sets the self-centred and mildly psychotic Emily on the path to finding out who killed Simon, a spirit who would not go quietly over into the light and is currently trapped in her noggin. While trying to get her art career going and wallowing in her own self pity at having this paranormal ability, Emily, at Simon’s behest, tries to track down what happened to him and quickly becomes embroiled in an occult murder mystery. The heavily pierced Emily is a character who is both innocent and vulnerable, yet detached and of dubious intentions, making her a very compelling protagonist. Campbell’s drawings, reproduced in black and white, really set the tone of this book and give the streets of London eeriness and a sinister feel. The final chapter to this tale ends with the door a bit too far open for a sequel for some tastes, but does come together well leaves the reader with a sense of satisfaction, if not completion.

JLA Vol. 13: Rules Of Engagement

April 13, 2004 | Trades

JLA Vol 13: Rules Of Engagement Joe Kelly, Rick Veitch, Darryl Banks, Wayne Faucher, Doug Mahnke, Tom Nguyen, Duncan Rouleau, Aaron Sowd DC Comics $19.95/$12.95 US (Paperback) ** ½ (out of five) DC Comics did a very smart thing to the JLA eight years ago: they put together the dream team. The JLA, or Justice League of America for those not in the know, brought together all the classic DC heroes: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter. But just as they have over the 44 years since the team’s inception, circumstances forced the company to change the members of the team around. Aquaman died. Then he came back, but didn’t want to be on the team right now. Green Lantern went for a long trip into outer space, so a new GL took his place. The Atom came back off sabbatical. And the team added some new members: Major Disaster, a reformed criminal; the Apache shaman, Manitou Raven; and the mysterious, Faith. Rules Of Engagement tells three brief stories that are more about getting to know these new members and than, with all due respect to writer Joe Kelly, telling a great story. The two-part Rules Of Engagement story is another static “look at us heroes doing heroic things” piece, while the three-issue White Rage arc had some more interesting plot twists but comes off a tad convoluted. The JLA is still one of the best teams around, but there have been much better JLA collections than this one.

The Authority: Harsh Realities

April 13, 2004 | Trades

The Authority: Harsh Realities Robbie Morrison, Dwayne Turner, Tan Eng Huat, Sal Regla, Sandra Hope Wildstorm/DC Comics $22.95/$14.95 US (Paperback) ** (out of five) Five years ago The Authority was the most cutting-edge comic around. But that was then… When The Authority, a more real-world team of super-humans who’ve decided to stop fighting super-villains and started fighting for a better world, first debuted it was brilliant. This was one of the first mainstream titles where the heroes cut loose and brutally killed the bad guys and had sex and swore, but all in an extremely thought-provoking way, courtesy of British geniuses Warren Ellis and Mark Millar. Now, after The Authority closed up shop for a year, comes a new series, a new issue No. 1 under Wildstorm’s Eye Of The Storm “suggested for mature readers” banner. What was fresh and pushing the envelope is now forced and contrived. It’s like your buddy swearing every other word and thinking he’s cool. On top of that this book’s spine is the worst case of false advertising around. The credit reads: Morrison and Turner. Grant Morrison and Mike Turner are two of the hottest names in comics and are currently burning up the comic sales charts with their books. Unfortunately this book is written by somebody named Robbie Morrison and is drawn by Dwayne Turner. Not exactly the dream team. Harsh Realities is a bit of a disappointment from a traditionally excellent franchise.