Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Ken Lashley
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
“Kneel before Zod!” No, seriously, get down on the ground, this issue was pretty damn good. There are definitely two thematic flavors spinning out of this villainous decimal month: origin and now. ZOD is a tale of how the baddest Kryptonian since H’EL became a denizen of the phantom zone. The plot is a bit muddled, but I’ll forgive any fumbles when a touchdown is scored on characterization.
If power set wasn’t enough to make Zod and Superman opposite sides of the same coin, we learn that Zod was also a descendant of the science caste on the planet that was. Both of Zod’s parents were scientists and brought him on an expedition to one of the more wild satellites in the Krypton solar system for a little Xenobiology research. Basically the parents die and Zod is left to fend for himself until a rescue craft with two brothers from the house of El pick up a distress beacon. Pak pulls a nice surprise at the end as well to show that nature plays a part in Zod’s bad assery, keeping this from being a straight up Tarzan in space.
I’ll tell you tough, it wasn’t the origin or the way Zod takes control of the army that entranced me. Yes, the origin was fun and yes watching him plant evidence so he can start a war with a race of people that can only hit with sticks was more than evil enough, but what I loved was the pageantry of Krypton.
Between the beats there are some great political machinations at play between the castes. Especially interesting was the relationship between Jor-El and his brother. This aristocracy on the verge of collapse more than resonates with real world sociological trends, which always makes for good comic booking. Also, Lobdell’s back stories about Jor-El over in SUPERMAN makes for a pretty cool science/action piece, something the DC stable really doesn;t have right now. Sniff…Sniff – do I perhaps smell a new World of Krypton brewing in the idea ether? Good book, but again I did have to look closely to see exactly what Zod did to piss everyone off so much.
My favorite villain book thus far. I should have known Snyder and Fawkes were in the driver’s seat with the quality of this puppy, but since the credits live in the back this month I wasn’t sure if we had a new rising star on our hands.
Edward Nigma received one of the freshest makeovers in the New 52, completely abandoning any past incarnations as a Joker pastiche with simply a penchant for puzzles. Where Joker is sheer lunacy Riddler is cold and calculating, he’s simply so smart he has an OCD compulsion to keep his brain busy with puzzles. He’s also a petty man as opposed to an outright lunatic.
This whole issue takes place in the now, but is retribution for what was. Anyone who hasn’t been following Zero Year in BATMAN might be a bit lost on motivation, but that shouldn’t stop your enjoyment of this solitary black diamond. Basically Nigma was a process efficiency consultant for Wayne enterprises when Bruce was on his Rumspringa before coming back to don the cowl. I deal with these sharks on a daily basis because of my day job and I’ll tell you now, Snyder has nailed it. Basically the jig came up and Nigma ended in prison.
So this is retribution against Bruce and a certain Wayne guard who once worked in Arkham during Nigma’s tenure. The issue starts with a series of riddles and the answer to each helps Riddler in his scheme – all clever, all apropos. Now for some reason, and with that kind of bleed in you know I question the choice – but beyond his two fold mission of success he opines for the Batman to come play. Too Jokery for me. Too many obsessed criminals to the point of forlorn love will become a cacophony white distilled noise instead of an emotional gut punch.
Haun deserves a special shout out for Nigma’s new yet respectful of yore visage, and for making what’s basically a guy going to the top of a building as exciting as Die Hard’s decent down one.
When playing RPG’s if I’m given the choice between a rogue or a warrior I always backstab before bash. I share this strategy because apparently DC agrees with me. We don’t know Lobo…all the comments about him joining weight watchers and being more village people than biker bar are true…and not. Basically our favorite Czaranian wasn’t the last of his kind. There’s another survivor – Lobo.
So if this sophisticate laser katana wielding is the biggest and baddest bounty hunter and smuggler in the galaxy who is the bastiche who pwned our longboxes back in the 90’s? Who gives a shit, the new guy is way cooler. Where Ole is a lout New is a cad. Both can obliterate a room, but new Lobo is a graceful ballet compared to the old Lobo’s tank like ploughing. All of these character traits come alive as well as new Lobo’s complete lack of a moral core as we watch him commit some xenon-trafficking. The payment for this mission is the location of Lobo the Lesser.
Part of whether you can move forward will boil down to taste, Personally, I’ve always hated any Lobo-likes in real life, so I’m happy to see the troglodyte retire. I guess I shouldn’t jump to any assumptions, but I would love to see new Lobo transplant.
I don’t remember reading any of Ms. Bennett before, but I hope this isn’t a one-time gig. Her structure is beautiful and dialog more than engaging. Watch out Ms. Simone, you’re not the only hen in the cock house anymore.
Poor Vril’ Dox, I’ve always had a soft spot for the old L.E.G.IO.N., but I do understand time moves on. It just pains me to see a man who once struggled to understand the plebeians beneath him want to crush and possess them instead.
We learn in this issue that smart people are really friggin scary and no one should trust them. The story of Vril’s evolution to Brainiac is standard but appropriate: he’s basically a scientist who has no moral boundaries in his path to personal enlightenment. Experiment on my child, sure. Divorce my wife, sure. Hijack my prison ship to enslave a portion of my people and destroy the rest – Vril, like Honey Badger does’t give a shit.
Now, what he’s pursuing is interesting from a book and universe perspective. Basically refugees from a war in the 5th dimension have bled to ours and they are devouring planets one by one. Vril’s mission is to stop them at all of the aforementioned costs until the obsession finally devours the man.
BRAINIAC didn’t get enough attention during ACTION in my humble opinion and it’s nice to see this old staple truly unleashed at the inception of his evil.
Oh and don’t judge a book’s art by its cover, Brainiac looks nothing like a black fun house slide in the actual issue nor is Superman even present.
SWORD OF SORCERY #1 AMETHYST & BEOWULF
Writer: Christy Marx & Tony Bedard
Artist: Aaron Lopresti & Jesus Saiz
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
This third wave of New 52 is a strange wave indeed. PHANTOM STRANGER makes sense; the trinity of sin has been teased long enough, time to start opening their evil kimonos. TEAM 7 I liked in execution, I just can’t understand why the five years before thing…is still a thing. TALON, meh, would have been better if it was Bruce Wayne’s supposed “Brother” as the focal character. I get TALON from a sales perspective, but I just don’t care about some random Court of Owls assassin.
Then there’s SWORD OF SORCERY. It’s not a corrective measure, nor is it a Jefferson (my term for characters too big to contain in their parent series). It’s an almost 40 year old property that I have never heard whispered out of the mouths’ of nerds. However, out of the three it is far and away the property worthy of the famed comic outcry EXCELSIOR.
Marx has hydraulic powered writing chops, which is no surprise since she basically wrote the story of Gen X’s youth. Transformers, G.I. Joe, hell even Jem and the Holograms were all Marx’s brain-babies. In the days when cable topped out at 50 channels, before there were 12 different cartoon networks, I and practically all of my contemporaries were enthralled by a Marx property between the hours of 3 and 5 PM after school every day.
Twenty some odd years later, Marx has lost none of her luster and it shines through in AMETHYST. Where so many writers of yore end up trapped in amber in with their structure and tonality, Marx shows she still has the aptitude to tap into the Zeitgeist of youth.
This is issue 1, but let’s all be honest with each other, issue 1 was really disguised in the circular wrapper of zero last month. Issue zero introduced to our hero Amy, a girl moved from place-to-pace her whole life, looking or some kind of tether to other teens. As she approached her 17th birthday in that issue, her courage gained power as she helped a girl in school escape Jock rape and summarily be dismissed by said girl for ruining her chance at popularity. Basically Amy, like so many youth, just wants to belong, to not feel alone in the world. Unfortunately she is alone as she learns when her Mother enacts a ritutla seventeen years in the making that teleports them to the equivalent of DC’s middle earth.
Once in this strange land, which is ruled by the houses of greater and lesser gems, Amy learns her birthright as the Princess of the Amethyst Empire and why she and her Mother had been hiding in our world for so many years. Apparently Amy’s Aunt and her Mother have a difference in opinion on who should rule, and Amy was kept safe on Earth Prime until she reached a battle ready age.
Now, that’s the meta story, the high-level. Marx grounds the book in Amy’s wonder at this new land (especially the fact she’s now instantly blonde), he struggle with this new power of the Amethyst gem and a birthright to rule that would be unsettling for any American. As her new allies of the lesser Citrine help Amy and her Mother escape the forces of the ruling Amethyst queen, Marx does a wonderful job infusing our world’s sensibilities and sarcasm with the ancient age of reverence and birthright. Amy…Amethyst…whatever you want to call her, is a strong female character who doesn’t need to use sex or man hating to be interesting. She exuded a power of sprit in issue 0 helping others when she didn’t have mystical powers fueling her. Now that she’s super charged with AMETHYST, her tale becomes even more intriguing.
I also applaud Marx for gently acclimating us to this strange new world. In each issue we learn a little more about this mystical place in just the right drips and drabs. Issue 0 introduced us to the House of Amethyst blood feud. Issue 1 expands to show us a little more about the Amethyst revel allies in the House of Citrine and introduces the House of Diamond, another greater house waiting o see who will win in the war of Amethyst.
Lopresti delivers gorgeous pencils that fall between traditional fantasy and younger reader comic fare. But even in this sugar coated fantasy land there is a realness and power to every emotional close-up and weathered face of battle.
I never thought I would endorse a book about a teenage heroine and a land divided up by precious gems, but I stand here doing just that. Of course the fangeezer in me is pulling a fervid Horseshack (R.I.P.) oh oh oh oh Mr. Carter, on questions like, “Is this strange land a parallel earth or a pocket dimension” and “how the hell does this tie into main continuity?” However, for now, Marx has created enough of a character drama to keep those questions at bay.
Now where I’m having a hard time keeping those questions bottled is the Bedard penned BEOWULF back-up. I groaned when I read the title; as I remembered being subjected to this poem of ancient heroics in every English class from 7th grade to 101 in college. But then I saw Saiz’s gorgeous renderings of the ancient Nordic landscape and Bedard’s unique twist on the mythology of placing Beowulf as a modern man in ancient lands and I realized this was BEOWULF in name, but not ancient boredom.
As we rolled into issue 2, I mean 1, I was fully ready to accept this as a stand-alone Science-Fantasy tale and put my questions of continuity and larger world context on the shelf where they belong. Now, it wasn’t the appearance of Iron Trolls that made my fangeezer radar go off. After all, if an ancient Nord saw a robot, troll would be a pretty good designation. It was when we switched to BEOWULF’s POV, and we get a computer Head’s Up Display that identifies the Iron Trolls as Waynetech war machines.
SO BEOWULF is either a machine or a man with heavy cybernetics and Waynetech has made its way to this strange land of yore. After these revelations, I think fans everywhere are justified in their own Horseshack moments of inquiry as we wait for the pieces to come together.
Again, enjoy these stories for what they are – FANTASTIC FUCKING STORIES. If you or a young fan in your life find comic continuity impenetrable, SWORD OF SORCERY is a greta palce to get the best of the New DC sans any baggage…for now…maybe…I think…who knows…just go enjoy a GREAT book.
GREEN LATERN NEW GUARDIANS 0
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Aaron Kuder
Reviewer: Rob Patey (Optimous Douche- Ain’t It Cool News)
This series isn’t the best, but I laugh like the Joker getting his taint tickled when people say they don’t buy this book because, “They don’t know where it’s going.” Come a little closer, I’ll whisper it to you. KYLE RAYNOR IS GOING TO BE A GUARDIAN. DC was about as tricksy with their clue work as a stoned hobbit here.
Now, what this zero entry illuminates is that Kyle, just might be the only Guardian as he has a mano-a-womano with Hal Jordan gal pal, and Star Sapphire, Carol Ferris.
For the past year NEW GUARDIANS has brought together major players from the Skittles brigade of light to thwart an intergalactic ship that was the size of an entire universe. Death Star? Psshhhaww…this is the 21st century and comics should always do better than movies because they can. But what also was happening during this time is Kyle’s ring was picking up all the other rings’ powers through osmosis, making him a little bit blue, yellow, purple, orange, green, country and rock and roll.
The book has been slow till now, but I fault it’s pivotal place in the DC Universe versus placing any blame on Bedard. The slow burn story telling needed to happen because the other GREEN titles needed to set-up the fact the little blue bastards were losing their omnipotent shit. After all, you can’t have new Guardians until the old Guardians are successfully dethroned.
If my in-the-know speak confuses you, you know nothing about the GREEN LANTERN universe and as such should avoid this title. There’s nothing new to see here folks, if you weren’t inclined to follow the doings of GREEN LANTERN before, this book won’t change your mind.
Longtime fans however will learn scads of new information, like a certain faceless overlords of love teaming up with the little blue bastards to destroy anyone who wields a ring and lantern. Also, in a very sincere moment both Carol and Kyle learn of Hal and Sinestro’s recent decent into the black and the rise of new Lantern El Bastardo the evilest Mexican wrestler to ever be named a Lanter…I mean…SImon Baz…a muslim dude from Detroit.
Two points on Kuder’s art, it’s beautiful…except when Carol smiles. In those moments I felt less joy and more fear for my immortal soul being devoured. Seriously, I don’t know what it is, there were just a couple panels where I truly felt Carol was more maniacal than happy.
I think this 13th issue (sorry gotta call a horse a Sarah Jessica Parker here) didn’t do a lot to illuminate the past, but like GREEN LANTERN’S 13th foray in zero land, it put the book on a new and I think better direction for it’s second year.
Less team work – more Kyle please.