w. Marguerite Bennett
a. Emanuela Lupacchino, Meghan Hetrick, Ig Guarra & Diogenes Neves
3 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Solely because Bennett is attached to this. Normally I would pass on a Lois Lane one-shot. I’m glad they changed the nature of Lois’ and Superman’s relationship and I respect her as a necessary part of the Superman Mythos. And as much as people like to cry and complain about her separation from Clark… and him getting some Amazon action, anyone who has actually been reading the books, knows Lois is still a major supporting character and has appeared in nearly every issue of Superman, Action, and Unchained after the start of the New 52, as well as being integral to storylines by Morrison, Lobdell and Snyder. Plus, a reversal of the jealousy Lois had toward Wonder Woman in earlier continuities is a fresh take, an adds depth to both Lois and Diana, by showing Diana’s vulnerability and Lois’ innate beauty that makes her a rival for Kal’s attention. So there! Read the books before you whine about them!
Bennett impressed me with her work under Snyder in the Batman Annual that introduced the Anchoress, and her voice of the new Lobo gave him an edge he needed to survive all the negativity around his re-design. When I took a chance on her Joker’s Daughter special, despite despising the character, I enjoyed the creepy psycho-realism she added to the villain’s personality in a well constructed one-shot story. Her take on Lois Lane covers all the aspects of Lois we’ve grown to love.
When Lucy Lane’s lover is kidnapped in the middle of the night by a group of covert solders know as the Cartel, she heads to her older sister Lois for help. Apparently Amanda was hooked on a new type of drug, one that causes vast genetic changes as you increase the dosage, and the Cartel is only interested in kidnapping junkies addicted on this particular backstreet cocktail. So Lois puts all her investigative reporter skills to the test, tracking down the Cartel, hoping to find Amanda and blow the lid on the Cartel and their part in the distribution of the morphogenic drug, without the help of law enforcement or her big strong Kryptonian friend (seriously, he only appears in one panel, and it’s really just to clean up after Lois). Bennet gets into the details of Lois and Lucy’s childhood, with secret “sister code” languages, their rough ‘n tumble rearing across a multitude of military bases, and their ailing mother, whose death leads to Lois becoming a more protective and motherly sister to Lucy.
Another well done book by Bennett, who, as I stated repeatedly in this column NEEDS HER OWN SERIES. Seriously, I can name 5 characters she’d be perfect to write off the top of my head ( Zatanna, Deadman, Batwoman, Constantine and Catwoman, See! )
First Contact DOUBLE FEATURE!!!!
Batman/Superman #8 (First Contact Part 1)
Writer: Pak, Greg
Artist: Rocafort, Kenneth
Cover Artist: Rocafort, Kenneth
World’s Finest #20 (First Contact Part 2)
Writer: Levitz, Paul
Artist: Silva, R. B.
Cover Artist: Lupacchino, Emanuela
3 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because I’m a big fan of the New 52 Earth1/Earth2 dynamic established by James Robinson and Paul Levitz, with PowerGirl and Huntress being the native Supergirl and Robin of Earth2, now trapped on Earth1 after the invasion of Earth2 by Darkseid and the death of their family members (Powergirl was Superman’s cousin on Earth2 and the Huntress was the daughter of Batman and Catwoman ). Keeping their identities secret from their Earth1 counterpart family members, the two have acted as a dynamic duo, fighting crime around the world, while trying to find a way back to theirs. Now, Powergirl’s powers have spiked out of control, and it’s happening more and more frequently, making her not only a danger to herself, but the whole damn planet! Exhausted of leads to a cause or a cure for her friend, Huntress heads to the one man she’s knows can help…. Her somewhat father, the Batman! Batman doesn’t believe Huntress’ story at first, until a scan proves Helena’s DNA matches his, ..and she escapes his trap,… and seems to know all his passwords for his computer… and shows an uncanny familiarity with the Bat cave… then he gets a little less….skeptical (hey, it’s Batman ). Batman tries to keep Superman from interfering with the investigation after Huntress called in Powergirl despite Batman asking her not to, fearing whatever is afflicting her might be contagious to other Kryptonians. But when Kara’s starts losing it big time, the big blue boy scout can’t help but get involved, sequestering Powergirl on an unpopulated island in the Pacific to try and help her gain control. Surprise, surprise Batman was right and now the World’s Finest of Two Earth’s switch up the teams, with Batman and Powergirl continuing the investigation into the source of the power surges, while Huntress guards a now out of control Superman (held at bay by a Kryptonite sliver provided by Batman) from attackers from New Gamorra, the same island nation Batman and Powergirl are following clues to! (And anybody familiar with the Wildstorm Universe know, nothing good is ever associated with the name Gammora) This was fun start to a story that will change the nature of both Earth’s 1 & 2 in the New 52 landscapes, the dynamics are cool between all the characters, and the juxtaposition of relationships, with PowerGirl and Huntress, the two sidekicks have a more functional, friendly relationship between them, compared to their elders, who have a little less trust and understanding between them. This crossover has Pak and Levitz working hand in hand, and the story is better off for it, both love the characters they write, and it shows in this arc!
w. Jason Aaron
a. Bachalo, Bradshaw, Perez, Larraz, Sanders, Alves, & Crystal
Because Jason Aaron’s Wolverine & the X-men run was one of the best X-men series in years. He managed to capture all the excitement, whimsy and adventure of being teenage mutants at a school, that we first saw perfected by Chris Claremont decades ago, and missing in recent years, without being derivative or predictable. Each and every character progressed, whether they wanted to or not, as any student should, so ending the his run with a graduation ceremony only made sense.
As the students prepare for graduation (or dread it, in the case of Quentin Quire), Aaron gives us flash-forwards to a future, one he has visited in previous arcs, where a noticeable older and slightly infirm Professor Logan is closing the Jean Grey School for good. We see glimpses of the graduating class as adult X-Men, with Idie, Eye-Man, Sharkgirl and a Phoenix-powered Quentin Quire as core members, and a school just for mutants rendered unnecessary by all the good done by the X-Men.
Aaron is joined by a team of top notch artists to end his run and they all do a bang up job, capturing all the cool moments Aaron is able to hoe into one issue. Watching how Phoenix-Quire repays an aged and lonely Logan (well, he still has some elderly Bamfs hanging around) for past acts of kindness is the perfect finish to a relationship that has been building since issue #1.
I’m sad to see this book end (yeah, yeah it’s coming right back… but it won’t be the same… no offense Latour) but I’m glad Aaron is staying in the X-verse with Amazing X-men. It was a fun run that ended to soon, but thanks for all the good books Jason!
w. James Robinson
a. Leonard Kirk
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because James Robinson and Leonard Kirk are just the shot in the arm Marvel’s First Family needed after their post Hickman slump (sorry Fraction!, I calls ’em likes I sees ’em). Robinson is a master of comic book storytelling, after honing his craft helping to shape the DC Universe for the past twenty years, so I’m glad to see him over at Marvel on their flagship title (Shut it Spidey fans! The FF came first!), where he gets to show off his knowledge of comics past and present in his signature style. Leonard Kirk really gives it his all, after bouncing around the backwoods of the Marvel Universe,he finally gets a chance to shine on a core title and his exuberance shows. He captures everyone perfectly, and has the same glossy finish to his art that you see in Stuart Immonens work, where every action is smoothly laid out across the page.
The Fall of the Fantastic Four arc opens with a prologue, a despondent Sue telling us the story of the team’s downfall via a letter to her children. Something devastating has happened to the team, leaving Reed a broken an incapable of invention, the Torch lost to nightlife and booze and the Thing is in prison…for Murder!
What starts as a normal day of defeating Fin Fang Foom, parlaying with SHIELD and building Chocolate Death Rays (Yep, the kids from the Future Foundation are still hanging around the Baxter Building ) will somehow lead to the most horrifying moment in the Fantastic Four’s history. Robinson and Kirk are definitely taking this title somewhere, so you might as well hop and enjoy the ride from the beginning.
w. Scott Snyder
a. Sean Murphy
5 out of 5 Space Monkeys
The second act of Snyder and Murphy’s The Wake was one of the most anticipated books of 2014 for me, and it all starts here. If you missed the first 5 issues, The Wake revolves around the discovery of an offshoot race of amphibious neantherdal-like by a secret deep-sea exploration base.
Glimpses of the ancient past showed the branching off and segregation of water breathing neanderthal-like humans, while in the present, marine biologist and whale song expert Lee Archer, and a mixed crew of scientists and mercenaries fend off the fierce and deadly descendants of these Aquatic Apes (google Aquatic Ape Theory and learn ya’self something), trapped leagues under the sea and seriously out numbered.
Now, the story jumps 200 years into the future, to world drastically changed. The Mers have finished what Global Warming started, by changing the currents of the oceans, bringing warmer water to the north and south, melting the Polar ice caps, sinking cities and changing the coastlines and the world as we know it.
Leeward, a scavenger who hunts Mers with the help of her cybernetically enhanced dolphin, Dash. It’s through her eyes we see the wreck the Mers have done to our planet, not only environmentally (a shortage of fresh water, seas filled with Mers) but socially and economically. People are desperate and fearful as Mers hunt humans in semi-sunken cities, and giant walls are built to block out the sea, while once again humans return to the trees to avoid a predator, building cities high in the treetops.
Snyder and Murphy are putting out one the most original, intriguing sci-fi books out there. Snyder’s vision of a future under water and besieged by race of menacing fish people is realistically and dramatically rendered by Muphy’s pencils, with dolphin assisted para-gliding, energy cannons mounted on killer whales and giant towers in walled off freshwater lakes are just small examples of how well thought out and well executed this book is. Highly recommended!!!!
Last Week’s Surprise Pick:
w. Jeff Parker
a. Marc Laming
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Cause this book is just plain fun. If you were a fan of the old Defender’s of the Earth Cartoon, like I was, you’ll love this book. The cast is great, not just Flash Gordon, the Phantom and Mandrake but Lothar , Dale Arden, and Dr. Zarkov all show up to battle the strange waves of energy playing havoc with the planet’s weather and technology, while plaguing humans with horrible dreams of alien hordes and devastation. When the Cobra is revealed to be Ming the Merciless’ servant on earth, the heroes must join forces to stop him from opening a portal to Earth from to the planet Mongo, leaving a vulnerable Earth primed for Ming’s invasion forces.
Parker writes a fast paced, action adventure that seamlessly teams these guys up, and gives a fresh take to a bunch of familiar faces. Laming’s art is noirish enough to capture the pulp era feel of the characters’ era of origin, but modern and prolific enough to make it exciting. From his updated designs for some of the characters to his wide range of subject matter: high tech sci-fi, ancient temples, alien worlds,space ships, chaos energy waves, animal-headed-alien-warriors riding hammer-headed fire-breathing horses, you name it, this guy draws it well!
The mini ends with it’s next issue, but there is plenty of story to mine for further sequels, that I do hope come to pass. Keep it up Dynamite!