w. Jonathan Hickman
a. Lenil Francis Yu
5 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Because one of the most exciting arcs in Avengers history comes to its time-bending, team shattering conclusion this issue, and it’s not to be missed! Due to the time-gem shattering, not only does Captain America remember being a member of the Illuminati and destroying a planet with the Infinity Gauntlet (see Hickman’s New Avengers vol. 1 for details), he an a few of his fellow Avengers have been swept up in a series of time-jumps, taking them further and further into the future. Losing members along the way to the entropic effects of limbo-space (don’t worry, they all end up back in the present hale and hearty!) Cap stood by himself, 51,028 years in the future. An even there, Cap manages to survive an attack by an Advanced A.I. based on Ultron’s programming, who completely controls a digital-consciousness base, artificially intelligent super-planet. As he escapes into limbo-space once again, and when he is almost desiccated by unharnessed chronal energy, he is rescued by… Iron Man! Or is it?
The Armored Avenger is soon revealed as Iron Lad, a young, less conqueror-y version of Kang. Iron Lad’s appearance is not a random one, as he arrived as part of plan to save Cap… a plan concocted by himself, Kang and Immortus! Who, in case you’re not a 36-year-old Comic Nerd with selective memory are all the same person!
The three time travellers, after capturing the shattered time gem in No-Time stasis and preventing Cap from returning to the present, explain their plan to Cap. All the various time-jumps, as well as inter-dimensional Incursions of alternate Earths are doing irreparable damage to the future, leading to the collapse of the multiverse.
After explaining that either Cap stays in limbo with them, taking him out of the equation (though there is a very good reason Cap’s in the equation, I’ll leave that to Kang and Immortus) or he goes back and tries to fight the future, and fails, stalling the universal collapse momentarily, and eventually letting nature take its course and the time stream corrects itself eventually.
But, a whisper in the ear from a future Hawkeye a few issues back, leaves Cap with a third option and he’s going to take it! First he just has to get past three of the most powerful time travelers in existence, and then go back in time! Piece of cake… if you’re Captain America!
Hickman’s ideas are big and powerful, from the increasingly technological advancement of the various futures, to the reason there is always an Avengers team, and the lead-in to the next big arc (as seen by the last page reveal of who the Avengers have to take down to prevent all of this dimensional catastrophe.) He, among others of the current crop of comic writers, is/was a fan as well, and it shows in the little details that pay homage to past Avengers stories (Avengers Forever easter eggs, everywhere!) as well as his spot-on dialogue. Just check out the battle of ideologies between Cap and the Kangs as they discuss the fate of whole universes.
And all of this big, brilliant, bombastic writing is only enhanced by the incredible pencils of Lenil Francis Yu. The two have a synergy that feeds the imagination of the other, and they quite literally present to you one of the most well put together arcs in Avengers you’ll ever read. I hope to see this creative team work together again, and if history serves… I’m positive we’ll see an Image miniseries from these two creators in the near future. Look at his track record. Hickman and Yu work so well together, like he did with Dragotta and Weaver, a re-team is almost a certainty.
You’ve met the first avenger… Now meet the LAST AVENGER!!! (pssst… he’s also the 6th)
w. Charles Soule a. Ryan Stegman
The Gist: Welcome aboard Ryan Stegman!!! Finally after the Fraction-to-Soule delay, and then the ever so untimely artwork of Joe Madueira, Inhumans lost its initial wave ride off of the Infinity mini seires. But now with a solid creative team, including a knowledgeable writer and a fantastic yet timely artist, one of Kirby’s coolest creations might finally start to get the attention it so rightfully deserves. First, guest star Thor is on hand, in the city of New Attilan (now grounded here on Earth, a sovereign nation in the middle of the Hudson River), where Medusa, Queen of the ever growing Inhumans has opened it’s gates to humanity. Hoping that commerce and free trade will help to ease tensions between the Inhumans and Humans, as well as open sanctuary for all the new Inhumans (Nuhumans as their called). An open door policy also lets in undesirables, like assassins, protesters and even a Marriage proposal! And who is the new Inhuman called Reader, with his strange array of powers, and a canine sidekick. He’s recruiting Nuhumans, but whose he recruiting them for??? Who cares! he looks like me and has a dog… he’s awesome!
All Star Western
Featuring: Jonah Hex #34 ( FINAL ISSUE! )
w. Palmiotti & Gray
a. Darwyn Cooke
4 out 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Because when I think of Westerns, I think of the movies and television shows my Dad watched, I don’t think of comics. Same with War and Crime genres, so it’s not that often I get into a comic that is non-superhero/supernatural or sci-fi. I wasn’t collecting Jonah Hex pre New 52, and only because I took a hardy gulp of the New 52 Kool-Aid and was getting every title in the beginning. I dropped a lot along the way, the War titles I either dropped or were about to be cancelled, so I hung in for the full set.
But All Star Western blew me away. Jonah Hex was cool as hell and Palmiotti and Gray did a fantastic job of writing a hard core western, while nestling deep in the history of the DCU. Starting off in Gotham with an ancestor of the current Dr. Markham as his reluctant sidekick, Hex ricocheted through DC’s past present and future like the ugliest bullet you ever did see.
With guest stars ranging from Eclipso to Superman, Booster Gold to Swampthing and John Constantine, the Court of Owls and Vandal Savage, rampant love affairs with a one-eyed scarred bounty hunter chick, and a modern day, ahem, “dancer”; time travel, attending a Burning Man concert, fighting the Black Mercy plant, and pretty much calling Superman the P-word (sometimes followed by Cat or Willow) and then giving lengthy explanation as to why he’s a P-Word, Hex has assuredly left his mark on the DCU.
Now he’s back in his own time, with Teululah Black, the woman he loves, and with a mission in mind… find the guy who has been posing as Hex… and kill him. From his time in the future, Jonah knows the time and place of his death, seeing a taxidermied corpse on display in a museum, bearing his name and likeness, and that time is soon, and the place just so happens to be the town where his imposter is. Can Hex cheat death??? If anyone can, it’s him.
Darwyn Cooke joins P&G on this wonderful wrap up to this acclaimed series, and it’s just the icing on the cake, lending his signature style to the titles final story, complete with a modified version of riding of into the sunset. Read the individual issues, get the trades, wait for the Omnibus (and there Damn well better be one!), I don’t care how you do it, just read this Western action-epic and see just what makes Hex the most dangerous man in anytime period!
Cullen freaking Bunn that’s why! Not since Warren Ellis has there been a writer who can handle villainhood so well. Both here and over in Magneto (and the future Lobo series!!!) Bunn somehow wrangled the reader into the mind of the title character, you become sympathetic, and understanding of their actions and reasoning. Horrible actions and evil reasoning that is. He doesn’t water down their evil, or deny or excuse it. He revels in it. These aren’t villains gone soft, or turning over a new leaf, or sorta being heroes. They’re bad guys. And their really good at it!
Sinestro, believing he is still under the hallucinatory effects of the emotion provoking powers of the Paling, comes face to face with Hal Jordan, his best friend and worst enemy!
But it’s not a hallucination. Sinestro’s daughter, Green Lantern Soranik called for back up when the Paling attacked, and Hal Jordan responded. Alone. Giving Sinestro, his former teacher and partner the benefit of the doubt, Hal left the Corps behind, hoping for a peaceful resolution… and just to make sure good old Sinestro isn’t full blown crazy, as people possessed by Parallax (the avatar of the Fear segment of the emotional spectrum) are wont to be.
What’s starts off as a slightly antagonistic meeting between two leaders, quickly descends into an out and out brawl, thanks to Hal’s insistence on Sinestro’s state of mind and his plans for the Corps.
It looks like Hal is right went Parallax is suddenly unleashed from Sinestro’s being and savagely attacks Jordan, breaking down his shields and tearing through his constructs. Jordan’s life is saved by the snap of a finger! Sinestro’s finger that is. And the mighty avatar Parallax, who once possessed Jordan himself, leading to his breakdown, the destruction of the GL Corps, and Zero Hour, heels like a well-trained dog to Sinestro’s side. Sinestro leaves a broken and battered Hal to deal with the startling revelation that Sinestro did what he couldn’t, and conquered the supreme entity of Fear!!! Bunn continues what Geoff Johns started, to evolve Sinestro past the hokey pencil-mustacheoed, boo-ha-ha-ha villain of his silver age origins, similiar to (and coincidentally!) Magneto’s rise to a serious villain with justification when Byrne and Claremont were writing the X-Men. A must read for all Green Lantern Fans, a good defection point for fans of Marvel’s Magneto title, willing to follow Bunn to the Distinguished Competition!
The Gist: Hey, if you need your monthly fix of Palmiotti and Gray’s non-superhero storytelling now that All Star Western is done, grab SSWSF: G.I. Zombie! And don’t let the covers fool you, the story is less Saving Private Ryan with a Zombie, and more like Homeland. Except, instead of a double agent Islamic Fundamentalist working with a female agent, it’s… well it’s a Zombie working with a female agent. As wacky as it sounds, P & G find plenty of cool, military/covert spy operational procedure that cannot be effectively pulled off by one of the living! And it’s all done Scott Hampton’s realistic painted style, that gives weight to the real world setting of the book.
w. Matt Kindt
a. Clayton Crain
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because Rai has suddenly risen to my favorite Valiant book within 3 issues and this fourth one cements that position like a katana blade stuck in the rib cage of a fallen enemy. The murder of a woman, the first murder in centuries, has sent the orbiting city-state of Japan into a frenzy. Father, the seemingly benevolent A.I. that runs Japan, has dispatched Two, Japan’s Spirit Guardian to bring her killers to justice.
But a run-in with a teenage girl, and her love of Japan, coupled with a Raddie (anti-technology revolutionaries who wish to bring down Father’s rule, and are believed responsible for the murder) uprising, and the appearance of Dr.Silk and Spylocke, a mad scientist who has lived in cybernetic bodies since the present, and a believed to be fictional super-spy respectively, thrust Rai in to a centuries old conspiracy that has plagued Japan since it separated from earth and retained its position in orbit.
After last issues revelation that the murdered woman was in fact Rai’s birth mother, Rai has gone into a murderous rampage inside the cloaked base of Dr. Silk, the supplier of Rai’s world shattering revelation. Killing the Raddies working for Silk in a fit of rage is the least of Rai’s problems.
The not-so-fictional superspy, Spylocke is readying a rifle for assassination, a Livewire incendiary round loaded, the only thing that could probably kill Rai. As he carefully steadies the scope, he explains to Lula, the investigative young girl who has big reams of travelling all of Japan and who’s following Rai, the guardian of Japan’s true origin.
Rai is not the first. He comes from a long line of genetically biotech engineered servants who were given birth to by human females who were experimented upon by Father. And Father is not the benevolent A.I. everyone thinks he is (and there is some proof of that this issue).
Not believing either Silk or Spylocke ( it’s hard to believe one man who is possibly responsible for his mother;s death, and another who just tried to kill him ) and refusing to accept their condemnation of Father, Rai takes the map Lula had made of the secret sections of Japan and heads in search of Father himself. A confrontation between father and cyber-son leads to the truth being revealed, and Father confessing that most of what Silk and Spylocke have said is true, but it was kept from him for a reason. The Rai’s before (10 to be exact) all went insane after knowing the truth, either being told by Father, or manipulated by Silk. Rai, in an attempt at self preservation, tells father he is different from the rest and this new information will not hamper him as the A.I.’s Servant of Justice. Father agrees not to recycle him if he can prove his uniqueness by killing Silk, Spylocke and every living Raddie!
Which side will Rai choose? Spylocke and Silk’s? or Father’s? Find out on the very last page of this blockbuster origin issue by the amazing team of Kindt and Crain. How amazing are they you ask? just look:
Last Weeks’s Surprise Pick:
NONE!!! But here’s a two-for from TopCow Comics
Like I stated above in my All Star Western Review, I’m not a big fan of non-sci-fi-super-natural-super-hero comics, so it’s rare when I get so into one. I read my girl’s Pilot Season #1 issue of this, and ended up grabbing it for myself.
Every generation has a consummate military genius, born into a world of strife and misfortune and rising to a position of power and strategy at the heads of armies. Alexander the Great. Kenghis Khan. Hannibal. Napoleon. Patton…. and Destiny.
Destiny is a 17 year old girl who grew up on the mean streets of South Central’s Gang infested neighborhood. Possessing a keen mind for strategy, and a genius level intellect, she has consolidated the Ganges of East L.A. under her power. Organizing them to a level of military efficiency, and has taken over the neighborhood. With most Cops unwilling to believe one person is controlling all the gangs except for one, Detective Grey. He has been building a case, somewhat of a laughing stock, proving the existence off the “Gangland General”.
The laughing stops, when Destiny and her force of gang members successfully take control of East L.A., and fight off an “invasion” by the LAPD. The Cops have one ace in the hole, a group of under cover cops posing as gang members, attempt to take down Destiny’s army from within, but is this just another tactic Destiny saw coming miles away? And when Detective Gray makes his way back from the battlefield, all his fears confirmed, e a surprise guest waiting for him…. Destiny herself ( he just doesn’t know it ).
With the failure of the L.A.P.D.’s attempt to take back the neighborhood, all cops are pulled back from the killzone, which can only mean one thing: The Army is on it’s way! Can Destiny save her people and her home from from the Armed Forces of The U.S. government? Gas grenades and Riot gear is one thing, Tanks and Apache Helicopters are another!
Get this mini series while you still can ( all five issues came out this month! ) and I guarantee youll enjoy the hell out of them. Easily a book that can be made into a T.V. show. And with the surprise twist ending, their is definitely going to more Genius coming at us soon!
And then there ‘s this gem,
As you may not know, D.C. has been doing “Selfie” Variants, Covers drawn to look like Selfies taken by a Cell Phone Camera. I’m not a Variant chaser, only getting one here and there depending on the artist, subject matter, or character being used. The Selfies have been pretty cool, but most just turn out to be standard face-on shots of the lead character.
That being said here is, what I consider, the most well thought out, well-executed, most humorous of the D.C. Selfies so far:
If you dont get it, I’ll explain. The guy in drag with cigarette falling out of his mouth is John Constantine, the Hellblazer. An powerful sorcerer and quite arguably the coolest, ballsiest, smoothest, most dangerous character in the D.C. Universe. The ghost-guy in red is Deadman, a former acrobat who was killed and now roams the earth righting wrongs by possessing people and taking control over their bodies. The two are teammates in Justice League Dark, and have a very antagonistic relationship.
If you still dont get it, Deadman possessed John Constantine, had him dress up as a woman and take a Selfie! Priceless!
Thanks folks, see ya next Wednesday!