w. Scott Snyder
a. Greg Capullo
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because as much as I enjoyed last issue’s easter egg loaded flash-forward look at the future, I’m glad to dive right back into Snyder and Capullo’s Zero Year. Adding a certain depth to the Batman’s origin, especially the formative relationships he builds with supporting cast, building a bond with a James Gordon he never trusted, hunted and reuniting with and recruiting Alfred to his cause and his tenuous peace with the G.C.P.D. has not been established yet, so Batman is just as much a villain as the Riddler is in their eyes. Snyder also adds an advance in tech, to fit in with the New 52 timeline, so you get to see Bruce test out all his advanced Bat-gadgets a lot earlier in his career than previously established.
With Super-Storm Rene wrecking havoc on an already blacked-out Gotham City, both Batman and Lt. Gordon are doing their best to save the citizens of Gotham City. Gordon is leading citizens to safety, from both storm and crime, while Batman is on the hunt for the Riddler, searching for the source of the city-wide electrical outage,and keeping an eye out for the next phase of the Riddler’s plan. The Police are this close to turning the power back on, but that’s exactly what the Riddler wants! Zero Year continues as the Riddler continues to rock Gotham and confound the Batman, all gloriously drawn by Greg Capullo, who has yet to plateau as an artist. Every panel is filled with action and tension, the scene of Batman leaping from the Bat-blimp (yes he has one of those too!) to the weather balloon, is simply awesome and a nice homage to a familiar Batman theme.
The flash backs to Bruce’s childhood, where we find out his parents had a lot of influence on the boy who would be Batman, are whimsically dreamy compared to the present day story, giving them a true feeling of a past memory, another artistic win for Capullo!
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because I always underestimate this book, and when it comes out, Soule and Daniels forcefully correct my assumption. Soule has captured a realistic romantic relationship between two extremely powerful super-humans, using both conversation between the two, and caption boxes filled with their personal thoughts, insecurities and feelings.
So now your all like ” Yuck, who wants to read all that squishy stuff ”
Well, for one, it’s very well written and believable dialogue between these characters, nothing feels forced or Shakespearean (no, I love you as well, my heart, with a thousand burning suns kinda blechhh) and always in character. Two, it’s only like 10% of the book, the rest is some of the best damn super-hero action you can find on the stands. Zod had successfully pulled Faora from the Phantom Zone (after using Doomsday as a leverage) and the two were able to defeat and escape our titular super-couple.
Now Zod and Faora are stealing technology from around the world and building a giant portal to the Phantom Zone. Why, you ask? Because what good is a General without his Army!
Diana and Kal, realizing that although one is an Amazon and the other a Kryptonian, are really no match for two Kryptonians with military training, a fanatical mission and no regard for life, decide to get a little help from one of Diana’s Uncles.
Hephaestus, God of Blacksmiths and forger of the gods, has made armor for Superman and Wonder Woman, one that gives them a big edge over the Zod and Faora in a great eight page fight sequence worthy of the characters involved. But when one god gets involved, so do others and Apollo, god of the Sun gives the fallen Krypronian villains a solar induced upgrade and quickly changes the tide, leaving our power couple beaten,near death and in the worst possible place for even god-like beings like themselves!
And of course,this would be the time Kal picks to drop the L-bomb…. and Diana’s answer is priceless and right in character!
1 out of 5 Space Monkeys (1/2 a Space Monkey for each page Aja actually drew)
First off! I am the biggest Hawkeye fan in the world. Have been since childhood. Have everything Haawkeye they ever put out! Ask my editor, I’ve been working on a Hawkeye article for over a year now. (Yup, still waiting there Bob -Editor Monkey) I love this book. And that’s exactly why I gave this book just 1 Space Monkey (begrudgingly) :
I want to read Hawkeye!
Good ol’ Clint Barton, ass-kicking, cracking wise, shooting arrows at bad guys and charming the ladies.
I get using Kate Bishop as a fill in, not only to progress her own story, but to give Aja a break and get the scheduling back on. I loved the Dog issue, and the Kate Bishop annual. But this was wrong man, just wrong. After last issue’s cliff hanger ending, where the very life of my all time favorite hero hangs on a thread, where Hawkeye fans sucked in a collective breath in fear and awe after reading the last page, what do we get this issue?:
2 pages of Aja drawing Clint falling asleep babysitting his neighbors kids as they watch a cartoon.
And then 20 pages of the cartoon, drawn by the very-talent Chris Eliopoulos.
“Winter Friends”, starring a group of holiday themed animals on an adventure.
Yep that’s right. It’s a Holiday Cartoon, as I sit an rea this in 60 degree March weather on the cusp of spring. Honestly, I would’ve gladly waited the month or two delay for the main story, this is a back up in an annual at the most (no offence to Chris). I paid for Hawkeye, not, “Santalope”, “Kwanzaagator”, and “Menorable”.
It’s like watching an episode of Agent’s of Shield, and having it nonsensically continue in Super Hero Squad!
Bring back Clint, or we riot! (well maybe just me..)
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because Robinson and Kirk are really doing a bang up job of presenting the FF as they are best portrayed; a family of adventurers, caught up in scientific action across the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. This issue has guest stars galore (as in bound to happen in Marvel’s NYC!), fighting off a giant horde of bug-like invaders. The Aliens came through a portal in the Baxter Buiding, destroying the top floors the FF’s headquarters and putting their extended family in great peril.
I know your thinking: “oh wow, the Negative Zone again, how original! Yawnnnn”, well Robinson puts a cool twist on the invaders home dimension (I won’t spoil it, but here’s a hint: think back to the last time Robinson wrote for Marvel) and threat is a lot closer to home then first appears.
With the fate of world in the balance, the horror hinted at by Invisible Woman in last issues prologue begins here, as one of the Fantastic Four is drastically altered. Robinson and Kirk have only just begun, the Fall of the Fantastic Four is an instant classic in the making. Get on board before you miss out and no one wants to be your friend!
5 out of 5 Space Monkeys
This book has the look and feel of a well done British comic from circa 1985, it reads like something Moore would have done with Lloyd or Leach. I’m not saying it’s dated or anything, just that it’s that damn good. A solid quality read with an interesting concept and well written characters.
In this alternate reality, the Royal Families of earth are superpowered beings, who pass their talents on genetically. After establishing a secret peace years ago, the Royal families have retreated to the background, hiding their powers from the public and involving themselves more in politics and nation-building. When young Prince Henry witnesses the atrocities of the 1940 bombing of London firsthand, he unknowingly breaks the pact, by entering the war himself and turning the tide against Hitler.
Now on a diplomatic mission to the U.S. Henry his older brother Arthur and younger sister Rose meet with both FDR and America’s response to the Royals, the Allies (it’s pretty embarrassing actually). The Royals entertain America’s elite, while Winston Churchill and FDR discuss the growing threat of Japan in the Pacific, only to have their party crashed by the Prince of Japan (Royalty remember??) bearing a deadly threat, putting FDR and the Royal family in precarious situation. Even in a world with super-beings, atrocities like Pearl Harbor can still come to pass. Will Princess Ose’s actions have dire consequence for a Royal-less United States? For her British allies? This book is only a third done, and it’s already screaming for a sequel. Well Done Chaps! Well Done!
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because my friend Shawn turned me on to Menton3’s art and I’ve been grabbing it everywhere I can (check out the darkly philosophical Monocyte and the hauntingly sexy Memory Collectors, available from IDW) I missed these when they first came out in Dark Horse Presents (#26-29) and was happy they reprinted in this handy one-shot.
A pair of vampires cleave a bloody path through the plague strewn middle ages, in search of both vengeance…and marriage. Accomplishing their goals is one thing, surviving the wrath of their angry fellow vampires is another!
Menton3 captures the shadowy mood needed for a Steve Niles story (you know, 30 Days of Night and stuff), and is the perfect stand in for his errant partner in crime Ben Templesmith. Both are consummate horror artists with styles that grab the eye and then rips it from the socket! I hope these two work together in the future, and with the science fiction twist this story ends on, it seems like the Nosferatu Wars are just beginning!
Last Week’s Surprise Pick
X-Men: Days of Future Past Hard-Cover Collection
w. Claremont, Byrne, Davis, Casey, W. & L. Simonson , Harras & Henderson
a. Byrne, Adams, Davis, Guice, Bognadove, Wozniak, Shoemaker, & Bennet
Now normally I don’t recommend trades or hardcovers for purely economic reasons, but when I saw this bad boy I couldn’t resist. If you got some extra Tax Return money and happen to b a big X-men fan, or just gearing up for the next movie, this is the book for you my fellow X-Phile (see what I did there?).
Not only does it have the classic Days of Future Past story line by Claremont and Byrne (Uncanny X-men #141&142), it has the follow-up Days of Future Present Arc that ran trough the annuals of FF, X-men, New Mutants and X-Factor during 1990; introducing Ahab, the Hounds and Franklin Richard’s future self, 3 issues of Excalibur by Alan Davis dealing with the Phoenix Power and the DoFP timeline, the Wolverine: DoFP three issue mini series that is a prequel to the original, and an issue of Hulk: Broken Worlds, dealing with the jade giant’s involvement in that timeline. This has everything Days of Future Pasty you can possibly want and more! Sentinel Schematics, homage covers, reprint covers, collectible card reprints, and insider scoops on the creation of this classic and the creators involved.
Next Week: Comics, Comics and more Comics…. See ya when!