Superman: Doomed #1
w. Greg Pak, Scott Lobdell & Charles Soule
a. Ken Lashley
Superman/Wonder Woman #8
w. Charles Soule
a. Tony S Daniel & Batt
Action Comics #31
w. Greg Pak
a. Aaron Kuder
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys (carefully calculated across three titles!)
Why?: Because I’m a crossover junkie, and a New 52 junkie so this had me written all over it. I was there at Ground Zero, working in a comic shop when Doomsday first appeared, laying waste to the DCU and eventually killing Superman (I got more than verbally abused at school for wearing the black armband that came sealed in the bag, and yes it was High School, I’m that big of a nerd.) and have gotten just about every appearance of Doomsday since. Suffice to say his return to the New52 piqued my interest, teased by early mentions in Action, Zero Month issues and his brief reappearance in Superman/Wonder Woman. If you have followed the Superman titles regularly, you would know that Soule, Pak and Lobdell have laid the groundwork for this crossover in their respective Superman titles, and have now joined writing forces to bring us the next exciting chapter in Superman’s eternal battle with the monster who killed him….Doomsday!
Superman: Doomed #1 : What a great start to a crossover! Ken Lashley blows the doors of the hinges in one explosive page layout after the next! Doomsday, who’s instant-Darwin power causes him to evolve to defeat any threat he encounters physically, has returned to wreak havoc on Earth…. but this time he’s more dangerous than ever. His time spent in the Phantom Zone (see recent issues of Superman/Wonder Woman), as well as a “nesting” period in the deepest depths of the arctic ocean (See recent issues of Action) have pushed his power-level far beyond its previously recorded limits. Now exuding an entropic field that breaks down atoms into energy he absorbs, Doomsday is appearing randomly around the globe (whether under his own control or another’s is yet to be revealed), killing thousands of innocent people, and disappearing as soon a Superman arrives. A chance encounter with Steel, changes the armored hero’s life, as his armor is destroyed by Doomsday, and his body partially decayed by the “killing field” that Doomsday now possesses. And after escaping an epic battle with both Superman and Wonder Woman (whose battle roar actually causes Doomsday to flinch), Doomsday’s new threat level and power sends the power couple to the Justice League for some help in their next plan of attack.
Surprisingly, it’s Lex Luthor’s plan Superman agrees too, exiling not only himself, but taking Doomsday with him to a place where no humans can be harmed…. Venus! Lashley’s two page spread of Superman knocking the crap out of Doomsday through the solar system is a marvel to behold!
Seemingly victorious, Superman returns to Smallville, of which the entire population has lapsed into a coma (See recent issues of Superman), to see if there is any connection to the comatose citizens and Doomsday’s return, only to have the monster reappear via teleportation right behind our beleaguered hero. The battle that ensues is layed out just as spectacularly as the space battle, and leads to one of the most impressive and intense Superman scenes ever to grace a double page spread! The final (and soon to be controversial! ) few pages of this book show us the utter power The Man of Steel has! (yes that was a hint! )
Action Comics # 31: The effects of battling and defeating Doomsday, has taken its toll on Superman, and in more than just the obvious ways. Beaten and battered, a still bleeding Superman is told to he has to be taken in to government custody for observation…. by Lex Luthor, who has been given authority by the US government to handle any and all protocols surrounding the Doomsday Attack. He was given this power by Senator Sam Lane, former general of the US Army, Lois’ dad and all around Superman-hater (Lane and Luthor captured and tortured Superman once before!). With the support of Wonder Woman, and few whispered words to Batman, Superman takes off on his on to recuperate, with a little help from Krypto! But the damage from Doomsday was more than a little sunlight and a night’s rest could cure, and Kal feels the change his encounter with Doomsday has made in him, both mentally and physically. Meanwhile John Henry makes a drastic change in his armor to hold of the cellular decay caused by Doomsday’s killing field, and is now truly a man of Steel. And just in time to be recruited by Senator Lane, who fears Superman may be affected far more than he is showing from the battle, and needs to be incarcerated. Will Steel join him is plan to take down Superman?
Superman/Wonder Woman #8: After being denied access to the Fortress of Solitude (hmm… somethings wrong with Superman’s DNA…), Superman returns to his alter ego’s home to gather himself and fight off whatever is affecting him (Trying not to spoil here but it’s the subtitle of the arc lol). Time passes and having heard nothing from him, Wonder Woman begins searching for Superman, by talking to people close to him. Diana talks to Cat Grant and Lois Lane, who both report big changes in Clark’s personality (a blow up at work, a late-night “drunk dial” ) and gets the final clue she needs from Batman (what did he find in Superman’s blood that could strike fear into the heart of the Dark Knight?). But when she arrives at Clark’s apartment, she is already to late. Drastic changes have occurred, both psychologically and physically to Kal,and he is definitely not the man we once knew. Lines are crossed, and things are said that can’t be taken back, leading to a battle of wills between the two lovers. Is Superman’s love for Wonder Woman strong enough to beat the monster raging through the Man of Steel’s very being? Go read the comic and find out man!
All in all, this was an exciting start to the Doomed crossover, and one of the few times a shipping delay worked in a story’s favor; three chapters in one week! I wait with bated breath for the next chapter in Superman: Doomed, and oh would you if you read these books!
Fantastic Four #4
w. James Robinson
a. Leonard Kirk
3 out of 5 Space Monkeys ( lost a Space monkey for using the Wrecking Crew!)
Why?: Because even though I despise the Wrecking Crew in all its forms,and find them to the lowest common denominator of fill-in-any-villain-will-do-insignificant-non-character- story devices, even if it’s just 3 of them, and one’s now a woman and the work for the Wizard and call themselves the Frightful Four, they’re still the Wrecking Crew, and they still suck!
But, I trust Robinson and Kirk to deliver a good story regardless and they did. Robinson continues to get to the heart of each character, with a minimum amount of exposition, even guest stars Ant-Man, She-Thing and She-Hulk are used to perfection, giving the FF an assist in taking down the Fright Four. With a power upgrade from an unknown source (hinted to be smarter than both Reed and the Wizard ) this is no easy task, and Manhattan pays the price in rampant destruction. A hasty plan by Reed, involving the Wizard’s vanity, and Johnny Storm’s vulnerability ( Johnny lost his powers saving the world from an invasion of aliens from the Heroes Reborn earth ) leads to the new Frightful Four’s defeat. Or is that all part of the plan of the unknown big bad??? Amazingly, things get even worse when the Fantastic Four return home to the Baxter Building and find it surround by the NYPD and their entrance barred by Maria Hill and SHIELD. The Director of SHIELD produces the one thing Mr. Fantastic doesn’t have a plan for….. a subpoena!! The fall of the first family is in full swing and its awesome. Kirk’s clean lines and polished art is reaching Immonen-like levels of sleekness and power. Get on board folks… and buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!
w. Mark Millar
a. Goran Parlov
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Because Millar and Parlov’s (need to give the artist credit for capturing the flavor of its inspirations!) Flash Gordon/John Carter mash-up is out of this world… this issue, literally. Duke McQueen, hero of Tantulus, slayer of Typhon,… and retiree and widower from Earth, returns to the planet that made him a hero to its people, and a joke to Earthlings, when he returned with stories of alien Queens, and space-born tyrants.
Tantalus has been conquered again, this time by the ruthless Kingfisher (a great villain, part Ming, part Darth Vader, who videos his executions-by-telekinesis as a warning to the populace and then dumps the remains into the pit of the vanquished) and his fleet of pirates, who have strip-mined the once beautiful planet of all its resources and subjugated its people. “Space-Boy”, part of the small resistance group of Royal Guards who started a rebellion when Kingfisher executed the Queen, has found Duke McQueen on Earth, and managed to talk him into returning to Tantulus and leading the rebellion.
Once back on Tantulus, McQueen shows the old earthman’s still got it, by inserting himself between a citizen and Tantulus’ now corrupt police force. This grey-haired old dude, with a receding hairline and a paunch, takes out 7 Space-cops and two hover-cruisers like nothing, ripping through them with ray-guns like a hot knife through butter, but it puts him on Kingfisher’s radar, which is never a good thing. A chance hit-run during his breakneck get-away (he had to stop to catch his breath) leads to his capture, and a quickly scheduled execution. Will Duke meet his end at the hands of Kingfisher, or will resistance leader Tilda Starr’s plan to break him out succeed??? Find out next issue!
Jack Kraken #1 (One Shot )
w. Tim Seeley
a. Ross Cambell, Jim Terry and Tim Seeley
3 out 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: I got this just cause I liked the name, the character design looked cool and it had a striking cover (plus it’s a one-shot so no long-term commitment). Apparently Seeley created the character and initial story concepts at the tender age of 5, and was happy to finally put it out as an adult. The one-shot includes three separate tales, one of which drawn by Seeley himself. Jack Kraken is an agent of H.I.M, the Humanoid Interaction Management branch of the government. With his squid like appendages giving him super-strength and a prehensile edge via their tentacle-like make-up he’s the perfect agent to hunt down and capture or save the various monster-like humanoid species that populate the world Kraken lives in. Whether it’s rescuing a romanin vampire princess, taking out a child-eating Banshee or trying to rescue an African Zebra-Woman from the encroachment of man, and herself, Kraken is the man for the job. Aided with high-tech suit of armor and his ever-present (via ear-piece) redheaded bespectacled side kick Charlie, no job is too dangerous for Jack Kraken!
This was a fun read, each story had a different focus and reveled bits and pieces of Kraken’s origin and the lay out of the world he populates, but really leaves you wanting more. Who is Jack Kraken?? Where’d he get those tentacle arms? What’s his deal? There is a familiarity to Hellboy, ( H.I.M. = B.P.R.D., monster hunting monster,etc.) but Seeley’s imagination is out there, and the concepts were really cool.
Last Week’s Surprise Picks (I owed you guys one!)
w. Greg Rucka
a. Russel Dauterman
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: For two reasons, one: I like watching competent talent clean up the messes of other writers, and two: the idea of a time-lost teen boy, teaming up with his long thought dead space pirate father and going on adventures throughout the galaxy, bonding and catching up, kind of appealed to me. After the events of the Trial of Jean Grey (look it up, can’t help, didn’t read it…) the teenage Scott Summers from the past (don’t ask!) elects to stay in space, with the father he thought died long ago, but actually died quite recently and was resurrected somehow ( Look, Rucka recaps everything in the first page! ) Corsair, and his crew of space-pirates the Star Jammers. After prompting from his lover Hepzibah, Corsair and Scott set off on their own for some father-son time, after capturing a Badoon ship and “relieving” it from its crew.
The story was fast-paced and fun, not really what I was expecting from Rucka ( no offense, but the guy can plod a bit sometimes) and a great set-up for a first issue. Dauterman’s art is crisp and clean, and he has a nice mastery of facial expressions and exuding emotions that comes in handy in a story like this. Raza, Ch’od, Hepzibah , Korvus, Sikorsky and even Cr’reee are all present and accounted for and perfectly rendered by Dauterman, and equally voiced by Rucka. Fans of Farscape, and Guardians of the Galaxy will love this book, check it out!
Green Arrow #31
w. Jeff Lemire
a. Andrea Sorrentino
5 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: okay, technically this isn’t really a surprise, since I talk about this book all the time, but I can’t stress enough how insanely good it is. Lemire has taken Green Arrow in its most original, action packed direction its ever taken, and pushes the character into fresh new limits. The Outsiders War concludes this issue, and it hits right on target! There are guest stars galore, as Katana head of the Sword Clan, takes on Lady Onyx of the Fist Clan, the lives of everyone in Prague hanging in the balance (this battle is so well orchestrated by Sorrentino it can only be called cinematic), Meanwhile Magus and Butcher rush to back up the Queens and Shado, but they’re too late, Robert Queen lies dying, and Oliver has come into possession of the Arrow Clan’s totem weapon.. the Green Arrow!
Lemire’s tale of family secrets, hidden clans of weapon masters, long-lost relatives and newly found comrades was spectacular, and he leads us smoothly into the next arc, with an amazing last page by Sorrentino. Richard Dragon, Brick, Count Vertigo, Killer Moth and Red Dart, all C or below-list characters, illustrated and redesigned into one of the most sinister and intense looking team of super-villains you have ever seen. And they all want one thing…. Green Arrow! This title is the reason I read comics!
See Ya next week folks… Same Comic-time! Same Comic-Channel!