Justice League United #0
w Jeff Lemire
a. Mike McKone
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why? First: Lemire has done wonders on the New 52 books he took over ( Animal Man, Frankenstein, Justice League Dark and his spectacular work on Green Arrow ) and I look forward to him taking on a non “Dark” New 52 book, and this looks like it’ll be a good fit.
Two: McKone not only has The Justice League art chops to take on the latest iteration of the team, his years on Marvel’s Exiles taught him a thing or two about costume re-designs, and his stint on Avenger’s Academy showed his ability to handle a large cast.
And Three: The Line-up – Martian Manhunter, Adam Strange, StarGirl, Hawkman , Green Arrow and Animal Man (smart move on the last two by Lemire), plus Equinox, the newest member to the DC New 52 and a member of the Cree Nation (and she’s not the only Canadian on the team!). How could a team like that not be awesome. Although it claims to be an issue 0, it really doesn’t read like one. I guess we’ll have to wait for Forever Evil to finish to see how the Justice League America really ended ad how these heroes ended up separated, only to start to come together this issue.
While at a meet and greet at a super-hero convention in Toronto, Animal Man and StarGirl have a run in with an anthropologist by the familiar name of Adam Strange! That’s right folks, everyone’s favorite teleporting -rocket-pack-flyin, ray-gun-slinging, everyman-lost-in-space action hero makes his New 52 debut and brings with him a Mystery in Space (get it? ) that pulls a new Justice League together from not only the corners of the globe, but across the galaxies.
While excavating at a dig, Strange found odd shape skulls, and had his research assistant (an apparent lover!) Alanna disappearing a flash of light. His story,coupled with the alien tech he found and the weird affect it has on StarGirls staff, lead the heroes to join him in the Canadian forests, where attacked by aliens they receive some timely help from Martian Manhunter and Green Arrow. Responding to Star Girls communicator’s distress call, the lean, green twosome join the investigation into the missing Alanna and the alien presence in Canada. And that’s not all that’s wrong with our neighborhood to the north. The Whitago is back, an ancient evil walks the land, but what do the visions mean to the young Cree woman Miiyahbin? And what transformation does the word Keewahtin! cause in The New 52’s newest hero? Find out in Justice League United #0…. its more than just Hockey and Moose ! There’s Lobo and Hawkman too!
Secret Origin #1
w Greg Pak, Kyle Higgins, & Tony Bedard
a. Lee Weeks, Doug Mahnke & Paulo Siqueira
2 out of 5 Space Monkeys (a 4 if you’re a new reader! )
Why?: because when I was a kid, I loved Who’s Who’s, Marvel Handbooks and Secret Origins, like a fat kid loves cake.
I read and re-read them like a lunatic, forcing all that info into my head (the space for which could have been used to be a Doctor, a Lawyer or an Engineer) and spouting it out to any who would listen. Besides the nostalgia factor, I was hoping that DC takes this opportunity to answer some of the big questions that got raised by lots of fans regarding the New 52 Timeline and what-stories-took-place and who-was-there-when-this-happened and how-this-happened-without-he/her/them-being-there, etc. But alas I was disappointed.
These were just straight up Origins, nothing really Secret. I was expecting a more thorough coverage of the character, like from origin to current times, all the highlights and new timeline stuff. Instead it is just an origin story. They are beautifully done, don’t get me wrong. Pak tells the Man of Steels origin through the eyes of both his mothers, Lara’s limited time with him on Krypton and Ma Kent’s reaction to their alien child are beautifully drawn by Lee Weeks. Higgins and Mahnke capture the happy moments of Richard Grayson’s last days with his parents, and the sadness of their deaths, leading to the triumphant birth of the first Robin. And Supergirl’s last days on Krypton, and the stark difference in the paths the El brothers took to save their children from the death of Krypron are explored by Bedard and Siqueira in the final chapter.
All good stories, all good art…. but not really a must read if you’re an old-time fan like myself. We’ve seen these origins hundreds of times, and with the recent reboot, and Zero issues two years ago, we really don’t need a reminder. Superman’s origin is so we’ll known, it doesn’t rate yet another “view-point”, Robin’s origin was another well-known one, that got its tweaks in early runs of Nightwing and Court of Owls, rather recently, and Supergirl’s origin doesn’t have anything added to it you wouldn’t have known, if you’d been reading the regular series. I hope they expand on the “Origin” idea a bit in future issues, or this book is really only good for reallly new readers as well as people who have been in comas, and/or those who have suffered frontal lobe damage.
w. W. Haden Blackman
a. Michael El Mundo
3 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why? Because, deep down, I love Elektra. I really do. Hell, my girlfriend even looks like Elektra. So I always give a book with her in it a chance. Plus, I liked Blackman’s work with JH Williams on Batwoman and have been digging the Mike Del Mundo covers popping up here and there. I have to say I was thoroughly impressed. Del Mundo has a great interior style, you don’t get from his covers, but still maintains an artsy-ness to it so it’s not just straight up sequential storytelling.
He combines two of the deadly assassin’s best artists from her past, Bill Sienkiwicz and David Mack in a breath-taking, fluid style. And while I’m dropping names, Del Mundo uses art from the story (her twirling sash, splashes of blood,and swampy roots in this case) to break up into panels a sub-story, similarly to Marco Rudy and Williams III. It’s used to great effect, reflecting Elektra’s early life, and all the things leading to her decision to be, what she truly believes she was born to be: an Assassin!
But assassins have to work to get paid, so she sets up a meet with The Matchmaker (who looks like a 30’s gun moll, and talks with a pink accent), the criminal world’s best headhunter when it comes to finding the right assassin for the right job. A mythical assassin by the name of Cape Crow has cross paths with the Assassins Guild, killing fellow assassins and taking their contracts. Now the Guild wants him dead, and every super-assassin is out there hunting him to no avail. But a secret buyer wants him taken alive, and the Matchmaker thinks Elektra is the only one who could pull it off. And who is the lion-cowled killer called Bloody Mouth, who takes out a SHIELD base to get at Bullseye? I guess he really wants a piece of him…literally. This was a great #1, showcasing a classic character in the realm that suits her best and a creative team who cares about the character they’re working on.
Original Sin #0
w. Mark Waid
a. Jim Cheung
5 out of 5 Stars
Why?: Because there is no creative team I have more faith in than Jason Aaron and Mike Deadato, (who will be handling the chores on Original Sin mini series proper), but I agree with Mark Waid, who said in recent interviews that he lobbied for this gig because the Watcher hasn’t had a story told about him in a while, and a #0 issue explaining who he was and setting up the miniseries was a good idea to get new readers on board and refresh old-time fans.
And , of course Waid pulls it off, with an amazing assist from superstar artist Jim Cheung! Not only do we get the backstory of the Watcher, we get a nice run down of the current Nova, Sam Aexander. I haven’t been following the new Nova series (lost my taste for Loeb stories a few years ago) so this was nice use of the character, getting the curious teen to ask all the questions we always wanted to about the Watcher (why does watch? What is he watching for? Why doesn’t he interfere? Why does he interfere sometimes and not others?) , and seeing the teen hero bond with the enigmatic alien presence on the moon was funny, poignant and heartfelt.
And, although silent as usual throughout most of the issue, the only line the Watcher speaks has personal ramifications to Sam, and might just bring a tear to your eye as well. It’s a little weird having a writer write a story that makes you care so much about a character that’s been in the background for years, and now that character is gonna go and get killed off (Remember Ted Kord, folks!).
Cheung is amazing at capturing everyone perfectly,and there is plenty of guest stars (some via flashbacks and inter dimensional portals) to prove this point. His scenes within the Watchers home are magnificent to behold, especially the armory Nova stumbles upon. Hey why does someone who only watches have an armory? What other secrets of the Watcher aren’t we privy too? Find out this Summer in Marvel’s Original Sin crossover event.
3 out of 5 Space Monkeys ( would’ve been 4, but no Rai ! )
Why?: Because this is the last chapter of Pak and Gill’s awesome dystopic future arc, where Gilad Anni Pada leads the last of mankind in a pitched battle for survival in the far future of the Valiant Universe. Gilad, who thought he could save the small population left under his watch from the horrors of war, but once again has no choice to take up arms and save humanity. As radiation sickness spreads, from the misuse of atomic engines in war-robots, the necessary medication is located in a bunker, surrounded by thousands of murderous members of a death cult.
Can the Eternal Warrior succeed in leading an army of sick civilians with weapons unfamiliar to them against a legion of maniacs? Of course he can! But can he stop the idea of war from spreading among the survivors? Well let’s just say he makes a few post-battle decisions to do his best. Plus a revelation is made about Caroline, the Eternal Warrior’s uber-cute, precocious grand-daughter who has been by his side throughout the arc, a revelation old-time fans of the Eternal Warrior wouldn’t be surprised by; given her bloodline.
The Eternal Emperor arc draws to a dramatic close, but nary a Rai in sight! A missed opportunity as far as I’m concerned, I mean both stories take place in the year 4001, a nod, a mention or a glimpse would have been sweeeeet!!!!
Last Week’s Surprise Pick
Smallville: Lantern Season Eleven #1
w. Bryan Q. Miller
a. Marcio Takara
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: I honestly just grabbed this becasue of the cover.I watched the first few seasons of Smallville regularly but then gave up, coming back here and there for episodes with the Legion, Justice Society and Doomsday. Like with most TV/Movie tie-ins, I had zero interest in a Smallville comic, so I was a little lost when I first started reading this, but the good, fun kind of lost. Takara’s art didn’t help, oh its great, nice line work and great story-telling, but not photo-realistic at all, so the characters don’t look much like the actors from the series, so it takes a few to sort out who’s who (hey! I said I never read any!) but once you do its smooth sailing into a great story.
Bryan Q. Miller, a former intern on the Smallville show, has made the world of Smallville his sand box, and damn does he know how to build. There is a lot of familiar faces, Lois is still around, as is Chloe Sullivan (who is pregnant with Oliver “Green Arrow” Queen’s baby… damn I missed alot ) .
The main story, Kal recieving a Green Lantern ring from the former GL of Sector 2813 (Earth’s neighboring Sector and former home of Krypton ), his meeting with Tomar-Re and John Stewart, the Smallville universe Origin of the Green Lanterns and the activation of the Parallax powered Manhunters was intriguing enough, but it was all the easter eggs dropped from past issues of Smallville Season 11, that not only make me want to go and get all the trade paperbacks, but watch the whole show from the beginning. A few examples:
– The Ring is activated because life forms (artificial Kryptonians???) were detected… in Argo City!!
– Clark was warned of a coming “Crisis”
– Steve (Trevor I guess?) and Diana (Smallville has a Wonder Woman??) are looking for clues on the Monitors ship!
– Washington DC was destroyed (and rebuilt!)
– a Prometheus Appearance
– and more!
Highly recommended to fans of the show, or just fans of alternate universe like myself!
What’s on your pull list this week? Here’s a complete list of all the books on sale 4/23 from our friends Royal Collectibles!