Resurrection Rundown

The interwebs are abuzz with reviews praising the colorful conclusion of Blackest Night #8. The art in this book is what really swept me away. That damn fold-out splash page is off-the-charts awesome. Ivan Reis, YOU are a rock star! Heartfelt moments, foreshadowing, resolutions and resurrections abound!

J’onn J’onzz: Yippee-mothafuckin’-ki-yay! His death in Final Crisis was so wicked that his return from the dead  seems only fair. My excitement is compounded by my newfound admiration for the character and his Martian method of affection. I am certain the DCU will be a much better place with him in it. He also has the best line of the whole book:

Max Lord: UGH! I hate that guy. Really, really hate that guy. Of course, he chose to come back, and I suspect he is going to be a huge pain in the ass. The silver lining is that I no longer have to tolerate the wholly incorrect portrayal of Diana as a remorseful warrior. She can now be free of her editor-induced guilt for killing him. And finally, Bruce can get off his judgmental high horse and get with that. Go, Batwondy, Go!

Deadman: Why isn’t he supposed to be here? Do you know? I haven’t a clue.

Osiris: This means I’m going to get more Black Adam. Hot damn! They better do it right. The Black Marvels have the potential to be cool characters as long as DC doesn’t make them one-dimensional baddies. Sprinkle a little anti-hero on my beefcake-y Adam and let Isis stay all evil so he can be the one to rein her in. That would be ironic … and interesting. Do it.

Firestorm: This makes Shag happy, and does absolutely nothing for me.

Aquaman: Okay. Yeah. Whatever. We all knew Geoff Johns was going to do this. Yet, I’m still left with questions about the vague, Arthur-centric conversation between Diana and Mera in Blackest Night Wonder Woman #3. I really thought there would be some kind of explanation. Did I miss something?

Hawk: Applause for our homie Chocotaco, who figured this out early on.  Now we can fill in the blacked-out figures on the Birds of Prey #1 cover. How cute! They have bird names.

Reverse-Flash: Ummmm … yeah. I got nothing.

Captain Boomerang: Still nothing.

Jade: She immediately jumps on a stunned Kyle, and kisses him while Soranik watches from the sideline. How much does this suck for Soranik!? I mean the whole scene on Oa when Kyle dies, and Soranik revives his heart with the help of the Star Sapphire; that CAN’T be for naught.  Soranik Natu is my second-favorite Lantern, and Kyle better choose her. That aside, her moment of heartbreak was made tolerable by Kilowog’s sympathetic expression.

Hawkman & Hawkgirl: From their gruesome, violent death to an intensely romantic reunion — what a well-deserved and satisfying resolution. And holy friggin’ cow, she brought Carter to tears. Carter Hall cried, you guys! The reunion kiss was one for the history books, literally. I loved Reis’ detail of Shiera grabbing his hair. This was by far the most monumental of the resurrections. One question though: What about the power source for the Star Sapphires?

Black Hand: The remorseless, serial-killing, psychopath is now enslaved by the Indigo Tribe of compassion. Irony. Justice. Word.

Did anybody else notice how huge the Indigo Tribe was? I’m so gonna miss the Atom in his tribal outfit. It was festive. Speaking of outfits, Wonder Woman’s white lantern getup was pretty hot, and a step up from that Star Sapphire nonsense.

I feel obliged to give our boy Sinestro a few sentences since he was foiled yet again. Old boy was forced to take a back seat and one-upped by Hal, as usual. I had hoped he would have a sort of “come to Jesus” moment with the white light and all. Instead, he was sent back to his character corner, where he’ll have to make do as an arrogant prick. I guess he kinda deserves it.

Thanks, DC, for entertaining me this go ’round. Final Crisis was so dense, and the end was so depressing. Blackest Night provided some much-needed cheesecake, but it was rich, tasty cheesecake. And once again, I gotta give it up to Reis for the art: In the last two panels, Hal and Barry are channeling Adonis.  I would like to order one Hal & Barry sammich to go, please.

Alright. I’m done.

Terra-fying!

If nothing else, DC’s Blackest Night series has hammered home the point that the undead are disgusting. In the hands of a skilled artist like Ivan Reis or Rodolfo Migliari, who did the variant cover for BN #4, the Black Lanterns are some nasty, grotesque customers — and by nasty and grotesque, I mean awesome. It’s a tough assignment to make a character somewhat recognizable underneath all that rotting flesh, though a distinctive costume helps.

Of course, the art quality of the BN tie-ins has been all over the map. The images of Black Lantern Terra from The Outsiders #24 certainly haunted me, but for all the wrong reasons:

Really? A corpse rises from the dead with a perfectly preserved, golden Farrah flip? I know this is a nod to Terra’s signature ‘do from her New Teen Titans days, but the sight of that buttery coif on top of a decaying body was equal parts distracting (Did BL Terra get a weave?) and unintentionally hilarious. I can only assume that ROFL isn’t the reaction DC was going for with the unveiling of Black Lanterns. Then again, I have the photos to prove that ’80s hair can be terrifying in its own way.

After Blackest Night Comes Brightest Day

G3 Review: Blackest Night-Wonder Woman #3

Cover art by Greg Horn

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #3
Writer: Greg Rucka
Pencils: Nicola Scott
Inks: Jonathan Glapion
Colors: Nei Ruffino
DC Comics
February 3, 2010

Nicola Scott’s rendering of Wonder Woman makes me want to go to the gym in the worst way. I mean that as a compliment, because Scott manages to make heroines’ bodies womanly, strong and distinctive without ever slipping into G-cup exaggeration. Her art is the best thing about this third and final chapter of Blackest Night: Wonder Woman, which is a bit of a letdown after the action-packed, emotionally charged second issue. Frankly, I started to feel a little sorry for Mera, who, as a Red Lantern, was reduced to incoherent rage and red goo-spewing. Not a good look.
(Spoilers ahead) Continue reading

G3 Review: The Question #37

Cover art by Cully Hamner

The Question #37
Script: Dennis O’Neil, Greg Rucka
Pencils: Denys Cowan
Inks: Bill Sienkiewicz, John Stanisci
Colors: David Baron
DC Comics
February 3, 2010

*Spoiler Alert*

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?  Well, I’m just going to rip the figurative Band-Aid off this bitch: The art sucked. Let me be clear; I usually marvel at the talent of the folks who draw, ink, and color these funny books I heart so much — but I did not enjoy the visuals in this issue like at all. It seemed intentionally overdone. Too much pencil. Too much ink. It was  reminiscent of the Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge miniseries. (I heard it was good, but I didn’t read it because the art irritated me so.)  The panels lacked any real definition or fluidity, and most of the images were stiff silhouettes. As someone who appreciates the female form, I’ma need ya to do better — especially in a story featuring my two favorite DC women.  There was barely any difference between Shiva’s face and Renee’s face, despite the fact that they are of different ethnic backgrounds. Clothes and length of hair were the only defining qualities. That aside, the fight scenes were well-communicated, and a few panels somehow managed to transcend the overall stiffness.  Now, on to the juice:

The issue opens with a montage of monuments and memories of Charles Victor Szasz.  Cut to Renee and Tot discussing the dead rising. Tot, the scientist, is enthralled by an experiment related to the Black Lanterns when Renee hears something. Enter my favorite sociopath. (Heart leaps with joy; people in restaurant have no idea why I have such a stupid smile on my face.) My hope is requited, and Rucka and O’Neil delivered. Lady Shiva’s entrance was flawless.

Now let’s get down to some martial arts, which is really the crux of this issue. We get to see the Renee/Shiva mashup. Renee reluctantly puts up a good fight, to which Shiva responds, “Adequate. Good. This will not be as boring as I feared.” Cue Renee, who responds, “Lady, you are ten pounds of crazy in a five-pound bag.” HA! I loved that damn line.

During their duel/dance, Tot was busy with his science experiment, which, as far as I could tell, was concocting a Black Lantern ring all on his own. That led to the explosive arrival of Back Lantern Charlie, and just in time to distract Shiva from delivering her kill blow. It seems the nutbar really wanted to face the Black Lantern all along. You know, just ’cause. As BL Charlie looks upon Renee and Shiva, we see their true colors: Indigo and green, respectively. Perfect.

A well-informed Shiva schools Renee that, “Not every battle ends with defeat of the enemy.” She then meditates herself into an emotion-free state, making her invisible to the Black Lantern. Pardon me while I log on to http://www.awesome.org/shivaissogangsta. Lady Shiva is like a masochistic (and way hotter) Yoda with proper syntax.

Finally, Renee and Tot follow Shiva’s lead by letting go of their emotions for their dead loved one, thus becoming invisible. The Black Lantern takes off. Renee dons her costume, determined to follow the monster and stop it — which means we’ll be seeing more of her in this event. Works for me.

Overall, The Question #37 was an effing good read.  Lady Shiva was treated properly, and the story was exciting. It was not what I expected, but the story was perfect for its characters. If you have even the tiniest bit of interest in Charlie, Renee, Tot or Shiva, it’s definitely worth your $2.99.

The Question: Will Lady Shiva Be Redeemed?

I’ve made no secret of my admiration for Gail Simone. Her writing is smart, interesting and fun, and she can write the hell out of a kick-ass chick. Many of my favorite characters are so because of her capable hand in their development. At the top of that list is Lady Shiva. I’ll keep it real. I didn’t know much about Sandra Wu-San until she showed up in Birds of Prey. OK, I didn’t know much of anything before I read BoP, but there was a long list of supporting characters throughout Simone’s arc. Shiva was my favorite by far.

As we’ve seen in Secret Six, no one does amoral with Gail’s flair. Amoral characters are intriguing because they do the things our conscience and social mores prevent us from doing. We get to live our fantasies through them, and their writers aren’t limited by pesky issues like virtue. Plus, Shiva is a straight-up beast. She’s kicked more asses than you’ve read comics. She’s fast, ingenious, wicked, and not at all afraid to die. That final fact alone makes her a force to be reckoned with. I firmly believe that she could defeat Deathstroke (See previous poll). All Shiva needs is a two-second window, and he’s done for — genetic engineering be damned. Shiva would engineer a beatdown. Continue reading

Batman + Wonder Woman = Hotness

Non-geeks like to make jokes about what an unsexy hobby comic-book reading is, but have these people read a comic lately? Last year, I flipped through a Justice League of America issue and stumbled across a scene of Hawk Girl and Red Arrow engaged in one hell of a team-up. Some of those panels will send the unsuspecting reader scrambling for a bucket of cold water.

Which brings me to that dream sequence scene of my favorite Amazon making out with the original Batman in Wonder Woman Blackest Night #2. Yes, I know it was all in Diana’s mind as she fought the influence of the Black Lantern ring, and that Bruce Wayne is currently “dead.” But these two have long been my comic fantasy couple, which made that panel of them smooching, at least for me, the equivalent of geek-girl soft porn. Continue reading

G3 Review: Phantom Stranger #42

Phantom Stranger #42
Script: Peter Tomasi
Pencils: Ardian Syaf
Inks: Vincente Cifuentes
Colors: Ulises Arreola
DC Comics
January 20, 2010

*Spoiler Alert*

We open with the Stranger and Blue Devil in a confrontation with the Black Lantern Spectre. Their goal: to draw the real Spectre out, and to prevent the BL Spectre from going after Hal Jordan. Why? Who knows? Our stoic Stranger does, but it seems all will be revealed in due time. The Stranger’s esoteric clue-dropping drew me in, but I was highly irritated by Blue Devil’s rude one-liners. I mean, the Stranger doesn’t show up all the time, so can you just shut your pie hole and do what he says?! Please, and thank you.

The art in the first section of the book is detailed — sometimes too detailed. In certain panels, the Spectre’s muscles are so overly defined that it looks like he doesn’t even have skin, let alone clothes. I know the characters are ripped, but this was a bit much. In the panel where BL Spectre has a “Squirrel!” moment and abruptly leaves to find Hal, the proportions are all off. He looks like a giant with midget arms who’s burying himself — backward.

From there, our odd duo goes looking for Deadman. Where? Nanda Parbat. “How perfectly obvious,” muses the Stranger. Since I love me some Nanda Parbat and think it’s a super-cool concept, it was exciting to see it incorporated into the story. The Phantom Stranger tells Deadman he has a great destiny to be fulfilled, but he must reconcile his spirit with his body and get his remains safely inside the city walls. With the help of the Stranger, Deadman battles to possess his corpse. Here we get to see some interesting panels, especially when BL Boston Brand tries to invade the body of The Phantom Stranger. It really gives you a feeling for how vast the Stranger is as a character. Deadman finally manages to get that nasty black ring off his corpse and safely stores his body. Then he flies off to warn Hal of what he learned from the Black Lanterns while fighting for his body.

The art in the second half of the book really worked in each scene, perhaps because Syaf didn’t have a giant Black Lantern to draw. It seems like he does better with fine detail than grander images. The color palette — a lot of blues and grays with extra shadowing — worked great for the characters and the mood of the story.

Apparently, Deadman was featured in Phantom Stranger #41 back in 1976. Being that Deadman has played his part in Blackest Night up to this point, his being in this issue was rather perfect. DC’s concept of raising certain titles from the dead is a good one, and it meshes well with who the Phantom Stranger is. “The Stranger comes when the Stranger is needed.” I get the impression that the Stranger has done what he felt he needed to do, as did this issue.

This wasn’t a typical read for me, but I’m a fan of Tomasi’s writing and have always been intrigued by the Phantom Stranger. The story was interesting and succinct, and it piqued my curiosity about all the things the Stranger alluded to.

G3 Review: Blackest Night Wonder Woman #2

Don’t start none, won’t be none.

One of the great pleasures of reading comics is finding an ideal marriage between writer and character. Greg Rucka just plain gets Wonder Woman, and his affection for the character is palpable in the three-issue Blackest Night tie-in. The first issue, featuring an Arlington Cemetery confrontation with a zombie-fied Maxwell Lord was good, but #2 sent me into a texting/e-mailing fangirl frenzy. [Spoilers ahead]. Continue reading

The Amazon’s New Clothes

My stylist is so fired.

Nothing raises our hackles quite like hearing someone say Wonder Woman is lame. (Hello, Megan Fox.) For example, one of V’s friends (we’ll call him The Antagonist) takes great joy in claiming, among other things, that Bobby Drake could kick her ass, and that the princess would “look real pretty in a pink tutu, carrying a little purse with a little dog.”

We did not handle that well. Words were exchanged via Facebook.

It was even worse once we figured out the context. The Antagonist had already read Blackest Night #6, in which Wonder Woman was transformed into a member of the Star Sapphire Corps. OK, technically the Star Sapphires wield violet light, but the costume’s color was close enough to pink for it to sting. Say what you want about Wonder Woman’s usual getup, but there is a certain dignity (depending on who is drawing her) to her red, white and blue uniform and golden breastplate. The Star Sapphire look is equal parts Dollar Tree and Strip Club. No offense to Carol Ferris, but only Starfire has a trashier costume — and she’s an alien, so she gets a pass.

Wonder Woman as a love-powered being? That’s awesome. But somewhere, The Antagonist is having a good laugh.