Archive for villain

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 23rd September 2009

Posted in Batwoman, Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, Final Crisis, Superman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23rd September, 2009 by Adam Redsell

lasso_of_truth_7

Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


bn_superman_2

Blackest Night: Superman #2
Written by James Robinson ǀ Art by Eddy Barrows
Blackest Night: Superman #2 drops the horror movie tone of the first issue and opts for superhero fisticuffs instead.  It’s a pity, because depicting horror is Eddy Barrows’ specialty.  This book reads as a who’s who of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which will no doubt excite long-time DC readers.  It does lack a little in the emotional pay-off department, though (which is surprising considering the re-appearance of the Psycho Pirate).
Verdict: Check it out.


detective_857

Detective Comics #857
Written by Greg Rucka ǀ Art by J.H. Williams III
Bold and beautiful artwork, coupled with DC’s most interesting new villain makes this comic hard to fault.
Verdict: Must have.


final_crisis_dance_05

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #5
Written by Joe Casey ǀ Art by Eduardo Pansica
The Super Young Team finally awaken to their destiny, as their leader Most Excellent Superbat proves he is worthy of both names.  The art holds up surprisingly well, considering ChrisCross’ absence once again.
Verdict: Buy it.


superman_secret_origin_1

Superman: Secret Origin #1
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Gary Frank
It’s great to see these two back on a Superman title again, and boy, do they knock this one out of the park.  It’s simply beautiful, human drama.
Verdict: Must have.

Wonder Woman #33

Posted in Comics, Wonder Woman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 5th July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
A much-needed return to form for Princess Diana.

A much-needed return to form for Princess Diana.

“Rise of the Olympian Finale: Monarch of the Dead”
Author: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Matt Ryan
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Cover Artists: Aaron Lopresti & Hi-Fi
Variant Cover Artist: Bernard Chang
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Elisabeth V. Gehrlein

The cinematic opening of Wonder Woman #33 promises a return to form for Gail Simone’s flagging run on the series, and I’m happy to say this issue delivers on that promise.  With a giant clam shell falling from the Hunter’s Moon, this story picks up from before it all went so wrong – that is, before Genocide.  Perhaps it was an issue of tone after all.  This overtly grim Doomsday clone sapped all the magic and charm from a series that dealt chiefly in magic and charm.  Over seven issues, no less!  Well, Wonder Woman fans, it’s safe to come out now, the bad creature has gone.  But already we’re at the eighth and final part of “Rise of the Olympian”, and I’m wondering where it all went – it all went to Genocide, that’s where – is it too little too late for Simone to make us care about this story?

The answer is no, surprisingly, and it causes me to wonder if the problem was simply an editorial one or not.  In the course of a single issue, Simone has managed to accomplish everything she needed to accomplish with this storyline, without it feeling rushed, all the while drastically changing Diana’s status quo.  Judging from her earlier work on this series, and her stellar run on Secret Six, Simone deals primarily in short three-issue arcs and one-shots, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if what was originally planned to be a three-issue story arc was forced on her as an eight part epic by editorial.  After all, Batman had “R.I.P.” and Superman had New Krypton, what was the third pillar of the Holy DC Trinity going to have?  In light of this issue, the preceding seven issues of mindless brawling were clearly filler (and admittedly, by filler standards it was not too bad).  Still, I can see how Genocide, or something like her, was somehow necessary to reach this interesting point B.  In retrospect, this could have been done more easily by restoring a villain that requires no introduction, and that of course is Cheetah.  That Cheetah *did* appear in a greatly limited capacity just screams to me of missed opportunity.  Instead we had to deal with seven issues of build-up for a villain we didn’t care about, and never really had more than two dimensions to begin with.  But enough bitching and moaning about the waste of ink that was Genocide – she’s gone now, so let’s get on with the story.

Wonder Woman returns to Themyscira in dire need of medical attention.  To make matters worse, the island is being attacked by gigantic sea monsters, which is awesome.  Diana’s mother Hippolyta shows her true strength as a woman and a leader, as she prepares to lead her people into battle.  Now, I don’t know where Hippolyta stands in current DC continuity, but I get the sense that this is the same Hippolyta that was Wonder Woman in previous iterations, and if that’s the case, Simone makes it fit quite nicely here.  The stubborn warrior-woman that she is, Diana ignores all emotional pleas and medical advice, binding axe and lasso to her severely burnt hands, and goes into battle.  This is awesome to watch, because you know in your heart of hearts that this is exactly what Wonder Woman would do.

The battle itself is fun and reminiscent of those big monster films and Moby Dick-style epic sea stories.  All of the action is cleanly and wonderfully drawn by Aaron Lopresti, who seems right at home with horror themes and Greek mythology.  The battle yields revelations that the gods are once again involved in foul play, Zeus and Ares in particular.  Diana’s had just about enough of this, and the result is more than shocking.  The gods finally play their hand, and so does Wonder Woman.  I don’t want to spoil it by going into detail, but one can’t help but feel that she’ll never be the same again.

Everything about this issue is a shock, in what is essentially the boldest Wonder Woman story in a long time.  Just when I’d lost hope in this series, Simone leaves me hooked on all the charm and magic that brought me to her series in the first place, along with a smorgasbord of new story possibilities.  It’s time to start reading Wonder Woman again, people.

Batman and Robin #1

Posted in Batman, Batman and Robin, Comics, DC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 5th June, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Together again for the first time.

Together again for the first time.

“Batman Reborn – Part One: Domino Effect”
Author: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quitely
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover Artists: Frank Quitely and J.G. Jones

For all intents and purposes, Batman and Robin #1 is the real All-Star Batman and the Boy Wonder. Anyone who’s read Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman (and Frank Miller’s woeful All-Star Batman) will know what I mean. This Dynamic Duo returns for this new limited series Batman and Robin, with an all-new Batman and Robin.

It’s at this point that I should issue a general spoiler warning for those who haven’t read and intend to read Battle for the Cowl. It’ll be impossible for me discuss future issues, or indeed any future Batman titles, without first disclosing the outcome of that battle. Henceforth, I will no longer tread around the identities of the new Batman and Robin.

Here it is: Dick Grayson is the new Batman, and Damian Wayne (al Ghul) is the new Robin. Tim Drake’s new role has not yet been addressed, but I assume he will be headlining the new Red Robin series. Now, onto the story!

Grant Morrison’s back with his trademark verve and kineticism. The style of this series is very much a throwback to the Adam West TV series and that good ol’ Silver Age magic, albeit with a mature, modern twist (as Morrison is in the habit of doing). The book opens with Batman and Robin bearing down on Mr. Toad and his band of miscreants in a flying Batmobile. No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, that just happened. Now, the difference between what you’re probably imagining, and what ended up on the printed page, is that Morrison actually makes it work (as Morrison is in the habit of doing).

Frank Quitely’s flying Batmobile is beautifully retro, as are Alex Sinclair’s colours. Quitely’s pencilwork is crisp and clean, though his ruddy inks belie a fondness of wrinkles, for better or worse. I think it makes for expressive character work, though others may beg to differ. If you’ve seen his work before, you’ll know what to expect, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint in my view. His incorporation of the onomaetopoeia into the actual artwork (water splashing forms the letters ‘SPLSH’, for instance) is quite clever, and not something that I’ve seen before. The sparseness of Morrison’s script has really allowed Quitely’s art to breathe, and it’s clear the team are comfortable in each other’s company here.

Bat-Shark Repellent is well-known for its Morrison worship, and for the sake of journalistic integrity, I make a point of highlighting this fact on every occasion. But allow me to highlight this as well: there’s a reason for it. One being that he always gives the most satisfying pseudo-scientific explanations! He gives one for the flying Batmobile, and it fits perfectly within comic book sensibilities and the Batman mythos.

The other reason, in this case, is just how well he makes all the elements mesh together. The new Batman and Robin suit the colourful tone of this book in a way that Bruce Wayne never could – there was always a heaviness and a seriousness to the post-80s Bruce that doesn’t lend itself to these kind of stories. Dick Grayson is Batman, but he was also the first Robin, and it’s clear here that that personality hasn’t been swallowed whole by the Bat-symbol. He still pays his dues to his Father and Teacher, and he wears the cape and cowl with a certain pride and trepidation, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously either. Which is a good thing when you have a handful like Damian al Ghul for a sidekick! Robin’s witty retorts and sense of entitlement are a hilarious counterpoint to a more patient and casual Batman – and why not? This Batman’s been Robin before; he just shoots back an even wittier reply and smiles knowingly.

Morrison is quick to establish this character dynamic, and also to distinguish this duo from previous incarnations. Then again, when was the last time you saw Batman and Robin really work together? I thought so. Watching them interrogate Mr. Toad is particularly entertaining.

This issue sees a villain known as Pyg and his Circus of Strange announce themselves as disturbing additions to Batman’s rogues gallery. Pyg is as deliciously creepy as any of Arkham’s inmates, while his henchmen are ‘themed’ villains in the vein of Batman’s more obsessive foes. His torture methods are the frightening antithesis of the Dynamic Duo’s interrogation. I mean it, he’ll give you the chills. The Circus of Strange is another well-meshed concept given Dick Grayson’s circus background.

If none of this makes sense to you, fear not! This is by far the most accessible Batman story I have read in a long time, possibly ever. The storytelling is simple, the dialogue is sparse, and yet it’s packed with plenty of brilliant concepts and comic action. I can think of no better time or place to jump in than here and now.

Review on the Run: Hancock.

Posted in Comics, film, Hancock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

I went in with fairly low expectations, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with Hancock. Once you get past the five-minute slapstick opening (CG seagulls – you’ll see what I mean), it’s all smooth sailing. Probably the best performance was given by Jason Bateman, who plays a struggling PR man. He finds new purpose in improving the super-lout’s public image, but he certainly gets more than he bargained for.

There’s a few nods to other superheroes here and there, including Iron Man and The Hulk, mostly because Hancock’s always getting drunk and breaking things. But even if you’re not a comic-book nerd like myself you’ll find plenty to enjoy. CG seagulls aside, my only real gripe with the film is the lack of a real imposing villain. Of course, my points of reference are Lex Luthor and the Joker, so that comparison may not be fair.