|By Zach Patterson||Monday, 9 Aug 2010|
In this grippung issue of CO-MACZ, we delve into the depths with more Batman, more Annihilation, more Wolverine, and some Robocop versus Terminator to top it off.
Impressions: A year after Marvel’s Annihilation event the second major cosmic crossover occurred. Conquest deals with the Phalanx takeover of the Kree empire and once again brings numerous underused cosmic characters into the limelight. This was Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s first crack at a major event (the two writers piloted the Nova mini-series during the first Annihilation event, then went on to write that character’s ongoing series afterward). While the story is once again rife with great action and characters, its a bit lacking overall, especially when compared to the original Annihilation crossover. It feels like the authors may have bitten off more than they could chew with this one and then tried to stuff too much story into too few pages. At times it seems there are too many characters with their own agendas to keep up with, and some characters (namely Wraith) are simply too convenient and one-dimensional to deserve a major part in the story. In the end, everything comes together nicely and forms the perfect foundation for the Guardians of the Galaxy line, as well as the future of the cosmic universe for years to come. If this event would have been 8 issues instead of 6, and if some fat would have been trimmed, I feel it would have been as epic as it should have been. This is still a good and important read if you are into Marvel’s
cosmic line, but it just didn’t meet my high hopes. - mig Verdict: Good.
Impressions: I lump these two together because together they make a pretty good tale but both have small problems. Batman: Hush is a pretty entertaining read from beginning to end. I like Jeph Loeb’s writing, as he makes it easy to jump in, read, and understand without knowing every facet of Batman history (in start contrast to last week’s Grant Morrison stuff). He also writes things in a way that I feel really get to the heart of Batman, his allies, and the villains. By the end of the trade, you feel like you know these characters even with little knowledge going in. Additionally, Jim Lee has always been a longtime favorite of mine, and while his art doesn’t always work, it really shines in this trade. Big muscles, big tits, big action sequences, yes please. The story is about the introduction of a new villain Hush who systematically has gathered up Batman’s enemies to put him through a gauntlet and break him. The mystery is kinda obvious halfway through, and Batman makes some silly mistakes that you wouldn’t expect (he really didn’t consider someone might cut his batline?), but it’s a pretty great story overall with one big issue; the origin of Hush. They do these flashbacks all through the book that are supposed to shed light on his past but none of them justify his actions really. He just seems to hate Wayne/Batman for being a good person. That’s where Heart of Hush, a short sequel of sorts from Paul Dini, elaborates on Hush and gives him a much better backstory where you can finally see why he is such a petulant, evil shit. The flashbacks here make him a much more sympathetic figure (well…sorta), and moreso that his actions here and in the first Hush storyline make a bit more sense. Unfortunately, the main story in Heart of Hush is just ridiculous. I mean, there’s two gigantic issues. One, in a cartoon-worthy plot twist, Hush tears out Catwoman’s heart and leaves her on some sort of machine to keep her alive while preserving her heart. Second, he has the magical “Face-Off” movie surgery to make himself look exactly like Bruce Wayne, which is a terrible plot point. It just gets waaay too hard to believe. But probably the most interesting part of the whole two stories is Batman’s love interest in Catwoman which comes to a head and sees them working together and getting involved until Batman’s trust issues cause him to push her away. The writing from Loeb and Dini is really great capturing their complicated relationship. - Zach Verdict: They aren’t masterpieces or anything, but the creative teams here are excellent and they craft an interesting, if flawed, villain and do a great job with Catwoman. Good stuff.
Impressions: I swear I’ll stop talking about nothing but Batman at some point. But not now. These two things don’t have much in common except they are both Year One tales, and one is pretty crappy and the other is among the better Batman stories out there. In case you couldn’t guess, the annual isn’t very good. I picked up this one from some old back issues (it’s from 1995) because it had a promising cover and YEAR ONE plastered across the top. It covers the origin of the Scarecrow through flashbacks from Crane’s perspective and Batman trying to track him down in the Year One time. In short, it’s pretty badly written and drawn, and there’s a complete lack of anything really interesting here. Crane’s origin is cliched and expected, the smart, nerdy, skinny kid who finally takes all his years of being picked on out on his attackers and then blah blah blah Scarecrow. Batman gets exposed to fear gas, stuff about parents being killed, eventually takes down Crane. Big waste of for a Year One tale, which are normally excellent, gritty, and well written. Batman: The Man Who Laughs, on the other hand, is a masterful telling of Joker’s first real appearance during the Year One timeline from 2005 (taking cues from several older Joker origin tales). You can tell The Dark Knight movie lifted some ideas from this, and it was right to do so. I loved the ponderings of Gordon in this, as he discusses how the city is changing and it seems more and more freaks are coming out of the woodwork. Also, it shows how Batman completely underestimates the Joker and has not yet learned to expect the unexpected from him. He treats him like a common murderer and nutcase and people end up dying, and he nearly kills himself in the process. This story is everything that the Scarecrow one isn’t. It’s a great cop story on what the Joker will do next and instills this sense of dread as you are reading it. The Joker feels like he has turned the whole city into chaos, and it’s up to Batman to finally understand the Joker and stop him from poisoning the entire city before it’s too late. - Zach Verdict: Annual is terrible and should be skipped. The Man Who Laughs is, in my opinion, a Batman essential that should be read by anyone who enjoyed Year One and associated stories along those lines. As a bonus, the trade for it comes with a nifty extra Batman/original Green Lantern tale as well that is pretty damn good for a bonus story (which is surprisingly long and very interesting).
Impressions: During the comics boom of the early 90s, a lot of terrible ideas got the greenlight to be put into print; Frank Miller’s ‘Robocop vs. Terminator’ is a fine example of this phenomenon. At first glance, it seems like it could be a cool idea. How could anyone resist seeing two iconic movie badasses duke it out
over the fate of Earth’s future? The premise seems great, but the execution is rough at best. The main story revolves around Robocop’s merging with Skynet being the catalyst that creates the Terminators. A freedom fighter from the future goes back in time to kill Alex Murphy to try to kill him before he can become film and TV’s Robocop. While her initial attempt is a failure, she succeeds in making Robot Cop see the light, which leads to a few instances of humans defeating the Terminators, only to have the Terminators send their last unit(s) back in time to start the entire process over again. Not surprisingly, the hero wins in the end, but the journey there is a tedious one that takes a lot of willpower for the reader to complete. Both the writing and artwork of these books scream early 90s. The overtly dated feeling presented here really made it tough for me to get through the entire story. Truth be told, I was basically just skimming at the end so I could finish it and write this article. The worst, most laughable, point of the script came early, but was unfortunately used as a refrain throughout the rest of the books. I leave you now with that harrowing bit of literature: “Rain falls, driving the humans to the shelter. Striking his helmet, his chest. He listens to it. It seems so far away. Far away, as a woman’s touch. Far away as everything – except the call of duty.” - mig Verdict: Fuck this.
Impressions: Good lord this is silly. I love it. The main story is decent enough, which is a story of Wolverine in Madripoor, with him battling Cyber as Cyber tries to push a new hallucinogenic drug in the city. However, what makes this worth reading is Sam Keith’s art and Peter David’s trippy story interludes. In the middle of the story, Wolverine gets hit with the drug and goes off into this crazy dream state where it’s like American Graffiti and he is like a white-shirt wearing greaser hitting on babes, before Coach Cyber shows up and they end up drag racing in weenie mobiles. It’s off the wall and hilarious.
There’s some other good moments too, like the druglord rivals playing ping pong trying to determine how to cover up the fact that Cyber murdered all their henchmen and made them look like idiots. But for me, what I love most here is Keith’s art, as it has a primal, surreal, and unrestrained quality that fits Wolverine and this story perfectly. For a nearly 20 year old comic, it’s still pretty worthwhile to pickup. - Zach Verdict: Worth it for the hallucination scene and the art alone. Overall it’s a decent story too.
Impressions: It seems the general impression of this comic is that it is kind of a load of crap. The #900 is confusing and it rips on the recently released Deadpool #900. But this is Marvel we’re talking about. I took a gamble on this book with little information about it, needing only the bad ass cover to draw me in. It is essentially a Giant Size type issue, bringing in several stories by several writers and artists. There is nothing particularly non-typical in these pages, but they certainly draw on the core parts of Wolverine’s character. First up is a story by CB Cebulski and David Finch presenting Wolverine as usual, a rage filled berserker. The plot is a throwback to the early Wolverine stories in Japan. He even has his old red and yellow costume. It’s a simple story backed by some amazingly gritty and vibrant art. We’ve seen Wolverine fight ninjas in Japan before, but I certainly wasn’t opposed to another round, especially when it’s this good looking. Next is “The Curse of the Yellow Claw”. The noir-like story has Logan as head of the Black Dragon and working a case for Mai Ling to save her family’s business from a rival gang. I always like Logan in these types of small-time affairs. In the end Wolverine saves the day with reckless abandon, but he gets the job done. I love this Wolverine and the artwork gives the whole story a nice dark and slow feel. My least favorite of the bunch, “Desperate Measures” takes place after X-Men #75. Wolverine finds himself trapped in the Morlock tunnels with Beast, Marrow, and a few other Morlocks attempting to escape from some revived Sentinels. The point of the story is essentially laid out from the beginning: Wolverine considers himself and his powers as a weapon, but learns that there is sometimes more use to a mutant’s powers than combat purpose. In the end I felt that the lesson was kind of weak. It doesn’t help that the artwork is up and down. Next is a classic Wolverine drinking story, “One Night Only”. The premise is that Logan takes one night every year to drag another mutant, one with the power to inhibit other mutants’ powers in his vicinity, out to the bar. Why? Because Wolverine’s healing powers quickly nullify the effects of alcohol, of course! So for one night this poor kid has to deal with Wolverine getting shitfaced and causing a whole heap of trouble. What else to say? Wolverine knows how to party. Wolverine doesn’t typically pal around with children, but in “Worst There Is” he teams up with a young girl to help find her deadbeat dad. The interaction between the two is pulls at Wolverine’s desire to do good conflicting with his carnal rage. Is the general premise anything new? Of course not. But seeing a few pages of Wolverine with a grade-schooler is pretty entertaining. The next story was originally told in Amazing Spider-Man Extra #2. So it’s a rehash. And it’s another drinking story. But I’ve never read it. Wolverine drags Spider-Man out to the bar for some mysterious need, and all he does is get hammered and cause trouble in the bar. It’s a great story of Wolverine’s social interaction and why none of the X-Men would never want to hang out with him on his birthday. Following is another retelling, this time of Wolverine’s epic fight against Hulk in the Canadian wilderness. But the end has a twist, and it turns out to be a jokey tale that pokes at the blurry lines of Wolverine’s past. Finally, is “Hunger”. This story seems to take place directly after the Weapon X book. The tone is much like in Weapon X, with very visceral art work. There is no dialog, merely a savage, naked Logan trudging through the snow looking for a meal. It seems as the berserk Logan is about to commit an awful act, but instead turns to an even more brutal fight, giving him a bit of compassion even when in the throes of his fury. It’s no secret, I love Wolverine. Especially non-X-Men Wolverine. While everyone else seems to hate this book, I wound up loving it. Yes it’s a lot of filler, but that somewhat discredits some of the amazing artists who worked on these stories. A simple story with great art, especially when the art matches the character’s essence, can make for the best comics. I could easily flip through this now and again just to get a glimpse at some of the best panels of Wolverine I’ve laid eyes on. - Andrew Verdict: Great. For a newcomer this would serve well as a primer on what and who Wolverine is. For long time fans this is just some classic Wolverine and a good reminder of why his character is one of the most popular and bad ass in comics.