Friday, June 22, 2007

Comic Reviews - Week of 6/20

Pretty big week, so be ready for it.

The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13
"Full Throttle" Conclusion
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Tony S. Daniel

Opinion: Buy It

All I can say is that we pretty much saw it coming. Bart did indeed die at the end of the issue. We see a flashback to what Iris told Bart when she first arrived and it was that Bart was going to die no matter what he did. There was a point in the issue where Bart thought it was going to be Inertia that was going to die and presumed that Inertia also saw the Black Flash (who always appears to a speedster when they are about to die). Needless to say Bart had no chance and the Rogues ended up killing him even though Piper tried his best to stop it from happening.

If we are to believe Dan Didio, this whole Flash series was supposedly planned ahead of time. I would believe that Guggenheim's time on it was planned, but when the series first started there was no way this ending was planned. After the outrage readers had with the Flash TV writers writing the story and how poorly it was done, chances are Didio decided he needed to end the series ASAP and brought Guggenheim in to do so. It is sad that many people didn't jump on board when Guggenheim started writing, there was a marked upgrade when he came onto the book and he did the best with what he had.

I certainly hope this is not the last of Bart...what a crappy way to die. He gets to stand out on his own as the Flash and then he is sacrificed to make the Rogues look all the more dangerous so the next Flash (who we'll get into in the next review) can put a beatdown on them? I just don't understand why Bart needed to die. Why not send him back to the future or something? Why kill him? If I was Tim (Robin) or Cassie (Wonder Girl) I'd be watching my back because it looks like the Post-Crisis Teen Titans are being taken out.

In the end this comic was really top notch except for the somewhat rushed ending. I give DC and Guggenheim credit for holding onto the secret for so long. The art was also excellent and there is a great interview with Tony Daniel about it on Newsarama. Now we wait for All-Flash #1 next month before we revert back to the Wally West numbering.

RIP Bart. I wonder if Val is going to end up pregnant by Bart or not...

Justice League of America #10
"The Lightning Saga" Conclusion (Part 5 of 5)
Writer: David Meltzer
Artist: Ed Benes

Opinion: Read It

I had to read this comic 2 times in order to even come close to understanding all that happened in it. There is a LOT of story contained within a small space here and it almost makes Parts 3 and 4 of this arc even more aggravating to me with the slowness of them. The Legion (and I'm still not sure which Earth this Legion is coming from and what Earth the current Legion book comes from) plays their endgame here and in the end 2 Legionnaires are left in our time: Starman and Karate Kid.

There is still a lot of interpretation to be made toward the end of this book. I agree with a lot of people that believe the Legion came back to catch Barry Allen and bring him to the future. The foreshadowing of this idea is found in this book. Hal Jordan makes the astute observation that the Legion sets each member in a specific place where Barry Allen's DNA would be (the lab, where Batman saw him in CoIE #2, Blue Valley, etc.) in order to maximize their chance of catching him.

In the final pages we see that Wally West and his family rode the lighting from the future to get back to the present. It is also my belief that Barry Allen came back as well and is housed in the lighting rod held by Brainiac 5 in the future. Brainy says something akin to, "well, at least we got the person we wanted." Wally has become part of the JLA now (thank God a Flash is back on the JLA), but there is no indication of whether he still has the Speed Force or not other than the must have ridden the lightning with his family.

I'm happy to see Wally back simply because he is my generation's Flash. I love Barry Allen too and wouldn't have cared either way of who came back. It looks like both came back though; or at least that's what we're all hoping. Meltzer only has 2 issues left before McDuffie takes over, so it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. I can only guess Wally's story is going to spill out into the Flash books coming out and may not be talked about in JLA, but who knows. In the end the arc itself was slightly above average at best, but the ending was a pretty big payoff and somewhat rights what DC did wrong at the end of Infinite Crisis.

Once Wally finds out the Rogues killed Bart there's going to be a big beatdown coming, but Piper should be happy again now that Wally and Linda are back.

The Amazing Spider-Man #541
"Back in Black" Part 3 of 5
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Ron Garney

Opinion: Buy It

So far this is probably the best part of the "Back in Black" arc. The decisions Peter makes are written very well and based around the whole immediacy of the situation. MJ tells Peter that eventually with them paying cash for May's care that red flags will come up and their cover will be blown, so Peter decides he is going to try transfusing his blood into May and see if that makes her better or not. He had tried it before way back and it had adverse effects, but he feels this is a last ditch effort that must be made. Pretty powerful stuff knowing that you could be killing your closest family member even faster if things go wrong.

In the end Peter has a face-to-face encounter with Wilson Fisk at the end, but no punches are thrown yet. One of the negatives of this arc is that it is happening between Daredevil #92 and #93 (an editoral mark about it is here) and now we are up to #97 in that book. In Daredevil #93 we see Fisk outside of the prison and visiting Vanessa's grave, so obviously nothing adverse is going to happen to him in his encounter with Peter. This kind of leaves the next issue as not that exciting as we move into the last issue of the arc with Peter looking at a body under a white sheet on the cover.

This was a really well written and penciled book, but the whole situation lost a lot of air given the Daredevil editorial mark in it. In some ways maybe they should have left that out because that book is farther in the future at this point and there is a good chance some people may not be reading that book either and will now go and hunt out the comics and see that nothing is going to happen to Fisk in the end.

Captain America #27
"Death of a Dream" Part 3 of 6
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting

Opinion: Must Own (Comic of the Week)

So, how does a writer create a fantastic comic where the title character isn't even alive anymore? I don't know, but Ed Brubaker certainly seems to. This is easily my pick for Comic Book of the Week. It has now been 2 issues since Steve Rogers was killed and I am more engrossed in this comic than any other one I'm reading. Brubaker deserves whatever titles he wants to write because he is simply that good.

I always thought Bucky's return was done better than Jason Todd's return on the DC side and this issue just solidifies it that much more for me. There are more flashbacks from Bucky's early days of being the Winter Soldier. We now find out that he helped train the Black Widow when she was young AND that he was romantically involved with her back then. The Black Widow has slept with a lot of people in the Marvel Universe, so now Bucky can join the others.

This part revolves around Bucky trying to get Cap's shield back from SHIELD. He goes to check out the exhibit that Tony has set up and realizes the shield there is not the real one, something he already assumed since he knew Tony couldn't leave it out in the open. When he tracks it down it ends up that the Black Widow is the one charged with keeping the shield safe. Bucky knocks her out and takes the shield while Falcon and Sharon decide to follow him to see exactly what his plan is.

I can't wait to see what the ending of this arc actually is. I'm still wondering if someone is going to take up the guise of Captain America or not.

Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America - Spider-Man #1
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: David Finch

Opinion: Read It

The delays on this series has been pretty agonizing. I'm not sure whether Loeb is at fault or the artists are. My guess would be the former just because there are different artist attached to each issue while Loeb is the constant through the whole thing. Whatever they have planned for Loeb in the future I certainly hope he can be more timely than he has lately. I still don't buy that the final part will be out the first week of July, especially with Cassidy on the art.

Outside of that this issue was very good and sees Peter mistakenly taking on Rhino at the cemetery. Both of them were there to see loved ones, but Peter reacted poorly and took on the Rhino. We then flashback to a time where Captain America helped Peter take on the Hulk and we see parallels between that fight and the current one that Peter is fighting.

At the end of the issue, Peter gets an unwanted heart-to-heart talk with Wolverine about Captain America that brings a sense of closure. It was a really well done issue as has most of the parts in this arc so far. Now we just have Iron Man left and that should also be quite interesting.

David Finch's art should be given a special note here as it was excellent as always.

X-Men: Endangered Species One-Shot
Writer: Mike Casey
Artist: Scot Eaton

Opinion: Buy It

I'm not a huge X-Men fan. I lived through years where nothing seemed to go on in any of the X books while they were the top selling books around. Nowadays there are some quality X stuff out there, most notably Astonishing X-Men, X-Factor and Morrison's run to close out New X-Men's last iteration. For a while now we've known there will be a huge X event later this year. Last week we got a title for it, Messiah Complex. The one-shot I am reviewing today is the opening chapter to the event and this will spill out to 8-page backup stories in the next 17 X books to come out and then Messiah Complex will start.

This book was an excellent introduction to what the X books are shooting for in the coming months. It has been nearly two years (our time) since House of M ended and I believe we are on the cusp of finally answering all the questions people have had about it when it applies to the X books. Endangered Species revolves around one of the students from the school's (and one of the 198 mutants left after Wanda's spell) funeral. It is said he dies normally being run over by a truck, but the issue itself is set up so the key players can question exactly how to keep the mutants from being an extinct race. They've already lost 99% of their original population, all it takes is for that last 1% to be killed and there certainly won't be any more mutants.

Beast finally decides it is time to solve the problem of extinction however he can and even at the end of the book where they show the upcoming 17-part backup story it sounds like Messiah Complex shall revolve around Beast. Could we be seeing Morrison's future at the end of New X-Men where Beast is the alpha mutant? Who knows, but I am interested in seeing what happens.

This book is a good set-up and hopefully Marvel is finally going to set the table correctly on the X books as we move out of this and into Messiah Complex. I will continue reading the backup stories in all the X books and I can only guess there will be a TPB coming out with the whole thing in one place before the next event begins.