Monday, 31 December 2007

Christmas Make Over, Green Lantern Style

I wasn't going to post anything until the New Year was well under way - I'm still recovering from the excesses of Christmas and we have New Year's Eve celebrations to get through this evening. Having picked up my comics on Saturday just gone, however, I noticed something that I wanted to post about.

I'm a big fan of Green Lantern and have been since I was a kid. Over the years I've bought various comics, T-shirts, watches and action figures; my wallet has the classic logo on the front and I'm even considering getting the Lantern symbol as a tattoo on my arm. While I wouldn't pretend to be an expert on the Green Lantern Corps and its members, I'd like to think I've got a good grounding. When I was reading the Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps Secret Files And Origins #1 over the weekend which has - as the cover mentions - "bios on over 200 Lanterns!" - there were some I recognised and some I didn't, but one caught my eye.

Page 18, bottom row, middle entry is Sheriff Mardin who first appeared in Green Lantern Corps Quarterly #6. Having collected the whole of the Quarterly series when it was published in the early 90's, something struck me as not quite right about the image that was used to illustrate Sheriff Mardin's entry.

Firing up my comic database, I found the issue, flipped through it and, sure enough, found what was wrong.

Green Lantern Corps Quarterly was an anthology series, telling tales of individual Lanterns surrounded by a framing story that didn't sit in either Green Lantern or Green Lantern Mosaic that were published at the time. Issue #6 featured stories about female Lanterns or female enemies; there was the first appearance of Laira who is one of the Lost Lanterns featured in recent Green Lantern issues; Alan Scott took on the latest Harlequin; and Boodikka provided some raucous light relief.

And there was Sheriff Mardin.

In a quiet little story by Mike Baron, readers are introduced to perhaps the homeliest Green Lantern ever. Both Green Lantern and Sheriff to the world of Nyberg, the Sheriff hardly ever uses her ring, solving the homesteader's problems using her wits and practical nature.

When she does have to use the ring, she tries to avoid flying as it upsets her stomach, hence her need for a bicarbonate that she mentions in the panels on the left.

She's clearly overweight, a rotund and cheerful figure of approachable authority on a world that's so peaceful the biggest problem she faces is a native creature attacking a farmer's herd. With her wise and practical way of dealing with things, she had the potential to become the den mother of the Corps as Ma Hunkel has become to the Justice Society.

But no longer. Over this Christmas, the fat and jolly version of Sheriff Mardin as shown in Green Lantern Quarterly #6:
has given way to the slinky, sexy version in Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps Secret Files And Origins #1:
Out with the old, in with the new, apparently.

Happy New Year!

Friday, 21 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

I'm way behind on my comics reading at the moment - work went nuts in the run up to Christmas and I've barely had time to do anything. I've got a stack on comics on my desk waiting to be read (now that I've finished Alan Moore's The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier) which includes the finale to the Sinestro War in Green Lantern!

It's unlikely I'll have time to do much here over the Christmas and New Year so you all enjoy yourselves and I'll be back in the first week or so of January 2008.


Sunday, 9 December 2007

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #12

Seriously, I considered giving myself some rules with this blog and in particular the Cocktail posts. I thought that maybe I shouldn't select consecutive issues of the same title for the Cocktail, for example, so that other titles could get a look in. But to be honest, this is me enjoying myself with comics and these posts are about the comics I've enjoyed most in any given week.

Justice League Of America #15 was just one long fight that turned out to be set before Green Arrow's and Black Canary's wedding and where Canary's orders were ignored by Batman and only begrudgingly followed by Wonder Woman. It also showed Fatality's prosthetic arm bleeds and that, after the dust settles, Batman still has zero respect for Canary's leadership by telling Firestorm he's joined the League with no recourse to Canary at all. I greeted McDuffie's arrival with cautious optimism and, a few issues in, it seems I was too optimistic.

Both Justice Society Of America #11 and the new Countdown Arena #1 were enjoyable, though it really does appear that Dale Eaglesham, penciller on JSoA, has a problem drawing Power Girl's chest. In the previous issue and this one she spends most of her time with her back to the camera as it were.

But, again, for the third consecutive issue, the title that made me smile the most was The Atom #18. Gail Simone consistently packs energy, action and humour into this title and makes me consider picking up her run on Wonder Woman.

With Wonder Woman herself still helping the Atom out, there's plenty of time for lust and awe based humour. Like others before him, Atom can't help but babble away around her, telling her - almost against his will - of his innermost secrets . . . like the dream he had where Wonder Woman and Power Girl . . .

With the town under the sway of the Ruffian - the character seen in the previous issue swapping brains and bodies - Atom is attacked by his neighbours and his best friend, Panda, who manage to subdue both him and, temporarily at least, Wonder Woman as well.

In a piece of writing that borders on genius, Panda explains that the council of Ivy Town wouldn't let them build a bonfire on which to burn the Atom, so they had to improvise.

To the Atom's consternation, his neighbours are planning to burn him on a Ted Grant Grease-Grabbin' Grill which has a little tray to catch all the fat! If you don't get the joke you not only need to read more comics but also shop for more electrical goods! As he's placed on the grill and suffering from concussion he can't help admiring the flexibility of the patented, non-stick coating!

Thankfully, Wonder Woman wakes in plenty of time, not only to rescue the Atom from a lethal grilling but also to identify the culprit and help Atom take the Ruffian down.

The big surprise is left for the last page, though, when Wonder Woman reveals that she has been judging him throughout her encounter and, at the end, offers him a seat - literally - on the Justice League.

Now if we can get Gail Simone to write Justice League Of America, all would be right with the world.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Image Problems

Looks like there's a problem with Blogger as any recently uploaded image that's clicked on returns a request to download it rather than just opening it.

It's a bit annoying as this affect the last couple of posts, both of which had images, the last one particularly.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Mangy Furriners!

As I've mentioned before, I'm in the long, long process of cataloguing all my comics. Whenever I have the time, I scan covers, add details of plots and character appearances and a whole host of other material, mainly for fun but partly to contribute to the Collectorz online database.

Doing this also gives me the opportunity to check out comics that, compared with today's, are nowhere near as sophisticated.

Denny O'Neil won awards in the 1970's for his groundbreaking work on Green Lantern/Green Arrow and deservedly so. He was amongst the first to show that superhero comics could be used to tell mature and sensitive stories; sure, they have some rough edges but tales that highlighted the wrongs of drug abuse or racism weren't being told in this medium at the time.

He was also, as can be seen by Green Lantern/Green Arrow #110 from 1978, telling tales of supreme weirdness, littered with terrible cliches!

Kicked out of Arrow's house by Black Canary after Arrow's display of macho posturing irritates her, the two Greens travel to Earth orbit where Lantern, when he's plying his trade as Hal Jordan long distance truck driver, routinely parks his truck.

The idea of using space as your personal parking lot isn't the weirdest thing in this issue by far. As they reach the truck, they notice The Silver Twist, apparently "the strangest object in the known universe" which threw them into an alternate reality the last time they encountered it and this time is about to prove no different. Before that, though, Lantern has to rescue a satellite knocked out of orbit by the Twist and the figure that came out of one side of it and into another. Rescuing the satellite before it crashes into Ohio, Arrow comments that "the Chamber of Commerce would be really miffed!"

Do you not think that they'll be "really miffed" by hitting the nuclear powered satellite away from Earth with a giant tennis racket?! One minute they're saving it, the next they're throwing the damn thing away!

Determining to follow the figure in the Twist, though, they plunge into it and arrive on what appears to be Earth in the Old West, complete with sheriffs and varmints with themselves being seen as the varmints.

No sooner have they arrived than they're being shot at by some good ole boys, including the sheriff - some welcome! Their skins are saved - temporarily - by the arrival of the Clancy Bunch who have a member called Borch . . . who just happens to be a four armed alien.

Lantern ends up being shot by Borch, forcing Arrow to pick him up and get him to the saloon where, as you can see, the locals are none too friendly. The next time someone you don't know walks into your home, I want you all to say "Thet's fur 'nuff, stranger!"

They really don't write them like that any more. Something else you don't see if the old "Continued on 3rd page following" note at the bottom of the page when the story was about to be interrupted by an advertisement. Was that put there out of politeness or a vague sense that if it wasn't there, the reader would just get confused while his story about aliens and cowboys was suddenly joined (as in this case) by Batman and Robin talking about the "light, tender crust" and "delicious, real fruit filling" of Hostess Fruit Pies?

Thankfully, the sassy Miz Lulu steps in and prevents the trigger happy locals from shooting Arrow . . . though they probably would have filled him with lead if we're keeping with the story.

Miz Lulu, it turns out, is not only able to calm hotheaded cowpokes but is also something of a doctor and, despite Lantern having been shot by an alien ray gun, she's able to restore him to health.

And just in time, too, as the real bad guy - the wonderfully named Rance Clancy - shows up and challenges Lantern to a duel against the alien, Borch, in an hour's time.

How do we tell he's the bad guy? Well, other than the whole threatening and duelling side of things, just take a look at him: he's wearing black! All black as well! Not just a hat but the whole ensemble's been bought from the Bad Guy Clothing Store which only sells things in black!

Still, there's no way that the heroes aren't going to do their bit and Lantern agrees to face off against Borch and his four arms.

Having spent the last hour chatting up Miz Lulu (Hal was always a ladies' man, much like Ollie) he answers her question of "You sure you want to go through with this?" with the immortal line:

"A man's got to do what a man's got to do!"

Mixing his Western heroes, though, he takes a John Wayne quote and promptly dresses in the style of Clint Eastwood in the Dollars Trilogy, complete with serape and hat.

Stepping out of the saloon, Lantern is afflicted with another case of the cliches as he thinks to himself that things are "Quiet . . . real quiet! Maybe too quiet!"

Of course, they're not quiet for long as the four armed alien, Borch, turns up and, like all good comic book villains, explains who he is and what he's doing here. Meanwhile, Arrow finds the other members of the Clancy gang who, blackguards that they are, plan to shoot Lantern from afar.

Armed with his power ring, though, it doesn't take Lantern more than a moment to disarm Borch and leave him in the custody of the townsfolk who are now more than happy the two "mangy furriners" stopped by.

In a wonderful piece of deus ex machina writing, Arrow discovers the way out of this alternate Earth: a hole in the ground that "looks like a rift between the universes!"

What are the odds?!

Simply jumping into the hole takes them back to their own universe and the rift closes up behind them . . . leaving a reality hopping alien armed with ray guns on a world no more advanced than the late 1800's!

Miz Lulu might be wondering who those masked men were but I'd like to know where they left their sense of responsibility! Surely Lantern - as an intergalactic police officer - should have brought Borch back with them and taken him to the Guardians of the Universe?!

Ah, the 70's - simpler times . . .

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #11

"Well, cut my calories and call me skinny!" as Animal Man said back in Crisis On Infinite Earths #11. To my surprise, as well as Animal Man's, Countdown To Final Crisis gets its second Cocktail and in consecutive weeks to boot.

Teen Titans #53 was just too much - everything was crammed in with not enough room to breathe; while the series is normally excellent, Blue Beetle #21 was simply okay, possibly due to the fill-in writer; Garth Ennis's Dan Dare #1, while promising much, was simply a scene setter; amongst the other titles I picked up, the only other near contender was Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters #3 but, as you can see, it was Countdown that I went for.

At the risk of repeating much of what I said last week, Countdown's come in for some flak over the last six months but it appears to be shaking that off and moving the stories along, though some fare better than others - there's been no sight of Holly Robinson and the Amazons for some time now.

Mary Marvel and Eclipso managed to survive the attack by Lord Havok's ships in last issue and, it appears, Mary has finally realised Eclipso's no good for her.

Stuck on Apokolips, Jimmy Olsen's fortunes seem to swing from bad to good and right back to worse; rescued by Mr Miracle, the New God then forces Jimmy to play at one of those trust exercises that were so big in 1990's training seminars. Usually, one person gets another to fall backwards, trusting that the first will catch them, thus teaching them to be more trusting of others.

Mr Miracle's version, as shown on the right, is a lot more extreme risking the Fire Pits of Apokolips instead of the risk of falling flat on your backside. As one of the early Countdown posters said, Jimmy Olsen must die. The chances of it being at the hands of Mr Miracle, however, are fairly remote.

After the torture and beating he endured in last week's issue, Mr Mxyzptlk returns to the Fifth Dimension where he's met and consoled by his wife. Beaten to within an inch of his life, he decides to seal the entire dimension off from the Third and proclaims that he can never go back.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that at some point, Mr Mxyzptlk will actually get back to the Third Dimension. Saying something will never happen in comics is a bit . . . well, silly really. It wouldn't surprise me if a few years down the line, the wholesale slaughter of The Death Of The New Gods not withstanding, we'll see the return of a hale and hearty Big Barda, Metron, Lightray and all the others that are currently being picked off.

But I digress.

The big reason Countdown got the Cocktail this week was the apparent culmination of Trickster and Pied Piper's story. While it's been a little hit and miss and some of Trickster's jibes about Piper's sexuality have seemed more bigoted than the sort of thing long-time friends can get away with, the shocking end to their story came as a hell of a surprise. Whether this, too, is something that can be undone - like Mxyzptlk's statement of not returning will be at some point - only time will tell. Either way, it's a hell of a cliff hanger and, once again, next week's issue can't come soon enough.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #10

I'm probably as surprised as anyone else here to find that my Cocktail comic this week is Countdown To Final Crisis #23. While I've enjoyed the series so far, it's come in for a fair bit of bad press from both the comic journals and the fans. True, it's never had the must read aspect of the series it grew from, 52, but I've found it to be dependable if nothing else. Maybe I'm just not as discerning as the rest of the comics world?

And it's not as if it didn't have some competition, particularly from The Boys #12. As I've said before, I love Garth Ennis's work but this seemed to be something of a place holder; The Brave And The Bold #8 was a good, solid story, too, though nothing exceptional; both Countdown To Mystery #3 and Countdown Presents The Search For Ray Palmer: Gotham By Gaslight #1 had their plus points but didn't quite get there. So, at the risk of damning with faint praise, Countdown To Final Crisis got the Cocktail this week almost by default.

But it wasn't just that nothing else hit the bar, either. Concentrating mostly on Superman-Prime's torture and questioning of Mr Mxyzptlk it showed the flawed, one-time hero to be a deeply troubled but very powerful character. This is a guy who, back on his home world pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths, was due to grow up and become Superman. Following the disastrous events of Infinite Crisis, and the Sinestro War (which is, confusingly, still going on over in the pages of Green Lantern) he has turned into the self-named Superman-Prime. Determined to find his perfect world, his Earth-Prime, he isn't above destroying people or whole worlds - as shown in Countdown #24, he destroyed the entire Earth-15.

With his level of power, conviction that what he is doing is the right thing and his unwavering determination to carry it through to the end, he has truly become a force to be reckoned with. I find myself wondering how much the character will affect the forthcoming Final Crisis and whether he will be one of the major villains of the piece.

In this issue, having captured Mr Mxyzptlk, he needs a way to prevent the powerful imp from freeing himself. To that end, Superman-Prime forcibly ropes in the spell caster from Earth-3, Annataz Arataz whom he tortures into compliance. The evil counterpart of Zatanna (note the backward spelling of the Earth-3 sorceress' name) she receives short shrift from Superman-Prime and rightly so; she admits herself that she had done terrible things on Earth-3.

At the end of the issue, however, there is an element of redemption for her as she helps Mxyzptlk escape, restoring his magic that she has been removing continually. Her redemption is short lived, though, as Superman-Prime - still an immature boy despite his physical stature - destroys the hideout he has been using, killing her at the same time.

There's been a fair few deaths of characters in the lead up to Final Crisis - witness the destruction of Earth-15 as mentioned above - and it seemed a shame to see yet another character who had potential thrown away without a thought, much like the Jokester in Countdown #29 who was worthy of his own one-shot (Countdown Presents The Search For Ray Palmer: Crime Society) but was then dispatched mere moments later. Not only did Annataz manage to redeem herself but there was also a nice visual touch that set her aside as shown in the picture above. Not only were her spells said backwards like Zatanna's, but they were upside down as well!

There were brief interludes with both Mary Marvel, who was still teamed with Eclipso, and Lord Havok who reveals he is now Monarch's number two, but this was definitely Superman-Prime's issue and, for once, it makes me really look forward to next week's.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

More Pages Published

Just a quick note to say I've published the FAQ and Help Needed pages on The Annotated Final Crisis site.

Obviously the FAQ's a bit of a misnomer - no one's asked me anything yet - and the Help Needed is empty as nothing of Final Crisis has been published yet.

Still, they're up and ready so one less thing for me to do in six months time.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Updated Headshots!

I was away for the weekend, hence the lack of a Cocktail post for last week - for what it's worth, it was a toss up between The Punisher #52 and Booster Gold #4 with The Punisher just ahead.

Anyway, this is just a quick post as, checking Newsarama, I found the picture on the left, the cover for the upcoming Justice Society of America #13.

There's obviously a meeting between our Superman and the Kingdom Come/Earth-22 Superman, but check the heads surrounding the main picture: it's a clear homage to the headshots shown around the covers to Justice League of America (Vol 1) #207 - 209 and All-Star Squadron #14 - 15, the original Crisis On Earth-Prime story which gives this blog its name!

Now, of course, I have to decide whether to pinch the head shots from this cover and incorporate them into the picture heading for my blog . . .

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #9

A tough decision this week for the cocktail, partly because I only picked up a handful of comics. Infinity Inc was never in the running, however; the third issue has simply made me realise that the title's not working for me so I'll be dropping it. Both Midnighter - Keith Giffen continues to impress with his dialogue even though the plot seems a bit haphazard - and the Red Rain issue of The Search For Ray Palmer - if only for the Kelley Jones artwork - were close contenders but, as I did for the very first cocktail, I've gone for The Atom.

Once again, Gail Simone has written a fast moving, tightly plotted adventure, free of the confines of the Search for Ray Palmer crossover from previous issues, that can deal with the characters she so obviously enjoys.

It's probably no coincidence with Simone taking over the writing of Wonder Woman that Diana turns up in Ivy Town this issue, intent on using Giganta - whose alter ego of Doris Zeul teaches at the same university as Ryan (The Atom) Choi - as bait for something bigger. Complications arise, though, when it turns out that Ryan and Doris, as was hinted at in previous issues, are almost beginning a relationship.

Their first date isn't just complicated by the arrival of Wonder Woman, however, as a new villain - or possibly villains - arrive to throw a spanner in the works. A man arrives at the class of Ryan's friend Panda and uses mind control to implant the suggestion that Panda should kill Ryan the next time he sees him; either the same villain in a woman's body - as shown on the right, he/she seems to have the ability to swap brains/bodies - or a related one tells Giganta that Ryan's selling her out to Wonder Woman. While the results of the latter incident are played out almost instantly, it seems likely that Panda's troubles will be picked up in future issues.

Giganta and Wonder Woman have a long history which invariably involves violence - at their date, Doris complains about the way calves are kept before being killed for veal. Ryan, despite his obvious attraction to her, can't help but mention how many times she has tried to kill Wonder Woman.

The date doesn't end well, partly due to the villain mentioned above informing Doris that Ryan is going to turn her over to Wonder Woman. While he had originally agreed to wear a wire, Ryan's principles had come to the fore and he had decided not to betray Doris's trust. Unaware of this, and prompted by the mysterious villain, Doris becomes Giganta and ransacks the restaurant.

Wonder Woman launches an attack and despite the Atom's attempts to calm things down, Wonder Woman ends up knocking Giganta down, forcing the Atom to come between the two women and stand up to the Amazonian princess who seems intent on hitting her foe even when unconcious.

While Wonder Woman compliments the Atom on his bravery, Giganta mysteriously disappears and unknown to either of the heroes, Ivy Town is about to be quarantined by the Department of Metahuman Affairs.

Simone writes an excellent Atom; his interactions with both Giganta and Wonder Woman work a treat. She doesn't forget the alien Head, either, with a throwaway line from him as he stares at Wonder Woman and says "Head have feel oddly aroused by non-head appendages!"

What she doesn't write well, though, is the obviously British male villain that confronts Panda. While it starts off well - using the term "mate" as opposed to "friend" or "pal" and referring to the Atom's nemesis Dwarfstar as a "git" - she loses all credibility with the line "Off snoggin' with the birds, weren't he?"

Trust me, Gail: no-one in Britain speaks like that.

Despite that, this is still a damn fine comic.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Questions From The Bar

As any regular readers will know, I'm a big fan of DC Comics; my (usually) weekly posts headed Who'd Like A Cocktail? deliberately focus on the comic that I've enjoyed most that particular week. There are other blogs out there that bitch and moan - some of them I read regularly because they're also funny about it, while others seem to just moan for the sake of it.

I'm not much of a whiner - if I don't like a comic I'm reading, I'll give it a few months and if it doesn't pick up, I'll ditch it. However, there were a couple of issues this week that bugged me so I thought I'd do something a little different and have a look at them.

JSA Classified has rotated stories about the members of the Justice Society with different writers and artists and the last three issue long story arc called Mr Horrific has finished in #31.


Story-wise, it featured the JSA going up against an American senator with apparent leanings toward Nazism.

Art-wise it featured Alex Sanchez's attempts to render human beings as contour maps; just compare his drawing of Heinrich Himmler with a portrait I found just by doing a Google Image Search.

The story was weak to begin with but by this final issue it appeared the writer, Arvid Nelson, had just had enough of his own half-arsed story and made no attempt to play it straight. Having (presumably) written himself into a situation where only the most bizarre idea could rescue him, he reveals that the brain of Heinrich Himmler is alive and well and living on the Moon!

No, seriously! To make it worse, Himmler wants a harem "stocked with the finest German women!"

I'm not making this up and I wish that Nelson hadn't either. When you consider that Justice Society of America is one of the DCU's premier teams and being written by one of DC's premier writers, why is this companion title being treated as a dumping ground for terrible stories and atrocious artwork?

Some people may like Sanchez's work but I don't and when coupled with a really poor story like this, I can see it being pulled, either by the company or from my reading list.

The other thing that bugged me was Countdown To Final Crisis #26, the first issue of what used to be called Countdown to have its new full title.

It was extremely exposition heavy which was a deliberate move by the writers according to this interview at Newsarama and whilst I didn't really need it, I can see it had some benefits. It summarised what was happening or had happened in Countdown up to that point and revealed the big villain behind everything as Darkseid . . . even though he'd been revealed as the bad guy in the first issue, #51. As far as summarising everything was concerned, it made no mention of Pied Piper and Trickster's story nor Holly Robinson and the Amazons; Eclipso and Mary Marvel barely got a mention as well so while it attempted to offer everything as a neat little package, it left some bits missing.

That wasn't what bugged me, though. It's been established that for each of the fifty-two universes in the Multiverse, there is a Monitor. Fifty-two universes equals fifty-two Monitors, right?

Check this out:
That's page 1 of Countdown To Final Crisis #26, the opening to the series that will lead to DC's big event of next year.

Everyone of those red dots is a Monitor and without counting the half dozen to a dozen or so that could be hidden by the panel in the top left or the two or three directly in front of the main Monitor, there are seventy-four of the buggers.

Seventy-four! That doesn't even include Bob whose off exploring the Multiverse with the Challengers From Beyond!

Someone at the DC offices really needs to have a word with Scott Kolins who drew almost half again too many Monitors.

Six Months To Go

With the release of Countdown To Final Crisis #26 last week, the ball well and truly gets rolling towards next May's Final Crisis.

I've done some preparatory work on The Annotated Final Crisis and over the next couple of weeks aim to build on the information that's out there.

I changed the colour scheme so that it's more readily distinguishable from The Annotated Infinite Crisis and while it's looking fairly bare and straightforward for now (there's still only the front page that's been published) there's more to come.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Google Provide Search Engines, You Say?

Sometimes the most obvious things are the hardest to see.

I'm a big fan of Google's products: I use Blogger to power this blog; Google Page Creator for the two Annotated sites I have; gmail for my e-mail; and a whole host of others but it was only this evening that I thought of adding a search engine, powered by Google, to The Annotated Infinite Crisis site.

Live and learn, I guess.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #8

The Sinestro Corps War seemed to be all over the DCU in last week's comics - yes, I'm a week behind as I was away last weekend and will be again this weekend - what with Tales Of The Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime, Green Lantern Corps #17 and Blue Beetle #20 all featuring the story which some are saying is putting Countdown to shame.

Despite the solid issue of Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters #2, the Titans of Tomorrow storyline continuing in Teen Titans #52 and (finally!) some sort of resolution becoming evident in the Ghosts of Mars storyline in JLA: Classified #45, it was Blue Beetle - as it did with Who'd Like A Cocktail? #4 - that gets the cocktail this week.

As I mentioned in ...Cocktail #4, it's the humour and sheer joy in the story of Jaime Reyes and his alter ego that keep me smiling with this book. With his some-time tutor Peacemaker possessed by a scarab of his own as well as wielding a Sinestro Corps ring, Beetle is attacked by the same person using two different weapons. Frantically he seeks help from his support team who, upon hearing his situation, admit they can't help.

Things are complicated with the appearance of a Green Lantern, Brik, who has tracked the Sinestro ring. The Lanterns are age-old enemies of the Reach, the creators of Beetle's scarab, and as such, Brik's ring screams that Beetle is the enemy. The scarab, as you can see on the right, isn't exactly overjoyed to see a Green Lantern, either.

As an aside, I remember reading of Brik's induction to the Green Lantern Corps way back in 1991/92, sixteen or so years ago. Not to mention the crush she had on Hal Jordan at the time...

Fighting the possessed Peacemaker, however, Brik and Beetle manage to put aside their differences. Beetle comes up with a plan, displaying how much the character has grown in the last eighteen months or so, and has Brik distract Peacemaker.

Throughout their battle, a conflicted message comes from the raging Peacemaker: the Sinestro Corps ring he wears is a symbol of order through fear, while the Reach scarab that possesses him merely wishes to allow the Reach to take control of the Earth. The Peacemaker still craves peace, though.

Using his own scarab to link in with that of his friend, Beetle mentally connects with the Peacemaker, reaching his mind. Together - and with the surprise appearance by Beetle's scarab as a separate, individual being - they manage to free him of Sinestro's influence and the ring flees to find a replacement.

With his scarab dormant once more, Peacemaker makes a choice and a sacrifice that, as I've said before, shows there is more to this book than the humour, and ends the issue on a poignant note.

I've heard rumours that this book isn't selling well and is heading for cancellation. It would be a shame if that were to happen as it's easily one of the best from DC at the moment.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Away For The Weekend

I'm away for the weekend so won't be picking up comics until next Tuesday at the earliest so the next Who'd Like A Cocktail? will probably be a few days late.

Have fun!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #7

This week's cocktail was another tricky one to choose: Justice League of America #14 worked at pitting the League against the Injustice League; Black Adam #3 had a fight between the main character and Hawkman - always worth a read - and ended on a great cliff hanger; Shadowpact #18 seemed to recover after last month's so-so issue; and the New Gods started dying in earnest in the appropriately titled The Death of The New Gods #1.

Give me a comic that features Power Girl, however, and it's a safe bet that it's going to the top of my reading pile.

I make no apologies for being a big fan of the character - she's ballsy, smart, feisty, has a great rack and enjoys hitting people. What's not to like?

We may as well get this out of the way at the start: Power Girl has large breasts. Get over it.

There's a fair amount of discussion on the net about this apparent issue and what a lot of people fail to realise is that some women have large breasts. Some women are famous because they have large breasts; other woman are famous for something that has nothing to do with the size of their breasts. In the DCU, Power Girl - to me - fits into this latter category. She's a great character, an able leader of the Justice Society, cousin to a Superman from a universe that no longer exists, and just happens to have large breasts.

Now if the number of mentions of breasts in that one paragraph doesn't increase the number of hits to this blog I don't know what will.

Anyway, The Brave And The Bold #7 teams Power Girl with Wonder Woman in a relatively convenient manner - PG helps Wonder Woman with a sudden infestation of mummies and at the end of it, happens to be holding her magic lasso which makes her confess that she's off to murder Superman. So begins a somewhat strained team-up that pits the two superheroes against Dr Alchemy, the villain behind PG's assassination attempt.

The perennially patient Wonder Woman acts as foil for Power Girl who's intent on finding Alchemy so she can beat the crap out of him for invading her mind. Constantly advising caution, Wonder Woman is simply ignored by PG on more than one occasion and it's this recklessness that - for me - makes her such a fun character. Dr Alchemy, in possession of PG's body and mind, at one point claims that her soul has told him that Power Girl prefers Alchemy to Wonder Woman because for all his faults, he's not perfect. There's no way to be positive that this statement is true - it could just be Alchemy messing with Wonder Woman's mind - but it feels right because Wonder Woman is perfect and for we imperfect creatures, that's got to be bloody annoying.

Anyway, there's a welcome accord at the end of the issue when, despite all her protests that brute force isn't necessary, Wonder Woman helps save the day by simply crashing her invisible plane into Superman's Fortress of Solitude.

While the two women are unlikely to ever become best friends, it seems they've reached an understanding.

As enjoyable as the issue was, it did seem little more than a placeholder in writer Mark Waid's plans for the series: there's an epilogue of sorts dealing with the Challengers of the Unknown and the Book of Destiny that figured largely in the first six issue story arc. It seems Waid's saving his less generic plots for something bigger that, I'm sure, we'll see at some point down the line.

Still, it's nice to see Power Girl outside the pages of Justice Society of America in more than a one panel cameo for a change. I can only hope the rumours of a Power Girl ongoing series next year turn out to be true.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Finite Earths

I've started compiling a list of the new Multiverse's Earth which will form part of The Annotated Final Crisis. Once it's completed, I'll publish it before the rest of the site goes live and will put a link up here.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #6

This week was a pretty strong week: Green Lantern #24 built on last week's Tales of The Sinestro Corps: Cyborg Superman and showed Earth at the mercy of Sinestro and his cohorts; The Punisher had Barracuda threatening Punisher's daughter; Green Arrow And Black Canary debuted, continuing the "What the - ?" ending from the Wedding Special; and Countdown #29 took us to Earth-8 where we met the new Multiverse versions of the Extremists.

In amongst all this carnage, though, it was the light hearted and engaging tale in Booster Gold #3 that turned out to be this week's cocktail, earning Geoff Johns his second since I started this thing (like he's counting...)

It's often the little things about this title that amuse me - as Booster and Rip Hunter travel through time, they glimpse other moments from the DCU. This week it was Anthro sporting his new jacket a la Mr Terrific that made me chuckle . . .

. . . that and Booster sporting the campest cowboy outfit I've seen this side of Bat Lash. The cow print design works for Rorschach in Watchmen but nowhere else!*

Sent by Rip Hunter back to the Old West, Booster has to find Jonah Hex and get him to tell him who Supernova wants killed. After several bottles of whiskey, Hex gives up the information: if he, acting on Supernova's wishes, had killed a doctor Jeb Westfield, the doctor wouldn't have been able to help deliver Jonathan Kent's great-grandfather. The young Kent would have died which meant that the infant Superman, rather than being found by the Kents, would have been found by Lex Luthor's father instead.

Hex, however, turned the job down meaning that Supernova has to attempt to kill Westfield himself. Despite the whiskey, Booster heads out to the Westfield's place to try and stop him.

Supernova is confronted by Booster and reverts to a drastic attempt to kill the good doctor - by teleporting a group of bison twenty feet in to the air above him and Booster! As assassination weapons go, I'd feel confident in suggesting that this is the first time bison have been used!

Booster saves the doctor, however, and follows the escaping Supernova into the time stream. This leads into three of the funniest pages I've read in comics for ages. Having met up with Rip Hunter again, Booster attempts to drive his time sphere, despite still being drunk. As Hunter protests, Booster asks "What am I really gonna hit out here?!"

As a set up, it's fairly obvious, but the pay-off on the last page makes it all worth it.

Johns again shows he can write good fun adventure comics - with Jeff Katz - that compliment his more serious work on titles such as Green Lantern and Justice Society of America. I really hope they keep it up.

* It's okay - I know the Rorschach design isn't based on a cow!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Rob Liefeld Whines About Alan Moore

I have to admit, I'm no fan of Rob Liefeld's artwork and I am a fan of Alan Moore's writing, so maybe I'm not the most objective person to comment, but this blog entry by Liefeld moaning about Moore just seems a little whiny.

Sure, Moore is known for being a somewhat difficult person but dammit he's produced some of the best comic books ever; my most recent reading of a Liefeld book was the two issue guest artist appearance he made on Teen Titans. According to Liefeld's Wikipedia article here:
In August 2005, his first assignment for DC in many years began, a two-issue arc on Teen Titans with writer Gail Simone. Orders for his first issue increased more than 10% over the July issue, moving the book into the Diamond top 20. The second issue of the arc dropped in orders to a point almost 5% below what issues of the series before Liefeld's were solicited.
I can't verify the numbers, but man the art sucked on those issues!

Moore certainly shouldn't be above criticism - I recently read the WildC.A.T.S collection and thought it rather run of the mill - but Liefeld's hardly the man to level it.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

New Title Picture

On the off chance that any one's noticed, I've put a new image up as the title of the blog. It's taken from the 1982 Justice League of America and All-Star Squadron crossover that gives this blog it's name; over five issues, the covers featured a main illustration with head shots of the fifteen heroes involved surrounding it.

Hope you like it!

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #5

It was something of a patchy week, this week. Of course, that made it easier for me to pick out this week's Cocktail, the second and concluding part of JLA/Hitman by Garth Ennis and John McCrea.

To be honest out of the other issues it was only really The Search For Ray Palmer: Crime Society #1 and Countdown #30 that came close; I know Countdown's had a fair bit of criticism but I'm a sucker for this whole Multiverse thing and to have Crime Society exploring the new Earth-3 while Countdown wandered around Earth-15 gave me a buzz. Green Lantern Corps #16 gets a well deserved honorable mention as well for hotting up the Sinestro War, but it was JLA/Hitman that won out.

I'm still a fan of the original Hitman series and have the complete run and it was great to see Tommy Monaghan doing what he does best - blowing away the bad guys with a wink and a smile. Ennis's dislike, almost contempt, of superheroes is well documented - just read The Boys for evidence. It's perhaps no real surprise, then, that the plot of the story involves the heroes losing their superpowers, reducing them to the status of normal men and women.

With Superman, Batman and potentially Wonder Woman then possessed by the sub-species of the Bloodlines aliens, it falls to Monaghan to rescue the JLA armed only with a pair of nine millimetres.

The interplay between Monaghan and Batman - whose dislike of guns is almost pathological - is fantastic and manages to make a scene where Monaghan shoots half a dozen astronauts hysterically funny. The guns come in handy later when he runs into the alien-possessed Superman, shooting the hero in the chest, marking out the S-shield, letting him come to his senses. But, a moment later, it's the guns that get him in trouble.

With the situation under control and the JLA returned to their normal selves, Batman is intent upon seeing Monaghan stand trial. Confronted with a situation, Monaghan is more likely to shoot it; the JLA - Batman in particular - cannot excuse that and insists that there must have been another way. As Monaghan says in his defense, he "ain't no superhero everythin' always works out for, or a genius comes up with ideas no one else can!" He's a killer and hi solution to the problem involved killing.

A story such as this runs the risk of getting bogged down in the sort of argument mentioned above: can violence ever be justified, even if it leads to a resolution? To the ends justify the means?

Thankfully, Ennis raises the question enough so that we can think about it but doesn't spend any time telling us the answer; it appears he'd rather we figure that out ourselves. What he does do, however, is pepper the script with such wonderful snippets of humour (such as the two I've pictured) that you can forgive him not answering his own questions.

Monaghan was always something of an anti-hero on the face of it - unlike other heroes, he killed people. For money. But he was likable and funny and real enough that you didn't really mind and, as he said, he only killed the bad guys.

It was really good to read about him once more, and I half wish that of all Superboy-Prime's punches, one of them had re-written the end of Hitman #60.

The DCU is a poorer place without Tommy Monaghan.

Friday, 5 October 2007

I'll try not to have this turn into an advertisement but I've been swapping e-mails with one of the guys at about their online database.

I've been using the software to catalogue my collection for a good couple of years and it's a great piece of kit; a while back they launched an online database so users could download details of comics they have (or just want) straight into their db. As I'd customised my database, I didn't really bother with the online one but I noticed a week or two back that they were looking for more plot descriptions for the issues.

As that's something I've been doing for some time, I got in touch and sent them some samples. Turns out they like what I'm doing and my plots (and some of my cover scans) are going to be integrated into the online database.

It's nice to play my little part and add to a community piece of work that others can then use and I just thought I'd share that!

Monday, 1 October 2007

Slight Adjustment And Another Link

Had an e-mail from Greg who runs Be The with a suggestion concerning The Annotated Infinite Crisis which I've now added in - nothing major, just a quick note about the Psycho Pirate's powers in the first issue notes.

As a quick thank-you, I've put a link to Greg's site which has annotations of Swamp Thing and Uncle Sam and is well worth a look.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #4

To be honest, it wasn't difficult this week choosing which comic to feature here. Yes, there was the first issue of volume two of Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters which showed its success wasn't reliant on the gorgeous artwork of Daniel Acuna; there was Green Arrow Year One #5 which, while nothing brilliant, was as solid as the rest of the run has been; there was Countdown #31 with the new Crime Society; and there was even Teen Titans #51, featuring the Titans of tomorrow.

Out of these and other titles I picked up this week, though, Blue Beetle #19 shone out. Keith Giffen, though he left the title after #10, appears as writer along with regular John Rogers. So seamlessly did Rogers continue with the story, I'm not sure whether Giffen's name appears as an error or not. Whether it was written by both of them or just Rogers is immaterial, however, as the issue is a joy to read.

There's been an element of humour throughout the series - probably inevitable with Giffen's involvement - and it's still evident; the last thing this book should become is grim and gritty. Beetle's supporting cast are realistic - witness the exchange between Paco and Peacemaker when they're confronted by Giganta tearing down the local villain's house. I can't help but wonder how Paco would have fared had Giganta still been wearing her leopard skin bikini.

Talking of which, it is nice to see Giganta wearing an all over body suit; it just makes so much more sense than that bikini... though that had its plus points...

The house Giganta's destroying belongs to La Dama, the local crime boss who happens to be the aunt of Beetle's best friend, Brenda. While Beetle's more than aware of who La Dama is, Brenda has remained ignorant of this for the whole series but finds out quickly during Giganta's attack.

Having previously met Traci Thirteen, Beetle taps her for information when he is told by Peacemaker that Giganta's transformation to huge size is magically based. Traci, having a handle on magic herself, points him in the direction of how to bring the villain down (literally) and, with Peacemaker's help, Beetle manages to stop her rampage.

Whereas most superhero fights are full of dire proclamations and gravitas laden statements, usually made through gritted teeth, Beetle's battle is a more lighthearted affair, as can be seen in the picture on the left.

But it's not all laughs in this book and that is perhaps why it's so consistently good. There are genuinely touching moments, particularly in the resolution of this issue. Brenda - La Dama's niece and Beetle's friend - finds out in the most insane way that her aunt is the crime lord that everyone in town is afraid of. To compound this, she finds out that her friends, Beetle and Paco among them, already know this and have been lying to her for months. To say she's upset is something of an understatement.

Instead of an angst ridden confrontation, however, Beetle sends his mother to comfort Brenda.

There is heart and understanding in this series, as well as some laugh out loud moments; if you're not buying this, you really should.

Friday, 28 September 2007

DC Versus Marvel - 70's Style!

As I mentioned when I started this blog, I'm in the process of re-cataloguing my entire collection. Using the database from, I'm going through, adding cover scans and notes, plot descriptions and character appearances. It's a long old task but it gives me the opportunity to look over some of my comics that I haven't seen for a while, much like the one show here: Justice League of America #103 from December 1972.

About ten years ago, in 1996, the big event of the comics industry was what legions of fan-boys had been waiting for: a no holds barred, knock-down, drag out fight between the heroes of the big two companies. DC Versus Marvel was a four issue mini-series that pitted Batman against Captain America, Superman against the Hulk, Storm against Wonder Woman. The twist was that the fans got to vote for the winners of five of the battles, giving Marvel a narrow victory - a result that, with my blatant favouritism towards DC Comics, I disagreed with. I mean, come on - Storm beating Wonder Woman? Wolverine beating Lobo? Ridiculous.

Anyhow, while the heroes battled for the sake of their respective universes, I'm guessing a minority of fans remembered that they'd seen something similar before. True, not on the massive scale that the '96 series offered and with absolutely no interactivity, but the two universes had clashed previously.


Back in 1972 in JLoA #103, the League are warned by the Phantom Stranger that there are dark doings afoot in a city called Rutland, Vermont. Felix Faust, an old enemy of the League, is summoning demons for his own nefarious purposes and it's up to the League to stop him.

It being Halloween - when else would demons be summoned? - Rutland is hosting its thirteenth annual Halloween parade which means that not only are the League involved in it, but most of the people are in fancy dress costumes. As the plot thickens, the Flash encounters some possessed party-goers (hence the glow surrounding them) and while he recognises two of them being dressed as Supergirl and Adam Strange, the third introduces himself as Commando America. While none of the Marvel heroes are named, I can only imagine that back in the 70's there wasn't a great deal of worry spent on being sued over likenesses as there's no doubt that's Captain America!

Possessed, the party goers attack and the faux Captain America manages to lay out the Flash by flinging his shield which connects with a mighty BTANNG. They knew how to write sound effects in those days.

Batman, meanwhile has problems of his own as he is attacked by someone he describes as a "bargain basement web-slinger"! I swear, the balls on Len Wein - the writer of the story - are unbelievable! To get away with not only writing this but clearly having the Marvel characters depicted so that there was absolutely no mistaking who they were referring to beggars belief.

There's no way this could be done in today's litigious world.

Back to the story, though, and Batman is aided by the arrival of Green Lantern who manages to defeat the Spider-Man character. No sooner is that done, though, than another Marvel stalwart appears. Batman again shows his disdain for these characters, referring to the classic Jack Kirby designed costume of Thor as "a poor man's version"! Green Lantern's no help this time round, however, and both he and Batman fall.

The story turns out okay in the end, of course, and there are no other mentions of Marvel characters. As with the '96 battles, there is a narrow victory but as the fights take place in JLoA, it's no surprise DC wins out. There is one last guest appearance, though - Captain Marvel in his first (sort of) appearance in a DC comic.

Forced by DC Comics to stop publishing the good Captain because he was too similar to Superman, Fawcett Comics eventually licenced the character to DC. In what could only be a bit of a slap in the face to Fawcett, the Captain's first appearance has him going up against Superman, the very character that caused his cancellation!

There is light at the end of the tunnel in the shape of an advertisement for Shazam!, the new series DC were launching. The tag line actually reads Watch out, Superman! Here comes the "original Captain Marvel" The "original" line refers to Marvel Comics having trademarked their own Captain Marvel character in the period between Fawcett ceasing publication and DC getting their hands on him.

So there you go, the first unofficial meeting of the DC and Marvel heroes. As with almost every other first encounter, it ended in a fight, but at least this time the DC guys won!


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