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.


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