Sunday, 14 December 2008

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #26

After a month off due to a hectic work schedule, the Cocktail post returns as I run through what I've bought this week.  And what a bumper week to return, as well, as there seemed to be shed-loads of comics.

Ah, Ambush Bug, the DCU is a better place for having you in it.  Ambush Bug: Year None #5 continues the irreverant, nonsensical but above all funny exploits of Keith Giffen's wonderful creation as he hops from one alternate world to another, searching for . . . well . . . a job and . . . er . . . Dan Didio?! It lurches from one gag to another with little regard for plot, let alone continuity, and is all the richer for it. It'll be a shame when this finishes with the next issue but we can hope the Bug will show up somewhere in the DCU soon - hopefully with the Heckler in tow!

Booster Gold #15 picks up from #12 and now regular writer Dan Jurgens carries on Chuck Dixon's unfinished story of museum thefts and time-travel. After a brief visit to the 16th Century where Booster's sister Goldstar turns out to be the model for the Mona Lisa, they return to the present to find Rip Hunter and his lab missing, all because a knife wasn't replaced following the museum theft from several issues back. Cue more time travelling and an awkward reunion with the Elongated Man and a mysterious villain before Booster ends up stuck in what appears to be World War I.

The nastiness (and that's putting it mildly) continues in the pages of Crossed courtesy of Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows as the survivors struggle to come to terms with their new world. A simple mistake by one of their number means they're on the run once more and are quickly made to realise that the diseased Crossed are smarter than they first might appear . . . and a damn sight more disgusting as well. They come up with a novel way of spreading their disease (and yes, that's a pun) which results in another death among the survivors as they move off, heading for a safe haven. It's a tough, visceral story that makes me wonder how it's all going to end.

The Project Superpowers universe expands a little more as well with The Death-Defying 'Devil #1. The silent martial artist with the steel boomerangs gets his own series and, apparently, his own set of bad guys, one of who is dressed the same as himself but with green instead of red on his costume. I'm enjoying the new world these old characters are establishing and am looking forward to the rest of the specials spinning out of Project Superpowers.

Final Crisis #5 finally arrives and starts to tidy things up a little. The whole Green Lantern/deicide charge is brought to a close with the revelation that Granny Goodness is inhabiting Alpha-Lantern Kraken and the Guardians of the Universe charge Hal Jordan with saving the universe.  In 24 hours, no less. Poor old Dan Turpin has been subsumed and is now simply Darkseid who intends to end the entire world while Mr Miracle attempts to save it with the help of Checkmate. An assortment of heroes attack Darkseid's base in Bludhaven prompting a fight between various Shazam powered characters. Meanwhile the exiled Monitor, Nix Uotan, begins to remember things about his previous life as Libra heralds the arrival of his dark lord. It's all going very wrong for the heroes and I like it but, despite the tie-in series, it still doesn't feel like a big enough event. Something like this should have been a crossover series in the truest sense - we should have had to pick up half a dozen issues of series we don't normally buy because as it is at the moment the DCU we're seeing here isn't reflected in any of the normal monthly series. How can this be a universe-shattering event if no-one else knows it's going on?

Talking of the Final Crisis tie-ins, Final Crisis: Revelations #4 was out as well and I still think it's one of the better tie-ins, if only for the central conceit that long-time villain Vandal Savage is actually Cain, the Biblical murderer. With the use of the Spear of Destiny he manages to separate the Spectre from his mortal hose and subjugate it. The Question puts up resistance with the aid of the Radiant and Huntress but it seems to be too little, too late as Savage/Cain uses the Spectre to release the Anti-Life Equation on the world.

In what appears to be the definition of "jumping on point for new readers" new writer Andrew Kreisberg gives us all a run down of who Green Arrow is in Green Arrow/Black Canary #15. It's neatly done, as well, running us through his origin in a handful of pages before, via a flashback, we get a scene where he sweeps out the supporting cast. Ollie's son Connor, fresh from the Judd Winick written "coma and new powers" nonsense, decides to split just as Speedy decides to leave as well as her new boyfriend lives in London. All of this is sandwiched between a framing scene where Ollie and Dinah take down a low-level thug and appear to have (unknowingly) created the new Fiddler. Not a bad issue, but Kreisberg seems to think the title of the comic is still Green Arrow - where's Black Canary's origin? If it's not in the next issue, there will be words.

Justice League Of America #27 had me at a bit of a disadvantage. That nice two page spread where a whole bunch of characters are introduced? I had no idea if they were brand new or part and parcel of the whole Milestone Comics event that happened a few years ago. Still, I went with the flow and the story's shaping up nicely. Best part of the whole issue, though, was Black Canary finally standing up as the leader of the League and chewing out Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman over their secret meeting room.

More Garth Ennis goodness as he and long time collaborator return to the Punisher with Punisher: War Zone #1. It's been a while since I've seen any of Dillon's art work and it's nice to see it again; his clean lines and excellent facial expressions are a joy to see. Couple that, of course, with Ennis's writing and it's going to be no surprise that this Punisher series will be a success even if the dreadful looking film it shares a title with isn't. Chimps flinging junk, lesbians beating up men and the return of Ma Gnucci whom the Punisher killed years before all add up to the sort of story that defines entertainment, at least in my home. I think I might need some help.

Gail Simone fills the gap left by The All-New Atom's demise with her run on Secret Six as the gang try to get the Get Out Of Hell Free card across the country. As Tarantula keeps saying, the card plays on their fears and guilt and they slowly begin to turn against each other before they arrive at Las Vegas only to find that the monstrous Junior is already there, along with a whole host of super-powered mercenaries. Chief among them is Cheshire who saves the mercenaries the bother of killing the Six by having poisoned their last meal.

Finally Trinity #28 continues the whole alternate Earth storyline as the should-have-been friends of the main heroes try to set about bringing the missing Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman back to where they're needed. While that's going on, the villains of the piece are causing problems for the Society of this world by releasing villains from all sides before Tomorrow Woman arrives and attempts to help. It's still good fun that romps along at a cracking pace and while it may be unfair to compare it to Countdown, you can't help but think that this is how that series should have been handled.

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