Saturday, 24 December 2011

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #159

Salaak obviously hasn't seen anywhere near enough buddy cop movies

It's an early Christmas Cocktail this week and the last of the year as I won't be able to get to my local shop next week but hey, that just means more to start with in 2012.

BLUE BEETLE #4 - written by Tony Bedard with art by Ig Guara and J.P. Mayer.

Paco's gang learn the hard way that super villains aren't to be messed with while Jaime has to deal with his parents thinking he's had a bloody great blue scarab tattooed on his back. Said scarab is still utterly psychotic and wants to kill anything and everyone at the drop of a hat which comes in handy when he goes up against the Brotherhood of Evil but not so much when he meets Paco.

It's all gone a little dark and mean again in these pages with none of the humour from the last couple of issues; Jaime's parents react to the faux tattoo with shock and anger rather than the good humoured resignation that I'd expect. And I sure hope that last page doesn't end as badly as it seems.

THE BOYS: BUTCHER, BAKER, CANDLESTICKMAKER #6 - written by Garth Ennis with art by  Darick Robertson.

Butcher's brutal origin story comes to a conclusion that really leaves us in no doubt that, despite his rough charm and cheeky sense of humour, Butcher really is a nasty piece of work. We do get to see the Legend as he was at Victory Comics and there's a nice little moment when the Legend is told he has Garth Ennis on line two; his response is priceless.

Still, like I said, Butcher isn't the nice rogue we all thought he was at the start of The Boys in much the same way that Cassidy turned out to not be such a good guy in Preacher either. The main difference between the two, I guess, is that Butcher is more than aware of what he has become and where it comes from. Which makes that last page both funny and a little sad.

CAPTAIN ATOM #4 - written by J.T. Krul with art by Freddie Williams II.

General Eiling's appearance last issue ushers the good Captain back to his air force roots though Atom's in no mood to be drafted back into active service. Eiling isn't taking that answer and attempts to trap Atom with no success. Back at the Continuum, Atom and Ranita finally have a little time together and the hints of attraction between them are acted upon - at least until Ranita suffers some dreadful burns getting too close to Atom.

This is a good issue on the whole though the similarities between Dr Manhattan in Watchmen and Captain Atom are emphasised here by Eiling's attitude that Atom is an American weapon that could "make sure the stars and stripes fly high forever". He tries to make sure that he becomes the linchpin of American weaponry but while Manhattan was willing to be utilised, Atom is not and he rejects Eiling and the idea that he's a weapon.

And on top of that, there's a big red monster absorbing people that Atom's going to have to deal with at some point.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #4 - written by Peter J. Tomasi with art by Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna.

And the mystery behind the guys with more willpower than Green Lanterns begins to be revealed. In the past, Lanterns used to keep their batteries in a separate dimension, calling them when needing them to recharge their rings. Turns out the batteries were held by these blokes, the Keepers and now they want the Central Power Battery. As John and several other Lanterns are transported to the Keepers' homeworld, Gardner attempts to interrogate one they've managed to capture and it's during the questioning that perhaps the most interesting bit of this issue happens. The Martian Manhunter turns up unasked in order to find out more about the Keepers and during the conversation with Gardner, it's clear that he and Guy have never met before, indeed that Gardner's never seen him before now. This means J'onn and he have never served together in any form the Justice League, International or otherwise. Yet another piece of new DCU continuity.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #4 - written by Geoff Johns with art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams.

Vic Stone finally becomes Cyborg, the League is mostly formed, Hal Jordan acts like a dick, full page artwork abounds and Darkseid makes his return to the DCU, hopefully nullifying Final Crisis once and for all.

While light on plot, this is still good fun. Cyborg's new armour has been made by various people whose names will delight long-time DC readers: Will Magnus and Professor Ivo both had a hand in it but the nice surprise was Ryan Choi being name-checked as the graduate student who incorporated the White Dwarf Stabilizer. With Ray Palmer helping out over at S.H.A.D.E. on similar technology maybe we'll get to have two Atoms again? Hal makes a complete arse of himself, first with Aquaman and then by blurting out his real motivations - wanting to impress people - when he comes into contact with Wonder Woman's lasso.

And then Darkseid shows up looking extremely pissed off, probably at his shabby treatment in Final Crisis. If his first words in next issue aren't "Where's Grant Morrison?" I'll be very surprised.

There's a few pages of back-up filler in the form of Who's Who type entries for Star Labs employees; mention is made of Will Magnus and his Metal Men project along with Professor Ivo and his "A-Maze" operating system. While an obvious shout out to Amazo, there's also a note about a "B-Maze" system which has been installed in Cyborg's software without Ivo's knowledge. Future storyline, anyone?

As I said, light on plot, big on splash pages but still good fun.

LADY MECHANIKA #3 - written and illustrated by Joe Benitez.

Four issues in a little over a year and you know what? I'm not going to complain at all. Benitez produces not only one of the best looking books out there but one that is just packed full of fun. Mechanika continues her search for clues to the origin of the mechanical girl she found dead a couple of issues back and investigates a gypsy circus. A misunderstanding leads to a fight which is calmed by the arrival of Madame Divinite and the revelation that the mechanical girl is not only the daughter of one of the circus performers, but is also still alive.

Mechanika is a great character and here we have the supporting characters getting a little more depth as well, from her assistant Lewis - who gets a first name - to Dr Littleton and his daughter Allie who is convinced that Mechanika is not who she claims to be. Allie is, after all, a fan of the real Mechanika and would obviously be able to identify her.

It's a splendid book and I'll put up with the delays between issues as long as it continues to be so.

PUNISHER MAX #20 - written by Jason Aaron with art by Steve Dillon.

Things aren't looking good for the Punisher any more, and not just because Elektra stabbed the hell out of him with those knives of hers. As the Kingpin works out where the Punisher's been hiding out, Frank takes on Elektra, both of them brutally beating the other until Frank gets the upper hand. Attempting to set a trap for Fisk, Frank is unwittingly walking into one set by the Kingpin which will lead to next issue's final confrontation between the pair.

After that, there's one more issue and this series is done. Cancelled or coming to a natural conclusion? Either way, it's going to be a sad day when this excellent story finishes.

And what made me smile:

Lewis from Lady Mechanika - it's just a delight to see the word "arse" used correctly in an American comic!

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