Sunday, 29 January 2012

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #164

Arkham fails to produce a worthwhile threat.

It's Sunday, therefore we shall talk of comics.

ALL STAR WESTERN #5 - written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Phil Winslade and Moritat.

Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham continue their search for the missing children and end up being thrown into an underground river, facing waterfalls, fear of the dark (at least on Arkham's part), albino vampire like lost Indian tribes and finally an enormous, man-sized bat. The Barbary Ghost back-up continues with a bit more of her origin and a vow for vengeance.

It's another cracking issue with just the right mix of adventure, humour and action, though if I'm honest the main story is currently a lot better than the back-up.

AQUAMAN #5 - Geoff Johns with art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Eber Ferreira.

Aquaman falls from the sky and lands in a desert. For a water-based hero, that's a pretty good opening page. The story's told in a series of flashbacks as Atlantean warriors break into a Navy base to retrieve an Atlantean signal device that Aquaman inadvertently brought back from the Trench in the last issue. They steal it and attempt to fly away but Aquaman steals a ride and when the ship blows up over the desert, he ends up falling into the sand. Recovering the device, he finds an ancient hologram talking of how Atlantis's enemy plans to sink the place beneath the waves.

It's splendidly done, including some action and foreshadowing of things to come, but with the promise of next issue being a change of pace as Mera's headed out to buy some dog food.

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM THE NUCLEAR MEN #5 - written by Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver with art by Yildiray Cinar and Norm Rapmund.

Pozhar, the Russian Firestorm, convinces his superiors just how important his work is while in America, Jason Rusch takes some convincing about Candace Zither's altruistic motives. His dad appears to have bought into the story, however, happy to have a home and a job provided by Zither, while Ronnie Raymond's more than happy to be a superhero for the company. An attempt to stop a rogue Firestorm at a rock concert, however, goes horribly wrong, forcing the pair of them to realise they don't really know what they're doing.

This title started a little slow but the last few issues have improved a great deal and I'm really liking it now. Shame Gail Simone's leaving soon.

GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #5 - written by Tony Bedard with art by Tyler Kirkham and Matt 'Batt' Banning.

Kyle team investigate the Orrery, the solar system-sized construct that they were told about last issue, pairing off into teams while Bleez heads back to Atrocitus for help and instead gets dunked in an ocean of blood. Back at the Orrery, it turns out to have actual planets within the spheres, including Tamaran and Okaara, which hold people who, as far as they're concerned, are on the original planets. Either they are the originals and the people are unaware they've been stolen, or they're copies. Either way, Kyle ends up teamed with Glomulus and when they land on their planet, they learn that the head honcho, Invictus, has an arch enemy: Larfleeze. If Kyle's palling round with Glomulus, he's obviously in league with Larfleeze and thus an enemy of Invictus as well.

There's a lot happening here and the team is slowly coming together (anyone taking bets on how long before Kyle and Fatality hook up?) but it's not quite as enjoyable as the other Lantern books yet.

JENNIFER BLOOD #8 - written by Al Ewing with art by Kewber Baal.

Jennifer's neighbour Jack returns sans trousers; the police in charge of the murder investigation find a lead; the parents of the Ninjettes plan their revenge; and Jennifer's son discovers her guns cache.

The story's rattling along nicely at the moment with a lot of sub-plots all building up. While one of the detectives is in the pay of the father of one of the Ninjettes (and who'd guess they'd turn out to have a larger role following their one and only appearance?) the other is tracking down clues, specifically the stripper trousers that Jack left at the Blute massacre. On top of that, there's going to be a whole bunch of unsavoury types heading after Jennifer soon.

The only let down for me is the art which, frankly, seems a little cartoonish at times. And really, did Jack wet himself or did he pour a two pint jar of the yellowest honey in the world on the floor between his knees?

JUSTICE LEAGUE #5 - written by Geoff Johns with art by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Mark Irwin, Sandra Hope and Joe Weems.

The League attempts to take on Darkseid who stands there all dark and broody and not saying a word. After Darkseid takes out and captures Superman, Green Lantern decides to have a go, ending up with a broken arm. Batman convinces him to get the League together while he heads off to save Superman and ends up on Apokolips.

Despite being a League title, this issue's really about Lantern and Batman with the latter revealing his identity to his new team-mate in a wonderful scene that almost makes up for the lack of screen time Aquaman and Wonder Woman have. Hopefully the other members of the team will start making their presence known in later issues.

KIRBY: GENESIS #5 - written by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross with art by Ross and Jack Herbert.

The various groups of super beings from space attack Roag and his teams before they unleash Lady Lightning and the Proto-Seed (and if that sounds like a psychedelic 60's pop-rock band, that's no coincidence) to wreak havoc upon them. Meanwhile, in the other world, Kirby and his new friends end up getting a history lesson in how time and again mankind has been nurtured by the Primals only to be brought down by some Dark Presence, a cycle of never ending war until the Primals were captured. Back at the main fight, just as all seems lost, Sigurd from Kirby: Genesis - Dragonsbane arrives with some friends.

Either it's a symptom of me getting older or because there's been a bit of a delay between #4 and #5 or because there are just so many damn characters crammed into this tale, but I'm having a hard job following what's going on here. I may need to re-read the whole thing again at some point.

TEEN TITANS #5 - written by Scott Lobdell with art by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund.

The Titans are forced into a fight against Superboy whose attempting to capture Wonder Girl. One by one they take him on and, one by one, they fail, though a couple of them come close. Finally, the non-powered Red Robin shows his skills and manages - temporarily at least - to knock Superboy on his cloned behind. He recovers, however, and its Solstice's words that get through his thick skull, convincing him to at least question his masters in N.O.W.H.E.R.E. With the small crumb of comfort that he's at least thinking about what he's doing, Superboy leaves the Titans unconscious in the street.

Another good issue.

VOODOO #5 - written by Josh Williamson with art by Sami Basri.

Voodoo finds her way to the Daemonite battleship that brought her to Earth only to be confronted by the Daemonite that's been hunting her for the past few issues. There's much talk of a prophecy and how Voodoo and the other hybrids will be the death of the Daemonite race before Voodoo ends the fight decisively . . . by biting her attacker's head off. Meanwhile, Jessica Fallon  reveals a big secret to Black Jack which, still in the ship, Voodoo finds out at the same time: [Spoilers ahoy, highlight to read] the Voodoo we've been reading about in the last few issues is a clone; the original's under lock and key. [Spoilers end]

New writer Josh Williamson picks up where Ron Marz left off and I can't help wonder whether [Spoilers] the clone angle comes from him or is what Marz planned all along. Either way, it's a neat twist and while not incredibly original, it's handled in such a way that works.

And what made me smile:

Revealing your secret identity's always been a big thing in comics, handled with the appropriate gravitas and shock of discovery. Here, though, Geoff Johns just pops that bubble by having the clueless Hal Jordan not know who the hell Bruce Wayne is!

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