This Week’s Haul

You’d think this was the all-Geoff-Johns week given what I picked up:

  • Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4 of 5, by Geoff Johns, George Pérez & Scott Koblish (DC)
  • Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War TPB vol 1, by Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason & Ethan Van Sciver (DC)
  • Green Lantern #40, by Geoff Johns, Philip Tan & Jonathan Glapion (DC)
  • Justice Society of America #26, by Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill (DC)
  • The Literals #1, by Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Mark Buckingham & Andrew Pepoy (DC/Vertigo)
  • Madame Xanadu #10, by Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Hadley & Richard Friend (DC/Vertigo)
  • Avengers/Invaders #10 of 12, by Alex Ross, Jim Kruger, Steve Sadowski & Patrick Berkenkotter (Marvel)
  • Nova #24, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Andrea Divito (Marvel)
  • RASL #4, by Jeff Smith (Cartoon)
  • Invincible: Ultimate Collection HC vol 4, by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley (Image)
  • Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time #1 of 5, by Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener & Lauren Pettapiece (Red 5)
Justice Society of America #26 Geoff Johns ends his run on JSA with a charming issue focusing on Stargirl’s birthday, which the whole team celebrates over at her house. No fights, just a lot of talk and a cute little ending. And a three-cover painting by Alex Ross that you can view in its entirety here.

Despite this issue being a pleasant surprise, Johns’ run on the series has been shaky: The team is too big and has too many marginal characters to really work as a team book. Character development has been nearly nonexistent. The story arc “Thy Kingdom Come” had some good bits, but it also stretched itself too thin (the Power Girl/Earth 2 stuff was a big disappointment), and the climax was rather a big nothing. The series has pretensions of being about a big family, but the strength of character just isn’t there for it to work (or matter). Of course, it’s living in the shadow of the outstanding All-Star Comics run of the 1970s, which did everything this series did, but better, but Johns never seems able to give the book its own identity. I think he’s just not very strong at managing a large cast of characters (which admittedly is one of the toughest tasks in comic books).

Bill Willingham takes over the writing duties soon. I generally enjoy his work, although it might be too dark or cynical for this team. Then again, after this series and the previous one, a change-up is probably just what the series needs.

The Literals #1 Speaking of Willingham, this year’s first entry into “least necessary event” is “The Great Fables Crossover”, which this week is into its third part of nine in the first issue of The Literals. The premise is that a guy named Kevin Thorn is able to change the world by writing in his book, and he wants to re-write the whole world, but he’s not sure what he should write. The titular character in Jack of Fables contacts the other Fables so they can try to stop him. Unfortunately after three issues the story’s barely budged, and boy howdy is it hard to care about Jack at all (which is why I dropped his book in the first place). It’s not nearly as good as what’s been going on in Fables recently, so the distraction is not welcome.

I guess the Literals themselves are the embodiments of various genres which Kevin brings into existence here. An ignominious beginning of so: Shoved into a supporting role in the first issue of their own comic.

Nice artwork by mark Buckingham, as usual. That’s hardly enough, though.

Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time #1 I really want to like – even love – Atomic Robo, but it’s just been so hit-or-miss thus far: It’s got a fun-loving, goofy attitude, but the stories are the lightest fluff, and the characters only slightly thicker than tissue paper. The premise is that Robo was Nikola Tesla‘s greatest invention, a robot created in the 1920s and who since that time has been a scholar but has mostly fought weird menaces, such as giant robotic mummies. That and a lot of punching sums up the first two mini-series: If you like a lot of punching and things like giant robot mummies, then Atomic Robo is for you. Myself, I’m looking for more than that.

This third series gets off to a promising start, though: Charles Fort and H.P. Lovecraft show up on Tesla’s doorstep in 1926 hoping for Tesla’s help to deal with a terror they’d fought years before, but only Robo is there, and he has no idea what’s going on. Clevinger plays the whole thing for comedy, so the reader overlooks the fact that a conversation that should have lasted a few sentences instead goes on for pages, before Robo finally learns what the threat is. It works fairly well, and makes me encouraged that the rest of the series will be as weirdly amusing as this one.

What the series really needs is to stay focused for a whole story, and not go spinning off into tangents like the second series did at the end. Hopefully this series can hold itself together, stay focused, and have a big finish; that would go a long way to making Atomic Robo feel like more than disposable fluff.

(Robo is one of Greg Burgas’ favorite series, so it’s no surprise that he likes this issue more than I do.)

This Week’s Haul

  • Green Lantern #29-35, by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert (DC)
  • Green Lantern #36, by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert (DC)
  • Justice Society of America #22, by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill (DC)
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #49, by Jim Shooter, Francis Manapul & Livesay (DC)
  • Madame Xanadu #7, by Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Hadley & Richard Friend (DC/Vertigo)
  • The Winter Men Winter Special, by Brett Lewis & John Paul Leon (DC/Wildstorm)
  • Avengers/Invaders #7 of 12, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, Steve Sadowski & Patrick Berkenkotter (Marvel)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #8, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Brad Walker & Victor Olazaba (Marvel)
  • Incognito #1, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Marvel/Icon)
  • Marvels: Eye of the Camera #2 of 6, by Kurt Busiek & Jay Anacleto (Marvel)
Green Lantern #29

Green Lantern #36

I can’t really figure out writer Geoff Johns. He’s clearly got a deep and abiding love for Silver Age and Bronze Age DC comics, and he’s basically been given carte blanche to do whatever he wants at DC these days, driving events like Infinite Crisis, writing anchor series like Action Comics, and bringing back Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. But as a writer he’s extremely erratic. Throw out the event books – which are always going to have a lot of editorial edict in them – and my exposure to his work is as follows:

  • A pretty good run on Flash, in the unenviable position of following Mark Waid, who defined the title for a decade.
  • A pretty weak run on Justice Society of America, marked by a lack of focus and nearly-nonexistence characterization.
  • An erratic run on Hawkman which thrashed around but never went anywhere in either plot or character development.
  • A fun run on Booster Gold.
  • A very strange run on Action Comics, with uncompressed story arcs (i.e., not much story per issue) which lacked cohesion or much continuity sense.
  • Reviving the Green Lantern series.

His overall approach feels a lot like that of Kurt Busiek and Mark Waid, both of whom also have a great love for comics of their youth, as well as a deep and broad knowledge of those comics and an ability to apply that knowledge to their writing. The difference, I think, is that Busiek and Waid both have a much more sophisticated ability to plot stories and tie them into ongoing character development, and especially to provide a payoff in the form of a dramatic action sequence or moving character scene. Johns’ plots seem haphazard, and they mostly lack character and payoff. They just amble along, relying on a density of references to the source and background material to give them texture. There’s often a lot to think about when reading his books, but they tend to end up feeling empty, because crucial elements of the stories are just absent.

This brings me to Green Lantern. I bought the series back when it started, and a friend of mine called it “the least necessary character revival in recent memory” (or words to that effect). About eight issues in, I decided I agreed with him: Characterization was minimal, and the book didn’t seem to be going anywhere, so I dropped it.

But as I read about where the book has gone since, with the Sinestro Corps War and an expansion of the backdrop of the Guardians of the Universe and their Green Lantern Corps, I decided I was interested in picking up the book again. So this week I picked up issues 29-35, comprising the “Secret Origin” story, and 36, which is chapter two of “Rage of the Red Lanterns” (chapter one appeared in a Final Crisis tie-in book last month). I also picked up the paperback collections of the first 15 or so issues.

Well, I have to say that Green Lantern overall might be Johns’ best work. While one could argue that a 50-year-old character hardly needs his origin story retold, Johns throws out some of the more depressing elements of the last telling, Emerald Dawn, such as Hal’s conviction for drunk driving, and tells the story starting with Hal’s childhood: Seeing his father’s plane explode before his eyes, his rebellion against his mother and desire to fly, and his early training with the Green Lantern Corps, including winning the (somewhat grudging) approval of Sinestro, who was the greatest Green Lantern in the Corps at the time. Johns puts his all into crafting Jordan’s character, as a rebel who didn’t fit into his family and who shirked his responsibilities, but who learned to accept responsibility as the stakes got higher. He’s both a thinker who challenges the status quo, and a man of action who sometimes doesn’t think enough. It might be the best GL origin ever done.

“Secret Origin” also lays the groundwork for “Rage of the Red Lanterns”, by introducing Atrocitus (still a ridiculous name, but arguably no more ridiculous than Sinestro), the leader of the Red Lanterns, who is searching for the individual who will bring about the Blackest Night (which will be the next big GL event, it seems). That individual is apparently Black Hand, an old GL villain who appeared early in the series, making it apparent that Johns has been working through some long-term plans for the series. In the latest issue, the Red Lanterns start to execute their plan, while Green Lantern himself is contacted by a new force, the Blue Lanterns.

The notion of different colored lantern forces is an interesting one, although it’s hard to see how it will all fit into existence continuity, since we’ve never heard of them before. The Blue Lanterns are new, so they get a pass, but I don’t quite understand how the Sinestro Corps came about (since I haven’t yet read the Sinestro Corps War), nor why we haven’t heard of the Red Lanterns before now. The colors also seem to embody different emotions: red is rage, yellow is fear, blue is hope. I’m not sure what green is… bravery? There are also the Star Sapphires and their magenta-colored powers.

So I still have some worries that a lot of these details will go unexplained, which will make the texture of the setting much less satisfying. Nonetheless, Green Lantern is looking like Geoff Johns’ magnum opus. His other work has been so erratic that this feels like damning it with faint praise, but I am enjoying it quite a bit.

Justice Society of America #22 On the other hand, there’s Geoff John’s run on Justice Society. The story “Thy Kingdom Come” concludes this month, as Gog is summarily dispatched (way too easily, really), and the Kingdom Come Superman’s story comes to a close, circling back to the events of that earlier series.

Although the issue feels decidedly rushed – I think Johns and Ross threw too many balls up in the air and never gave any of them the time they really needed – there’s still some good stuff here. Gog was always just a foil for Superman, as he represented the hero’s greatest fears, so closely resembling the man from his own world whom Superman saw as having supplanted him. In dealing with Gog, Superman owns up to his responsibilities to his own world, and with Starman’s help returns there. This leads to a touching epilogue in which the years following Kingdom Come are hinted at, with a very satisfying final page.

Gog had some lasting impact on a few members of the JSA, but it’s hard to tell whether they’ll be fully explored in future issues, especially since the next storyline is going to deal with Black Adam and Mary Marvel (what, again?). I suspect any real payoff will be left to the writers who will follow Johns later this year, Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges.

After over a year of “Thy Kingdom Come”, JSA feels like it just doesn’t have any focus on its core characters – indeed, that its cast is so large it doesn’t really know who its core characters are. Flash? Green Lantern? Power Girl? Cyclone? The KC Superman has been the heart of this series for more than half its run, and he wasn’t even a member of the team, really. Both this and the previous JSA series have been all about fairly superficial plots and very little characterization. It seems a poor legacy for what in the 70s and 80s was a team featured in some truly excellent stories. As much as Johns gets right in Green Lantern, he gets wrong here.

The Winter Men Winter Special Once upon a time there was a mini-series called The Winter Men. The premise of this series was that there had been a Soviet project to create superhumans. It succeeded, more or less: A few genuine superhumans were produced, and some soldiers in super-powered armor were also created. The the Soviet Union collapsed. The soldiers dispersed, and the superhumans – went away. Not that they ever had that high a profile. Nearly 20 years later, one of the soldiers is reactivated to investigate a possible descendant of the superhuman program, which threatens his marriage and his life.

Unfortunately, said mini-series was published literally years ago: Issue #1 came out in 2005, and issue #5 in 2006. Now we get The Winter Men Winter Special, which concludes the story.

I always had problems with the series. I’m not a fan of John Paul Leon’s art, which seems muddy and laid-out so it’s difficult to follow. But the difficulty of following the art is nothing like trying to follow Brett Lewis’ story: The characters are bland and hard to distinguish, the motivations and repercussions are fuzzy, and things seem to happen for no reason. The series was lauded in some quarters as a solid thriller which explored life in contemporary Russia. But I felt that the good story was struggling to get out from under the obfuscation and muddy storytelling, but never quite made it: A story about the fantastic things from the previous regime coming back to haunt the survivors in the present day, but in a society in which survival means keeping your head down and trying to avoid being part of the fantastic.

Maybe that’s the story that Lewis wanted to tell, but I don’t think it’s the one that made it onto the page. Which is too bad, but ultimately I think The Winter Men ended up being stylish but not very satisfying.

Update 1/11/09: Two other reviews of this issue, with summaries of the series as a whole: Greg Burgas at Comics Should Be Good, and Jog at Savage Critics. Both of them liked the series more than I did. I think Jog’s point about the story being “supercompressed” is a good one, but it sure does make it awfully hard to read and follow, and I don’t think the rewards are worth the effort.

Incognito #1 I haven’t read much of Ed Brubaker’s comics work other than his X-Men work, but I know he’s pretty well regardd for Captain America and Criminal, the latter of which is illustrated by Sean Phillips, who also draws Brubaker’s new series, Incognito.

The premise is clever: Zack Overkill is a super-villain who testified some time ago against another criminal, and was put into the witness protection program, and given drugs to suppress his powers. Much like Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles, Zack doesn’t take to living a normal life as an office worker very well, but being an amoral sort he find the occasional way to get his kicks. He also finds – quite by accident – a way to counteract the drugs blocking his powers. Which puts him in a practical dilemma: He’s in witness protection for a reason which benefits him, but he also wants to use his powers. Zack’s background is interesting, with a deceased brother and a scientist who gave him his powers, which surely will play into future issues. This first issue is all set-up, but Brubaker does a great job in crafting it and promising plenty of mayhem down the road.

Phillips’ art has that shadowy noir-ish look to it, but his drawings have more detail and nuance than, say, John Paul Leon or Michael Gaydos, two artists with their own noir-ish styles which don’t really work for me. So overall Incognito #1 is a winner, and I’m looking forward to more of it.

(Brian Cronin liked it, too. And, you can read the first nine pages of the first issue here, although the second half is better than the first! Also, you can see the covers of the first three issues.)

This Week’s Haul

  • Justice Society of America: Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom #1, by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Fernando Pasarin, Mick Gray, Jack Purcell & Norm Rapmund (DC)
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #48, by Jim Shooter, Francis Manapul & Livesay (DC)
  • Madame Xanadu #6, by Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Hadley & Richard Friend (DC/Vertigo)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #7, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Paul Pelletier & Rick Magyar (Marvel)
  • Hulk #8, by Jeph Loeb, Arthur Adams & Frank Cho (Marvel)
  • Nova #19, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Wellington Alves & Scott Hanna (Marvel)
  • The End League #6, by Rick Remender & Eric Canete (Dark Horse)
  • The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #1 of 6, by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)
Justice Society of America: Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom #1 Make no mistake, this week’s JSA special, The Kingdom has no more relationship to Kingdom Come or its sequel The Kingdom than does anything else going on in JSA lately. Indeed, it’s really just an extra-large issue of JSA, with a nicer-than-usual Alex Ross cover. (I do wish he’d do more covers which actually illustrate what happens in the story, though.) Fernando Pasarin, the regular jSA artist, even illustrates it.

The story is basically yet-more reaction by the JSAers to the efforts of Gog’s seven-day plan to bring paradise to Earth. The best part is Stargirl’s efforts to drill some sense into Damage, for which she recruits Atom Smasher to help out (Damage is the son of the golden age Atom, while Atom Smasher – nee Nuklon – is his godson). It goes badly, of course. Meanwhile, Sand starts to worry that Gog’s goals aren’t so altruistic, leading to the cliffhanger ending of the issue.

Thy Kingdom Come – the ongoing story in JSA dealing with the arrival of the Kingdom Come Superman on Earth-DC and his attempts to forestall the tragedy that befell his world – has spun out in a wide variety of story threads, but none of them have been fully satisfying. I’m not sure the resolution of the Gog story is going to make or break it, but it’s got to have a better resolution than the rather limp conclusion to the Power Girl/Earth-2 story or it’s going to be a big disappointment.

Anyway, far from being “special”, if you’re not reading JSA then this isn’t likely to have any meaning for you.

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #1 The Umbrella Academy starts its second series by catching up with the survivors of the first series, who mostly haven’t fared too well in the interim. The first issue ends with a big “uh-oh” cliffhanger following a wacky action scene. Like the first issue of the first series, it all seems perfectly promising. But the first series meandered all over the place and ended up not going much of anywhere, just weirdness for the sake of weirdness. I’m hoping the second series is better, by which I mean, more coherent and meaningful. I do like Gabriel Bá’s artwork quite a bit, still evoking that of Mike Mignola but with its own stylings.

This Week’s Haul

  • Booster Gold #14, by Rick Remender, Pat Olliffe & Jerry Ordway (DC)
  • Fables #78, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham & Steve Leialoha (DC/Vertigo)
  • Justice Society of America: Kingdom Come Special: Superman #1, by Alex Ross (DC)
  • Fire & Brimstone #3 of 5, by Richard Moore (Antarctic)
  • B.P.R.D.: The Warning #5 of 5, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis (Dark Horse)
Fables #78 Wow, after a couple issues of adjustment, Fables is hitting the ground running in its post-Adversary storyline. A couple of treasure-hunters in the homelands free what looks like a Really Bad Man aims to cause big trouble for our heroes. Geppetto is still holier-than-thou, and he maybe has some justification. And something really bad happens to a good guy, while something really good happens to a bad girl (and that ain’t good for the good guys). Things could get out of hand quickly for our heroes, and I think that’s the point: They’re heading into uncharted waters against opponents they don’t know much about, one of whom they don’t even know exists.

Willingham’s usual modus operandi as a writer involves characters making careful plans and then navigating the difficulties in executing them. It looks like he’s preparing for a sequence of sheer carnage and mayhem, and I’m very interested in seeing how it plays out. And, frankly, a little nervous, because I foresee things going very, very badly for some of our heroes – and that this makes me nervous is a sign of good writing.

Justice Society of America: Kingdom Come Special: Superman #1 Alex Ross flies solo on this Justice Society tie-in, focusing on the Superman from Kingdom Come. The issue is mainly an exploration of Superman’s feelings and regrets in the wake of the death of his wife and friends on his own world, and it’s quite well-done. Arguably it doesn’t really provide a lot more information than we received in Kingdom Come, but it does provide some depth and nuance, and humanizes the Man of Steel from the parallel world some. The most touching moments are when he tells this world’s Lois Lane what happened on his world, and how it changed him.

The important detail regarding the ongoing JSA story is the revelation that Superman was sent to this Earth when the bomb was dropped on the warring superheroes. This occurs near the end of Kingdom Come, but it’s still before the end. That suggests that Superman’s presence here is part of his redemption at the end of that story, and it also explains his anger in JSA since he hasn’t gone through the crucial experiences in the final pages of that story.

Well, either that, or Ross and Geoff Johns are just messin’ with us. (That would suck.)

The book has an afterword in which Ross describes his process of illustrating the book, which is not painted like his usual work. It’s fairly interesting, although somehow seeing how extensively he uses photographic models takes some of the magic out of his otherwise wonderful artwork.

I’ve given Ross a rough time in my reviews of many of his recent projects, but this one is solid. I wish all his work was this good. Heck, I wish JSA was this good, as character bits like this have been almost entirely absent from that series (a problem I’ve had with it ever since the previous volume was launched back in 1999).

B.P.R.D.: The Warning #5 The latest B.P.R.D. mini-series comes to an end, and although some of the pieces have moved around (there’s a new villain – who might be a hero, but his methods are questionable; Liz Sherman has disappeared; monsters are allying with each other and have decimated Munich), I’m still wondering where it’s all going. It’s been years and it doesn’t feel like we’re getting anywhere.

I know, I’m sung this song before, and anyone who’s been reading me long enough is probably wondering why I keep reading the series. I wonder that myself; every time I decide to give up I figure if I just read one more mini-series, then the answers and resolutions will start coming. Sometimes I read one more series and it’s just good enough to make me curious what happens next. But ultimately I keep being disappointed: I honestly can’t tell whether the plot has really progressed over the last couple of years.

Maybe it is time for me to quit.

This Week’s Haul

  • Justice Society of America Annual #1, by Geoff Johns, Jerry Ordway & Bob Wiacek (DC)
  • newuniversal: 1959 #1, by Kieron Gillen, Greg Scott & Kody Chamberlain (Marvel)
  • Thor #10, by J. Michael Straczynski, Oliver Coipel & Mark Morales (Marvel)
  • Girl Genius: Voice of the Castle vol 7 HC, by Phil Foglio & Kaja Foglio (Airship)
  • Project Superpowers #5 of 7, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger & Carlos Paul (Dynamite)
  • Locke & Key #6 of 6, by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Justice Society of America Annual #1 Justice Society of America Annual #1 is just a big tease.

In the currently convoluted DC continuity, Power Girl comes from an alternate Earth, the “Earth-2” from before Crisis on Infinite Earths. In this issue, wonderfully illustrated by Jerry Ordway (one of my favorite artists), she’s been returned there by the powers of Gog (the main plot element in the ongoing series), and she catches up with the Huntress and the rest of the Earth-2 Justice Society, who have continued to live their lives since the first Crisis. The Huntress is dealing with the last few villains of her father – the deceased Earth-2 Batman – and the JSA has undergone some significant changes, with most of the original members having retired. It’s good stuff, with convincing characterizations, and some effective revelations about these old friends. It doesn’t really deal with the fact that the characters here would be pretty old by now – the members of Infinity Inc. would be in their mid-to-late 40s, and Robin would be pushing 70 – but I’m willing to chalk that up to artistic license.

The books real problem is that it’s just a lead-in to another plot thread in the ongoing series, in which Power Girl finds herself on the run in a world that might be what it seems – but might not. So it’s not a complete story, which is especially frustrating given the tradition of annuals to be complete or to be the climactic wrap-up of a longer story. It’s just another cog, and it left me feeling cheated.

The art sure is lovely, though. Ordway’s best stuff in years.

newuniversal: 1959 one-shot newuniversal: 1959 is a prequel to Warren Ellis’ newuniversal series, highlighting a few extraordinary individuals in the late 50s and the arm of the government which investigates them. It’s a pretty good story, although it basically just fills in the details of what’s been described in the regular series. So it’s not essential reading, but I enjoyed it anyway.
Girl Genius vol 7: Voice of the Castle HC Girl Genius is still one of the most entertaining comics going, and I’m happy that it’s had so much success as a webcomic, since it looks like it’ll be sticking around for a long time. Meanwhile the family Foglio are still collecting the series more-or-less annually in both paperback and hardcover, and I sure hope that that continues, as I’ve been happily snapping up almost everything Phil Foglio’s done as they print it in hardcover.

I was somewhat disappointed in volume 6 since it turned away from Agatha, the main character, and had a convoluted story which didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Volume 7 is a return to form, as Agatha and her allies arrive in Mechanicsburg so Agatha can claim her position as the heir to the Heterodynes. Of course, the badly-injured Baron Klaus Wulfenbach and his son Gil have gotten there ahead of her. Moreover, claiming her heritage is harder than it seems, since she needs to be recognized by the sentient Castle Heterodyne, but the castle isn’t intact and people who enter it tend not to come out again. Plus, another claimant to the position has turned up and entered the castle with her own schemes. Finally, word of Klaus’ injuries have gotten out, which means people who want to overthrow or supplant him are showing up heavily armed.

The book is full of action, adventure, and rampant silliness, all of which you expect from a Foglio story. There are also some nifty glimpses of the Heterodyne past – I love poring over the pages in the vaults below the castle to see what jokes and suggestions the Foglios have thrown in there, whether or not it directly impacts the story. Plus Agatha’s chat with one fragment of the castle is not to be missed, and Gil has his own test in trying to protect his father.

Perhaps Girl Genius‘ pace has slowed down a bit too much with the shift to webcomic form, as it often seems like things move along a bit slowly, with this volume ending on a cliffhanger. A paradigm shift in the series is going to occur sooner or later since Agatha is going to have to grow up completely and become a major player on the continental stage in the fictional world in which she lives, and I wonder whether the Foglios are finding it difficult to get past Agatha as the still-somewhat-innocent foil for her more experienced companions. Maybe that’s what’s holding the story back a bit. Or, maybe they just want more scenes like Agatha building an industrial-strength coffee maker (which are cute, but just intermissions between “the good stuff”). Nonetheless, this is great stuff. I read it on-line every week, and you should too.

Locke & Key #6 Locke & Key finishes its first mini-series this month. It’s been pretty good, but also disappointing: It ended up being little more than a straightforward “being stalked by a lunatic with a gun” story. To be fair, it does set up the premise of the series, but I’d hoped for a lot of sense of wonder and a lot less routine suspense and horror schtick. The ending suggests that future series will be a little more fantastic, and I hope they will be. I’ll come back for the next mini-series (starting later this year), but if it’s more of the same then that might be enough for me.

This Week’s Haul

  • Booster Gold #8, by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz, Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund (DC)
  • Countdown to Final Crisis #3 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Sean McKeever, Keith Giffen & Freddie Williams II (DC)
  • Justice Society of America #14, by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Dale Eaglesham & Prentis Rollins (DC)
  • Nova #12, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Paul Pelletier & Rick Magyar (Marvel)
  • Echo #2, by Terry Moore (Abstract)
  • B.P.R.D.: 1946 #4 of 5, by Mike Mignola, Joshua Dysart & Paul Azaceta (Dark Horse)
  • The Complete Peanuts 1967-1968, by Charles M. Schultz (Fantagraphics)
  • Locke & Key #3 of 6, by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Justice Society of America #14 I don’t get the cover to this month’s Justice Society: It shows all our heroes either walking away (from what?) or standing around (why?) while the face of (presumably) the villain appears in the clouds in the background. But this has nothing at all to do with the issue, although its composition seems to indicate that it does! Basically it’s a typical “The heroes have been so defeated that they’re giving up” cover, the sort exemplified by the famous cover to Amazing Spider-Man #50.

Yet it has nothing at all to do with the issue, whose story goes like this:

  1. The JSA having a meeting about who’s going to go after the very powerful Gog.
  2. Gog shows up in their meeting room
  3. Fight!

Anyway. It’s not so much a bad issue as a “well, let’s get this out of the way” issue. Basically, John and Ross have let us down as far as building dramatic tension and bringing it to a climax goes. In other words, regardless of where the story “They Kingdom Come” is going, it’s going there very slowly and is being boring while it’s going there.

Nova #12 It seems like when I have little to say about the rest of the haul, Nova always stands out and makes me smile. Nova’s quest to rid himself of the Phalanx technovirus comes to an end, and he and his allies have to face a powerful adversary. Abnett and Lanning also cleverly manage their characters, setting up expectations for how things will turn out for all of them, and then arranging things so they works out differently. This story has gone on a little too long, but Abnett & Lanning managed to pack some more stuff into it to keep it from dragging, and they managed to deliver a satisfying payoff – really exactly the opposite of how JSA is going.

And it turns out that it’s been dragged out this long because now Nova’s going to loop back to where this story started in the conclusion to Annihilation Conquest. Which might seems self-indulgent, but since both series have been plenty of fun, I don’t really mind. (This also explains why Nova’s 4-issue involvement in Annihilation Conquest last year ended so anticlimactically – it was just the set-up for this longer arc which would then tie back in to the mini-series. I guess I shoulda had more faith!)

Oh, and there’s also a hint at the end of the issue that Drax is starting to revert a little to his “big dumb destroyer” form. I wonder if he cycles from weak-but-clever to strong-and-stupid and back again every few years?

This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 31 October 2007.

  • Action Comics #858, by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank & Jon Sibal (DC)
  • Countdown to Final Crisis #26 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Keith Giffen & Scott Kolins (DC)
  • Countdown to Adventure #3 of 8, by Adam Beechen, Eddy Barrows & Julio Ferreira, and Justin Gray & Fabrizio Fiorentino (DC)
  • Countdown to Mystery #2 of 8, by Steve Gerber, Justiniano & Walden Wong, and Matthew Sturges & Steven Jorge Segovia (DC)
  • The Death of the New Gods #2 of 8, by Jim Starlin & Matt Banning (DC)
  • Justice Society of America #10, by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Dale Eaglesham, Ruy José & Drew Geraci (DC)
  • Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #35, by Tony Bedard & Dennis Calero (DC)
  • Annihilation: Book Two TPB, by Keith Giffen & Renato Arlen, Javier Grillo-Marxuach & Gregory Titus, and Simon Furman & Jorge Lucas (Marvel)
  • Annihilation Conquest: Quasar #4 of 4, by Christos N. Gage, Mike Lilly & Bob Almond (Marvel)
  • Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 by David Petersen (Archaia)
  • The Secret History Book Three: The Grail of Montségur by Jean-Pierre Pécau, Goran Sedzuka & Geto (Archaia)
  • The Secret History Book Four: The Keys of Saint Peter by Jean-Pierre Pécau & Leo Pilipovic (Archaia)
  • The Perhapanauts: First Blood TPB, by Todd Dezago & Craig Rousseau (Dark Horse)
Action Comics #858 Action Comics is continuing the latest weirdness at DC Comics: The “return” of the “original” Legion of Super-Heroes, as prefaced in the awful “Lightning Saga” in JLA and JSA earlier this year. This issue kicks of “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes”, in which Brainiac 5 sends an automated time bubble back to the 20th century to recruit superman to help with some disaster in 3008. He also fixes Superman’s memory so he remembers the Legion (without explaining why Superman remembered them perfectly clearly in the Lightning Saga), triggering a reminiscence of Supes being recruited into the Legion as a boy. He’s then catapulted forward where he finds that things are in bad shape indeed, and that the rest of the Legion had a really good reason to not want Superman brought into the fray.

I’m not a real big fan of either Geoff Johns or Gary Frank. In Johns’ case, I find his characterizations bland and his stories so even-keeled that one hardly notices when they pass their climactic moment. In Frank’s case, I think it’s mostly his association with the tedious and dull Supreme Power series over at Marvel, and that’s not really his fault. His designs and rendering are actually quite strong, although I wish his characters weren’t so… toothy. Reservations aside, this issue is a fine example of hooking your readers and drawing them in: Why did the Legion vanish from Superman’s life when he became an adult? Why did they contact him now? And how’s he going to get out of this one? The success or failure of this story will primarily rest on answering those questions.

All of this completely shoves aside he question of how this Legion reconciles with the other in-continuity Legions which have been around for the last 15 years, which have all be in-continuity, too. My bet is that most or all of them have been from the futures of parallel Earths, now that we have them back thanks to Infinite Crisis. Which is not a very satisfying answer, but DC’s continuity isn’t exactly about satisfaction these days.

Rachelle has some nice scans of this issue, although she also spoils the cliffhanger at the end, so view at your own risk.

Anyway, if this sounds at all interesting, I would in fact recommend it. The art is nice, Johns does a fine job of recapping who the Legion are and why they’re important without going into the nitty-gritty details that casual readers won’t care about, and like I said it ends on a compelling cliffhanger. Maybe this story will be Johns art his best>?

Countdown to Mystery #2 Three Countdown books this week. Countdown itself has been renamed Countdown to Final Crisis, and the story is mainly a recap of what’s going on. Since the answer is basically “nothing much” you can draw your own conclusions. (There’s some reason to believe that Final Crisis will reboot the DC Universe again. While Crisis on Infinite Earths rebooted things while DC was at its creative apex, a reboot now feels like editorial admitting that things are so screwed up that it’s not salvageable. Which ironically is exactly the opposite message delivered by Infinite Crisis. But nothing DC does these days can really surprise me – I’m that cynical about it.)

Countdown to Adventure is the best of the three, a little on the grim side to my tastes, but at least it’s exciting and the heroes (Adam Strange, Starfire and Animal Man) are likable. The backup story with Forerunner is vaguely interesting since she’s visiting a new parallel Earth, but the use of Dark Angel as the villain is a big snooze.

Countdown to Mystery is somewhere in-between. Steve Gerber’s Doctor Fate is not without interest, although it’s slow and feels like he’s trying to impose some structure onto Fate’s magic, which always seems like it’s just a bad idea when it comes to magic in fiction. So I’m on the fence about it, but it could turn out to be good. The backup story involving Eclipso, however, is just vile: Eclipso corrupts Plastic Man and then sets her sights on the Creeper. It’s borderline-unreadable. Yuck.

Justice Society of America #10 Geoff Johns is a busy guy – I may not be his biggest fan, but I sure can’t complain about his work ethic. After last issue’s prologue, this issue launches full-on into “Thy Kingdom Come”, in which the Kingdom Come Superman from Earth-22 is pulled into Earth-1. He resembles Power Girl’s late cousin, leaving her confused and disappointed, and Starman knows him, having been to Earth-22 for the events of Kingdom Come. This Superman is pretty messed up, having seen a lot of death and destruction on his world, much of it due directly or indirectly to him, and he feels responsible even for that which he wasn’t responsible for. This could play out any of several different ways, and I hope Johns surprises us rather than ending the story with a silly “Superman on a rampage” fight.

The real potential of this story is that it could make the JSA matter again. The JSA has felt for a long time like a team whose time is long since past, and the array of bland writers and artists who have been helming the book for the last ten years haven’t helped. Just because the team has multiple generations of heroes doesn’t mean it’s anything more than a generic superhero book. (Contrast with the 1970s revival of All-Star Comics, which is the finest example of multigenerational superheroes I’ve yet seen.) It would only take a little adventurousness to give this JSA series some depth and feeling, and the KC Superman could give it that.

Incidentally, I’ve given penciller Dale Eaglesham the short shrift when talking about this series: His simple linework is winning me over: His facial expressions are getting stronger with every issue, and unlike many artists he draws full backgrounds, making it feel like his characters are inhabiting a fully-realized world. This issue opens with a full-page panel with Power Girl, Cyclone and Ma Hunkel, and Cyclone’s expression is just perfect. It’s followed by a double-page spread with Superman and the original JSAers in their meeting room, and it’s equally powerful. Later on, there’s another nearly-full-page panel of Superman’s first public appearance, and while the focus is entirely on Superman, the backgrounds are fully-rendered and the composition is great. While Eaglesham’s style isn’t entirely to my taste, I definitely have to applaud him for putting so much effort and detail into his work, without compromising basic storytelling. Honestly it seems like there aren’t a lot of artists around today who can do all that.

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #2 Archaia Studios Press has been bunching up their releases lately, with two issues of another series I don’t read coming out last week, and two issues of The Secret History this week. I suspect ASP is growing a little faster than it can keep up with, so some stuff is getting delayed due to lack of manpower or capital. That’s just my guess, though. I’m pretty forgiving of small presses and their delays, although I am an unusually committed comics reader. Surely a regular schedule would serve the company’s cash flow better, though.

I’m mostly enjoying The Secret History, although it delves too far into historical details I’m entirely unfamiliar with. The general storyline is okay (four powerful individuals influencing world events from prehistory through today) and the art is excellent (even with a different artist each issue), so I’m willing to follow it through its 7-issue run. I just wish it were more accessible.

David Petersen keeps a perfectly regular schedule with Mouse Guard, and the second issue of the new series came out right on time, so he’s bucked the trend there.. The series has been a surprise hit and has gotten lots of critical acclaim. I enjoy it myself, and can certainly recommend it as well-drawn entertainment, albeit maybe not for preteens since the violence does get a little rough sometimes.

The Perhapanauts vol 1: First Blood The Perhapanauts resembles Mike Mignola’s B.P.R.D. in that it’s a team of operatives who investigate paranormal phenomena and deal with them if necessary. This team is a little more out there than B.P.R.D., with Bigfoot and El Chupacabras as team members, along with a telepath, a ghost, and a mysterious guy whose background is kept secret. They can time travel and dimension hop with minimal difficulty, although they also face some pretty rough opposition as a result.

Nonetheless, the series feels a lot like Mignola’s work, which isn’t bad, but being “B.P.R.D. lite” isn’t a real strong recommendation. Moreover, this first volume ends on a cliffhanger, which is a pretty lousy way to treat new readers. Johanna Draper Carlson likes the series more than I do, I just thought it was pretty lightweight.

This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 12 September 2007.

A big haul this week!

  • Booster Gold #2, by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz, Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund (DC)
  • Countdown #33 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Adam Beechen, Keith Giffen, Carlos Magno & Jay Leisten (DC)
  • Fables #65, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham & Steve Leialoha (DC/Vertigo)
  • Justice Society of America #9, by Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham & Ruy Jose (DC)
  • Suicide Squad: Raise The Flag #1 of 8, by John Ostrander, Javier Pina & Robin Riggs (DC)
  • Welcome to Tranquility #10, by Gail Simone, Neil Googe & Scott Shaw! (DC/Wildstorm)
  • Nova #6, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Sean Chen, Scott Hanna & Brian Denham (Marvel)
  • Thor #3, by J. Michael Straczynski, Oliver Coipel & Mark Morales (Marvel)
  • B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground #3 of 5, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis (Dark Horse)
  • Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others TPB vol 7, by Mike Mignola, Richard Corben & P. Craig Russell (Dark Horse)
  • Castle Waiting #8, by Linda Medley (Fantagraphics)

Justice Society of America #9The new JSA kicks off the storyline “Thy Kingdom Come”. Power Girl, as anyone who’s warped enough to be able to keep track of this stuff knows, is the last survivor of Earth-2 from before the Crisis on Infinite Earths, her cousin Kal-L (the Golden Age Superman) having died in the Infinite Crisis, making her feel especially alone. “Thy Kingdom Come” will feature the Superman from Kingdom Come, who’s a rather tortured soul who superficially resembles Power Girl’s cousin. This is also the world that current JSA member Starman spent some time in. So there’s a lot of interesting potential for character drama here. Is Geoff Johns the writer to realize the potential of this scenario? I tend to think of Johns as a plot-driven writer – characterization isn’t really his forte. But this could be the story in which he rises above his limitations.

Suicide Squad: Raise The Flag #1Weirdly, the first issue of Suicide Squad: Raise The Flag is missing both a chapter title and creator credits. I can’t remember the last time I read a book by a major publisher that was missing its credits. Must’ve been some oversight. I wonder if this is related to it being titled From The Ashes on the cover?

Anyway, this is the mini-series sequel to the 1980s series written by Ostrander and grittily illustrated by Luke McDonnell, who at the time was the artist of choice for hard-hitting series with a strong human component (e.g., Denny O’Neil’s Iron Man run when Tony Stark is overcome by his alcoholism, and the latter days of Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar run). The premise was that the government operated a covert squad with a few D-list superheroes, but which mainly consisted of incarcerated supervillains who would go on high-risk missions and have their sentences commuted if successful. Oh, plus they’d get their arms blown off by remote control if they tried to escape. The thing was a big balancing act among various personalities of varying degrees of stability, and it worked very well and is fondly remembered today.

Halfway through the original series, Rick Flag, one of the main heroic figures, died in a nuclear explosion in a foreign country. This series is based on the notion that he didn’t actually die. The first issue is a flashback in which key members of the old Squad travel to Russia to investigate a rumor that Flag is imprisoned there. It gives you a great feel for the original series – really, it’s like no time has passed at all – and ends on a cliffhanger implying what really happened.

Ostrander might never surpass his original GrimJack series (though it sounds like the Grinner might be moving over to a new site called ComicMix), but Suicide Squad is also excellent, and this looks like a terrific follow-on to the original.

Oh, and Javier Pina’s art is excellent – even better than his stuff on Manhunter.

Okay, each of the last three issues of Nova have ended with a cliffhanger in which things were worse for our heroes than they were an issue before. I don’t think it can go on much longer, though; I’m impressed it’s gotten this far!

Thor #3J. Michael Straczynski has been taking some flak for his portrayal of Iron Man in this issue of Thor (for instance, from Brian Cronin). I think this criticism is misguided, for two reasons: (1) Thor is justified, given that Iron Man created a subservient clone of him during the Civil War, and (2) Iron Man has been pretty much acting like a dick since the start of the Civil War, most of his actions have been morally indefensible, and frankly emotionally the reader wants someone to kick his ass: Thor, the Hulk, whoever. Iron Man’s not a hero anymore, and seeing Thor lay into him is just plain fun.

The real problem with this issue is also twofold: (1) The fight with Iron Man doesn’t advance the story, and (2) the story is boring. Thor going around to rescue his Asgardian brethren in the wake of, well, whatever happened to remove them from our plane of existence. The first issue was promising in that it suggested the return of the Thor/Don Blake dynamic, perhaps with actually giving Blake some characterization this time around. Blake hasn’t appeared since he changed into Thor at the beginning of #2, and “ponderous Thor” just isn’t very interesting. Kurt Busiek knew to lighten him up with “bombastic Thor” every so often, but Straczynski doesn’t seem to have learned the trick yet.

I figure if there isn’t some actual story advancement – and I mean more than just finding more Asgardians, because that’s just a boring old quest, not a decent plot – by issue #6 or so, then it might be time to give up on this one.

I’ve been less-than-kind to Mike Mignola’s comics recently, so I’m happy to say that Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others mostly has the nifty stuff that I enjoy most about Hellboy: Hellboy kicking ass, making quips, and dealing with bizarrely inventive supernatural menaces. The centerpiece of the book, “Makoma”, is actually one of the weaker stories: A myth about Hellboy perhaps about one of his previous incarnations. The framing sequence, about a supernatural explorer’s club, is more interesting than the main story. The short stories are nifty, though. My favorite Hellboy stories seem to be those which feature or imply time travel so I think “Dr. Carp’s Experiments” is my favorite of the volume.

Though if you’re unfamiliar with Hellboy, you might want instead to start at the beginning.

This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 1 August 2007.

  • Countdown #39 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Sean McKeever, Jim Calafiore & Jay Leisten (DC)
  • Justice Society of America #8, by Geoff Johns, Fernando Pasarin & Rodney Ramos (DC)
  • Metal Men #1 of 8, by Duncan Rouleau (DC)
  • Welcome to Tranqulity #9, by Gail Simone, Neil Googe, Leandro Fernandez & Francisco Paronzini (DC/Wildstorm)
  • Ms. Marvel #18, by Brian Reed, Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan (Marvel)
  • Thor #2, by J. Michael Stracyznki, Oliver Coipel & Mark Morales (Marvel)
  • World War Hulk #3 of 5, by Greg Pak, John Romita Jr., & Klaus Janson (Marvel)
  • Elephantmen: Wounded Animals HC, by Richard Starkings, Moritat, and others (Image)

Justice_Society_8.jpgUsually I find “special character spotlight” issues to be tedious: exposition and incidental adventure which mostly feels just-plain-obvious. But this month’s JSA is better-than-usual: Although nominally spotlighting Liberty Belle (the former Jesse Quick), it’s more interesting for its handling of Damage, one of the more tragic characters in recent memory, whose face is so badly scarred that he wears a mask like the original Atom’s to hide his appearance. After the predictable flashbacks to Belle’s early life, Damage confronts Zoom, a recent Flash villain who’s responsible for his disfigurement, in which we get to learn both something about both his character and Belle’s. Pretty good stuff.

Except for the cover. The Alex Ross “pose” covers got boring a long time ago.

Metal_Men_1.jpgSo who exactly is Duncan Rouleau and where has he been hiding? I picked up Metal Men #1 because I liked his clean, dynamic artwork when I thumbed through it, but it’s an all-around fun comic: A mix of action and adventure (the Metal Men take on a nanotechnological menace), danger (then they’re confiscated by the government), drama (a flashback to Will Magnus first unveiling the Metal Men and what it meant to his career), and mystery (a familiar-looking figure apparently ready to wipe the Metal Men from the timestream). That’s a lot of stuff for a first issue, but it should be plenty to keep the series busy and enjoyable for 8 issues. If it delivers on even half its promise, then it should be lots of fun.

Oh, and Rouleau’s art is just as good as it looked at first glance.

Ms. Marvel introduces a couple of new superhumans to her S.H.I.E.L.D. unit, including the current revision of Machine Man who both (1) looks really boring, and (2) is a stuck-up, obnoxious prig. Which is really annoying since Machine Man’s hallmark has always been that inside he’s as human as any of us. He’s a lot like Brainiac 5 from the current Legion of Super-Heroes, except that Brainy’s always been a little annoying that way, while for Machine Man it goes completely against character. Gah, what a waste.

Thor #2 is mostly a lengthy sequence with Thor returning to Asgard (sort of), and talking with the locals in the middle of nowhere. Nothing happens, really. Didn’t I mention that Straczynski’s comic books drive me up the wall? Get on with the story already!

World_War_Hulk_3.jpgMan, World War Hulk sure is fun, and #3 has about four times as much story in it as I’d expect: Doctor Strange’s plan comes to fruition, the Hulk fights the US army, Hulk’s warbound comrades take down a while slew of Marvel heroes, and the last page promises some serious ass-kicking next issue. And there are still two issues left!

It takes a lot to make a big slugfest worth reading. Admittedly “Planet Hulk” tried a little too hard to give the Hulk’s fury a sense of righteousness, but plopping it on top of Civil War made it just effective enough.

(Comics Should Be Good thinks World War Hulk is the second part of a Hulk trilogy, which raises the question: What the heck would part three be?)

I have no idea what Elephantmen is going to be like. It’s gotten good word-of-mouth and the art style has always intrigued me in the previews. I wonder if I’ll miss a lot because I haven’t read the earlier Hip Flask material?

This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 11 July 2007.

  • Countdown #42 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Sean McKeever, Tony Bedard, Carlos Magno, Mark McKenna & Jay Leisten (DC)
  • Fables #63, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha (DC/Vertigo)
  • Justice Society of America #7, by Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham, Ruy José and Rodney Ramos (DC)
  • Nova #4, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Sean Chen, Scott Hanna, & Brian Denham (Marvel)
  • B.P.R.D.: Garden of Souls #5 of 5, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis (Dark Horse)

Chris Sims thinks the current Fables storyline might be its best yet, and I think he’s on to something: “The Good Prince” is turning out to be quite excellent, and you can just tell that it’s not going to end well (Willingham isn’t exactly Mr. Happy when it comes to his storylines). The book went through a bit of a lull when Bigby Wolf and Snow White were off-panel, since they’re the heart of the series, but this storyline combines a large scope with small character bits, and you can’t ask for more than that. Fables has been one of the best comics published for years now, and though it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s definitely a must-check-out.

JSA #7 is getting more attention in the blogosphere due to Crotchgate than anything else. The series otherwise continues to be solidly middle-of-the-road: Enjoyable but uninspiring stories, solid but unexceptional artwork, not much in the way of direction. It feels overall more like the 1980s series All-Star Squadron more than anything else, only not quite as good on any front.

Nova #4Nova is taking a few months out to cross over with Annihilation: Conquest. While the art is excellent (Brian Denham does a great Sean Chen impression on the pages he fills in on), I worry that it’s going to lose the great character bits that made the first three issues so good. On the other hand, the issue ends on a cliffhanger that suggests Abnett and Lanning are taking an intriguing way to take a time out from the regular series. So it might all work out.

I still can’t get over just how good Chen’s artwork is, though. How has Marvel not put in the effort to turn this guy into their biggest star?

On the one hand, the B.P.R.D. chain of mini-series is taking forever to develop its ongoing storyline. On the other hand, some of the detours are pretty entertaining, and this is one of them: An ancient cadre of scientists with a plan to change the world, and a connection to Abe Sapien’s past life. I often think of giving up on B.P.R.D., but it’s still entertaining and pretty consistent, so I keep reading.