This Week’s Haul

I haven’t been much for updating lately, so this is actually last week’s comics. Time’s short, so I’ll just look at one book and send you on your way…

  • Action Comics #891, by Paul Cornell, Pete Woods, Cafu, & Bit (DC)
  • American Vampire #5, by Scott Snyder, Stephen King & Rafael Albuquerque (DC/Vertigo)
  • Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4 of 6, by Grant Morrison, George Jeanty & Walden Wong (DC)
  • First Wave #3 of 6, by Brian Azzarello, Rags Morales, Rick Bryant & Bob Almond (DC)
  • The Flash #4, by Geoff Johns & Francis Manapul (DC)
  • Green Lantern #56, by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy (DC)
  • Green Lantern Corps #50, by Tony Bedard, Ardian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes (DC)
  • Justice League of America #47, by James Robinson, Mark Bagley & Rob Hunter (DC)
  • Madame Xanadu #25, by Matt Wagner & Laurenn McCubbin (DC/Vertigo)
  • Wonder Woman #601, by J. Michael Straczynski, Don Kramer & Michael Babinski (DC)
  • Fantastic Four #581, by Jonathan Hickman, Neil Edwards & Paul Neary (Marvel)
  • Incorruptible #8, by Mark Waid & Horacio Domingues (Boom)
  • RASL #8, by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)
  • Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor #4 of 5, by John Byrne (IDW)
J. Michael Straczynski’s first full issue of Wonder Woman is, well, not bad. It’s almost entirely retrospective, explaining how the Amazons’ island refuge was exposed when the goddess Aphrodite rescinded her blessing, and the island was invaded and conquered. Small groups of Amazons escaped, though Queen Hippolyta did not, and Diana was raised in the outside world, and charged with vengeance, but also with finding and rescuing her sisters from the people pursuing them (and her). She sets off in the second half to do just that, as a group are pinned down in Turkey.

The most interesting development is that Straczynski is in fact setting this up as a “history has been changed” story, where Wonder Woman can no longer fly, and it’s implied that the leader of the men who destroyed the Amazons helped change history. Whether this will end up being a permanent change, or if things will return to normal but Diana will choose to retain her current outfit, remains to be seen.

The issue unfortunately also features yet more of Straczynski’s quirks as a writer that annoy me. He’s set this up as a quest story (save the Amazons, save the world?), which doesn’t seem terribly imaginative. He also gives the oracle who relates the Amazon’s history to Diana some of her own annoying quirks, such as asking Diana if she’s “got any gum?” (a line he used in his best comics work to date, Midnight Nation, previously), and then self-consciously has the oracle observe that she’s tied to staying near a certain bridge, and that that’s a metaphor, an explanation which feels terribly forced. One must take the good with the bad, I suppose.

Don Kramer’s art is pretty nifty, though: Polished and dynamic, helped considerably by Alex Sinclair’s colors in tone and texture.

Overall, it’s an encouraging book, but not without its faults. But it’s a much better start than Straczynski’s first issue of Superman.

This Week’s Haul

In addition to the usual roundup, note that the second of Fantagraphics’ hardcover collections of Prince Valiant came out this week. These are really lovely collections, a big upgrade on their softcover collections of the 90s, and well worth it for anyone who’s a fan of Hal Foster’s lovely artwork.

  • Action Comics #890, by Paul Cornell & Pete Woods (DC)
  • Batman Beyond #1 of 6, by Adam Beechen, Ryan Benjamin & John Stanisci (DC)
  • The Flash #3, by Geoff Johns & Francis Manapul (DC)
  • Green Lantern #55, by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy (DC)
  • Justice League of America #46, by James Robinson, Mark Bagley, Rob Hunter & Norm Rapmund (DC)
  • Justice Society of America #40, by Bill Willingham, Jesus Merino & Jesse Delperdang (DC)
  • Madame Xanadu #24, by Matt Wagner & Marley Zarcone (DC/Vertigo)
  • Wonder Woman #600, by Gail Simone, George Pérez & Scott Koblish, Amanda Conner, Louise Simonson, Eduardo Pansica & Bob Wiacek, Geoff Johns & Scott Kolins, and J. Michael Straczynski, Don Kramer & Michael Babinski (DC)
  • Astonishing X-Men #34, by Warren Ellis, Phil Jimenez & Andy Lanning (Marvel)
  • Captain America #607, by Ed Brubaker, Mitch Breitweiser & Jackson Guice (Marvel)
  • Prince Valiant vol 2 1939-1940 HC, by Hal Foster (Fantagraphics)
  • Invincible #73, by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley & Cliff Rathburn (Image)
  • Ghost Projekt #3 of 5, by Joe Harris & Steve Rolston (Oni)
  • Atomic Robo and the Curse of the Vampire Dimension #4 of 4, by Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener (Red 5)
Paul Cornell’s had an interesting career: Doctor Who episodes, science fiction novels, and now comic books, following up on his Captain Britain and MI-13 series for Marvel (which I haven’t read) with the beginning of a run on Action Comics. With J. Michael Straczynski monopolizing Superman in his own title, though, Cornell is focusing on Lex Luthor here in Action.

Writing a story starring a bad guy can be hard, and Lex is about as bad as they come: He’s evolved from a brilliant, hateful, and emotional villain to a brilliant, hateful, code-and-calculating villain, who keeps his emotions bottled up, making his crimes (and moral lapses) all the more creepy. Cornell pulls off all this creepiness quite well, and even has a tricky little subplot involving Lois Lane witnessing Lex’s crimes. Lex’s motivation here is that he tasted the power of a power ring (the orange ring in Blackest Night) and he’s trying to figure out a way to get it back by researching the power of the vanished black rings. Lex always has ambitions a little higher and darker than anyone else in the DC universe.

If there’s a downside to this issue it’s the reveal on the last page, which feels like an awkward shift into a different storyline than where the issue started. But Cornell might just be taking the story in a different direction than it first appeared. But overall his first issue is pretty nifty, so I’m looking forward to see where Cornell’s going with it.

Oh, and Pete Woods’ art is terrific. Similar to that of Gary Frank back before Frank went ulta-realistic (and mostly stopped drawing backgrounds) with a hint of Tony Harris, he has a strong design and composition sense and clean linework. I’m not sure if I’ve seen his stuff before, but I like it a lot.

For some reason DC has decided to revive the Batman Beyond franchise, which was primarily an animated series, and one which ended nearly ten years ago. Is the trademark about to expire or something? Well, after a Superman/Batman annual featuring the character a few weeks ago (written by Paul Levitz, it was pretty routine stuff), now there’s a 6-issue mini-series written by Adam Beechen (whose work I really only know from his – pretty good – Countdown to Adventure series a few years ago) and drawn by Ryan Benjamin and John Stanisci (neither of whom I’m familiar with).

The story is a straight follow-up to the cartoon series, with characters such as Amanda Waller filling roles different from those in comic books. The story involves someone escaping from a high-tech laboratory and apparently killing the original Batman’s enemies. His successor, Terry McGinnis, tries to head him off, when he and Bruce Wayne find out what’s happening, and the issue ends with the revelation of the villain’s identity, indicating that a comic book villain is moving into the animated world. It works pretty well as a first issue, and is certainly enough that I’ll pick up the rest of the series.

Seeing the animated characters drawn in a more realistic, comic book-like style is kind of weird; sometimes Benjamin manages to pull off the expressions that really make the characters who they are on the small screen, but other times they seem like someone else, actors playing the characters. It’s not entirely successful; look at the cover, for example, where McGinnis’ Batman has more muscle and definition than he ever had in the cartoon. I’m not sure what aesthetic they’re really going for here. It’s a good-looking book, but there’s a certain cognitive dissonance to it that makes it difficult for me to fully buy into it being a sequel to the cartoon.

Wonder Woman #600 is another anthology issue with pin-ups, like Superman #700 was last week, which makes it feel rather less special as an anniversary issue. Unsurprisingly the best story in it is the one written by Gail Simone and drawn by the always-amazing George Pérez, even though the premise is yet another “let’s come up with a silly excuse for having every female superhero embark on an adventure together, without any of the men”. What really sells it, though, is that afterwards Diana heads out for the graduation of one of the supporting characters of her series when she was re-imagined by Pérez 20 years ago. Given that this issue is also re-imagining the character in a later story, this is a fine and touching coda to Wonder Woman’s current incarnation. (Pérez also draws a fantastic two-page poster with characters from throughout this run, almost worth the price of admission all by itself.)

Amanda Conner writers and draws a short piece with Wonder Woman and Power Girl, which feels a little under-rendered for her usual work, and which is a cute little personal piece about PG’s home life. Louise Simonson writes a third story guest-starring Superman which is a straight adventure story (the art is by Eduardo Pansica whom I’m not familiar with, but it looks pretty nice; inker Bob Wiacek looks like he had a strong influence on it, though). Then Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins write the lead-in to J. Michael Straczynski’s re-imagining, in which the character is apparently broken down and reappears in her new guise, with a new backstory.

The story is a fairly light lead-in to Straczynski’s run on the character, but is much better than his rather awful debut on Superman last week: Wonder Woman is now apparently a refugee from Paradise Island, along with the surviving Amazons, and it’s not clear who killed most of the Amazons or why, but apparently he’s still hunting her.

The problem with the story is not that it’s bad, but that it doesn’t feel like Wonder Woman. It made sense when Tangent Comics turned characters completely on their head, but this Wonder Woman has so little connection to her past incarnations that I wonder why they even bothered. I like the theory at The Beat that “a lot of this seems to be a reboot aimed at getting a Wonder Woman movie closer to being made – actresses didn’t seem so thrilled about running around in a glorified swimsuit”. Which brings us to the new costume, which has engendered plenty of controversy. I don’t think it’s awful, although going from one largely-nonfunctional costume to another one seems rather silly (those tiny little jackets look pretty silly whenever I see anyone wearing one, and I’ve got to think that that V-shaped belt is going to hurt whenever she bends over).

The costume is really just a visual indication of what I said about Straczynski’s comics writing last week: He goes so far out trying to do something new with the character that he loses (or shows that he never understood) what defined that character in the first place. To be sure, where Wonder Woman is concerned the definition has always been a little sketchy (considering her the third leg of DC’s top “trinity” of characters has always seemed rather silly, since she’s nowhere near as iconic as Superman or Batman; her powers are essentially that of a female Superman, and her character has been pulled in so many directions that it’s difficult to define who she is or what she stands for), but whatever she is, I don’t think this is it.

Still, the story seems decent enough, which could make it a good read where Straczynski’s Superman looks like a disaster out of the gate. And while Don Kramer is no George Pérez in the art department, well, who is? So color my guardedly optimistic.

This month’s Invincible is an interesting one for readers like me who appreciate unorthodox story structures: The main characters are entirely off-stage while the primary storyline (the war against the Viltrumites, the conquering race of supermen that Invincible’s father hails from) goes on. But the story itself – told in a series of vignettes – focuses mainly on Invincible’s father Omni-Man and his brother Oliver, who get to know each other while Invincible recovers from near-fatal injuries. Meanwhile, their allies think they’ve been killed, and the war begins without them. We see glimpses of how the war is going (sometimes well, sometimes poorly), but the focus is on the two men. It’s effective without being cloying, has Robert Kirkman’s trademark (and slightly twisted and grotesque) sense of humor, and feels like a calm before the storm without feeling like a wasted issue.

All-in-all it shows what a versatile writer Kirkman is. It seems like every issue of Invincible is a little journey off the beaten path of standard superhero comics. That’s probably what makes it such a good series.

(By the way, here’s something neat: Ryan Ottley’s cover for the issue in pencils, pencils and inks, and in final colored form.)

This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 27 June 2007.

Brian Hibbs says this is a big week, but it was a small week for me as a buyer, and not a strong one, either:

  • Countdown #44 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Adam Beechen & Carlos Magno (DC)
  • Wonder Woman #10, by Jodi Picoult & Paco Diaz (DC)
  • Hellboy: Darkness Calls #3 of 6, by Mike Mignola & Duncan Fegredo (Dark Horse)
  • Castle Waiting #7, by Linda Medley (Fantagraphics)

Countdown is getting so slow that it’s dreary. Unlike 52 where the characters had clear problems to deal with from the outset, Dini’s story is plodding along with various mysteries surrounding the characters, but not much that seems threatening. The core of the story is the Monitor cabal, but that storyline is developing at a glacial pace. Honestly, the “History of the DC Multiverse” backups are more interesting than the main story at this point, even though I’ve already read all the stories it’s recounting.

Even worse than that, though, is Wonder Woman: Jodi Picoult’s run on the title limps to a halt (but not a conclusion – no, for that you have to read Amazons Attack, which I’m not going to bother with) in rather pointless fashion. Has any title in recent memory been less focused and more frustrating than this Wonder Woman relaunch? I’m so fed up that I’m not even going to bother with Gail Simone’s run, as she’s the next sacrificial lamb on the book. (Simone seems to have the bad luck of being assigned to books after I’ve become so disspirited with them that I’m not even willing to give a new writer a chance. Birds of Prey, for instance.)

Somewhat brighter, Castle Waiting this month has the character interplay which is what I enjoy most about the book. The current story is dragging on a bit, and to no apparent conclusion, but at least some of the bits along the way are fun. I do wish Medley would get back to writing shorter, more focused stories, though. The first volume of the title was great fun until it went off the rails with “Solicitine”, a lengthy story about the story of Sister Peace, the bearded nun, which I wished had been condensed down to about half its length.

Okay, I guess I’m just a grump about comics this week.

This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 25 April 2007.

  • 52 #51 of 52 (DC)
  • Justice #11 of 12, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger & Doug Braithwaite (DC)
  • Justice Society of America #5, by Geoff Johns & Fernando Pasarin (DC)
  • Supergirl & The Legion of Super-Heroes: Adult Education vol 4 TPB, by Mark Waid & Barry Kitson (DC)
  • Wonder Woman #8, by Jodi Pilcoult, Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson (DC)
  • Astro City: The Dark Age vol 2, #3 of 4, by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson & Alex Ross (DC/Wildstorm)
  • Red Menace #6 of 6, by Danny Bilson, Pal DeMeo, Adam Brody, Jerry Ordway & Al Vey (DC/Wildstorm)
  • Castle Waiting #6, by Linda Medley (Fantagraphics)
  • The Professor’s Daughter TPB, by Joann Sfar & Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)

Okay, I admit it, I’m enjoying “The Lightning Saga”, part 2 of which appears in this month’s JSA. Mainly because it’s a kooky old-style Legion of Super-Heroes geekfest, especially the two-page spread of statues of the original Legion, mostly in their classic costumes. I have no idea what’s going on in this story (especially why speaking Lightning Lad’s name in Interlac seems to return the Legionnaires to their right minds), and I really don’t care how or if they reconcile this with current LSH continuity, it’s just entertaining. (The Interlac title of this chapter is “Dreams and Fire”.)

Speaking of the Legion, the fourth volume of Supergirl & the Legion of Super-Heroes is as entertaining as the first three. I think it’s the best of the various reboots and re-imaginings of the series over the last 20 years (dating back to Giffen’s “Five Years Later” series). The characters are vivid and entertaining, the stories are novel, and Waid (no surprise here) has a respect for the series’ history which makes the whole thing even more palatable to old-time readers, while being no less fun for new readers. I’m still not a big fan of Barry Kitson’s artwork, but it works well enough, and I do like his character designs.

(I guess Waid and Kitson have left the ongoing series early this year; I hope the new team carries the torch as honorably.)

The new issue of Wonder Woman resurrects Diana’s mother Hippolyta, who was killed in a crossover event a few years ago. While this makes Kalinara happy, bringing back dead characters has been an outright cliché in comics for at least 20 years, maybe 30, so it makes me just roll my eyes. Hippolyta isn’t a particularly significant charactre, and I don’t really care whether she stays dead or not, but her return undercuts any storylines which she factors into, including the Amazons Attack! event, which launches in a month or less (and which I can tell you I care about not at all).

I haven’t been a fan of Jodi Picoult’s run on WW, but this mess isn’t her fault (I presume it’s all about DC defending its trademark on this minor character). It is, however, another nail in the coffin of this series.

While I confess I’m such a fan of Astro City that it would take a long time for my goodwill towards the series to erode, I will also confess that “The Dark Age” has been rather slow and unfocused. That said, vol. 2 #3 appears to be a turning point for the series, with the lives of our ordinary characters Charles and Royal reaching a tipping point, and one of the mysteries from the first volume rearing its head. Next issue should be the climax of the second act, and I’m hoping it will be a terrific set-up for the third act.

Red Menace wraps up as an entertaining period piece, but unfortunately nothing more. It feels all-too-isolated, without any deeper meanings to give it weight either historically or as a character drama. Lovely artwork by Ordway, I wish he would hitch his horse to a project that would do for him what Watchmen did for Dave Gibbons. Of course, perhaps such things are largely luck.

The Professor’s Daughter is a little graphic novel about the Pharoah Imhotep IV, who is revived in the present day as a mummy and falls in love with the daughter of the professor who found him. It’s a cute little romance, although not very substantial. The way it wantonly disregards plausible reactions of the general public to Imhotep makes for some amusing scenarios. It feels like it could have been more than it is, but I enjoyed it anyway. Guilbert’s artwork is simple but dynamic and expressive, similar in style to Tim Sale, but with more realistic faces.

This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 28 March 2007.

Once again, really last week’s haul, but I haven’t had time to update ’til now:

Fables this month answers 11 questions from readers about little details from the series so far. It’s basically an excuse for Bill Willingham to be (by turns) snarky, funny, or cute. One of the series’ fluffier issues, but entertaining.

Novelist Jodi Picoult starts writing Wonder Woman with #6. (I’m not sure what’s going to happen to the conclusion originally slated for #5, which instead was a ill-in issue.) Although much-anticipated (perhaps because of the long delays that dogged her predecessor Allan Heinberg’s run), this issue is in its way just as heavy-handed as the fill-in. I appreciate that Picoult is bringing the focus back to Diana trying to learn what it’s like to live as a more-or-less normal person in America, but her complete ignorance of how things such as pumping gas work is just painful to read, and not at all fun. Plus it undercuts the growth she’s seen as a character since she was rebooted in the 80s under George Perez. The characterization of Nemesis is also pretty annoying: He’s crass and rather buffoonish. All of which makes me wonder whether the Department of Metahuman Affairs actually screens their employees at all.

Drew Johnson’s art is a little too cartoonish for my tastes, and unfortunately just lends more weight (as it were) to the heavy-handed elements of the story. This is the first issue of (I think) a 5-part story, so it ends on a cliffhanger involving Circe (again??). Unfortunately what I really wish is that they’d take the spy elements and make them the center of the story. An updating of the “Diana Rigg” Wonder Woman of the 1970s could be genuinely different compared to what she’s been recently. Instead this new series has been a muddle so far, and Picoult’s debut issue doesn’t indicate that it’s going to get any better. But at least it ought to be on time.

The Dabel Brothers are the publishers bringing us the adaptations of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, and the prequel to Stephen King’s Dark Tower. This doesn’t, to me, spell “artistically adventurous”, but something about Half Dead cause me to order this collection of the 5-issue series. Written by Barb Lien-Cooper and Park Cooper, it takes place in a world where vampires are real, and where they signed a detente with the world governments, and had their ability to create new vampires chemically neutralized. Of course, technology being what it is, they’ve figured out a way around this, and some groups are now creating the “half dead”, who are partly vampires. Our herone is Romany, a dancer who is turned into a half dead, and who is employed by the British government to hunt down and kill her own kind.

The book has a frenetic pace and is loaded with interesting little ideas, but it doesn’t explore them in much depth and doesn’t feel very consistent, instead going for the sudden dramatic turns of events. So it doesn’t hold together that well as a story, but it’s still fairly entertaining. Jimmy Bott’s artwork reminds me a lot of that of the Luna Brothers in its simple linework and frequently-nondramatic layouts (neither of which I think are bad, truth to tell). It’s not a top-notch book, but it’s not bad. If the writing improved, I’d consider buying a sequel.

I appreciate Dean Motter‘s existence in the industry: His graphic sensibility, his sparse approach to writing, he’s been both influential and novel. Unfortunately, Unique isn’t his best stuff: It’s a haphazard parallel-worlds story in which people who only exist in one world can sometimes move between worlds. But neither the concept nor the story seem to have much structure, and Dennis Calero’s art makes the book feel too dreamlike, with its sparse – often absent or at least generic – backgrounds. The first issue is pretty routine set-up material, so there’s not, as yet, any there there. I’m not sure I’ll stick around to see what’s there when we get there.

(For what it’s worth, I think Motter’s best work is Terminal City. It doesn’t hurt that I think Michael Lark is a terrific artist and did a better job of bringing Motter’s architectural vision to life than any of his collaborators on Mister X or Electropolis did.)

This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 14 March 2007.

Actually, two weeks’ worth, since I was away last week:

The Team-Ups volume are really for hard-core Justice Society fans only, really. That said, one of the Atom stories herein is a longtime favorite of mine: Ray Palmer starts aging backwards and Al Pratt has to save him. As Gardner Fox gimmick stories go, it’s pretty good. It’s also interesting that many of these stories are treated as just one more adventure for our heroes, and not the “event” comics that JLA/JSA team-ups would later become.

Wonder Woman #4 ended with a cliffhanger, leading into the final part of the “Who Is Wonder Woman?” story. But #5 doesn’t complete the story, it was released with different content than originally solicited, and the conclusion will appear “at some later date”. The story that actually shipped is a pretty mediocre piece about the impact Wonder Woman has on the world around her, beyond her material deeds. It basically explores in depth what Kurt Busiek simply implies with his Winged Victory character in Astro City, but doesn’t really say anything more. So, shrug.

Fantastic Four: The End concludes the ho-hum series by writer/artist Alan Davis. He sort-of brings a science fictional sensibility to the FF in the future, but it’s really just a standard superhero yarn.

Athena Voltaire #2 actually shipped some time ago, but my shop didn’t get a copy for some reason. So they ordered me one and it arrived this week. Now I can catch up…

Captain Clockwork is a little black-and-white book by Glenn Whitmore about four generations of heroes named Captain Clockwork, who work to save chronology from the 1930 to the 2010s. Whitmore’s plotting and dialog is a little shaky, but his art – though not very detailed – is clean and polished. There’s some promise here, but I don’t think I’m up for “yet another superhero book”. Future installments will need to indicate that they’re going somewhere for me to keep buying. (The web site has a preview from this issue.)

In many ways I enjoy B.P.R.D., but the story has been going on for an awful long time, and with no end in sight. I’d like them to wrap up Abe Sapien’s background and deal with… heck, I can’t even remember exactly what the ongoing threat they’re dealing with is. Or else I’m getting close to losing interest.

Boneyard wraps up their current story with an adorable ending. What a great comic book series.

Evil Inc. is a graphic novel assembled from the first year of the popular webcomic about a corporation run by supervillains. It’s entertaining, maybe even better read in collected form than serially, although I kind of wish it were a more straightforward collection. Apparently there’s already a second volume, but I don’t think it’s yet been solicited through Diamond Comics’ Previews catalog.

This Week’s Haul

Comic books purchased the week of 22 November 2006.

  • 52 #29 of 52 (DC)
  • Jack of Fables #5 (DC/Vertigo)
  • Superman/Batman: Absolute Power TPB
  • Wonder Woman #3
  • Red Menace #1 of 6(Wildstorm)
  • Fantastic Four: The End #2 of 6

This week’s 52 has the cover tag: “Last Days of the JSA”. To which I thought, “What, again?” Of course, a new JSA series is due to be launched in a few months, so the story within is about as exciting that that implies.

I’ve been reading the paperback collections of the Superman/Batman series even though they often don’t make a lot of sense. Jeph Loeb’s ideas are often pretty nifty, but he’s not very good at executing them. In Absolute Power, three super-villains from the future come back in time and adopt Superman and Batman as children, and together the five of them eliminate most other heroes and set up Supes and Bats as world dictators. Things then go horribly wrong, leading to a little romp through alternate timelines.

There are plenty of questions left unanswered: The villains have a blind spot where Wonder Woman is concerned, which is odd since she’s both famous and extremely powerful, and this helps lead to their undoing. Also, why would they bother to adopt Batman, who is not powerful and is unlikely to be a significant asset in world domination? And although Loeb tries, playing around with history and with the characters’ memories to the extent he does here is very hard to pull off, and the story doesn’t quite hang together. The art by Carlos Pacheco is very pretty, though, and is almost worth the price all by itself.

The book does end on a high note, though, with Loeb performing a neat connection between Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come and Alan Moore and Curt Swan’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?. So overall this volume gets a thumbs up (which is more than the last volume, Supergirl, got from me).

The re-relaunch of Wonder Woman is running terribly late. The art by Terry and Rachel Dodson is very pretty, but the story is a huge shrug, as Allan Heinberg doesn’t really have a new spin to put on DC’s prime superheroine.

Red Menace has Jerry Ordway’s always-wonderful artwork to recommend it. The story is by a trio – Danny Bilson, Paul DeMeo and Adam Brody (none of whom I’ve heard of before) – and it’s okay. It concerns a hero being accused by Joe McCarthy’s HUAC in the 1950s, and it’s a promising start, although so far it feels rather by-the-numbers. If the writers manage to pull it off, then this might slide in nicely alongside Astro City. We’ll see.