Image © DC Comics, Inc.
Aquaman and Wonder Woman team up to deal with a group of dangerous creatures recently released from an ancient Atlantean prison, as seen in AQUAMAN 29 & 30. Why Wonder Woman? They’re creatures connected to Greek mythology, perhaps in somewhat minor ways, but it works as a story with lots of action in a Ray Harryhausen tradition: heroes vs. monsters. The monsters themselves have individual personalities and talents, and they’ve used them to set up headquarters in a medieval castle in France, mind-controlling the locals to act as their servants and energy source. Diana and Arthur infiltrate, are discovered, and the battle is on.
A second story teams Wonder Woman with Mera, tracking down another group of the creatures on a remote island. I actually liked this better, and the art by Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez is excellent. It’s all fun in a summer reading at the beach sort of way.
Image © DC Comics, Inc.
Annuals represent extra work for a book’s creative team which they may or may not have time for. Most often the writer does, but the artist does not. In the case of the team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, both work on the story, but Manapul does the art, Buccellato does the dialogue and colors, so it’s a more welded team than usual. For this annual, Buccellato does the writing alone, the art is by three guys, Werther Dell’edera, Jorge Fornés and Scott Hepburn. I was curious to see how I’d like it. As it happens, I liked it a lot. This suggests Buccellato has a good handle on the writing.
While the story could stand alone, it does continue from the regular title, focusing on the drug Icarus. I’m not fond of drug trade stories, but this one has lots of interesting characters and complications. Batman is trying to track not only drug shipments but illegal weapons, all probably in the hands of a street gang making moves for power. Among them is a tough guy with a son who provides a lead for Batman, and another young man who plans to make one more big trade, then move on with his girlfriend…if he can avoid the temptation of the drug itself. Several story threads lead to a big confrontation between Batman and the drug lord armed with very powerful illegal weapons.
The art is in three individual styles, which is a little distracting, but they’re close enough that it didn’t pull me out of the story much. In all, this was well done.
Image © DC Comics, Inc.
This title is reminding me what I like about the writing of Geoff Johns. It’s when he has a free hand to re-imagine characters I’ve known for years, without distractions like super-teams, crossover events and world-ending disasters. His vision of Superman and surrounding cast is charming, clever and engaging. Further, we get to see Superman’s world through the fresh eyes of Ulysses, a new super-character who has just returned to Earth after a long exile. It’s fine writing and great reading. As for the art, I’ve now fully adjusted to the style of Romita and Janson, and it no longer distracts me at all from the story. I like it. I can’t say it’s my favorite version of the characters by any means, but it works fine for me.
Oh, and I wonder if it’s a coincidence that this version of Superman’s logo is very much like the one used on the first Superman movie? Perhaps not.
Images © DC Comics, Inc.
I’m not generally a fan of war comics or zombie stories, but I had to check this one out. First, the book’s logo appealed to me. STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES had a decades-long run at DC beginning in 1952.
G.I. COMBAT, which the main logo parodies, also began in 1952 from Quality Comics, then from DC after they bought the title in 1957. I appreciate the nods to the past, and the twist that makes it work for today’s audience, even if the cover scene never appears within.
Inside I found what is not really a war story, at least not yet. It is a zombie story, though it takes a while for that to become clear. What we do see is a feisty young woman bravely taking on some dangerous-looking bikers in a seedy bar, gradually winning their trust, and taking part in a vicious interrogation of a federal agent. Beyond vicious, really. When the information they want isn’t forthcoming, she even offers to dispose of the evidence. It’s a nice piece of writing, and Scott Hampton’s art is a delight to see, as always, even if the occasional gore doesn’t appeal to me. If you’re looking for something different, give this a try.
Image © Mike Mignola.
It says something about the staying power of the overall Hellboy franchise that this is the eighth trade paperback collection just in the “Hell On Earth” storyline of B.P.R.D. There are other storylines in the series, and all are spinoffs of HELLBOY itself.
With a title like “Lake of Fire,” you might expect to see fire-starter Liz Sherman, and you’d be right. She’s faced a long crisis of confidence, but seems to have turned the corner on that, and just in time, as it turns out. We also catch up with events at headquarters, and witness a chilling cult conclave at the Salton Sea site of monster activity, both hellish and human monsters, that is. Great stuff, nice art by Tyler Crook, excellent coloring by Dave Stewart, and dandy lettering by Clem Robins.