Nostalgia plays a big part this week across the board. In actual fact, there isn’t one title this week I’ve reviewed that doesn’t in some way, shape or form aim straight for the fanboy’s heart.
From Diana and Steve reuniting to Scooby and Shaggy taking on two mysterious foes, to Hank Henshaw returning to his roots. Then of course two classic movie villains make their presence known against the El family. There is more still, but that’s for you to discover as you read the column.
This is my look into the DC Universe this week!
ACTION COMICS #981
Revenge – Part 3
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Jack Herbert
Cover by Patch Zircher & HiFi
Variant by Gary Frank & Brad Anderson
Rick Flag rescues Superman from the Black Vault and chases down Zod, Cyborg Superman and Eradicator. Superman fights valiantly, while Supergirl, New Super-Man Lois & Jon watch the news of the epic battle in the skies.
Superman takes a beating and uncharacteristically flees the scene leaving the villains triumphant. Returning to Hamilton County Clark, reveals to Lois and Jon that The Black Vault has taken away something from him…
Yes I know Doctor Who just spoiled this by doing the same storyline, but I think the writing team here handled the shocking reveal in a much better way.
It was such a thrill to see Superman and Zod battling one another. They’ve tried reviving Zod several times ,but this time felt like they have finally got it right.
There were a few nods to Superman II there and there was a chill when he realised Superman has had a child.
The artwork was fantastic and like the writing didn’t spoil the ending. I still want the Cyborg Superman mess fixed as this Henshaw clearly mentions he is the one we were always familiar with, and not Zor El reborn.
Aside from that story point, this was a brilliant issue; Revenge is proving to be a compulsive reading.
Escape From The Phantom Zone: Part 2
Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Brian Ching
Cover by Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques & Michael Atiyeh
Variant by Bengal
While Selena, the mistress of the Power Of Shadow, is rescued from her prison, Supergirl, Ben Rubel & Batgirl are trapped in the Phantom Zone.
In Aethyropolis, they are imprisoned and their only way out is to make a bargain with The Phantom King.
They realise Psi, aka Gayle Marsh (See Batgirl Annual #1), is trapped in the Zone too; but that she has to power to travel back and forth to the Zone and could rescue them in turn.
When they hatch an escape plan Phantom King is quick to put a halt to it. Psi awakens from her prison and transforms into a giant beast.
To rescue her friends Supergirl makes the ultimate sacrifice, but is it all in vain?
I’m old and because of this when a villainess uttered the phrase ‘Power Of Shadow’ I leapt out of my chair and cheered with glee like I was in the cinema again watching the now cult classic Supergirl movie of 1984.
The rest of the issue tied into the Batgirl Annual and neatly carried forward the storyline with Psi and Phantom King. It was great that the relationship that Batgirl and Supergirl had many moons ago has been reborn, it shows that Orlando has a deep understanding of the character and I can’t wait for Selena to show up once they escape the Zone.
Rediscovery Part 2
Written by K. Perkins
Art by José Luis
Inks by Ray McCarthy
Cover by Ken Lashley & HiFi
Variant by Renato Guedes
In the past, Zeke is kidnapped by Skyhook after Natasha’s father Crash, does dealings with the monster and unwittingly leads him to the child.
In the present, Lana is visiting the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit, trying to track down the escapees from Stryker.
Atomic Skull, it seems, recently visited Skyhook in person and revealed to Sawyer that Crash is aiming to hunt down Skyhook for revenge.
Natasha and John feel betrayed that Lana visited Maggie without them and worried that they’d follow Crash’s path.
Lana dons the armour and reaches Skyhook first. She takes on the monster in a battle that brings them face to face with an oncoming train but despite her determination Lana fails Zeke and the Irons family.
Perhaps Lana really isn’t a Superwoman after all…
The story is now moving forward in a direction that is far different to the original set-up of the title. Though I miss the psychological banter and multi layers, K Perkins has me intrigued with how she is handling the follow up and new direction.
Right now, the storyline is a little all over the place, but that can be attributed to the jumping on point being the tail end of a big epic for Lana. I’ll reserve my judgement for another issue and see how this works as it figures out how it will progress.
WONDER WOMAN #24
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Bilquis Evely
Cover by Bilquis Evely & Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Variant by Jenny Frison
Steve waits nervously for Diana to return and is first greeted by a grieving Veronica Cale and then his beloved Diana.
Diana explains their recent journey and as they leave Cheetah tries to get to Themyscira herself, but is rejected by its magic.
Heartbroken about her life’s quest being denied and Diana leaving her behind, her lust for revenge is born.
When Diana visits Etta she gets far from a warm welcome for leaving Barbara Ann alone. Diana decides that to make things right she must see Veronica Cale once more, but little does she know Barbara Ann has hunted her down for revenge.
Arriving just in time to prevent a vicious killing, Wonder Woman must battle her close friend to the death to protect a deadly enemy. whoever wins the fight they all lose something tonight.
This wasn’t so much an epilogue as an origin for Cheetah. I’ll be honest with you and admit I don’t buy it. After everything Barbara Ann, Diana and Veronica have been through, I just couldn’t buy into where each of the characters has now ended up. Barbara especially seems to embrace her new villainy with aplomb, I just can’t believe she’d turn away from Etta, Steve and the ARGUS team so easily.
Elsewhere the scene where Diana and Steve reunite stole the show – it was, pardon the pun… wonderful.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #8
The Man From Monster Valley Part 1
Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Felipe Watanabe
Inks by Scott Hanna
Cover by Felipe Watanabe & HiFi
Variant by Doug Mahnke & Wil Quintana
The evil organisation S.K.U.L.L. is has discovered a secret valley hidden deep in the Russian Tundra, hot on the trail of these nefarious tech brokers are the Justice League.
While stopping their hunt they discover Makson, a young man raised by the animals, and bring him back to America.
Days later, the JLA has helped Makson rediscover his family and reintegrate into society.
Batman and Black Canary are suspicious of Makson, S.K.U.L.L. are obsessed with tech, so why would they be hunting the fantastic beasts in the valley?
While the League searches for answers, Atom investigates Maksons apartment and discovers that there are more mysteries afoot than they ever thought.
This was a great story, a twist on Tarzan with a little Kamandi thrown in along the way. The only problem is that as creative as the storyline is, everything happens too fast. If they’d let it breath a little, I could really get to enjoy it, but Makson goes from grunting caveman raised by animals to a slick suited business man in literally a matter of pages. I really like the story and where it is headed but jeez the pacing is way, way off.
GOTHAM ACADEMY SECOND SEMESTER #10
The Ballad Of Olive Silverlock – part 2
Written by Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan & Karl Kerschl
Art by Adam Archer
Inks by Sandra Hope
Cover by Karl Kerschl
As Olive loses control and hunts down Oswald Cobblepot, Kyle chases her down in hopes of reaching out to her.
Meanwhile the rest of the gang are hot on the trail of a mystery.
When both parties reunite they discover Kyle has suffered a terrible fate, is this the end of Olive and her friends?
The art is nothing short of spectacular. The story is compelling.
The end product so far? Heartbreaking to be honest.
This book is pretty close to perfection and I really hope this isn’t really the last we’ll see of the Gotham Academy students. I’m not a big fan of Batman to be honest, and this title offers such a diverse and unique look into Gotham that his titles do not. I urge you to go back to the beginning and read all the Gotham Academy books.
HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #22
Fracture – Part 1: Unified
Written by Robert Vendetti
Art by Ethan Van Sciver
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver & Jason Wright
Variant by Kevin Nowlan
The alliance is fragile at best and during a hunt for outlaw Sinestro Corps members and a fight with the Raiders their relationship reaches fever pitch.
They agree to capturing the Raiders but once in custody their leader reveals a truth they find difficult to swallow. Jon and Hal are shocked by the revelations and if it got out it would spell the end of all they have worked for.
The current storyline has been, in my mind, far fetched. From a creative standpoint it has ensured some great stories but realistically (as as real as a comic can be), I can’t shift the feeling that the Yellow Lanterns would never forge and alliance with the Greens.
How then does Vendetti address that? Head on of course! A bombshell dropped by the Raiders rocks the scales a bit and means that we are in for a bumpy journey ahead. The art by Van Sciver is breathtaking, I only wish the battle with the Raiders was bigger so he had a better playing field to work with.
BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY #11
Written by Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Art by Roge Antonio
Cover by Yanick Paquette & Nathan Fairbairn
Variant by Kamome Shirahama
The Calculator is back but considering their long dark history with them (including Barbara’s history as the original Oracle), the team are more than a little surprised when he turns to them begging for help. Can he be trusted?
The team are split and when a plot to rob Terracare surfaces and a certain feline femme fatale is revealed it can only mean trouble for them all.
Back during the Birds of Prey days by Gail Simone The Calculator was both irritating and deadly; his battles with Oracle were some of the best stories of the Birds history.
To see this story and their reluctant team up, my head is spinning, you couldn’t predict this story and right now I can’t even begin to fathom how it will continue.
I felt the artwork, though beautifully rendered wasn’t dark enough to build upon the story and the colour palette could have been darker too.
SCOOBY APOCALYPSE #14
Written by J.M De Matteis & Keith Giffen
Art by Ron Wagner, Andy Owens, Jan Duursema & Tom Mandrake
Cover by Howard Porter
Variant by Cully Hamner
Velma’s vile brother has had his plot revealed but being the ruler of monsters is proving difficult and they are more interested in killing him than serving him right now.
Meanwhile, the monsters are all migrating with an almost uncontrollable urge with the Mystery, Inc. gang intent on stopping them they are shocked to come face to face with Scrappy Doo and his pack.
It isn’t a happy reunion as Scooby and Scrappy are forced to fight but they will need to put their differences aside if they want to survive as the horde of monsters increases more than anyone ever imagined.
As the storyline progresses this story gets darker and darker. It is bordering on a Vertigo storyline or somewhere in the Young Animal line.
The fight between Scooby and Scrappy is the stuff dreams are made of and merging the back-up feature with the main storyline only accentuates the storyline further. I’m quite enjoying the take but the ‘faceless’ monsters somehow lessen the threat. After all, Scooby has always centered around a villain and right now aside from Velma’s brother, these monstrosities don’t seem to be much of a threat.
SCOOBY DOO WHERE ARE YOU? #82
Written by Sholly Fisch, Jack Briglio,
Art by Roberto Barrids, Scott Jeralds
Inks by Sebastian Bartolucci
Cover by Scott Gross
Keep On Truckin
The Truck Stop Terror, is a red devil monster terrorising a motorway diner and all who call there.Cue the Mystery, Inc. gang eager to a put an end to his shenanigans in a Mystery Inc trailer truck no less! Fred, Daphne and Velma go undercover as truck stop staff while Shaggy and Scooby arrive as hungry truckers.
What the gang discover is a plot to steal truckers valuable cargo as the mystery of the ‘Terror’ is revealed.
The gang are watching the taping of a show when a large clay monster attacks.
Before the gang can spring into action a new team ‘Secrets Unlimited’ and their dog Snooky Loo save the day driving the monster into hiding with their impressive skills.
A better team than Mystery, Inc., the TV ratings seem to say so but Velma is suspicious of the reality tv team. When the monster returns it tries taking out Scooby and the gang once and for all but who will triumph? Snooky Loo and friends or Scooby and the gang?
I can’t get over how brilliant this title is. The series is iconic and the book delivers nothing less. J Torres & Sholly Fisch handle their respective stories with such respect for the characters and history without being bogged down with it as they tell stories that a wide audience can get into. Nostalgia aplenty but that is this titles greatest strength (aside from great artwork).