Conner Kent of Earth… DIE!

I’ve been raving about “Blackest Night” a fair bit on this site, so it’s not a surprise that I am a big fan. What’s not to like? Zombie meta humans smacking each other around.

I particularly like the bit where Hal Jordan’s New Guardians faced off against Black Lantern-ed version of heroes who have died and “cheated death” before. Seeing as how characters are moving through the revolving door of comic book death so fast these days, that is A LOT of Black Lantern powerhouses, including Superman, Wonder woman, Impulse, Green Arrow and one of my personal favorites – Superboy.

Conner Kent started out as a bit of a joke after the (*irony alert*) “Death of Superman” event.

What we initially know was that he was created by Project Cadmus to replace Superman. He was artificially aged to mid-teens and implanted with the necessary knowledge of someone his biological age (in regards to general studies, such as math, reading, etc). When Superboy arrived in Metropolis, he went by “Superman” and had no real name. While glibly asserting he was the original Superman, he quickly rebuked any insinuation he was the original Superman. In fact, he told anyone who’d listen that he was a clone of Superman.

This clone thing went on for quite a while in an age where “cloning” was a considerably dirty word, thanks to the whole Spider Man “Clone Saga”.

It was later on in his life that it was revealed that Conner Kent was a part of Project 13. Project Cadmus did a total of twelve failed experiments. They grafted what they could of Superman’s DNA onto human DNA and that process stabilized the extraterrestrial genes-thus Superboy was born, fifty percent Kryptonian and fifty percent human.

It got more interesting when the fifty percent human DNA was found to belong to one Lex Luthor.

This evolved Conner Kent into an interesting figurehead for storylines about  “Nature vs Nurture” dichotomy.

Anyway, I was quite disappointed that Conner didn’t get to lay the smackdown on anyone in the Rainbow Brigade. So here’s my latest render – Black Lantern Superboy!


The Fantastic Four is dead, Long live the Fantastic Four!

Johnny’s body (or lack thereof) is barely cold (pun intended) in its grave and Marvel had already announced the new member of the FF – Peter Parker with what looks like his 10,000th (new) (new) (new) (new) new suit for this month.

With the inclusion of Spidey, the quartet can rightfully call themselves the Fantastic FOUR again, but through some weird logic (likely from the marketing department), now decide to call themselves the Future Foundation instead. In one move they retained the alliterated team name and at the same time, re-branded themselves as a team that is not 50 years old… even though alliterated team names are so half a century ago.

Whatever the name, the FF must be rolling in the big bucks to be able to attract Peter Parker in his 10,000th monthly appearance in random comic books on top of his own (10,000) series  and the (new, mighty, secret, mysterious, running out of adjectives) Avengers.

Also, can’t say that I care much about the new Tron like costumes and the weird three-hexagon shaped new logo. Remind me again, if your group comprises of four members, shouldn’t the logo be square motif-ed? Or at the very least, comprise of four hexagons??

It’s all about WAR(s)!

Right now, there are at least 3 wars raging in the big 2 universe. And I am just talking about the “regular” universe and not the various multiverses that they have.

War is one of the ultimate story telling techniques for companies with big and recognizable rosters.  It is a wonderful excuse to bring together their biggest names in a big showdown and milk the feel good (and cash) factor of the various brands for all they are worth. Kind of like WWE’s annual Royal Rumble.

Over the past few years we’ve seen lots of wars being raged. Civil War, Skrull Invasion, War of Kings, Annihilation War, Secret War, Secret War 2, Kree Skrull War, Sinestro Corp War, The Invisible War, Doom War, World War Hulk, Siege just to name a few. Even events like House of M, Blackest Night and Final Crisis though technically not wars, have the same factors as all the above mentioned storylines.

Comic War veterans (like myself) have come to realize that not all wars are created equal. For every Blackest Night, there is a World War Hulks. And we have probably come to a realization of what makes a “war” work and what doesn’t.

2 factors which make or break a “war” storyline for me are:

– the “time between installments” factor

– the “does anything that happen here matters” factor

Regular readers here will know that I think “Blackest Night” is the most awesome storyline since Huckleberry Finn, but it reaaaaaaally irks me that we can go weeks, even up to a month without any progress in the main story. I understand that is probably the publisher’s attempt to cash more out of this mega event, but having to wait so long for a fast and furious war just seemed wrong. This is what I think is the primary reason for the failure of “Siege” as well.

“War of the Supermen” certainly fixed the timeliness factor well. It is essentially a 100 minutes (yup you read it right, MINUTES) war and the whole story is over in 4 issues that comes out weekly. Pretty awesome, except for the fact that it does not pass the “does it matter” test. Sure the whole New Krypton concept has gone down the toilet and the fatalities were high, but New Krypton was a concept that is like the proverbial fish and overstaying guest. It stank because it has hung around beyond its welcome period. And at the end of the day, no matter how many Kryptonians die, we know that the primary ones (Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, Krypto the Super Dog) and even the sub primary ones (Zod and gang) will live on. PLUS: the action sequences were quite crappy. They should have taken a peek at what the Green Lanterns were doing in Blackest Night.

Which brings us to the mess that is World War Hulks… or Fall of the Hulks… or whateveryouwanttocallit.

It is… in every sense of the word, a HUGE mess. Beside the awful story telling and horrible characterizations, it does not even have the decency to end its run early. The whole fiasco with Red Hulk and the Intelligencia started even before Siege and it is still ongoing. The gaps between each inconsequential installment of the series is painstaking and furthermore, the creators seemed to be under the pompous delusion that whatever happened here matter. I mean… Hulked out marines and… Hulked out heroes????? The Hulk brand can do A LOT better.

Anyone still intending to do a “War” story should really look at how Marvel is kicking ass in “Second Coming” for the X Men.

The action is fast and superbly furious. There is AT LEAST one installment of “Second Coming” every week and each installment progresses the story with new plot twists and casualties from the war. And the best part? They did all this without sacrificing the quality of the storytelling and the art.

The casualty rate in Second Coming is high and we have already seen the death of an instantaneously recognizable X Men, with numerous others suffering potentially career ending  injuries.

And the best part? Marvel does not seem like it is going to let up on the body count any time soon.

Say what you want about the overexposure and brand exploitation of the X-Men, but Marvel certainly knows how to protect the brand integrity of the X-Men. By telling stories of the highest standards when it comes to mega events like “Second Coming”. (Childish sidenote: I still can’t help sniggering at the title)

THIS is the way War should be done.

A special mention this week should go to The Amazing Spider Man. Almost 2 years ago, I was doing some serious bitching about the concept of Brand New Day. I am still not happy with the deus ex machina they used to annul the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, but I have to admit that much good came out of it. The whole “Gauntlet” mega storyline and its various mini components have worked superbly so far, and they would not have happened if Peter Parker was still happily, or unhappily married. I love the fact that they never let the “Spider Man” concept grow old and so far, managed to reinvent some of his older rogue gallery to make them more than the goofy concepts they were 30 years back.

My favorite panel of the week, however has to be this….

If only for the preview tagline.

I mean, seriously…

“Lobo PUNCHES PEOPLE WITH RINGS… hard”

Comics does not get better than this. *Excite*

Dancing Between Raindrops

Most of the releases from the Big 2 this week revolves around their respective mega crossovers/events/whatchamightcallits  (Siege for Marvel, and Blackest Night for DC, for those of you living under a rock).

And like all major cross overs that came before, this means that a majority of their other titles will be considered “tie ins”. And these “tie-ins” SHOULD flesh out the ongoing soap opera in the main books for the Event.

There is an inherent Problem with this approach for Siege and Blackest Night.

Siege is essentially one Giant Brawl for Captain America’s goodie-two-shoes vs Norman Osbourn’s baddies-bad-boots-posing-as-goodie-two-shoes.

Blackest Night, while intriguing and shocking thus far, is at its heart a giant brawl between the Black Lanterns and the Rainbow Brigade.

Below are Marvel’s releases with the “Siege” Banner this week.

Just a sidenote: I love the way the “Siege ” banner sits on the cover.

Anyway. what’s inside these covers are essentially the Director’s Cut for Siege#2. They let the fan boys know where all the other major combatants not showcased in the main series are fighting their fights. I admit, it can be pretty awesome if it is your kind of thing, but somehow, it just did not work for me.

Next, we have the biggest disappointment of the week.

Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corp have been the cornerstones of the Blackest Night Series. We saw events develop in these books that that were not seen in the main Blackest Night Series, events that were essential to the development of the whole saga and gave the series an unexpected dept.

I expected more of the same from Green Lantern #52.

We all knew that Sinestro became the first (only?) White Lantern from the events of Blackest Night #7. I was excited to find out more about how Hal Jordan and the rest will react to this new development. Instead, we have a weakass story of how Ion, Parallax and the rest of the mascots for the various rainbow corps came about, and a rather lame buildup to the Final Showdown that is sure to come down in Blackest Night #8.

I’m not asking for these tie-ins to advance the ongoing saga. I think it is hard to toe the company line, and at the same time try to tell a reasonable story between the heavy hitters.  I just think it is pretty f-up to make fans pay 4 x $2.99(at least) for essentially the same story. Hell, they even share the same dialogues between the different books!

I guess, it is not that surprising that my book for the moment is this:

Besides the pretty awesome cover, the story tells the evergreen tale of love lost and the descent into the abyss that follows. The twist in the tale is pretty frickin fine as well.

For your consideration, when you have $2.99 to spare, you can do worse than to invest it in an Amazing Spider-Man book.

By worse, I mean any of the Siege tie-ins, of course.

A Conspiracy Theory

I think I might’ve made a passing mention on how strangely similar the offerings from the Big 2 (DC and Marvel, duh…) were.

We’ve known for some time now that DC will be following up on the year long “Blackest Night” Saga with another year long Saga entitled “Brightest Day”.

This would be a reference to the Green Lantern Oath of “In Brightest Day, In Darkest Night…”

The funny thing is that now, Marvel are announcing their next big event after Dark Reign. It’s entitled “The Heroic Age”

Hmmm… Just some food for thought, but…

BLACKEST Night – DARK Reign

BRIGHTEST Day – HEROIC Age

Is it me, or does someone else see a strange similarity here?

The Siege Continues..

Not much activity on the Blackest Night front this week, so I just swinged (swung?) in on the other company’s major event – Siege… again. With issue 2, we are officially halfway through this event… *celebratory cheers for short events*

Being such a short event, things have to move fast.In this issue, we see the fall out of the Take Down of Thor. Captain A.. I mean Steve Rogers rallied the troops (All versions of Avengers, except “Dark”, for obvious reasons, along with Nick Fury’s Secret Warriors) and they prepare to deliver the Mother of all Ass Whoppings on Norman Osbourne.

With all the space in this issue used up for the rallying and the ass kicking, who has space for pansy stuff such as character development? Siege #2 is just a candyfloss issue of big fight scenes, violent explosions, bone crunching takedowns and Mortal Kombat worthy fatalities (ok.. fatality). Yup.. “Fatality”. Marvel wasn’t kidding when the publicity material of this issue reads “An Avenger dies”.

While the “Branded”-ness of said Avenger is debatable, it does pave the way for something big later on in this event. I know Marvel is trying to establish this death as “significant” but I think someone in the bullpen probably missed the irony when they effectively *spoiler alert* reinstated Steve Rogers as Captain America in this issue.

The death of Steve Rogers and the establishment of the Winter Soldier as Captain America was THE Significant fallout from their “Civil War” only 2 years back. They’ve easily wipe away any impact of THAT event with this move… (along with the re-masking of Peter Parker, of course)

Dubious though the death was, it was definitely one of the bloodiest death scene I’ve seen in comics. Pretty damn awesome. Say what you will about “Siege”, the art work is really something you’ll want to write home about.

What I am more personally invested in, for this issue is the involvement of the New Warriors… I’ve been a big fan for the longest time and it was really quite a trip to watch these “Warriors” grow… The last few pages of Siege were dedicated to a “conversation” between Nick Fury and his New Warriors just prior to Cap’s rally. It is just text but the dialogue is sharp and, along with the Death of The Avenger, and a plot development in Siege #2, Bendis seemed to be setting things up for a major plot line for at least one of the New Warriors…

I am suddenly reminded of this scene waaaaay back in New Warriors #2.

I am excited to see if any of these comes to pass in the pages of Siege.

And the final word that I have for this entry?

“Incoming”

Comic of the Week – Week of 22 Jul

I’m supposed to have sworn off the whole Spiderman comics franchise after the fiasco that was Brand New Day.

But I just can’t help getting this issue. Deep inside, I am still a geek clamoring for these landmark issues.

Landmark, in the sense that the numberings are whole numbers, or “significant numbers” such as #1, #25, #50, #100, #250, #500, #13, #17 or… whatever numbers the Powers That Be deemed fit, apparently.

Amazing Spider Man 600, cover, Spider Man

It’s a bit of a surprise that Amazing #600 top the inaugural comic of the week list, (As a test of dedication and monetary depth, let’s see how long I can keep this going…) given how hyped up I am about “Blackest Night” at the moment.

For the record, I am not a big fan of the art of John Romita, Jr, I have an innate distrust to anyone with “Junior” in their name.  I believe they’ll always have deep psychological issues. Ok, let’s get objective (before some Italian mobster with a Oedipus complex come after my head with a cleaver), Romita’s art is blocky and just does not reasonate with what I percieve as, to use the scientific term, pretty pictures. But somehow, the art works fantastically for the main story of Amazing Spider Man #600.

Slott’s writing channels the work of Stan Lee in his prime. And for nothing else, I love the examination of the long term impact on a super villain (hur hur) who gets pummeled by SUPER heroes week in and week out.

Amazing Spider-Man #600, Doctor Octopus, Spider Man

And like all anniversary/landmark issues, the main stories are filled with guest appearances by Daredevil,  the Fantastic Four, the Original, Secret, Mighty Avengers. Some (Daredevil) turned out much better and relavant than others (Avengers). No matter what, the sharp writing never made the interaction between Spidey and the guest stars awkward, and it was actually fun reading the dynamics between the characters. My favorite guest star HAS to be the one that came out on the last page of the main story and the possible repercussions of her (re)apperance for Spidey. *nudge nudge wink wink*

Spider-Man #600, Daredevil, Spider Man, Blindside

And that is just the main story. The side stories by (among others_ Mark Waid, Mark Guggenheim and Stan “the MAN” Lee were, however, were a mixed bag. While I enjoyed Stan’s over the top recounting of Spiderman’s visit to a psychiatrist and the subtle and not so subtle digs at the various (sometimes ridiculous) plotlines of Spider Man over the years, I cringe at the overly dramatic and soap operaic rendition of Aunt May’s visit to Uncle Ben’s grave.

But the one thing that clinches the side stories for me has to be the return of the Spider Mobile, which I suppose was Marvel’s attempt at creating a Batmobile for Spiderman. Only instead of a cool, sleek, gadget filled grease lightning, the Spider Mobile turned out more along the lines of, and this is a direct quote, “Barbie’s Dune Buggy”.

The final reason why this is the Comic of the Week? It’s 100 PAGES long, baby! Count ’em! A four comic length epic for the price of one (slightly pricier) floppy warms my cockles and sings like a canary in my cheapskate heart.

Also… Toilet Humor Rocks!

Spider-Man #600, hydro man, toiletbowl, spider Man