Comics: Teen Titans #61

Finish them already!

Finish them already!

I collected the George Perez run of the Teen Titans back in the 80’s and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It introduced me to a lot of DC characters for the first time outside the big three and was probably my first understanding and exposure to the DC Universe (which was then clarified for myself even more so with Crisis On Infinite Earths). 

While I admit I didn’t jump on the newest incarnation from it’s outset, I ended up picking up one of the early Judd Winick collection trades which ended up being pretty decent.  So after reading at least two of the collections, I went ahead and started picking this up on a monthly basis.  At first, it was pretty exciting, with a roster including Superboy (Conner Kent), Cyborg, Wondergirl, Robin (Tim Drake), Beast Boy, Ravager, and eventually Kid Devil.

The stories and action were good, and the plotlines and interpersonal relationships between some of the characters (Superboy/Wondergirl, Ravager/Kid Devil, Beast Boy/Raven) was pretty dynamic, but I have to say the recent direction under head writer Geoff Johns in recent months along with the roster change just doesn’t feel epic enough to carry the ‘Titan’ moniker. 

Conner Kent (Superboy) is gone, as are some of the original Titans and Ravager as well, with recent additions of the new Blue Beetle, M’gann, and upcoming Static and possibly Kid Eternity.  It just feels that all the major arcs and flowing storylines under Winick’s direction have been substituted with disjointed filler material as of late, and nothing seems to gel right now.

Issue 61, with Kid Devil and Blue Beetle working together to take down a common threat just seemed forced to make the reader try and understand their ‘opposites’ dynamic, but still just seemed forced and unnatural.  The joking between Kid and Blue just fall flat and read very predictable and juvenile.

By the end of the issue we see Kid Devil unveil his new uniform and name, Red Devil and then there’s the official inclusion of Blue Beetle to the team.  The only characters that lend any weight to this book right now are Robin and Wondergirl and this clearly wasn’t their issue. 

I’m also very sad to say that it looks like both Wendy and Marvin (with Marvin’s recent death) have been written out of the book.  They lent a special ‘cloak & dagger’ aspect to the book as treated the fanboys to a nostalgic yet updated fresh take on these two, and their time was cut short before they were properly utilized.

Suffice to say, I think until the book settles back down with an established roster and spanning storylines and plot threads I may be shelving this book for a bit.  Too bad, because if you would have asked me what one of my favorite team books was a year ago, Teen Titan would have been near the top of my list….now I just don’t care to spend my $2.99 on a book that just seems to be trudging to nowhere.

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Comics: Rogue’s Revenge #1

Cold as Ice

Cold as Ice

I finally got my hands on a copy of Rogue’s Revenge #1.  I had an idea it was going to be pretty popular if it was anything like arc of Rogue’s War, especially since it would be a tie into both Final Crisis, and return of Barry Allen (The Flash who sacrificed himself during the original Crisis on Infinite Earths).

I was more excited to actually get the alternative Captain Cold cover (pictured) as opposed to the Barry Allen crisis like cover.  Isn’t it a beauty?  Very powerful image and it simplicity in color and art style makes this cover just iconic in my opinion.

I can very happily report that Rogue’s Revenge #1 by writer Geoff Johns and artist Scott Kolins was everything I was hoping for and perhaps a tad bit more.  Again, in my opinion, this one book so far (two more to go) does more for the excitement of Final Crisis arc than Final Crisis itself.

I felt it revealed much more about Libra, his mindset and his attitude, than the core series is right now and felt that Libra came across as a much more potent villian here than elsewhere.  (On a side note, I still feel that Libra is someone we know in the DC Universe who just hasn’t revealed his true identity yet.  Wouldn’t it be something is it was Ralph Dibney himself, or some other hero who turned traitor?  I’m expecting a surprise on his origins soon enough.).

Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, Heat Wave and the new Trickster (Trickster II, Alex Walker) are on the run from their part in the death of Bart Allen (Kid Flash).  The reformed Pied Piper is after them, as well as the hero’s and even the newly formed Secret Society of Villains (headed by Libra).

It just seems these four rogues have great chemsitry together, and Captain Cold’s authoritative roll as default leader of this band of cons on the run is great.  His moral compass is both strict, unforgiving yet compassionate at times makes Snart a very complex character and is way beyond one dimensional.  That is the strength of writer Johns here.  He takes these B and C list characters and reveals so much they truly take on their own unique humanistic identities and the reader can really begin to get in their heads and begin to understand their motivations.

Cold’s message to Libra, and Libra’s reaction just sets the stage for yet another Final Crisis subplot I’m actually very eager to get my hands on moreso than than what’s happening to Green Lantern, Batman, and Wonder Woman right now.

Let’s not forget Inertia who masterminded the death of Bart Allen, and the jarring way he is brought back into this book as well.  I won’t spoil the surprise right now, but the means behind bringing Inertia back and what he is thrust into the very last two pages just amps this alrady solid book up to an eleven!  There’s plenty of cameo’s from the Flash-verse as well, but they aren’t thrown in for cameo’s sake,…clearly each has a purpose and al the groundwork was laid out masterfully in this opening issue.

Get this book!.

Comix: Final Crisis ….or is it?

Final Crisis 1 I suppose you can call this my inaugural post.  I spent the last few days wondering how I really wanted to breakout to the world and it just so happens there are a few major ‘events’ in spandex universes that are synonymous with summer.

Between the major two, Marvel and DC, we have the requisite universe spanning crossovers that are supposed to affect the majority of their respective titles and continuity for decades to come.  At least they always say that in Wizard, but you know how these go.  They’ll shake it up for a few months, maybe even a year or two, and then its back to the status quo.

Anyway for Marvel, their follow-up to last years Civil War and Initiative events, they have the Skrull Invasion.  A nice side mini-series that goes with it (but not mandatory reading) is the time traveling ‘Secret Invaders’ which brings back Captain America to life (dead in current era?) in a time-travelling yarn.  But I’ll leave all that for another post.

Today, I bring you Final Crisis #1, by DC.  It all started over two decades ago with the masterful ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ which was supposed to tighten the reigns on the DC multiverse into one cohesive universe where there would only be one Batman, one Superman, one Wonder Woman, and one history.  The reason being was at the time, those over at DC had a plethora of multiple main characters and parallel histories which often made the casual reader confused on which ‘history’ or ‘origin’ was the correct one.  When you have 50+ versions of Earth, each with its own brands of metahumans, including multiple Supermen and the like, you can see that eventually chaos reigns.

Anyway, the original Crisis, at least in my opinion, did a great job in condensing all the multiple histories and characters into one large DC universe.  Sure, there was some growing pains, some disgruntled readers and the like, but in the decade to come readers accepted this and all seemed right.

Fast forward to 2004 when DC decides to give writer Brad Metzler the green light to launch ‘Identity Crisis’, a 7 issue series that would lay the foundation for bringing back the multiverse to DC after almost 20 years.  Brad’s tale (along with Rags Morales on art duties) crafted yet another wonderful tale in which former B-list and even C-list villains raise there way to the top and make a name for themselves.  You see they discover some of the secret identities of the super heroes and begin to target their families, resulting in the death of Robin’s (Tim Drake) dad, the murder of Sue Dibny (wife of Elongated Man), the stabbing and eventual death of Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond), just to name a few.  In these 7 issues, the DC universe as we had been now been accustomed to began to change….and it was good.

These events then led to other events such as Countdown, The OMAC project, Villains United, and 2005’s ‘Infinite Crisis’ (7 issue series by Geoff Johns).  It’s here that some of the original heroes thought dead from the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” story, (Superboy Prime, Alex Luthor of Earth 3, Superman and Lois Lane from Earth 2) escape a pocket universe they have been living in and hatch a plan to restore the multiverse in which Lois Lane (Earth 2) will live once our Earth has been replaced by a more perfect Earth 2.  Superboy Prime reveals a disturbed side and begins to kill off even more heroes (Conner Kent, multiple Green Lanterns) and villains alike.  His psychotic nature leads him to the planet OA where he is captured by the Green Lantern Corps and imprisoned in a Sun-Eater.

While all this is happening, events begin to break down in the weekly published series 52 in which all the gloves come off.  It’s my opinion that 52 started pretty darn well and for the most part was a good weekly read, although some story elements seemed a little lack luster or used for filler material.  The best aspects that came out for myself was the emergence of an all powerful Black Adam and the World War III series.  After events of World War III, DC then begins its final push to by the new 52 week ‘Countdown to Final Crisis’ (May 2007) series which in fact now reveals that the multiverse is back in full swing with 52 varying versions of earth.  The Monitors are back and want to correct all the out of place ‘aberrations’ of both heroes and villains that have displaced over the years.  Of course Darkseid wants in on the action, some New Gods (Orion being one of them) end up dead by the hands of his father Darkseid, and Jimmy Olsen inherits some New God powers.  A Monitor visits the ‘Source Wall’ and learns of a looming ‘Great Disaster’ in which only our Atom (Ray Palmer) can stop, and oh, Superboy Prime has escaped and on the rampage once again to destroy all the sub-par earths in search of the perfect earth.  All the chaos once again brings us to ‘Final Crisis’ after other events suchs as Amazons Invade (Wonder Woman) and Death of the New Gods.  While Countdown had some entertaining moments, I found it to be sub-par as a lead into Final Crisis.  There were some silly moments, some confusing ones as well, and some loose ends that never were tied up…at least not yet. 

Suffice it to say, the saga of the multiverse is much, much more complex than I can espouse here is a simple post.  This post was supposed to to be about Final Crisis #1, so let me get into it…

Metron appears to give fire to the first boy of our Earth who defends his village against Vandal Savage, thus making the boy out to be the first superhero, if you will. 

Darkseid’s human avatar form Boss Dark Side reveals that he has given the anti-life equation to some recently abducted metahuman children.

The skies of earth turn red and OA send the Alpha Lanterns not only to investigate the death of Orion, but to put our Earth on lock down.

Meanwhile, Libra (I know…who?) calls together all the villians, both A-listers (Lex Luthor, Vandal Savage, Gorilla Grodd) to name a few, and some lower tier ones (Dr. Light, Mirror Master, Human Flame) and kills a captured and drugged Martian Manhunter in front of their eyes showing he means business.  To me the death of Martian Manhunter came across very weird, and I highly doubt he will remain ‘dead’ for any stretch of time.  As a matter of fact, I don’t even know how he was drugged, let alone captured.  supposedly this all happened during the events of Salvation Run.

The most mind-numbing portion of the story is the supposed trial of one of the Monitors for his role in the destruction of Earth 51.  It just seemed ill-thought out as it unfolded…the trial, that is.  Perhaps it will make more sense in upcoming issues, but so far other than Martian Manhunter being killed, and our Earth (with its red skies) on lockdown by the Alpha Lanterns of OA, I wasn’t to impressed with Final Crisis’s first offering.  Compared to the Skrull Invasion over at Marvel, I really think it fell short, with the only real meat so far provided by Libra and his newly resurrected Secret Society.