Writer: Steven L. Frank
Art: Benjamin Glendenning
Colorist: Joseph Baker
Letterer: Bill Maus
Cover: Mike DeBalfo
Editor: Steven L. Frank
Publisher: Moonstone Publishing
Cassie Hack and and her pal Vlad get word of a high school suffering from a monster attack in Seattle. They go undercover as new students, with Cassie falling in with the cheerleaders (quite unwillingly) and Vlad joining the ranks of the football team. Together, though, they find themselves pitted against a family of zombies. This is a little different from your typical Hack/Slash story, even a crossover. It’s played lighter, even having a few fourth wall-breaking jokes pop up once or twice. The versatility of the concept, fortunately, makes it easy for Cassie and Vlad to join in the battle against virtually any kind of horror movie killer. Dropping them into a high school makes for a lot of humor in its own right, as Cassie finds herself rebelling against her own high school memories, while Vlad is plopped into a world he’s never been part of before. Benjamin Glendenning is a really good choice for this book, making Cassie and Vlad a little more cartoony so as to fit in the Zombies Vs. Cheerleaders world, but still keeping them very recognizable as the characters they are. All in all, the book works well enough for fans of Hack/Slash.
Quick Rating: Good
Title: The Hobgoblin and the Hostage
The Hobgoblin crashes Spider-Girl’s comic book premiere!
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Pencils: Ron Frenz
Inks: Sal Buscema
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Molly Lazer
Cover Art: Ron Frenz
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Now that she’s pulled her candidacy for class president, May Parker can concentrate on the other two great challenges in her life: cracking the coded disc that holds the former Kingpin’s files, and trying to figure out how to tell her parents she’s Spider-Girl full-time again. It’s not all bad, though – her friends Jimmy Yama and Wes have made their own Spider-Girl comic book, and they’re going to have a grand premiere with Jimmy’s girlfriend in the costume. Unfortunately, not everybody knows that she’s not the real Spider-Girl.
This was a quite enjoyable issue – May’s situation is very old-school Spider-Man, struggling with her family, struggling with school, a villain out to get her and a case of mistaken identity. The Gene Thompson subplot only gets a cursory glance this issue, but it’s enough to have me questioning his involvement with May even more than before, and her confrontation with Davida is really strong. This book really feels much more like a true extension of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko than anything else on the comic book shelves these days. That goes not only for the character stuff (especially the great scene at the end), but also for the action. May’s battle with the Hobgoblin, trying to take him down even though she’s out of webbing and he’s got a little bundle of hostage – this is the stuff Spider-Man does best, and it’s great to see that he’s passed it along to his daughter.
Again, this is a fun book, and that’s not something the Spider-family really has much of these days. Thank goodness Marvel saw fit to give it a new lease on life.
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: The Road to Hell (War Games Act III Part 2)
Every mobster in Gotham City is rioting, and Batman’s team may not be enough to hold them back.
Writer: Dylan Horrocks
Pencils: Brad Walker
Inks: Troy Nixey
Colors: Javier Rodriguez
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover Art: Brian Haberlin
Publisher: DC Comics
This is yet another wonderful chapter in one of the best Batman storylines in recent memory. The gang war has been funneled into one place where it was supposed to end – but Batman’s inside man has been replaced by an imposter, and he turns the tables on the dark knight.
This issue is almost one big fight scene, but it’s a good one. As Batman’s crew dives into the stadium to try to save him, outside Commissioner Akins has had his fill of costumed vigilantes in this city – he wants Batman’s head just as much as the criminals. The heroes this issue are beaten, battered and worn down nearly to the breaking point, and it’s fantastic.
Brad Walker does a fantastic job on the artwork. The grit, determination and outright anger on Batman’s face for most of this issue is conveyed especially well. It takes talent to draw a good fight scene. It takes even more talent to draw a fight scene in the midst of a crazed mob. The artwork easily picks up the crazy, frantic pace of the story. I’ve also got to give credit to Brian Haberlin for a great cover. He gives us a Batman that looks like he’s just gone through one level of Hell and is staring down the next eight. It’s great.
This has been a great storyline, and as we head into the home stretch, we’re seeing how drastically Gotham City is going to change as a result. This is a crossover that means something. That’s a rare thing, and a welcome one.
Title: All Versus All
Writers: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Pencils: Neil Edwards
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Michael Kaluta & Jim Charalampidis
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
A powerless Hercules has found himself helping defend a group of escaping supervillains against the son of Ares, Kyknos. But when the people of Brooklyn see Herc fighting on the side of known villains like the Basilisk, they turn on the hero, forcing him into a fight he didn’t want.
Herc has been de-powered for this entire series, but this is the first time we really see the sort of toll it can take on the former Prince of Power. We see Hercules not just hurt (he’s been hurt before), but worse than that: weary, exhausted and worn-down. It’s clear, both from the writing and some great artwork, that he’s not used to feeling that way. It’s also kind of stressful for him to have to worry about PR, of all things, but it puts a nice, different kind of spin on the book.
The whole Fear Itself thing has felt pretty tenuous. I’m still not getting just how or why this book ties into that main crossover, except for some vague sensation that “fear” is spreading across the Marvel Universe, but the writing team of Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente are at least making the most out of what’s been handed to them. The book is exciting, well-written, well-illustrated, and full of real character drama and development in the midst of all the action. That’s how Herc has always been at his best with this creative team, and this arc is no different.
I usually try to do this on Tuesdays. I forgot on Tuesday. I hope this didn’t ruin anybody’s day. Anyway, here’s the comics from last week that I reviewed at CX Pulp.com:
Quick Rating: Great
When the children of Dream Girl’s world lose the ability to sleep, the Legion of Super-Heroes sets out to investigate.
Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Barry Kitson
Inks: Gray, Pascoe & Kitson
Colors: Chris Blythe
Letters: Phil Balsman
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: Barry Kitson & Dave McCaig
Publisher: DC Comics
The second issue of the new Legion of Super-Heroes is just as strong as the first, and even better for the old-school Legion fans. While the first issue was very much an introduction, this issue gets much deeper into a few of the characters, particularly Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl, and furthermore, it sets up some events for the ongoing arcs that will underlie the single-issue storylines.
This issue, the young people of Naltor, a planet of precognitive telepaths, have lost their ability to sleep, and it is only in sleep that their powers are at their strongest. The Legion dispatches a team to investigate, including Naltor’s own daughter Dream Girl.
We get to play with clashing characterization here. While last issue showed us how the Legion is ideally, here we see how deep the characters can be when Brainiac 5 begins to Dream Girl’s powers, seeing precognition as a shortcut to what he tries to achieve through his vaunted intelligence. The mystery in and of itself isn’t that difficult to piece together, but what it heralds for the future of this title is very interesting.
This book, again, is extremely new-reader friendly. It’s a self-contained story,, and we get an updated version of the old-fashioned “Legion Roll Call” so that new readers get a quick primer on the main characters of this issue’s story and what their abilities are.
Barry Kitson’s artwork, again, is beautiful. He does a great job with the characters, and we get to see a few more this issue as well. It’s also nice to get off Earth for most of the issue – his vision of Naltor is quite entrancing. He also does some nice fight scenes, and he gives us a beautiful cover. It would be a bit hypocritical of me, however, if I didn’t deduct at least a fraction of a point for Irrelevant Cover Syndrome – Star Boy gets the cover treatment, along with Shadow Lass, but he doesn’t even appear in the issue. On the other hand, man that’s a great cover.
So let’s look at the checklist – two issues and two home runs from the new Legion of Super-Heroes team. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Lone Ranger #10 (Dynamite Entertainment)
By Brett Matthews, Sergio Cariello & John Cassaday
The “Lines Not Crossed” storyline ends with a bang this issue. John lies bleeding from a gunshot wound, and Tonto races off to capture his attacker. Once our hero is on his feet again, he begins to dispense his own unique brand of old west justice. The last few scenes in this issue really give the Lone Ranger something of a Batman vibe, right up to his relationship with the one good sheriff in a corrupt town (sound familiar?), but I don’t mean that as a criticism. It actually works very well. You finish this comic book with the feeling that you’ve just witnessed the beginning of a legend, and as this series is about the early days of the Ranger, that’s a perfectly valid (and entertaining) angle to take. A very strong issue of a really good series.