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The Insect Queen's Web

The Insect Queen.....
...with her big, fat, hairy arse, always has an opinion!

Comics International

The majority of these reviews were published in Comics International - a UK newszine - over the last couple of years.
Ratings out of ten!


BATMAN: DARK DETECTIVE 1 Englehart, Rogers and Austin


In 1977 I was 12 years old, and Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin were producing the best darn Batman comic ever. 28 years later (doesn’t that make you feel old?), the same team are back together and once more producing the best darn Batman comic available. Silver St Cloud is back, looking as gorgeous as ever, while Batman/Bruce Wayne acts as if the last 20 years never happened to him. No worryingly psychotic impulses here (beyond dressing up as a bat, of course).

Marshall Rogers’ art has evolved over the years into a more fluid cartoon style, with less graphic intensity, but Terry Austin’s inks help to keep things on track, while John Workman works his magic with the lettering and sound effects. Steve Englehart, who in truth hasn’t produced much worthwhile over the last few years, reveals that he was born to write Batman, and that first time around wasn’t just a fluke. If you buy only one Batman comic, buy this one.






VILLAINS UNITED 1 Simone & Eaglesham


Out of all the Countdown minis, this was the one I was most eagerly anticipating. Unfortunately, it read like a wet weekend in Blackpool. The trouble starts with (the usually dependable) Gail Simone’s flip tone (a style I find gets real old, real quick), and never really pulls itself out of the smart repartee quagmire she lands it in. The Fiddler gets offed by his Secret Six buddies, so they recruit the new, improved, Catman, whose special abilities seem to lie in the realms of looking buff in a loin-cloth, but not much else. Strangely, Talia and Dr Psycho try to recruit him first for their ‘Society’ despite thinking of him as a buffoon. Eh? Dale Eaglesham produced some very good art for the recently deceased (and missed) H.E.R.O,  and I’m happy to report that his good work continues here. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Simone pulls this together fast. Oh, and my bet is that Mockingbird is The Joker.







SUPERMAN/BATMAN 19 Loeb & Churchill


I was predisposed to disliking the new Supergirl’s spotlight this issue, considering the complete hash Jeph Loeb (with partner in crime Michael Turner) made of her introduction a few short months ago, but I’m forced to report that Loeb (against all expectations) turns in an enjoyable script, while Ian Churchill’s art, though a tad exploitative, is energetic and fun. The new Supergirl, under the oppressive watch of her older cousin, strikes out on her own and shows us, and him, that she’s not just a pretty naval bearing teeny. It bodes well for the forthcoming Supergirl series.




BATMAN: DARK DETECTIVE 2 Englehart, Rogers and Austin
If there was any doubt that Steve Englehart is back on form, then let this issue prove the doubters wrong. It has been a while since The Joker has been written with such conviction, while the Bruce/Batman dichotomy is nicely played. Bruce invites Silver St.Cloud into the Batcave, so that she may know the two halves of the man and, by extension, the real man behind the mask. This in turn is nicely undercut by an early cameo by Two Face, another man with two sides.
The Scarecrow's fear gas attack while there, allows us to further see into the mind of a man who finds it hard to trust, but with an end result that brings us full circle in a satisfying manner. Marshall Roger/Terry Austin and John Workman continue to push all the right buttons graphically, and in one panel give us a Bruce that is positively Ditko-ish in his despair.


Wonder Woman 216 Rucka and Morales
I've complained incessantly about the poor art on this title over the last year or so, and I think DC has finally listened. Rags Morales, a very accomplished storyteller, adds loads to Greg Rucka's skimpy plots, creating a believeable world for our heroines (and bull) as they venture into the nether regions in search of a dead god, and the promise of wish fullfillment. There are a few too many 'princess once goddess' moments, and confusing mythical terminology, but this was the most satisfying Wonder Woman comic since Walter Simonson's run.






Despite Matthew Clarks admirably clean art, something is just not quite right about this re-vamp; and Greg Rucka may have something to do with it. Right off the bat he forgets one of the golden rules, neglecting to introduce all the main players convincingly - so who the hell is Replikon (hes cover featured, so he must be important), and why should I care? I almost audibly groaned when I saw that this was the first part of an arghhhc, so what you get for your monies is the barest bones of an actual story, some character bits, but no honest hook for the casual reader. Ruckas preoccupations with the crime genre are much in evidence (which is a tad dispiriting in a spandex book), but he does portray Superman in a positive, forceful, light. Not the greatest of starts.



ACTION 789 Kelly & Rouleau

 Ok, I admit it! I bought this for Krypto, but I was hoping for a good read too. Unfortunately, whatever story there was, is lost amidst a welter of undefined protagonists and slip-shod storytelling. Joe Kelly inconveniently forgets to establish his characters (in favour of some trite dialogue), while the manga influenced Duncan Rouleau singularly fails to adequately move the plot from panel to panel in a coherent manner. On some pages it was impossible to decipher the action. He does, however, draw a cute Krypto.



ACTION 814  Austen & Reiss

The first of the Super titles to get a kick up the arse, which Austen achieves with a fast, efficient, self-contained day-in-the-life story; with just a garnish of soap-operatic sub-plot. The Superman here is reminiscent of Siegel and Shusters  creation, in attitude and bearing, which makes a pleasant change from what has gone before. Ivan Reiss art is of the hyper-realistic school, a zillion miles away from the anonymous manga-lite that comics have suffered for a while. Promising.



ACTION COMICS 816 Austen & Reis

Action is what it says on the cover, and action is what you get. Supes dukes it out with Gog, and while Ivan Reis art is a little scratchy, it is still head and shoulders above the other Super titles.




AQUAMAN 15 Pfeifer & Gleason

After the false start to Aquaman's new series under Rick Veitch, a new team jump on board, and it's all hands to the deck. San Diego falls beneath the ocean, burying and drowning thousands, and a familiar looking Aquaman shows up to help. No more straggly beard, and a nice orange shirt and green tights too. He seems to have a water hand now, instead of the hook, but I have no idea what that's about. Will Pfeiffer writes a fast read, but with sufficient mystery and suspense to pique interest, while Patrick Gleason provides some nice visuals.



AQUAMAN 16  Pfeifer + Gleason

The mystery surrounding the disaster that plunged San Diego into the ocean, deepens, as first a young boy struggles from the depths, only to die, followed by a young girl whom Aquaman quickly rescues. Aquaman may be wearing retro colours, yet the storytelling is anything but. Patrick Gleasons blocky, but sensitive pencils, perfectly captures the air of impending menace that Will Pfeifer's script ably conveys.



AVENGERS 68 Johns + Coipel

 Geoff Johns' take on The Avengers is finally starting to gel, but the padding for future collection is noticeably prevalent; and though Olivier Coipel's art is distinctive, at times it is a little lacking in focus. The real villain of the peice is finally revealed, as previous red herrings are discarded, and "The Red Zone" draws towards to it's conclusion.



AVENGERS 73 Johns + Sadowski

Tacky. Yellowjacket gives the Wasp some oral relief (or perhaps he was doing something else down under those bed sheets) and Whirlwind beats up a call girl dressed as the Winsome Wasp. Geoff Johns takes full advantage of his lack of captions and scene shifts to lead the reader into believing that Hank has once more taken to beating his wife Jan, conveniently tying sex and marital abuse up into a sordid little package. Other than that, it's business as usual on the Geoff Johns decompressed storytelling gravy train. 22 pages to find out that Jan and Hank still love each other, but that she wont marry him.



AVENGERS 75 Johns + Kolins

He and She Hulk get into a ruck, and kick the snot out of each other until Jack of Hearts does something with his radiation powers that sorts the whole mess out. Johns is probably not sure how, either.



AVENGERS 77 Austen + Coipel

A surprisingly good start to Chuck Austens stint at the helm and a breath of fresh air after Geoff Johns' mediocre run. A good solid super-hero team book, some nice dialogue, and it's set in an England where not everyone talks like Dick Van Dyke. Surprisingly. Coipel's art is still not as good as it was on Legion, but pleasant enough. I'm enthused.



AVENGERS 78 Austen & Coipel

This one has it all; drama, action, humour, mystery and pathos, as housewife Kelsey Leigh uses Cap's shield to defend both he and the Wasp from Thunderballs big, erm, ball, while indulging in a spot of philosophical banter. Some really nice art in places, but a word in yer shell-like Chuck; sort out the kids dialogue will ya? The little girl saying "Most people wouldnt give two shillings for him" was just a tad suspect.



AVENGERS 79 Austen & Chen

An interlude moment, and a chance for Austen to flex his soap opera muscles. Captain America behaves like a bit of a chump, the Wasp and Yellowjacket are going over some old history, again, and Hawkeye gets dumber. Not a bad thing by any means, but Sean Chen's art is woefully inadequate in conveying convincing emotion, let alone normal looking people. Cap looks as if he's suffering from piles in one panel.



AVENGERS FINALE Bendis & Various

Brian Michael Bendis puts a cork in it, and plugs up 40 odd years of Avengers history with some silly nonsense. Bendis patented characters (believe me, no true Avengers have appeared in the travesty that was Avengers Dissed) stand around going “Er…um, well it’s like this, er….F%@k” or something similar, and talk about their best times with the team, as opposed to the, like, erm, er, the worst one day they just had. A very sad end to an illustrious title. New Avengers? No thanks.






If you're expecting the loon in yellow pancake with the insidious laugh, then relax. Jason Hall writes a story encompassing the café society and art world of 1920s Paris, as two sisters, one a good time girl, the other not so, flirt and mingle with the Surrealist movement of the day. Unfortunately, despite the intriguing setting, Halls script is a bit ordinary. It lacks any real bite, and the characters are singularly un-involving. Cliff Chiang's art, on the other hand, is gorgeously lush, with a rich, fluid line. The Creeper only makes the barest of appearances, and therein lies the mystery to be played out over the next four issues, methinks.



BIRDS OF PREY 56 Simone and Benes

New writer, new art team and a fresh approach. Hallelujah! This series was tired and listless for the longest time, but Gail Simone has rejuvenated the usual gimmicks with some smart dialogue and a fresh view, while Ed Benes gives the book a dose of pleasantly drawn cheesecake. Nothing extraordinary here, but if you're looking for an oestrogen driven action injection, you could do worse.



BIRDS OF PREY 62 Simone + Benes

Black Canary travels to Hong Kong to visit her dieing Sensei, and crosses paths with Lady Shiva, the meanest, bestest, warrior in the whole wide world, who demonstrates her skill by biting a guy's finger off. BoP is a solid action comic, with some smart dialogue, and clean, sexy, art.



BLOODSTONE 4 Abnett/Lanning & Lopez 

Elsa and her gang get into a smack down with some vampires, and much merriment ensues.

This may be Buffy-rivative, but it has a charm all its own and a likeable lead character. It's just plain, good, old-fashioned fun.

The visuals have grown on me, and have a very pleasing, chunky, straightforward quality. So bite me!





CATWOMAN 5 Brubaker & Rader

Catwoman investigates a drug smuggling operation that exploits children as mules, and hooks up with Slam Bradley in the process. Replacement artist Brad Rader continues the animated/noir feel that Darwyn Cooke initiated, with a nice juxtaposition of an almost Kurt Schaffenberger sensibility with Ed Brubakers mature tone. Brubaker has an assured understanding of Catwomans many facets, purr-fectly blending crime with the need to wear black leather.



CATWOMAN 6 Brubaker & Rader

This title is consistently excellent, and the first part of four chapters focussing on Holly-Selinas eyes and ears on the street-is no exception. Ed Brubaker's characterisation is deft, as he delves into Holly's past, her recovery from drug addiction, and her romantic relationship with Jenni. Brad Rader's art is expressive, while remaining uncluttered with unnecessary detail-unlike some I could mention.

A treasure.



CATWOMAN 21 Brubaker + Stewart

Holly and Selina are on the road, and Captain Cold has a cool heist in mind. Can Catwoman help him lift a flashy artefact; and if she does, will he get to keep it? Brubaker & Stewart have a great synergy, easily crafting one of DC's more satisfying monthlies around a well-developed and engaging cast.



CODENAME:KNOCKOUT 10   Rodi & Paquette

I came to this through word of mouth, and was pleasantly surprised by the tongue in cheek, cheesecake spy spoof. Robert Rodi effortlessly characterises his protagonists-Angela and her gay chum Go Go Fiasco-as they switch sides from G.O.O.D. to E.V.I.L, and take a vacation in Paris. Yanick Paquette (with Juan Martin) gives good art, and Ill be back next month for more.





DC COMICS PRESENT….GREEN LANTERN 1 Azzarello/Breyfogle & Pasko/McDaniel

Azzarello’s tribute is spoilt by a mean streak of contempt for the source material, saved - just - by the last page punch line to the  'joke'. The kindest thing that can be said for Pasko’s effort is that he tried. The art on both stories is indifferent, though Breyfogle is good on expressions.



DOOM PATROL 5 Arcudi & Eng Huat 

The two competing Doom Patrols fight some mystic nasties, but it's not the plots that keep me returning each month. Rather, the ever-escalating mysteries, and this issue ends on a good one. Did Paul Kupperberg's Doom Patrol revival never happen?

Tan Eng Huat is a great find, and I wouldnt be surprised if Marvel are trying to poach him as I write.



DOOM PATROL 6 Arcudi & Eng Huat

The all-new, all original team for dysfunctional heroes, slowly falls apart with the disappearance of Cliff Steele, and wrangling over ownership of the team name. Negative Man hits the bottle, Fever's temperature rises, Freak gets more, erm, freakish, and who is that in the hospitable bed? Phew! Ill be back next month for more of John Arcudi's smart dialogue, Tan Eng Huat's dynamic draughtsmanship, and to feast my eyes once more on Dave Stewart's sumptuous colours. I'm doomed! 



DOOM PATROL 7 Arcudi & Eng Huat

The team take a road trip in search of Robotman's, er, remains. What they find is his head, and presumably a brain. What a disturbing thought that is, poor Cliff's brain whirring away while buried for the last 4 years. Tan Eng Huat gets to design Robotman an imposing new body, and John Arcudi continues to impress with his sparkling dialogue and sublime characterisation.



DOOM PATROL 9  Arcudi & Eng Huat 

It is vaguely disconcerting the way in which John Arcudi teases the eager reader with information, peeling away one mystery only to reveal another beneath. The fake Robotman is revealed to be an illusion of sorts, but the answer only necessitates further questions. Arcudi's pacing shudders & jolts, dispensing with seamless segues, but tantalising the reader with numerous concurrent plotlines. I cannot imagine this comic visualised by anyone other than Tan Eng Huat, whose unique style so elegantly captures the twitchy atmosphere Arcudi has crafted.



DOOM PATROL 11 Aracudi & Eng Huat

This book isnt for everyone, which is a pity. Criticism that could be applied, is that, though stylish, the story doesnt seem to be progressing anywhere. I disagree with that assessment, and intend to follow this title as long as it continues to focus on character development and plot building over standard fare super-hero slugfests. John Arcudi takes the Doom Patrol to hell, and gives us a peak at what makes the individuals tick, while Tan Eng Huat does what he does best, which is produce some of the best looking art on a monthly basis.



DOOM PATROL 1 Byrne & Hazlewood

Surprisingly readable, but Byrne’s Doom Patrol team suffers from including a few too many (OK, all of ‘em) characters with shit names like Grunt, or Vortex. Where’s the romance? An inker with a sharper line would also be appreciated.





EMPIRE 4 Waid + Kitson

So far, this series has been an exceptional roller coaster. Waid and Kitson have created a thoroughly stimulating scenario examining what would happen if one of those megalomaniac villains ever achieved their goal of world domination. Though all the main players are just plain nasty, and absolutely despicable, one cant help but be enthralled by their antics. Whats more, as this issue proves, none of them are indispensable. Good stuff.



EMPIRE 6 Waid + Kitson

Waid & Kitson are producing some of their best work, as they draw Empire to a satisfying conclusion after six issues of shocking twists and turns. Golgoth once more stands triumphant, but the personal price paid was high, and one has just a smidgen of sympathy for the devil.





FALLEN ANGEL 1 David + Lopez

An intriguing premise with a few nice hooks. Peter David invites us onto the streets of Bette Noire, a city without scruples, and a heroine equally suspect. David still has a light touch to his scripts, but here tempers it with a darker vein. The art by newcomer David Lopez is fine, but with some small room for improvement. A good start.



FANTASTIC FOUR 60  Waid & Wieringo 9cents

I dont know about the Kennedy clan, or the Addams Family, on this showing the FF are Marvels answer to The Cosby Show; all thats missing is a canned reaction soundtrack. Perhaps Im the wrong audience for this jumping-on-point, but this re-hash of who the FF are, and their powers, seemed tired and jaded. Mike Wieringos art is of the cute, wide eyed and Bigfoot sort, but serviceablethough if Johnny gets any younger, hell be attending school with Franklin.



FANTASTIC FOUR  67  Waid  & Weiringo

Dooms back! Two words that would usually have me stifling a yawn, but to Waids credit he actually made me care, with this story of an egotistical outsider who gave up true love, but then found a use for it in his own inimitable, and shocking, way. I still reckon Mike Weiringo is unsuited to this strip (Id prefer a harder edge) and I hope Doom doesnt get laughed at too much in his new romper suit. The logo is as crappy as ever.



FANTASTIC  FOUR 500/71 Waid + Weiringo

Unthinkable 68-71: Eek! What the bloody hell is that abomination of a cover doing on the Anniversary issue? Surely the budget would have stretched to someone with a talent for paint? Unthinkable has been an enjoyable ride, with some nice character observations of Reed Richards and Dr Doom along the way; but Waid fumbles by providing Reed with an Ultimate Nullifier in the final stretch, and blows it in the finale. Doom falls foul of his ego (again), while Mr Fantastic (hello?) is left looking like a before advertisement for Botox injections.



FIRESTORM 1 Jolley & ChrisCross
Goodbye to Ronnie Raymond and puffy sleeves, hello to a Firestorm for the
Noughties. Teenager Jason Rusch is having money problems, home life isn't
much better, and things are about to get worse. Jolley crafts a sympathetic
and engaging principal lead, while ChrisCross provides some nicely understated
visuals. The bad press this re-launch has garnered might just be a storm
in a tea-cup.

THE FLASH 200 Johns + Kolins

Blitz 196-200: Geoff Johns seems more at home on The Flash than on any other title he writes. Blitz has generally been an involving emotional roller coaster for the assembled cast, as the new Zoom teaches Wally West what it takes to be a hero in his own inimitable reverse fashion. Unfortunately, the conclusion, as with many of Johns arcs, falls a little flat in the telling. Johns had an agenda to change the status quo, which diminishes some of the more dramatic events, and sadly does away with the last 30 odd years of character development; all to satisfy his own vision of what (and where) The Flash should be.




Like the 80s never ended, Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire return to one of the highlights in mainstream comics of that over-hyped decade. Though this motley collection of B & C grade characters wore out their welcome long before their first five years were up, the original spark is thankfully back. Giffens irreverent take on the absurdities inherent in the super-hero medium still raises a smile and the occasional titter (Ive never been one for BWA HA HAs), and Maguires flair for capturing facial expressions hasnt diminished. Pity then, that the colours are muddy and dull when they should shine and sparkle.






Say what you like about John Byrne, and hes had his fair share of stinkers over the last decade or so, given his own little playground to play in, with recognisable characters, he can turn in a very enjoyable, light-hearted romp. This will particularly appeal to those of us of a certain age, but doesnt need an encyclopaedic knowledge of DC continuity to appreciate. This is the third part of Byrnes Generations Elseworld, that takes as a starting point the conceit that well loved characters age and die, marry and give birth, with a predominant focus on the Superman and Batman dynasties. The only niggle is that Byrne should really think about working with an inker that might help smooth out some of his rougher edges.




OK, Im not about to give up on this series yet, but the narrative structure is seriously getting on my tits. With each successive issue focussing on a hundred year jump in continuity, Byrne has to contrive ways to keep a recognisable cast around, and I freely admit to being confused as to who some of them are. In this issue, Wonder Woman returns after her daughter falls in battle (a scene were never shown, so theres no emotional involvement) and those rascally Parademons attack once more. This could get real old, real fast.




Detective Montoya is outed at work, and her life turns to crap. Rucka writes an intelligent character study of a woman being pushed to her limits, while Lark draws like an absolute dream.



GRADUATION DAY 1,2 & 3  Winick +  Garza

A rotten example of comics by committee; Winick may have the writers credit, but editorial fiat seeps from every fibre of this cobbled together plot that really has no redeeming value other than to facilitate a couple of senseless deaths and a couple of new series. Ugly art, ugly words, and an ugly premise; dont wait for the inevitable trade paperback.





HAWKMAN 1 Johns + Robinson & Morales 

After being revived through the power of love-cue Jennifer Rush-in the pages of JSA, Hawkman (hes the one with the mullet) wings his way into the fifth attempt at an ongoing title, with neurotic partner Hawkgirl. Geoff Johns and James Robinson write a fairly uninspired excuse for some two-fisted Hawk action, but thankfully Rags Morales draws some very pretty pictures. He has a fine feel for anatomy, which comes in very handy when dealing with a bare-chested, mace-wielding, wing bearing crime-fighterand Im not referring to Hawkgirl.



HAWKMAN 4 Johns + Robinson & Morales

Phew! Theres so much testosterone floating around, that this title is beginning to reek. Quite why Geoff Johns & James Robinson write Hawkman as a bone crunching, grunting oaf of a barbarian is beyond me, and his constant pestering of Hawkgirl is getting creepy. Hawkman & companions hack their way out of the Battlelands, while Hawkgirl has another tussle with Tigress. Rag Morales is a credit to this title; I just wish the material he has to work with were more compelling.



HAWKMAN 22 Johns + Rags

Johns is finally putting some energy into this title, as the Headhunter comes calling, and Hawkman goes a bit wack. Not sure what to make of Hawkgirl finding Buster Keaton films hilarious, though. Perhaps it illustrates what a humourless character she is generally. Rags continues to prove his worth as an artist with some lovely figure work.



HAWKMAN 26 Siegal  & Byrne

Stop me if youve heard this one before. Old friend returns as a vampire, fights hero and heroine, heroine gets sucked on, hero defeats blood - sucker. A ruthlessly clichéd story, only lifted by Byrnes return to form on art.




Bless em, DC come to my rescue and release the first and second issues of the H.E.R.O series in a collected edition, otherwise I may not have discovered this little gem. A simple premise-what if your life is in the toilet and then you get super-powers? -written intelligently and engagingly, with some lovely evocative art that positively drips atmosphere. Based on the old Dial H for Hero strip, but examining the effects super-powers have on the life of the individual, slacker Jerry Feldon is working as a soda jerk, until one night he discovers a Hero dial amongst the dirty dishes. The consequences are both touching and tragic. Will Pfeifer writes with a refreshing honesty as the hero calls a crisis hotline on the brink of suicide, and were made privy to the events that have led to his despair. Recommended!



H.E.R.O  3  Pfeifer & KATO

Not much more to say, really, being the penultimate chapter of a four issue story, but KANOs art is still terrific, and well complimented by the excellent colouring of Dave Stewart, whom I first noticed on early issues of Doom Patrol. In fact, if you like Doom Patrol (and everyone should-bah!) then this just may be the book for you.



H.E.R.O 4 Pfeifer + Kano

A satisfying, though slight, conclusion to Jerry Feldons story, which still managed to bring a lump to my throat. Bless. Kanos evocative art, and Dave Stewarts sumptious colours, are an absolute pleasure.



H.E.R.O 6 Pfeifer + Kano

Andrea is trying to fit in at her new school, and the HERO dial may just be what she needs to nurture those all important friendships. A touching tale that explores the bittersweet and difficult bonds between children, with Kanos wonderfully expressive line-work effortlessly capturing the emotions that Pfeifer conveys in a sparkling script.


HERO 11 Pfeifer + KANO

Oot! Oot! Hurm! Oot! Hurm! Hurm! Oot! Well, if it was good enough for Pfeifer..Nearly 22 pages of Neanderthal grunts before the Super Caveman meets his poor Future Shock ending. Nice art though.





IDENTITY CRISIS 1 Meltzer & Morales

The anticipated death is sign-posted from the very first panel, but Brad Meltzer draws the reader in with some very pleasing characterisation. Rags Morales has done better work, but still captures the requisite emotion. The Michael Turner cover is cack.



IDENTITY CRISIS 2 Meltzer & Morales

< + >  A well told, if icky, tale of rape, retribution and revelation. Meltzer walks a fine line between compelling drama and voyeuristic shocks, which might just lead to the baby being thrown out with the bath water.



IDENTITY CRISIS 3 Meltzer & Morales

<-> Uh oh! Plot flaws are starting to show; why was the silly (and not particularly well staged) fight with Slade, not pre-empted by Zatanna the very moment he appeared? Why hasn’t Zee simply exclaimed "rellik s'euS em wohs, stirips hO" and been done with it? Meltzer is keen to tell us she’s the most powerful of the lot, but so far she’s been a bit of a boob. Morales’ art is slowly deteriorating, with some pretty useless head - shots of Supes to wince at, and the earlier promise is rapidly evaporating, along with the hero’s supporting casts. A chicken drew the cover.



IDENTITY CRISIS 6  Meltzer & Morales

The penultimate issue of DC’s extraordinarily successful whodunit, and Red Herring (sometimes partner of The Blue Tuna) is revealed to be the killer. If so, some of Brad Meltzer’s conceits might not bear up to too close a scrutiny. Rags Morales is good at capturing emotion, but there’s some clumsy figure work in evidence. Perhaps he is working under too near a deadline.



THE NEW INVADERS 0 Austen/Jacobsen & Smith/Walker

A disappointing start, if for no other reason than C P Smith’s art lacks any dynamic verve, drawn with lines that all carry the same weight, sometimes crudely, and flattened out by the awful colouring process inflicted by Chris Walker. It’s too early to tell how the writing will pan out, but Allan Jacobsen takes over full scripting chores next issue.





JLA 63 Kelly & Mahnke 

The truth is out there, but Wonder Woman broke it!

While Diana is on a quest to mend her broken lasso, the JLA deal with the ramifications.

Joe Kellys dialogue may be flip at times, but his narrative is compelling. The visuals are excellent and Doug Mahnke proves he was ideal for the job.

Isnt that the truth?



JLA 82 Kelly + Rouleau

The White Rage 80-82: What started out as a mildly diverting comic book WACO analogy, finally descended into a miasma of incomprehensibility. Kelly loses the plot, amidst a welter of unexplained, and not terribly interesting, antagonists, and over eggs the pudding by tying in Faiths murky past. Thankfully the arc wasnt needlessly drawn out, and the pace was reasonably brisk. Rouleaus pencils are a little on the cartoony side, without the quirky, but solid, stylings of Mahnke, and lack clarity where some would be appreciated.



JLA  91 Dennis ONeil + Tan Eng Huat

If, as editor Mike Carlin believes, everyone has a great JLA story within them, Dennis probably wrote his around 30 odd years ago. Theres nothing new here; a strange alien arrives and the JLA get involved. Tan Eng Huats work is also a let down after his amazing stint on Doom Patrol. There is none of the incredible page layout work that really lifted that title out of the ordinary, and his figure work looks uncomfortable at best.



JLA Byrne & Claremont

Oh, dearie me, more of DCs ubiquitous blood suckers  (see Hawkman this month), and Byrne gets to draw em again. At least this is a fairly decent read, with some good art (Byrne inked by Ordway), and the re-introduction of DCs original team of misfit heroes (bringing on convulsive fits amongst the continuity minded as I write).



JLA 110 Busiek & Garney

The fourth part of an aborted (I wonder why?) Crime Syndicate of Amerika mini-series that has so far been an utter yawn fest. As someone said to me the other day, “I’ve always thought that JLA would benefit by the removal of the team and a focus on The Weaponers of Qward”. Something tells me he was flirting with irony. Kurt Busiek’s dialogue is so effin dull, that it is left to Ron Garney, and his well-honed storytelling skills, to inject some excitement. For anyone interested, the CSA are masquerading as our heroes, and The Thunderers stand around, a lot, pontificating on something or other. It may all make sense, somehow, but I’ve truly lost the will to live.



JLA CLASSIFIED 1 Morrison & McGuinness

A stonkin’ good read. Grant Morrison ploughs right in with man-eating, psychic Gorilla Grodd, a floating Super City of Superbia, infant Universes, and Bats riding around in his dinky flying saucer. Oh, and lest we forget, we get a peek into Batman’s Sci-Fi closet. So that’s where he’s kept all that tat from the 50’s! Grant is delivering high-octane, by the throat superhero adventure, while Ed McGuinness channels the ghost of Jack Kirby with some action packed visuals that fairly leap off the page.



JLA: CLASSIFIED 3 Morrison & McGuiness

Where do you go to hear Superman address a bunch of apes with “…a few bananas and you belong to anybody it seems”? Only in a Grant Morrison written hymn to superheroes will you find dialogue that snaps, crackles and pops, as Gorilla Grodd and The Ultramarines get their arses handed to them on a silver platter, and Ed McGuiness channels the energy of Kirby with some bombastic pencils and layouts. As Wonder Woman would say, “HOLA!”



JLA-AVENGERS 1 Busiek + Perez

Well, its no literary masterpiece, thats for sure, with plots lifted from countless similar comics before. All the usual boxes are ticked; Universe spanning threat? Check; a quest for various objects of power? Check; the teams controlled by a higher power? Check; misunderstandings and punch-ups? Check; which gives the whole thing a slightly shop worn feel. The most fun will come from future interaction between the two teams, but for now there are a few nice moments not to be sniffed at-Batman taking the Punisher to the cleaners between panels was priceless. The trick is to imagine that youre a 13 year old again (hard for some of us, I know), put aside any cynical reservations, and just go with the flow. George Perez does his usual thing, and certainly wont disappoint his many devoted fans.




The Justice League’s new deep cover team gets to work, tackling the dirty jobs that Superman et al can’t. Very readable, in that ironic Noughties way, but the overlapping dialogue boxes are wretched in their placement.




JSA 37  Goyer + Johns & Kirk

The pay-off to Stealing Thunder is slightly disappointing-I am still unsure when the change was made to the Ultra Humanite only controlling Johnnys mind, instead of the old brain swapping routine. Issue 32 distinctly shows Johnny with bolts and stitches to the base of his cranium-are we in bait & switch territory here, or mid-plot revision? Nevertheless, the resolution to Johnnys death is quite unexpected and joyful. The numerous Super-Folks littering the pages serve as little more than panel filler, the usual consequence of multi character story lines-is it too much to ask that they do something rather than stand around gawping?



JSA 39 Goyer + Johns & Gleason

To parody an Image comic is a redundant exercise, yet Geoff Johns & David Goyer hand over a spotlight issue to Power Girls ample assets and fall flat on their respective arses. Bugger all happens here of consequence, but an extended punch em up and some witless introspection on PGs part. Patrick Gleasons art is of the soulless manga-ish variety, and he more than manages to perpetuate the locker room joke that is PGs chest. Puerile!



JSA 50 Goyer & Johns + Kirk

 Princes of Darkness 46-50: Remember when Anniversary issues told self contained stories, or tied up a long running plot? Goyer & Johns dont. Like a summer blockbuster, full of sound and fury, short on plot and substance, but a few kewl moments thrown in along the way, so has been Princes of Darkness; and its not over yet. Goyer & Johns might think there was too much story to tell in five issues, but if theyd cut out all the redundant panels of the walk-on extras fighting (Oh look, theres Iron Munro, and theres Uncle Samwho cares?), improved the pacing, and refined the focus, this might have made a reasonably exciting three issues; but then it might not have been a natural fit for the obvious trade-paperback collection. Goyer and Johns have descended into laziness, too enamoured of their kewl factor to fully concentrate on turning out a well constructed and plotted story. Leonard Kirk, on the other hand, has been doing some of the best work of his career, and developed a real flair for interesting visuals (Power Girls ample assets aside).



JSA: ALL-STARS 1 Goyer & Johns + Velluto

Not much cop this! An excruciatingly underwritten (considering it involved the efforts of two writers-what do Johns and Goyer do? Meet up for lunch and write this stuff on the back of a napkin? I imagine the conversation goes something like; ..and then they, like, fight, OK, and itll be really rocking, butoh, dont forget to give Hawkgirl a smart one-liner, will you? Kewl!) set-up issue for a mini-series showcasing the talents of other writers and artists. The JSA are attacked and trounced by the Injustice Society, which is working for (youll love this one) a demon called Legacy! And we all know that the JSA theme is legacy; how piss poor and contrived is that? Anyway, I got the impression that the next six issues are going to revolve around some of the JSA members getting in touch with their feelings, and maybe, if were really lucky, theyll all have a lovely group hug for a finale. The art is merely pedestrian.



JSA: ALL-STARS 2 Goyer & Johns + Winslade / Loeb + Sale

In the words of Hawkgirl That is so incredibly lame, as she visits her <choke> adopted daughter, and the Golden Age Hawkman is late for dinner. While the retro art on the GA Hawkman vignette has a certain charm, both stories were so slight I reckon they were suffering from a particularly virulent eating disorder. 





THE LEGION 5 Abnett/Lanning & Snejbjerg 

A small band of Legionnaires return to the Galaxy of Legion Lost, to ostensibly lay a few ghosts to rest, and end up defending the Progeny against annihilation.

The Legion renaissance continues admirably under the guest pencils of Peter Snejbjerg, though I miss the regular artist Olivier Coipel.

If you were turned of by the Legion re-boot, then now is the time to get turned back on again. LLL.



THE LEGION 6 Abnett + Lanning & Coipel

The Legion investigate President McCauley and discover something rotten in the State of Denmark. Ras Al Ghul stands revealed as the villain of the piece, and it all ends with yet another explosive climax. This title continues to build in intensity, as Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning invest the Legion with some much-needed excitement. However, the real joy is in Olivier Coipels exquisite pencils. Look out for the small details, as when Chameleon gives the thumbs up to Quantum Kid, and his assured sense of pacing and design. I realised I was smiling when I put this comic down, and that doesnt happen often enough today.



THE LEGION 25 Abnett & Lanning + various

Its 45 years of The Legion, so any excuse for an anniversary issue, yes? Unfortunately, this isnt much of one. Instead of a story, Abnett & Manning opt for a series of sub-plots drawn by their various collaborators, but only two really shine. Eric Wright draws and colours a lovely three pages that captures the naïve early years of The Legion, and Paul Rivoches deceptively simple style effortlessly evokes Element Lads sad story. Dave Cockrum, a seminal Legion artist, has sadly seen better days, while the work of Harris & Feister is too darn clever for its own good. Regular artist Chris Batista still suffers from some rather pedestrian character work and storytelling. Some of the sub-plots are intriguing, and if one is a Legion fan, one will be interested in following them. Otherwise, its not a particularly satisfying read.



THE LEGION 29 Abnett & Lanning + Batista

So let me get this straight. As a result of 31st Century Darkseid transporting his younger self into the future for a punch-up, all time is now unravelling, and everything that is, will now be gone. In, like, a matter of minutes. So why are Violet, Kid Quantum and Superboy standing around grinning like a bunch of loons? Is Batista not being given the correct art direction for the scripts, or does he not know how to draw anything else but shit eating grins? This whole issue seriously lacks any element of tension, and I cant wait for the arc to be done.



LEGION 30  Abnett + Lanning & Batista

Foundations concludes without any noticeable consequence to the last six issues of sound and fury (but very little substance). Batista urgently needs to work on his composition to highlight what is important (especially during the numerous fight scenes, as they are confused and tiresome), while DnA need to improve their dramatic structure to prevent the Legion descending into a mindless series of events without tension.




Someone has taken away the ability of young Naltorians to dream, and Dream Girl, Braniac 5,  Karate Kid and Shadow Lass will find out why. The new series kicks into high gear, as Mark Waid writes a teenage super group for the 31st Century, today, and Barry Kitson realises that concept with a panache not seen since Levitz & Giffen. It’s not your father’s Legion; it’s far too sexy for that.





THE MONOLITH 2 Palmiotti + Gray & Winslade

From what at first seemed a fairly unpromising premise (an everyday story of a girl and her Golem), Palmiotti & Gray have spun an intriguing tale of Depression era New York, modern day crime, the repercussions of an old lady's will upon her street-living niece, and the secrets harboured within the house left to her. Palmiotti & Gray's intelligent script is well served by the atmospheric pencils and inks of Phil Winslade, who manages to perfectly define the world in which these characters exist.





DC: THE NEW FRONTIER 3 Cooke & Stewart

Darwyn Cooke is one of the new breed of comic book creators that can, and does, see the romance in the super-hero genre. Not for Darwyn the broken spirited heroes of today, but rather a time when those gaudy men and women fought the good fight, and flirted, and gave some colour back to the world. Dave Stewart should get a special mention for the colour, an expressionistic palette that he washes across the panels, held in check by Cookes solid blacks; like a stained glass window into a world of adventure. Cooke is writing a period piece for DCs heroes of the 50s, ostensibly telling the story of how the Justice League came to be; but it is so much more than that. It reads as a love letter to our childhood, and to Darwyns belief in Hal Jordan as a man of courage and conviction. Highly recommended.



NEW X MEN 142 Morrison + Bachalo

Cyclops is in a strop over his love life and drowns in self pity at the Hellfire Club. Wolverine shows up to drink him under the table, while imparting some love- lorn advice. Grant Morrison's words carry a character piece that would have been better served by an artist team capable of depicting true emotion, and less reliant on claustrophobic solid blacks.



NEW X MEN 150 Morrison + Jimenez

Magneto, all but abandoned by his Brotherhood of Ugly Mutants while rushing on Kick, is finally despatched as Planet X draws to a brutal close. As promised, an X Man dies, but probably not for long, eh? Morrison has had fun with all the familiar X obsessions, greeting them head on with a fresh eye and producing (at times) a thoroughly gripping soap opera.



NEW X MEN 153  Morrison & Silvestri

150 years into the (possible) future, the Beast has supposedly gone bad, The Phoenix has hatched, Cassandra Nova (Chucks evil twin sister) is leading a rag tag team of X Men, and sundry anonymous mutants are running around. Honestly, I tried, but this was one of the most confusing comics I've read in awhile (ahem, after Superman 200). Disjointed, obscure, dialogue, coupled with Marc Silvestris inarticulate art, had me scratching me head looking for some illumination.





THE O-MEN 24 Martin Eden

 Let's be clear about my prejudices; mainstream spandex is my tonic, and photocopied pamphlets exist somewhere below getting the dog de-loused and a visit to the dentist. Having said that, Martin seems like a nice guy, and a quid wouldn't have bought me another Seventies Supergirl. The O-Men certainly kept me entertained on the train back from Bristol, and while Martin still has a fair way to go in the art department (the figure work is a bit ropey, and the backgrounds leave a lot to be desired), his storytelling is accomplished. The pacing was fine, and the characters immediately drew me in. I might suggest that Martin try using a few more spot blacks to add some extra depth to the panels, and to look at how a greater focus on composition might improve the look of individual pages. The O-Men also has something mainstream comics don't; an (enthusiastic) letter page.  I'll be looking out for issue 25. Is that an omen?



THE ORDER 1 Busiek /Duffy & Haley

 This is a strange kettle ofish. Marvel fumbled the ball with The Defenders re-launch, but this doesnt quite work either. Kurt Busiek & Jo Duffy set up a status quo reminiscent of The Authority, but without that titles dubious panache. Matt Haleys pencils are pleasant enough and adequately convey the words, which are unfortunately lettered in hard to read lower case. This is not a good idea. At least favourites Nighthawk, Hellcat and Valkyrie have a homefor now.





ROSE AND THE THORN 4 Simone + Melo

Gail Simone continues her renovation of Robert Kanigher's Seventies creation, but with modern sensibilities. One may have some slight difficulty recognising the psychotic heroine who likes to play with sharp thingies (while pursuing associates of the 100), but Simone impresses with her assured storytelling and vividly drawn protagonist. Adrianna Melo seems an artist cut from the classic mold, with some slight Jerry Ordway influences. That's not a bad thing.





SEAGUY 1  Morrison & Stewart

I approached this with caution, imagining an obscurity in the tradition of The Invisibles or The Filth, but was thoroughly surprised to find that Grant has worn his super-hero love on his sleeve for all to see, and produced a lovely whimsical confection. Seaguy (accompanied by his buddy the talking tuna) is a hero in a world that has no more need for heroes after a final cataclysmic battle with The Anti-Dad. He may just find things are about to change. Cameron Stewart perfectly captures Grant's whimsy, with a toon style that served him well recently on Catwoman. Please buy this, so we can have a Volume 2.

TS 8


SEAGUY 2 Morrison & Stewart

Morrisons frivolity is infectious, and superbly complemented by Cameron Stewarts effective pencils. I challenge anyone not to giggle at the octopus shepherd, or choke back a sob by the final panel.



SHE HULK 1 Slott & Bobillo

Third time lucky for Bruce Banner's more glamorous cousin? On the evidence presented here - a smart, funny and perfectly paced script- let's hope so. The high concept (Ugh!) is Ally McBeal with superheroes, so Shulkie parties, shags, wins important cases, and saves the world with The Avengers, but is nowhere near as drippy as Ms Flockhart. Juan Bobillo is a find, with an extremely attractive style that matches the mood perfectly.



SHE-HULK 4 Slott & Bobillo

Another pleasing issue as Dan Slott effortlessly infuses Marvel continuity with witty courtroom drama. Juan Bobillo captures the tone of this series with panache, which is more than can be said for the technically skilled, but samey (and sludgy) covers.



1602 3  Gaiman + Kubert

A dull, pompous, and lacklustre load of twaddle for the too cool for school kids. Step back in amazement as some overly familiar Marvel faces wander around in Elizabethan drag doing, erm, well not much of anything really. Nowt more than a trumped up What If?, with even an off panel cameo from The Watcher (did you miss it? Dont worry; Im sure someone will annotate it). Id recap the plot, but my mind wanders so much while reading this that Ive redecorated the bathroom twice over. Buy it, if you must, for the rather fun covers.



SUPERGIRL 69   David & Kirk 

Thats more like it! This title has been meandering for a while now, but the final page promises an imminent resolution to Peter Davids over-extended plot line. Leonard Kirk turns in his usual solid performance, as Supergirl picks a fight with the two lesser members of the Marvel family. While never essential, this book often rewards the faithful.



SUPERGIRL 71 David + Igle

Sometimes I wish Peter David would quit with the flipping comedy routine. On an occasional basis it can be refreshing, but used regularly it becomes mundane and trite. I find it especially hard to relate to his characters and the presumably dire situations they encounter, when any tension is routinely dismissed with a jokey one liner. This is part 199 (or so it seems) of Davids search for the Earth Angel plot, with a few pertinent plot dialogues thrown in to enliven the otherwise tired, old, Aztec sacrifice scenario. Jamal Igles pencils are mostly competent, but lack any character.




Just how many bloody Supergirls does the DC Universe need? Sheesh! Superman knocks around with the instantly forgettable Amok, while contorting himself into positions to make the Elongated Man proud. How the heck is his arse connected to his torso on page one? Buggered if I know. Touted as a jumping on point, Im jumping back off. Steven T Seagle seems to have little of interest to say, and Scott McDaniel understands anatomy as much as I do quantum physics.



SUPERMAN 200 Seagle + McDaniel & Various

Huh???!!! No, seriously, can someone explain this comic to me?



SUPERMAN 204 Azzarello & Lee
This is just a bit odd, and not a lot of fun. One might expect a comic
called Superman to feature a hero doing something, er, super. Azzarello,
instead, is content to play out a conversation between Supes and a Priest,
agonising over a lost of faith and generally being miserable, while making
obtuse references to an event that happened 'one year ago' (whenever that
might be). Lee, inked by Williams, does his usual thing with lots of lines,
which while not bad, certainly has some rough edges and kinks to iron out.
Not super enough for such a fanfared re-launch.


SUPERMAN 205   Azzarello & Lee

Issue 204: take 2. Superman carries on the same tiresome conversation with the priest, but this time, just to liven things up a tad, he eats a peach. Dull, witless, and beyond comprehension.




In the spirit of DC's new philosophy of giving the readers what they want (now there's a challenge), everything old is now new again, as a once familiar face crash lands in Gotham City. Jeph Loeb, bless 'im, bludgeons home the sad fact that Superman is >sob< alone in the world (apart from his superdog-get over it you big wuss) in the first few pages, before, surprise, surprise, a perky cousin from a long dead world shows up for a family reunion. Awwww... Michael Turner's art is kinda scratchy and spiky (his men are hollow-cheeked and the women weirdly eyed), but isn't worth the price of admission when a fair proportion of the dialogue is (infuriatingly) in Kryptonese.  If Loeb wants to be clever, couldnt DC at least provide a glossary?




My eyes! My eyes! Strewth, the art in this book is barely more competent than fan art (check out the final page with an anorexic Wonder Woman, and a Kara that by rights shouldnt be able to stand up properly, considering she has an abdomen that goes on for miles), heavily disguised by garish computer aided colouring effects. I could almost get behind Jeph Loebs overblown dramatics, if they made any sense; as it is, this is Event lead pap, with a glossy veneer.



SUPERMAN/BATMAN 11  Loeb & Turner

Supes, Bats, and Wondy, accompanied by an anorexic Big Barda, travel to Apokolips to rescue Kara in a furiously trite example of crap comics. Turner’s art can only be described as adolescent chicken scratching. 



SUPREME POWER 5 Straczynski + Frank

The pace has picked up somewhat, but where exactly is this series going? Is there a story unfolding as one character after another is slowly introduced? Theres no denying its written and drawn well, but a little impetus would be nice, otherwise itll be 2006 before Lady Lark shows up.



SUPREME POWER 14 Strsczynski & Frank

Near enough 20 years ago, Alan Moore wrote Miracleman 15, in which the eponymous ‘hero’ and his ‘sidekick’ Johnny Bates, kicked the living snot out of each other. If you read that comic, chances are, Déjà vu may not be the only sensation you’ll experience. Gary Frank does well to capture J.Michael’s ‘tribute’ to that past classic, but surely Straczynski has some new ideas to offer?






TIGRA 1 Christina Z & Deodato Jr

Tigra begins an investigation into a vigilante group, The Brethren of the Blue Fist, and discovers a connection to her long deceased husband. While not the most original of plots, Christina Z tells a compelling story, ably assisted by Mike Deodatos

luscious pencils and inks. The dialogue is taut and effective; the art is moody and evocative, and best of all, opens with a moonlit cemetery scene. Thatll do me.



THE TITANS 38 Faerber & Kitson 

Epsilons dark secret is revealed (he washes with Head & Shoulders?), Nightwing declares he knew all along, and Argent gets to express herself. Oh boy.

Probably the best issue in some time, and a perfect example of a skilled artist lifting a mediocre writer. Barry Kitsons pacing has worked wonders for Jay Faerbers script.



THE TITANS 39  Faerber & Kitson

The Titans and the JSA gather at what was Titans Tower for a bit of a chin wag, and new baddies Dark Nemesis get taken down by the Titans while trying to steal some (plot development) files. Not much in the way of a plot, but some pleasant down time characterisation. Jay Faebers dialogue is nicely played; while Barry Kitson continues to elevate this title above its previous level of mediocrity.





ULTIMATE WAR 2 Millar & Bachalo

War. What is it good for? Ultimately nothing! I shant say it again. But I will berate this comic for Mark Millars camp dialogue (is Magneto auditioning for the next Bond villain?), and the art. What you can make out of it, anyway. Its far too dark, with too many spotted blacks (with black borders yet), and some seriously slack storytelling. Consequently, what should have been a truly dramatic scene was lost to obscurity. Did Pietro die at Magnetos hands? Who knows, and ultimately, who cares.

Anyway, Magneto attacks the Ultimates in their base, the X Men talk shop, and the appalling cover reminds one of the shiny loo roll that one used to find in school bogs.



THE ULTIMATES 12 Millar + Hitch

Maybe the wide screen blockbuster, with kewl throwaway lines, approach to comics is getting a tad too last week. Cap battles it out with the Chitauri big wig, while the others do what they can to stem the invasion. But like a kebab from the dodgy shop opposite the all-night garage after a night on the bevy, reading The Ultimates can sometimes only seem like a good idea at the time. Hitch has a nice Joe Kubert thing going on in places, though.



THE ULTIMATES 13 Millar & Hitch

Hahaha! Mr Millar, you had me going there for a while, but I finally got the joke. The last issue of The Ultimates (Volume 1), in all its glory hogging grandeur, beautifully illustrates the shallowness of modern pop culture, and comic book super-heroes in turn. From the banal, bubblegum dialogue, to the crass deconstruction of your fathers heroes, the parody explicitly works as an essay on pointlessness, strengthened further in its reach by Mr Hitchs inimitable, over-rendered pencils. The pompous preoccupations of yoof culture have never been summed up better, than in the legend Hulk straight! The Ultimates has been a work of true genius, and deserves a re-reading cast in this new light.



UNCANNY X-MEN 446 Claremont & Davis

<-> What a bloomin’ let down. Claremont had the perfect opportunity to kill of annoying characters like Bishop and Cannonball last issue, by letting Fury, the unstoppable killing machine, do its’ job. Still, there’s always hope.





WONDER WOMAN 178  Jimenez & Martinez 

Our woman of wonder goes on a date, and gets all fruity with potential new boyfriend Trevor Barnes, a man who never seems to smile. Meanwhile, Wonder Girl mopes over a letter from an estranged relative. I smell a sub plot.

New artist Roy Allan Martinez has a sedate, but expressive style, perfectly suited to Phil Jimenezs soap operatics.

But dont forget the Troia short. I did.



WONDER WOMAN 179 Jimenez & Martinez

Wonder Woman and her damsel in distress, Trevor Barnes, begin their adventure in Skartaris; encountering dinosaurs, munchkins with dialogue impediments, and Giganta of the newly formed Villainy, Inc. Roy Allan Martinezs art is lovely to look at, though he isnt too assured on action sequences, working best in the quieter scenes. The real problem here is Phil Jimenezs pedestrian plotting and dull dialogue. Perhaps a stronger editorial presence would be of benefit to the overall quality of this title.



WONDER WOMAN 180   Jimenez & Martinez 

Oops! I think the plot fell out of my copy of this book. Anyway, Phil Jimenez strings together some Villainy Inc. Secret Files and laces them with tedious exposition. Roy Allan Martinez turns in some uneven art, and the most interesting thing around is Trevor Barnes new, erm, fey look. You go girl!



WONDER WOMAN 184  Jimenez & Jimenez

An absolutely stunning cover by Adam Hughes, that made me want to read the darned thing. After months of fill-in artists, Phil Jimenez returns to full art chores, and what a difference it makes. His pacing improves considerably, though the story itself is apparently a farce; that will account for Wonder Woman twirling into Miss America then. Yep, its a time travel story, with all the usual fan boy nonsense about not interfering with the time stream, and a herd of comedy dinosaurs.



WONDER WOMAN 188  Jimenez & Jimenez

Did we really need this? For his final issue, Jimenez indulges himself by incorporating just about every naff costume the saintly Lynda Carter ever wore, in the TV show that will forever live on in the minds of certain fans. Anyone for a skateboarding Princess of Themyscira? When not satisfying this unnatural urge, Jimenez took some time to wrap up some dangling plotlines (but not all), and ends on a cheery high note to end another day in the life of Wonder Woman.



WONDER WOMAN 189 Simonson & Ordway

Hurrah! Walt Simonson takes over for a six-month story arc, and my interest increases ten fold. Simonson opens with an intriguing premise, with enough foreshadowing and plot to keep me guessing. Wonder Woman has vanished without a trace, but who is that woman dressed in white with a warriors heart? It was great to see Diana react instinctively and decisively for once, despite her apparent confusion, and Jerry Ordways (with P Craig Russell on inks) pencils are fluid and dynamic without fussy attention to detail. Above all, this was just a rollicking good comic book.



WONDER WOMAN 194 Simonson + Ordway

The Game of the Gods 189-194: Always meant to be an interim period between creators, Walt Simonson focused on telling a story exploring who Wonder Woman is, her relationship to the gods, and to generally have fun with DCs, supposedly, premiere heroine. To that end, he stripped her of her powers, gave her a new do (OH MY GOD, THEY CUT WONDER WOMANS HAIR!), instilled in her a sense of humour, and gave her a badass opponent in the form of The Shattered God. This generally played out well, but the first and last parts were definitely the strongest, while the middle was, sadly, a bit flabby. That said, the conclusion was more than satisfying, and laid to rest a supporting cast member who took more than his fair share of criticism. Jerry Orways art invoked a time when storytelling was more important than over rendered panels, but never seemed to quite gel with the inks of P Craig Russell, a usually very sensitive inker.



WONDER WOMAN 195 Rucka + Johnson

Another new creative team, and another new direction; this time Diana does The West Wing-which is no bad thing when one remembers that it wasnt so long ago that it was Diana does Sunset Beach. This is an introductory, getting to know you, scene setter, and fulfils its obligations in a perfunctory, but entertaining, manner. Theres a new cast, and a new status quo, and Rucka seems to have a firm grasp on his themes and direction; which hopefully will be bought into sharper focus when the main event begins. The biggest disappointment is Drew Johnsons art, which is not entirely up to professional standards. His anatomy and perspective are poor, and he doesnt exactly imbue his characters with any real sense of being. He may grow into the job, but Id rather not pay to see someone learn on the go on such a high profile project.



WONDER WOMAN 196 Rucka + Johnson

Oh dearie me! Perhaps in an effort to prove that the pen really is mightier than the sword, Wonder Woman publishes a book of her essays and pious thoughts, the local chapter of a kids WW club gets closed down as a result, and some Machiavellian scheming is undertaken to discredit Diana through her words. As if. It wont set any hearts racing with pulse-pounding action, but Ruckas deft words and Johnsons improving pencils are a start in the right direction.



WONDER WOMAN 197 Rucka + Johnson

Eek! Madame Ambassador, after risking repetitive strain injury during yet another book signing, has a friendly little chat with an agitated Bluebird, and rushes to the scene of a forest fire, presumably to save all his friends. Once there though, she doesnt do much of, erm, anything, apart from convince The Flash that it is best to do nowt but protect property. How <choke> ironic that this issue was released the same month that vast acres of California were devastated by wildfires. Its competently written, and adequately drawn, but just a tad worthy and dull.



WONDER WOMAN 199 Rucka + Johnson

The penultimate issue before the, supposedly, grand conclusion to Down To Earth, and still the story is bogged down in ideology. Some great characterisation, and Rucka has succeeded in making the gods interesting at long last (no more moping about in togas), but there doesnt seem to be any real sense of drama. Johnsons pencils, when hes not drawing some ropey looking figure work, have a smooth, plastic quality thats not very endearing, nor interesting.



WONDER WOMAN 200 Rucka + Johnson & Various

Hey ho, so its issue 200, and the old girl celebrates being 60 and a bit years old. But quite frankly, she hasnt got a great deal to celebrate at the moment. Rucka is a fine writer, but hes not suited to super-heroics (and no, Wonder Woman should not be an Ambassador) and seems to have a vague repulsion at the thought that she might actually have to hit someone, sometime, somewhere. Johnson is particularly bad this time around, with stiff, unnatural figure work, fluffed fight scenes (what exactly was happening during the fight with Silver Swan, eh?), lousy layouts and a splash page of Paradise (floating) Island crashing into the sea that looks like nowt more than a kiddies toy being knocked over in the bath. It would be incongruous to describe this as the conclusion to Down To Earth. Its nothing of the sort. The Golden Age and Silver Age pastiches are generally fun, but arent really anything more than filler, and Wonder Girl narrating the story of Medusa is a snore. There are some text pages made up to look like pages from a Newspaper that purport to give some insight into that book that Dianas been writing, but I couldnt be arsed to read them.



WONDER WOMAN 201 Rucka & Davis

A much needed step in the right direction, as Rucka ups the ante in the aftermath of Themysciras destruction. Guest artist Shane Davis is a vast improvement on regular artist Drew Johnston, providing clear, action-packed visuals to complement Ruckas strong script; I am, however, still mystified as to how Diana stops the Tsunami from laying waste to the Carolinas? Did she use her Wonder Scream, perchance?



WONDER WOMAN 203 Rucka & Sadowski

Hi, Im Veronica Cale, and this is my story; so that bitch Diana can bog off for the month. Rucka gives us the inside story on Wonder Womans new nemesis, and its all very (yawn) interesting. Her motives are mundane; poor little girl makes good, has her thunder stolen by the perfect woman, so turns to Machiavellian scheming and murder. Boo hoo!



WONDER WOMAN 212 Rucka & Raiz

This comic might just have passed the grade, if I accept that everything leading up to this point was Ruczka’s idea of foreplay, but it was blown by the execrable inks of Ray Snyder over guest artist James Raiz. Page 8, top panel; are there really editors at DC that pass this work of as professional? Wonder Woman is blind, so the JLA have to beat her up to prove a point, she trots off  to say to say something at a Memorial service (her role in the DC Universe nowadays, it seems), and then gets god-napped into her next adventure. This comic is the reading equivalent of waking up next morning, after the night before, and realising you should have taken the night bus home instead.




















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