Thursday, February 24, 2011

Drawing the Line at $2.99

Back in November, I read about DC Comics’ “Drawing the Line at $2.99” event in Previews. That sounded good. Even better, was using the opportunity to lower all its $2.99 books to $1.64 in January. So I ordered a lot of books to try them out – not just DC titles but Marvel titles too. Then I bought a few more books from my local comic store, Southern California Comics.

I thought the event and the cheap books would be a great way to do what DC intended and try out a bunch of new titles to the tune of 32 titles which I've reviewed.

A few things I want to comment on or point out before I begin:

January’s DC books call for readers to write in as they are re-establishing the letters pages in their books.

DC’s white covers with shots of the stars of the books help establish this month as an event.

DC’s lack of a “Previously” up front keeps a new reader from following what’s happening in the book but Marvel does a pretty good job of telling you what you need to know.

X-FACTOR #213 by Peter David & Valentine DeLandro
The “Previously” (the blurb at the beginning of all Marvel books that gives you a snapshot of what happened before so you’re not lost) had a snippet of the Big Bang Theory’s theme song. That was awesome – I’m a big fan of the show. Rahne pregnant, Rictor & Shatterstar gay, Siryn alive – a lot of things I didn’t know as I haven’t checked in on these characters in years. The issue features fallout from previous issues and there is no action but a lot of great dialogue. Darwin leaves the team and Pip the Troll forces his way on. X-Factor has been a quirky title but I haven’t known it to be interesting for more than a few issues. So while it was nice to visit, I won’t be picking up the next issue.

BATMAN BEYOND #1 by Adam Beechen & Ryan Benjamin
If you aren’t familiar Batman-Beyond-lore, this #1 will feel like number #100. You’re not going to understand the many relationships or what’s going on. I had to figure out through dialogue that Dana was not only Terry’s girlfriend but she knew he was Batman. In this issue, Terry’s mom and brother are taken hostage in a mall, Terry goes to rescue them and runs into the Justice League. Like I said, I was kind of lost and Terry’s an okay Batman (and the animated series was a lot of fun) so I won’t be back next month.

ADVENTURE COMICS #522 by Paul Levitz & Geraldo Borges
Mon-El is a Green Lantern with the most kick-ass blending of a Green Lantern and Superman costume ever. In this issue Sun Killer tries to free Saturn Queen – no idea what’s going on. Of the five Legionnaires on the cover, we only see Dawnstar who’s only in a panel or two (in one of those Empire Strikes Back healing tubes – no idea what happened there either). This book sucked but if they ever put out a Mon-El Green Lantern action figure, I’ll pick that puppy up.

SHE-HULKS #3 by Harrison Wilcox & Ryan Stegman
Stegman’s artwork is great. It reminds me of Arthur Adams or Dan Fraga. This issue features the fallout of a classmate discovering Lyra’s secret as she and She-Hulk go after Klaw and The Mad Thinker. The art and story are bright and fluffy – perfect for younger readers while being interesting enough to keep my attention. Lyra is the the daughter of her universe’s Hulk and Thundra. When the trade paperback is offered for the first couple issues of this title I might pick it up.

WONDER GIRL #1 by JT Krul & Adriana Melo
Wonder Girl has grown a lot since she John Byrne introduced her to the DC Universe. It’s an alright issue with her mom being a jerk (I don’t remember her mom being a jerk in the Byrne run – she was a good friend of Wonder Woman). I did like that it was a complete story. A first issue of a series usually tries to rope you into a story arc before you know whether you like the title. This one gives you an opportunity to meet Wonder Girl, go on an adventure with her, and ends. Paul Dini did a lot of great one-issue stories in Detective Comics. This story was not great and I probably won’t be back for a while.

X-MEN FOREVER 2 #15 by Chris Claremont & Andy Smith
Three Storms, Wolverine dead, Black Panther dead, Kitty with claws, a fight with The Avengers, and Havok gets killed. The great thing about doing the ‘Forever’ books is the chance to go back to a place and time and be free from the cannon of the books and do whatever you want because it’s like an alternate universe. I would say I hate the book but, viewed as an alternate universe where Chris could nuke New York City and it wouldn’t affect the titles I do like it. I won’t be back for the next issue but it wasn’t a bad read.

BATMAN AND ROBIN #19 by Paul Cornell & Scott McDaniel
The last part of a storyline featuring a villain with a literal hole in her head. Ugh. Won’t be back for seconds on this title.

SUPERMAN #707 by J. Michael Straczynski & Allan Goldman
Superman vs moral ambiguity? I reviewed the first two issues in JMS’s run and was interested in seeing where the story would go. Now I see he’s looking to destroy the character like he tried to destroy the Amazing Spider-Man (which featured Spidey being revealed as a kind of literal spider who kind of died, cocooned up, and rehatched – I don’t remember it real well because it took a lot of Brian-Michael-Bendis-Ultimate-Spidey to scrub my brain of JMS stories). I won’t be back to this title – I’ve begun to associate JMS with ‘things I will not read.’

GREEN LANTERN EMERALD WARRIORS #6 by Peter J. Tomasi & Fernando Pasarin
Guy Gardner in action. A fight with fellow lanterns who he’s been holding things back from and when he does reveal what he’s up against, in typical dramatic fashion, the lanterns complain about feeling betrayed and bail on him. *Yawn* For a bunch of intergalactic cops, they sure have thin skins. I’m not picking this up next issue.

BOOSTER GOLD #40 by Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Pat Olliffe, and Rich Perrotta
It’s much of Booster’s origin story told to one of his rogues gallery. Out of all the books I’ve read, this is a perfect jumping-on point for readers. Booster also takes on Hit Point and is arrested by Rip Hunter to stand trial in the 25th Century (because that’s where he stole the equipment to become Booster Gold). If I’d known Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis were writing this book I might have checked it out sooner but I will be checking in next month to see where the story goes.

POWER GIRL #20 by Judd Winick & Sami Basri
In this issue, Power Girl vs Evo’s creations and runs into Max Lord who puts it in her head to go after the JLI. To be fair, I’ve been getting this book since #16 and loving it. If you read #19 you know the impact of what Max Lord did to the world when Power Girl convinces the Justice Society and Batman that Max is real, only to have the entire room forget what they were talking about at the same time. Max Lord being back and making the world forget he existed is a fresh way to reinvent the villain. I love the title and will absolutely be getting the next issue.

BLACK PANTHER MAN WITHOUT FEAR #514 by David Liss & Francesco Francavilla
T’Challa lost his powers and his homeland and now, in the wake of Daredevil’s recent breakdown, has taken the mantle of Hell’s Kitchen’s protector. I’d heard that Dr. Doom took Wakanda away but I expected T’Challa to be all about helping to get his homeland back even if he wasn’t on the throne anymore. Anyway, in this issue he’s dealing with Vlad, who is trying to be the next kingpin of crime. T’Challa is working as a diner manager when Vlad’s latest attempt to lure him out and kill him gets David, one of T’Challa’s employees, instead. I hate the noir/moody artwork but the story is really good. There’s even a great bit with Luke Cage offering to help and T’Challa turning him down. Cage reminds him that Daredevil left a big mess and if he didn’t clean it up soon, he could expect help whether he wanted it or not. This is good enough to pick up a few back issues and see where the story is going.

DAREDEVIL REBORN #1 by Andy Diggle & Davide Gianfelice
Following the events of Shadowland, Matt Murdock takes a Forrest-Gump-like walk. Matt walks into a town where there are unfriendly rednecks, corrupt cops, and a mass grave. I normally don’t like ‘reborn’ stories – I like it when the character goes away for a while so I can miss them – but this story was good and I can’t wait for Matt to lay the smack down on their candy asses. I will tune in to the next issue to see what happens.

WOLVERINE #5 by Jason Aaron & Renato Guedes
I can’t tell you how uninterested in reading a story about Wolverine in hell or another ‘someone’s controlling Wolverine and he’s attacking his friends’ story. But in this issue, Logan comes face to face with his father and it’s a cool scene. Plus two Ghost Riders, Mystique, and Daniel Hellstrom appear. It’s nice to see Jason Aaron isn’t being wasted on this title. I’ll tune in next month to see what happens.

X-MEN LEGACY #244 by Mike Carey & Harvey Tolibao
Blindfold has visions of something hidden, waiting to strike at the X-Men and her search leads her to a spider-octopus monster. Unfortunately, the spider-monster thing isn’t what Blindfold’s vision warned her about. I haven’t gotten more than a few issues of this title in years but I was a huge Young X-Men fan so I knew and care about Blindfold. But Gambit has some kind of evil shadow-thing inhabiting him – what’s up with that? Still, it was an entertaining story and worth reading but I probably won’t pick up #245.

X-MEN #7 by Victor Gischler, Chris Bachalo, and Tim Townsend
A small team of X-Men go to New York to investigate disappearances and run into Spider-Man. I love team-up stories but Spidey doesn’t show up until the last page. Still, I love an old-school story of the X-Men in the field searching or investigating something (not stuck on the island AGAIN discussing how bad things are for mutants). I probably won’t pick up the next issue but I’m absolutely getting it if Marvel collects the story arc in a trade paperback.

X-MEN TO SERVE AND PROTECT #3 by Chris Yost, Derec Donovan, Marc Guggenheim, Eric Koda, Nick Abodzis, Steven Sanders, and Dalibor Talajic
This issue had four stories. They were all really good but the one that stood out the most was a short featuring Kitty and Peter going to the Fantastic Four for help making Kitty solid again. Sue and Kitty have a great conversation about how isolated Kitty’s become and what if felt like to be trapped alone for as long as she was. I live for this kind of story – pure, meaningful interaction. What can I tell you? When this is released as a trade paperback, I’m getting it.

WOLVERINE & JUBILEE #1 by Kathryn Immonen & Phil Noto
Jubilee’s a vampire now? I was looking forward to two old friends reconnecting and got a boring story instead. Ugh.

BATMAN #706 by Tony Daniel
Riddler’s a bad guy again? Catwoman has a sidekick with her own catsuit? What the hell is going on? I get Streets of Gotham (not issues, I have all the collected editions) and I’ve gotten a few various Batman issues over the past few months and that’s a lot of stuff I didn’t know. I didn’t get a big enough taste in this issue to get what was going on but I think it would be worth picking up the trade paperback.

ACTION COMICS #897 by Paul Cornell & Pete Woods
Lex interviews The Joker about a dark sphere. Eh/Ugh.

SUPERGIRL #60 by Nick Spencer, James Peaty, and Bernard Chang
Alex has mental powers and is out to destroy Supergirl. This issue was interesting even if I didn’t always know who the villain was or what was going on. It was nice to see a story featuring a college kid who is trying to kill Supergirl and one of the usual rogues. This might be worth getting in trade paperback but I’m on the fence.

SUPERMAN BATMAN #80 by Chris Roberson & Jesus Merino
Epoch vs Batman, Robin, and Superman of the present and of the future as he tries to rule the world. To be fair, I picked up #79 because it had the Batman, Robin, and Superman from DC One Million (while I don’t really remember what happened or if I liked it, I do remember the DC One Million event). It’s a great two issue story that really does a good job of telling the reader that no matter where the time traveling villain goes, if there is any version of the World’s Finest, they have no shot at winning. Pick up #79 and #80 if it’s at your local comic store.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #56 by Tony Bedard & Tyler Kirkham
Green Lanterns protect Qwardians without their rings (in order to preserve a truce) as Sinestro vs the Weaponer. I liked seeing the Corps have to fight without the benefit of their rings but it wasn’t a great story, I won’t be back next month.

ZATANNA #9 by Paul Dini & Cliff Chiang
Zatanna decides to help someone reverse a curse her father put on him. This is a title I want to love because it’s written by Paul Dini and I’m a huge fan. I tried the first three issues of this series and wasn’t impressed then and I’m still not impressed. Oh, and there’s a backup story (and by back up, I mean about a third of the issue) by Adam Beecham & Jamal Igle about a young Zatanna getting braces (there’s a scene where she’s literally spitting on people while trying to talk with her new braces – gross). I’m not likely to pick up any more issues.

AGE OF X ALPHA #1 by lots of creators
Short stories featuring the origins of characters from this alternate universe where mutants are hunted and destroyed and only a few remain to fight back. Not bad but not great. It makes me miss The Exiles (the Judd Winick/Tony Bedard run – not volume 2 and New Exiles). I won’t be participating in this event and picking up any more issues. Spider-Man doesn’t have a yearly alternate-universe event every year, why do X-Men titles have to?

CAPTAIN AMERICA #614 by Ed Brubaker & Butch Guice
The new Red Skull interrupts Bucky’s trail to propose a trade: Bucky for Black Widow and Falcon. And a Nomad back up story. Even Ed Brubaker can’t make a super-hero trial interesting or make the new Red Skull threatening. Still, it’s always nice to see Nomad – as the only leftover character from the Heroes Reborn event, I’m digging her in The Young Allies. I won’t be back for the next issue.

UNCANNY X-FORCE #4 by Rick Remender & Jerome Opena
Apocalypse has been resurrected in the form of an innocent child. X-Force wants to kill him but Psylocke stands between them. When Wolverine and Archangel each get the chance to kill him and can’t Fantomex takes him out. A great issue that really gets to the heart of what each character is about and takes each to the edge of what they’re willing or not willing to do. An intense issue and will definitely be worth picking up the next issue to see what happens.

TITANS #31 by Eric Wallace, Fabrizio Fiorentino, and Philip Tan
I used to get the title as a collected edition but I got two lousy collected editions in a row (which essentially means 8 to 10 books) and stopped. So I decided to pay this title a visit. It seems that the title is now about Deathstroke and a team he’s assembled which includes Arsenal (if he’s still going by that name). In this issue, Ink kills Slipknot for killing his son while Amon goes on a killing spree, looking for a way to free Isis. Ummm….I’m not going back next month.

TEEN TITANS #91 by JT Krul & Nicola Scott
The team ends their latest adventure. Lady Deathstroke and Robin (Damian) fight side-by-side and Robin gains a grudging respect for her skill as they compare notes on how severe their parent’s training was. Superboy breaks up with Wonder Girl and Red Robin calls for help. I used to get this title but it got boring so I bailed on it. Looks like I gave up on this title too soon. Kick ass action and great interaction makes this a title I’ll definitely get collected editions for.

RED ROBIN #19 by Fabian Nicieza & Marcus To
Some kind of sub-conscious adventure. I was so bored that I only read the first half and skimmed the rest.

SECRET SIX #29 by Gail Simone & Marcus Marz
Luther vs Vandal Savage with the Secret Six in the middle. There’s some nice stuff with Bane (who knew he had a personality). It was a good story even if I didn’t really know what was going on. I’ll pick up next month’s issue to see what happens.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #53 by James Robinson & Mark Bagley
The new Justice League of America team takes on the Crime Syndicate. Some of the best JLA issues featured the Crime Syndicate (my favorite DC animated movie is Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths) but I haven’t seen a different mix of Justice League members take them on. With Superman, Batman (the Bruce Wayne version), Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Martian Manhunter, victory was always assured. But this new team is Batman (Dick Grayson), Supergirl, Donna Troy, Jesse Quick, and Jade. I’m definitely getting this in collected edition. I’m happy Mark Bagley is going back to end the Ultimate Spider-Man title but his art on this book was amazing.
This kick-ass poster was given away to promote the event.

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