Sunday, March 28, 2010

Starman Rundown

Starman 101:

Theodore Knight- was an astronomer and physicist who developed a staff that can manipulate stellar energy. He decided to become a mystery man with it and joined the JSA. His cousin Sandra Knight, by coincidence, also became a "mystery man" [well woman] as the first Phantom Lady. He remained active until the JSA was forced into retirement in 1951. In his civilian identity he was involved in developing the atomic bomb and later suffered a breakdown over the guilt. He later resumed his superhero career along with many of his JSA colleagues. He was trapped in another dimension for several years and resumes his superhero career on an infrequent basis until his son David takes over. His first appearence was in Adventure Comics #61 (1941). He was created by Gardner Fox and Jack Burnley.

Starman of 1951- was an unidentified person who operated only in Opal City using star themed gimmicks. He only was seen for a year. [Batman had a brief identity as Starman in Detective Comics #247 (1957)

Mikaal Tomas/Michael Thomas "Blue Starman"- was an alien who came to Earth during the 70's to conquer it, but turned against his people to defend it. He was named Starman by people because of his blue skin. He wore a sonic crystal that later became embeded in his body and could fire a blast of energy. He first appeared in 1st Issue Special #12 (1976). He came from Talok III the sister planet (Talok VIII) of Shadow Lass from the Legion Of Super-Heroes.

Prince Gavyn- was created by Paul Levitz and Steve Ditko in Adventure Comics # 467 (1980). He is an alien from a world named Throneworld. He was a mutant who could survive in space, he then aquired wristbands and a staff which allowed him to channel cosmic energies. Originally he had a secret identity as a spoiled prince until his sister, who ruled, was assassinated. He supposedly died during the Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Will Payton- was an Earth man who gained super strength, durability, the ability to fly, shoot energy bolts and alter his appearence from a beam of light from outer space. He used these powers to become a superhero and took the name Starman. He was created by Roger Stern and Tom Lyle in Starman #1 (1988).

David Knight- first showed up to challenge Will Payton for using the Starman name in Starman #26 (1990). Payton was unaware of a Starman legacy, but a headstrong David started a fight. David lost the fight and realized that he had made a mistake in attacking Payton. He decided that he was not ready to be Starman yet and until he was, Payton would do the name justice. Then when Payton died he resumed his career only to be killed by the son of the Mist.

Jack Knight- reluctantly took up the mantle when his brother died. He was the main character of the series.

Thom Kalor/Danny Blaine- is the adult Star Boy of the Legion Of Super-Heroes from the 31st Century who came back in time. He spent time on Earth-22 (Kingdom Come) and is a current member of the JSA even though the time travel has given him some mental health problems.

Farris Knight- is a descendant of Jack Knight. He is from the 853rd Century and was seen as part of the DC One Million event in JLA #23 (1998)

The O'Dares- are a family of cops going back several generations in Opal City. William "Billy" O'Dare befriended Ted Knight when he was Starman. His sons and daughter all became cops and friends of the Knights. There is Clarence, Matt, Barry, Mason and Hope.

The Shade- started out as a Golden Age Flash Villain who had gained powers over an energy from another demension that appeared as shadows in ours. Alternating between vicious and rediculous in his crimes he never aged and had been made immortal by the same energy long before he encountered the Flash in the 40's. Whatever crimes he has committed or will commit, he would never break the law in Opal as he considers it his home. He also believes that Opal's most famous protector will be reincarnated and he thinks that Jack may be it.

The Savages- are another family that have been protectors of Opal through history. Brian "Scalphunter" Savage was raised by native Americans and became a lawman. He was sheriff of Opal during it's early days in the 1880's. His son Stephen Savage became a WWI hero and adventurer in the 20's known as Balloonbuster.

The Series (in TPB)

Sins Of The Fathers (Starman #0,1-5)- The Mist, a dying villain of the Golden Age Starman, launches one last crime spree trying to kill his old foe and his family and the city he loves. The Mist is helped by his son and daughter. When the current Starman, David Knight, is murdered his younger brother Jack is forced to pick up the mantle of his brother and father to prevent further attacks. He finds an ally in another villain, The Shade, who calls Opal City home. The Mist is defeated and is declared to have dementia. Then Jack receives a visit from the ghost of his brother.

Night And Day (Starman #7-10,12-16)- Jack finds the blue alien Starman of the seventies in a traveling freak show that has a sinister owner. Then Jack stumbles onto a gentle version of Solomon Grundy. And finally the Mist's daughter Nash escapes, goes through the same process that gave her dad powers and becomes the new Mist. She orchestrates a revenge plot. Revenge for the death of her brother at the hands of Jack Knight and for something that was taken from her father when several people were shown a "secret lair" of his by Ted Knight. This is played out over several issues that are the same day just from different peoples POV and includes a fight between the elderly Ted Knight and Dr Phosphorus and a gamot that she tests Jack with.

A Wicked Inclination (Starman #17, 19-27)- Jack investigates disappearences caused by a poster that is a gateway to hell (and the inspiration for Dorian Grey). He is sidetracked by David's ghost returning for a visit. This time he brings his mother along to see Jack. Then the Golden Age Sandman calls for some help in a case and Jack can't resist a team-up with the pulp hero. Returning to Opal Jack faces the demon responsible for the poster. And the Knights and O'Dares spend Christmas Eve together.

Times Past (Starman #6,11,18,28, Annual #1, Starman Secret Files #1)- These are a collection of one issue adventures in the past that had some bearing to the current story arc but were not a part of the arc itself. Jack and Ted each talk about their feelings about the other to a stranger. The Shade has an adventure in 1882 Paris. The fresh out of limbo JSA go after Rag Doll and his murderous cult. The Golden Age Starman and Mist meet for the first time and the secret lair is shown off to people who helped defeat the Mist (this leads to the events in Night and Day). In 1976 the Mikaal Starman battles another of his race. And in the 31st Century the Shade tells some children about the Prince Gavyn Starman and how the O'Dare and Knight families became friends

Infernal Devices (Starman #29-35, 37-38)- Introduces Jake "Bobo" Banetti, a super strong and near invulnerable foe of Starman's from the late 50's and early 60's(made up for this series). He is released from jail and instead of robbing a bank he ends up stopping one from being robbed. As a mad bomber threatens the city the ghost of Jon Valor, The Black Pirate asks help from Jack to release his trapped soul by solving the murder of his son. When Grundy is injured in a blast Jack inlists the aid of Sentinel, Batman and Jason Woodrue to enter the mind of Grundy to wake him up. Then during the final confrontation with the bomber he loses his powers (along with most DC heroes during the Genesis event) and the Shade saves the city. Finally the Mist relates her killing of a "Justice League" team to her infant son and reveals that he will soon meet his father.

To Reach The Stars (Starman Annual #2, #39-41, 43, 45, Power Of Shazam #35-36)- Jack meets a girl and falls in love. He tells her three stories about "heroes" and love while discussing their relation ship. He tells how Scalphunter met a rich society woman and they fell in love, but it ended when their worlds (high society and gunslinging) clashed. He then tells about his father's affair with the Golden Age Black Canary. Finally he tells her how his brother broke up with his fiance over being Starman. She then tells him that she is Will Payton's sister and she is certain he is alive and she asks Jack to find him. Jack first gets involved with proving that the WWII hero Bulletman is not a traitor after evidence is uncovered that he worked for the Nazis. Bulletman once saved Starman's life so both Ted and Jack feel they have a debt to repay. This brings Jack into conflict with Captain Marvel. Meanwhile the Shade helps Matt O'Dare to become clean by eliminating the mob that "owns" him. Then Jack makes preparations to leave on his quest to find Will Payton. He gets help from the JLA, a ship from the Shade (Verne/Wells like Victorean era rocket) and visits several people to make sure Opal is protected.

A Starry Knight (Starman #47-53) In space Mikaal and Jack find a version of Solomon Grundy. While Jack battles him David's ghost visits Mikaal. They then pass through a black cloud and find out they are in the 30th Century when they meet Star Boy and Shadow Lass. They find out that the dark cloud that brought them here has engulfed Star Boy's home planet. When trying to return to their present they overshoot and arreive on Krypton and meet a young Jor-El. They escape ending up in a zoo and return to the correct time, but not before Jack helps nudge history. They then land on Rann and help Adam Strange when an old enemy of Mikaal's kidnaps his daughter Aleea.

Stars My Destination (Starman #55-60) Starts off withan alien who changes stories of a battle envolving Starman (Kirby homage included). Then the story goes to Earth and all the heroes that are protecting Opal while Jack is away. Then the "true" events of that story unfold as Jack and Mikaal find out someone has taken over Throneworld by marrying Gavyn's widow. They join a rag tag resistance group including Fastbak of the New Gods and Tigorr of the Omega Men. They find Will Payton, who is also Prince Gavyn and restore him to the throne. Sardath then sends Jack and Mikaal back to Earth via Zeta Beam.

Grand Guignol (Starman #61-73) Jack returns and then goes off to the first few JSA adventures. When he returns Opal is a mess under seige by the Shade and a bunch of criminals he has recruited including Grundy and the Mist II. It turns out that the Shade is being controled by his enemy, Culp, who shares the same source for powers. Over the centuries he has been able to take periodic control over Shade which accounts for his strange behavior. Now he wants to be in control for good and take over Opal City. He has been manipulating people since the start of the series and has had Barry O'Dare in his pocket. Amidst the chaos, Ted remembers when the wives and girlfriends including his future wife of the JSA donned versions of their costumes to rescue them. The heroes finally turn the tide against Culp, after Adam Strange and Gavyn/Payton arrive with help from Rann and Throneworld. The Mist suddenly reappears with his full mind and kills Culp after his powers are removed. The Mist announces he plans to destroy Opal City with a nuke. And a Starman makes the ultimate sacrifice for the city. The city then has the funeral for the fallen Starman.

{Grand Guignol is a term from a French theatre. It is became used to describe a certain style of play that was popular at the turn of the century in Paris. These were pieces that had characters involved in the midst of some horrific calamity that often claimed the lives of the characters at the climax in a naturalistic way with realistic stage effects.}

Sons Of The Father (Starman #74-80) Jack is left without a father and with a child. He comes to terms with this and the fact that his girlfriend has left Opal. He then goes into the past to find out who the Starman of 1951 is. Once he has finished his adventure in the past, Jack decides that Opal is safe and he can find his girlfriend and live a normal life. He gives his cosmic staff to Courtney Whitmore to carry on the Knight legacy and she changes her name to Stargirl.

Issues # 36,42,44 and 54 are not reprinted. They were more Times Past stories. In order, they are a Will Payton Starman and Batman story, a GA Starman and Demon story, a GA Starman and Phantom Lady story and a Scalphunter story.

Further Reading:

See JSA Rundown

The Shade #1-4 (1996) mini series

Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #1-14 or Vol. 1 & 2 TPB

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Random Thoughts 7

With lots of deaths in the news lately I'd like to remember:
  • Peter Graves- Mr. Phellps on Mission Impossible (1960's and 1980's), Capt. Ouver in Airplane, the "mole" Price in Stalag 17 and the MST3K/Sci-Fi "classics" It Conquered The World and The Beginning Of The End
  • Robert Culp- Kelly Robinson on I-Spy (check out episodes on Hulu), Bill Maxwell on "Greatest American Hero" and Halcyon Renard on Gargoyles
  • Dick Giordano- artist and inker of hundreds of DC comics including Batman, Detective Comics, Action Comics and the inker that helped "make" Neal Adams including the Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Ras' Al Ghul Batman stories.

-Johnny Stor....I mean, Chris Evans is Captain America! Really...? Sure he was the best thing in two FF movies, but I don't know if he has the chops to be the Cap I want to see. Then is the Cap in the movie gonna BE the Cap I want to see?

-So...Marvelman's in and Sentry's out?....Is that where things are going?

-Lost: Last episode just answered almost all the questions there were about Richard. Only two more months left...

Not much, 'til next time!

This Week's Comic Stack 3/24/10

This was a heavy Marvel week, but the two DC books were big ones.

The Good:

  • Green Lantern #52-The penultimate (always wanted to use that word) chapter in Blackest Night covers a lot. We see the creation of the universe and the avatars of light and their relation to Judea-Christian belief. The many corps work together to prevent Xanshi from destroying Earth. Lots of stuff happening to lead into Blackest Night #8.
  • Superman #698- Mon-El tries to free Kal from Brainiac/Luther who threaten the other shrunken cities for his surrender. Another long story nears it's conclusion.

  • Avengers: The Initiative #34- Chaos reigns as contingents of the team are involved with battles at Camp HAMMER and in Broxton/Asgard. The Shadow Initiative join the Avengers resistance and Penance reveals himself as Robbie Baldwin (New Warriors reunion please!). Bucky faces off against Taskmaster. Diamondback and Constrictor's relationship reaches a turning point when sides have to be chosen. Unfortunately, that's when Sentry brings Asgard down. Fits nicely in with the main Siege event dealing with the shock event in the last Siege issue.

  • Mighty Avengers #35- Ultron takes over Avengers Infinite Mansion and we see where Thor sent the Wasp (Janet) at the end of Secret Invasion. I hope some of the concepts and team members find their way into the "new" Avengers books coming out. This is a series that ended just as it was really taking off.

  • Marvels Project #7- I like how Brubaker is tying everything together in this issue. I loved the Brian Falsworth/Keen Marlowe/Mighty Destroyer bit.

  • The Stand: Soul Survivors #5- the halfway point of the thirty issue (six, five issue mini series) adaptation of King's novel picks up a bit from last issue only to have a two month break till the next series start

  • Captain America #604- Okay, the Bucky and insano 50's Cap was not bad. The Falcon "Under Siege 2" parts were cool. End the damn "Nomad" story already! I read it and can't un-read it.

  • Amazing Spider-Man #626- The ex-SHIELD Scorpion goes after the old Scorpion's (now Venom) suit the same time as Spidey. But, she's working for Kravens, so...they can make another Scorpion? Oh, and the Hood has enough time away from Siege to hold an auction for said suit? This is a mess, the saving grace is some of the banter that Van Lente seems good at.

  • Uncanny X-Men #522- Magneto brings Kitty back to Earth from her space bullet prison. I should have felt something more seeing as how I felt about her being lost in the first place. She's still not out of the woods yet being unable to become solid again (remember what happened last time?-FF vs X-Men). I'm not sure if there will be a follow up on this anytime soon as Second Coming...err...comes.


-On recommendation of a friend (and a sale price of $9) I got Marvel 1985. I have never liked any of Millar's books. However, this fan fic about Marvel characters entering into the "real" world was not that bad. It was a neat idea to do a Marvel Prime type story it falls a little short of my expectations. Mostly because of mis-characterizations (which can be explained away) and the execution fails to deliver something that I was looking for. The art was a bit of a misstep too. Too Indie noir-ish when a more realistic style would have been better. Plus, the Marvel Universe in the story may not be THE Marvel Universe, just the product of somebody's imagination. So, it's fun and generally better written than his other stuff, but still lacking...something...I don't know... I just think that although he has a fondness for comics(the MU in particular) he just doesn't have the same passion as other writers do, or he can't convey it that well. This is the closest he gets but he falls just short. Take the conclusion. The "loser" adult classic Marvel fan can only find solace and acceptance in the fantasy world and I can't help but feel that Millar is thumbing his nose at classic MU fans (like me).

-Also on sale was the Greg Pak War Machine Vol. 1 a nice series I missed in single issues that dealt with James Rhodes and his choice of being a soldier or a hero and his slowly becoming a machine (bionic parts). Leonard Manco does the interior art and this is my favorite out of all the other stuff he's done. (then again I'm not much of a fan of his). Pak's Incredible Hercules has actually made me seek out his other stuff. Now, I hope I can find Vol. 2 for a good price.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thunderbolts Rundown Pt 1

The Thunderbolts, the original series (and it's successor the New Thunderbolts), was one of my favorite comic series. However, because of the nature of Thunderbolts, those readers with a fairly intimate knowledge of the MU will appreciate the book more than the average reader. Not that this means that those unfamiliar will be lost. Both the main writers (Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza) draw on the long and varied expanse of the Marvel Universe for plots and characters. Recognizing a reference to a past story or a supporting character reappearing after years is part of the appeal. The stories are of such a quality that they stand apart from their insider references (and in early issues there is even a recap page to help).

Who are the Thunderbolts?:

As a result of Onslaught crossover event most of the Avengers and all the Fantastic Four were thought to have died. In the aftermath of an attack on New York City and the death of the heroes a team of new heroes emerges and gives some hope to the people. Away from the the press it is revealed that the new heroes are members of the Masters Of Evil. Why they are pretending to be heroes and their goals will be revealed as the series progresses. This team consists of:

-Citizen V(as in Victory)/Baron Helmut Zemo: Seeking both revenge for his father's death and a way to outdo his father's legacy. He disguises himself as the grandson of the Golden Age hero Citizen V

-Meteorite/Moonstone/Karla Sofen: A psychologist who enjoys twisting peoples psyches. She gained powers through taking an alien gem from a patient of hers. The gem allows her to fly, gives her phasing, strength and resilience.

-Techno/Fixer/Norbert P. Ebersol: Started out trying to take over SHIELD and established himself as a fixer of problems of criminals.

-Atlas/Goliath/Power Man: A grunt who underwent the same process as Wonderman to gain super strength and toughness. When he lost those powers, he used Pym particles to become the criminal giant, Goliath.

-M.A.C.H.1/Beetle/Abner Jenkins: Created a suit of battle armor and became a prolific, if not successful, criminal. Frequently encountered Iron Man, Spider-Man and Daredevil.

-Songbird/Screaming Mimi/Melissa Gold: A runaway that fell in with criminals. She got sonic powers when the wrestling group she had been a part of bought powers to compete in an unlimited (superhuman) class.

-Jolt/Hallie Takanama: Abducted and experimented on by the geneticist Arnim Zola. She gains bio-electric powers that enhance her agility. Orphaned because of Onslaught she becomes the moral compass that the others need while they in turn become the family she needs. She is initially unaware of their criminal past.

Marvel's Most Wanted TPB:

Reprints: Captain America #168; Incredible Hulk #228-229; Strange Tales #123, 141-143; Avengers #21-22; Marvel Two-In-One #56

These are all first appearances of the T-bolts and are introduced with preliminary sketches of their new heroic identities

Avengers:Under Siege TPB:

Reprints: Avengers #270-271, 273-277

Baron Zemo organizes the Masters Of Evil for a psychological and physical assault on the Avengers. Although they prevail, the Avengers emerge a broken team. Hercules is put into a coma, Jarvis is crippled and the mansion is destroyed (for the first, but not last, time)

Justice, Like Lightning TPB:

Reprints: Thunderbolts #1-4, Annual '97; Incredible Hulk #244; excerpt from Tales Of Marvel Universe; Spider-Man Team-Up #7

New heroes, the Thunderbolts, emerge from the ashes of Onslaught's attack and the loss of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. But, these heroes have a secret...they're really the Masters Of Evil! They face the Hulk, save Franklin Richards from the Mad Thinker and rescue a genetically altered orphan from Zola the Nazi Biochemist. She joins the team as Jolt. Publicly it's the right move, Zemo can't help wonder if it threatens his plan.

The Heroes Reward #5-12; -1:

While Jolt's presence bolsters the teams feelings of acceptance and heroism, Zemo worries he is losing control over them. A flashback shows them starting on their paths to being criminals. The team fights a Growing Man and then AIM. In their encounter with AIM they run across the Black Widow (lone Avenger after Onslaught) who suspects their true identities. She reveals this to Songbird and MACH1, telling them that they should turn on their leader before she can prove who they are. Giving them a chance to turn their lives around like she did. Unfortunately, the choice is made for them, when G.W. Bridge and SHIELD out them during a press conference. The T-bolts reluctantly return to Zemo, who puts his master plan for taking over the world into effect.

Wanted:Dead Or Alive #13-20:

Having turned against Zemo and faced the mind controlled Avengers and FF. The T-bolts are prepared to turn themselves in when they are teleported to the sub-atomic dimension of Kosmos (the source of Pym particles). Caught up in their civil war, Moonstone makes a less than honorable deal. The T-bolts will assassinate the king for their freedom. Only MACH1 and Songbird know about it and agree to help. But when MACH1 has the opportunity to kill the king, he can't. So Moonstone does. Upon their return to Earth, the T-bolts wanted status sends them on the run. Hunted by SHIELD and the Great Lakes Avengers/Lightning Rods. Temptation surfaces in an offer by a new Crimson Cowl to join her MOE. Meanwhile a mysterious new Citzen V tracks Zemo and the T-bolts. A rejection of the cowl's offer is almost fatal until the team is rescued by Dreadknight.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

JSA Rundown

JSA 101

The Justice Society Of America debuted in All-Star Comics #3 (1940) they were a team of several popular characters that rotated in the roster [The only one to appear in every issue was Hawkman]. A typical adventure would have them meeting, then splitting into teams and then regrouping for the climax. These characters were turned into Earth-2 denizens when the Silver Age started crossing over with the Golden Age characters beginning in Flash #123 (1962). It became an annual occurance to have a crossover in Justice League of America (from #21 (1963) till the cancellation of that series with # 244(1985) being the last).

The mid/late seventies they got a revival for a few years as they resumed All-Star Comics for a few issues then moved them into Adventure Comics. These were modern day adventures of the team and featured younger members Robin, Huntress (Helena Wayne), Power Girl and Star Spangled Kid. Paul Levitz and Gerry Conway wrote these and they are collected in two volumes. Included in the first volume is the origin story of the JSA from DC Special #29 (1977). This the first time an actual origin story was given and it also explained why WWII wasn't won singlehandedly by Superman or any of the other powerful heroes (Hitler used the Spear Of Destiny to make them switch sides when they enter any territory held by the Reich or it's allies).

Then they took a rest for a few years, until Golden Age fan Roy Thomas pitched two series with ties to the JSA. They were ushered in by America Vs The Justice Society, a mini series, which not only told why the heroes retired for a while, but also gave an account of the whole Golden Age All-Star Comics run. It dealt with themes that continue to be revisited in superhero comics movies and TV shows (Watchmen, Incredibles, Heroes all owe a bit to it). The first series was All-Star Squadron [#1-67, Annual #1-3] in which FDR enlists every hero into an organized homeland defense/strike group. The group included all the JSA members, but focused on the lesser known heroes (Liberty Belle, Johnny Quick, Firebrand, and the Tarantella for a few). The second series, Infinity Inc.[#1-], focused on the sons and daughters of the JSA making a name for themselves as heroes in modern times. It featured many of the charcters that would play big roles in the recent series (Nuklon/Atom Smasher, Jade, Obsidian, Hourman/Rick Tyler, Hector Hall/Dr Fate) as well as early Todd MacFarlane art.

The Crisis On Infinite Earths altered a lot in both titles. There was no longer any Golden Age Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman which affected some characters in Infinity Inc. Roy Thomas wanted an explaination, so the cancelled All-Star Squadron was replaced by Young All-Stars which came up with "replacements" for lost GA heroes and tied into the changed histories of Infinity Inc. characters. This was a prestige direct market book (comic stores only). Eventually both series were canceled, as Editorial wanted to forget these characters. They were given a send off in The Last Days of The Justice Society (1985) in which the team was trapped in another demension eternally fighting the battle of Ragnarok so that it would not spread to Earth.

A few years later, they tried out the characters in a eight issue mini series (1991) that took place after the war, but before they retired in the 50's. The JSA was restored to modern day in the last issue of the Armageddon mini series with some members having their youth restored and some retaining their age. A second series followed up on the teams reemergance, but was quickly canceled by Mike Carlin who objected to "senior citizen heroes". Lasting only ten issues it was written by Len Strazewski with art by Mike Parobeck and introduced Jesse Quick .Which leads us to Zero Hour (1994) where most of the JSA are killed or have their youth sucked out of them so as to be closer to their "true" ages. Only Jay Garrick(Flash) and Alan Scott(Green Lantern) retained their youth. Alan lost his ring, absorbed his lantern (the Starheart) and renamed himself Sentinel.

The JSA characters made few appearances, mainly in supporting roles, guest stars, cameos or flashbacks for the next few years. Then James Robinson wrote an Elseworlds story featuring them. The Golden Age was a hit and stirred intrest in the JSA again. Robinson began his Starman series [that's the next rundown] which fueled the fire even more. DC then commited a fifth week event (a bunch of one shots with a bookend series) to The Justice Society Returns (1999). It takes place in the final days of WWII, in homage to clasic stories the JSA meet, confront the villain, then split up. Their separate adventures bring them into contact with other heroes of the time who aid them when they reassemble for the showdown. All this paved the way for the series.

The JSA (1999-2007 in TPBs)

Justice Be Done- (JSA Secret Files #1, JSA #1-5) The death of an original JSA member heralds the coming of a new Dr. Fate. A new team must track down the baby who will be the host of the new Fate before the powerful Dark Lord who is killing off agents of Order and Chaos finds it and adds the power of Fate to his own. Written by James Robinson and David Goyer, art by Scott Benefiel, Steve Sedowski and Derec Aucoin.

Darkness Falls- (JSA #6-15) Obsidian is used by an old JSA foe against his father (Alan Scott/GL) and the new team. A new Injustice Society attacks the HQ when only Wildcat is there. The team then faces the terrorist Kobra and insane time altering Extant (formerly Hawk of Hawk & Dove) Written by David Goyer and Johns, art by Steve Sedowski, Marcos Martin and Buzz.

The Return Of Hawkman- (JSA #16-25, JSA Secret Files #1)- The JSA must prevent Johnny Sorrow and his Injustice Society from bringing the Lovecraftian King Of Tears to Earth. Then drawn to Thanagar Hawkgirl and the JSA aid in the resurrection of Carter Hall the Golden Age Hawkman and battle Onimar Syn to free Thanagar. Written by David Goyer and Johns, art by Steve Sedowski, Rags Morales and Buzz

Fair Play- (JSA #26-31, JSA Secret Files #2) Black Adam joins, Mr Terrific is named Chairman. The JSA must escape an underground club where heroes are pitted against one another in contests so people can bet on the outcome. Then they solve a kidnappping with Batman. Art by Rags Morales and Steve Sedowski.

Stealing Thunder- (JSA #32-38) Sand leads a team to free the world from a reality in which the Ultra-Humanite has gained control of the world through the Thunderbolt's magic and enforces his will through mind controlled super beings. Then Rick Tyler and Jakeem Thunder spend time with their fathers. Art by Peter Snejbjerg, Leonard Kirk and Steve Sedowski.

Savage Times- (JSA #39-45) A Jokerized Solomon Grundy fights Stars and Jakeem. Dr. Fate searches for Lyta Hall/Fury while a few members find themselves in a time travel adventure, first to the early 40's then to ancient Eygpt where they find a JSA of sorts (Nabu/Dr. Fate, Khufu/Hawkman, Black Adam) engaged in a war with Vandal Savage. Apon their return they attend the trial of Kobra, who promptly escapes. Art by Leonard Kirk.

Princes Of Darkness- (JSA #46-55) The JSA faces the return of Mordru who allies himself with Obsidian and Eclipso. Then the Crimson Avenger targets Wildcat. And the JSA celebrate thanksgiving and Christmas. Art by Sal Velluto, Don Kramer and Leonard Kirk.

Black Reign- (JSA #56-58, Hawkman #23-25) Hawkman leads the JSA against Black Adam who has assembled a team of former JSAers and JSA allies and taken over his former country, Kandaq. Art by Don Kramer and Rags Morales

Lost- (JSA #59-67) Per Degaton watches bad days for JSAers. The Spirit King strikes at the Spectre, Hal Jordan has tried to make him the Spirit of Redemption allowing those that the Spectre has damned escape Hell seeking revenge. Sand must be saved from a dreamworld. The two Hourmans(men?) face Rex Tyler's death at the hands of Extant. And Dr. Mid-Nite preforms the autopsy of Sue Dibny [Identity Crisis]. Art by Sean Phillips, Tom Mandrake, Jerry Ordway, Don Kramer and Dave Gibbons.

Black Vengeance- (JSA #68-75) Per Degaton attacks the modern JSA and their families and tries to prevent the JSA from coming out of retirement in the 50's. A group of JSAers go back in time (Rick Hunter helps them) and have to convince their counterparts to reform the JSA. Then the JSA return to Kandaq as the Spectre is attacking all the forms of magic in the world goaded by Eclipso.[Day Of Vengeance] Art by Don Kramer, Leonard Kirk and Steve Sedowski.

Mixed Signals- (JSA #76-81) The OMACs attack as Power Girl learns Blue Beetle died and Atom Smasher goes on trial for aiding Black Adam. Then Airwave and Alan Scott join Donna Troy for a mission in space. Mordru escapes the Rock of Eternity and battles Nabu while others look for Jakeem Thunder in the Fifth Dimension. Hector and Lyta Hall are "saved" by their son (Sandman of Vertigo) and enter the Dreaming. [OMAC Project, Infinite Crisis] Art by David Lopez, Don Kramer and Dale Eaglesham

Ghost Stories- (JSA #82-87) Power Girl finds the diary of Earth-2 Lois Lane as objects and knowledge of the Multiverse return. The Gentleman Ghost will return to life if he can murder the JSA on a certain day. He uses the ghosts of loved ones of JSA members to lure them into a trap and mess with them.[One Year Later] Written by Paul Levitz art by George Perez, Rags Morales and Jerry Ordway.

Watch for a Rundown of the next series The Justice Society Of America soon.

Also check out:

The Justice Society Returns- collects the fifth week event issues, lots of good artists and writers, many who would work on JSA later

JLA Justice For All- which includes JLA #28-31 an old time JSA/JLA crossover by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter, it introduces Jakeem Thunder

Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. Vol1 & 2 - Introduces Geoff Johns and Stargirl and teases a Johns Seven Soldiers of Victory team/book.

Starman Vol 1-8 - Look for an upcoming Rundown to feature this title.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

This Week's Comic Stack 3/17/10

The Good:

  • Green Lantern Corps #46- Guy and Kyle face their toughest Black Lantern opponents, the many Corps have to act as a team (who knew Guy was a Trekkie?) first to fight the overwhelming numbers of the BLs and then the half dead Anti-Monitor. An amazingly epic issue that leads into the conclusion of Blackest Night.

  • Booster Gold #30- BG reevaluates the "Prime Directive" [another Trek reference] involved in time travel as he rescues his sister from the doomed Coast City. A sad issue because Dan Jurgens stint ended with this issue.

  • Nova #35- The Sphinx storyline ends on a very satisfying [for New Warriors fans] note. Next issue will probably deal with the bigger implications from that event.

  • Guardians Of The Galaxy #24- The "dead" members fight to escape the Church Of Universal Truth and get word that Magus isn't dead. A clever use of a character's backstory comes into play in getting the GoG heard. The big thing is the return of Thanos (not spoiled because of solicits). The art was better, but Craig is just too toony for this title.

  • Hercules: Fall Of An Avenger #1- Basically a "clip show" of the Incredible Hercules series with great art and a great device of recapping the series and his life by having characters toast Herc. The backup is a funny yet heartwarming story about Herc's estate.

The Alright:

  • Supergirl #51- This issue advances the whole Last Stand plot, the confrontation depicted on the cover is short, but does occur. Most of the issue is spent getting people on the same side to recognize they are.

  • The Torch #6- Torch and Toro track down the evil Nazi scientist who has created a whole city of androids and the ominously named Inhuman Torch. Interesting idea, and I always like to see a smug supervillain be offput.

  • Realm Of Kings: Imperial Guard #5- Superman comes to the aid of the stranded Legion members as they battle the forces of the near omnipotent Brainiac....wait a minute,....I mean Gladiator comes to the aid of the stranded Guard members as they battle the forces of the near omnipotent Lovecraftian alien. I know, they're totally different. This issue is just a "get the hell out of Dodge" plot. The evil alien menace remains to pop up another time (Thanos Imperative? as it represents a world where "life" rules not death....see where I'm going...).

  • Avengers Vs. Atlas #3- A fun "pile-on" the Hulk issue with some time travel hijinks thrown in. There is also a too cutesy backup featuring Venus answering love questions "posed" by Marvel characters.

The Bad:

  • Siege #3- This has big moments in it, but the pacing to it is off, perhaps this series would have benefited from another issue.(Imagine me saying that about a Bendis book) The battle is rushed from moment to moment. Marvel probably intended for the readers to experience the battle over the fifty or so titles that crossover with the mini. Contrast Siege with Blackest Night (similar crossover issues) and I think BN has much more satisfactory action in just the core mini series.

  • Superman 80 Page Giant #1- A bunch of try out stories for artists and writers, the best being a story about the small things Superman does while waiting for Lois.


-The Middleman: The Collected Series Indispensability! TPB- I never even heard of this series until the ABC Family TV series. A mysterious man, known only as the Middleman, is tasked by a secret organization to deal with monsters, mad scientists and aliens. He recruits twenty-something nerd-girl Wendy Watson as his assistant.

It was written by one of the writers of Lost. Each episode parodied a genre or Sci-Fi/Fantasy trope and was filled with pop culture references. For example, during an episode dealing with ghosts there are constant Ghostbusters references. The collection is no different. It's really three series collected. The first turned out to be almost exactly like the first few episodes of the series, or vice-versa rather. The second was very enjoyable while the third was a huge turning point for the series and ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger. Also included are some short stories about the "future" of the series and the adventures of past Middlemen .

It's fun and pretty funny in spots, however, I must say that I enjoyed the show a lot more.(even with its low budget production) Jokes need timing, and that works better off the page sometimes. The series is available on DVD and check out YouTube for the reading of the unproduced season/series finale that took place at last year's SDCC (uses elements from the third and final comic series)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Random Thoughts 6

-Kirby heirs aren't giving up. Trying to get a big paycheck from Disney they sued over the copyright termination notices they issued in Jan. Disney/Marvel's response was all the work was "for hire", meaning Kirby's work was and is owned by Marvel. An attitude that has been around since the start, case in point....the long reported unreturned artwork. Putting aside the fact that no one thought that it would one day be WORTH something, that is separate issue.

I think it's apparent that Kirby knew he was making up characters for someone else when working for Marvel. His deal with Marvel may have been shortsighted, but regardless of how much you or I, or anyone feels that he (or his heirs) deserves a deal is a deal. It's ugly and unfair, but that's the way it is. It does work the other way too. Look at Bob Kane who until the late nineties took credit for many writers and artists contributions to the Batman mythos (Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson go unknown by general public still).

Now, I'm all for a "mealticket" for a creator's family, but this just seems to be some greedy people. And as badly as Marvel management has treated Kirby through the years, and they have, they are legally in the right.

-Judd Winick returns to explore why and how Jason Todd became the Red Hood. Winick is hit or miss for me, but his Batman was great. The art is by Pablo Raimondi. The six issue mini series starts in June. Hmmm,......just in time for the direct to video animated version of his Under the Red Hood story.

-Also in June, Batman Beyond returns to comics. Written by Adam Beechen and drawn by Ryan Benjamin. Beechen has done some okay work. Nothing stellar or awful, just there. I'm not familiar with the artist. These things lead me to not have too much invested in this title as much as I want to.

-In the most unsurprising suprise announcement, Tony Daniel is staying on as writer/artist of Batman for "forseeable future". So I will continue to not buy the title for the forseeable future.

-Diamond has "annointed" another publisher their Premier status. This is the first time since 1996 that has happened (Image). And the winner......IDW. They join DC, Image and Dark Horse in the front of Previews (Marvel gets their own phamplet because they're special)and all sorts of perks (advertising, etc.)

-The twelth series set of DC Universe Classics action figures are on their way as of 10:30 PM the seventeenth. I won't get them til Tuesday the twenty-third.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

This Week's Comic Stack 3/10/10

The Good:
  • Secret Six #19- The Six go after a Church Of Blood cult and the end of the issue leaves Cat-Man with a big decision.
  • Superman: Last Stand Of New Krypton #1-Brainiac attacks NK, and Kal finally returns to his Superman duds (yeah!). Unfortunately he plays right into Brainiac's (and Luther's) hands.
  • R.E.B.E.L.S. #14- Taking it right up to the wire, Vril Dox manages to defeat Starro.
  • Amazing Spider-Man #624- Peter defeats the Vulture, then in trying to help JJJ manages to make things worse. Yes, he's,...this is like the umpteenth time. Still it's a good story

The Alright:

  • Action Comics #887- Rao, me...from Kryptonian spirituality. If not for the Lois part, this would have been boring.
  • Zorro: Matanzas #2- After a promising first issue, there is a villain with a vague plot (which doesn't go to plan) and Zorro fights...a bear! That's right the cover portrays an actual occurrence within the story). Making up for those is a gruesome scene that leads to Zorro possibly exposing his identity.
  • Justice League: Cry For Justice #7- A brutal close to the series, and a step with GA that I don't particularly like.
  • Justice League: Rise And Fall Special #1- A logical step from CFJ, but one I don't like. But the Shade is in it. And there is a nice scene with Wally and Dick.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Random Thoughts 5

-I'm gonna stop reading Superman soon. JMS is taking over as writer on the title. Why, DC....why? And it's not enough to give him one DC icon, but you have to give him Wonder Woman too?

-I saw the new Iron Man 2 trailer with suitcase armor

-Tron: Legacy looks awesome too. Both Bruce Boxlitner and Jeff Bridges appear. I got so into it I added the original to my Netflix queue.

-Wish I could have been one of the lucky ones. Earlier in the week on, a glitch on the site caused many of the Marvel Omnibus' to be marked down to $14 to $8. A notice was put up several hours later about the issue, but the site is honoring the price for many orders. Of course, I heard about this long after it was fixed.

- Sean McKeever on Young Allies....because he did such a good job on Teen Titans.

-The Avengers Academy role call.... not too impressive.

-The covers to Batman: the Return Of Bruce Wayne made me think: Cave-Bat, Solomon Bat-Kane , Bat-Beard, the Lone Batzorro and Spirit of the Bat

-Hugo Weaving is in talks to be the RED SKULL. All I can think of is him saying (ala Smith from The Matrix) "I'm going to enjoy watching you die...Mr. Rogers."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Random Thoughts 4.5 (Oscar Edition)

-WTF was up with that dance section. Not that it wasn't interesting to see hip-hop and ballet mixed, but as far as I could tell there wasn't any connection to the movies they were supposed to be "interpreting".

-Sandra Bullock? Really....? Paging Miss Tomei...

-The Hurt Locker looks like a really good movie and I added it to my Netflix queue Sunday morning. Now that it won so big, I'm curious to see if it lives up to expectations.

-I got the feeling that the expanded ten film best picture entries were done by the Academy just so they could say they nominated certain films. (District 9, Up, and Avatar)

-Did they make a mess out of the "In Memory Of.." segment this year? Blowing by some names, lingering longer on others, missing a shot of one of the deceased names in broadcast and having those multi-clip displays.

-Looking at that audience there seemed to be a lot of bored people.

-The introduction of the Best Actor/Best Actress nominees by friends and co-stars, weird?

-Glad that Jeff Bridges got some recognition. The Dude abides..

-loved the Morgan Freeman narrated bit about sound. I could listen to him read the phone book. (not to mention they used scene from The Dark Knight)

This Week's Comic Stack 3/3/10

A fairly short stack this week:

The Good:
  • Invincible Iron Man #24- Dr. Strange vs the Ghost, Tony Stark battles himself and returns! But, this is Tony pre-Civil War so it'll be interesting to see his new "take" on himself and his decisions.
  • Adventure Comics #8- Mostly a prologue to the Last Stand Of Krypton storyline. The Legion's time travel team meet with Superboy and Mon-El, and one of Zod's agents is very close to Gen. Lane.
  • Amazing Spider-Man #623- Mark Waid makes this new Vulture interesting. Spidey has to save JJJ from a vengeful Vulture. All plays into Kraven's plans.

The Alright:

  • Detective Comics #862- The main story suffers without JH Williams' art and "punks out" both Batman and Batwoman for dramatic effect again, which is tedious. Far better is the Question backup as Huntress calls on Babs to help them (kinda funny that Montoya remains in the dark about her status as Oracle)

The controversial Justice League: Cry For Justice #7 was shorted. Yet, what's one more week.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Random Thoughts 4

Thoughts this week

-At first I thought that having Jack and company never crash on the island was a terrible idea. That it would eliminate all the growth of the characters since they've been on the island. Now....I'm thinking it might actually be best.

-NEW Avengers?.... C'mon, they're not really new, are they? Why not Newer Avengers...? New New Avengers...? All New, All Same...? New, Improved...? Shiny New...? Brand Spankin' New...?

-What is with the price of action figures? I was in Wal-Mart and they had some of the DC Universe Classics series 12 (Eclipso, Dr. Midnight, and Iron) and they were $14.99! Now, I haven't bought these figures at retail since they first came out because they're too hard to find, but I recall them being $9.99-10.99. That was, what..2006/2007? I knew I was getting the set online for about $20/figure (shipping cost included) to not deal with tracking all the set down. Then I looked through the Marvel Universe figures and found a Namor (YES!) they were on sale for $7.99, regular price...$9.99. The 3 and3/4 inch Marvel Universe cost the same as Marvel Legends (a 6inch scale) used to. I feel like an old man now... "In my day, you could buy a whole set of eight figures and a build-a-figure for $80, plus they all came with comics."

-I bought a bunch of trades this week:

The three volumes of the excellent House Of Mystery. A great ongoing series that pays homage to its anthology roots by including a story within a story with guest artists.

A few Essentials each $6 on sale at my LCBS. X-Men Vol. 6 & 7, which comprise about half of the X-Men comics I sold off a few years back. Moon Knight Vol. 2 which was a whim. A steal as regular price is $17.

The Incredible Hercules Dark Reign HC (normally $20) for $8

-I'm reliving my childhood a bit. Monday I got the Masters Of The Universe Classics figures I ordered a few weeks ago. (would have come Fri. if not for the snow). Trap Jaw is cool and Battle Cat is great. The MotU figures are the only toys of mine that my Mom (and me) gave away. I didn't think I would miss those things, but seeing He-Man riding Battle Cat again was very satisfying. It feels wrong to look at a piece of plastic and feel the way I do. Is it because of the nostalgia, or the fact that I know there are others that weren't able to get the figure?

Okay, enough for now...

This Week's Comic Stack

Comics out on Feb. 24th-

Again...I thought that I had set this to post...but had not.

So, here it is now...

The Good:

  • Blackest Night #7- Awesome!

  • (Black Lantern) Green Arrow #30- A nice tie-in and the first issue I bought since Winick left

  • The Marvels Project #6- Some great Namor vs Torch action.

The Alright:

  • Superman #697- A lead in for next week's Adventure Comics.

  • Amazing Spider-Man #622- A done-in-one Morbius guest spot.
  • Avengers: The Initiative #33- Mostly going over stuff that happened elsewhere, but some good action with the attack on Camp HAMMER.

  • Realm Of Kings: Inhumans #4- Maximus may be mad(crazy kind) but he's taking orders from someone as Crystal finds out. Some nice intrigue.

  • Flash: Rebirth #6- Would have been better if it came out FOUR months ago before Blackest Night

The Bad:

  • Blackest Night: JSA #3- After a rehash of the GA Superman's origin, the team fights BL GA Superman again. Just repeatative and inconsequential. I was disappointed the series didn't go anywhere.