Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Johns Month(and a half): Next Age.

I actually wanted to talk about Johns' Green Lantern series, but I have to wait for it to be available in the library. So instead, let's talk about the second Justice Society series he wrote, starting with the opening story-arc; Next Age.
After "Infinite Crisis," the remaining founding members of the JSA(Wildcat, Green Lantern, Hawkman and Flash) has decided to make their mission to recruit as many heroes who take up legacies, in order to make sure that they truly know the name that they carry. But someone else is doing the exact same thing. Only, THEY are killing the heroes and their families, in order to end the legacy...
"Justice Society Of America; Next Age" is a well done start of a series, and a lot better than the JLA series that was published at the same time. In fact, I think I will point out the differences that makes "Next Age" superior to JLA's opening arc; "Tornado's Path."
First of all, "Next Age" actually has a better way to get the team together. The old JSA members discuss which heroes to recruit, and who they can help the most, and prioritize the ones with legacies they are the most familiar with(like the Atom, Red Tornado and Starman).
In "Tornado's Path" they might as well have picked their nose than picking candidates. With a team like the League, you would think that well-thought decisions would be of mayor importance, right? But nope, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman decides to pick the first bunch of guys they just so happens to fight Amazo with. Which means, that the hours of discussion they had spend on arguing about who they should get is worth the amount of:
(... I got to start making video reviews, so that I can use that clip...)
Another thing "Next Age" does better, is the plot. "Tornado's Path" is a mess, it's way more complicated than it needs to be. But "Next Age" is simple, straightforward, and yet; brilliant. The JSA fights Nazis, simple as that! And it's suiting that they should, since the JSA was founded in order to fight Nazis.
And finally, what "Next Age" does better than "Tornado's Path" is introducing us to the leader of the team.
You see, Power Girl was made the new leader of the JSA for two important reasons; A) Mr. Terrific can't, since he also has to worry about his responsibilities for the government agency Checkmate(even thought it apparently doesn't stop him from being on the team all the time), and B) Since the team is going to focus on the heroes of tomorrow, who better to led them than the JSA's very first rookie?
And who became the JLA's new leader? Black Cannery. Why? No idea!
It's wasn't explained, she just became the leader. But I have an idea to why, and it's probably going to make me sound like an ass for saying it. You see, my theory is, that she was made the leader because she was DC's most popular female character.
And normally, I wouldn't have a problem with a woman being in charge. But... there have to be a good reason. But there isn't, she just became leader. Issue six of Justice League Of America shows a hammer with her name on it, and that's it. No explanation, no buildup, no nothing. I'm not saying that the idea was bad, only that the execution was. And unlike Pee Gee, who takes charge of the JSA, we would never have guessed that Black Canary was the leader, if it wasn't because we had been told.
But I'm getting on a sidetrack. Bottom-line is: "Justice Society Of America; Next Age" is a pretty good opening for a team book. Next time, we shall take a look at the JSA storyline that came afterwards; Thy Kingdom Come!
I'm Waezi2, and thanks for wasting time with me.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Johns Month(and a half): Infinite Crisis.

I don't like Infinite Crisis. I really don't.
I'm not saying it's a bad comic, but I really dislike it.
Infinite Crisis was one of the mayor events in the DC Universe. A lot of stuff was going on, such as a satellite Batman had made had gone crazy, and now killed as many super-humans as possible by turning civilians into OMACs(Omni Mind And Community), Wonder Woman had killed a man on live television(even though that could have been evaded, but that is one dead horse beaten enough already), Superman becoming ineffective, Spectre went bongos and killed everything magical(apparently, god was on a holiday), and all the super-villains had decided to join forces as a way to get back at the heroes for brainwashing them(don't even ask).
In other words; and seemingly infinite crisis.
The idea was was good enough, the build-up was amazing and it was a pretty epic tale... BUT... there is a lot of stuff that annoys me.
And I could talk about the poorly written WW, but that has already been done. But I could talk a little about the bloodbath.
Not about the overuse of gorryness(even though that IS a problem), but the characters who died.
For example:
OH MY GOD!!! Superboy Prime just killed... killed... um... a... kat... lady?
...
I had to Google a lot after reading this the first time I read it. Because Infinite Crisis snuffed out dozen of not-so-known characters in order to show how violent and brutal Superboy prime was.
And that's my main problem. Johns, who has a reputation for his uncanny ability to revive forgotten characters and give them a role in today's comics, pretty much SLAUGHTER all of these heroes.
I'm not saying that Johns is the first one to do this. But considered that he is pretty much a genius, who became a fan-favorite comic-book writer after less than three years in the business, I expected more.
If a superhero must die for a story, it should mean something. Who was she? What did she do? Who were she important for? I may not like Civil War, but when Black Goliath died, it at least meant something.
But in Infinite Crisis, we instead have a lot of THIS:
Again, WHO THE HECK IS THIS GUY?!?!? Is he a member of the Teen Titans? Maybe part of the JSA? Or is he just a C-stringer who wanted to help, even though no one knew he existed? If it wasn't for Google, we would never know!
Another thing that bothers me, is the lack of consequence for Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, who are partly to blame for this whole mess. They just leave for a year, comes back, and it's all good. They even becomes part of the JLA again! DUDE!!! It doesn't work like that! You can't just kick Superboy Prime's butt and then pretend that all the mistakes you made are gone!
But maybe Infinite Crisis is not really Johns' fault. Maybe it's just a product of it's time, where Identity Crisis required that the heroes should have faults and do unethical things, no mater how out of character it was. Maybe Johns was the wrong writer for the series, and he just tried his best to write an world-changing event, even. Personally, I think he should stay away from the crossovers(I did like Blackest Night, though) and stick to writing enjoyable stories and reinvent and revive old elements forgotten in comics.
That's all for now. I'm Waezi2, and thanks for wasting time with me.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Johns Month(and a half): Flash part 3.

Alright, let's finish the review of Johns' Flash run(issue 201-225).
Oh, and if you should ask: No, I'm not going to review Johns' series with Barry Allen as the Flash. That would require that I bought it, and since I'm not made out of money, I only buy comics I believe I will enjoy. And after reading "Flash: Rebirth," I highly doubt that I would.
Anyway, back to the review...
The opening story takes place two months after Wally's identity as the Flash is now secret. Hal Jordan, who was at the moment the Spectre(long story), had erased the real identity of the Flash(both Barry and Wally) from the mind of everyone on the planet. Even Wally! The story is about Wally rediscovering who he really is, and it's surprisingly... dark...
It takes place at night, the city is pretty much taken over by the Rogues, and the cops can barely do ANYTHING to stop them. If I didn't know better, I would have thought the plot took place in Gotham or Bludhaven! Hell, Mr Element(the bad guy of the story) is a very dark character too, and seems like one of Batman's enemies. Even the art looks like something from Hell Boy!
Not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just... weird.
But the story is pretty good, actually. The mood is perfect for how Wally is feeling at the moment, with losing his twins, having trouble connecting with his wife, getting used to his night-job as a mechanic for the police, and having a feeling that something is missing. My favorite part of it, is the short-lived friendship between Wally and Captain Cold, as they meet each other at a diner, not knowing who the other is. They are just two guys, no costumes, no super-speed, no cold guns. It's nice and bittersweet.
After that, it gets back to classic Flash style in issue 207.
As I said, the stories are not as good. This is partly because Scott Kollins being replaced with Howard Porter as the series penciler. Not that Porter is a bad artist, but I just really liked Kollins style and I see him as the unofficial Flash artist(kinda like Amanda Conner is the unofficial Power Girl artist).
But it still had great elements, such as the Rogues becoming a actual super-villain team again. And actual teams of super-villains was something that haven't been used in comics for a long time. And if bad guys decided to join forces, it was short-lived. But the Rogues were an actual team. They have rules(such as; no drugs, and never kill children), a sense of honor, and they are loyal to each other. They even have their own graveyard, where they bury their fallen comrades in crime.
But... the story-line "Rogue War" was pretty disappointing. Mostly because of the lack of, you know: WAR!
"Rogue War" is about the reformed Rogues(Pied Piper, the original Trickster, Heatwave and Magenta) who has decided to take down their former allies in crime. There was a lot of buildup for this final Flash story-ark, and that's why it's so sad, that the war didn't last more than two issues. Sure, the story-line is a six-parter, but only two issues was about the Rogues fighting each other. One and a half, to be honest.
Another thing that's wrong with the final part of Johns' Flash is how his writing is affected by the event "Identity Crisis". It could be argued, that Johns had to accept that Barry had agreed to brainwash Doctor Light was now continuity, and just write as well as he could. But he actually makes it worse by making Barry brainwash one of his enemies, The Top, so that he would become his partner. And then tell us, that the reason to why some of the Rogues turned away from crime was because Top brainwashed them! It's... ANNOYING!
So, there are some problems, but it's still good. Not perfect, but good. I could have lived without the brainwash thing and the Rogue War, but I'm still glad that I owe the whole series in omnibus form. I highly recommend the series as Johns' best written work to date.
Next time, I'm going to tell you about my least favorite Johns comic of them all: Infinite Crisis.
I'm Waezi2, and thanks for wasting time with me.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Johns Month(and a half): Flash part 2.

Today, we take a look at Flash issue 177-200, which contains the best stories of Johns' run on the series.
First of all we have two stories about the power-hungry primate; Gorilla Grodd. And if you think a gorilla is a silly villain, then think again. Not only is he an 800 pound animal who could snap your neck as easy as if it was a matchstick, he is also a highly intelligent one, with a telepathic brain that could make Charles Xavier wet his pants. Heck, this monkey is so intimidating, that when there was a riot at Iron Heights where all the Rogues tried to kill the Flash, they all ran with their tails behind their legs. Even Abra Kadabra, the tech wizard form the future fear him. So even though Grodd wasn't the main bad guy in the series, he was by far the most powerful on, as well as the most feared.
We also have a couple of single stories that focus on the individual Rogues, as Johns builds them up, and at the same time tell some damn good stories, such as issue 182(that was ranked as number 22 out of 100 on Wizard Magazine's list of "Best Single Issue Comics Since You Were Born" list) where Johns recreates Captain Cold, making us all understand how goddamn awesome he really is.
And the story-line "Crossfire" is simply glorious. It it, the Rogues, led by Blacksmith, Keystone and Central City's Queen Of Crime, has organised for the takeover of Central city. Not only do they have a gigantic army of supercrooks, they have used months to make sure that the Flash's allies wont be there to help him. And, just to make maters worse, the Thinker(super-villain turned into pure data) is taking over the minds of everyone in Keystone. Flash must save two cities at once, without any help of his friends. allies and police. This story is pretty much as epic as it can get, and is only topped by the tale of how Wally West got his most greatest enemy.
And who is this enemy? It's Zoom, the Reverse-Flash. A friend of Wally(I wont reveal his identity, since that would spoil the story) takes on the costume and name of Barry Allen's most horrifying enemy, in order to help Wally. But the kind of "help" Zoom offers Wally is the kind you wouldn't wish for your most hated enemy. And not only is Zoom insane and perverse as one can be, he is FASTER than Wally. Besides Stargirl, Zoom is the greatest character Johns has created.
Flash issue 177-200(which is collected in the second Flash Omnibus) is as great as Johns can get, and that's saying something! His Green Lantern stuff is NOTHING compared to this!
... unfortunately, the last 25 issues(I will talk about them next time) is not as great, but more about that later.
I'm Waezi2, and thanks for wasting time with me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Johns Month(and a half): Flash part 1

Johns' run on The Flash is possibly his greatest series, if you ask me. He became the sole writer for the series after only two years in the comic business. His 63 issue long run on the series is very critically acclaimed, and is by many considered the defining run for the Flash. There is a lot to cover, in order for this humble reviewer to truly do the series justice, so I will have to make this review a 3-parter, focusing on specific story-arcs and such. Today, we will take a look at issue 164-176.
Issue 164-169(collected in Flash: Wonderland) is not that good a story. It's interesting at some points, but not that great. I guess it was mostly used to introduce Brother Grimm, and relatively easy forgotten Wally West villain. What I like the most is Johns' interesting and very detailed version of a world without the super-speedsters, and how it turned into a dystopia without Jay Garrick, Barry Allen and Wally West. But it was nothing more than adequate. No, it's at issue 170 that things start to get good.
First thing first, Johns' gives Keyston City a identity. Most cities with a superhero in the DCU has a "character" so to say(such as Gotham City, Metropolis and Opal City). In this case, Keystone City is the city of the working class so to say. A majority of America's cars are build there. A place of hardworking, honest people who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. The blue-collar capital of the U.S.
Another thing that's great about this series is the old Silver-Age villains who are re-introduced, which is a trademark-talent of Johns. Like the Weather Wizard, a simple criminal who just now have realized that his weather-controlling wand has close to omnipotent power, if used right. Or Keith Kenyon, once known as the super-villain "Goldface," who has putted the costume away, and instead leads the Keystone's trade union(BTW, he is my favorite supportive character in the series).
And finally, but not the least; Johns is pretty good at having many balls in the air. He is building up many different sub-plots, and has a good use of for shadowing.
If I should complain about anything, it should be the villains. It's not that they are bad, they just seem a little... random, and possibly out of place. Not that they are bad, but when I think a Flash villain, a guy with a type of gun is what comes to mind. That, or something strange, like a telepathic gorilla. NOT a crazy mass murderer who wants everyone to shut up. But it's minor.
Issue 164-176(as well as the one-shot issue "Flash: Iron Heights" which you can read my review of HERE) is collected in the first of three omnibus books which collects Johns' Flash run. It get's you into the world of Keystone, introduce you to the most of the supportive cast of the series, and is an all-in-all good place to start if you want to be introduced to Wally West.
That's all for now. I'm Waezi2, and thanks for wasting time wit me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Johns Month(and a half): Power Girl.

I had actually planned to review Johns' Flash series first, but I think I will do Power Girl, since I recently talked about her as one of the problems with the JSA series.
You see, before Infinite Crisis(which I'm also going to review) there was a lot of buildup. Such as JSA Classified issue 1-4 about Power Girl. Through the most of JSA, she was the bruiser, the one who didn't take crab from anyone, and she was so self-secure that she could be considered arrogant.
... Or was that all an act?
In JSA Classified 1-4, she see Power Girl when she is NOT kicking butt for the JSA. And it's a sad sight. Her apartment is a mess, and she haven't changed out of her superhero costume for weeks, since all she does is flying around and punching bad guys. And not only that, she is extremely frustrated over not knowing her background and where she is from, and her tough-gal attitude is a way to hide the fact that she is very vulnerable.
... I have... mixed feelings about this.
On one hand, I guess that gives her more character than "badass chick, who's gonna kick your ass," and it also makes her jerk-ish attitude more understandable, I suppose.
But it also peeves me of a bit as a feminist. It just feels like the comic is trying to telling us, that if a woman is confrontational, strong and possibly workaholic, it's not because she chose carrer over other things. No, it's because the woman behind the strong, independent wall that won't let anybody in, is(imagine me with a high girly voice at this part) a sad little, fluffy bunny, that will eventually let down her defenses and reveal a tragic back-story!
And just to make my case:
... Yeah, you all know this one.
PeeGee's costume has always been... controversial... and has been the sours for many jokes. And Johns' attempt to make it about the lack of identity is one of the most ridiculed moments in comic-book history.
I mean... SERIOUSLY? You want us to buy that, Johns? The reason to why PeeGee has a gigantic boob-window on her costume is, that she cant fill it out? I mean, call me crazy, but I would make a costume, and THEN sew the emblem on. Making a hole, and then sew an emblem fill up the space just makes it easy for the costume to fall apart.
But I wont go on beating an long-dead horse. My point is, that this series that was suppose to make PeeGee seem more human just made her look like a stereotype. And for those who liked the Power Girl with Ally McBeal philosophy(GOD, I loathe that show!!!), it must have been a huge betrayal to learn that the only reason to why she broke up with the norms for women were, that it helped her hide her insecurity. But maybe I'm putting too much into it...
But the series is drawn by Amanda Conner, so that's something. If you are going to get this one, buy the TPB called "Power Girl". It also has Showcase issue 97-99, which tells us the very first(and very awesome!) Power Girl story! But it also has the two pages from JSA 39, where she makes her dumb speech about her two-bit feminism, which is only made worse by this story telling us that it's all an act. It's like the TPB wants us to believe that Power Girl is full of crab!
That's all for now. I'm Waezi2, and thanks for wasting time with me.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Johns Month(and a half): Beast Boy.

In 1999, there was a book called "The Titans" that focused on the now grown-up Teen Titans who decided to become a team again. Familiar faces like Nightwing, Flash, Starfire and Cyborg could be seen in this great and underrated series(see my review of "The Titans" RIGHT THERE).
But one of the Titans weren't interested in bringing the old band back together. And surprisingly enough, it was Gar Logan AKA Changeling AKA Beast Boy.
Gar always had an inferiority complex, and has decided that it's time to stand on his own and leave his comfort-zone that is the Titans Tower. Hoping to revive his actor carrer, he moved to Los Angeles and lived with his slacker cousin Matt.
But Gar's hunt for fame didn't last long, as he was being framed for a series of murders committed by green animals. Now, he must find out who the real culprit is, or end up behind bars. And there are no Titans this time to save him.
...Well, there's Flamebird(heroine and Nightwing-fangirl), but she almost does more harm than good...
The series is called "Beast Boy," which is kinda stupid, since his name at that time was Changeling and had been for over 20 years(his name was changed back to Beast Boy after Johns became the writer of Teen Titans, dont ask why), but besides that, it's a nice little read. Nothing groundbreaking, but enjoyable. The series second writer was Ben Raab, whom I know from "Union Jack" and "Excalibur", and together, they wrote a story about what it is like to be yesterday's news, being dragged through the mud by the media. We also have an awesome revamp of Bette Kane AKA Flamebird, who is mostly known for being kind of a joke in the teen-hero community, so it's nice to see her taking names and kick some ass. 
If you are a Titans or Beast Boy fan(who am I kidding, OF COURSE YOU ARE!) you better add this one to your collection. If you cant find the four-issue series as separate issues, you can buy it in the form of the trade paperback; "Teen Titans; Beast Boy And Girls" which also have issue 13 to 15 of Johns' Teen Titans run(which is okay, I guess).
That's all for now. I'm Waezi2, and thanks for wasting time with me.