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.

Johns-Month(and a half): JSA.

What can I really say about JSA that haven't been said already?
It's one of the greatest comic book series of our time, about the very first super-team. The Justice Society(or JSA for short) members are a mix of some of the first superheroes(like the Golden Age Flash, Hawkman and Wildcat), as well as their heirs.
JSA is possibly one of the greatest successes in the comic industry. 4/5 of all comic fans know this legendary series. It has millions of positive reviews, brilliant writing, unforgettable characters and trilling stories. So, what can I possibly say about this groundbreaking book, that haven't been said yet?
... How about everything WRONG with JSA? Oh yeah, I'm going there!
All comics, no mater how brilliant they are, has their faults. JSA is no exception. So I will tell you what I think is less than great about the book, and I would love to hear if you agree/disagree with me. And it's not a top 3 or something, so number 1 is not the worst, it's just first.
Oh, and spoiler alert... But seriously, if you haven't read this magnificent series yet, then GO!!! GET IT!!! I highly recommend that you start with Vol. 1 "Justice Be Done," since this is one of those series that's kinda hard to follow if you just jump into the middle of it. It's possible, but not problem-free.
Problem number 1; Black Adam.
It's not that I think he is a horrible character. It's just, well... WHY is he here?
In issue 6, Black Adam attacks the JSA. Why? ... I have no idea. He has no history with them. And I get that it's because of a brain tumor that allows his evil half(long story) to take control of his actions, but if I were an evil Captain Marvel villain, and I had just returned from deep space, then I would go and beat the snort out of the big red cheese. But hey, that's just me!
And how DID Black Adam come back from his exile in deep space?(for the record; the exile was of own choice) Did he fly back to Earth? Even with the swiftness of Heru, that's one heck of a trip!
And I don't exactly have a problem with him being on the JSA(question is; why not the JLA?), but how the other members treats him. I get that they dont trust him, since he was once a villain, but the guy proved himself over and over again, and they STILL turn on him on the drop of a hat! What is this, the Marvel U? In fact, I will go so far and say that the other JSA members are bullying him! They constantly tell him that he is not really one of them, and are pretty much just WAITING for him to turn bad. Even Captain Marvel, despite Adam proved himself to be a man of honor in Hades(in Power Of Shazam issue 47). No wonder he left the team.
Problem number 2: JSA VS Extant.
Extant is the hero Hawk turned mad. He has the power to manipulate time, and during the event known as Zero Hour, it took every team the DCU had to stop him. And even then, he still managed to escape. Of all the teams, the JSA was hit the hardest, since Extant aged them and even KILLED the Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite and Hourman.
... And the JSA sends SEVEN of their members to deal with him? No wonder they almost got killed!
And YES, I know that they send their big guns(Green Lantern, Hourman and Doctor Fate), and I have to say: Never has Queen Hippolyta been more awesome!
But still... seven guys to a universal thread? What's next, the Teen Titans VS Superboy Prime?
... Wait, that actually happened?
Number 3: Power Girl.
This one is a little weird, since PeeGee is my favorite superhero of all time(or is it Connor Hawke?). Heck, her solo-book was what really got me into comics! But the thing is... Power Girl is kind of a jerk in JSA. And YES, the fact that she doesn't take crap from anyone is one of the things that makes her so awesome, but there is a difference between not taking crap and... being a jerk as a choice.
I can best explain it by breaking down her speech to the JSA girls in the end of issue 39:
She starts off with; "If I was Power-Man, if I was stubborn, headstrong and brash, if I didn't take to authority well, no one would think anything of it."
Yep, just ask Green Arrow, Guy Gardner, Booster Gold, Batman, Plastic Man and ten other MALE heroes. NO ONE has a problem with them!
She goes on with; "Do I worry about what others think? Sometimes. But am I going to hold back and follow their lead? Play sidekick and girlfriend? Hell no! Always show them what you got!"
... So, according to Power Girl, it's okay to be a jerk if you are a woman, since you will be considered independent? But we should still be peeved over Guy Gardner's behavior?
Number 4: Alex Montes.
In the "Princes of Darkness" story-line, Alex Montes(The JSA museums curator and the second Wildcat's cousin) helps save the world by making his body into a prison for Eclipso(the evil spirit of wrath). And HOW does the JSA thank him for his bravery and will to defeat one of their greatest foes?
Why, they stab him in the back, fire him from his post as curator and decides to NOT trust him anymore, of coarse! I mean, he just SAVED humanity from Eclipso and was one of the major reasons to why they won the war against Mordru!
Seriously, why give a guy a break for saving the planet from everlasting darkness? That would just be stupid!
I'm not saying that he should be allowed to keep Eclipso inside his body. Sure, his intentions are noble enough, but having an god-like evil spirit is eventually going to backfire(and it did)!
But instead of just making him go and join Black Adam's team, there should have been some more build-up. The JSA should have talked with him and tried to tell him that it was a bad idea, and that they should get Eclipso the hell out of him.
And that's it. Only four problems with a series is actually pretty impressive, when you think about it.
Next time, we will take a look at a four-issue mini-series about everyone's favorite green freak.
I'm Waezi2, and thanks for wasting time with me.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Johns-Month(and a half): Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E.


Welcome to Johns-Month(and a half) where I will take a look at some of the comic-books written by Geoff Johns.
Some says he is a genius, who has only improved DC Comics. Others says that he ruined it.
What do I think? ... I'm actually not sure... So I will reread, as well as pick up new comics written by Johns and see if his genius is overshadowed by his mistakes, or if he might just be one of the greatest comic book writers of our time.
First up, his very first comic: Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E.
After her mother gets married to a guy named Pat Dugan, Courtney Whitmore must move away from all her friends and now former hometown to Blue Valley. She is less than trilled about it, and decides to get revenge on her new stepfather. She soon finds a way to do so, after discovering that Pat used to be Stripsey, histories only adult sidekick to the now dead teen-hero known as the Star-Spangled Kid. She steals the Star-Spangled Kid's powerbelt and costume from Pat's private belongings, in order to tick Pat off.
But Courtney soon finds herself in deep water, as Blue Valley is attacked by super-villains and weird aliens, and must fight side-by-side with Pat, despite none of them liking each other that much.
What really sells the book is Courtney and Pat's unwillingly partnership. Pat doesn't want Courtney to wear his old friend's costume, but he can't really do anything, since Courtney threatens to tell her mother about his secret identity. And Courtney can't get rid of Pat, since he can track her whenever she activates the powerbelt, and therefor joins her in fighting bad-guys in his robotic suite as S.T.R.I.P.E.
This series was written in the good old days, where individual issues was still a thing. So instead of one long story told in four issues, we have a couple of short ones, which I actually miss in todays comics. And for his first series, Johns does a pretty good job. It got plenty of humor, evil art-teachers, blue aliens with a pretty impressive plan to conquer the planet, the first super-heroine with braces, and fun art by Lee Moder. Sure, not all of it is perfect, but it's still darn impressive for a first time as comic-book writer.
In fact, this series impressed the comic-book giant James (FREAKING!!!) Robinson so much, that he offered Johns to become the new writer of the possibly most important series of John's career; JSA!
Which I will review next time...
I'm Waezi2, and thanks for wasting time with me.