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September 15, 2009

Fenix: A Week in Review

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Welcome all! Time for yet another look at the week that was, or at least the books on my personal reading list. Thanks to the holiday and the delay in shipping it created, we all had to suffer that one extra day for our books, and I know I was beating down the door of ye old local comic shop to get my hands on some goodness. As always SPOILERS lay ahead!

Booster_Gold_24Booster Gold #24

Booster Gold is one of those books that if you are not reading it you need to be smacked. Sure, Booster has always been sort of a joke, but this is changing, and if you can’t be won over by this book then you need to be slapped silly and checked for a pulse. Booster and Rip Hunter are working harder than a one legged man in an arse kicking contest to fix the time stream. The mysterious Black Beetle has been on a one man mission over the last few books, seeing to it that Batman and anyone that might be Batman is killed off. So far he has been unstoppable, and with Batman gone and events set in motion so that the Teen Titans are also eliminated, the time stream is left with a Justice League that fails to stop Trigon from killing off the world’s heroes; destroying almost all of humanity.

A small group of resistance fighters including Green Arrow, Zatanna, Rip and Skeets, start on the side lines waiting for Booster to contact them. The only problem is that Booster has been captured by Trigon, who hands Booster over to Black Beetle and Lex Luthor for questioning. In a classic Luthor move, once left alone with Booster he cuts him a deal. He will change sides as long as Booster takes him with him. Always looking out for his own neck, Luthor knows that his days are numbered once Trigon has crushed the resistance and killed off the rest of humanity. Tossing into the ring his little slice of knowledge that he thinks will turn the tide, Luthor leads Booster to a secret chamber that only Trigon can enter. The rationale being that in not allowing any one else access to the chamber, he must be trying to protect a secret that can lead to his downfall…

What Booster and his team find is horrific. Behind those doors is Trigon’s personal trophy room, complete with hanging corpses of Superman, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Flash’s uniform nailed to a wall. Even worse is the discovery that this has all been set in motion by the Black Beetle to attract a RED SCARAB to earth (holy crap there are different color scarabs!), an item that has been locked away in Trigon’s trophy room. Scooping up this red scarab, the Black Beetle quickly vanishes into the time stream with his new toy. Hope is not lost as Rip, who is always quick on his feet, has Booster free Hal’s captured power ring, allowing it to quickly find Hal’s successor, who just happens to be Kyle Rayner. With no choice but to travel back in the time stream and prevent any of this from happening, Rip, Booster and Raven are transported back to Rip’s time ship by Zatanna. Knowing that stopping Deathstroke is the only way to prevent all this, Booster comes up with a clever plan. Confronting Deathstroke before he can reach the Teen Titans, Booster switches places with him, taking his place in the battle that was to kill the young heroes. This switch results in the death of Ravager instead of the Teen Titans. Raven then copies Booster’s memories of the battle and places them in Deathstroke’s mind, making him think that Booster’s actions where his own during the battle, and correcting that part of the time stream.

Overall as I said before, Booster has stopped being a joke and is turning into one fine hero in his own right. Jurgens and Rapmund turn in another solid effort, and you are left knowing that there is more excellent action awaiting you in the next issue. I especially like the sly move made by Booster as he retreats from the battle field, passing on words of wisdom for a young Dick Grayson: “You are worth. Embrace your heritage. Guide Damian.” This leaves a young Robin trying to figure out what the heck that was all about. Just smart and clever!

Second Story: Blue Beetle

Sometimes if you are a teenage crime fighter with a chunk of mentally unstable alien hardware fused to your spine, a day out in nature with your Pictureparents is just what the doctor ordered. Having your two best friends along for the ride just makes it even better. Paco is channeling his inner Mr. T after watching countless A-Team reruns and is trying to drive his girlfriend insane just to see how much Paco-T she can take. Then the Black Beetle has to show up and ruin the day by blasting his little sister and telling him that he killed another one of his friends in the future (Hector) and that he is here to kill him… and then torture and kill his family just because he can.

If you have been reading Booster Gold then you are up on what is going on with Jaime and the scarab (even more so if you are reading Teen Titans). At the end of his solo series Jamie, in order to defeat the Khaji-Da revolutionary army, had to reboot the scarab. Since then it is not as happy go lucky and is more about wanting to frag everything. Then after things have been sorted out, frag it all again, which has Jaime worried. Even more so because the changes in the scarab are starting to filter down into his own personality and he is beginning to feel what the scarab feels. So far he has been keeping it in check until the Black Beetle shoots his sister with an energy blast (not killing her because in his own words she can’t die this day because she becomes important) at which case all bets are off. After a sucker punch from the Black Beetle the blue scarab asks Jaime one simple question: disable safeties? Pushed too far, a very ticked off Jaime answers yes and Black Beetle in introduced to a can of Blue Beetle kick arse. The transformation on the last page just says it all. Holy fricking wow! This is why I love the Blue Beetle. Now if only they would give him his own book back.

1252556141_cvrDark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus (One Shot)

Picking right up where Dark Avengers #8 left off Exodus is an excellent conclusion to Utopia. The smack down drag out fight that we all have been waiting for finally takes place and what a fight it is. Norman and his team of Avengers have no idea what they are in for as this fight was decided before they even lifted a finger. Out smarted and outclassed Norman is quick to lose his temper as Cyclops’ plan is working to perfection, taking Norman’s combatants off the board one at a time.

Every member of the Dark Avengers has been watched and studied and planned for. Mixing in the remaining Dark X-Men does nothing to help Norman and his crew as the same has been done for them as well. Wolverine and X-23 are dispatched to deal with Omega and Daken, Archangel takes care of Bullseye and the rest of Norman’s crew is double and even tripled teamed. My only regret here is that the rematch between Colossus and Venom doesn’t get the page time it should have.

While no real match for the Sentry, Namor nonetheless engages him in combat; not so much as to actually attempt to defeat him but more to buy time for what Emma has in store for him. With the help of a recovering Xavier, she enters Sentry’s mind and we find Bob’s personality in a black room as Emma speaks to him from the other side of a wall in a white room. It seems that at some point in time the two of them had set up this safe room in his mind in the event that Bob needed to take control of the Sentry. With Bob placed back in control the Void is released (escaping through Emma like some freaky get out of the Sentry’s head portal) and chases a fleeing Sentry from the battle into the depths of space. Emma does not escape from this without a price, as a sliver of the Void is left in her body and she must remain in diamond form for fear of allowing it to take over her mind. What ramifications this will have for her in the future, only time will tell.

Still confident, Norman reminds Cyclops that he still has Aries, only to turn and see Aries fall to Dani Moonstar who having struck a deal with Mistress Hela has the power of not only a Valkyrie, but one intended to stop gods! Daken is doing no better taking a beating from X-23 and friends as ‘girl power’ finally takes him down and gets him to shut his mouth.

Where is Mimic in all of this?! While he may have the power of all the original X-Men, outnumbered and overwhelmed he gets his own special beat down led by Iceman and for all Mimics power, he can’t cope with the onslaught. Leaving only Norman and a battered Moonstone (I refuse to call her Ms. Marvel) standing to face the army of X-Men. Still hot under the armor, Moonstone tells him the only way to win is to kill Picture 001the mutants; kill all the X-Men and all the mutants on the island. Here we get to see Norman’s true colors as he replies “Kill the bastards. I don’t care.” (You can see it all on page 33) But of all people Moonstone becomes the voice of reason; at least someone realizes that genocide on the nightly news is a bad public relations move. With no other choice, Norman calls for a retreat and he and his team high tail it. Knowing that his work is not done, Cyclops addresses the media one last time (peep it out over yonder).

Now Norman, crazy old Norman, addresses the media as well, declaring victory over the mutant menace; I must say that again it is the even more insane that Bullseye finds this to be just too funny. They just had their asses handed to them, but Norman is standing there for all the world to see beating his chest declaring victory and calling Scott Summers a “militant hate monger.” Ok boys and girls, if this is not a text book case of the pot calling the kettle black then I don’t know what is.

I still think Fraction should get some sort of award for this arc because he crafted an excellent story. The way Norman and Co. was out maneuvered here is just excellent. We get solid artwork as well from Deodato and Terry and Rachel Dodson. If you can’t get enough of this story, never fear! There will be more goodness in Dark X-Men: The Confession #1 (this will pick up where a bedroom conversation between Scott and Emma left off) and Dark Reign: The List X-Men #1. This will be one graphic novel that I can’t wait to add to my shelf when it comes out!

TheList_AvengersDark Reign -The List: Avengers (One Shot)

This one is short and sweet as can be. For once you don’t have to try and figure out the time line as this story takes place shortly after the events of Exodus. A rather angry Clint Barton wants to see some action out of his teammates. They need to kill Norman Osborn and help the X-Men, and you get one guess which Dark Avenger he wants to do in first; Osborn. The Avengers, wanting to think with their heads and not their trigger finger, want to take time to come up with a plan to help out the X-Men and take down Osborn. Clint just wants to kill Osborn first and sort the rest out later. Mockingbird does her best to talk him into thinking things out but Clint sneaks out on her in the dark of night, breaking his promise to her to sleep on it and form a plan in the morning.

The only smart thing Clint does during the whole book is that he waits for the Sentry to leave Avengers tower before he sneaks in. Smartly taking out Venom (tossing him out a window while he is half awake), Bullseye (got the drop on him with a boom boom stick bang bang you just got shot) and Daken (played on his daddy issues and shoots him in the back of the head with an arrow) right off the bat, and luckily the bumbling tower security team locks the building down saving Clint from getting cooked by a sleepy Moonstone. While the security protocols prevent Moonstone from being able to zap him (pesky security shields) they do nothing to prevent him from closing in on Osborn. The ever sneaky Barton gets the drop on old Norman only to find out that having Fury’s old job comes with Fury’s old toys: like his personal shield generator which deflects Barton’s bullets. Predictably, Barton falls to Aries and the story ends with him in ruins on the floor of Norman’s office under arrest.

Clint has always been a hot head, but this is getting a little captain insane-o. Yes he has been amped up just a bit as of late but this sort of seems to be almost too hot headed. Clint seems to be headed down the road to becoming that which he fights against. It is almost as if he is channeling his inner Punisher here. Not that I don’t want to see Norman taken down but killing him seems a tad out of step for Clint. Embarrass the ever loving hell out of him and show him broken and beaten before the masses, now that sounds like Clint. Pop a cap in him though, and that sounds like someone else. That sounds like the other Hawkeye, that crazy person Norman is marching around as a hero. Now though, the stage is set for yet another collision between the New and Dark Avengers as you know they will just not leave Clint in Norman’s hands. It might be safer for him to stay locked up because I am sure that Mockingbird is going to kill him.

This is a well written story that delivers everything at a fast pace, is loaded with beautiful art work, and some nice sneak peeks at the end. Overall if this is how these stand alone stories are going to go then they are well worth picking up.

Nomad_1_by_rafaelalbuquerqueartNomad: Girl Without A World #1 (of 4)

Rikki Barnes is a stranger in a strange land. Displaced from her reality, this teenage hero is just looking for a sense of normality. In her reality she was the teenage sidekick to Captain America and she would not have had it any other way. She has lost it all; her friends and family are out of reach and the one man whom she would pin her hopes to is dead. Steve Rogers is dead and she has no one to turn to. Yet she still has hope of chancing a meeting with current Captain America, Bucky Barnes. Standing in her way is the life of a not so average under-cover high school student just trying to get by in the world… and the Black Widow. For what seems like ages to her, Rikki has been trying to meet this new Captain America but every time she arrives too late to reported sightings. Every time she just misses him or he is long gone. This time though, as she races over rooftops, he is within her grasp. This time she sees this new Captain America in action and you can tell that while she is excited there is a sense of loss for her as well. If only she could talk to him then maybe things would be better. This is exactly what the Black Widow does not want. Intercepting Rikki on a roof top as she watches Captain America in action, she flat out tells her that meeting him is out of the question. While Rikki had no knowledge of the Black Widow it seems that the Black Widow has been searching for the young Barnes with the intent of keeping her away from Captain America.

Widow makes it very clear that this Captain America would not and can’t accept the responsibility of a teenage sidekick. That meeting him would do nothing but make things worse for both of them. It seems that Widow is keeping Rikki’s existence from Bucky and you can only wonder what her real reasons for this are.

With this new obstacle in her way, the scene shifts to Aken Garvey High School where Rikki, attempting to find some sort of normalcy in her life, attends high school. Motivated in part by the opportunity to connect with this world’s version of her brother, who is the polar opposite of the one she left behind. While her real brother was a nightmare, this Earth’s version is the brother of her dreams. He is smart and compassionate and gives her hope that she has a chance to feel like she belongs in this world.

Things at Aken Garvey start taking a turn for the weird after a general assembly meeting for class president elections ends with a rather unknown member of the student body delivering a stirring speech, calling for his fellow classmates to make a difference. Sensing that there is some sort of invasion of the body snatchers going on, Rikki can’t help but find it strange that the students leading the rallying cry for change mysteriously all represent different social circles. While John (this Earths version of her brother) thinks she is just being slightly paranoid, her suspicions are soon shared by him as these same students from the assembly start policing the student body; targeting anyone who they feel does not meet their standards (pull up your pants and stop with the potty mouth children).

Rikki knowing that something is just not level begins to shadow the ring leader of the pack and soon learns that not only do they operate with what could be described as a pack mentality, but somehow they have a set of keys for the school. Smartly switching into her “Bucky” gear, she follows them into a strange underground structure concealed below the school and is quickly set upon by a large hairy canine creature. Out classed in both speed and strength she escapes with some trickery, and while she may have taken a beating both physically and mentally, she is able to make it back to her apartment. Battered and bleeding she finds that someone has been there and that they have left a surprise for her (I think that the Widow has plans for young Rikki)…

What I love about this first issue is that from the get go you get where Rikki is coming from. She is a stranger in a strange land and while that would be daunting for even an adult figure, she must cope with this displacement on top of the normal insecurities of being a teenager. While she may have the benefit of S.H.I.E.L.D training and of having worked beside Captain America, she is without her safety net and looking for her place in the world. The Nomad name fits this young hero well and one can only hope that over the next three issues we get to witness something great. This is how teen heroes should be written, with just enough spunk and youthful exuberance blended with a hint of self doubt and longing to find where they fit in. I picked up this issue not knowing what lay within, and I am happy that I did.

Red-Robin-4-tim-drake-6668863-1107-1680Red Robin #4

Continuity freaks will be in the same boat as I am with this one. It seems this book takes place after the events in Blackest Night: Batman or at least that is the impression one gets. With this in mind I hope that things become clearer after it wraps up so I can get on track. The story opens with a flashback as Tim stands overlooking Gotham looking for a moment of solitude and is abruptly confronted by Batman (Dick Grayson).

Flash forward to the here and now and Tim finds himself in a spot of trouble. It seems that he is running on emotions and not using a clear head as he has drawn suspicion to his current alias of Alvin Draper. Upon landing in Iraq, Tim finds himself almost immediately held at gun point by US Security forces. It seems that he cut and ran too soon after the events in Germany, drawing attention to himself. Now the German government wants the item back that has gone missing. Thinking that things can’t get any worse for him, Tim is saved from this awkward situation by one of the three assassins that Ra’s al Ghul has assigned to help him in his quest to prove that Bruce is still alive.

Tim is still running hot and wants nothing to do with these special helpers but Z doesn’t back down and reminds himredrobin4_p09 that he is not in Gotham anymore. An American super hero is not feared here but the League of Assassins is and if he wants to survive in this land he will need them. Tim can either accept their help upfront or they will work behind the scenes killing everyone that gets in his way. While Tim mulls this over the scene shifts back to Berlin where someone from Tim Drake’s past is trying to track him down as Miss Fox is looking for answers.

Flashback to Gotham and Dick is trying to talk some sense into Tim, but things don’t go well as a talk turns into a rumble. The scene quickly changes back to a cave in Iraq as Tim finds what he hopes is the first of many clues that will lead him to Bruce. Another quick shift back to Gotham and Dick and Tim are matching each other blow for blow, neither backing down and both angling for the advantage. With a bit of trickery Tim comes out on top, telling Dick that if he really thinks that they are equal, that if they are brothers, he will believe in him.

The final pages shift back to the desert in Iraq as Tim is coming down the hill from the cave he was searching. He comes back into view of his three Assassin helpers just in time to see them get slaughtered by an agent of the Council of Spiders, named the Widower. Without a moment’s hesitation Tim engages him in combat, only to be left mortally wounded on the ground dying next to Pru who is bleeding out from a slit throat.

At least DC is not shy about the use of cliff hangers. Tim has slowly been slipping out of character here and I love it. He is so committed to proving that Bruce is alive that he is compromising his principles at almost every turn. This is a bold new direction for DC to take Tim in; you have to think that sooner or later he will be brought into the cross hairs of either Batman or his former teammates in the Teen Titans. It will be interesting to see what lines he will cross to prove that Bruce is alive. Another solid story and another interesting direction for this former Robin as Robin Red continues to deliver.

TNSv2 Cv17 dsTitans # 17

Normally you can’t always tell when a ship is sinking until it starts taking on water. That isn’t the case here as the divisions within the ranks of the Titans are starting to become clear. This is a team in transition and this transition is going to be painful. Stuck in the middle of this is Beast Boy, who like the team is struggling to find his place in the world.

While his relationship with Flash and Red Arrow is still strong and built around their shared sense of humor, it seems that he is opting for his more comfortable role as class clown rather than dealing with issues in his personal life. His romantic relationship with Raven has disintegrated to the point that it is having a negative impact on their working relationship. Complicating matters is Donna who is keeping something from her teammates; and it is eating at her giving her a quick acting verbal trigger finger. While Beast Boy just wants to talk things out with Raven and find out what is going on between them, Raven wants nothing to do with it and Donna’s temperament is not helping things. It seems that the ladies on the team feel that Beast Boy thinks that everything is about him. He, on the other hand, thinks they are all in need of a swift kick in the arse.

Adding to his problems is an attempted heart to heart from Vic who only wants to help his friend. Vic is worried tns_17_dylux-6-copythat Beast Boy, who has lost so much in his life, is afraid of moving forward in life so he is letting himself slip into his comfortable role as the team clown. Right on cue, a call from his agent lets Beast Boy escape from this as he has been booked at a convention for a personal appearance. Things, while not great, only get worse when another person on the panel decides to drum up some extra business by putting on a Deathstroke mask. Given Beast Boy’s personal history with Deathstroke, his freak out is not unexpected as he turns into a giant gorilla and tears the mask to shreds; Much to the delight of those still at the convention who flock to him for pictures yelling at him to pound his chest and eat bananas as a giant green gorilla makes for a great photo. Again this is more than he can deal with and he quickly changes to a bird and escapes, wanting nothing more than to go home. Fate has other things in store for him though as he comes across the new Teen Titans taking on Cinderblock (who is well known to fans of Teen Titans Animated) and not doing so well. Wonder Girl is holding the team back (check out Teen Titans #74 to find out why) and Beast Boy is not about to let this team of Titans get it handed to them. Dropping into the fray he takes charge and with his leadership, the Teen Titans make quick work of Cinderblock. As the media converges on the team Beast Boy makes an even quicker exit.

While he may not want to deal with his own issues, he sees a team of young Titans that are still learning what it takes to be a Teen Titan while avoiding dealing with the recent loss of one of their own. Knowing that this team of heroes needs a mentor to help them through all of this, he makes a choice that for readers and fans of Beast Boy makes all kinds of sense; the Titans don’t need him, the Teen Titans do.

How this is going to play out for the Titans and the Teen Titans has yet to be seen. Already down a team member with Dick leaving to be Batman, the dynamic of the Titans is shifting, and what we are seeing is a team that is ripe for drama and combustion. The shifting of a seasoned hero as a guiding hand to the current Teen Titans is needed, and as the team has plenty of humor from Blue Beetle and Static, Beast Boy can leave that behind and focus on being a mentor and getting his life in order. He needs the Teen Titans as much as they need him.

While his pending departure from the Titans is something I am not looking forward to, I am happy that at least his character is moving on and not going to be wallowing in the same tried and true routine. I am however not sure if this new direction for the Titans is one that I will stick around for. The Titans have lost Dick and now they are about to lose Beast Boy; this is a team in transition and this transition does not look like a pretty one. With that said this was a solid story and I am crossing my fingers that Titans stays a strong book.

I also picked up Ultimate Comics Avengers # 2 this past week as it was sitting at the comic shop begging to be taken home. I missed the first issue and my OCD is kicking in so once that one arrives in the mail, fear not for I shall talk them both on! Let me tell you though, just from the initial skimming of issue two there is some messed up and freaking great stuff going on in this book! Just wait until you find out who the Red Skull is!

Jason Fenix
contact@comicattack.net

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5 Comments


  1. eli

    Well Jason, maybe now I don’t have to feel so bad for my feelings about Booster Gold… maybe. Hah!



  2. Excellent points about ‘Exodus’! That story was so kick ass, the X-geek in me needed to change his pants after that issue.

    About ‘Red Robin’ though, I think you may have missed something… what Tim discovers in that cave ties directly into events in ‘Final Crisis.’ That cave is the last place where we saw Bruce Wayne, and now Tim has discovered it…


  3. InfiniteSpeech

    The List one shot was a great and I’ll probably pick up the Nomad isses once they go to trade…great reviews!


    • Jason

      Nomad is going to have some “guest” stars as well as Falcon and it looks like members of the realYoung Avengers are going to be showing up. I hope that we get so see Rikki in the old Nomad gear!


  4. The Movie Lady

    Looks like another great set of reviews!



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