Sunday, August 29, 2010

Superman Secret Origins #6 - Origins of Awesome

The origins of Superman have been told and retold so many times that more people probably know that story more than they know the stories of the bible (to be fair, the bible doesn't have as many hot chicks, aliens, and killer robots). It's so well known that DC has gone so far as to make a whole series out of it with Smallville and it has to be doing something right because it's lasted 10 whole seasons. Between a successful TV series and nearly a century of comics, what more is there to tell? What possible reason could there be to redo a story that's been more redone than Lady Gaga's hair? Well I got two words for all you cynical skeptics out there: Geoff Johns.

It seems like so long ago, but when Geoff Johns began this mini he was basically tapping a well that by all accounts should be dryer than Betty Ford's pussy. If it were any other writer there wouldn't be a whole lot of reason to pick up this story, but this is the guy who wrote Blackest Night. This is one of DC's most prolific writers of the past decade. If anyone could take the Superman Origins story and make it awesome again, it's Geoff Johns. And wouldn't you know it? He did just that.

The first five issues of Superman Origins condense much of young Kal-El's life down to a few simple comics. So even if you didn't know shit about Superman (seriously, what cave complex must you live in not to know in this day and age?) you could pick this up and learn everything there is to know. Geoff Johns keeps it focused, but he's always been big about doing the little things. In this series he's explained how Clark got his glasses, how he helped his mother make his suit, and how he first got adjusted to the big city of Metropolis. In addition, Johns spent plenty of time fleshing out characters like Lex Luther, Lois Lane, and Jimmy. Each character was not only perfectly developed, but they were fit into a more modern context. The Daily Planet in this series was a failing newspaper that had been muscled out because Lex Luther had gained so much influence in the city that he crushed anybody who didn't acknowledge how big his dick was. That all changed when Superman entered the picture. Suddenly, Luther's balls aren't the biggest in the world anymore. Superman not only busts up his latest toy for the military, he confronts the military and a very pissy General Lane (yeah, the same General Lane that sired Lois). At this point in the saga Superman is still very unsure of what he's going to do. People still fear him and he's not sure he's doing the right thing. He's got the military gunning for him and Luther looking to upstage him. The final issue is what brings it all together. It's been delayed more than a Guns n' Roses album, but for writers like Geoff Johns the wait is usually worth it.

The paths of the major characters start crossing in the first few pages with General Lane storming the Daily Planet. Apparently, a newspaper is now a threat to national security. I know there's that whole freedom of the press thingy, but I suppose that went out of style in General Lane's universe. He wants to bring Superman in and since he keeps showing up for the Daily Planet, he figures he might as well take it over. I don't get his logic either. It seems like something Ghengis Khan would do. Something looks like a problem. Conquer it! He uses the whole notion of Superman being an alien to justify this. Because that makes perfect sense. Just tell everybody that the guys an alien and they'll beg for the government to save them. Wait...never mind, I was thinking about bank bailouts. My mistake!

So General Lane is dedicating a fair share of his time and effort to be a prick while a weakened Superman is trying to fight off some heavily armed soldiers looking to give him the Iraq treatment. In the previous issue he was weakened by kryptonite in a battle with John Corban, who was wielding Lex Luther's latest alien killing toy. It didn't exactly pan out. The machine kinda exploded on him, kinda being a relative term of course. But it did weaken Superman to the point where he could be hurt and now he's struggling to get away from the guys looking to send him to Area 51 for anal probing while trying not to hurt these guys in the process. Let's face it, these soldiers are under General Lane's orders. They're just carrying out the man's douch-baggery for him. Even so, a weakened Superman is still strong enough to lift a fucking tank and that shows more than anything that shooting him is about as effective as hugging him.

Even if Superman isn't going to be taken down by Lane's men, the guy is still right up there with Luther in terms of being a total asshole. He basically says the war is won. He gives a George W. Bush style Mission Accomplished speech, saying Superman can be hurt and because of that they're taking him down. He's a threat the same way terrorists in shit-filled caves are a threat so he must be taken down. Not to leave it there, he demands the Daily Planet be shut down and everything confiscated because when it comes to being an asshole and a shitty father, you just have to go the extra distance. Either General Lane learned from George W. Bush or Bush learned from him.

Since Lois isn't exactly a Daddy's girl, she doesn't stand for this. In fact, she blows her old man off and essentially gives him the slip with Jimmy's help. The only surprising thing here is that General Lane seemed to assume she would listen to him. Seriously, how many rebellious women listen to their father's when they act like such grade-A assholes? The only real surprise was she didn't knee him in the balls before she slipped out.

She and Jimmy are forced to catch up with Superman, who is still in the process of fighting off the military. He seems to be doing okay for a brief moment. Even an M-16 is about as effective as a squirt gun with the proper application of ice breath and invulnerability. Since this fight is getting too easy for him, somebody steps up to add some extra challenge. That somebody is Metallo. However, this isn't the same Metallo most people are probably familiar with. This is more Metallo's earlier beta version, that also happened to look more gay than Elton John's closet.

Apparently, Lex Luther didn't take the time to make him look less ridiculous when he put Corban back together after the fight in the previous issue. Remarkably, this doesn't bother Corban because now he's super strong and can actually fight back against the guy who knocked down his manhood at least seventy million pegs earlier. Needless to say, this makes him even more of a douche than before. Only this time he's a douche that can hit back. So Superman can finally stop being so careful like he was with the soldiers and show that he has some balls as well. Unlike Corban, he doesn't need a metal body suit to prop them up.

It seems like it could be a fair fight for a while. Then Lois catches up to the action and gives Superman a much needed warning. She tells him they have kryptonite and it will kill him if he stays. This being the guy that got her so hot and giddy in some earlier issues, that's the last thing she wants to see. Usually when you get a warning from a hot woman, that's a pretty reason to make note of it. However, this is Superman we're talking about here. Lois could have breasts the size of watermelons and he wouldn't back down from a battle like this.

John sees that and since he had the hots for Lois earlier as well, he's even more pissed off. It's one thing to immaculate him. It's quite another to have the affections of the woman he wants to bone. So once again, pussy drives a man over the edge and Metallo goes for the kill. Even though he's a total asshole, he looks pretty badass in the process.

Badass or not, Superman doesn't take kindly to him threatening civilians, throwing aside his fellow soldiers, and acting like a jerk to a lady. Those are all no-nos in Superman's book so he does what he does best. Whereas most butchy superheroes would go on a testosterone driven tirade that makes for some bloody, mindless spectacle Superman goes for a more subtle approach. First he covers that kryptonite rock of his by melting a sewer cover in mid flight. Seriously, he's Superman. He can do this shit. Then he grabs Metallo and flies up him up a super high altitude. Remember, this is Metallo the beta version. He's still part human, meaning he has lungs. So when he gets to an altitude where air is abundant as Lindsey Lohan's innocence he shuts down. He doesn't make a last stand either. He just passes out as if he had one too many shots of tequila. At the very least he won't be hung over and need to pray to the porcelain god (the toilet for all you sober types) the next morning.

So Superman returns to the surface and you think most would be grateful that he stopped a crazy half-human, half-robot, full douche-bag from going on a rampage. But that's still not enough for General Lane. Apparently, saving lives isn't enough for him. He still wants to bring him in. That doesn't go over well with the people who actually have good vision. They respond by throwing beer bottles and rocks at Lane and his soldiers. He didn't get the memo that the whole supporting the troops thing only applies troops that aren't complete assholes.

Superman has to step in once again, this time using his words instead of his muscles. That may sound lame, but what he says is profound. He tells everyone he is not a savior. He does what he does because he has a gift. That's all he's doing. He's using his gifts to make the world better. Everyone else should do that too. They shouldn't rely on him or assholes like Lex Luther to do it for them. Sure, he may still have the edge with the whole flight, super strength, super speed, and invulnerability. But everybody has gifts on their own level. It's a powerful message and he presents it in a way that won't make most readers roll their eyes. Only the cynical dickheads will still do that and that's their problem.

His little speech seems to soothe things over. He's inspired people in a way Glenn Beck only bitches about. However, he's still not done. He has to pay one last visit to the only guy who is more of an asshole than General Lane. Even though Lane tried to arrest Superman, Luther tried to fucking kill him with Metallo. Needless to say, he's pissed. That ego and narcissism of his simply cannot take being upstaged. He knows he can't compete with an alien of Superman's power. If anyone is going to worship anyone on Earth, Luther wants it to be him.

That's not going to fly with Superman though. He makes it clear that Luther's ego is not enough to make him stop. Earth is his home now even though he wasn't born on it. That means he's going to defend it from assholes like Luther who try to carry on like the planet was made specifically to suck his dick. It's a powerful moment, thus setting the tone for the epic rivalry that will consume the Superman saga for many years to come. It's the first time Luther's really been humbled and it's truly a sight to behold.

So Superman has saved the day, won the hearts of Metropolis, and upstaged Lex Luthor. He's done everything he's had to do in order to earn the moniker of Superman. That leaves only one more triumph to attain and it involves something with breasts.

The next day after the Daily Planet prints their landmark "Superman Here To Stay" article, Lois meets up with the big man for a nice moment. This guy didn't just save her life and give the city hope. He made her father look like a total tool. She's pretty much inclined to lift up her skirt, give him her panties, and throw herself at him pussy first. She's a bit more subtle about it though. They talk about things like partnerships and working together. Superman is too polite to imply that they should bump uglies or show her what a Kryptonian Kreamer is, but Lois seems to get the message. It would have made for a nice romantic moment if Jimmy didn't show up to cockblock the whole thing.

Despite the interference, Superman is still nice enough to say goodbye and fix the spinning ball on the top of the Daily Planet as well. When he flies off he leaves both Lois and Jimmy hopeful, although Lois probably has to change her panties at this point. It's another one of those subtle ways to set the stage for what's going to become the most epic romance in comics. There's a lot less subtlety with Luther who finds that after his chat with Superman, he no longer has such an adoring public waiting for him. It also shows in the way the people of Metropolis look up in the sky.

Since this is an origins comic, it can't happen all at once. However, Geoff Johns makes enough happen to really highlight how strong it is. It's basically how he sets up the ending of the comic. It's truly the end of the beginning and the beginning of the awesome that would eventually become the Superman saga.

So there you have it! In six issues Geoff Johns condenses the entire origins of Superman into a saga that spans his childhood, his teen years, his early adulthood, and his eventual role as the Man of Steel. It's a story that feels a lot longer than it really was. It's not easy to capture the epic nature of the Superman story in 600 issues let alone 6. But Geoff John does it and does it masterfully.

There really isn't a whole lot of negative things you can say about this series. The only real drawback is that since this is an origin story, most learned readers already know how it's going to end. Superman will save the day, humiliate Lex Luther, and make Lois all hot in her panties. There aren't too many surprises in that respect, but since the story is told so well it really doesn't matter. It's still a pleasure to follow and every character is perfectly one. The dialogue is crisp and has a very believable and realistic feel to it. The characters don't talk as if they're in the 1930s when Superman first came out. They talk like regular people talk with their own distinct tone and persona. If the Superman series began in 2000 this is what it would be and it works wonderfully.

Having only recently gotten back into Superman comics, this series reminds me of why the Man of Steel is so awesome. This origins story is a must-have for any DC fan or comic fan in general. There's so much to like about it and there's so much to enjoy. I can't give this book anything less than a perfect 5 out of 5, a perfect 10, and A+ and whatever other accolades I can give a comic. If you're a Superman fan, get this book! It will be a crown jewel in your collection. It took a while to come together, but when it did it was nothing short of super. Nuff said!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

X-men Legacy #239 - Clearer Awesome

In my previous review of X-men Legacy I made it clear that I wasn't cutting Mike Carey any extra slack. I love the guy and he still writes some of the best X-men comics in the biz, but even guys I love don't get a free pass to nix their first comic coming off a huge event. That would be like a teacher overlooking the fact that her favorite student answered on a test that George Washington was a defunct judge from Dancing with the Stars and Alexander Hamilton was the asshole who revealed the magician's secrets on those lame ass Fox shows back in the late 90s. Mike Carey's previous issue really was a disappointment in that it lacked the usual refinement his comics have. The plot was confusing, the pace was fucked up, and you needed to be just a little bit high not to notice how some of the plot points just didn't fit. However, Mike Carey has a proven track record of making up for the lousy issues every writer churns out from time to time. Does he continue it here? Yeah, like I'm going to say outright and dissuade more readers from following this blog.

The latest issue doesn't ignore the fact that the last one made about as much sense as a lecture on quantum mechanics by Paris Hilton. It directly confronts the painfully bland way in which the last issue ended, which involved a sentinel attacking Rogue, Magneto, and the rest of their little strike team on this mission. I know you would need a list that runs from New York to Istanbul to count all the times an X-men story has ended with a sentinel attacking, but so long as it still looks awesome why shouldn't the writers keep using it? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Unless it involves anything Apple makes. If you do that voids the warranty.

There are some decent contributions from Rogue, Anole, and Magneto in the fight against the sentinel. Not surprisingly, the sentinel doesn't put up much of a fight. These once feared mutant hunting death machines have become about as defunct as the old Soviet Union. They should have fallen gracefully when they had the chance. It's still a decent scene, but it isn't just about the fight. Mike Carey's stories often revolve around characters and the sentinels didn't just come from out of the blue. Something did lead to them and that's where the real story picks up.

Those who read X-men Legacy #238 will recall a cute blond girl being part of some unknown floating base that somehow escaped. Now there was no back story that lead up to this girl. She wasn't surrounded by anywhere familiar and there was no real description of who she was, what she had done wrong, or why the hell she was even in this book to begin with. It made for one of those moments in comics when you scratch your head and reach for the ibuprofin tablets. It took an issue, but finally the story is clearing a few things up. This girl appears to have mutant powers that allow her to paint with light, but wasn't on the teaser for Generation Hope so it doesn't seem likely that she's one of the Five Lights. Of course, Rogue and the others don't know that. She isn't named, but being the nice people they are the X-men take her under their wing. That whole bit about her leading the sentinels to them is just water under the bridge I guess.

They bring her back to the estate of Paras family where they learn that he's getting married. Rather than spark an incessant barrage of squeals from the women, it's kind of a downer. I guess it's hard to get excited about marrying someone who he not only hasn't met before, but his brother was supposed to be the one to marry her. That should make for an exceedingly awkward honeymoon. If Jerry Springer was still on the air, he would be drooling over this story.

Paras is still playing the part of an obedient Indian son. That doesn't make his parents any less the douche-bags they are. Plus there's the whole prospect of this girl he's never met having to marry a guy with purple skin. Too bad in India girls don't have the luxury of picking who they have to spread their legs for out of duty to the family. It puts Paras in an awkward position, but one he can't easily escape from. It's another one of those great character moments that should make fans of Mike Carey's work coo.

This family drama is tough enough, but there is still a mission to be done. The point of this whole India trip as established earlier was for Magneto to investigate these strange storms as they were described. Magneto and Rogue take a moment to discuss this mission that takes a number of reminders to be clear on. Even though Magneto is a massive tool, he's not dumb. When they investigated the latest storm, they didn't just get attacked by a sentinel. Some weird blond girl fell out of the sky. Now usually that's the first stage in a typical male fantasy, except she's usually wearing a cheerleader outfit. But considering she brought a giant robot with her that kills the boner and raises some suspicion.

The girl herself doesn't seem too excited or enthused about her situation. All she really does is hang around, show off her powers, and basically take up space. She's essentially that annoying background character in every movie that does nothing and lofts about while the main characters talk about how the world is going to come to an end. It's nice that she's so calm with that even if it does make her a bit of a douche. She's still pretty vague about who she is, but it helps build the mystery. Who doesn't want to be a little curious about a super-powered blond?

While this girl is goofing around, Paras meets his blushing bride to be. She's not ugly by any measure. Hell, she's more than doable. However, she looks about as thrilled to be married as she would be if she were getting root canals. At the very least she's not put off by him being a mutant. She even seems fascinated about America. That's still not a foundation to build a whole freakin' marriage around. But it could be worse. Jerry Springer probably doesn't have them on speed dial anymore. It's actually a bit more realistic and for a comic like X-men that's refreshing since there's only so much giant robot attacks readers can take.

This down-to-Earth plot quickly heads back up into the skies of crazy-land when the next scene deals with those robot-loving assholes who had that blond girl imprisoned in the previous issue. Like that girl, there's no real explanation as to who these guys are. They look like a cheap SWORD knock-off, except they don't have a pretty green-haired woman running the show. They come off as the typical douche-bags who would abduct a cute blond and not have a good reason for it. They talk as though someone butchered their dog, fucked it, and then mailed the corpse. It's exceedingly dramatic and since there's no real sense of who these characters are, it doesn't have much impact.

This annoying scene lasts only a page though. So I guess that's something positive. At the same time it really doesn't answer any questions. It continues the overall disjointed pace that this book has been following since the previous issue. It's not quite as bad, but it's still there and Mike Carey should be better than this.

However, the man isn't without his sense of humor. The very next scene is something that plays with the senses a bit. Apparently that blond they rescued has a playful sense of humor. By playful I mean she uses her light powers to make an image of her and Paras (you know, the guy he's getting married) in a very compromising and very naked position. It's quite a sight and makes for a hilarious turn in a comic that really hasn't had many to this point. It further proves the addage that there are few things in this world that can't be enhanced with the proper application of nudity.

This girl, who suddenly has the name Luisa, gets chewed out by Paras's father. That's not saying much though. That's like being called a douche-bag by Andy Dick. So she has to basically take down her little masterpiece and run off to make softcore porn on her own time, but not before taking a shot at Indian wedding traditions. If this comic made it to India, I'm pretty sure a lot of people would be asking for Mike Carey's head on a platter.

The girl is unapologetic though just as you would expect any teenage girl to be. That doesn't stop Magneto from giving her a lecture. Because let's face it, who is a better influence on super-powered teenage girls than Magneto (that was sarcasm by the way). As big an asshole he is, he does finally get some answers out of her. She reveals that the floating structure she came from is called Quitado. Magneto demands more answers. She claims not to have them. He's not convinced. If he were a car salesmen he would have control of Frod and GM by now (which isn't saying much I guess).

He still doesn't get the answers he wants. So what's Magneto's solution? He wants Rogue to absorb her. That goes over about as well as a proposal to escort him to the nearest S&M club wearing nothing but a ball gag, a leash, and thigh-high boots. He points out she's been okay with it in the past. Rogue reminds him how fondly she remembers that by slugging him across the face. For anybody thinking there was still some chemistry between those two, this should prove they're no more fit to be together than Paras in his blushing bride to be (who he never even met before). It's a very satisfying scene because let's face it, if anybody had a chance to punch Magneto in the face they would do it. It just makes Rogue more awesome than she already is.

The whole time Luisa is listening in on this and decides not to stick around less Magneto convince Rogue otherwise. She ends up paying Paras a visit because apparently just making images of them boning isn't enough for her. She gives him the typical lecture that what he's doing is stupid and the whole issue about family obligations and duty are a load of bullshit. In other words she says everything the Christian Right frowns upon. This not being enough, she has the balls to kiss him. It shows that perhaps making an image of them naked wasn't just for kicks. She seriously wants to bone the guy. Anytime a pretty blond wants to bone you, that's a pretty memorable day in the life of any young man. Paras, being the guy he is, pushes back. Even the power of hot blonds cannot dissuade him. It's either very noble or horrendously stupid. His dick probably hates him now.

Before she steps up her efforts and starts showing Paras her tits, Magneto and Rogue enter the room. They don't seem to care that she's tempting a guy about to get married. They want to know what she knows about the storms. She's clearly hiding something and they want to figure it out so they can decide if rescuing her was worth the trouble. She's seems ready to crack when (cue the drum roll) another surprise attack interrupts them. Only this time it's not a giant robot. It's those same assholes from Quitado who happened to be dressed like a totally gay version of Comic Con. They're still talking like Thor after he's watched Shakespeare in Love and they demand they give Luisa back. So once again the comic ends on the prospect of a big fight. It's not a giant robot, but it's still pretty awesome looking. Hopefully this fight is a lot more eventful than simply busting up an old robot.

So to go back to the question posed earlier, does this issue redeem the shortcomings of the previous issue? Well if this were a baseball game, it certainly wouldn't be a grand slam. This issue is a lot easier to follow than the previous issue and there are a lot more coherent plots to follow. There are some answers with respect to the girl and the jerk offs chasing after her. There are also some compelling developments with Paras and his ongoing family drama. Plus Rogue punches Magneto and there's some assorted nudity. That alone does bump this issue up in terms of quality compared to the previous issue. However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Even for those Carey tried to answer, they didn't have much impact.

It's still an interesting story to follow. Mike Carey's characterization is still as solid as ever and the art is very nicely done. There are a few spotty transitions, but nowhere near what was in the previous issue. It's not a vast improvement, but it is an improvement. I gave the last issue of Legacy a 3 out of 5. To reflect the improvement in this issue I give it a 3.5 out of 5. I'm tempted to give it higher, but I would rather wait to see how Mike Carey finishes these plots. Perhaps as the events of the next issue unfold, the previous two issues will make more sense. Until then, it's still under par compared to what Carey is usually capable of. However, it is progress and despite what assholes like Glenn Beck says progress is a good thing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

X-men Supreme: Issue 18 - Uprising Part 2 is LIVE!

It's time for another update, but on this very special day I've done more than just update the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Yes, I've taken another step towards the end of Volume 1: Mutant Revolution. The Uprising arc promises to be the most explosive story in this series to date. It's not only going to bring X-men Supreme Volume 1 to it's stunning conclusion, it's going to set the stage for an even bigger Volume 2. Now is a great time to jump into this series because it's only going to get better as the X-men Supreme saga unfolds!

X-men Supreme: Issue 18 - Uprising Part 2

But today isn't just about updating the series. I've spent some extra time doing some more extensive updates the the X-men Supreme website. For too long I've negated the pics section. Well not anymore! I've made a long overdue update to the sexy ladies area, adding pics for Rogue, Mystique, Storm, Jean Grey, and the Scarlet Witch. Not only that, I've added a new X-lady to the mix. Now Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat, has her own section as well! I meant to add these in a lot sooner, but better late than never I guess. I definitely plan on adding more and I'm still open to fanart if some want to submit it.

But that still isn't the only addition to this update! I've added a new social networking function to the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Now at the end of every chapter and on the front page of this site, there will be links to add sections of this website to Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and every other social media outlet. I've even started a Facebook page exclusively for this series! So if you have a Facebook page, look up X-men Supreme! It's an open medium for the awesome of X-men Supreme to be shared. There's so much more I want to do with this fanfiction series and I'll do whatever it takes to share it with the world. If you have any suggestions that you feel may help please share them with me! Otherwise, enjoy the new pics and enjoy the new issue. Thanks again to everybody who has supported this series and this blog. You guys are awesome! Excelsior!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Deadpool #26 - Awesome or Filler?

Deadpool has always been one of those guilty pleasure comics. It's so obscene and off-the-wall that you feel dirty and are obligated to get on your knees and pray to whatever deity you know to forgive you for laughing your ass off at something so ridiculously awesome. There's never been a whole lot of depth to the Deadpool comics and that's by design. Deadpool is crazier than an army of horny rats on PCP and it's not possible to turn that into the fucking Iliad. In a ways that's a major limitation for his titles because if you can't tell a story of sizable depth you're left with novelties and novelties always wear off the same way a hangover inevitably follows a three day bender.

To the credit of Marvel and writer Daniel Way, they've made Deadpool's story plenty entertaining despite these limitations. Since the end of Dark Reign he's gone on his share of smaller adventures, occasionally mixing with other members of the Marvel universe like Spider-Man and the X-men. These stories have been a lot of fun in most respects, but lately Deadpool has been trying to stand on his own. The last arc had him go on a little adventure in Las Vegas that involved his old friend Weasel and giant killer robots. Now it's next to impossible to make a story with Deadpool and charming robots suck, but the ending was underwhelming. Deadpool #26 picks up after that issue and begins a new story and once again Daniel Way has to find a way (sorry, I couldn't resist) to keep Deadpool's story going.

The issue starts not with Deadpool, but with someone he's clashed with in the recent past, Johnny Blaze. Right off the bat some may be thinking "Really? Again? Is Marvel contractually obligated to team these two up once a year just to remind readers that Ghost Rider is still relevant?" It really does seem the only valuable screen time Ghost Rider gets is when he crosses paths with Deadpool. He's essentially David Spade to Deadpool's Chris Farley (minus the fat and cocaine overdose).

As with all Chris Farley movies, Deadpool gets the spotlight first. He picks up right where the end of the last arc left off, confronting the greedy Casino owners that foolishly hired him to ensure their proverbial and literal edge. You would think men as rich as these guys would know not to give a guy like Deadpool a giant killer robot suit. Unfortunately, money can't by common sense. Deadpool, still struggling with this ongoing theme of being a hero, decides working for a bunch of money grubbing Terry Benadicts is not very heroic so he quits. The casino big-wigs don't like that and try to stop him. Again, Deadpool is the one in the killer robot suit. That leads to a very unheroic resolution.

Once Deadpool is done taking out the Casino elite, the book goes through a classic non-transition with Ghost Rider showing up all decked out in his flaming skull and over supped motorcycle. There's no witty exchange this time as is so common and expected in a Deadpool comic. Ghost Rider just takes his changes, ropes up Deadpool like he's a bull at a rodeo, and drags him along the back of his motorcycle like he's deer that got tided up under a pickup truck. There's not much explanation here and not in the Lost kind of way. Ghost Rider just says he's here to make Deadpool face vengeance. It's about as original as the concept of giant robots, albeit with fifty percent less awesome.

Ghost Rider drags Deadpool the entire length of the Las Vegas strip and out into the desert. It isn't until Deadpool pulls one of his trademark nasty tricks and causes them both to pull an Evil Kinevil minus the lengthy hospital stay and annoying knock-off of a son with a far less awesome name. The two men go for a tumble and Deadpool blows up Ghost Rider's motorcycle for good measure. That tears his uniform and breaks a few bones, but does little to stop Ghost Rider from grabbing him by the throat and doing his signature (by signature I mean obscenely predictable) move in the form of his penance stare. Anybody who has seen the less than stellar Nicholas Cage movie (all six of you) knows that this stare reveals the past sins of anybody who gazes into it and anybody who knows Deadpool's history knows he has a long list second only to Dick Cheney.

Not to be completely unoriginal, but there is a slight hiccup in Ghost Rider's plan. When he tries to give Deadpool that proverbial look, something short circuits. He shifts right back to Johnny Blaze for some reason, but Deadpool is still in a daze looking like he just did a shot of Tequila mixed with GHB and horse tranquilizer (not as fun as it sounds). Blaze is understandably confused, but since he's been about as exciting as a mosquito bite to this point that's not too disappointing. The real show is going on inside Deadpool's fucked up mind.

So cue the flashbacks and we get an all too familiar glimpse into Deadpool's past. Now this seems a little redundant because only a few months ago, Marvel released a Deadpool Origins book that dealt with this exact same issue. The story is well-known to anybody who has access to wikipedia. Deadpool was dying in a hospital bed before he underwent an experimental procedure that saved his life, gave him a healing factor, and made him bat shit insane. There's nothing ground breaking about that story, but at least the Origins story did tie a bit into Deadpool's family. Here, we get none of that.

The first flashback is just Deadpool lying in a bed talking to some nameless guy in a suit. He says he's been in a coma for 21 days and was so fucked up they had a funeral for him, which nobody showed up for. So not only is he messing with his head, he's really hurting the guy's self-esteem. Is it any wonder he went crazy? It's pretty bland and reveals nothing that hasn't already been revealed before. How this is supposed to be part of Ghost Rider's penance stare is a mystery that Scooby and the gang couldn't solve.

This guy in a suit, of course, isn't just any guy. He's part of some clandestine cell for the CIA called Oscar Zero. It may very well be the least intimidating name in the history of black ops. It sounds more like a Sesame Street character than a cell of dangerous government agents. But this happens before Deadpool gets sick and undergoes the Weapon X treatment so there's no witty remark about it. He's just a kid whose looking to become a killer stooge for Uncle Sam. He's not given much choice in the matter. It's either join or go back to being dead, essentially the sales pitch of every government agency in the Marvel Universe. So he does one of the few logical things a young kid does and goes along with it.

More spotty transitions come next and without even a tiny narration quote, it shows young Wade Wilson getting along nicely with his fellow operatives. He has little problem killing and his fellow agents are understandably jealous. Then without much detail or spectacle, Wade gets sick and we're once again back in familiar territory. It feels like a wasted opportunity because this could have been a great time to show how Wade became so skilled. Instead, they spend one freakin' page on this point in his past and that's it. It's like the readers are expected to fill in the blanks. I'm sorry, but isn't that what we're paying the writers at Marvel to do?

The story plays out as expected. Wade wakes up in a hospital bed (again) and gets told he has cancer. His only hope is an experimental procedure that's extremely risky and extremely painful. Again, the guys in the suits don't give him much of a choice. Either he goes along with it or dies a terrible, agonizing death. There's no dilemma. There's no drama. It's basically all laid out for Wade Wilson and that's about it. Again, how the fuck is this supposed to relate to Ghost Rider's penance stare?

If anyone was expecting an explanation, go bury your head in a pile of blow because you won't get it. The flashback ends on the very next page and Deadpool wakes up from this half-hearted trip down memory lane. He's understandably a little pissed and slugs Johnny Blaze across the face. It's not clear on whether or not this is for the Penance stare or because his little display of power was so fucking weak it is an insult to Deadpool and the comic that bears his name. I'd like to believe the latter, but with Deadpool there could be any number of reasons (including zero).

Not much else happens after this. Ghost Rider and Deadpool are now stranded in the desert (remember, Deadpool shot up his motorcycle). They have a few witty exchanges. When Deadpool asks Blaze what he saw, he replies with a statement that best sums up this entire comic "Nothing I haven't seen before." Truer words were never spoken. Deadpool also asks Blaze if he things he deserves to die. Blaze said based on what he saw, he does. But you have to wonder, if all he saw was what was shown on panel earlier than how the fuck does that make him so deserving? Deadpool has done a shit ton of other crazy antics and that somehow makes him deserving a death? Either Johnny Blaze's standards are impossibly high or impossibly lame. Either way, it doesn't bother Deadpool one bit. A guy as crazy as him can't be bothered by it or make much of a story from it either.

That's basically it. There's not much else to say about this story other than it was pure filler to compliment the end of the previous arc. I'm not against using filler as I understand it's necessary between books, but there's a fine line between filler for arcs and the filler MacDonald's uses to make their food the chemical and nutritional equivalent of radioactive shit. This story wasn't just filler. It was painfully unimaginative. Deadpool and Ghost Rider crossed paths as recently as this year and here they do it again this time without a decent fight. Most of the comic is spent going through some flashbacks for Deadpool's past and since none of them are all that ground breaking, you could completely skip over it and not miss anything whatsoever. It's bland, it's lame, and completely unfit for a comic like Deadpool that has had such a rich tradition of awesome.

I'm normally very high on Deadpool comics and will cut them a lot of slack. But I can't give much credence to a book that's such a blatant filler issue that feels like an excuse to get Ghost Rider back into the mix. As cool as flaming skulls and motorcycles are, they don't stack up in a Deadpool comic without some substance. This is one of those issues you can completely omit from your collection and not miss a beat. For that reason I can only give this issue a 1.5 out of 5. It's still a Deadpool comic with a touch of Deadpool wit, but without any substance behind it there's not much to enjoy. Hopefully the beginning of the next arc bucks this trend. That's the good thing about filler. As disgusting as it may be, like a MacDonald's burger it's always consumed quickly to make way for something bigger.

Monday, August 23, 2010

X-men First Class Details - Officially Shit

Well after months of speculation, some details about the upcoming X-men First Class movie have finally emerged. It's been a fucked up couple of weeks with new cast members being used that seem like someone opened up a Marvel Dictionary, got a secretary piss faced drunk, spun her around on a chair, and then had her randomly point out characters to use. That list now includes C and D-listers like Darwin, Banshee, Havok, Angel Salvador, and Azazel (Nightcrawlers father) along with more established names like Magneto, Mystique, and Professor Xavier. All the while there has been intense speculation on who will play Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm. Because seriously, you can't have a movie called X-men First Class with the characters most associated with the First Class right?


Those are Singer's (implied) words, not mine. With filming set to begin next month, Singer finally spilled on the details and some of them may disgust fans about half as much as X3 while requiring the others who actually see this movie to have a blood-alcohol content of no less than .15 in order to make it through. Here are some tidbits from an interview by Screenrant.

  • X-Men: First Class is not like the “X-Men: First Class” comics, hence the significant character differences.
  • It takes place in the 1960s where Kennedy is still president.
  • Equality and racism are key issues with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X dominating mainstream media with the Civil Rights movement (foreshadowing (even mirroring) the mutant situation to come).
  • Director Matthew Vaughn is very interested in the setting and what Singer describes as the “James Bond tech of the time”, as Harry puts it.
  • Shooting will begin with Charles Xavier attending Oxford University.
  • We’ll get to see classic X-Men costumes, much more similar to the comics than we’ve seen in previous movies.
  • The movie will be the franchise’s most international yet, with shooting taking place in the U.S. and England, and the story also involving at least The Soviet Union as well.
  • We’ll get a first look at some X-Men: First Class costumes within a month.
  • Cyclops and Jean Grey are NOT in the movie. Havok definitely is and Lucas Till will be playing him.
  • January Jones is Emma Frost and there’s no truth to Rosamund Pike’s involvement.
  • Singer is excited about them getting Nicholas Hoult as Beast because of a fortunate delay in start date for Mad Max: Fury Road.
  • Kevin Bacon’s villain is in fact, Sebastian Shaw. Yes, that means Hellfire Club is in X-Men: First Class.
  • Singer explains the 1960s setting is perfect for the Hellfire Club, from the characters to costumes.
  • There are other characters that will be in the film that they’re keeping secret. Could it be more mutant X-Men or more likely, other members of the Hellfire Club?
So here are a few highlights. This movie takes place in the sixties and Emma Frost is part of the Hellfire Club with Sebastian Shaw. Yet as some will recall, Emma showed up in the Wolverine Origins movie as one of the prisoners. And that movie took place in the 70s or 80s (it's hard to tell because the movie was so fucked up). Also, anybody who knows anything about the X-men characters knows that Havok, Alex Summers, is the younger brother of Cyclops, Scott Summers. Unless someone does a retcon of the Wolverine movie (which nobody will really give a shit if they do), something's gotta get fucked up here.

It's not that these ideas are inherently bad, but why the fuck would anyone call this movie First Class if it's an Origins movie? First Class implies that the story involves the First Class. That's Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast, and Iceman. No way around it. There was a whole fucking comic series about it for over a year! I get that movies take a lot of liberties from books, but you don't call the Godfather books Willy Wonka and get away with telling a completely different story.

Bryan Singer set his comic movies apart by essentially not paying much attention to the source material. This worked to some extent with the first two movies because he set it up to make it novel and fresh for both comic fans and non-comic fans alike. However, that kind of shit has a very low margin for error. It takes only one X3 to render this entire movie universe completely fucked. Add Wolverine Origins into the mix and it's essentially super-fucked if that were an appropriate term. What's the point of another origins story if every movie that comes after it is basically going to end up sucking anyways? Add to that, the assholes making it have the audacity to call it First Class when they could have just as easily called it X-men Origins and nobody would be bitching about it the way I am right now.

Even without Cyclops and Jean Grey in it, there's still a big problem with telling the story of Charles Xavier's origin with Magneto. In X3 Xavier is going to get fucking killed! So again, everything he does in this movie or whatever other prequels Fox shits out mean precisely dick. Because in the end, he's going to get killed by Jean Grey in a way that has no drama, no punch, no impact, and no redeeming qualities. It's not like the death of Darth Vader in Star Wars in that at least his death was a major turning point in the Star Wars movies. Xavier's death, like that of Cyclops and Jean Grey, is muddled in the fucked up horrors that is X3. Until that movie is expunged from existence, all subsequent X-men movies are shit.

There are only a few faint glimmers of hope with this movie. Director, Matthew Vaughn, stated a while back that this movie could draw parallels to the Star Trek movie that came out last year. That movie was not a reboot. It was in continuity with the other films, but the time line was essentially reset because characters from the future came back and essentially altered the past forever in what some call a quasi-reboot. If First Class has something similar then that may open the door for X3 at least being partially forgotten, but the fact it will still have happened requires that this and every subsequent movie be awesome on such great levels that it may have to date rape the forces of the impossible to stand a chance.

Perhaps I'm still overly bitter about X3, but as an X-men fan it's seriously disheartening when the X-men movie franchise feels like the most fucked franchise in all of comic movies. Hulk got a reboot after only one movie and now Superman and Spider-Man are getting reboots without the studios trying to salvage the shitty movies that came before them with prequels. Why is it that the X-men franchise has to go through four movies that imploded with two more in the pipeline (X-men First Class and Wolverine Origins II) to endure? It's like trying to cut your losses at a blackjack table by continuing to bet more and more despite losing with every possible hand.

The only hope for the X-men movies at this point is a reboot, but so long as the studio is obsessed with making prequels it may be years if not decades until that finally happens. By then I'll probably be dead from alcohol poisoning or I'll have long since been committed. And any fans who were hoping for redemption after X3 would have long since stopped giving a fuck. So I think it's safe to say that there's a 95 percent chance that the X-men movie franchise is completely and utterly fucked for the next decade. Nuff said.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Batman Beyond #3 - Expanding Awesome

For the first two issues, the Batman Beyond mini-series has done a lot to remind fans of why the show was so freaking awesome back in the day and why the whole concept of it was abandoned way too quickly. That's not to say it didn't have it's faults. I'm sure there are so many reasons why telling stories about a future Batman trying to pick up the mantle from Bruce Wayne would have to be thrown out (if there was a way to highlight text as sarcasm, I would be using it excessively right now). But for what it's done so far, the Batman Beyond mini-series has been able to capture much of what the old cartoon established, only this time they don't have to worry about bullshit censors from WB that don't allow characters to even say the world "heck" without their assholes clenching.

So far the mini has centered around bringing an old Batman foe into the future and having Terry McGinnis (a guy whose used to taking on futuristic assholes like Inque, Shriek, and Blight) take them on without coming off as a douche-bag for beating down on elders. The big villain that was revealed in the last issue is a villain that would have made the FCC shit themselves if he had made it onto the show. Hush, a guy whose face consists mostly of bandages, is a violent killer from Bruce Wayne's past that was part of one of the best Batman stories in the past decade. Now he wants to fuck with the new Batman. How he's managed to stay in such good shape over 40 years later is a mystery nobody has even touched on yet. Either he's working out with Selvester Stallone or taking a shit ton of HGH (which would also put him in league with Stallone).

At the end of the previous issue, Hush confronts the new Batman while he's looking to off another one of Batman's old villains. Calendar, another of the more notable Batman villains from the past ten years, simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was nothing more than that funky stink bait for big fish and Terry, having fully entrenched himself in some of Bruce's old (flawed) habits, walked right into it. Batman Beyond #3 begins with old school and new school going at it and right off the bat, old school kicks more ass.

Needless to say, Hush is not impressed. He knows that this Batman isn't the same Batman he fought years ago. He openly taunts Terry while kicking his ass, talking down to him in the same way seniors talk down to freshman on the first day of high school although to be fair Hush is a little less abrasive (what's that say about high school in this day and age?). Terry tries to fight back, but doesn't even get in a lucky blow. He's essentially bitch slapped by Hush, a guy who could probably qualify for social security if it probably wasn't bankrupt by this point. And he's the one with the agility-enhancing suit.

As if that weren't bad enough, Hush finishes what he came to do in the first place. He kills Calendar. But he doesn't do it in a simple, merciful way. That would be too easy. He actually takes one of Calendar's own explosive letters and shoves it into his mouth. Then while Terry is still trying to pull what little is left of his pride together, the tiny bomb blows up and cooks Calendar like a deep fried turkey. Not only that, he gives Batman the slip. If this were a battle of youth versus experience, then experience would be on trial for war crimes for cruel and excessive violence.

Needless to say, Bruce is not happy. He spends two full pages chewing Terry out for his failure. Not only did he let Hush get away, he let him murder his victim. For someone who made Batman such a legendary figure, you can't fault Bruce for being a little pissed. That's like someone pissing on the legacy that he spent decades building. Terry isn't hearing it though. He's already been wounded enough and essentially cuts Bruce off while he's still yelling at him. He then does probably the least heroic thing any Batman could do. He goes home and sleeps. By the time he wakes up, his mother and little brother are looking at him like he's a non-gay unicorn. It shows how rarely he's even home, which is another element from the show.

Although at this point, I think it's worth pointing out that the artist who drew Terry's mother may not have bothered to watch the show. She looks nothing like the show portrayed her. For one, she was not a brunette and she didn't look fucking Asian. Since this may very well be the only time they appear in this series, I'm willing to overlook it. But it's still in inconsistency in a book that to this point has been pretty damn good at avoiding them.

As if his family wasn't giving him much respect, his girlfriend Dana is just as frustrated. For pretty much the entire cartoon, Terry dated the same girl. However, Dana was about as developed as a third-world country in Africa throughout the show. She never so much as tried to investigate what Terry was doing in this job and never questioned it no matter how vague he was. Either she's the most trusting girlfriend in the world or the most gullible. Even if she is hot, she's not all that nice about it either. For just the few panels she's on, she tells Terry she hates his job. She comes off as a total bitch, but again that's about as much depth as she gets in this series.

So let's review. Terry's family think he's a mess, his girlfriend is busting his balls in a vice, and he let Hush get away after killing another victim. I think it's safe to say his life sucks right now and couldn't get much lower. But wouldn't you know it? Bruce finds a way to further dent his ego. When he returns to the Batcave, he finds that Bruce has been preparing some 'backup' for him and by 'backup' I don't mean a new sexy Batgirl. He actually has a semi-giant bat-robot in the waiting to help succeed where he's failed. Needless to say, Terry doesn't like this. He tears into Bruce the way Christian Bale turns into low-ranking stage hands. Bruce tears right back into him, showing once again what a miserable old fuck he is. Terry's response is something that might as well have been copied and pasted from the show. He says as soon as he takes Hush in, he's quitting. Yeah, they're using that plot again. As if more than a few episodes wasn't enough.

While Bruce simmers in his old age, Terry goes out and starts doing some real detective work. He pays Tim Drake a visit, who if Beyond fans would recall had the unfortunate task of being the Joker's meat puppet in the "Return of the Joker" movie. He says he's better now, but Terry still wants clues. The best Tim can do is point him in the direction of someone else. It's not clear who it is, but while he's on his way to see this contact he encounters someone else who showed up in the previous issue. That someone is the future version of Catwoman, who sadly still hasn't adopted her predecessor's preference for revealing costumes.

This time Batman does hold his own and manages to prevent Catwoman from further emasculating him. He also takes the time to set this battle between them apart, having not flirting and no sexual innuendo. Now for Batman and Catwoman, that seems a little fucked up. Since so much else from Batman Beyond has echoed from Batman's past, it seems like a missed opportunity to not be a little coy with this plot. I guess the best you could say is that this series is setting Terry apart from Bruce in that he's not letting the wrong head do the thinking when it comes to this woman. Unfortunately, this doesn't get him any answers and Catwoman eventually escapes as always. This time Terry isn't totally broken up about it and moves onto the contact Tim gave him.

Batman fans and Batman Beyond fans will surely get a little giddy when they see who this contact is. He was mentioned a number of times back in the show, but never put into a scene. In terms of clues regarding Batman's past fights, he's probably best equipped to help Terry. Who might he be? Well since Batman's list of friends is long enough to be scribbled on a sheet of toilet paper with enough room for instructions on making a turkey dinner, there aren't many characters to cite. So if Dick Grayson wasn't the first name to pop into your mind, then you need to get a new brand of toilet paper.

It's an awesome moment, connecting the future and the past. Unfortunately, whatever clues Dick has to offer will have to wait until the next issue because while he's catching up with a guy who has been MIA from Batman the whole time, the future Catwoman does some social networking of her own. That little encounter from earlier was shown not to be much of an encounter. She slipped a tracer on Terry while she had him in her grasp (in a totally non-sexual manner unfortunately). Why did she do that? Why else would a sexy thief do anything? For money, damn it!

Unfortunately for her, the man paying is Hush. If this woman were the old Catwoman, she would be a lot smarter than to trust a guy with bandages for a face. That's another thing. In this scene her face is revealed, but there's no clue or even a mention of who she could be or who she's related to. Is she linked to Selena Kyle? Is she related to another Batman villain? That isn't even touched on. All that really happens is that Hush goes back on the little deal they made and prepares to kill her. Seeing as how she hasn't been all that cute or sexy with Batman, it probably wouldn't be too upsetting if he snapped her neck. It's a nice way to end the book, but again it's a missed opportunity for another revelation.

That seems to be the primary theme of this issue. There were a lot of opportunities to make it more awesome, but they were never utilized. There was no further development with Terry's family. Dana is as flat as ever. And they show Catwoman's face without so much as hinting at who she could be. I know in every comic the writers are obligated to leave some loose ends to keep the reader interested, but there comes a point when they're so loose that if it were a woman it would be more overworked than Courtney Love. It brings down some of the momentum the first two issues established while also taking a few too many plot points from the show and not doing anything different with it. Because seriously, how many times can Terry threaten to quit before it becomes an empty threat?

Despite these missed chances, the action is still solid and there were some nice moments of drama between Terry and Bruce. Plus, this issue further connected this mini with the show by citing "Return of the Joker" and giving Terry's family a brief mention. The end revelation of Dick Grayson helped things even more. It sets a lot of potential up for the next issue and hopefully it will make better use of the opportunities presented. With so much to look forward to despite so much that was missed, Batman Beyond #3 gets a 4 out of 5. It's still an awesome series and has plenty of potential. It just needs to make good use of these chances or let them go to waste. And there's nothing more tragic than wasted awesome.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Brightest Day #8 - Focusing The Awesome

The last issue of Brightest Day was a case study in awesome. It was the kind of issue that you would put in a time capsule along with a copy of Ultimate X-men #1, Ultimate Spider-Man #1, and Superman #700 to show future generations how true awesome in comics should be done. What made it so great was that it took so many dangling plot threads and tied them together. The White Lantern, which Boston Brand had been struggling to figure out since the beginning of this series, finally started flexing it's power and in doing so it reached out to all the featured characters who up to that point had been dealing with their own shit. The Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, Aquaman, and the Hawks were all affected by this. It even affected characters that this series hasn't even touched on, showing that it's able to cop a feel from the greater DC Universe. The great revelation from all this awesome is that the White Lantern is connected to all those it brought back to life in Blackest Night and in order to proceed with the next step, it needs to find a protector in the same way all lanterns need to find a bearer of it's power. That's where Boston Brand is left to pay the tab. He is essentially the cleaning lady who has to clean the hotel room after Led Zeppelin has been in it.

So after an issue that awesome, how can Geoff Johns possibly follow it up? It's an unfortunate nature of comic book physics. When a book of great quality and supreme awesome comes out, the book that follows is usually doomed to drop-off of some kind. You can't reinvent the fucking wheel in every issue, otherwise readers will either overdose like they would if they took too many hits of crack or the readers will be essentially inoculated from any further surprises. So even if you had the equivalent of the Ebola virus of awesome, a reader with that kind of immunity wouldn't appreciate it. Now a lot of writers succumb to the temptation of trying to match such an issue the way professional athletes easy pussy on a road trip (just ask Kobe Bryant). Some writers are smart enough to keep it in their pants. Can Geoff Johns do it? Can he succeed where Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods failed?

Brightest Day #8 starts out with the same guy that Brightest Day #7 ended with, Boston Brand. Coming back from what had to be the most awesome LSD trip ever, he now knows what he has to do. He has to search for that protector that the White Ring revealed. This involves him being a meat puppet for this thing just a bit longer. Since he's about as equipped to find this protector as Michael J. Fox is equipped to perform open heart surgery, he decides to seek out the Green Lantern (who hasn't shown up in Brightest Day since issue 0). The ring takes him to the guy in a flash, but with a twist. It takes Dove along for the right. Because what's a quest to find a protector without a hot chick being involved?

While Hawk is left hanging like the unfortunate soul left paying the bill after his buddies ditch him at a pub, the effects of the White Lantern's little tantrum start reverberating with the other characters. The first one to get their share is J'onn J'ozz. When he was touched by the White Lantern in a very non-Catholic Priest way, he was able to heal the ailing Miss Martian. This is important because she had been on the receiving end of an Exorcist style joyride in that she was essentially possessed while she went on a bloody Charles Manson like rampage. The White Lantern was able to heal her and allowed her to reveal to J'onn just what was behind this and it wasn't a Martian equivalent of PMS. It was the mischief of a White Martian, who are essentially the KKK or Nazi versions of the Martian race. They're also uglier than Janet Reno in a thong.

The White Martians are essentially the only other Martians left though. J'onn is the last of the Green Martians, the ones that are cool in the sense they don't fuck people up. So it's imperative for J'onn to make sure that these guys don't thrive and make all Martians seem like total douche-bags. He essentially is that last Baldwin actor who has to stem the tide of douchiness from his family name. To learn more he does a Vulcan style mind meld with Miss Martian (which sounds sexier than it really is). But in doing so, J'onn makes another startling revelation. Turns out he may not be alone after all. There is another green Martian and the chances of saving the non-douchebag reputation of Mars may have more allies than previously thought.

This joyful little cliffhanger leaves the Martian Manhunter story open for more awesome down the line. The next story is so big it takes up damn near the rest of the issue. This is the plot involving Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who walked through a portal made out of the bones of their reincarnated ancestors (seriously, you can't make that shit up) and found themselves in a cozy little place called Hawkworld. It's essentially like Pandora from the Avatar movie, but there's no exotic jungle and no sexy blue chicks running around in loin cloth.

In the previous issue both Hawkman and Hawkgirl flashed their White Lantern bling for a moment, which actually was good timing because Hawkman was about to get the shit kicked out of him by the animal-humanoid beings of this world and Hawkgirl was about to get thrown to the proverbial lions by Hath Set. This works out better for Hawkman because it earns him some street cred with the locals (and he didn't even have to nail the chiefs daughter). One of them ends up taking Hawkman on a quick tour of the fucked up world they call home. He demonstrates how their people are basically the equivalent of North Korean sweatshop workers in that they're forced to work mines in order to extract Nth metal (the Thanagarian equivalent of unobtainium from Avatar). And if those workers can't work, they're basically tossed aside like a used tampon.

Then Hawkman gets a little history lesson. It turns out this world was visited by both humans and Thanagarians thousands of years ago. It is essentially a bridge between Earth and Thanagar. Humans peacefully co-existed with the locals, but not the Thanagarians. Having wings kind of made them envious and it's hard to co-exist with someone when they've got the equivalent of a tripped out Bently and a house next to the Playboy mansion that overlooks the clothing optional swimming pool. This all got a lot worse when Nth metal was discovered in abundance. Seeing a chance to match the Thanagarians hardware, they turned into typical human douche-bags and set up a tyrannical rule while they extracted this precious cargo. It's sad, but painfully human. They turned the other races against one another (a fancy way of saying to blame the Jews/Blacks/Mexicans/Gays). It sounds like grounds for  Lord of the Rings style battle, but with a much lamer ending. The humans just grew tired of being douche-bag rulers constantly at war (seriously, when do humans ever get tired of power?).  So they re-integrated with the locals, but some especially asshole humans discovered the portal to Thanagar and thought that would be a better place to act like a total dick.

Fast forward to more recent times and these people are still living under the thumb of some douche-bag who has been ruling over the manhawks and created a floating cities fortress while they went back to work mining Nth metal. Not only was this asshole another tyrant, but she had boobs too. This queen, who has made their lives a living hell for thousands of years, is supposed to still be in that floating city and there isn't a damn thing they can do about it. Hawkman sees a chance to change that though. Now that he has the credibility of flashing shiny lights to a gullible crowd, the locals are rallying around him. And in them he doesn't just see a bunch of pissed of man-beasts, he sees a totally badass army that's way more intimidating than anything Pandora could muster.

While Hawkman's little flash helped him make friends with the locals, it only made Hawkgirl's situation even more fucked up. She's still stuck in a cage, at the mercy of whatever kinky shit Hath Set finds amusing. Her White Lantern episode prompted him to bring his queen in, who supposedly is very interested in Hawkgirl. Needless to day, Hawkgirl is pissed and unloads on Hath Set the way James Gandolfini unloads on hot dogs. She's about as impressed with the queen as Simon Cowell and takes her frustration out on Hath Set, who seems to want to impress his queen by trying to knife Hawkgirl on the spot. That's about as successful as Catholic abortion clinic.

Lucky for Hath Set, the queen doesn't let Hawkgirl completely fuck him up. She wacks her over the head Fight Club style and knocks her to the ground. That's when she makes another startling revelation. This queen that been fucking this world up for so long isn't some random shmuck. It's Hawkgirl's mother. That's right. Hawkgirl has the misfortune of her mother teaming up with a guy trying to kill her, which not only makes it a shit ton harder around Mothers Day. It changes the whole nature of the mission because keep in mind, Hawkman has an army now. He's going to try and overthrow this bullshit authority that's been in place. He doesn't know that part of that involves taking on his girlfriend's mother. If he was hoping to make their relationship one supported by family, then they're both fucked.

This little revelation sets the stage for a much bigger conflict with the Hawks down the line. At the same time, the stage is being set for the Martian Manhunter as well. The book could have easily ended with the Hawks and been pretty damn solid, but the story with J'onn simply can't end on some bullshit revelation. He needs a lead on this last green Martian. With help from Miss Martian, he finds a telepathic anomaly in the center of Star City. So without even taking her along for the ride, J'onn goes after the anomaly and sets things up nicely for his next challenge. So if the Hawk story wasn't good enough for the readers, they have something else to look forward to. If that still isn't enough, then you're just being an asshole.

So after an issue where every major plot from previous issues was tied together, Brightest Day #8 sets itself apart by focusing on only three major plot lines and the first with Boston Brand barely lasted a few pages. Now how does that factor into the overall awesome of this story? Well first off, it shows that Geoff Johns has some humility in that he doesn't try to make a story too similar to the previous issue in a vain attempt to continue the greatness established previously. He's willing to set that aside and focus on developing other plots in the background before getting to that next stage in the story. That means this issue doesn't have the same mind-blowing punch that the previous issue had. However, the stories he focuses on are so well-done you still get your mind blown in just the right way. I wouldn't say it's the best way to follow up the previous issue, but Geoff Johns makes it work.

With this focus does come some costs. While the revelations were awesome, some of the plots felt a bit rushed. The end scene with J'onn could have easily been saved for the beginning of the next issue and used to catch up with another plot like Firestorm or Aquaman. It feels almost cut and pasted and a missed opportunity in a sense. This does little to affect the enjoyment of the issue though. This comic is still pretty awesome. It might not be appropriate to add it in that time capsule I mentioned earlier, but it's definitely one any DC fan would be wise to pick up.

I want to give this a perfect score, but in the shadow of Brightest Day #7 that just doesn't seem appropriate. So for all the greatness and shortcomings that this issue brings to the table, I give Brightest Day #8 a 4.5 out of 5. I could easily make it something like a 4.75 out of 5, but that would be getting into complicated math territory and I would rather not turn this shit into a math problem. Brightest Day is still awesome as hell. If there are any newcomers to the DC universe, they should start here if they want to see what kind of awesome that DC is capable of.