Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #6

"Forever Rogues"

Brian Buccellato Writer
Scott Hepburn Artist
Nick Filardi Colorist
Taylor Esposito Letterer
Harvey Richards Associate Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor

The cover is by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, and I am once again annoyed that Scott Hepburn didn't draw it. Is it really too much to ask for to have the inside artist also draw the cover? Anyway, even though I'm not a fan of Shalvey, I do think this is a pretty decent cover. We haven't seen Grodd in a while, so it's great to have him front and center, as well as to be reminded of the chaos caused by Forever Evil — the eclipse, the destroyed city and the Flash statue, which is the only reason I'm reviewing this issue. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but the coloring actually kind of hid Glider from me at first. She just really blended in until I gave it a closer look, then it was a nice little surprise for me. I do wish Mirror Master was included here, though, as he has pretty much been the main character of this mini-series.

Our story picks up in the Gem Cities after the fall of the Justice League. The Rogues have been chased around by the Crime Syndicate and its cronies through Metropolis and Gotham City, losing Captain Cold and Heatwave along the way. Cold joined up with Lex Luthor, while Heatwave may or may not have actually died to help his teammates escape. The remaining members have now finally found themselves back home, but the Crime Syndicate has sent a ton of villains — including Gorilla Grodd — to kill them.

The Pied Piper, who once was a Rogue until he started dating Director David Singh, has decided to come to the aid of his old friends. He uses one of his flutes to hypnotize the Parasite into fighting Grodd. This takes out two of the biggest hitters, but the Rogues are simply outnumbered by the rest of the villains. When all hope seems lost, the Glider suddenly reappears and saves them. Apparently Lisa heard Hartley's music and was awakened to full strength.

Glider quickly resumes her leader role, and has Mirror Master create a large mirror. Weather Wizard then summons a hurricane to push all the villains into the Mirror World, while Glider makes the Rogues intangible so the wind passes right through them. Trickster then delivers the final blow, shattering the mirror with his rocket fist to trap the bad guys. Lisa then kisses Sam, Hartley embraces David, and the people of the Gem Cities thank their new heroes.

The Good:

The Pied Piper. Poor Hartley has shown up just a couple of times in the New 52, and each time he did, he was immediately knocked out by someone. Finally, he's been given a chance to shine, and I loved every minute of it. Taking control of Parasite was a great and intelligent display of his powers, and I really liked his backstory about him being hesitant to reveal his homosexuality to his teammates. And as is usually the case these days, nobody cared that he was gay. But dating a cop was another story. But now it seems the Rogues respect that he's no longer a criminal. I hope the new Flash writers do more with Pied Piper and make him Barry's new scientist ally to fill in for Darwin Elias.

The Bad:

Unanswered questions. This issue didn't feel like the conclusion of a mini-series, but rather the next installment of an ongoing series. But that's not going to happen anytime soon, so we're stuck with this and some vague hope that the next Flash writers will address some of this issues and continue some of these story lines. My biggest complaint is Gorilla Grodd. Somehow, Johnny Quick found and rescued him from the Speed Force, then he emerged with super speed and psychic powers. He immediately conquered the Gem Cities, got bored, and left. Where did he go? What did he do? And where did all the other gorillas go? And did Grodd actually kill Solovar? We don't know. All we saw was him being teleported there by Grid, and then not really do anything. I guess some of these questions will be answered in Forever Evil #7, but I doubt it. I think the responsibility for Grodd's story should have fallen within the Rogues issues. Same with Turbine's. Anybody remember him? He was kind of an important player when Grodd first invaded Central City, then he was offered a spot on the Rogues, but was never seen from again. If he rejected the Rogues' offer, where did he go? I know he wants to go back to his family in 1940, so it seems unlikely he'd completely withdraw himself from the world of superheroes and villains. But to get more specific about this mini-series, what exactly happened to Heatwave? I wouldn't mind having him actually die — he went out in a heroic way. But I want to know for sure one way or the other.

I still don't like Scott Hepburn's style, but it wasn't a major distraction here. All in all, this was a pretty fun mini-series, but I don't think it lived up to its potential. Part of that had to do with the inconsistent and rather unpalatable art, and another part had to do with DC's editorial interference limiting Buccellato's story. I am still happy, though that the Rogues had their own mini-series, and I hope DC gives them more opportunities to shine.

Final score: 5 out of 10.

Next time: I would like to conclude Forever Evil, but that final issue has been delayed — several times. So I'm now going to backtrack and review a Flash issue that happened before Forever Evil, The Flash #26.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Justice League of America #13

"It's All Behind You"

Matt Kindt Writer
Eddy Barrows and Tom Derenick Pencils
Eber Ferreira, Marc Deering and Allen Martinez Inks
Hi-Fi Colors
Rob Leigh Letterer
Rickey Purdin Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover is by Barrows and Ferreira with Gabe Eltaeb. It's not a bad cover by any means — it shows a major scene that happens within the issue, and everybody looks pretty good. Even the Flash is there, although it's pretty tough to see him behind the logos and titles.

Our story begins in Los Angeles, with Stargirl surveying the ruins of her house. She then realizes that she's not actually looking at anything, but seeing things a half-second after she thinks about them. And this can only mean she's caught in one of Despero's illusions. She fights with Despero for a bit, then manages to get away and find Firestorm. Since she still has some of Martian Manhunter's powers, Stargirl is able to enter Firestorm's mind and convince Jason and Ronnie to stop fighting. She then uses her telepathy to contact the Justice League and guide them out of their psychic prisons.

The Justice League helps Stargirl fight Despero, but then she notices a doorway to another prison, and realizes that she and J'onn never left the prison in the first place. But Martian Manhunter tells her he has managed to contact the outside world, and he's working on a plan to free them with Wonder Woman's lasso of truth.

The Good:

Nice plot twist/explanation. Sometimes it gets annoying when stories do the whole "everything was just a dream" bit, but in this case, I quite welcome it. The past few issues of Justice League of America have been rather strange, with a lot of things happening all too easily. To find out most of this was happening in Stargirl's head is both plausible and relieving. There were a handful of things bugging me, but now they've been resolved thanks to this issue. Everything is as it should be, with the Justice League still safely locked away, waiting for the conclusion of Forever Evil to free them. Now if only that final issue would stop being delayed ...

The Bad:

The art was what you'd expect from having two pencillers, three inkers and team of colorists. But I wouldn't call it bad by any means. All in all, I enjoyed this issue, and really have nothing to complain about. Yeah, I don't know exactly how or why Despero showed up, but that's completely on me, since I skipped from issue #10 to #13. And if I was really concerned by that, then I know where I'd be able to find that information.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next time: I know I said I wouldn't be doing anymore Rogues Rebellion issues, but Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #6 has the Flash statue on the cover, so I'll review the final issue of Brian Buccellato's mini-series.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Justice League of America #10

"In Your Head"

Matt Kindt / Writer
Tom Derenick and Eddy Barrows / Pencils
Tom Nguyen and Allen Martinez / Inks
Hi-Fi / Colors
Rob Leigh / Letters
Rickey Purdin / Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza / Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover is by Barrows with Matt Yackey. I am glad that one of the pencilers on the inside pages got to do the cover, and I am very glad that the cover portrays an event that actually occurs in the comic. By all counts, this is a very solid cover, but not particularly awe-inspiring. One odd thing about it that bugs me is the perfect uniformity of the "holes" on Stargirl's costume. I imagine those are supposed to be rips and tears sustained during battle, but they look so clean and neat, it almost seems like Stargirl purposefully cut out those holes herself to make her costume more fashionable.

The story continues directly from last issue, with Stargirl becoming increasingly distracted by memories of her past. Martian Manhunter, who's stuck in her head, struggles to get her to pay attention to the current situation at hand. Stargirl has escaped the series of psychic prisons, but now finds herself surrounded by Deathstroke, Blockbuster, Shadowthief, Copperhead and Giganta.

The fight is a bit rough, but Martian Manhunter is able to coach Stargirl and share his powers with her until they escape and get to a quiet place. Stargirl manages to kick Martian Manhunter out of her head, then immediately takes off to protect her family. Martian Manhunter then uses his telepathy to find the Justice League inside Firestorm, who is about to blow up.

The Good:

Again, I really don't have a whole lot to say about this issue. The whole focus was on Stargirl's origin, which is completely fine because she needs to have her origin told, but I found the whole story quite unremarkable. She found her power staff in her stepdad's trunk. She didn't like him at first, but later they bonded, and now she considers him a part of the family. Very nice and sweet, but ultimately it has no bearing on the Forever Evil event, or anything to do with the Flash. At first, I thought it was a little too convenient that Stargirl had Martian Manhunter's powers, but the more I thought about it, it actually started to make a bit of sense. A little bit. But mainly I can't complain about things like that in this issue because I've already read issue 13, which has a pretty big reveal that explains everything.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. This is a Flash blog, and when I review a comic that has basically nothing to do with the Flash, I need to penalize it. This was a completely fine and interesting issue, it just does nothing with the character I'm most interested in. On one hand, it is nice to see that the Flash has been found and accounted for, and help is (slowly) on the way. But on the other hand, I know that the Flash can't be saved a minute before Forever Evil #7, so it's kind of frustrating to be given quick glimpses of Flash in duress scattered across these issues. Basically, I'm good and ready for something to happen, and it doesn't help that the final Forever Evil issue has been delayed.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time: Justice League of America #13