Christmas is here! This means a surprising number of comics out this week (although Blackest Night #6 is being held until next week … unless you’re a cheater). Maybe people seek solace from their families within these illustrated pages? Let’s see what’s in the stocking …
Hellboy: The Bride of Hell one-shot ($3.50 pull) – After the Mignolaverse worldchanger that was Hellboy: The Wild Hunt, this one-shot takes us back to 1985 for what appears to be a mostly standalone monster puncher. After all Hellboy has been through, though, is it legit to chuck him into a standard beat-em-up right now? Fortunately, Mignola’s got more sense than that, and the big reveal here isn’t the Big Reveal of a story that turns out to be almost meditative on the relationship of good and evil to Good and Evil. But yeah, purists, a monster gets punched real good, too.
Invincible #69 ($2.99 pull) – Instead of the sequid battle royale last issue suggested, this was kind of a Monster of the Week story. Universa the space Amazon comes to Earth to steal our energy with her magic staff (which surely won’t be important later), and Mark and Eve head off to fight her while the rest of the planet’s heroes take on the mind-controlling spiders from Mars (more on that in a a minute). Considering Invincible just beat up a Tyrannosaurus man last time, I’m not sure why there was a need for this, unless Kirkman is filling some kind of T&A quota this issue.
Seriously, I don’t want to come off as a prude, but in addition to our boobalicious villain, Universa (have a look here), the images of Atom Eve this issue come off a little … groping? While it’s not the most estrogen-heavy universe (as this month’s letters also note), Invincible’s female characters are usually handled pretty well. Eve at her best is one of the most interesting of the ensemble, having been Mark’s friend well before she was his love interest, so the uptick in cheesecake can feel a little weird. Regardless, looks like next issue we make with the hittin’ little pink aliens.
Chew #7 ($2.99 shelf grab) – And speaking of boobs … this issue spends a lot of time introducing us to the powerful, dynamic and apparently DDD-cupped USDA agent Lin Sae Woo (that’s her in the front of the stack in the image atop this writeup). Woo butts up against Tony Chu in the South Pacific island where he’s seeking out the mystery tentacle pineapples that taste like chicken. I love that the FDA isn’t the only U.S. agency that’s apparently now a cabal of hardcores and psychos, but the way Woo gets used seems a little wasted (although not totally).
Willow one-shot ($3.50 shelf grab) – Another Dark Horse one-shot, this takes place between Buffy season 7 (the TV show) and season 8 (the comic). Willow needs to figure out how she’s going to develop as a witch, so she takes a spirit journey. I’m only up through season 6 of Buffy (I’m debating whether to avoid 7), and haven’t read the comic, so I’m a bit at sea here, but Willow’s characterization seems pretty accurate, so at the least it didn’t feel disconnected from what I know.
The Marvelous Land of Oz #2 of 8 ($3.99 shelf grab) – Just a gorgeous book, and one I don’t mind paying the extra buck for because of it. There’s some funny exchanges, too, mostly taken directly from the original book. The characters have great visual energy, so even in long dialogue sections there’s a forward momentum to this solidly whimsical story.
Blackest Night Green Lantern #49 ($2.99 shelf grab) – It’s the John Stewart show! Stewart’s on Xanshi, a planet now full of Black Lanterns, and conjures up some seriously cool ring effects to help him out: Full soldier gear and a platoon of constructs to battle the onslaught. Not only that, we see him far more capable of dealing with the BL’s emotional assault than almost anyone else we’ve seen. John’s a soldier, and he knows the difference between killing others and failing to save them. Pity it’s over so quickly – the remainder of the book is a Tales of the Black Lantern Corps explainer that mostly serves to set up Blackest Night #6.
Unfortunately, the Blackest Night tie-ins are starting to revert to form: People fight loved ones that died and are emotionally impacted by doing so. I suppose they want to run everyone’s characters through the Black Lantern mill, but with the main story moving forward, these are getting a little tedious. Here’s some quickie reviews:
Blackest Night – JSA #1 of 3 ($2.99 shelf grab) – Black Lanterns tear stuff up en masse while the JSA works to find a solution. Power Girl (in probably the best part of this story) grapples with getting a good long look at the body of her Black Lanternized uncle Superman.
Blackest Night – Justice League of America #40 ($3.99 shelf grab) – The worst offender of that same story, different characters approach. It’s a crime that Plastic Man has been completely separated from the events of this story (other than as … well, you’ll see). Otherwise, people who care about this sort of thing will be the only ones who care about this sort of thing.
Blackest Night – Teen Titans #78 ($3.99 shelf grab) – In the best of this week’s spin-off stories, the Deathstroke family comes to grips with their history and discovers a fairly innovative solution to the Black Lanterns (but one that’ll probably never be used again in this series).
Jack of Fables #41 ($2.99 pull) – Okay, I think I’m done with this. I’ve griped for the last few issues about the lack of anything approaching coherence from this book, but I wanted to have a look at the first issue of this new arc. It only solidifies my desire to drop this book. Jack Jr. is riding around on a millipede with a sword and a laser, killing monsters and being generally noble. By the end of the book, he’s lost the millipede and laser and is on a quest at the behest some green lady. I know it may sound awesome, in the Mad Libs collage aesthetic of our times, but the thing reads like a fever dream, and I just don’t care anymore.
Let me be clear about something. I get the kind of character Jack is – he’s the eternal protagonist, all about what he’s doing, not why he’s doing it. Where Jack Sr. was a scoundrel, Jack Frost seems virtuous, but that’s the only difference. To give some credit, I suspect the book may be setting us up to see how the original Jack became such a bastard – even now, you can see the endless parade of events starting to wear on Jack Jr.’s naive optimism – but after more than 40 issues, my patient goodwill is expended. At the climax of this issue, we see another big fight is on the way. I won’t be there for it.