Saturday, December 31, 2011

"Not-so-New 52": Issue #4 Reviews (part two)

Continuing our Reviews of the #4's I've purchased and read...we come to the second half of the month's releases.  Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern: New Guardians, & The Savage Hawkman.  Just like part one of these reviews....the artwork has been great; in fact you could argue that these 4 titles have some of the best artwork of the month, and the writing superb.  All of these titles; except The Flash, finished up impressive story arcs and teased upcoming ones in 2012.

In Part Two of the #4 Reviews, you'll see Aquaman meeting the Queen, What happens when The Flash thinks too fast, Who is behind all the ring confusion, & some surprising revelations about The Savage Hawkman that should have all "Old-School" fans cheering!  On to the reviews.......


After watching helplessly as mysterious sea creatures stole several Bostonians to take home for food, Aquaman & Mera set off for the Atlantic Trench to hunt down the creatures and save the mostly suspicious & generally ungrateful humans.  Mera is convinced the creatures of the Trench are primitive animals, where as Aquaman believes that they are humanoid and intelligent.  Aquaman and Mera happen upon an ancient sea-craft crashed into the volcanic vent that seems to lead to the creatures.  Ancient writing on the craft is Atlantean in origin.

They soon come face-to-face with the creatures of the Trench, and the reasons behind the abductions of humans....they need food for their starving young.  As Aquaman & Mera continue on, they enter the throne room of the giant Queen of the Trench.  The King we have unknowingly met in issue #2....the "leader" with the scars.  

As Mera hurries to get the cocooned humans to the surface, Aquaman holds off the hordes of Trench creatures and comes face-to-face with the angry Queen protecting her offspring's future....Aquaman uses his Trident to open the volcanic vent into full eruption, and uses his great might to collapse the trench in upon itself.  The Creatures of the Trench perish in the process, leading Aquaman to question if his choice was correct, or if he just murdered an entire species of humanoids he may have been able to reason with.  They return the humans to the surface.....and Aquaman finally has a fan, a young child he & Mera saved names him as his favorite Super-Hero!  The issue ends with Aquaman adopting a dog & Geoff Johns' teasing us for 2012 with the question, "Who Sank Atlantis?"

Much like he has done over the years for Hawkman, The Justice Society of America, The Flash, & Green Lantern....Geoff Johns has once again re-launched a Super-Hero with success, this time it's Aquaman.  I love the direction and attitude so far in this title....the addition of Mera as a constant co-star and the "Us versus the World of Humans" mindset. In addition, Ivan Reis' artwork is spectacular.


Right from the get go, I have to say that Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato have the best style, in originality, in visual engagement...of any artists involved in the "New 52" to date.  They are exploring the abilities of The Flash & The Speedforce in new and exciting ways and revealing things we thought we already knew in ways that make you say "wow"!  If I could collect only one monthly would be The Flash!

The issue begins with a flashback showing Manuel Lago; and as the issue progresses, the nature of his life....being a survivor, at any cost to anyone else, including Mob Rule.  It shows in some ways how Lago is a hero and a villain, both brave and cowardly.  Patty Spivot reads him the riot act, and accuses him of cowardice for abandoning his friend Barry Allen....who was shot in the head at the end of Issue #3.  He is then captured by Mob Rule and told that Barry is dead.  

About a 1/3 of a page lets us know that Iris West is still trapped at Iron Heights prison, a "guest" of Captain Cold.  The rest of the issue reveals that Barry Allen has NOT died, and explains the how and why of it.  He comes to the conclusion that super-speedy thinking may not always be the best strategy, realizing that the simplicity of running is all he needs as....The Flash!!

I loved this don't see The Flash until the last couple of pages, but it doesn't matter!  The entire issue is a wonderful build-up to the conclusion of the first arc.'s the first Flash arc in quite a while (that I can remember reading) that didn't have some other "cheesy" Speedster, Ring-Bearer, or Justice League member "guesting" away the purity of The Flash and the Speedforce!  Great Job Francis & Brian for making the best 4 issues of The Flash since Rogue War (starring Wally West as The Flash).


The Issue begins on OA, where the Guardians of the Universe are "un-emotionally" irritated at Larfleeze for entering their citadel.  Larfleeze wastes no time in attacking the Guardians and calling to his "New Guardians" for help.  Ganthet reveals his belief in the greatness that lies within Kyle Raynor, but Kyle wants to determine his own fate....not have the Guardians determine it for him.  Indigo Tribesman Munk transports Larfleeze and the New Guardians from OA to Okara, where they enter Larfleeze's "palace".  

Saint Walker uses the blue power of Hope to reach out to Arkillo and return his tongue, then tries to do the same for Red Lantern Bleez who flees. Larfleeze's slave Guardian then explains why her master delivered all the rings to Kyle (who; although the rings all disintegrated in Issue#3, still has their residual power within him, according to Ganthet), and the threat that will require all the New Guardians of the ALL the emotional Corps to defeat.  The Orrery; a vessel the size of a solar system has entered their Universe, with a mysterious and chilling threat within.

I love all the various Corps, thus I love GL:NG!  Tony Bedard does a decent job showing the "origin arc" of the New Guardians coming together.....and Tyler Kirkham really sells the book with his stunning artwork.  Kyle Raynor fans should be happy with this title, as he is the only Green Lantern in it.  Geoff Johns' budding Green Lantern Universe is exciting, new, with a lot to be explored....and this title is perfect for doing just that.  Along with the parent GL title, the GL Corps, & Red Lanterns....GL: New Guardians helps expand the most exciting "family" of titles in DC Comics.


The one criticism that you could make of TSH is that it didn't seem to go that far in explaining Carter Hall's background and how he came to his decision in Issue #1 to try and destroy the Hawkman armor and wings....Issue #4 begins to show us a clearer path that led to that decision.  Tony Daniel has done a good job in not "rushing" us to that important event, choosing rather to dance around it a little and explain bits and pieces as he goes.  Philip Tan's artwork is one-of-a-kind as usual, and I'm really enjoying the overall tone of the writing and artwork on this title.

The Issue begins with the showdown we've all been waiting for: Morphicius versus The Savage Hawkman!!  Morphicius (from henceforth known as just "Morphi"); however, has the advantage....having absorbed some of Hawkman's Nth Metal, our Winged Savage is unable to truly hurt the Carrier of the Plague of Death!  Askana (Dr. Kane's alien assistant) is trying to assist Hawkman, and realizes that Morphi must "absorb" humans to keep up his strength.  As Askana tries to fight off the plague-beings, Hawkman figures out a way to stop Morphi before he can make his move to "absorb" Dr. Kane.....the deep freeze.  Hawkman uses liquid nitrogen from Dr. Kane's lab to stop Morphi in his tracks.

Hawkman goes after Dr. Kane; and with a warning from Waker, takes Dr. Kane's research and abandons him to the fate of a helicopter with no pilot descending quickly.....a revelation from Morphi (before his freezing), and the words of Waker should have all Old-School Hawkman fans cheering!  This was a great issue, because we finally got to see some savagery from Hawkman & because of the jaw-dropping revelation in the final pages......hats off to Tony Daniel & Philip Tan answering some questions in style.

A great month for these titles as they wrap up their first story arcs, and tease the new arcs....fantastic art, fantastic storytelling....I'm loving the "Not-so-New 52"!!  That said, just released numbers by Diamond Distributors show some of the titles I'm collecting monthly sliding downhill in numbers of issues sold, which is regrettable.....

Perhaps I'm just one of dwindling numbers of Hawkman & Green Arrow fans.....maybe those legendary characters only have about 20k or less fans will periodically have to be re-launched, cancelled, mini-seried, and re-launched again until there are so few of us left that DC just gives up on them.  Maybe that's just what the industry is coming to (ask Legion of S-H fans, or Wonder Woman, Supergirl, or Aquaman fans....well, until recently....maybe they would say the same thing I am)......It's sad to see "fair-weather" comic book fans....back before the New 52 started, I began a thread at Comic Book Resources about Hawkman, and had hundreds of responses and posts of so-called fans of our Winged Savage.....however; just 4 issues in, and numbers are sliding toward cancellation? I really have to question how devoted "die-hard fans" are....not even giving a title an arc to prove itself? Really? I love Hawkman, so I wouldn't even think about dropping the title at least for 12 issues (in fact it took me over 30 issues to drop Superman, from the time I started thinking about it till I actually did)....same with Green Arrow, The Flash, and any other character that I love.....because I love the character and will give writers/artists every opportunity to impress me!

I call out to my Comic Book Loving Brothers and Sisters.....stay true to your favorite characters! Put your money where your posts, blogs, & tweets are!  Whether in paper or digital format, show love to your favorite B- & C- Rated Super-Heroes!! Make 2012 the Year of Aquaman, Frankenstein, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Mister Terrific, Nightwing, O.M.A.C., Vampires ....and whomever else you love!

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