Sunday, 29 September 2013

Aquaman 23.1 Black Manta

Black Manta only lives for one thing and that's to kill Aquaman who he blames for the death of his farther, so what does he do now that Aquman is dead (allegedly) killed at the hands of the Crime Syndicate.  Well that's one of the questions asked in this villains story line, one that ties in directly to the Forever Evil event.

Manta is languishing in Belle Reve super maximum prison been proportioned by Amanda Waller (steady now), she wants him to join her Suicide Squad a team he is not too keen to join for several reason (the word Suicide would put me off). Manta is having none of it as he is clever enough to know there is no return from the Suicide Squad, and that any promise of early release and pardons are just empty words.

The prison is attacked by the Crime Syndicate causing mass chaos and releasing all the prisoners leaving Manta free to get his tech gear and escape, but not before bumping into Ocean Master Aquamans other adversary while doing so. The pair never speak they just look at each other then go their own way, a nice touch I thought. 

Once on the outside Manta attends the Crime Syndicates first appearance where he learns of the apparent fate of Aquaman and the Justice League, as Aquaman's trident, Supermans cape and Wonder Woman's lasso is throw to the baying crowed as proof of their deaths. However rather than take up their offer of an alliance for world domination, Mantra walks away from the Crime Syndicate carrying Aquamans trident. 

The focus for his rage is now dead and as he sits on his farther grave telling him its over Manta is preparing to hang up his helmet, but as fate has it (always does in comics) Ultra Man is moving the moon to block the rays of the sun, which seemingly have the opposite effect on him to what they do on Superman. An action that effects the tides and creates a tsunami that destroys and washes away his fathers grave right before his eyes, an act which leaves Black Manta with a new focus for his anger and rage.

The story is plotted by Geoff Johns & Tony Bedard with words by Tony Bedard and helps give the reader a small incite into the mind of Black Manta, and confirm what I have always suspected with the character that his hatred for Aquaman is not driven revenge alone. Manta needs to hate something to live without hate he is nothing and no one, its a credit to John's that he has taken a second string characters and now turned him into one of DC most dangerous and interesting villains

The story is worth picking up as it ties into Forever Evil directly although there are a few scenes that you will have seen already in Forever Evil 1 but now shown from Mantas perspective, the artwork by Clude St AUBIN is excellent as is the colouring by Blond?

The 3D cover is also top notch and defiantly one of the better ones that I have seen so far, not as good as the Swamp Thing cover but definitely well done. 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Swamp Thing # 23.1 Arcane

If your wanting a Villains Month comic that does not tie-in directly to Forever Evil then this is a book for you, whatever is going on in Forever Evil has no impact on this issue what so ever. 

Swamp Thing issue 23.1 unashamedly fleshes out what has been, and lays the foundations for what is to come in the Swamp Thing book. Anton Arcane the avatar for the parliament of rot before his fall is now locked in his own personnel hell, the parliament has imprisoned him in his own world that is full of life and where nothing ever rots, something that is slowly driving Anton insane (if he wasn't already).

Into this personnel hell steps the present avatar of the rot Anton’s niece Abigail who is looking for answers on what happened to her mother, as all memory of her was eroded by her Uncle as her prepared her to become a child of the rot. What follows is a shortened history of the Arcane family and the rot all from Anton’s perspective, which helps to give you (the reader) an understanding of how Anton became the way he did. While not avoiding the fact that even without the rots influence, Anton was always destined to become a monster of one sort or another.

The story is as you would expect not a happy one and I would suggest reading it after eating especially if you’re having rabbit (you have been warned), Abigail’s part in the story which is intertwined with Anton’s portrays her as a victim of the family curse, rather than the monster her uncle is or wants her to be. The verbal sparring between Anton and Abigail is brilliantly written as Anton looks for ways to exploit any vulnerability that Abigail may have, as she comes to term with the power she now wields from been the latest avatar of the rot. Its throughout this sparing that you always have the uneasy feeling that Anton is not quite as helpless as he acts or appears , despite the upper hand presently been held by Abigail you always feel that he is ultimately in charge of the situation.

The final revelation on what actually happened to Abigail’s mother is a predictable twist but is still shocking to read and see, Anton’s final act as Abigail exits leaving him alone to his hellish world sets things up nicely for future story lines to come.
Swamp Thing was one of those books I decided to try when the DC Universe reinvented itself a decision I have never regretted, so when it was announced that writer Scott Snyder would be leaving the book I had major concerns. After all he had (in my opinion) reinvented Swamp Thing and made a second string character a must read book every month, well I had worries and sleepless nights (not really) for nothing as the book hasn't missed a beat since Snyder’s departure. Charles Soule is capturing all the horror and madness of Swamp Things world that was set up in Snyder’s run, without compromising the stories and plot lines he is currently writing. Jesus Saiz art is as good as anything that's been produced in this book and his visuals leave you in no doubt that you are reading a horror comic that just happens to be set in the DC Universe, this book is not one for the little one.

If you are reading Swamp Thing and gave this a miss due to the Villains month tie-in get to your local comic shop as fast as you can because you've missed a great story, if you've not been reading Swamp Thing at all its the same advise.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #8

IDW’s celebration of Doctor Who’s 50th year continues in issue 8 of Prisoners of Time, this issue we are with Paul McGann’s 8th Doctor and his companion Grace Holloway.
It’s a year since the Doctor left Dr. Grace Holloway to return back to her life in San Francisco after she help him defeat the Master (again), Grace who was offered the chance to go with the Doctor but turned him down is now back in her daily routine and seemingly a little board. So it’s no surprise that the Doctor turns up on her door step asking her if she has changed her mind, despite been board with normal life she at first declines then agrees to go on one trip only (heard that one before).

The Doctor and Grace find themselves on an earth like planet whose inhabitants seem welcoming and friendly, and its after introductions are made that one family invite the Doctor and Grace to have a family meal with them. It’s during the meal that the Doctor learns of the inhabitant’s war like history that almost destroyed the plant, and of the benefactors known as The Overseers who saved the planet and its people from extinction. The only thing the Overseers have ever asked for in return for saving the planet and its people, is that they give up a few of their own each year to help the Overseers in their tasks in their city in the sky. 
It’s during one of these requests that the Doctor becomes at odds with the Overseers when one young girl who does not want to leave her family is forced to leave, a situation that the Doctor just cannot stand by and accept.
Things develop quickly and the Doctor and Grace find themselves in the sky city via a flying car like vehicle where they find all is not well, there is a reason why people never return (think organ donation without consent) a situation that the Doctor cannot and will not except. Battles ensue along with lots of running (it’s not Doctor Who without running) and good triumphs over evil once again, and all ends well for the planets inhabitants but not for the Doctor. 
He is already waiting for the appearance of mysterious man who keeps taking his companions, unfortunately despite been ready the Doctor is powerless to stop grace been taken but not before we get a bit more information on who this mystery man could be.
Now this for me is the weakest of the issues so far as the story of the Doctor coming back for Grace felt a little forced, I would have preferred his companion to be one from the big finish audio's but there may be licensing issues that prevented that. 
The story by the Tipton’s is a good Doctor story but I felt no real connection to this Doctor, most likely due to his only ever appearance been in the much maligned TV film of the BBC series. The art work was also a sticking point for me as it had too much of a cartoon look and feel to it, the likeness of Paul's Doctor was also hit and miss (more miss) so much so it did spoil the story in some parts. While the idea of the Overseers was a great one their design unfortunately was not, they looked like the 70’s badly dressed cousins of the Cone Heads, funny but not scary.
It’s disappointing that Paul McGann’s Doctor didn’t get the issue he and we deserved, as the Big Finish audio's have proved there is so much more to the 8th Doctor than we ever saw on screen.