**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horse Shit
BRAVE AND THE BOLD #34
By J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Saiz
This month’s offering by J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Saiz is a pretty ambitious two issue story staring members of the Doom Patrol and the Legion of Super-Heroes. JMS hits the ground running, putting Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl on the run from a Black Hole that destroys the Earth before our heroes can formulate a plan to stop it. With no time to escape from the Black Hole our trio is forced to use their Time Bubble to travel back in time to the Earth’s past to find help preventing the destruction of the planet in their future. So, who do you go to for help preventing the Earth from being sucked into a giant Black Hole? The Doom Patrol of course! Sure it might seem like a rather odd choice in this case, but after a short meeting between the two teams the plan is worked out and our heroes are off to save the day. If you guessed that something terribly wrong happens with the plan, leaving our heroes in a cliffhanger ending to be resolved in the second part…well… you would be wrong about that. The plan works and the Black Hole is dissipated with our heroes return back to Earth triumphant!
So what’s the deal with this being a two issue story?
It looks like JMS is doing something a little different here with his story structure. Even though the story is two issues long, there is no cliff hanger in this first issue, the book has a totally self contained story complete with an ending. However, there are things that happen in the course of the story leading the reader to suspect that there is more going on here than meets the eye. Objects disappear and then reappear in different locations, our heroes also find a mysterious object hidden in the Time Bubble and the Doom Patrol find that Dr. Niles Caulder has had ‘The worse day of his life’ while they were off saving the Earth in the future. It appears that some unknown force was trying to either help or hinder our heroes in their mission. Did they succeed or fail in what they were trying to do? I guess we will find out in the next issue.
JMS is taking what would be a pretty straight forward story in the hands of another author and having a little fun with the readers here. Obviously there is more going on in the story and since we are talking about a time travel story, anything could be happening here. Time travel stories love a good paradox or two, and a parallel storyline running along side this story is not out of the question. You can tell that JMS was having a good time writing this comic, there is a lot of humor contained in this book, and while the subject of the Earth being ripped apart by a Black Hole might not seem like a backdrop to find laughs, Straczynski writes more a few humorous one-liners and creates some nice awkward situations (Robot Man and Saturn Girl in the Time bubble being my favorite one) here to bring a smile to my face.
Jesus Saiz does his usual excellent work here on pencils, I have been impressed with how consistent he is with his artwork, the man has been very solid for this entire run on the Brave and the Bold up to this point. But for the life of me, I can’t seem to find any bio information on the guy, I would like to learn more about him, but he seems to be the rare comic artist online with little information out there.
Once again J. Michael Straczynski shows why he is one of the best in the business, just when I think I have him figure out, he goes and does something that surprises me again. I certainly hope that he will stick around on the Brave and the Bold for some time to come.
By Jonathan Maberry and Scot Eaton
I was surprised to see this book was getting less than stellar reviews this month. I find that to be a bit baffling, since this issue was just as strong as the first three issues. If you liked the first three books in this mini, there is really no reason not to like this one. The story continues with the forces of Wakanda, lead by Shuri, Storm and members of the Fantastic Four heading to Easter Island to retrieve the stolen Vibranium. Of course Doctor Doom isn’t going to let that happen without a fight, and he has his new and improved Doombots (augmented with the stolen Vibranium) there to fight for him.
While this issue seems like one long fight, there is a little more going on here in terms of the story. For the first time you can really see Doom’s overall plan coming together, everything he has done up to this point finally starts to make sense and you can see for the first time that his careful planning and detailed knowledge of Wakanda, T’Challa and Shuri will lead him to victory. Even T’Challa seems to realize that Doom has his number and in a moment of desperation calls in a wild card to try and throw a money wrench into Doom’s plan. Of course the money wrench is Deadpool, the one guy in the Marvel universe who’s actions no one can predict. I was a bit nervous about Deadpool showing up in this book, so far Doomwar has been a dead serious book with no room for humor in it. Deadpool has become the clown prince of Marvel over the years and I wasn’t sure how he would fit into the story. But not to worry, Jonathan Maberry reminds us all that good old Deadpool can be a very effective hero if written correctly.
My only complaints would be with the art, the JRJR cover once again is uninspired and dull, it wouldn’t surprise me if people where passing on getting this book based of the artwork alone. Scot Eaton artwork still looks terribly dark, I don’t know who to blame for that, the inkers I guess. And there is a couple of double sized splash pages that are pretty poorly done and just seem like filler.
This is still the best mini Marvel is putting out this year so far, and with two issue left I am not sure why people would be bailing on it at this point.
By Jeff Parker and Kev Walker
Jeff Parker is off to a good start with this latest issue of Thunderbolts, he gets the chance to put his new team together under the leadership of Luke Cage. I wasn’t too sure about the lineup for the new team when it was announced, but after reading this book I was a lot happier about the new team.
Jeff Parker took a page from one of my favorite movies, The Dirty Dozen, when writing the introduction for his new team. Much like that movie the pool of new members are all convicts, former criminals captured and being held in the Raft. Cage comes to each potential new member of the T-Bolts and has a little chat with them, trying to see what they are about and what it will take to get them to work along side him.
Some of the convicts are easier to recruit than others, former T-Bolts members Ghost and Moonstone seems more than happy to rejoin their old team with little convincing needed. Juggernaut just wants to get out of his cell and may or may not be a team player. Crossbones is just fucking nuts and I am still not sure why Cage would invite him on the team. Crossbones reminds me of ‘Maggot’ from the Dirty Dozen, you know he’s crazy, Cage knows he’s crazy, everyone knows he is going to have a meltdown at some point, but yet there he is on the team.
The most interesting new member is Man-Thing, Not really a criminal, but no one is really sure what to do with it. The government wants to destroy it, Hank Pym wants to save it, and Luke Cage is kind of stuck with it. Seeing how Parker writes Man-Thing’s interactions with it’s new teammates is something I am looking forward to.
To top everything off, Jeff Parker throws in a surprise ending that was a real shock to me, I didn’t see it coming, but I am not sure if I really liked it. After everything that Parker did setting up Cage and his new team, to have it end the way it did, kind of sucked to me. I don’t want the T-Bolts back under the leadership of Baron Zemo dammit. For now, I am going to call shenanigans on his return. I am hoping that this is just some sort of test .
Thunderbolt has the potential to become my favorite Marvel book this year, but we will see where Parker takes this story after this month’s cliffhanger.