Badly Recapped: Black Hammer/Justice League: Hammer of Justice! #1

Jesus, that’s a long title.

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JEFF LEMIRE – writer

MICHAEL WALSH – artist & cover

NATE PIEKOS of BLAMBOT – letterer

 

Synopsis in a Sentence: The Black Hammer gang switches places with the Justice League; hi jinx bound to ensue.

 

Our Dark Horse/DC crossover commences with a fairy tale-esque narrative introducing the Black Hammer characters and their current predicament, namely being stuck on a farm they can’t escape. As a fan of Black Hammer, something just feels off immediately. I don’t know if it’s Lemire’s flowery prose or the dialogue between these characters I’ve grown to love. I’ll just come out and say it- I think this was dumbed down for the DC crowd. Or at the very least, the bite was taken out of my beloved Black Hammer denizens. This isn’t the Mature title I’m used to, that’s for sure. Michael Walsh’s art is serviceable in so much as I can tell who’s who, but is nothing special.

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Back to the story, a weirdo in a bowler hat shows up, wanting to buy the Black Hammer farm. If I had to guess at this point, I’d say it’s Mister Mxyzptlk, but we don’t truly find out this issue.

 

Quick jump to Metropolis, which is under attack from Starro. Just as the Justice League are getting things under control, weirdo-bowler-hat-guy shows up, offering them a vacation for several jobs well done. And he’s got just the place. Back on the farm Madame Dragonfly realizes this dude is magical, just as Diana is coming to the same conclusion in Metropolis. Bada-bing, bada-boom, presto-chango, and our heroes switch locations. Not only that, it seems our JL has been on the farm for the ten years the Black Hammer guys were. Strange, huh? We end with Captain Weird shrak-ing into space and surrounded by the Green Lantern Corps, so that’s something.

 

In Lemire I trust, but this opening issue was pretty “meh” to me, and the art didn’t do anything to hide the lackluster feel of the normally edgy Black Hammer side of things. Hopefully the story picks up in the next issue and we can get past catering to the DC contingency.

 

7.5/10

 

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Badly Recapped: Criminal #6

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ED BRUBAKER – writer

SEAN PHILLIPS – artist

JACOB PHILLIPS – colors

 

Synopsis in a Sentence: Teeg Lawless finds love in all the wrong places.

 

Right off the bat I gotta say Criminal is a tough book to discuss. Not in a bad way, mind you. I’ve loved this iteration by Brubaker and Phillips, and if you’re fans of their past work, so will you. What makes it tough to discuss is there aren’t really arcs in the traditional sense of the word, as far as modern comics go. We go from one set of characters and story, to a completely different set and story, then introduce some new set and story, and now we kind of loop back. Like I said, tough to discuss, but by no means is that a strike against the work. So I’ll just get into this issue, titled “Song to the Siren.”

 

We open up with good ol’ Teeg Lawless, lovesick as a puppy. And who is this new broad he’s shacking up with, spending his money “like it had an expiration date”? She sure looks familiar, huh? We’ll get back to that later.

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We get a flashback showing how Teeg got to this point, namely by scoring large on a stick-up job with fellow criminal Chic Severin. The two go out to celebrate at a club and run into Jane, one of Chic’s old girlfriends. Teeg is immediately smitten, but by the end of the night Jane goes home with Chic.

 

The next morning, Chic recruits Teeg to go “teach someone a lesson.” Seems Janey stole 10 grand from him, and Chic wants his pound of flesh. They go to a cabin on a lake Jane is staying at, but she gets the drop on Chic and shoots him dead. Teeg has her dead to rights, but doesn’t pull the trigger. Instead the two of them start a whirlwind love affair, living the high life on what’s left of the robbery take.

 

The money finally runs out as Teeg is informed his “wife’s” credit card was declined at the hotel they’re staying in. He hastily packs up and sneaks to the bar where Jane went for a drink, hoping to skedaddle before hotel security catches them. Teeg sees Jane talking to a guy at the bar, and it’s here that it clicked for me- Jane was indeed the woman from the previous issue that was being traced by the PI- the guy she’s talking to here. Yeah, I’m a bit slow on the uptake.

 

We already know how THAT ended; this issue ends with Teeg trying to put together a big score to appease Jane’s insatiable desire to live on a permanent vacation. Oh, and he gets word his son was evicted because Teeg forgot to pay rent. What a scumbag.

 

Overall this was another near-flawless issue of Criminal. Brubaker writes crime noir like no one else, and Phillips’ art, while perhaps not for everyone, definitely fits the tone of the book. I love how this tied into last issue, and look forward to how this piece of the Criminal puzzle fits into future books.

 

9.5/10

 

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Badly Recapped: Wonder Twins #6

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MARK RUSSELL – writer

STEPHEN BYRNE – artist & cover artist

DAVE SHARPE – letterer

 

Synopsis in a Sentence: The Scrambler’s plans are foiled by Zan so world leaders can keep being jerks, man.

 

We start out this issue 30 days out from the Great Scramble. The Scrambler has already proven he can pull his consciousness-switching scheme having scrambled a million people already, although we only see one affected person in Lex’s prison (of course). I’d say take a shot every time I write “scramble” in this review, but I did so while reading this issue and nearly died.

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At any rate, shit is looking bad for our over-simplified world leaders as well as the Justice League, who can’t find the whereabouts of the nefarious villain. “But wait, didn’t the Wonder Twins bust some of his buddies recently?” wonders Superman, before sending the two teens off to chase the only lead on this earth-shattering crisis. Riiiight.

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Zan fails at interrogating Praying Mantis, but Jayna, disguised as a fly, picks up that the Scrambler was last seen talking to Filo Math, so she heads to her friend’s pad. Sure enough, there are Polly and the Scrambler, and rather than, I don’t know, act HEROIC, Jayna not only hears out their side of the argument, but doesn’t even report them to the Justice League. Because they’re making the world better. Or something.

Luckily Zan decided to risk de-molecularizing (if that’s a word) and found the villains, right before 300 laws ending poverty, incarceration, global warming, puppy kicking, etc were signed, to the relief of every (naturally) evil world leader. Man, I am tired of Mark Russell’s oversimplification of world issues at this point. Can I get a fun Wonder Twins comic please? Polly and Scrambler are arrested, but we’ve got 6 more issues to “look forward to.”

Stephen Byrne’s art is stupendous as always, and Russell can have witty moments when his self-righteousness doesn’t get in the way. The message is a good one, but I’m tired of getting hit over the head with it repeatedly. I hope the next arc gets back to what we saw in issue one- namely more of the Twins’ fish-out-of-water experiences, and less over-reaching social commentary.

 

6.0/10

 

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Badly Recapped: Invisible Woman #1

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MARK WAID – writer

MATTIA DE IULIS – artist

VC’s JOE CARAMAGNA – letterer

ADAM HUGHES – cover

 

Synopsis in a Sentence: Sue Storm slips back into the spy game.

 

We begin Invisible Woman’s mini with a flashback to a mission Sue was on for SHIELD ten years ago, helping to smuggle a scientist across the made-up-country/Hungarian border. Although I love Mattia De Iulis’ art throughout, and it was a major reason I picked up the book to begin with, this part had me confused my first read-through, and not because Sue was in a black wig. The border guards could be twins, and the use of Sue’s force field and invisibility while hiding the scientist was hard for me to follow.

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At any rate, after some Bondian moments, Invisible Woman, science guy, and Sue’s partner on the mission, Aidan Tintreach meet up with David Hasselhoff Nick Fury, and mission accomplished.

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Flash forward, and we get some nice moments of Invisible Woman just living her life in NYC, emphasizing the different aspects of the character. It may be hokey to some, but I think this is Mark Waid’s best writing in the issue. It shows that Sue isn’t just one thing, or just part of a team, but a strong woman that deserves the solo comic she’s been given.

 

Anyways, Sue gets a call from the CIA and heads to Langley to see what’s up. Apparently her old partner Tintreach was captured spying on some other made-up-country, but not before getting out a message with his nickname for Sue- “Stormy”. Also there’s some international incident involving said country arresting a bunch of asshole teenagers or something, which is conveniently why the CIA can’t bust Tintreach out, for fear of harm coming to the kids.

 

Sue admits she doesn’t know what the message could mean, and is told under no circumstances to go looking for Tintreach. No one even knows where the guy is being held either. So of course Sue agrees, then immediately grabs a jet to start her investigation. But not before Sam Jackson Nick Fury gives her his OK and some helpful paperwork.

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So Invisible Woman sets off for Madripoor, the wretched hive of scum and villainy where Aidan was last seen. We get a nice cameo at the end I won’t spoil, but fans of Waid’s Black Widow run will be excited. Oops.

 

Overall, I didn’t love the issue, but I didn’t dislike it either. A bumpy start threw me off, and the setup to get Invisible Woman on her private vendetta was a little contrived. The art is great throughout, aside from the Doublemint twins at the beginning. The little character moments were my favorite parts, and enough for me to warrant checking out issue two.

 

7.0/10

 

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