Badly Recapped: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #1

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MATT FRACTION – writer

STEVE LIEBER – artist

NATHAN FAIRBAIRN – colorist

CLAYTON COWLES – letterer

LIEBER & FAIRBAIRN – cover

 

Synopsis in a Sentence: A brief history of Olsen, before he gets shipped to Gotham.

 

We begin our journey with Superman’s pal with Superman’s pal’s ancestor on top of a waterfall, fighting for his land before Metropolis was Metropolis. He gets pushed off of said waterfall, and then the story starts. Again. Get used to this, as every few pages there is a new introduction to some form of “Jimmy Olsen, fill-in-the-blank.” It got a bit stale for me, I have to say.

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The next meaningful bit finds present-day Jimmy jumping out of a spaceship, turning into the beloved turtle alter-ego I’ve heard of but don’t get, and being rescued by Superman before crashing into Metropolis with the force of an atomic bomb. This bit, bizarre as it all sounds, was actually fun- the funnest part of the book at any rate.

Next we’re treated to yet another intro, and we get some Daily Planet moments, complete with a heaping helping of Perry White. Who DOESN’T say “Great Caesar’s ghost.” In a comic seemingly built on nostalgia it really felt like a glaring omission.

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At any rate, this section does have the funniest moment in the book to me, when the owner of the Daily Planet asks Clark Kent to keep an eye on Jimmy, who costs the paper a ton in insurance money from his shenanigans. Clark replies that may be a job only Superman can do, with a wink to the reader, on the last panel of the right page. Then we turn the page, expecting another story opening, to instead find Clark still standing there with one eye closed, and the befuddled paper owner dismissing this hayseed. Funny stuff.

Cue another “Yada yada Jimmy Olsen” open and we find Jimmy checking into a dumpy hotel in Gotham, relocating to not only help the Planet’s insurance rates, but because dunh…dunh…DUNH…- he is believed to be murdered! So I guess we’ll see what that’s all about next issue. And when I say “we” I don’t mean me.

In this first issue Matt Fraction serves up a fractured storyline that gives readers an unnecessarily far back background into the title character. It reminded me of the tired joke used in movies where the interrogator tells his captor to start at the beginning, and they literally start at the beginning, reciting childhood memories. There were some genuinely funny moments, and I have no complaints about the art. I think I have to just chalk this one up as something I don’t get/it’s not for me.

6.5/10

 

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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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Badly Recapped: Daredevil #5

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CHIP ZDARSKY – writer

MARCO CHECCHETTO – artist

SUNNY GHO – color

 

Synopsis in a Sentence: Matt Murdock’s crisis of character leads him to hang up the horns.

 

When we last left Daredevil he had just bested The Punisher in a brawl and was on his way to stop a drug operation of The Owl’s. Right off the bat I have to say how cool it is seeing Daredevil in a Punisher shirt, and Marco Checchetto’s art throughout is as outstanding in this issue as it has been in the whole series.56dec9d1c4d4ef7b2a38c8f66abf60a4._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpg

 

Daredevil successfully dispatches the van shipping the drugs, as well as The Owl’s goons, before getting overwhelmed by a mob out of nowhere. I didn’t know if these were baddies or just “concerned citizens” since DD is after all wanted for murder. Long story short, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones come to the rescue and take Matt back to Danny’s place to heal.

 

When Matt wakes up, the other Defenders try to console him, saying about his accidental homicide of a criminal, that “it happens.” This is where Chip Zdarsky’s writing and grasp of the character shines. Matt is flabbergasted and even disgusted when he comes to the realization that his friends, these so-called heroes, which he is as well, have killed people. He simply can’t reconcile this revelation, and slips out the back.

 

We get a nice flashback to Matt revealing himself as yellow suit Daredevil to his priest, and some good old Catholic guilt about banishing violence. Matt contemplates fighting harder as a penance back at his apartment, before getting visited by his friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Spidey tells Daredevil he has to quit after what happened, and Matt puts up no fight. He simply tosses Spider-Man his mask, in a very “Daredevil, no more” moment.d047ca36cf6f9f489f899be5c6bbd90f.jpg

 

This was a terrific ending to the first arc of the series and has me wondering what will bring Daredevil out of retirement. I can’t wait to see what this creative team has in store for Matt Murdock and the readers.

 

9.5/10

 

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Badly Recapped: Wonder Twins #4

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MARK RUSSELL – writer

STEPHEN BYRNE – artist

DAVE SHARPE – letterer

 

Synopsis in a Sentence: The Wonder Twins go on dates, with varying degrees of success.

 

The fishes out of water tale of the Wonder Twins continues (with a disturbing lack of Zan taking any form of water) as the Twins almost accidentally set up dates with two strangers at a school science fair. We also get more Polly Math, whose project theorizes the internet is a living consciousness that hasn’t woken up yet. At this point I’m having a little trouble staying awake myself. I hope this Math subplot either dies or plays a large part in the story down the road.

 

And speaking of story, what is the story of this book? I’m fine with just zany hijinks involving Zan and Jayna, but I don’t know if Mark Russell is. Halfway through this comedic and satirical comic we get the backstory of Polly Math finding her mother murdered à la Barry Allen, all because of her father’s past dealings with Lex Luthor. It just feels out of place with the rest of the story and series as a whole.Ap2N.gif

 

Zan and Jayna’s dates are the highlights of the book. Jayna’s date ends up being villain-in-training, “Red Flag”, a total bro whom she finally ditches at the end by transforming into a cheetah and running away. I’d have rather seen her take the form of kangaroo (which she mentioned to Superman she was getting better at earlier) and knock his block off, but at least we got SOME transforming from her, unlike Zan.

 

Speaking of which, Zan’s date went kind of better, simply ending with the girl getting back together with her ex. In a sweet, bordering on saccharine moment, Zan explains that he’s happy to have made a friend because in all likelihood they would’ve broken up in a few weeks anyhow, because teenagers. Zan’s naiveté continues to charm; I wish Russell did more with Jayna’s shyness he established in the first issue though.

 

Overall this issue had its fun moments, its good Russell (satire), its bad Russell (preachiness), and ongoing terrific art from Stephen Byrne. I’m not sure about the underlying arc of the Math family, and I’d like a little more Wonder Twins powers activating. Hopefully both are resolved in the final two issues.

 

6.5/10

 

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