Wednesday Morning Quarterback: AK Comics

By Michael “Skitch” Maillaro

Hey everyone! How’s the wife and kids? I’m dropping back in for a little fun in my old stamping grounds. An article in our local newspaper tuned me into the appearance of a comic company called AK Comics.

AK has been publishing in the Middle East for the last few years, and only this month has started bringing their books to America. I was intrigued by the idea, and immediately ordered the books from Midtown Comics (who seems to be the only place that had all four in stock). I was pretty impressed by the books and wanted to share them with our readers.

First up, some background from Wikipedia: AK Comics is an Egyptian-based superhero comic publishing venture, and the first example of the genre produced in the Middle East. The company first began publishing monthly titles in February 2004, and its comics are produced in both Arabic and English. AK Comics was founded by Ayman Kandeel, (hence the initials); Marwan el-Nashar is the managing director and Sara Kareem is the English-language editor.

It is heavily influenced by American comics giants DC Comics and Marvel, as well as British comics, Japanese animation, and even the Kill Bill movies.
As explained in the first inside page of various issues, the intention is "to fill the cultural gap created over the years by providing essentially Arab role models, in our case, Arab superheroes, to become a source of pride to our young generations."

In the article in my local paper, Dr. Kandeel commented that so many great fictional characters came from the Middle East, such as Aladdin, Ali Baba, and Sinbad, so it always amazed him that they didn’t have a modern Middle Eastern super hero that could rival Superman. I have to say that judging by the first issues of AK’s four series, AK just might have found a way to get a foothold in the industry.

One thing I noticed immediately about AK Comics is they are actually about 2/3 the size of most American comics. Also, they are much less pages, but not in terms of story. Most Marvel or DC comics are 32 pages, with 10 of those pages being ads, self-promotion, etc. AK Comics are 24 pages, with only 2 pages of ads. This seems like a reasonable trade off as the books are only $2.95, which is much less than I am used to seeing for independent books.

As for the series themselves:

Rakan #1 Review
Story: Dr. Ayman Kandeel
Dialogue: Todd Vicino
Artist: Raphael Albuquergue
Each of the first issues were real stand out comics, but Rakan was the best of the bunch. The market is glutted with superhero comics, and Rakan was a perfect change of pace. Rakan is a true quest book with a Middle Eastern flair! Set in medieval times, Rakan was the lone survivor of a tribe that was wiped out by the Mongols.

As is typical in myth and legend, Rakan gets raised by a sabretooth tiger and her son, Arameh. Rakan encounters a former general with mystical powers who trains him in the arts of Sheba. The general is killed, and sends Rakan and Arameh on a quest to find his daughter.

The introduction to Rakan promises dark forces, wizards, and dragons along the way! Sounds like Rakan and Arameh are in for one hell of a journey, and I will definitely be along for the ride. Rakan reminds me of everything I loved about Crossgen comics, and hopefully AK will be along for a lot longer than CG was.

The art and descriptions in Rakan #1 were quite beautiful and Kandeel, Vicino, and Rafael Albuquerque should be proud of their work in this issue. They very quickly captured the heart of this longtime comic reader. The story seems to be building on a proud tradition of myth and legend, and has potential to be one of the best comics out there.

Score (out of 10): 8.5

Aya, Zein, and Jalila all share a common setting. They are set in the near future in a supposed age of prosperity after a 55 Year War between two unidentified world powers. But, these first issues already showed some cracks in this peace. This fictional world based in the Middle East seems like a great setting, and I would love to see a 55 Year War Sourcebook or Official Guide to the AK Universe to get more information.

Aya #1 Review
Story: Dr. Ayman Kandeel
Dialogue: Todd Vicino
Art: Allan Goldman

One of my biggest complaints about comics has always been the lack of strong female characters. My wife is an avid comic reader, and we have a daughter on the way, so we are always looking for female characters that are not just pin-ups or damsels in distress. Aya seems to fit the bill here. I have to admit, in my own ignorance, I was somewhat surprised to find such strong females in a comic from the Middle East. AK really has done wonders to break down my ignorance.

Aya comes across like a female version of Batman. Her mother has been wrongly accused of killing her father, because of the great sexual inequalities in the Middle East. In order to fight crime and injustice, Aya is working for or with someone called Number Zero. The first issue jumps right into the action and doesn’t force feed the back story down your throat. This really got me right into the story and without even really knowing Aya’s story, I was cheering her on.

Score (out of 10): 8.0

Zein #1 Review

Writer: Todd Vicino
Artist: Raphael Albuquerque

Zein is another unique character. He is a survivor of an ancient advanced society who was cryogenically frozen until our time with his brothers and sisters. He uses his advanced technology, including his computer ISIS in order to protect his land. In this issue, a mysterious swarm of scarabs in on the loose, and Zein discovers these scarabs are machines, and have ties to his own past.

Zein was a very strong book anyway, but the ending of this book floored me. Most first issues set up the status quo, but Zein shatters it almost immediately! I can't wait to see how Zein and Scarab's story plays out. AK managed to set up some major payoffs down the road.

Also, I can't wait to meet more of Zein's cast. It seems like this book will have a strong supporting cast with his siblings and ISIS. Zein's quest to resurrect the forgotten civilization sounds like it has a lot of storytelling potential, and it should be interesting to see how Scarab's influence will change things.

Score (out of 10): 8.0

Jalila #1 Reviews

Story: Dr. Ayman Kandeel
Dialogue: Sara Kareem
Artist: Allan Goldman

I have to admit that based on the first issue, Jalila was my least favorite of the AK books, but that is like saying George is my least favorite Beatle. Jalila's first issue really set up some cool ideas, like the idea this world of peace of prosperity might not be what it seems. This issue also features a nice twist in the end, which led me to a second reading. It was foreshadowed early in the issue, but until you read the whole comic, you don't see how the pieces fit. This is terrific comic writing, and the team of Kandeel, Kareem, and Goldman carried it out brilliantly!

My biggest concern about this issue is that we never really got to know Jalila. We met her supporting cast and get glimpses at the world around her, but she felt like a complete mystery. Hopefully, this will be addressed in future issues.

Comics are often called childish, but this issue was far from it. The comics opens with a scene with Jewish, Islamic, and Catholic leaders gathering together to demonstrate the peace and unity of this new Middle East. But, this gather is ruined by a terrorist attack, and it was a powerful statement. I dream of a world where this meeting can happen in the Middle East, and it always saddens me that there are forces that act against it. But, then we see Jalila acting against this ignorance, and we are reminded how one person can be a force for positive change. In history, we've had men like Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Ghandi. Hopefully, this message got through to readers of this comic, both in the Middle East and in America.

Score (out of 10): 7.5

That about wraps up my look at AK Comics. I have to say that I was really impressed by their initial offerings, and I am looking forward much more from this company.

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Words with Azrael [JUN '06.... pt.2]

Az is back with the exciting second part of my review for June, finishing off with the "other" companies of Image, under Top Cow. (Actually, it's the other way around but whatever... you get the point.)

Today, I review Witchblade #97-98 and Cyberforce #1-3.


Cyberforce #1Cyberforce #2Cyberforce #3
Cyberforce #1-3

Cyberforce #1 -- OK, a little catching up is required as this is a continuation of the first series. That series ended on a rather sour note, with the team basically being "Disassembled"... I kid you not. Heatwave and Riplaw died, Impact left, and the girls were left on their own. However, Ripclaw didn't die but was resurrected into some evil version and has been hunting them down ever since.

The names to know:

Ripclaw -- man with claws like living metal... Native American shaman, but is there any other?
Cyblade -- she can create electrostatic blades on her hands. Melee expert and leader.
Ballistic -- gun girl with red mechanical eye
Velocity -- the speedster with a death white skin tone and Ballistic's sister
Heatwave -- A man's man leader type with fire coming off his hands
Impact -- the brick... the strong man... big... muscles... strong

Now we come to the now, but in some distant galaxy as a fleet of alien ships destroy a space station. Yeah, this is a subtle sub-plot but it's important to know/recall that the original team of Cyberforce used DNA... ALIEN DNA to give them their powers. Yup... aliens... spaceships.... getting the hint?

Back to Earth and the girls are having dinner and reminiscing on the past. It's really a trap to lure Ripclaw but Velocity doesn't like it. She had the hots for him.

The baddie shows up and he kicks all of their rumps (with Cyblade in a new costume) and is about to have his way with Velocity when he gets gutted by.... RIPCLAW!?!?!

Cyberforce #2 -- It's clone vs clone and no girls are invited. Ripclaw's clone... the evil one, is a lot tougher than he looks and gets all funky and beats down the good Ripclaw. A well-placed grenade and the bad guy.... and the mansion, goes boom. I know... I hate that gag. The good Ripclaw tells the girls about how he came to be and also that the aliens their DNA is based off of are coming to Earth to kill them. ...and the hits just keep on coming.

Cyberforce #3 -- The aliens have arrived on Earth and destroy some jets unlucky to be in their way. Elsewhere, the team head to a safehouse (their old base was blown up with their first series) and find someone has fixed it up. Fighting some robots they run into another formerly-dead guy, Heatwave. Apparently, he got the same treatment as Ripclaw and knows about the alien threat coming -- hence the upgraded safehouse. They take off to look for their missing teammate Impact but run into some pesky aliens!

Very quick paced, with a clear sense of comaraderie among the different personalities. I like it, and can't wait for more.

-ART- 4/5 (Pat Lee does nice work and he manages to keep the details from cluttering the scene)
-STORY- 3/5 (Action-packed and quick though a little short for my tastes)
-TOTAL- 3/5 (The series doesn't require any backtracking but the whole alien DNA aspect is pretty muddy if you don't. The team also comes off as a X-Men clone (no pun intended) right down to the "Blackbird" flying out of the cliff in #3.


Witchblade #97Witchblade #98

Witchblade #97 -- Well, for those who know nothing about Witchblade... you're jumping in at a really weird point. The big 100th issue is a-coming and so sub-plots have been working overtime so they can justify the amped up cover price. (Yeah, you THINK I'm joking!) In short, Sarah Pezzini is a NYC detective who found a weird bracelet that is really a living weapon that she can control.

Her first partner was killed, the second is in a coma and her new partner really isn't as he is some "liaison" from a special prosecutor's office. Anyway, he's got the hots for Sarah, but apparently so do half of the men that appear in the series. I can't blame them, but... the way the art is, you'd think there were no "ugly" people in NYC... tee hee!

The book starts off with Patrick Gleason (the dude who wants to jump Sarah's bones with his bone) and Sara on a "date" though it looked more like a casual meeting of peers -- whatever. The next thing you know, Sarah's ex-infatuation Ian Nottingham pulls a Kool-Aid Man gag and crashes through the window. Playful banter ensues as Japanese assassins soon arrive. Everyone does some kung-fu fighting but clearly, thugs and goons are no match for Ian, Sara, and Patrick.

The three return to Sara's and Patrick gets the "old boyfriend" vibe and gets lost. Ian and Sarah play catch-up, though she puts up a strong front. Ian wants her help against the splinter faction of the Yakuza trying to kill him. Sarah doesn't bite and blows him off. Ian leaves and finds the antique shop (a very interesting place back in #92) and steals a rare katana. Meanwhile, we see Nogawa -- the boss of the Yakuza faction in his naked tattooed ass glory.

Witchblade #98 -- Ian shows why he should be cast for the next Highlander movie as he kills a lot of men with just a sword. They have guns but... yeah... only in comics, anime and videogames would that lose. Sarah follows Ian and covers his back as he goes and kills Nogawa. Sara then arrests Ian... and goes to make nice-nice with Patrick, only to get interrupted by a phone call.

Jake is out of his coma.

Ian is back... Patrick wants nookie but is too stupid to get it... and Sarah monologues more than a Stan Lee comic book from 1965. All in all, no big surprises here. This mini-arc is essentially filler for the 100th issue as NOTHING of real consequence happens... except Gleason and Sarah finally get on the same page after 10+ issues of trying.

Another thing I find strange in the series is Sarah' usage of the Witchblade pretty much anywhere now, in the open, in public, in full view of every Tom, Dick and Jane and.... nothing happens to her? All the people who do know, keep it a secret... or are dead. That's what separates Top Cow's universe from the other companies... costume types don't seem to be very common or even acknowledged by the public. If something weird happens.... ah well... it was nothing.

I bring this up because if a diner was attacked by Yakuza and some lady with metal tentacles coming out of her body was fighting them off, I think I'd call someone... wouldn't you?

-ART- 3/5 Mike Choi makes clean art, but I think he makes people look too young... or not rough enough. Ian looked like a punk. Gleason looked like a kid... made worse when he was sitting in the bar. Thugs looked like bullies from the sandbox. Sarah was the only one who looked decent but I think because she was always wearing a scowl... which translates into emotions. Everyone else looked a bit flat.
-STORY- 2/5 Really short. Nothing important happened. Ian showing up seemed a waste. Sarah seemed stupider than usual around men she is/was interested in sexually... I mean, aren't women immune to this schoolgirl type crap when they get older? I expected a seasoned veteran of the NYC PD detective division, especially after 90+ issues of shit rolling downhill... Ron Marz can do better.
-TOTAL- 3/5 A safe jump point for people trying to get into the series, but I hope #99 is better.


Next month, buckle up for another exciting double header as Az takes on Cyberforce #0, Witchblade #99, Ms. Marvel #4, Shadowpact #2 and the debut of Ghost Rider #1!!!!

BE THERE OR BE... somewhere else... (Sorry, I don't have a catchy outro yet...)

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Az's Spin on Current Stuff [JUN '06]

Az here, and I'll be going over a few of the things I've got on my Pull List every month. I have quite a bit to go over so I broke it down into two parts. The first part will focus on my Marvel and DC picks so far, and part 2 will be on the rest, namely the Independents, Top Cow and Image.

Today I'll give my belated review on Giant-Sized Ms. Marvel #1, Ms. Marvel #1-3 and Shadowpact #1

...and yes... there will blood...and spoilers!


Giant Size Ms. Marvel


Carol Danvers looks good back in action and this time, it looks like she's got a writer that finally understands her (I hope!). The fact that by the end of the story, Carol doesn't get raped/stripped/crippled/maimed/killed/beheaded/sodomized is always a good thing in my book. Yeah, guys rarely get a fair shake when it comes to comics (et tu Spidey?) but rarely do they ever get run over the coals as Ms. Marvel has in her colorful history.

But, that's chit-chat for another day. Today is GIANT SIZED for a reason. The issue starts with a quick tie-in to the House of M mega-crossover. All you need to know is that Magneto was Elvis and New York was his Graceland. But, like every song, that came to an end but Carol saw something in that "other" life that she missed -- she was popular! (Uh... when you look like that, how can you not be popular? Only in a comic book I guess...)

After a run-in with some villain named "Sir Warren Traveler", Carol decides to be all she can be... no... she doesn't join the Army... but instead makes a promise to herself that she'll do everything she can to do whatever she can with what she has. I guess those years of playing 3rd string benchwarmer left a bad taste... The story then folds back into normalcy or post-House of M.

That's the first quarter of the book. The rest is a retro re-print of her first appearance with Captain Marvel in Captain Marvel #18, her first adventure on her in Ms. Marvel #1 (vol.1), her "orgins" in Ms. Marvel #2 (vol.1) and her new black costume in Ms. Marvel #20 (vol.1).

Art was great -- loved the cover and it's variants, though I don't support that gimmick of multiple covers... grrrrr! The panelling was good, people looked like people and overall a good first impression.

Plotwise, I like how they deal with Danver's lack of street cred in the annals of Marvel lore. For a chica with more firepower than a small country, you'd think people would know ONE of her many names.

-ART- 3/5 (new stuff looks great, old stuff looks old... what can I say?)
-STORY- 4/5 (great on all fronts except the Ms. Marvel first appearance vs Scorpion... probably the weakest link)

-TOTAL- 3/5 (fun but short read. Recommend for collectors and fans of Danvers.)

Ms. Marvel #1Ms. Marvel #2Ms. Marvel #3


Ms. Marvel #1 -- Ms. Marvel (yeah, she dropped the Warbird name...) but still sporting the same black bathing suit with bolt. She saves a bunch of people from the wrath of... Stilt-Man? OK, I found that hilarious and even moreso when he tried to fight back. Stilt-Man? Anyways, MM creams the cretin and does lunch with Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman for the uninformed). We also get a glimpse of the glamorous life of a superhero as Danvers meets with her publicity agent, Sarah Day. Who knew the X-Men had a publicist? Carol's meeting is less than super, and after that, she decides to become what she was during House of M -- not just popular but respected because of what she can do and not because of who she is or was.

Going out on a patrol, Carol spots something weird falling (or flying?) through the sky. She then does what anyone would do... call Captain America's personal cell phone. ^_^ Since the object appears alien, he suggests calling the Fantastic Four for help but she declines... something about a weekend in Vegas and Torch. She decides to go at it alone and discovers the meteor contains the Brood!

Ms. Marvel #2 -- Starts with a commercial for the superhero show Carol is scheduled to appear on as the Brood ride their Whale Express but are under attack which prompts them to bail out over Earth. Fast forward to the present and Ms. Marvel is up to her armpits in aliens. Just as she appears to be overwhelmed, another alien shows up. It's Cru... some sort of Brood-hating fighter but he doesn't seem to jive with Carol as he downloads her memories and takes off.

Danvers realizes that this new player is trouble and interrogates a few Brood warriors. They tell her that Cru is off to find some cavorite crystals, which are really unstable and in the wrong hands ... go nuclear. The Brood pulled a fast one on Cru, but Carol gives the last one a parting gift and chases Cru to some military base with the crystals. Just as Cru uses the crystals, everything fades to white.

Ms. Marvel #3 -- Ms. Marvel and Cru are flying into space, courteousy of the cavorite explosion which sent shards of the crystal into orbit. Though Carol is spaceworthy, she still has to breathe and a quick dip into the atmosphere gives her a shock. The town of Spaulding and McCord military base are gone, replaced by a 15 mile wide crater. Well, that just pissed off the wrong superhero and she takes the fight back into space with the alien. He still wields the crystal and uses it against Carol but she shrugs off the blasts and overloads the sucker, blowing him and the gem apart.

Carol is found by the Fantastic Four, who went in to investigate the massive blast zone. With only a broken arm and a few minor wounds, she returns to New York to find that she's due for her interview on the talk show. (A girl's job is never done...)

Before this series, I was all right to Carol Danvers. Always felt a little something for her, because of the Rogue connection but never read a story where she shined or did more than the requisite 6th man role. Well, I think she shined in this outing. Kudos to Brian Reed for doing something with her that goes beyond skin tricks and shallow sell. The Brood as the first major villain was an interesting choice -- I didn't see them coming but the point or theme so far has been about Carol the person trying to be a hero.

-ART- 3/5 (Overall solid though some faces looked a little odd...)
-STORY- 3/5 (Too early to tell what's going on)

-TOTAL- 3/5 (Not sure if this is really a good blind buy, but she's got potential to go places.)

Shadowpact #1


Part of the One Year Later gig that DC is doing right now, the book follows the events in the one-shot specials Day of Vengeance and the sequel one-shot Day of Vengeance Infinite Crisis Special (that's the title... I know... wordy eh?). Luckily, it doesn't look like you need to know/buy the BILLIONS of other books in the Infinite Crisis/52/OYL miasma to understand what's going on in here.


But, I highly recommend reading DoV and DoV:ICS before this... not required but it helps to meet the crazy cast of characters and playing together. Phantom Stranger sets the stage of what has happened, immediately following DoV:ICS -- the 9th Age of Magic is over. The 10th Age has begun and there's a lot of shiznit going down. (Not what Stranger said, but I'm working on a deadline!)

Now onto the story and we see a familiar alien.... Superman! Now I know some people said "HEY! HE'S POWERLESS! HE NOT FLY NO MORE!!! THIS SUCKS!!!!" ... well... they're being dumb. The story starts ONE YEAR AGO .... after DoV and before Infinite Crisis. OK, back to the review:

Superman spots a strange red globe and investigates. However, he cannot break through and find out what's going on inside. He returns with Green Lantern Hal Jordan, but he cannot best this either... uh oh! It must be magic!

Meanwhile, inside the red blob we find out that a strange group of characters have surrounded a town and plan on some mischief. And yes, they apparently are wise to the ways of magic and seem rather primed to kill but don't because of some higher purpose.

Phantom Stranger enters the scene and tells Hal and Kal that he knows what's what, but needs to send some peons inside to deal with the problem. Yup.... it's time for Shadowpact (or should I say Shadowpawns?)

Remember -- this is one year ago immediately after DoV:ICS... thus they are all doing basically nothing, save for Ragman and Blue Devil who are battling a demon, part of the new 10th Age of magics -- more bad things are appearing so Shadowpact is doing what they can and kicking spectral booty. Phantom Stranger summons the team to the red dome, which cuts into some nice character moments between Detective Chimp with Nightshade, and Enchantress with Nightmaster.

((Note: Willingham did the artwork, but it's odd that of all the characters Enchantress was the only one with a "different" ONE YEAR AGO outfit... which by the way, she was a ringer for Wonder Woman in that panel... I mean, gold tiara and long straight black hair? All she was missing was the lasso and hooker attire...))

The pawns... er, I mean team agree to go in and investigate as Phantom opens a portal with his own body. Zoinks! Superman and GL look on in the background, doing what they do best against magic ... which I guess is nothing, though it was cool to see Supes volunteer first to go in but was talked down by Stranger. Kal is a credit to his race! ^_^

Anyways, ONE YEAR ELAPSES since the pawns enter the dome... whoa.... and Phantom Stranger has enlisted other random DC magic wielders to play domesitter and watch for any changes or if the Shadowpact appear. Valda (looking very modern... I might add) and Rex are on the watch, as Phantom Stranger goes to recruit some more help such as Witchfire. He won't risk opening another portal as the explosive feedback from the last time left a wide swath of destruction that left the forest shattered and shorn.

Yeah... there's some bad mojo going on here that even scares Phantom Stranger.... now that's a bad sign.

Meanwhile, ONE YEAR AGO, inside the dome the Shadowpact arrives with some humourous character moments but like any good team they split up and look around for clues. Nightshade creates a pair of shadow birds to scout ahead (ok, I didn't know she could do that...) and she runs smack dab into the first baddie -- Sister Shadow. Looks like Nightshade's about to rumble... and the issue ends.

((note: Call me Bugs Bunny, but that's a really convenient meeting of two similarly powered women... both who use shadow-like apparitions and forms... OK, monologue over.))

The story and art were done by Bill Willingham, and I think it shows somewhat as he manages to sneak in some warmth to the motley characters and painted a cast that didn't look like they hopped off the Supermodel train. I can appreciate that. Speaking of looks, I am not sure why the team arrived at the red globe in "new" outfits. Willingham didn't explain that. The most obvious change is Detective Chimp, who now looks like he was part of the Russian space program. Nightmaster, Ragman, and Blue Devil look unchanged, while Nightshade is now sporting longer hair (huh? Grew fast since DoV...) and a skirt while Enchantress stripped off her old costume entirely, sporting the Wonder Woman tiara and shoelace bodice with boob support and expanded cleavage shot. Also, she seems to have developed a serious case of anemia because Enchantress is whiter than Nightshade... which is pretty hard to do.

The story itself is still early but I liked the intro. We meet a team of uglies that look like a mirror-match for Shadowpact (as in the aforementioned Sister Shadow x Nightshade pairing) though I can't wait to see what Chimp can do as we all should know by now he's a thinker not a fighter.

I liked this, and will definitely stick with it (a lot of questions raised), but I can see how it's not for everyone. If you want hard-hitting earth shattering epic battles of internet splitting proportions.... uh, this is not the place to find it. What you will find here is a team of unusual characters who try hard. They aren't the best at what they do... but they try.

Detective Chimp is a talking chimp with a high IQ.
Nightmaster is a retired hero with a magical sword
Blue Devil is an ex-stuntman with a magical pitchfork
Nightshade is a shadow manipulator
Enchantress is a wizard (or wizardress?)
Ragman is a guy wearing a magical suit that abosrbs souls

Yeah... the JLA this is not, but you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. They aren't the best of friends but they know what's at stake and do what they can do. Yeah, this is starting to sound repetitive but it's something that I strongly feel readers should be aware of, before dismissing this as weak-ass flotsam.

The art was decent, plot moved at a decent pace and I like the inclusion of Phantom Stranger. If anything, I felt the issue was too short but that just means Willingham did his job and got me interested enough to keep reading.

-ART- 3/5 (decent, but didn't care for Enchantress' makeover)
-STORY- 3/5 (introduction... a lot of questions with no answers)

-TOTAL- 3/5 (interesting read. Nothing really happens though. Recommend this ONLY for people who like C-list characters and/or people who liked Day of Vengeance.

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'Meister's Musings: 52: Week 4

52: Week 4

I figured I should get off my lazy ass and finally contribute something to this site again. So here we go: 52, Week 4. Don’t read it unless you want it spoiled; then again, the two of you who read this site probably knew that already.

Day 1

All right, so we start off with Renee Montoya doing a surveillance job for the Question. Nothing’s happening, she’s bored.

Up in space, astronauts and Halo are looking for the people who went into space during the Crisis, including the OG Alan Scott Green Lantern and Animal Man (whose series I just picked up in TPB form; mighty good stuff). Halo finds residual Zeta beam transportation waves, which apparently means Adam Strange has been ‘porting. They’re going to find ‘em!

Booster’s being his usual self-centered, sponsored whore of a superhero. Fire isn’t too happy. Booster argues that the future he came from spit in his face, so now it IS about him, dammit! Then he goes to an advertising meeting with Big Belly Burger.

Day 3 (Apparently nothing important happened on Day 2, or they just forgot their little caption box)

Montoya’s still bored with her surveillance, but the Question, who is fast becoming one of my favorite heroes, pops up in her car unexpectedly. He tells her to keep watching this house, since something will happen, even if nothing has for 2 weeks.

In Metropolis, John Henry Irons has some kind of vision/sickness, and remembers how bad it was when the world was missing a Superman the first time. Everybody just showed up and did a bad job of filling his shoes. Some ghost form of Steel shows up and talks to him, perhaps in a dream, while the current self staggers into the bathroom and barfs into a toilet. He then touches a computer, his hands turn silver, the silverness creeps into his face, and the computer explodes. He may have just been stoned. I really don’t know.

Day 4

Meanwhile, Ralph Dibny is still trying to figure out the resurrection symbol on his wife’s grave. The cult he’s visiting sticks him in the ‘striped waters of the river memon’ to show him the afterlife, and ask for something he values in return. He says he has nothing left after his wife’s death, they stick him underwater, nothing happens, and he comes up lacking his wedding ring. Poor guy just can’t get a break.

Day 5

Back with Montoya, a big creepy thing walks into the building she was supposed to be watching as she’s almost dozing. She wakes up and goes inside, only to be met by the Question. They continue on together, fall down a trap door, and find an ugly green monster loading up crates of alien weapons. A fight ensues, the Question is his usual badass self, and Montoya shoots the monster/alien/thingy-ma-doodle with one of the alien guns, killing it.

Day 7 (again, apparently Day 6 didn’t matter)

They’re bringing the stray Zeta beam transmission onto the planet (since apparently teleportation beams can be rerouted onto Earth now), and lots o’ people show up all bloody-like. I recognize a giant Hawkgirl and a bloodied Alan Scott (wasn’t he missing an eye in Checkmate? Well, it’s bloody here), but that’s about it, so I’ll give you a picture and you can see for yourself.

History of the DC Universe Backup Story

Meh. We learn about the Crisis up until Supergirl’s death. That’s about it.


Decent issue. I have no idea what in the Hell happened with Steel, though I did realize that the whole ‘mysterious-substance-creeping-over-a-person’s-skin’ thing is really overdone in just about every medium. The Question is truly awesome; he’s funny and badass all at the same time. I’m getting a little tired of Ralph Dibny and Renee Montoya whining all the time, but it’s understandable given their contexts. I also wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more help for less devoted readers, since many of the scenes are completely lost on me; I like to think I have a pretty decent knowledge of the DC Universe, but DC doesn’t do a damned thing to help explain who people are or why we should care what happens to them. OYL was great for newer readers, but 52 really isn’t, in any way, shape, or form. But I’m still enjoying it, since I know what’s going on for at least all of the major things. Until some other week when I decide to be a productive member of society, then, I’m off! Make good choices!

--The Almeister

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