Wednesday, December 30, 2015

POWER GIRL #9 - 12

Writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti | Artist: Amanda Conner
Colorist: Paul Mounts | Letterer: John J. Hill
Assistant Editor: Rex Ogle | Editor: Brian Cunningham

My Thoughts: Power Girl's final story arc brings things full circle and wraps up all the major Palmiotti/Gray plot points as they depart the series. First Satanna comes after Power Girl to get revenge for the Ultra Humanite's fate, but she's defeated with aid from an increasingly bloodthirsty Terra, who is eventually revealed as the Humanite himself, in a new body.

Power Girl defeats Terra-Humanite and tracks down Satanna, dismembering her with heat vision in order to get her to reveal the whereabouts of Terra's brain, which is trapped in the Humanite's badly burnt ape body. PG takes both Humanite and Terra to Terra's homeland of Strata, beneath the Earth's crust, where Terra is restored to normal and the Humanite's brain is transplanted into a clone of his original human body, now without the genetic defect which had forced him to transplant his brain into an ape all those years ago.

Monday, December 28, 2015


Writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti | Artist: Amanda Conner
Colorist: Paul Mounts | Letterer: John J. Hill
Assistant Editor: Rex Ogle | Editor: Brian Cunningham

My Thoughts: The light-hearted fun continues into POWER GIRL issues 7 and 8, as our heroine becomes the object of affection for Vartox the Hyper Man, a goofy character from the Superman comics of the seventies, whose appearance is inexplicably based upon Sean Connery in the movie ZARDOZ. It seems that an "infertility bomb" was detonated on Vartox's home planet, rendering reproduction there impossible. Vartox decides that he will mate with Power Girl in order to repopulate the species, both because her Kryptonian DNA makes her compatible with him and because "...[her] physical endowments best complement his own."

The resultant comedy of errors finds Vartox attempting to woo Power Girl with a "musk rifle" and then trying to impress her by loosing a monster called an Ix Negaspike, which he intends to defeat to prove his strength. But the creature proves too much for Vartox alone, so he and Power Girl defeat it together.

Friday, December 25, 2015


Note: TRANSFORMERS #4 featured a short story spotlighting Megatron as part of "Megatron Month". The TRANSFORMERS SUMMER SPECIAL continued Megatron's saga. I have opted to cover both stories together.

Note 2: Rest assured, the irony of reviewing a "Summer Special" on Christmas Day is not lost on me. This is just how the schedule happened to fall.

Writer: Brad Mick* | Pencils: James Raiz | Inks: Erik Sander
Colors: Elliott Kravchik | Letters Ben Lee

The Plot: Megatron is found drifting in deep space by the eccentric Junkion, Wreck-Gar. Wreck-Gar nurses Megatron back to health and takes him to his homeworld, the Planet of Junk. There, Wreck-Gar salvages a trio of Decepticon clones to serve Megatron, then Megatron kills the Junkion.

Story: Brad Mick* w/Adam Patyk | Pencils: Pat Lee
Breakdowns: Joe Ng | Backgrounds: Edwin Garcia | Inks: Rob Armstrong
Colors: Alan Wang | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: On the planet Beest, Megatron and his clones battle Razorclaw, the former leader of the Predacons, now locked in his lion mode with no memory of his past life. After fighting Razorclaw off, Megatron pursues him into the jungle and defeats him. Later, Megatron makes changes to Razorclaw's systems and reunites him with the rest of the Predacons. At Megatron's command, the Predacons unite to form Predaking.

Continuity Notes: Readers will recall that we initially saw Wreck-Gar pick up Megatron at the very end of WAR AND PEACE, and then the two of them were together, scavenging for clones on the Planet of Junk, in GENERATION ONE #0.

"Runnin..." makes it clear that six months have passed since Starscream jettisoned Megatron into space in WAR AND PEACE #1. I'm not sure if this fits very well with the timeline Mick has presented so far, as the events of WAR AND PEACE seemed to occur over a pretty short span, and the entirety of the Sunstorm arc in GENERATION ONE took place in roughly two days. I would suggest that time could have passed between the two series, but unless Starscream's crew spent six months traveling from Cybertron to Earth, that seems unlikely as well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti | Artist: Amanda Conner
Colorist: Paul Mounts | Letterer: John J. Hill
Assistant Editor: Rex Ogle | Editor: Brian Cunningham

My Thoughts: Okay, this is more like what I was expecting from a Gray/Palmiotti/Conner POWER GIRL series. "Girls' Night Out" is a one-off adventure featuring Power Girl and Terra teaming up against an elf girl using a magical book to "purify" Earth, and then "Space Girls Gone Wild!" presents a trio of spoiled alien princesses landing in New York and causing trouble as they attempt to elude an agent of their father, sent to bring them back home.

Along the way, Palmiotti and Gray continue to develop Power Girl's personal life, giving her a new apartment in Brooklyn and revealing that she's a huge fan of horror movies. We also get more from Terra too, her naive innocence leading to some cute jokes as she attempts to adjust to life on the surface world as Power Girl's "ward" of sorts. A sub-plot materializes as well, as someone snaps photos of Karen changing into Power Girl on her apartment roof, then later sends her the pictures as blackmail material.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti | Artist: Amanda Conner
Colorist: Paul Mounts | Letterer: John J. Hill
Assistant Editor: Rex Ogle | Editor: Brian Cunningham

My Thoughts: Palmiotti and Gray begin Power Girl's continuing adventures by setting her up in Manhattan and restoring her secret identity as Karen Starr, CEO of Starrware Labs, a company dedicated to bettering the world through technology. The opening issue introduces us to Karen's employees, Donna Anderson and Simon Peters, as well as the newest member of the Starrware team, Dexter Nichols. We also get an ominous appearance by Xander Blevin, a callous researcher with designs on reprogramming the minds of the world's citizens.

But the main threat in this opening arc is the Ultra-Humanite, a brilliant scientist whose brain resides in the body of an albino ape. Here, the Humanite's plan is to lift Manhattan into the sky with his airship and hold it hostage in order to force Power Girl to give him her body as the new receptacle for his brain. While Power Girl struggles against the Ultra-Humanite aboard his craft, her teammates from the Justice Society are busy on the streets of Manhattan, fighting against the Humanite's robots.

I'm only familiar with Ultra-Humanite, as with many DC characters, via his appearances in the JUSTICE LEAGUE TV series, where he was generally played as a comic relief villain; or at least as a foe not taken overly seriously by anyone. But this version of the Humanite is quite deadly, using his mental powers to warp the people of Manhattan into a violent frenzy, and causing the deaths of over sixty people during his plot -- which seems kind of thematically out of place given the very "Silver Age" nature of the scheme.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


2015 closes with a small month, which is fine with me since it's the holiday season. From Marvel, we have the WOLVERINE EPIC COLLECTION: THE DYING GAME, which collects issues 87 - 100 of the Canucklehead's ongoing series, written by Larry Hama and illustrated (mostly) by Adam Kubert. As I've said before, I really enjoy the year of X-Men comics between "Age of Apocalypse" and "Onslaught", and most of this material fits right in that window.

And IDW brings RAGNARÖK VOLUME 1: LAST GOD STANDING, Walter Simonson's return to the Norse pantheon -- albeit free from the Marvel versions of those characters. I've heard good things about this series and I'm excited to read it, so hopefully I'll have a little something to say about it in the near future.

That's a wrap on a year's worth of Unboxings, but the cycle begins anew next month and I expect to receive at least three or four trades from Marvel and DC to start the new year.

Friday, December 18, 2015


Writers: James "Brad Mick" McDonough & Adam Patyk | Pencils: Don Figueroa
Inks: Elaine To | Colors: Espen Grundetjern | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: Deep beneath the Earth's surface, as Sunstorm sinks into a pool of glowing liquid, Starscream prepares to execute Bumblebee. Meanwhile, on Cybertron, Prowl holds a meeting of several Autobots and they debate returning to Earth. Ultimately the decision is reached to do so. And back on Earth, Warpath and Bumper, along with the still-unconscious Jazz and the rest, are driven into the desert aboard a human truck, which descends underground via a concealed elevator. Elsewhere, Omega Supreme and Cliffjumper worry over their friends.

Back underground, Sunstorm rises once more and attacks Starscream, then grabs Bumblebee and prepares to kill him. But his body has a reaction to the liquid in which he was submerged and he begins to disintegrate. Jetfire comes around and enters the fray, causing Sunstorm to retreat back to the surface and into the sky. Jetfire appeals to the friendship he once shared with Starscream, then pursues Sunstorm. Starscream picks up the unconscious Bumblebee and returns to the surface.

Meanwhile, high in the sky, Jetfire realizes Sunstorm is on the verge of self-destructing. While Starscream deposits Bumblebee on a beach somewhere and departs, Jetfire pushes Sunstorm out of the atmosphere, where both are enveloped in a massive explosion.

On Earth, Bumblebee observes Jetfire's demise, salutes, and abandons his blaster on the beach as he walks away.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SUPERGIRL #12 & TERRA #1 - 4

Story: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray | Pencils: Amanda Conner
Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti | Colors: Rod Reis | Lettering: Rob Leigh
Associate Editor: Jeanine Schaefer | Editor: Eddie Berganza

My Thoughts: Somehow the complete works of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have become a major part of this blog, as clicking either gentleman's name in the "labels" at the bottom of this post will pull up seven mini-series written by the pair, and we've got more to come, starting with these early appearances of the new Terra.

First up, SUPERGIRL 12 is apparently this Terra's very first appearance, but I'm not sure I would've known that if the cover hadn't said so. She's given little fanfare. We begin the story with Supergirl -- Kara Zor-El, Superman's cousin -- suffering some personal crisis and blowing off steam by dancing at a nightclub. She comes across Terra fighting something called the Empathosaur -- an empathic dinosaur -- and Terra talks her into helping the fight. The girls defeat the Empathosaur and Terra lectures Supergirl about using her powers for good before disappearing.

There's a bit more to the story, featuring Supergirl ultimately coming to the decision that maybe it is okay for her to be selfish once in a while -- but that's it as far as Terra goes. Her first appearance teaches us that she has earth-based powers, thinks very highly of Superman, and wants to make a difference in the world. And that's about it. We'll have to wait for her limited series, two years later, to learn anything else about her.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Writer: Geoff Johns | Penciler: Amanda Conner | Inker: Jimmy Palmiotti
Colorist: Paul Mounts | Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards | Editor: Stephen Wacker

My Thoughts: The first four issues of 2005's JSA CLASSIFIED ongoing series are dedicated to cleaning up the history of Power Girl. This is an admirable goal, considering that I knew the bare minimum about the character coming into this series, but even then I was aware that her backstory was considered a royal mess.

To put it as simply as I can, Power Girl was a denizen of Earth-2, a parallel world from DC's Silver and Bronze Age past. But Earth 2 was destroyed, completely wiped from both existence and history in 1986's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS limited series. And since the Power Girl of Earth 2 was Superman's cousin, but it was established post-CRISIS that Superman would be the one and only surviving Kryptonian in the newly re-formed universe, a new origin was required for Power Girl. Thus she became Atlantean rather than Kryptonian.

I don't know what happened from that point, but the gist I get from JSA CLASSIFIED is that Power Girl's powers varied in the intervening years, and perhaps even her origin was played inconsistently. Whatever the reason, writer Geoff Johns decided to fix the mess by simply declaring that Power Girl is from Earth 2 after all, having crossed over to Earth 1 (or Earth Prime or whatever DC calls it) sometime before the CRISIS ended.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


I've been sitting on this one for a while, unexpectedly. Last March I picked up the POWER GIRL: POWER TRIP trade paperback, reprinting almost all of Amanda Conner's work drawing the character. I actually read this stuff last summer, before I began reading my NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS collections for the review series that went up through the first half of this year. I wrote up some Power Girl posts at the time, but put them away for a rainy day.

My intention, as I stated at the beginning of this year, was that somewhere around this summer I would begin a series called "DC Saturdays" in which I would cover various DC trades in my collection. Obviously that never happened. I just haven't had time to read as much as I had expected when the year began. The Power Girl posts were intended to kick off that series, but since it didn't materialize, I have continued to hold them in reserve.

But now, with some weeks to fill as we come to the end of the year, I figure it's time to put these out there before they can get shuffled to the back-burner yet again. So we'll end 2015 the way it began: with some DC material.

The POWER TRIP trade reprints JSA CLASSIFIED issues 1 - 4, by Geoff Johns and Amanda Conner, then follows that with POWER GIRL issues 1 - 12 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Conner. Conspicuously absent from the collection is TERRA issues 1 - 4, a limited series also by Palmiotti, Gray, and Conner, which guest-stars Power Girl alongside a new character taking the name of the Teen Titans' Terra. This Terra actually debuted a little earlier in SUPERGIRL #12, which was also produced by Palmiotti, Gray, and Conner, though Power Girl doesn't figure into that one.

I got my hands on an out of print TERRA trade, which includes the SUPERGIRL issue and TERRA limited series, to make this series of posts as complete as possible. So, for the next six weeks we'll cover the following:
  • SUPERGIRL #12 & TERRA #1 - 4
  • POWER GIRL #1 - 3
  • POWER GIRL #4 - 6
  • POWER GIRL #7 - 9
  • POWER GIRL #10 - 12
Time to find out if there's anything more to like about the character beyond the costume that captured my imagination as an adolescent.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Writers: Brad Mick* & Adam Patyk | Pencils: Don Figueroa
Inks: Elaine To | Colors: Espen Grundetjern | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, and Jetfire check on the defeated Omega Supreme and Jetfire explains how he and Omega wound up on Earth. Leaving Cliffjumper behind to guard the recovering Omega, Bumblebee and Jetfire take off to find Sunstorm. Meanwhile, on Cybertron, Prowl and Perceptor discuss the mystery of Vector Sigma and Sunstorm's escape, and Prowl enters a meeting with several top Autobots.

Back on Earth, Jetfire and Bumblebee find Sunstorm forcing Starscream to open a seal on the ground in Alaska. The seal opens and the Decepticons enter, followed by the Autobots. Underground, Jetfire defeats Starscream but Sunstorm takes Bumblebee hostage. However Starscream reveals he was playing possum and takes out both Sunstorm and Jetfire.

Continuity Notes: Suddenly the series has begun to include editorial footnotes. This issue references MICROMASTERS #1, WAR AND PEACE #6, and GENERATION ONE #3.

Jetfire explains that he and Omega Supreme were dispatched from Cybertron some time ago to find the missing Ark and detected its energy signature on Earth -- but as they approached the planet they were attacked by an unknown Transformer (shown to readers as Scourge). Jetfire trapped the hostile in a stasis pod in Alaska and both were apparently caught in an avalanche, but the story is interrupted before Jetfire can explain what happened next.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015



Story: Mark Gruenwald
Pencils: Paris Cullens & Ron Lim | Inks: Tony Dezuniga w/Jim Sinclair
Letters: Ken Lopez w/Joe Abelo | Colors: Gregory Wright
Editor: Ralph Macchio | Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The Plot: Beginning in England in 1928, the origin and history of Doctor Herbert Wyndham's path to becoming the High Evolutionary are told, from his days as a biology student at Oxford up to the point he declared the "Evolutionary War".

Continuity Notes: Well... where to begin? This story is one huge continuity note, as writer Mark Gruenwald codifies all previously known tidbits about the High Evolutionary and his acquaintances into one serialized story. I'll do my best to list everything I came across, but while my Marvel knowledge is pretty good, I'm no Gruenwald, so it's probable I missed a few things.

Monday, December 7, 2015


Writing: Walter Simonson | Penciling: Mark Bright | Inking: Mike & Valerie Gustovich
Lettering: Oakley, Heisler, Parker | Coloring: Evelyn Stein
Editing: Mark Gruenwald | Editing-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The Plot: The High Evolutionary's Gatherers activate former Avenger Jocasta to gain intelligence on Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but Jocasta gets a distress call out to the Avengers' old telephone line. The Avengers' computer summons all available reservists to respond, and a group of interim Avengers is formed. This team rescues Jocasta and learns of the High Evolutionary's plan, then they head beneath the sea to investigate.

The Avengers find the nations of Lemuria and Atlantis at war, but Captain America convinces them to make peace and turn their energies against the High Evolutionary. As the combined Atlantean/Lemurian force attacks the Evolutionary's submarine, the Avengers sneak aboard and sow mutiny among the Evolutionary's men. This draws the attention of the Evolutionary, who battles the Avengers. As the fight proceeds, the Beast uses the Evolutionary's equipment to evolve Hercules into "more than a god", and Hercules and the Evolutionary destroy each other in final combat.

Jocasta sacrifices herself to blow up the High Evolutionary's submarine, vaporizing his genetic bomb in the process before it can be detonated. The surviving Avengers return to New York.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Hardcover, 2009. Collects 1986's UNCANNY X-MEN #210 - 214, X-FACTOR #9 - 11, NEW MUTANTS #46, THOR #373 - 374, POWER PACK #27, and DAREDEVIL #238.

Published in 2009, X-MEN: MUTANT MASSACRE was, to my knowledge, Marvel's first attempt to collect the complete "Mutant Massacre" event in on volume, including not only the pertinent issues of the mutant titles, X-MEN, NEW MUTANTS, and X-FACTOR, but also the various tangential crossover material from DAREDEVIL, THOR, and POWER PACK.

The book opens with UNCANNY X-MEN #210, X-FACTOR #9, UNCANNY #211, and X-FACTOR #10. From there, we move into the majority of the one- and two-off chapters -- NEW MUTANTS #46, THOR #373, POWER PACK #27, and THOR #374. Then it's back to the "core" material in UNCANNY #212 and X-FACTOR #11, followed by DAREDEVIL's contribution in issue 238, and then the saga is capped off by UNCANNY 213 and 214, which was not originally identified as an official piece of the crossover, but which provides a nice coda to the whole thing.

The reproduction of most of these issues is very nice, with the criminal exception of Alan Davis's X-MEN 213 (below), which looks absolutely horrid and represents an unforgivable crime against one of Marvel's best artists of all time. That issue is, for me, easily the highlight of "Mutant Massacre" in terms of both story and art, and I can't believe it came out looking so awful in this book.

Friday, December 4, 2015


Writer: Brad Mick* | Pencils: Don Figueroa | Inks: Elaine To
Colors: Espen Grundetjern & Rob Ruffalo | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: On Cybertron, millions of years ago, Megatron admonishes Starscream for acting without permission, and asserts his dominance as the Decepticons' leader. Then, in the present, Starscream is attacked by the Autobot battle station, Omega Supreme. Starscream deactivates the energy siphon the Autobots planted on Sunstorm, and Sunstorm challenges Omega.

On Cybertron, Prowl researches the supercomputer Vector Sigma and discusses the next day's important meeting with Ultra Magnus. Meanwhile, on Earth, Warpath and Bumper pull Jazz, Wheeljack, Sideswipe, and Sunstreaker from a lake in Oregon, then are confronted by the Earth Defense Command.

In Alaska, Jetfire, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, and Brawn return to the Orion following their fight with Sunstorm, to find the crew all disabled. Meanwhile, Sunstorm and Omega Supreme fight, with Omega apparently victorious. But when Omega raises his protective face shield to inspect his downed foe, Sunstorm attacks again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Script: Gerry Conway | Pencils: Mark Bagley | Inks: Keith Williams
Lettering: Rick Parker | Color: Bob Sharen | Editor: Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The Plot: As Spider-Man sits on a rooftop reflecting, he spots a woman being chased by men in a hovercraft. The web-slinger intervenes and saves the woman, who he recognizes as his long-dead girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. Gwen's assailants teleport away, and Gwen disappears in the chaos of their passing. The men report back to the High Evolutionary, who is displeased with their failure to capture Gwen.

Peter Parker meets his wife, Mary Jane, at their apartment, and tells her Gwen's clone is back. Meanwhile, the High Evolutionary enters a mammoth spacecraft belonging to the mysterious Celestials and observes a group of "Young Gods". When they notice him, the Evolutionary tells the Gods they are not worthy of his attention and departs. However the Gods scan his mind and learn his plans for humanity, and half of them leave for Earth.

Gwen arrives at Peter's and Mary Jane's apartment but runs when she sees Peter in Spider-Man's costume. Spider-Man follows and when Gwen is grabbed by the same men from earlier, he grabs hold as they teleport back to the High Evolutionary's base. There, The Evolutionary begins to study Gwen while his men fight Spider-Man. The Young Gods arrive to aid the web-slinger, but the other half of their number soon follows, opposing their friends' meddling in human affairs, and a God-on-God fight breaks out.

The battle eventually comes to a close and the Young Gods depart. A moment later, the High Evolutionary explains to Spider-Man that "Gwen" was never a clone, but a genetically modified woman. He then teleports the wall-crawler and "Gwen" back to New York. A Young God named Daydreamer appears and restores "Gwen" to her original self, then departs. Spider-Man returns home and embraces his wife.