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More trade reviews plus some regular comic reviews

All new Atom: The Search for Ray Palmer
DC Comics
Collects issues 12-16

Gail Simone puts Ryan Choi through the paces in this set of stories. It opens up with Ryan’s return from a hellish “Vacation” visiting an old girlfriend in Japan, and upon returning to Ivy Town he finds himself a group of really lame villains, part of a test by Chronos to see if he can handle going on a quest for Ray Palmer. After an excursion to the Amazon and the land of “Sword of the Atom” Ryan gets home to find the 52 crew waiting and he’s off on a trip again. After one adventure he is wisked back home and spends the rest of the issue dealing with the strangeness of time being upside down in Ivy Town.
It’s a lively fast paced collection and Simone really seems to have an awful lot of fun here. Mike Norton’s art is really classic superhero stuff and is great for all the wacky villains. I think this title may be canceled, but there should be at least one more trade coming out. I’ll be waiting for it, I enjoy this series a lot.

All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder Volume 1
DC Comics
Collects All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder 1-9

Why should you pick this up? Frank Miller and Jim Lee should be reason enough. However the payoff is much more than a book with two great talents collaborating. Miller takes the character of Batman and his fellow heroes and all the supporting cast and microwaves and chops up the pieces and re cooks the whole premise. It’s darker and grittier and Batman is definitely a bit insane. This retelling of the origins of Robin is dark and snarky and firmly with tongue in cheek. Batman confronts various members of the superhero community who alternately want to stop him or join him. And this Batman doesn’t care. He’s got a mission and nothing will be stopping him. My absolute favorite scene in this first collection is when Batman and Robin decide to show Hal Jordan The Green Lantern that he is nothing special and his ring means nothing. The trick him into finding them in a room they prepared just for him, all painted yellow, as are they. They proceed to knock the crap out of him. And Miller’s sense of humor come roaring to the top as Batman pauses to drink some lemonade while Robin wails on him.
Jim Lee is also doing incredible work here. Vibrant and larger than life this is the way comics should feel. Big, deep, and in your face.
Don’t pick this up expecting another chapter in the chronicles of the dynamic duo, pick this up to see two creator having fun with an icon. And this is fun, almost more than should be allowed.

Batman: Lovers and Madmen
DC Comics
Collects Batman Confidential 7-12

A great intro form Brad Melzter opens this collection which is a twisted Joker tale from Denys Cowan and Michael Green. It’s early days for Batman and he’s pretty happy with himself. Crime is down and his mission seems to be working. At least that what seems to be the case until a depressed and despondent hood gets bored and seeks to entertain himself by targeting Batman with crimes that have no pattern,. This is the first time Batman has had to deal with a criminal truly insane and it pushes him to his limits. By the end we have a white faced Joker as the first inmate at Arkham , but the road there is more than a bit warped and leaves Batman as a changed man.
This is an interesting take on the origin of the Joker and the art seems to fit the chaotic mood of the story.

Jesus Hates Zombies
Alterna Comics

This is another trade from indie publisher Alterna. It’s a series of shorts and the premise is simple. We have a scenario with the planet being over run by Zombies and God sends his son Jesus to clean up the mess and kick Zombie ass. It’s not deep story telling by any means, but its loads of fun to see Jesus and his baseball bat take on the hordes of the undead.
There’s also a section in back with the same story repeated with different artists and it was really cool to see how each of them interpreted the story.
If your religious this may bother you, but if you have a good sense of humor I think you’ll get a kick out of this.

Mystery In Space Volume Two
DC Comics
Collects Mystery In Space 6-8, The Weird 1-4

This wraps up the story with Captain Comet and The Weird from the first volume. Evil religious orders and corrupt corporations on a space station and not Captain Comet can save the day. An army of clones made from the Captain’s cells needs to be stopped, while at the same time The Church Of Eternal Light Corporation wants him dead. A great new story with a really neglected character. Jim Starlin does space epics better than anyone and he’s really on his game here. The art from Ron Lim, Starlin and Shane Davis shows off space and the futuristic feel in a colorful and detailed way that really looks great.
The main story here is cool as hell and I’d like to see it continued.
The repriniting of the original Weird series from 1988 is included after the main feature. Jim Starlin with Bernie Wrightson on art. Not really something I would have looked for when it comes to material to re read, but as it turns out the story holds up well and the art is great.


Rex
Optimum Wound Comics

Optimum Wound Comics has been doing on line comics exclusively, until now. Rex is there first foray into hardcopy comics and the first title is the trade REX.
Written and drawn by Danijel Zezelj and translated from Italian to English this is a dark noir tale. The basics are this, a good cop is framed and sent to prison, his life altered, he changes and becomes Rex. Breaking out of prison he is on a path of revenge that may bring justice, but might not. The story telling is sparse and contains few words, few words are needed. The story is a simple one but elegantly told. The flow of the book is perfect, Rex moving towards his goal with his tale told in flashbacks. It’s feels like a classic movie on Meth. And I love the last couple panels, the ending here is beautiful.
The artwork here is amazing. Zezelj did the art for El Diablo by Brian Azzarello, who did an introduction here for this work. If you like crime fiction, or you like damn good comics you will love this. optimumwound on the web

Some regular issues:

B.P.R.D. War on Frogs #1
Dark Horse Comics

A while back the B.P.R.D first encountered the frog creatures in an old mansion owned by the Cavendish family and thought they had ended the threat. When this proves not to be the case a mission is sent to check and make sure the first two are dead. Roger the Homunculus leads the mission and goes under the ruins alone to see what’s what. Roger discovers some secrets and while ensuring there is no further threat here, the events are not something that leave him feeling too heroic. This is part one of four chronicling the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense’s fight against the frog monsters. Herb Trimpe is doing the art and it is perfect.

Casey Blue #2
Wildstorm

B. Clay Moore’s tale of a g high school girl who discovers she is more than just a typical kid escalates here as she is wakened to the fact that she is capable of some really nasty things. The story has here starting to try and figure out what’s going on, and a few more players enter the scene, some on her side, some not.
Fun action packed series that I intend to keep reading

Daredevil #107
Marvel

Ed Brubaker has been kicking ass and taking names on Daredevil for a while. This latest issue is the first of a 4 story arc that he has upped the ante on by bringing in Greg Rucka to reunite the team supreme that did Gotham Central.
A killer on death row how is most likely innocent doesn’t want to be saved. With some prodding from Luke Cage and Dakota North Matt Murdock is on the case. Mystery and intrigue are the story elements working here and it is great so far.

Gotham Underground #8 (of 8)
DC Comics

The conclusion of a fun mini series that focuses on the Penguin and his involvement in the workings of Gotham City’s criminal empires. His semi-legitimate status is questionable at best, but by the end it looks like old Mr. Cobblepot will be doing things a bit different as all the other criminal forces are conspired against him.
This has been a fun series with a lot of great cameos. I can’t wait to sit down and read it all again in trade.

Hack and Slash #12
DDP

This was originally supposed to be a separate crossover but since Fangoria Comics has become extinct the story is running here. Mark Kidwell’s Bump which came out last summer was a terrific horror tale and this tale tells some of the origins behind Bump and also puts Cassie Hack on the trail of the madness. She meets up with tabloid reporter who thinks he’s got what it takes to cover the story. After a number of vicious attacks the issue ends with Cassie and Vlad gearing up for war. Fun stuff.
Kidwell writes this with Tom Seeley adding some bits to help the continuity of the regular series. Kidwell does horror better than most current writers and I will buy anything with his name on it. The fact that his name is also on a series I love is areal bonus.

Hellblazer # 245
Vertigo

Jason Aaron steps in for a two parter and wow does he get this character!
A bunch of kids are in Newcastle filming a punk rock documentary and the piece they are working on is about John’s old band, Mucus Membrane. There work leads them to the club that started John’s journey into what his life is now and there are nothing but bad memories here. And naturally these kids wake those memories.
Great stuff.

Loveless #24
Vertigo

This is the last issue of Loveless. And I think that sucks. This series is a great new take on the western with no punches being pulled. Azzarello has been doing dome great work here and I really hope he gets a chance in some form or another to do more with this.
This last issue is the tale of an Irish immigrant who was pulled off the boat and offered citizenship if he fought in the Civil War. Something goes wrong and he ends up in prison. We meet up with him as he gets out.
Azzarello does some amazing work and here we see him really getting inside the head of these people. This goes beyond good comics, this is a realistic look at human nature.

The Punisher Little Black Book : One Shot
Marvel Max

Victor Gischler’s first round with the Punisher leaves me wanting more.
Frank tricks a call girl and gets her black book. He uses this to get inside with a badass gangster and basically kill anything that moves. Gischler is right at home here and I think that this is damn fine Punisher lore. Punisher plans, but nothing too elaborate, he pulls off his mission and he keeps his word.
Can’t wait for Victor’s run on the series.