Comic Books - Previous Reviews
for 2004

Pastor Steve


Page last updated 08-28-2008.
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Comics of 2004
(beginning with the numbered issues)


NOTE: Ratings go from BOMB!
to ****, meaning excellent.


Astonishing X-Men #1

The new creative team (including the master of the Buffyverse, Joss Whedon) makes an impressive debut.  The subplots are intriguing, Kitty's ghostly flash-backs are a cool Valentino to longtime fans and the classic X-Men history, the humor is welcome, the Cyclops/Wolverine tension is good, and the characterizations are deep and on the money.  The realistic art was, well, astonishing, and I prefer it to the cartoony/anime style so popular today.  As for the "controversial" decision to have the team consciously choose to embrace superherodom, all I can say is that it's about time marvel characters faced up to what they indeed are.  I'm tired of Marvel trying to disguise the fact that it puts out superhero comics.  My only complaint about the issue is that some of the dialog and scene changes seemed perhaps a little too hip for the room.
Rating: * * * 3/4

Astonishing X-Men #2

Superpowers on display, solid and revealing characterizations, a new mystery villain, good artwork, and a psychological cliffhanger of sorts.  With this title and others in the X-books relaunch, the X-Men have returned to greatness. 
Rating: * * * *

Astonishing X-Men #3

Joss Whedon is a master of dialogue, characterization, and humor in tense situations.  And he can tell intriguing, surprising stories.  He's displaying his talents in Astonishing X-Men right now.
Rating: * * * *

Astonishing X-Men #4

Joss Whedon's expert writing and the artist's cinematic sense continue to make this comic a must-read.  And long-time X-Men fans are in for a treat when one of Benetech's secrets is revealed. 
Rating: * * * *

Astonishing X-Men #5

Joss Whedon and the creative team continue to provide good mutant action, humor, and character bits, along with unexpected developments.
Rating: * * * 1/2


Avengers/JLA #4

This is a virtual Who's Who of the Marvel and DC universes as seemingly every character to ever show up in a comic book appears at least once in this issue's crowded panels of heroes and villains brawling.  So, there's a lot here to keep fanboys and continuity buffs happy.  But there's hardly any focus at all on the cunning and skill involved in the individual battles, a lot of the action takes place "off-camera," and the ending is 6 parts of confusion mixed with 4 parts of disappointment.  A dynamite arrow foils the near-omnipotent villain?!?!  I would have actually liked to have seen Batman verses Batroc, the Wonder Women versus Surtur, etc. 
Rating: * *


Avengers #500

So much happens so quickly that it's hard to feel any sort of emotional involvement even though tragedy is striking the Avengers right and left.  Even the death of a long-time favorite character failed to move me, although that may be because "deaths" in comic books have a habit of being temporary, as I suspect will be the case here.  Still, the story is intriguing enough to make me want to come back next issue.
Rating: * * 1/2


Thunderbolts #1

Yahoo!  The real Thunderbolts and the real T-Bolt writers are back!  And all the intrigue, subplots, surprising twists, and character development, and drama are back, too.  Not a lot of action this issue, but I'm sure that will return soon, too.  We do get an "origin" of sorts for the Zemo line and watch the Baron using his gifts for blackmail, intimidation, dirty tricks, and muck-raking for good(?) instead of evil, as Maxwell Smart would way.  Welcome back, everyone!  I've missed you!
Rating: * * * 1/2

Thunderbolts #2

Some of the art and dialog was a little confusing, but I'm still really into the story, and in this issue one team resorts to subterfuge.  Hint: It's not the team that you would expect!
Rating: * * *

Thunderbolts #4

The superhero action is amped up, the teams square off against each other, and secrets are now out in the open.  What's not to like?
Rating: * * * 1/2

Thunderbolts #5

There's way too much self-examination, introspection, and dialog going on in the  middle of a supposedly desperate battle and yet another power villain mouths off about how she can instantly destroy the heroes, but doesn't, of course.  Yet, I love these characters, the superpowered action is solid, and Jolt is back!
Rating: * * *

Thunderbolts #6

There's too much talking, second-guessing, and psychoanalysis, but I love the Avengers and the Thunderbolts and this issue features both teams doing their things.  And there are some surprising developments here as well.  I wonder why the T-Bolts always deal with spatial and gravimetric anomalies, though.
Rating: * * *


Batman: Death And The Maidens #6

This story is still moving as slow as a turtle, but at least we learn more of Nyssa's plan, her motivation, and her sick manipulation of Talia.  Bruce's meeting with  his dead parents just doesn't seem real, though.  And I take it the contrived conversation he has with them is supposed to be pivotal to his life and to the story somehow. 
Rating: * *

Batman: Death And The Maidens #7

More Nazi torture and weirdness between Nyssa and Talia, but we learn Bruce is The Batman because he has dedicated himself to the cause he was meant to pursue, not because of a vow to avenge his parents.  Also, he and Nyssa are contrasted.  Nyssa wants the world to experience her pain while Bruce wants to make sure that nobody else ever has to endure his.  Alfred comes across as being Bruce's real parental figure.  The shocking theft from the Batcave is revealed, and Batman starts finally to act like Batman.
Rating: * * *

Batman: Death And The Maidens #8

Confusing psycho-babble and multiple stabbings, but there's a neat trick with Superman, and Batman shows his intelligence.
Rating: * *

Batman: Death And The Maidens #9

This too long mini-series finally comes to an end with an issue in which some of the dialog doesn't make sense.  The dialog is the least of the problems, though, as the story's resolution doesn't make sense either.  Nyssa despises Ra's, so she becomes him?!?!?!  Talia, because of some sick bond is now totally loyal to Nyssa?!?!?!
Rating: *


America #29

Old school superheroing with Cap tackling Mr. Hyde and throngs of Hydra goons while villains plot and gloat in the background.  A whole lot of fun!
Rating: * * *

America #30

An  ultra-cool incident with Batrac at a sports stadium helps enliven this issue, but it really doesn't have anything to do with the main plot, which advances quite nicely this month as well.
Rating: * * * *

America #31 
& 32

The weakness of what Kirkman and company are doing becomes very apparent in these issues.  Cap is fighting scores of his old foes and some make cameo appearances (one villain's cameo is hilarious), but everything is unrelated and the "big story" never really comes together.  It all reminds me of the "Hush" storyline in Batman awhile back.  And the final chapter strains credulity (and how) for even a reader of superhero comics. 
Rating: * * 


Conan #1

Sword And Sorcery fantasy adventure at its finest!  Conan is here in all of his cocky, snarling, brutal fury with traces of the hero he will grow to be.  Busiek begins his re-telling of the classic epic well and the art is perfect for this genre.  I can't wait for the upcoming issues!
Rating: * * * *

Conan #2

A doggedly determined Conan pushes himself beyond all limits as he pursues a mystic beauty who may be leading him to his doom.  I loved the way Conan dared the woman to bring on even more of her brothers and the "Twilight Zone"-ish ending.
Rating: * * * 3/4

Conan #3 

Violence, betrayal, treachery, and Conan.  What more could one ask for?  This is a solid, if not outstanding, issue.
Rating: * * * 1/4

Conan #4

The dark secrets of the strange world of Hyperborea begin to be revealed.  Busiek and the rest of the creative team did a great job of conveying slave Conan's drugged bewilderment.  And then he becomes righteously indignant, totally ruthless, and loyal to his comrades and to his own set of morals.  Just the way we like him!  And with the red rage in control of him, both Conan and Iasmini face their own cliffhangers at the end of the book.  Sword and sorcery doesn't get any better than this!
Rating: * * * *

Conan #5

From the cover showing him defiant with his back against the wall to the end of the comic book. Conan is here in all his ruthless, revenge-taking, loyal, blood lusting glory.  I liked the fact that, though Conan is a skilled combatant and is stronger than most men, the fight with the lions proved that he is only human.  This issue also gives us the blood-and- thunder mystical history of Hyperborea.  The artwork superbly matches the story, too. 
Rating: * * * *

Conan #6

Conan gets his freedom, but with it, disillusionment, frustration, grief, and a lifelong quest for revenge.  Sword And Sorcery twists and turns combine with Conan's rage, endurance, and indomitable will to give us a superior issue.  And I liked the fact that, while Conan may be a hothead, he's not foolhardy.
Rating: * * * *

Conan #7

The barbarian is out for vengeance on those who betrayed him and his comrades.  There are bloody, but riveting, scenes and excellent character bits between Conan and a woman which demonstrate that Conan lives strictly by his own code of honor.  Then, a new and intriguing storyline begins.
Rating: * * * *

Conan #8

A fill-in issue that had two weaknesses - the artwork and characters who kept saying "Born on the battlefield" ad nauseum.
Rating: * *


Daredevil #56

The regular creative team is back as we learn what has transpired in the year that Matt declared himself to be the Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen.  His plan to clean up his corner of the city worked, but now he must face the consequences from friend and foe alike.  Author Bendis explores both sides of the issue of Matt doing what he did in well-written dialog that especially captures Peter Parker.  And then there's a cliffhanger.
Rating: * * * 1/2

Daredevil #57

Yeow!  The Yakuza make a play for Hell's Kitchen by sending an army of MGH-amped assassins against Matt in a pulse-pounding, and surprisingly realistic, street fight to end all street fights.  It ends the only way it could and there's a startling revelation on the last page.
Rating: * * * *

Daredevil #58

An issue that's mostly dialog, but that's okay because it's good dialog.  We learn more about Matt's marriage and how all that's happened has affected Foggy.  We also meet the mysterious night nurse.  (Marvel once had a comic book called "Night Nurse."  Is this her?)  And Ben, trying to make sense of it all dares broach the forbidden topic - has Matt lost his sanity?
Rating: * * * 1/4

Daredevil #59

Intense dialog, some witty, welcome humor, and "film noir" sequences add up to a good issue as Matt dons the red suit again.  And he's getting some guest-star help. 
Rating: * * * 1/2

Daredevil #60

Matt and his guest star army take out the Yazuka.  Matt proves once again that he's the toughest of the tough guys - and he's not even back in shape yet!  But then, Matt begins to face his inner demons.  Spidey, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist are handled well, too.
Rating: * * * *

Daredevil #61

Another well-written, solid issue that is all about characterization, atmosphere, and advancing the overall main plot and some intriguing subplots.  It also has a loose connection to the "Avengers Disassemble!" event.
Rating: * * * 1/2

Daredevil #62

A solid chapter in the life of Matt Murdock, and the Black Widow arc.  Perhaps there is nothing here to write home about, but certainly nothing to complain about either.  There's humor, action, good characterizations, and movie-style framing.
Rating: * * *

Daredevil #63

Another solid, gritty issue, with quirky Bendis dialog as DD and the Black Widow battle an assassin who comes equipped with S.H.I.E.L.D. technology specifically designed to take Matt out.  Then Matt and Natasha have a heart-to-heart.
Rating: * * * 1/4

Daredevil #64

The Black Widow saga ends in some unexpected ways and Matt realizes another aspect of just how much the "outing" of his secret identity has complicated his life.  And there's a heart-breaking meeting between Matt and Milla.  Dialog, story, and art are great, as usual.
Rating: * * * *

Daredevil #65

An anniversary issue which mostly just recaps what has gone before, maybe to bring new readers up to date.  There is a neat fight with The Punisher, though, and a revealing meeting with Doctor Strange.  At the end of the issue, a new story arc begins and it looks to be intriguing.
Rating: * * 1/2


DC Comics Presents Justice League of America #1 & The Atom #1

These issues weren't what I had expected from their solicitations.  I thought the main idea was going to be to pay tribute to legendary editor Julius Schwartz (who died this year) by having creators of today take old Schwartz covers and make new stories to go along with them.  I didn't realize that tribute would be paid by actually placing Julie in the stories and/or by making the stories reflections on how much all comic book fans owe Mr. Schwartz.  While Schwartz's comics and ideas were a cherished part of my childhood and still bring me enjoyment today, if I had known that these books were going to essentially be eulogies, I probably wouldn't have bought them.  The Mark Waid story does have an ingenious death trap escape, though!
Rating: * * 1/2


Excalibur #1

Here Claremont deals with Professor X and a bunch of new (or newer) young, hip mutants with attitudes.  It works for the most part, though.  The sequence with Freakshow and Unus was unique, to say the least.  I didn't get why Xavier really needed the coffin, nor why Magnets is back from the dead and shaking hands with the good prof.  Maybe these things will be revealed in time.
Rating: * * *


Excalibur #2 & #3Characters and situations are introduced that could have potential, and superpowers are on display everywhere, but I just can't buy the way Xavier and Magneto are being portrayed.  All of that "Good Friend" stuff is more like the X-Men movies than the Magneto I remember from the comic books.  And what's with Magneto saying he would have never killed Jean out of spite?  Hasn't he tried to kill X-Men hundreds of times?
Rating: * * 7/8

Excalibur #4

Solid superhero action, a ruthless war with the Magistrates, creative science fiction as Magneto and Xavier confront the Prime Sentinel, and philosophical and character developments which show us the direction this comic book is taking.  As iron sharpens iron, so Eric and Charles sharpen each other.  And Magneto even cracks a good joke!
Rating: * * * 7/8

Excalibur #5

An intriguing mystery is developing and I'm enjoying all the characters.  Plus, I'm curious to find out who the pirate is on the last page and why he is surrounded by trolls.  Themes of terrorism and the looting of war torn nations make the story timely, too.
Rating: * * * 1/2


Fantastic Four #508

The final battle with Doom is handled well for the most part, though Victor could have killed a lot more people when he inhabited Johnny and Sue than he did.  But Ben's battle savvy is highlighted, as well as Reed and Doon's ruthlessness.  There's a heroic final sacrifice and then a jaw-dropping, matter-of-fact revelation by Reed on the last page.
Rating: * * * 1/2

Fantastic Four #509

A shocking three page opening sequence leads into a poignant issue in which the remaining FF cast members deal with their grief, each in his or her own way.  Good use of Marvel continuity is made as Reed believes he's found a way to get into heaven and retrieve Ben's soul.  Writer and artist do a great job of making us feel Sue's horror and consternation as she says, "This is wrong," yet goes along with plan out of love for her family.
Rating: * * * *

Fantastic Four #510

The FF go to heaven!  Or at least the outskirts of it.  The challenges they face, other than an ultra-cool puzzle, aren't anything to write home about, but the confrontation between Reed and Johnny is so honest, real, and heart-breakingly devastating.  Sue and Johnny's perception of the afterlife are touching, and only a wife could give Reed the "Dr. Frankenstein" speech.  Plus, there's an intriguing mystery revolving around Ben, his brother, and a door.  A stunning revelation regarding it forms the last panel cliffhanger.
Rating: * * * 1/2

Fantastic Four #511

This issue is simply incredible!  Mark Waid shows once again that he knows how to handle complex and contemporary issues like euthanasia and the quest for spirituality without forgetting he's writing a comic book story, without sacrificing characterization, and without preaching.  On top of that, the confrontation between Johnny and Reed is one of the most intense scenes I've ever read in a comic.  (I loved the new use for Sue's forcefield during that scene, by the way.)  Ben and Reed's friendship is shown to be deep, enduring, and the stuff of legends.  As for theology, this issue points out that God wants us to wrestle, explore, and be what he created us to be, also that rage and pain need to be left behind at heaven's door.  There's a great full page tribute to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as the FF fly/float through a bizarre environment and Reed instructs everyone to stay together and keep limber (a quote from the FF Annual in which Reed, Johnny, and Ben travel to the Negative Zone to save Sue and her baby).  And speaking of Stan and Jack, who do you think "God" would be to the Fantastic Four and their universe?  Though the meeting with "God" is replete with thoughts right out of the schools of Process Theology and Open Theism, which I reject, it still highlights the biblical mystery of God being in control and yet our actions and decisions having significance.  And I started bawling when I saw and read the last panel.  It reminded me that, though we face trials, struggles, and many uphill battles in this life, God desires good for us and not evil and our future is secure in him.  That in itself is touching beyond words, but when you throw in the fact that we learn of the final fate of some of my favorite  characters and see the nature of Family and the fulfillment of vows to grow old together, it all gives me a sense of the Numinous.
Rating: * * * * * * * * * * * *  and on to Infinity!!

Fantastic Four #512

After all the intense, world-shaking, psyche-shattering issues of late, here comes a fun throw-back to the quip-filled and practical joke-laden team-ups of Stan Lee's Spider-Man and Human Torch.  Spidey and Johnny are on each other's cases as they sort of battle Hydroman.  The creative team put lots of laughs into this one.  Enjoy! 
Rating: * * * 1/2

Fantastic Four #513

Another laugh-filled romp with Human Torch and his buddy/rival/irritant/fellow prankster, Spider-Man.  Spidey even makes sort of a touching sacrifice in this story, but before things can get too mushy, he pulls another prank.  Spidey breaks the fourth wall at one point and winks at us!  He's having fun and we are, too.  If Spider-Man was written this well in his monthly books, I'd be buying them.  And in the back-up story, Sue and Alyssa take a fantasy-filled jaunt back in time while Reed and Ben share a nice (and funny) character bit.
Rating: * * * *

Fantastic Four #514 & #515

The artwork is PUTRID - very poor imitation magna/anime.  And the usually reliable Mark Waid turns in a script that seems like a bad imitation of the worst Japanese cartoons - cartoons are introduced in such a hurried, sledge hammer fashion supposedly designed to make us feel for them and their angst instantly but having the opposite effect of making us indifferent, and revelations, emotions, developments, and plot points are suddenly artificially crammed into the word balloon dialog.  I could easily imagine the characters suddenly talking too fast, as happens in dubbed oriental shows.  Plus, the interaction between the members of the FF is way too sit-com-like in places.  Let's hope this isn't preparing us for the upcoming movie which is rumored to be taking a "humorous" approach to Marvel's flagship heroes.  Some of the sci-fi concepts involving the Wizard's amping up of the Frightful Four's powers were cool, though.  I read online that Mark Waid is working on a new Legion Of Superheroes book for DC.  Could it be, then, that the FF is getting a lick and a promise as a result?  I'm tempted to drop this book, too, but Waid has recently given us some of the best FF tales ever, so I'll stay around to see what the story arc after this one is like, giving him the benefit of the doubt.  Hey, we all have bad days!  But I wouldn't care if I never saw the two females introduced in these issues again.

Fantastic Four #516

Characters that have to talk and talk using unnatural dialog during what's supposed to be a battle royale, poor artwork, and too much focus on the Wizard and Cole, whom we really don't care about, make this issue a yawner.

Fantastic Four #517

After those terrible Frightful Four issues, this title is back on track again.  The opening splash page was hilarious, as was the whole trick-or-treat sequence.  Ben and Sue play off each other well throughout the book.  But this issue is more than just pranks, jokes, and wisecracks.  New York City faces a menace of cosmic proportions and your pulse starts to raise as the mayor and his cabinet realize that only one team can save the Big Apple - our heroes, The Fantastic Four!
Rating: * * * * 

Fantastic Four #518

The FF continues to fight against, and search for answers about, the mysterious alien presence that has captured Manhattan.  Creative sci-fi, an eerie mood, ties to Marvel continuity, superpowered action, and good characterizations, especially a laugh out loud moment between Johnny and Ben, add up to another superb issue.  And then there's a shocking cliffhanger ending. 
Rating: * * * * 


Gotham Central #15

The mystery of what the Joker is up to is revealed and it isn't disappointing.  Brilliantly sick- but not disappointing.  Both the cops and The Batman get a chance to shine and the suspense is palpable as time runs out.  Then there's an observation about life as a Gotham cop which is worth the price of the book alone.  A brilliant end to a great story arc.
Rating: * * * *

Gotham Central #16 & #17

The police try to recover from the devastation wrought by the Joker and a new case begins.  Unfortunately, it's not interesting enough to make me want to continue buying this comic book.  I can get this same kind of thing for free each week by watching "Law And Order" and my budget's getting tighter.
Rating: * * 1/2


Iron Man #76

More intriguing political intrigue and we learn the ultimate secret of "Operation Reforge."  Tony gives us a great insight into the way his mind works and there's a surprise ending.
Rating: * * *

Iron Man #77

"Operation Reforge" goes disastrously awry and it looks like only a suited-up Tony, who was in the Senate chamber to hear the vote on his confirmation, may be the capital's only hope.  An okay issue, but I've just summed up about all that happens.
Rating: * * 1/2

Iron Man #78

I'm a sucker for high tech, military air maneuvers, last minute gambits, and superheroic sacrifices, so I was in heaven (figuratively, not literally like the FF) when I was reading this issue.  And seeing an army of "Iron Men" saluting a battered Tony was just too cool for words.
Rating: * * * * 


JLA: #91 - #93

The three issue story arc by Dennis O'Neil and Tan Eng Huat suffers from weak art and a so-so, ultra-liberal, ultra-PC, ultra-downer plot.  The saving grace is that Plastic Man is handled imaginatively and is a riot.  Other than that, there's not much here to recommend.
Rating:* * 

JLA: #94

A new story arc begins from the classic team of John Byrne and Chris Claremont.  But don't start cheering just yet.  The art is good, but the story is sleep-inducing and we're introduced to a slew of new characters we care nothing about.  Time to drop this title!
Rating: * 1/2


JLA: Secret Film And Origins 2004

The first story is worthless, some of the stat pages are okay, and the last story nicely sets up Kurt Busiek's run on JLA.
Rating: * * 


Justice League Adventures #28

A fun introduction to the Legion of Superheroes and their world and there's an interesting ending.
Rating: * * * 

Justice League Adventures #29

A good characterization of Wonder Woman can't make up for the fact that the story is pretty hum-drum and convoluted.  And the cool, Silver Agey incident on the cover never happens anywhere in the book!
Rating: *

Justice League Adventures #30

A witty introduction to Jack Kirby's creation, Kamandi.  Lot's of humorous bits, like Superman asking if every S.T.A.R. lab experiment is potentially deadly, the literal rat race, and the cheetahs' "plan."  I really dug the Frogs' tea party, too.  And there's a story of Flash learning that one person can make a difference.
Rating: * * * 3/4

Justice League Adventures #31

A very dark tale for an all-ages comic book, but effective nonetheless, with hope offered at the end.  The heroes don't do all that much except admit they are human, but in the context of the story that's enough.  Not my favorite type of plot and resolution, but I have to admit that it works. 
Rating: * * *

Justice League Adventures #32

A fun story, without any heavy-handed moralizing, about an odd couple, Martian Manhunter and Flash, encountering and battling The Construct.  A great funny ending, too.
Rating: * * * 1/2

Justice League Adventures #33

An okay story basically designed to demonstrate how cool Robin is.  But, as my daughter pointed out, it was fairly obvious that the real heroes weren't going on the rampage, thus blunting the "surprise" in the story.  The humor with the warden fell flat, too.  The idea of an undercover Batman being mind-controlled was neat, though.
Rating: * * 1/2

Justice League Adventures #34

A nifty little story highlighting the differences between Superman and Batman ends with two very effective contrasting end scenes.
Rating: * * *


Knights 4 #1-3

Ben Grimm is well-handled and the art does he and Sue justice, but I can't buy into the storyline.  All of the FF are capable adults with histories.  Reed is the inventive genius to end all inventive geniuses.  Ben was a top test pilot.  Sue was an actress and supermodel.  Johnny had a way with all vehicles.  And they can't find any jobs?  Besides, they are celebrities.  Can't they at least appear on Celebrity Mole or something?  And do we really need a comic about the FF doing "normal, everyday" things?
Rating: * *


Madrox #1 & #2

Peter David, still as brilliant a writer as he ever was, delivers an inventive sci-fi film noir featuring characters from his old X-Factor run.  Though filled with the usual David humor, this is a hard-boiled detective story for older readers.  Madrox the multiple man investigates who keeps killing him while Rahne investigates a husband who may be cheating on his wife using astral projection.  And Strong Guy is there, too!  Wild and engrossing stuff! 
Rating: * * * *


Plastic Man #2

A long time ago, our four color fantasies were called "funnybooks" and this issue demonstrates why as writer/artist Kyle Baker puts the "comic" back into comic books.  Baker has fun  with Woozy's foiled, post-911 attempt at being a superhero, a villain called (for obvious reasons) The Red Herring,  Plaz's new unbelievably competent, no-nonsense partner, and Plaz himself - a hero who can transform himself into anything and anyone and who seems to have been possessed by the spirit of Looney Tunes. 
Rating: * * * * (Parental Warning: There are a couple of crude gags, but they go by pretty fast and will likely fly over the heads of younger readers.)

Plastic Man #3

More fun, and funny, imaginative, cartoony hijinks with Plaz, Woozie, and the rest.  Creator Kyle Baker is having a blast and so are we.  And there's a great cameo by the Justice League, especially Batman.
Rating: * * * *

Plastic Man #4

There's still lots of humor (like the bit with the alligator), but this issue takes a more serious turn as Woozy is humiliated and brutalized and the mystery villain plans to reveal Eel O'Brian's darkside and despair to himself.  It all works, I guess.  But I'd rather have more issues like #1-3.
Rating: * * *

Plastic Man #5

A strange issue in that it trys to be more of a "straight" superhero story filled with angst and personal recriminations.  We find out that Woozy is dead(!) and also who is framing Plaz.  There's some humorous bits scattered here and there and the characters still look like they should be in the margins of a copy of Mad Magazine, but overall, the story has taken a darker turn.
Rating: * * 3/4

Plastic Man #6

Kyle Baker pays homage to, and effectively spoofs, The Fantastic Four, by using a "What If" premise that Marvel (or anybody else for that matter) never thought of - "What If The Fantastic Four Were A Group Of Male Monks?"  I loved the way Eel talked like a Marvel hero throughout the issue, too.  And Baker has returned to the creative silliness which endeared this title to me.  Some fans on the NET have been disappointed in the way the story arc ended, but I enjoyed the way Baker played with some of the staples of comic book plotting - the revealing of the mystery villains' connection with the hero, the reformation of villains which finds them then working with the heroes they previously tried to kill, and resurrection.  After all, as one writer once said, "The only people who stop dead in comic book universes are Bruce Wayne's parents and Uncle Ben." 
Rating: * * * *

Plastic Man #7

The guest artist/writer delivers a fun, imaginative, cartoony issue that would make a good animated short.
Rating * * * 1/2

Plastic Man #8

DC comic book characters, storylines, and editorial decisions past and present are spoofed, as well as we fans and our attitudes.  Plus, there's enough off-the-wall humor and reality-twisting events to make "Red Dwarf" and "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" jealous.  Hilarious stuff!!
Rating: * * * *

Plastic Man #9

Wild, wild, wild issue that spoofs time traveling stories, surprise endings and revelations, cosmic events in comic books and just about everything else.  Kyle Baker is Da Man!
Rating * * * *

Plastic Man #10

Plaz, Morgan, and Woozy run afoul of a vampire and his rebellious, goth daughter (snicker!).  Horror spoofs and cartoony moments abound!  Fun!  Fun!  Fun!
Rating: * * * *


Sojourn #32 & 33

The artwork is stunning, as always, though a little confusing during some action scenes.  Also, I can't decide if the origin story is clever or boring?!?!?!  But there's sure a shock ending!
Rating: * * 3/4

Sojourn #34

Aww, what does it matter?  The creative team quit, the company's in financial trouble, and the title's been cancelled, cliffhanger ending and all.  Thanks for nothing, CrossGen!!
Rating: BOMB!!!


Thor #73

In a flashback sequence, Thor and the Asgardians take on - and slaughter - the Marvel Superheroes! Riveting and chilling  stuff!
Rating: * * * 1/2

Thor #74

More of Loki's plots and secrets are revealed in an issue which also features an unstoppable Prince Magni, the Scarlet Witch's daughter leading a doomed attack on Asgard, an assassination attempt, the death of Thialfi, and the issue's ominous last words, "A being capable of defeating almighty Thor, Lord of Earth simply doesn't exist." Top-notch entertainment from Dan Jergens and company.
Rating: * * *

Thor #75

An issue that moves the storyline along as we learn what happened to Lady Sif and the fate of Kya, Mjolnir is triumphantly recovered, and then - Desak lives!  (Sometimes, I write like Stan Lee, don't I?)
Rating:* * * 1/4

Thor #76

In a page which pays homage to Stan and Jack, Magni tries out the power of Mjolnir.  Then a trip to the still heavenly (that's right, heavenly!) realm of Asgard brings out a theological point.  Do the gods in their wisdom keep lesser beings such as trolls (or demons?) around because the existence of such beings brings out thegoodness of the gods gloriously?  Meanwhile, Loki starts to sweat (I love to see that!) and then Magni arrives to give Thor the ultimate challenge.
Rating:* * * *

Thor #77

Magni dares to confront Thor with the truth in a powerful, well-written scene ,and Magnir also voices the unthinkable - that perhaps gods like those in Asgard deserve to be destroyed.  Speaking of that, Desak strikes and a long-time supporting cast member meets a grisly end.  Loki sends Magni to what he hopes will be the Prince's death and prepares to unleash his ultimate, living, secret weapon in the final page's cliffhangar.  It seems to be needed as Thor and Magni appear to be no match for the renewed "slayer of gods."
Rating: * * * *

Thor #78

It's the gods of Asgard, and especially the hyper-powered Thor, against Desak - and they don't fare all that well.  Loki's secret weapon backfires in spectacular fashion in this enjoyable all-action issue.  I especially appreciated Amora's in-character attempt to seduce Desak.
Rating:* * * 1/4

Thor #79

Jurgens finds a totally satisfying way to wrap up his massive storyline and all of its many plot threads and to hit the "reset button" without cheapening all that has happened.  Jurgens' run on this book, especially from the death of Odin onward will go down in history as one of the greatest Thor sagas of all time.  Thank you, Dan!  Take a bow!  You deserve it!  And my pulse quickened when Thor finally lifted Mjolnir again! 
Rating:* * * *

Thor #80

A new storyline, from a new creative team, that is epic in scale and not so bad in its execution.  There is some deviation from Marvel continuity, but that didn't bother me so much because the different versions of the Norse myths didn't always agree with each other either.  What will bother me is if the supporting cast whom we loved has really been wiped out so quickly and callously.  I predict that this storyline will lead to a "de-powering" of Thor as he sacrifices some of the Odin power to regain what's been lost.  This "de-powering" has to happen sometime in order for the book to continue.  The bottom line is that I will be back next issue.
Rating: * * * 1/4

Thor #81 & #82

While it was fun for a few pages to see The Big Three of the Avengers together in battle and to enjoy the bond that exists between them, this current storyline ignores certain aspects of Marvel and Asgardian continuity.  Plus long-term characters (some of them beloved) are killed "off camera" and while we hear about many great epic battles, we don't get to see them.  Some of the dialog doesn't make sense and the reader needs the "it happened last issue" recaps in order to know everything that has supposedly happened.  The previous issues by this creative team didn't convey enough information on their own.  And how many times have we seen Thor dig deep within himself to find power he didn't know he possessed?  The story just doesn't compel me to care.  I'm dropping this title.


Uncanny X-Men #444 and 445 

Chris Claremont returns to focus mainly on long-time characters that both he and we love.  These issues have a "classic X-Men" feel to them without seeming old or tired.  I'm looking forward to the next issue of an established, on-going X-title for a change! 
Rating: * * * 1/2

Uncanny X-Men #446

Old school superhero action and strategy at its finest.  'Nuff said!
Rating: * * * *

Uncanny X-Men #447

A really nice bit featuring Wolverine and Rachel and solid superhero action and comic book pseudo-science-
babble make this a worthwhile issue.
Rating: * * *

Uncanny X-Men #448

I like Murderworld, so I liked this issue even though I didn't know who all the characters were.  However, I did have some quibbles with it.  The X-Men have dealt with magical spells and powerful telepaths before, so why didn't Rachel share what she saw?  And nanites are fast becoming this title's easy out for explaining the impossible.  Also, since when did a stint in Murderworld primarily involve depositing one in locations where one engages its owner in hand-to-hand combat?  Speaking of which, during the battle the villain sure talks a lot, doesn't she? 
Rating: * * 3/4

Uncanny X-Men #449 & 450

There were panels, pages, and plot points that left me scratching my head in confusion.  For example, how did all of the rest of those people get into Murderworld?  And it seems as thought some plot points are being dropped or put on the back burner.  For example, Nightcrawler and Storm's romance.  (And how did Rachel know about their dance?)  I admit that I often have trouble remembering what happens from issue to issue in a comic book and that I haven't closely followed the X-titles for years and years until recently so I may not know facts and characters that others would, but be that as it may, my enjoyment of these issues was blunted by my perplexity.
Rating: * * 1/4


New X-Men:
Academy X #1 - #3

This book shows us what it's like to be a student at the Xavier Institute.  The new characters are interesting with a cool mix of powers.  And the book gives us a painless introduction to life at the unusual Westchester school.  There's humor, action, and kids being kids.  A very solid debut and the perfect book to give to newbies who might be interested in picking up a comic book, as it has a very Harry Potter-ish feel to it (I mean that as a complement) and blends pre-teen and teen concerns seamlessly with the Marvel Universe and the established X-Men.
Rating: * * * *

New X-Men:Academy X #4

Lots of teenage soap opera in this issue, but so what?  These are interesting teens and it's interesting soap opera.  I like it!  Plus the fantasy/action/adventure aspects of this title aren't neglected.  The field exercise and the way it played out was totally cool and I always enjoy seeing Lockheed.  Plus, there's a surprise cliffhanger ending. 
Rating: * * * 3/4

New X-Men:Academy X #5

Conflict, personal interactions, and soap opera that all stems from well-defined, complex and sometimes surprising characters, plus some humor, and the young mutant wrestling with what to do about Kevin and the FBI add up to a superb comic book.  Can't wait to read the next issue!
Rating: * * * *





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