Monday, January 21, 2019

SUPERMAN #22

“THE PRICE”
Story & Art: John Byrne | Lettering: John Costanza | Coloring: Petra Scotese
Assistant Editor: Renee Witterstaetter | Editor: Mike Carlin

The Plot: Above the ruined surface of the Pocket Earth, Superman, Supergirl, Lex Luthor, Pete Ross, and Bruce Wayne (the latter two in jet fighters) make their last stand against General Zod, Zaora and Quex-Ui. Bruce is killed by Zod, and Pete dies when Quex-Ui attacks Smallville Base. Zod and Zaora shoot Supergirl out of the sky with heat vision, transforming her into a being of pink goo. Luthor sends Superman to Smallville Base to locate some gold Kryptonite, which the Man of Steel uses to rob Quex-Ui of his powers. Superman does the same to Zod and Zaora, then traps all three Kryptonians inside a prison of his own making.

Superman finds Luthor, shot down and dying. After he passes away, Superman returns to the prison and uses green Kryptonite to execute Zod and his followers. The Man of Steel then finds the remains of Supergirl and takes her back to Earth, leaving her in the care of Lana and his parents as he departs to sort things out.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Lex reveals that Lana died during the Kryptonians’ earliest attacks on Earth, and that “Supergirl” was a being he created in her image to fight against them. My understanding is that this creature would go on to become the “real” post-CRISIS Supergirl for several years.

Friday, January 18, 2019

GUNSMITH CATS BURST VOLUME 2

"FINDING SHELBY" | "EXPLOSION" | "GT 500"
"SHOOTING RANGE" | "BREACH OF CONTRACT" | "GET OUT OF HOSPITAL"
"INRUSH" | "THE PRICE TO PAY" | "MACH 1 COP"
Presented by Kenichi Sonoda
Translation and Lettering: Studio Cutie

GUNSMITH CATS BURST's first story arc wraps up somewhere around the midpoint of this second volume. As described last time, the mob had stolen Rally's Shelby Mustang and threatened to use it in a terror attack if she didn't hand over their errant accountant, Howard. This book sees Rally gather her team to stop the attack. Becky locates the car, May and fiance Ken (making his first real appearance in the series here after a cameo in volume 1) work together in an attempt to defuse the bomb, while Rally keeps watch.

But of course things go awry -- Rally is forced to start the car before May and Ken have finished disarming it, then learns that the bomb is set to explode if she drops below eighty-five miles per hour, so she's forced to drive it into an abandoned construction site where it explodes. No one is killed, but Rally is down one dearly beloved automobile.

Other stuff goes on here, but like I said last time, it all feels very repetitious from stories we saw in the original series. The mob, a bomb, Rally and Bean on opposite sides of a situation -- it's like Sonoda threw some darts at a board spelling out his standard plots and then ran with whatever result he got. I suppose it's possible that with GUNSMITH CATS out of first-run circulation for a few years, he wanted to ease readers back into the story with something familiar, but I can't help feeling he misfired (no pun intended) if that was the idea. Familiar it is, but because of that it's also kind of boring.

Monday, January 14, 2019

WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1

“AMAZONS”
Written by: George Pérez
Lettered by: Todd Klein | Colored by: Carl Gafford
Assistant Editor: Ken Young | Editor: Karen Berger

Artists: Brian Bolland & Mark Farmer, Chris Marrinan & Will Blyberg, Arthur Adams,
John Bolton, José Luis Garcia-Lopéz, Curt Swan & Bob McLeod, Ross Andru & George Pérez

The Plot: Princess Diana brings Julia and Vanessa Kapatellis to Paradise Island, where they meet the Amazons and learn of their history. Eventually, a few days later, Diana and her guests return to Man’s World.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: This story is composed of a series of vignettes, each illustrated by a different art team as outlined above. First up, with the help of Arthur Adams, the Amazons demonstrate their sacred diving ceremony to the Kapatellises, and we learn of how Diana, as a young girl, got over her fear of diving.

Next, John Bolton draws Hippolyte’s tale of her younger days, explaining how the Amazons’ prior leader, Antiope, met and adopted a girl named Pythia, who eventually left with her to seek revenge on the men who had enslaved the Amazons under Heracles. (This feels like setup for an upcoming storyline, but as we only have two more issues of WONDER WOMAN to look at, I doubt we’ll see a payoff before we’re done.)

José Luis Garcia Lopéz draws Phillipus’s story of the Amazons’ first captain of the guards, Egeria, and her heroic sacrifice to seal the doorway to the realm beneath Paradise Island.

Friday, January 11, 2019

GUNSMITH CATS BURST VOLUME 1

"SHORT SERIES #1" | "#2 GUNSMITH CATS MINI THEATER HP (HIGH POWER)"
"#3 HIDDEN GUN" | "BURST" | "OASIS" | "MONROE INN"
"MUZZLE TO MUZZLE" | "GIMME MORE SLICES OF TAKE!" | "RETURN" | "DEAL"
Presented by Kenichi Sonoda
Translation and Lettering: Studio Cutie

After the original GUNSMITH CATS series ended, Kenichi Sonoda revisited the characters a handful of times before eventually restarting it as an ongoing story with BURST. Those few intermediary appearances are a trio of one-shot stories called the "Short Series". The first of these is a pretty straightforward affair in which our heroines Rally Vincent, Minnie May Hopkins, and Misty Brown protect a hooker who's seen too much from a group of hitmen dispatched by a cocaine-dealing senator. It reminds us that in Sonoda's version of Chicago, nearly everyone in a position of power is corrupt in some way or another (which may not be far from the truth, though this heightened reality has a crooked senator conspiring with a crooked assistant district attorney to kill a hooker, which seems a bit extreme).

The second "Short Series" installment is one of those dreadfully boring affairs in the gun shop, where Rally and Minnie May work on a custom weapon for a client and gab away about it as if it's supposed to be interesting. I think I said this when I looked at the original GSC last year, but these scenes absolutely kill me. Sonoda is a gun nut, of course, and it's his prerogative to gush about them in the context of his stories -- and I suppose it's to his credit that he doesn't do this sort of thing too much -- but devoting an entire manga chapter simply to two characters talking about a gun is absurd. There's no story here; it's like I'm reading an infomercial for a Browning pistol! (Though there is a funny bit on the last page: when May learns along with readers that the client is Rally's information broker, Becky, May says that had she known, she wouldn't have put as much effort into polishing the gun.)

Our final "Short Series" story is short and sweet; a straight action affair in which Rally attempts to bring in a bounty but is attacked by his cohorts. They disarm her and hold her at gunpoint, but she manages to get the drop on them with the tiny pistol she keeps hidden up her sleeve. Sonoda throws a bit of pathos into this one, as the bounty's daughter witnesses the entire thing and cries for him in the end as Rally hauls him away.

Monday, January 7, 2019

WONDER WOMAN #21 & #22

“THE COSMIC MIGRATION”
Story & Pencils: George Pérez | Finished Art: Bob McLeod
Lettering: John Costanza | Coloring: Carl Gafford
Editor: Karen Berger

The Plot: Following Myndi Mayer’s funeral, Princess Diana is summoned back to Paradise Island by her mother, From there, Diana, Hippolyte, and Menalippe are transported to Olympus by the gods, who inform them that the Amazon’s help is needed for the “Cosmic Migration”. The Amazons agree to help and, through Diana’s strength and the Amazons’ prayers, the gods move on to the next plane of their existence.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: It’s revealed that Wonder Woman’s indestructible bracelets were forged from Zeus’s own shield.

My Thoughts: Ehh. It’s more god stuff, which in general never impresses me, as I’ve noted before, but this story commits the additional crime of just being boring. I don’t really think we needed an entire issue dedicated to the gods having people pray for them so they could leave Olympus. This would’ve worked much better as the second half of an action story or something. So let’s move along, shall we? Nothing more to see here.

Friday, January 4, 2019

GUNSMITH CATS BURST

That's right, if it's the start of a new year, it must be time to read some manga here at NOT A HOAX, and for 2019 that means it's time for one more round with Rally Vincent, Minnie May Hopkins, Bean Bandit, and the rest.

Last year I looked at Kenichi Sonoda's popular GUNSMITH CATS manga series as released here in the United States by Dark Horse Comics. That was the original run, which spanned 1991 through 1997. But, after taking several years off to work on other projects, Sonoda revived the series in 2004 for five years of further adventures. GUNSMITH CATS BURST was also released by Dark Horse in the U.S. not long after it concluded publication in Japan (indeed, there may even have been some overlap between the Japanese series ending and the American editions starting, though I'm not certain).

Unlike the original GUNSMITH CATS, which I'd read a number of times when I started my review project last year, I've only read BURST once, a volume at a time, as it was released by Dark Horse in the United States circa 2007 - 2010. So while I remembered a great deal of the original series' plot, this next round will practically new to me, as I recall very little about it.

Where I covered the original series in eight posts, each looking at half a volume of the huge GUNSMITH CATS REVISED EDITION books, this will be a shorter project. BURST didn't last as long as GSC, and was released in five normal-sized manga volumes -- so for this project we'll just cover one book a week for a total of five weeks, taking us into February.

Stand by, because we begin... one week from today!

Available on Amazon: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5