Friday, February 27, 2015


Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artists: Santi Casas, Eduardo Francisco, & Derec Donovan
Colorists: David Lopez & Santi Casas of Ikari Studio, Randy Mayor & Wes Hartman
Letterer: Wes Abbott

Art: Eduardo Francisco
Last March, I wrote a bit about DC's AME-COMI GIRLS, volume 1. While it didn't blow me away, it was a fun alternate universe story where the only superheroes are female "manga style" versions of various DC luminaries. In some cases these are the existing distaff characters standing in for their male counterparts (Power Girl for Superman, Batgirl for Batman, etc.), while in other situations we simply have (to my knowledge, at least) new female versions of existing characters such as Steel and the Flash.

AME-COMI GIRLS volume 2 picks up where volume 1 ended, with the assembled heroines facing off against Duela Dent and her gang, along with Brainiac, in rural Kansas. The battle has just been joined by Wonder Woman, but even she seems unable to turn the tide against Brainiac and her mind-controlled pawn, Supergirl. However Duela and friends defect in order to preserve themselves, while Power Girl meets up with a race of beings beneath the Earth's crust who also oppose Brainiac. Together the heroines save the day, but the villainesses escape. In the aftermath of Brainiac's invasion, Power Girl and Wonder Woman lead their allies in forming a "League" to defend the world against future threats.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterers: Ben Oda | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: (issue 21) Raven and Starfire defuse a terror attack on Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, Cyborg has made amends with Sarah Simms, but his peace is short lived as his ex-girlfriend, Marcy, calls him. She has joined a cult called the Church of Brother Blood, and is executed for attempting to escape while on the phone with Cyborg.

The Titans learn of Blood's church from Marcy's parents, and Robin, Wonder Girl, Raven, and Kid Flash go undercover to join up. But when Blood senses their presence while addressing his congregation, they are forced to fight. Blood defeats them all, but Raven's soul self escapes.

(issue 22) Blood takes Robin for interrogation and throws the remaining Titans into a dungeon. Meanwhile, raven's soul self recruits Cyborg, Changeling, and Starfire to come to the church and rescue their teammates. But Blood has called a local news station to the church for an interview, which catches the Titans' assault on camera. Robin and the others are saved, but Brother Blood is believed killed by Cyborg, in full view of the public eye.

Meanwhile, in outer space, a slave ship captained by Starfire's sister, Blackfire, heads for Earth.

Monday, February 23, 2015


Writer-Co-Plotters-Artist: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez
Embellishers: Gene Day (#3) & Ernie Colón (#4)
Letterers: John Costanza (#3) & Todd Klein (#4) | Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: As he struggles to roast some hot dogs over a campfire, Changeling reveals his history to the rest of the Titans.

My Thoughts: It's interesting that, in this four-part series, three issues focus on the brand-new characters (Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven), while the fourth is dedicated to one of the pre-existing Titans. Though I suppose this makes sense, since Changeling has the least history of the remaining team members. Robin, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl have all been around for decades at this point, while Changeling has existed only for around fifteen years or so.

Thus, with a somewhat known but still relatively new and underutilized character like Garfield Logan, Wolfman and Pérez get to put their creative spin on him as they've done with Cyborg and Raven, and soon will do with Starfire. I must remind readers, though, that I'm no expert on DC history, so I'm unsure where Changeling's official history ends and the contributions of Wolfman and Pérez pick up. I can guess though.

Changeling quickly recaps his time with the Doom Patrol and the original Titans, then we move into an extended sequence in which he spends some time acting in Hollywood and becomes the target of an old Doom Patrol foe called the Arsenal. Arsenal kidnaps Logan's girlfriend, condescendingly referring to him by his codename, Beast Boy, which eventually prompts the name change to Changeling.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Three items arrived this month; two of which I've awaited for quite a while, for varying reasons.

But first is AME-COMI GIRLS, volume three from DC. Some may recall that I reviewed volume one last year, and I received volume two a few months ago. I was originally going to cover the second volume soon after I got it, but ultimately decided to do both it and three in two consecutive weeks once both were available. So watch for that very soon.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Written & Illustrated by: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Original story by: Yoshiyuki Tomino & Hajime Yatate
Mechanical Design by: Kunio Okawara

Yoshikazu Yasuhiko closes out his long flashback sequence with a full volume dedicated to the opening act of the One Year War. We saw Zeon’s opening salvo, destroying a colony cluster loyal to the Earth Federation, in the previous installment, but we learn here that one of the colonies is kept intact, per orders from Gihren Zabi, with the intention of gassing its inhabitants to death and dropping the colony on the Federation headquarters at Jaburo.

This heinous plan leads to Ramba Ral resigning from the military, earning him the ire of Dozle, the one member of the Zabi family who had supported Ral after the fall of his house. Yasuhiko continues to paint Ramba Ral as the best of the Zeon characters. He has principles, unlike Gihren, and — unlike Dozle, who also recognizes the horrific nature of the plan but goes along with in anyway out of duty — he sticks to those principles. Unlike Char, Ramba Ral is honorable, and unlike the Black Tri-Stars, he is able to maintain his professionalism and not devolve into petty bickering and jealousy. Ral is the epitome of a noble antagonist, which would of course explain why he was killed off so early in the storyline. But his fleshing out is probably the best part about this long foray into the past.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Writer-Co-Plotters-Penciler: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez
Inkers: Brett Breeding (#1) & Pablo Marcos (#2)
Letterers: John Costanza (#1) & Ben Oda (#2) | Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: The Titans head to the Grand Canyon for a week's vacation. Over dinner, Cyborg describes his life's history to the rest of the team.

My Thoughts: A camping trip, with the new Titans explaining their origins to the others, is a great idea for a limited series. And Cyborg's history is a pretty good one. Wolfman takes an all-too-common trope in superhero comic origins -- the angry black youth -- and flips it sideways. Cyborg didn't start out angry. He had an unusual childhood, monitored constantly by his scientist parents, but he was also a genius and a gifted athlete with a scholarship education.

The problem came when he fell in with the wrong crowd and, despite his better judgment, got involved in more than one street fight in his young life, until his father finally disowned him. Then, as described in previous installments, his mother died and Cyborg himself was crippled and rebuilt by his father.

As I said, it's a twist on the most commonly seen black character origin. Unfortunately, we knew a lot of Cyborg's background already, as he is the most angst-ridden Titan. But Wolfman ties everything together well enough, and it's admittedly nice to have all the pieces we've seen so far gathered in one story.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterers: John Costanza (#19) & Ben Oda (#20) | Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: Cyborg watches Sarah Simms in the park with her students, while thinking that she's better off without him. But unbeknownst to Cyborg, Sarah misses him quite a bit.

Meanwhile, in prison, Dr. Light learns that the Riddler stole five million dollars and decides to one-up the Prince of Puzzles. Light escapes and heads for the New York Museum to steal some ancient artifacts from an exhibit dedicated to Vishnu. But the exhibit is curated by Carter Hall, a.k.a. Hawkman, who thwarts Light's plan.

However, Light inadvertently awakens three statues from the exhibit with his powers, and they make a beeline to kill him. Light flees for Titans' Tower to request aid from his enemies and soon a huge fight breaks out. Eventually Hawkman realizes how Light awakened the statues, and Starfire duplicates his power to render them inert once more.

Light is sent back to prison, where he learns that the Riddler was caught by Batman, and decides the day wasn't so bad after all. Meanwhile, Sarah arrives at the apartment of Wonder Girl's boyfriend, Terry Long, pleading for his help.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


A few weeks back, in my post on SPIDER-MAN: BLUE, I mentioned that I preferred John Romita's wall-crawler over Steve Ditko's. Here's why:

To most fans -- especially the historians among them -- there is no contest. Steve Ditko created or co-created Spider-Man, Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson, Gwen Stacy, Flash Thompson, Dr. Octopus, the Green Goblin, Electro, the Lizard, the Vulture, Kraven, Mysterio, and so many more. Ditko gave us the "Master Planner" saga, and Spider-Man lifting the rubble off his shoulders. Without Steve Ditko, Spider-Man, his allies and his enemies would not exist.

But without John Romita, those same characters would not exist as we know them now. Romita's lasting contributions as far as original characters is much smaller than Ditko's, but he did give us Joe Robertson and the Kingpin, at the very least. Mostly, however, he re-used Ditko's villains on a regular basis.

But, all that said -- and taking Ditko's contributions for granted as the starting point -- I much prefer John Romita on Spider-Man. Romita's artwork is far more attractive to me. All Ditko's characters are very... quirky looking, to say the least. Ditko's Spider-Man lives in a dirty, mundane world. Romita's inhabits a glamorous universe where every man is dashing and handsome, and every woman is beautiful and sexy. It may not be as "realistic" as Ditko's interpretation, but it's a lot more pleasing to look at.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Written & Illustrated by: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Original story by: Yoshiyuki Tomino & Hajime Yatate
Mechanical Design by: Kunio Okawara

GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN's sixth volume continues Yasuhiko's trip through the universe's backstory. This time we find ourselves following Char and Garma at the Zeon military academy, where we see them forge an unlikely friendship. Initially the stuck-up Garma feels Char is out to humiliate him, but when Char saves his life on a training exercise, Garma declares that from this day forth, they shall be friends. The story then skips ahead a few years to their graduation, amid a backdrop of growing civil unrest on Side 3. Zeon is mostly autonomous at this point, with their own military (overseen by Federation officials), but that's not enough for the Zabis, who want complete independence.

Things come to a head when a meteorite strikes Side 3, leading many citizens to believe the Federation allowed it to happen to put Zeon in its place. Char soon plants a bug in Garma's ear and, immediately after their graduation, the newest class of Zeon cadets stages an assault on the headquarters of Side 3's Federation observers. Dozle, the academy's commandant, puts a stop to the strike, but the damage is done; war is in the offing.

On the one hand, I like reading Yasuhiko's ideas as to how the war started and what political maneuvering led up to it. And I've enjoyed his handling of Zabi patriarch Degwin, who, despite his publicly aggressive personality, is adamantly against starting a war. But I find it a bit hard to swallow that the single act which began the conflict was the brainchild of Char. This is too hard to swallow. Not on the level of the unrelated identical twins we saw in the last volume, but it does stretch credibility even further. Not only did Char take his double's place to infiltrate Zeon, he practically single-handedly started the war.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: At Blue Valley College, Wally West meets up with his childhood friend, Francis Kane, and accompanies her to her home to study. But there, Francis's mother is engaged in a seance to contact her late husband and son, Francis's father and brother. During the seance Francis is seemingly possessed and household items go flying everywhere.

Following the chaos, a week later, Wally recruits Raven to inspect Francis. The group interrupts another seance and Francis is possessed once more. Two more weeks pass during which Francis is studied by doctors in Blue Valley. When they learn nothing and another apparent possession takes place, the Titans bring Francis to Titans' Tower in New York.

There, yet another possession incident occurs. But Cyborg, having noticed that everything telekinetically moved by Francis was made of metal, deduces that she has a surplus of magnetic waves in her brain. With the aid of S.T.A.R. Labs, Cyborg lowers Francis's magnetic brainwave activity to normal, and the possessions finally stop for good.

Later, Francis bids farewell to Kid Flash, who she has deduced is actually Wally. She tells him she thinks she's falling in love with him, then departs. Meanwhile, in another dimension, the villainous Dr. Polaris laments that his attempt to take control of Francis and return himself to reality has failed.

Monday, February 9, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: A month has passed since the Titans' return from Zandia. Changeling is on vacation with his stepfather and Robotman, while Starfire has begun dating a young man named Franklin Crandall. On Raven's first day of school at Manhattan University, while Cyborg pines over Sarah Simms, Crandall tells Starfire that he loves her. Meanwhile, a model, working for the advertising agency that employs photographer Donna Troy, is kidnapped. Some sleuthing by Robin locates the missing model and the Titans rescue her.

Later, Crandall, who has been hired by a H.I.V.E. agent to get close to Starfire, refuses to spring the H.I.V.E.'s trap, and is shot for his betrayal. The Titans find Crandall mortally wounded in his apartment, and with his dying breath he reveals the location of the H.I.V.E. operative. Starfire goes to kill him, but Wonder Girl stops her. In the chaos, the H.I.V.E. agent escapes.

Later, the H.I.V.E. council lectures their rogue agent against working alone, then executes him. Robin and Wonder Girl deduce that Crandall was working for the H.I.V.E., but choose not to tell Starfire.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


From the fine people at Taschen Books, written by the legendary Roy Thomas, we have this massive coffee table book covering 75 YEARS OF MARVEL: FROM THE GOLDEN AGE TO THE SILVER SCREEN. I had somehow missed the November release of this volume, but fortunately my brother knows my tastes all too well, so there was a huge, mysterious gift from him to me under the tree at my parents' house this year.

The book is so large that no mere shrink wrap would contain it. Instead it comes packaged in a sturdy cardboard box -- with carrying handle -- which duplicates the dustjacket art and copy. It weighs a whopping sixteen pounds and features 720 lavishly illustrated pages -- which actually makes it shorter in length than many of Marvel's Omnibus volumes, but the pages are extremely thick and sturdy, so the volume is far thicker than any other book I own. The dimensions far exceed those of any of Marvel's oversize hardcovers too, and the book is even larger than any other coffee table tome I've ever seen.

Friday, February 6, 2015


Written & Illustrated by: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Original story by: Yoshiyuki Tomino & Hajime Yatate
Mechanical Design by: Kunio Okawara

The majority of GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN volume 5 is set in the past, showing us the tragic childhoods of Char and Sayla, and fleshing out several of the other major Zeon characters. But first, the volume opens in UC 0079, exactly where we left off last time -- with White Base still docked at Jaburo headquarters following the recently concluded battle with the Zeonic forces. As the ship’s crew goes over their newly upgraded ship, they're joined by a quartet of new recruits. This is, again, a welcome departure by Yasuhiko from the source material. Originally it was one single pilot, Sleggar Law, who came to White Base as a replacement for the deceased Ryu Jose. But here, Sleggar has three more pilots with him, which makes much more sense strategically. I'm sure we'll learn more about these guys in subsequent installments, but first there's a lot of ground to cover in the past.

And so, after that brief introductory framing sequence, Yasuhiko takes us back in time twelve years to UC 0067, to the colony of Side 3, which will eventually become the Principality of Zeon. Zeon’s founding figure, Zeon Zum Deikun, is assassinated and his wife, Astraia, and children, Casval and Artesia, are presumed to be targets as well. The house of Ral, led by Ramba Ral’s father, Jimba Ral, takes Zeon's heirs into protective custody. Yasuhiko does quite a bit with Ramba Ral in these flashbacks in fact, which is something -- as a big fan of the character -- I appreciate. We learn that House Ral was once a very politically strong entity in Side 3, but it seems to be their protection of Zeon's family which does them in. Soon after Zeon's assassination, the eldest Zabi sibling, the heretofore unknown Sasro, is assassinated. The Zabis frame the Rals for this crime and use that as an excuse to pry Zeon's family away from them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: While Madame Rouge watches her forces invade Zandia, General Zahl gloats over the Titans and Robotman, trapped in his devolving pit. Elsewhere, the Brain and Monsieur Mallah, the surviving members of the original Brotherhood of Evil, introduce Changeling to their new teammates, Warp, Phobia, Houngan, and Plasmus. The Brotherhood wants to kill Rouge and Zahl, and invites Changeling to join them.

The entire group teleports aboard Rouge's flying fortress and attacks, and the Titans and Robotman are soon restored to normal. Amid the battle, Robotman corners General Zahl, who loses his life to a ricochet from his own sidearm. Meanwhile, Changeling chases down Rouge and knocks into a bank of electronics, inadvertently killing her.

The Titans, Brotherhood, and Robotman escape from the airship just before it explodes, and the Brotherhood departs as the Titans prepare to head home.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterer: Ben Oda | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: In New York, Wonder Girl goes on a crime fighting rampage to blow off steam following her encounter with Hyperion. Then, after a brief meeting with Terry Long, she returns to Paradise Island. And on the island, Starfire participates in the Amazons' arena games, winning every competition. Later, Changeling comes around and transforms into a massive sea monster, but Raven restores him to normal.

Meanwhile, in Uganda, Robin, Cyborg, and Kid Flash locate Robotman, who leads them to the lair of the Doom Patrol's killers, Madame Rouge and General Zahl. The group enters this massive underground complex, taking out several armored guards in the process, and rescues Steve Dayton. But Dayton won't leave without the Mento-suit, the outfit he once wore as a superhero. Kid Flash retrieves the suit, then the group exits the secret base. But Madame Rouge and General Zahl are aware of their departure, and Rouge indicates that Dayton actually serves her.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Readers may recall that last February I wrote about the first four volumes of the GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN manga, which was serialized in Japan from 2001 to 2011. The manga is seeing an American release courtesy of Vertical Publishing, at a rate of one volume per quarter over the course of three years.

THE ORIGIN is an eleven-volume series, broken up into three "acts". Act one was the initial journey of the Federation warship White Base from the space colony Side 7 to Earth, culminating in the vessel's arrival at the Federation's headquarters in South American Jaburo and a fierce battle at that location.

Now we move into the second act, which is a lengthy flashback into the early days of mobile suit production and a lead-up to the war. This flashback covers a number of years over the course of three full volumes. After the flashback sequence ends, volume eight picks up again in the present day.

So the plan is to cover GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN volumes 5 - 7, the flashback portion of the story, this month. Volume eight is out, having been released in December, but in the interest of structuring this review series in the best possible way, I'll be holding onto it until 9 - 11 have all been released, then I'll cover all of them together next February.

To refresh your memory or get yourself up to speed if you haven't read any of these posts yet, please see the GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN review page.

Available now at (and highly recommended!):
Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5
Volume 6 | Volume 7 | Volume 8 | Volume 9 (pre-order)
Volume 10 (pre-order) | Volume 11 (pre-order)