This week we cover the following recent releases: Buffy Season 9 #3, Dollhouse: Epitaphs #5, Godzilla Legends #1, Hellraiser #7, Huntress #2, Journey Into Mystery #631, Legion Of Monsters #2, Ninjas Vs. Zombies #4, Red Hood And The Outlaws #3! A very nice selection of titles… check them out:
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, SEASON 9 #3 (Dark Horse)
Season 9 continues! This issue introduces not only a new character (Severin, the individual responsible for the mysterious bodies – all vampires – that have been turning up in San Fransisco) and a new, distinctly feral breed of vampire that first appeared after the Seed was destroyed at the end of Season 8. Meanwhile, Spike tracks down the “big nasty” that is rumored to be coming after Buffy. Without giving too much away, I will say that the end of the issue effectively takes the previous twenty-two pages and turns them on their head. In fact, with this opening arc of Season 9, Whedon seems to delight in subverting the reader’s expectations at every turn. From the comedic twist at the end of the first issue to the more serious cliffhanger presented here, it’s becoming clear that little can be taken at face value. More than any other issue released to date, this one serves to crystallize what is sure to be a recurring theme of the season – the unexpected consequences of Buffy’s destruction of the Seed. As it turns out, “no more magic” isn’t nearly as neat and tidy a status-quo change as “no more mutants”. It’s no coincidence that Buffy’s acknowledgement of the fact that the loss of the Seed had far more wide-ranging consequences than she initially realized (something Willow had been trying to explain to her) is a major turning point in the issue. If you had your doubts after some of the excesses of Season 8, doubt no more. While we’re still rounding out the first story arc, Whedon and company have clearly taken the response the previous season into account while crafting this tale. Season 9 thus far has presented us with a far more down to Earth Buffy than we’ve seen since the end of the TV series while exploring the ramifications of the events of Season 8. With Joss Whedon at the helm, what more do you need to hear? -Nick Cavicchio
DOLLHOUSE: EPITAPHS #5 (Dark Horse)
This is it, the conclusion of Dollhouse: Epitaphs! Naturally, this is where the stories we’ve been following through the previous four issues (five, if you count the one-shot released in the spring) finally come to a head. More than that, however, this is where we are finally treated to something that has been teased for months: Echo. Continuing from the end of last issue, we follow Echo, Alpha and the rest as they work to develop an imprint block and thwart the Rossum Corporation’s plans to further exploit the Thoughtpocalypse. Meanwhile, we also pick up with the L.A. survivors as they storm broadcast tower responsible for transmitting an imprint signal. Though the characters involved never meet in the course of the story, the two plots intersect in a small but significant way. Though in the context of Epitaphs it is chiefly a “save the characters’ lives” device, it also provides an in-story explanation as to why (despite being such a formidable threat) there were no Wielders to be seen in the TV series. Perhaps the biggest problem with the issue (and indeed, the series as a whole) is the chronological setting. Though it could be seen as a simple (arguably unnecessary) continuity patch, it’s always nice to have questions like that answered. As it takes place prior to the show’s season-ending Epitaph episodes, the tension suffers a bit in that regard. To be perfectly honest, this didn’t hurt the story nearly as much as it could have, but I felt it was worth mentioning nonetheless. Even having said that, Dollhouse: Epitaphs was, in the final assessment, an extremely satisfying tale, and I hope to see it continue at some point in the future. Not only are there several characters (including a personal favorite) who weren’t touched on in the course of the series, but it ends on what I can only describe as a “Holy @#%&” moment. Dollhouse, as a whole, is in a very similar position to that of Firefly at the moment, which is to say that if this proves to be the final chapter, enough loose ends have been tied up that it wouldn’t feel incomplete, but despite that, it would be a damn shame if this is the last we see of these characters and their world. -Nick Cavicchio
GODZILLA LEGENDS #1 of 5 (IDW)
This new miniseries features issues dedicated to specific monsters in the Godzilla Universe. This particular issue features one of the biggest ‘losers’ facing off against one of the biggest threats. It’s Anguirus, sometime foe to Godzilla, versus. Destoroyah, the monster created when the original Godzilla was killed and which was later involved with the death of another Godzilla. Now, that was in the movies… what is this monster like in this reality? Well, he’s still vicious as all hell, and almost kills Anguirus. If not for the intervention of some humans, he would have; but it was nice to see something of how Anguirus apparently thinks about things. He doesn’t actually see himself as one of the weaker monsters. It seems as if each of these issues will be ‘one-and-done’, but I do hope they’ll also expand this universe and set up future stories. This one, in addition to the really cool monster fight, has a device that might be able to repel or attract certain monsters! That might be handy in the main Godzilla book! -Skott Jimenez
HELLRAISER #7 (BOOM! Studios)
Kirsty Cotton and Pinhead have made their deal: Kirsty will replace Pinhead in Hell so the soon-to-be former High Priest of Damnation can attempt to enter the real of Heaven. As Kirsty enters Hell, she’s given a tour of sorts and some knowledge of the inner workings of the realm. But the Female Cenobite has apparently developed feelings for Pinhead and feels betrayed by him. She sides with Kirsty in hopes that when she is in charge and Pinhead fails in his quest he will be returned to Hell without his powers, allowing her to administer his torture for eternity. Personally, I have the feeling something more is going on here, and considering Clive Barker has a hand in this story I may not be completely wrong. Overall, this series was one I was originally going to get in trades but in the monthly format, it is highly entertaining. The covers and the art are fantastic, and it’s a great series for fans of the first two movies to enjoy! -Skott Jimenez
HUNTRESS #2 of 6 (DC)
Huntress continues her one-woman crusade to bring down mob boss Moretti in Naples. What started as a mission to keep illegal guns out of Gotham City seems to have turned personal, as Helena has found that guns aren’t the only things Moretti is selling and smuggling. She has already found and rescued a group of young women bound for Gotham to be sold into prostitution. She vows to stop Moretti no matter the cost.
After discreetly obtaining information from a local police station, the trail leads Huntress to an undertaker who may be working for Moretti. With her usual charm, powers of persuasion and a crossbow, she is able to discover where the next shipment of guns and girls will be leaving for Gotham.
Something bigger is on the horizon, however. Moretti is expecting some important VIP who he refers to as The Chairman to arrive, and promises there will no problems with the next shipment. Unfortunately for Moretti, Huntress has other plans. She successfully rescues another group of young women and destroys the cargo ship full of weapons.
Moretti’s next move is a surprise to her. Instead of lying low after two successful raids on his shipments, Moretti boards a private yacht to an unknown destination. Huntress is able to slip a tracking device on the yacht as it departs, and vows to be waiting wherever Moretti should go.
What started out as a pretty interesting story sort of fell flat in this second issue of this mini-series. It seems that Huntress has things well under control and remains one step ahead of her adversary. This isn’t the second issue I was hoping for. This Moretti character so far doesn’t impress me as a worthy villain for Huntress. I hope this story picks up over the next four issues. I like Huntress and I am hoping this mini-series will lead to an ongoing title for her. Time will tell. -The Nerd
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #631 (Marvel)
Fear Itself is OVER! Besides that just being good news, we also get more space on these books for the fantastic cover art. It’s just lame that we still have an ugly banner across the top, this one being for the Shattered Heroes. Anyway, having saved Asgard and Midgard from the Serpent and Odin, Loki must now face the consequences of his actions. He’s done a lot of bartering and damage, setting Asgard and it’s realms on a cliff. With Odin having abandoned Earth, it falls to The Vanir: Odin’s wife , Freyja, Thor’s mother Gaea and the youthful Idunn; and this issue features them talking with Loki, letting him know in a fashion that they might know more about his activities than he’s willing to admit. They also know that if anyone were to discover what he’d done, things would be very bad for the young Asgardian. But this is the moment I’ve been waiting for: Seeing this series stand on its own two feet without being chained to a poorly done ‘event.’ So far, it’s looking very promising, but it would be nice to have full covers, and it’s odd that the first official use of the JIM logo is partially covered -Skott Jimenez
LEGION OF MONSTERS #2 of 4 (Marvel)
Something is causing the monsters to go crazy and kill people. Whatever it is, Morbius is apparently familiar with it and has seen it before. Despite this, he isn’t being very open about the details. Meanwhile, Elsa and Jack Russel, aka The Werewolf, head to Hell to find some answers as The Creature and The Living Mummy head to Damion Hellstrom for aid. Things don’t go very well for anyone in these situations, and one of the monsters loses whatever he considers his life! This is a fun little series, and it’s really nice having Elsa Bloodstone in her Nextwave persona, though the one complaint I currently have is the art. I’m really not digging now Morbius is being drawn here, though I have hopes it will grow on me. I’m certainly not allowing it to make me want to drop this book. However, the mystery of what’s going on, along with the cameos of the different ‘dark side’ Marvel characters is making this worth it. -Skott Jimenez
NINJAS VS. ZOMBIES #4 (Azure Press):
I posted a preview for this issue about a week ago, but now that it’s officially released I can say a little more! This issue effectively wraps up the adaptation of the first movie by showing the events of that movie from the perspective of the main villain, Eric, and his brother, Randall, who made the Ninjas to fight the zombies. It’s really fun how Eric acknowledges that this is a comic book and that certain things in it actually didn’t happen in the movie. More importantly though, this issue sets a broader stage for future stories. More is explained on things mentioned in passing in the movie, with the hint that it will be expanded on in future issues. Really there isn’t much more to say, other than having read the first four issues I see what Thomas Chillemi was trying to accomplish, and I think he hit a bulls-eye. Meanwhile, the art of Jaime Martinez has just gotten better as this series has progressed. I’m glad this is an ongoing series! -Skott Jimenez
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #3 (DC)
It’s issue number three for Red Hood and the Outlaws, and from the beginning it’s been a pretty wild ride. I was a bit skeptical with the “New 52″ title at first, because they didn’t seem like the characters we’ve grown to know in the past. I understand that’s the purpose of the New 52, but still… Jason Todd (The Red Hood), Roy Harper, and Starfire all seem like very different people than they were before the reboot. The series began with the Red Hood and Starfire breaking Roy out of prison and has been pretty much high-octane action ever since. Well, this issue acts as an origin story for our three characters. Beginning atop a mountain in the Himalayayas, in the Chamber of Alls, it seems Todd trained here at some point in the three years (?) it’s been since his “death” at the hands of the Joker. This is where our trio of misfits – don’t call them superheroes – run into S’are, The Proctor, an ageless boy over four millenia old who presents their origins for his viewing pleasure. Throughout the first few issues, the reader has gotten glimpses of Jason’s past since his resurrection, including training given to him by Talia Al Ghul, after she raised him from the Lazuras Pit but the other two have been mysteries till now. Starfire’s origin remains true to her pre-reboot beginnings – as a child she was a princess sold into slavery, who in this re-imagining has an appetite for sex and absolutely no memory skills. Roy Harper’s back story is similar to what we know, but a little updated, so to speak. It doesn’t say if drugs were involved, but he lost his partnership with Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) and has blown through whatever fortune he had, and for some reason began the series in prison. We not only get flashbacks to Todd’s time after being resurrected and trained by Talia and her merry band of mentors, but also of the time he spent with Batman, who comes off much more human than we usually see with Jason stories. Todd has even adopted a Bruce Wayne, rich playboy-type persona. The team works perfectly together. The dialogue between Jason and Roy gives the book a frat boy vibe thanks to writer Scott Lobdell. He really gives it a buddy movie/spy adventure with hot babes feel. Add to it art by Kenneth Rocafort and this book rocks. So an origin story with a big, giant monster fight; what are you waiting for? Go on out and pick this one up! -Jeremy Boreske