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Welcome to Tranquility 10-11 (Gail Simone/Neil Googe; Wildstorm Universe):
...OK, I will admit that the end to issue 10 took me completely by surprise; I would not for even a second have expected them to go there. Issue 11, I'm sort of "meh" on. Partly, I just wish this goddamn zombie plot would be DONE. I hate zombies. I am one with the hate of zombiekind. But I can deal with the plague of zombies in this title, because I love it with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. On the other hand, not entirely loving Thomasina's characterization in issue 11; it really does seem like her reaction to discovering what became of her grandfather was ... off, a bit. Granted, I understand her feeling that the information was sort of irrelevant, and that she just wants to know what she needs to defeat the zombie plague. Still, given that the information about what happened to him wasn't coming directly from him, but from someone else she trusts, it really does seem like she should have given it at least a little more credence.

Something of a sidenote --I ran across the following at Occasional Superheroine's weblog:
Anti-Semitic Comment In "Countdown" #32?...right off that bat, if you want to make comparisons between different characters in your comic and you put the Old & New Testaments in there, you're already sort of in the danger zone in terms of offending someone. If the symbolism was indeed there in this "Countdown" story that evil Eclipso = Old Testament and Good Spectre = New Testament, then you've got some problems. [...] It's verrrrry complicated. We tended not to use overt religious stuff in our books at DC. This is why.

Tranquility has now gotten rather explicitly religious, probably as part of the lead in to Armageddon/Revelations.

DC's Countdown is headed to Final Crisis by way of a miniseries called "Salvation Run".

The entire Wildstorm superhero universe is headed to its own final crisis via the paired, title-abolishing miniseres "Armageddon" and "Revelations".

I think DC may have decided that they really don't care about offending people's religious principles any more. I'm not saying that's bad, necessarily; it's certainly unexpected.

As far as can be told from solicitation copy, Welcome to Tranquility may have been stealth-cancelled, without official notice in Previews; on the other hand, they may be delaying it to figure out what to do with it once Simone takes over Wonder Woman. One can hope anyway. I do think the title has been rather spectacularly mishandled ... but more about that elsewhere, elsewhen, belike.

Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite 1-2 of 6 (Gerard Way/Gabriel Ba; Dark Horse)
I had what turned out to be an odd advantage coming to this title. I'd never heard of Gerard Way, never really paid attention to My Chemical Romance, so I didn't come to it with any particular preconceptions about whether or not he could write, as others seem to. And that turned out to be a good thing, because this is definitely a fun read.

On the same day, dozens of mutant children are born in an instant to women around the world, many of whom hadn't actually been pregnant until that moment. Professor Hargreaves adopts as many of these infants as he can find, eventually winding up with seven children to raise. It becomes fairly clear that Hargreaves is a rather dreadful father; mostly he wants to use them to demostrate his scientific principles regarding their superpowers. Then we jump 10 years into the future, where the kids are fighting the renegade Eiffel Tower. (No, really. Renegade Eiffel Tower, rampaging through Paris.) Then we jump forward another 20 years, where the group is gathering to find out if it's true that their father is dead. Issue 2 takes up from where issue 1 leaves off, with everyone gathering for the funeral. It's clear that there was some sort of dramatic break between the children and with their father; they can scarcely stand the sight of one another. Their mother, or rather, Professor Hargreaves' wife -- she at least seems to have been married to him -- she's very ... well. She's quite unusual, let's put it that way. And, of course, it turns out that she'd been estranged from the professor as well. And the seventh child, Vanya, whom the professor thought untalented turns out to have a very subtle power; she was so profoundly alienated, however, that she didn't even return for the funeral.

Ba's art is absolutely perfect for this series. I honestly can't imagine that anyone else would do better or be more appropriate for a story that's simultaneously this loopy and this serious. It wouldn't work with a more realistic style -- the characters would look utterly absurd drawn in a more realistic way. His art brings out the humor in the characters without making them ridiculous.

It's really a lot of fun. Highly recommended.

Atomic Robo #1 (Brian Clevinger/Scott Wegener; Red 5 Comics)
Big Robot with odd sense of humor going up against Nazis. What's not to like? Seriously, it's just good pulpy fun. The art is dynamic and colorful and matches the story well. Recommended for people who like fight comix fun (and you do have to like the fight comix, since it's basically an issue length fight).

Manhunter: Origins (Andreyko/Pina/Blanco; DC)
I would like to make a suggestion to the big companies. Whenever you have one of those mondo-crossover events, and you decide to compile an individual title's issues, if the character has been off doing something in another title, please insert two or three pages summarizing what they were doing, maybe with a frame or two from the other titles. "Manhunter: Origins" is sharply discontinuous in one section; they don't even put in a note saying, "To see what Kate was doing, you need to read 52 or Crise du Jour" or whatever title it was she was doing ... whatever she was doing. In any event, apart from that, it's an interesting read.

This volume takes its title from its bookend stories. The first concerns the origins of the Manhunter uniform and weapons; the last the origins of Kate herself. The latter story is, understandably, much more interesting.

It's very strange to have one of the DC universe's heroes who really has very few qualms about killing off the villains. Moreover, the other DC universe superheroes she comes in contact with don't necessarily seem to mind all that much. You do wonder, though, why it is that she seems to be able to do this almost without personal consequence. Most people would find it more difficult to kill than she seems to, even knowing what those people have done. Another oddness; almost everyone on the planet seems to know that Kate Spencer is Manhunter,including the odd villain, yet nobody seems to be telling. And even so, her loved ones wind up in harms way with surprising frequency.

Her supporting cast is great. Chase and Dylan have their ... whatever it is they're doing, in which Dylan is mostly amused and grateful, and Chase is terribly confused. Damon and Todd continue their relationship, and to the best of my knowledge, nobody's dead or creatively mangled as yet. And it's fun to watch Kate squirm when she gets forced to defend one of those villains in court. All in all, highly recommended. Someday, volume 4 will come out. And, in theory, someday there will be more issues of Mahnunter, which DC says is being stockpiled so that it can have a more continuous printing schedule. (One wonders why they don't do that with their other titles.)

Ah, well. We can dream, can't we?


bald angel
Iain Jackson

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