Posts tagged ‘Andy Kubert’

Action 636 – Speedy and the Demon begin, the Phantom Stranger crushed by jazz, the villain in Superman revealed, Phantom Lady debuts, and Wild Dog returns

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The Phantom Stranger is the one series that appears in Action 636 that does not make it onto the cover. Gotta feel bad for him.

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Speedy finally moves into how own series, by Mark Verheiden and Louis Williams. The story begins with a brief recap of his early life, time with Green Arrow, and heroin addiction.

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Roy needs a job to support him and Lian, and gets hired by a private investigator.  He begins his hunt for a missing person.

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Alan Grant, Mark Pacella and Bill Wray begin a Demon story, which follows events from his mini-series, with the death of Harry Matthews.

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Jason Blood no longer wants anything to do with the Demon.  He wanders around blaming Etrigan for everything in his life.

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A woman’s child gets possessed, and she calls Jason to help.  Though he doesn’t want to, he goes.  He tries to exorcise the child himself, but fails.

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So he does the only thing he can, and invokes Etrigan.

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Andy Kibert joins Paul Kupperberg for a Phantom Stranger story that deals with the black musicans ruthlessly exploited by the white music industry. The protagonist is an elderly man, playing on the street for coins, whose recordings had made a company rich.  When he encounters his old “partner” on the street, and the man ignores him, the musician seeks out vengeance.

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It’s scary and sad, and beautifully rendered.  In the end, the man doesn’t want millions, he just wants respect.

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Stern, Swan and Anderson reveal that both sides of the Superman-as-god forces have been backed, and the powers and technology given, by Darkseid.

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Dee Tyler, the new Phantom Lady makes her debut in this story by Lex Strazewski, Chuck Austen and Gary Martin.  Dee has just graduated from an elite finishing school for women in Paris, which seems to be run by Sandra Knight, the origins Phantom Lady. Certainly, Dee has learned a lot more than math.

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She returns home to Washington DC to discover that her father, the Attorney General, is under a lot of pressure, and criminal forces are involved.

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Collins, Beatty and Nyberg return along with Wild Dog, for his third storyline of the run.  This one is a very anti-drug story, centring on a young street kid.

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Wild Dog finds the boy work which is honest, but dull and low-paying.  A teenage gangster offers him big bucks to deliver drugs.

 

 

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Detective 853 – the concluding half of “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”

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Detective 853 (April 2009) has the second half of Neil Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”, with art by Andy Kubert.  The story is a thematic sister to Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”, and exists sort of on its own, as a two-part story outside normal continuity, but also fits neatly into what is currently occurring with Batman.  The first half was published in the previous issue of Batman.

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As with the first half, the story is set at Batman’s funeral, with friends and enemies in attendance.  While the first issue gave a lot of time to a couple of stories, this issue give a number of characters a brief opportunity to tell their versions of how Batman died.

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As well as Betty Kane, shown in the original Bat-Girl outfit for the first time since 1978, eulogies are given by the Mad Hatter, the Joker, Dick Grayson, when he was still Robin, Clayface, Harvey Bullock and Ra’s Al Ghul.

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Superman’s speech ends this section, as Batman starts to become aware of what is happening.

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He suspects that he is having a near-death experience, and the voice that has been with him throughout this,now identified as his mother, tells him that this is true.

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The story becomes a meditation on what Batman is, what he stands for.  Batman cannot ever simply retire and live happily ever after.  He is about never giving up, so Batman can only die in action.

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He asks if he is going to heaven or hell, but the woman replies neither. He does not get those options.  He gets to be Batman, that’s enough.  As the story reaches it end, it takes on the Goodnight Moon narrative, as batman bids good-bye to the cave and the car.  Robin, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and his villains – Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, Two-Face, Penguin, Ra’s Al Ghul and Poison Ivy shown.  The art mixes past and present versions, creating an eternal Batman.

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And it ends as Martha Wayne gives birth to Bruce.  His death takes him back to his birth, and the cycle begins again.

It serves as a reflection on a character that can never be killed off, in a medium that is so easy to re-read.  Endings launch beginnings, and everything comes around eventually.

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