Night of the Owls

So, this whole “Court of Owls” thing is a lot bigger than I had anticipated. Beginning yesterday in “Batman” #8, the story which has been developing since the New 52’s Batman” #1 will spread across all the other Bat-books and Gotham City-based titles in a crossover story called “Night of the Owls.” Scott Snyder, regular writer on “Batman” and mastermind behind the story, recently stated that “This is the big turning point where Bruce is going to kick some serious ass.”

Detective Comics #9

The Court of Owls are secret organization dedicated to controlling Gotham City from the shadows, as Batman recently discovered. The Court has an army of highly trained assassins called The Talons who have been in hibernation for years, but were recently revived and set loose upon an unsuspecting Gotham. These Talon assassins all originate from different eras of the past and each is unique. Are Batman and the rest of Gotham’s heroes ready to deal with a threat of this magnitude?

The “Night of the Owls” crossover arc will occur across 11 titles: Batman, Detective Comics, Batman: The Dark Knight, Batman and Robin, Catwoman, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batwing, Birds of Prey, Red Hood and the Outlaws, and All-Star Western.

In “Detective Comics,” The Talons come to Arkham Asylum. Batman must save the administrator of the infamous insane asylum, Jerimiah Arkham, from a Talon assassin. Why does this Talon want Arkham, and what is the Court of Owl’s relationship to the asylum?

In honor of the event, ComicBook.com has compiled a list of the top 10 Batman artists of all time.

I look forward to seeing this event unfold. I’m especially excited to see how the era from which each Talon originated will affect their fighting style and interactions with the Gotham heroes they come into conflict with.

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Another Fantastic Four Costume Change

I still don’t like the black and white color scheme, but at least we’ve got the classic “4” logo back. A step in the right direction.

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“Spider-Men”

After a couple months of seeing the “Spider-Men” teaser, details on this project are finally coming to light.

“Spider-Men” is an upcoming 5-issue miniseries, and will mark the first direct crossover between the mainstream Marvel Universe (616) and the Ultimate Universe. The series will feature a team-up between Earth-616’s Spidey, Peter Parker; and the Utimate Universe’s brand new Spidey, Miles Morales. The original teaser is, as I suspected, a mash-up of the two characters’ respective spider-logos.

The series definitely has potential with writer Brian Bendis behind the wheel. I’m glad that it’s been chosen to come out now, for Spidey’s 50th Anniversary, and after Ultimate Peter Parker’s death. Although a meeting between 616 Peter and Ultimate Peter would be interesting, our mainstream Peter already has plenty of clones running around, and has met versions of himself from alternate universes many-a-time. Having him meet Miles Morales, who took over as the Spider-Man of the Ultimate Universe after Ultimate Peter Parker’s death, will make for a much richer and more intriguing story.

What will cause this inter-universe meeting of Spider-Men is still not completely known, but there are sure to be some villains involved. Will we also see a team-up of two versions of a Spidey villain? The possibilities are literally endless, and exciting.

Spider-Men is a 5-issue limited series beginning in June. Writer: Brian Michael Bendis; Artist: Sara Pichelli.

Currently reading: Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers vol. 1

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Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #0

This week saw the release of the prologue issue to this year’s major Marvel event, Avengers vs. X-Men. Issue #0 features art by Frank Cho, and sets up all the pins to be knocked down when AvX-proper begins next week.

AvX #0 is split into 2 separate stories, both exploring a major player in the event to come: Scarlet Witch and Hope. Scarlet Witch’s story (written by Brian Michael Bendis) is especially significant because it marks Wanda’s first interaction with the Avengers since her catastrophic breakdown in 2004’s Avengers Disassembled, and 2005’s House of M. How will the Avengers react when they see her? After all, the last time she was around she caused her husband the Vision to die, caused the Avengers to disband, and decimated the vast majority of the mutant population. Wanda seems to have recovered from her complete mental breakdown, but can the Avengers (especially the newly-returned Vision) trust her? Beyond that, we see Wanda holding her own as a solo hero; a rare and refreshing look at the character. Frank Cho’s art perfectly captures Wanda’s power and grace during her fight against M.O.D.O.K. and his hordes.

For Hope’s story (written by Jason Aaron), we are brought to the X-Men’s home base on the island Utopia, just off the coast of San Francisco. Hope, the first mutant born since the decimation brought on by the Scarlet Witch, is having trouble dealing with her position as the so-called “mutant messiah,” as well as her connection to the cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force. Much to Cyclops’ disapproval, Hope has been flying into the city every night to take her anger out on criminals. We are reminded just how much of a badass Hope really is when she gets into an altercation with the snake-themed super villains of the Serpent Society. Her power-mimickery abilities are also shown off rather nicely during this fight. Hope is going to play a central role throughout Avengers vs. X-Men, and although she is able to take care of herself now, how will she fare when the Phoenix Force finally arrives, and the big fight begins?

Two good anticipation-building stories and mostly solid artwork earns Avengers vs. X-Men #0 a 4 out of 5.

Although Avengers vs. X-Men #1 does not technically go on sale until next Wednesday, the book was shipped to comic shops this week, and naturally a good number of copies have leaked early. I’ve read the issue, but will reserve my full review until next week when the book officially goes on sale.

Currently Reading: The Mighty Thor #12              

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Boston Comic Con

The 2012 Boston Comic Con is now less than a month away. This will be my third time attending this particular convention, so I thought I’d recount my experience from my first year attending the BCC.

My first Boston Comic Con was in 2010, with my friends Kyle and Matt. The most exciting thing about the convention that year was that Jim Lee was the guest of honor. For those who don’t know, Lee is one of the industry’s most popular artists, known for his work on X-Men and other titles in the 90’s, and his more recent work for DC, including art in Superman and Batman. He is the current penciller on the Justice League title, as well as co-publisher of DC. So that year at BCC I brought along my X-Men #1 as well as my girlfriend’s copy of Batman: Hush in hopes of getting them signed. I also brought my sketchpad in case of the unlikely event that I could get a sketch from him.

Getting into the convention spirit, me and the guys spent a lot of time posing with cosplayers and digging through the comic book boxes at the vendors tables. Finding cheap books is my favorite part of any comic convention, and I always fill my backpack to capacity. Much to my spine’s chagrin, BCC 2010 was no exception.

So, after getting an autograph from artist Joseph Michael Linsner, a little Spider-Woman doodle on my New Avengers #50 cover from artist Billy Tan, and a Poison Ivy sketch from inker Jack Purcell, it was time to get in line for Jim. We found out that he was indeed sketching, but only for the first 20 or 30 people in line. This was not us, of course. The line moved slow, but we waited it out, and got all of our books signed by the legend.

Day 2 at the Con was a little more relaxed. More time was spent taking pictures of cosplayers and finding sweet deals on books. We attended Jim Lee’s panel, where he answered a bunch of fan questions, which was awesome. Later on, we met actress Amber Benson, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, who was super cool, so that rocked. After that, it was time to hit the ol’ dusty trail.

BCC 2010 was a great time. This year’s show is shaping up to be awesome as well, with guests including Tim Sale, Alex Maleev, Skottie Young, and a bunch more. Here’s to BCC 2012 being as fun and successful as BCC 2010!

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Review: Captain America #9

Captain America has seen an unexpected change in tone since its numbering restarted 9 months ago, and then even more so when Steve McNiven finished as regular artist to make way for Alan Davis in issue #6. It is not an unwelcome change, but a surprising one because regular writer, Ed Brubaker, had previously stuck with a relatively dark and realistic tone since he began on the series in 2005. The series now feels very (for lack of a better term) comic-booky. I am fully aware that it is indeed a comic book, but in comparison to the title’s previous feel it is now far more colorful and light, and features more fantastical villains and story premises. The title previously held an almost ultra-realistic tone which will be missed, but the change is certainly a refreshing one.

In issue #9 (part 4 of the “Powerless” arc) we see Cap dealing with the loss of his super-soldier abilities and physique, as seen last issue during his fight with the Serpent Squad over the riot-causing MadBombs. Tony Stark does everything he can to figure out exactly how this happened to Steve and if it can be reversed, even though Tony’s area of expertise is technology, not biology (this bothered me). During the tests, Falcon reports to Steve about recently-recurring villain, Codename Bravo’s, escape from The Raft, also seen last issue. We can obviously expect Bravo to cause some more trouble in issues to come.                             Meanwhile, Sharon Carter finds herself fighting for her life against the digital consciousness of Machinesmith, who has taken full control of all the gadgets and machinery aboard her Quincarrier. Sharon believes Machinesmith knows the secret to restoring Steve to his former super-soldier glory, but just what will it take for him to talk? The story concludes next issue, and I’m eager to see how it all wraps up.

It’s taken a little bit of getting used to, remembering that when I open up Brubaker’s Captain America each month it will be a fun, “out-there” book rather than a dark political drama. Davis’s art definitely drives that fun tone home as well, although I was sorely disappointed when McNiven left as regular artist. Few have ever drawn Captain America, or any character for that matter, better than him. Despite that, I’m enjoying the story and I enjoyed the issue. Captain America #9 gets a 4 out of 5.

Currently reading: Batman: Cataclysm                           

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The Dark Avengers Finale in New Avengers #23

At the end of this month, the Dark Avengers saga will finally come to an end in New Avengers #23. The New Avengers will fight their final battle against Norman Osborn and his new team of evil Avengers.

Norman Osborn, after being incarcerated at The Raft for his crimes against humanity during the Dark Reign and Siege story lines, has escaped yet again. Having lost his original Dark Avengers team after their defeat at Asgard, Norman has put together an all-new team featuring his own villainous impostor-Avengers: Gorgon as Wolverine, Skaar as Hulk, Superia as Ms. Marvel, Barney Barton as Hawkeye, Ai Apaec as Spider-Man, Dr. June Covington as Scarlet Witch, and the now-destroyed Ragnarok as Thor. Although both the Avengers and the New Avengers have been dealing with Osborn and his newly-revived organization HAMMER the past few months, it is the New Avengers who have been receiving the head-on punishment from these new Dark Avengers.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis said in an interview about Osborn’s return, “[Norman Osborn and HAMMER come] with a pretty strong toy box of ways to deal with the Avengers. In ‘New Avengers,’ that same story is specifically oriented around Norman putting together his new team of Dark Avengers to punish the Avengers for what they’ve done to him. So ‘New Avengers’ is a revenge book and ‘Avengers’ is a political offensive. It’s almost like a revolution book for Norman. These stories are going on at the same time and affecting each other.”

Preview art by Mike Deodato for New Avengers #23:

At the end of New Avengers #22 we saw Skaar betray and attack his Dark Avengers teammates when he heard news of Captain America’s capture by Osborn. What does this mean for the New Avengers? Can they now count Skaar as an ally, or has he gone rogue? We’ll find out when New Avengers #23 hits the shelves March 28. Can’t wait, should be a good one.

Source: Comic Book Resources

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