Tag Archives: Madame Xanadu

Flash, Swamp Thing and JL Dark vs Doctor Destiny! (Review of Justice League Dark #21)

jl dark 21 coverThis issue concludes a three-issue visit from The Flash and Swamp Thing to Justice League Dark, one of the more eerie and entertaining titles in the New 52.  Doctor Destiny has hijacked the House of Mystery, and using the captured Swamp Thing has the whole place completely under his control!  Can even the combined might of the Fastest Man Alive and Justice League Dark stop this menace?


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Justice League Dark Meets Barry…and Swamp Thing? (Review of Justice League Dark #19)

JL Dark 19 coverThis issue of Justice League Dark begins a three-issue arc that will include The Flash as they fight a power that has taken over the House of Mystery! Flash fans may be a bit disappointed in this first issue of the arc, as there isn’t much of an appearance from the Scarlet Speedster…but hopefully this is just the start of a much greater role for The Flash in this story arc.  Barry isn’t the only guest star present, though…and that’s where the fun begins!


This story begins with Constantine at the race track, actually attempting to lose without much success (and yes, I know that sounds odd).  But, it is the prelude to an attack, one that severs his connection to the House of Mystery just long enough for it to be taken over! Constantine gathers the JL Dark (although at least Deadman hates that name for the group) and calls in help from Swamp Thing to locate the missing House.  Swamp Thing does help them find the House of Mystery…but that triggers nightmare visions sent by the House for each member of the league!  Madame Xanadu does manage to get a cryptic message out to Frankenstein before they are separated, saying “when the lightning comes, make it your friend.”

That lightning does come…in the form of The Flash!  His brief appearance is a lead in to the next issue of Justice League Dark, as they fight the villain who is revealed in the final panel of the story.  If you want to know just who they are up against, you’ll need to buy the issue.

Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes scripted this issue, with Mikel Janin and Vicente Cifuentes on art with colors by Jeromy Cox.  Their work on the JL Dark characters is amazing and their Flash is credible, though we will have to wait for next issue to see just what they do with Barry in a longer appearance.  If you are a JL Dark fan this should be a good issue for you.  Flash fans may be a little disappointed as the cover gives the indication of a longer appearance than what actually happens in this issue.  However, we may see a lot more Flash-oriented action as this arc progresses, and it will be interesting to see what happens to the House of Mystery before this arc is through.

New 52 Quick Hits: Flash, Resurrection Man, Justice League Dark

September is over, and DC’s New 52 comics have all debuted. Halfway through the month I reviewed four of the New 52 launches. Now that the month is over, it’s time to look at the rest of the books I picked up.

Flash #1

Judging by this issue, The Flash may finally be getting back on track. The book was focused, moved quickly, and managed to lay out the ground rules for new and returning readers alike without getting overly bogged down in exposition. Most importantly, Manapul & Buccellato understand that a book about a guy who runs fast should be fun, not serious and full of angst.

See my full review for more.

Resurrection Man #1

I thought this book was technically very good, but for some reason it didn’t really grab me. It did a great job of setting up the main character, establishing his powers, and setting up a hero-on-the-run dynamic, without ever getting too expository. Critically, rather than letting people wonder how badly Mitch Shelley can be injured before he can’t resurrect, in this first issue he’s…well, let’s just say killed very thoroughly, and he still comes back to life. I think it’s also the only New 52 debut issue I read that’s actually a complete, done-in-one story.

Still, I got to the end feeling vaguely unsatisfied for some reason. I’ll certainly check out issue #2, but I’m on the fence.

Justice League Dark #1

I wanted to like this more than I did. Partly I’m more interested in the characters as a dark fantasy team than as a group of broken people. (I’m not a fan of Madame Xanadu as drug addict, for instance.) Partly I was hoping that, despite the title, it would stay as far away as possible from the main Justice League. Partly I didn’t think Milligan balanced exposition and story very well. A lot of characters wound up saying things for the sake of the reader rather than for the sake of what they might have been saying. I think I’m on board for the first arc, but I’m not sure if I’ll stick around past it.

Overall: How Did the New 52 Do?

  • On board: Flash, Demon Knights, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
  • On the fence: Resurrection Man and Justice League Dark.
  • Didn’t make the cut: Stormwatch, Justice League.

So… which New 52 comics did you pick up? Which ones did you love? Which ones did you hate?

Quick Hits on the New 52: Demon Knights, Stormwatch, Justice League and Frankenstein

Halfway through DC’s New 52 debut month, here’s what I think of the comics I’ve tried so far.

Justice League #1

Looked at on its own, this wasn’t a Justice League story so much as it was a Batman/Green Lantern team-up. That’s OK for a team-up book, or the first chapter of a graphic novel, but not exactly ideal for a high-profile launch that’s billed as an introduction to the League (not to mention an introduction to the new setting for the DCU).

I’m going to call it now: just like Final Crisis, this first Justice League arc should have been presented from the beginning as a graphic novel, not as a serialized story. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

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DC Comics: Pulling (or is that Polling?) the New 52

So, the DC reboot* is upon us, and it’s time to make some decisions:

  • What new series should I buy?
  • Should I stick with print, or go digital?

I’ll tackle the second question later. For now, here are the books I was looking at when the New 52 was first announced, and what I’m looking at now.



As with Action, it was the creative team that got me excited about the fifth relaunch in as many years. (Seriously, DC, pick a direction and stick with it.) And as with Action, every interview, every announcement since then has chipped away a little more at my interest. But then Francis Manpul posts a new piece of artwork, and I feel like can’t possibly pass it up. TENTATIVE YES.

And yes, that’s a sad verdict for someone who’s spent the last 15 years running a Flash fan site, but it is what it is.

Justice League Dark

Love the concept, hate the title. I had high hopes for this when it was announced, but the execution of Flashpoint: Secret Seven, by the same writer and featuring many of the same characters, has me worried. TENTATIVE YES.

Demon Knights

The complete opposite of Action Comics. When I first read about it, I thought, “Hmm, that sounds sort of interesting, but I just don’t know.” But everything I’ve heard about it makes me more interested. DEFINITE YES.

Regarding Demon Knights and Justice League Dark, it seems that the Matt Wagner/Amy Reeder Vertigo series has made me a fan of Madame Xanadu. Who would have expected that?

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

I really liked the Seven Soldiers version of the Frankenstein monster, and the idea of him as a sci-fi secret agent sounds like a lot of fun. Plus the Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown miniseries was enjoyable (despite a dip in the middle issue), so I’m on board for this one. DEFINITE YES.

Resurrection Man

I keep meaning to read the articles about this, but somehow keep forgetting to come back to them when I have time. So I still don’t know a whole lot about it, but the concept is interesting enough to make it a TENTATIVE YES.

The Shade

Announced as part of the second wave of new titles, the 12-issue miniseries launches in October. I like the character, especially the modern interpretation, and I really enjoyed the 4-issue miniseries James Robinson did back in the 1990s, so I’m on board for this one as well. DEFINITE YES.

Considered, but Skipping

Action Comics

Grant Morrison brings Superman back to his roots. Sounded great at the time, but the more I’ve heard about the actual direction, the less interested I’ve gotten. PASS.

Teen Titans

I’ve been burned too many times, and I think what I really liked about the series was the Wolfman/Perez dynamic, which I’ve come to realize is never going to exist again. I actually think it’s a good thing that they’re taking the book in a new direction, even though it’s clearly not for me. PASS.

Hawk & Dove

As fond as my memories are of the series 20 years ago…I just can’t. PASS.


I liked his solo series back in the day, but between my changing taste and the emphasis on ultra-violence, I don’t have any interest in the new version. PASS.

(OK, except for the issue where he destroys the 405 freeway. I live in LA and commute on that damn thing. It’s a revenge fantasy.)

In Summary…

So that’s my DC Comics pull list for September. 5 comics out of 52 (plus The Shade) may not sound like much, but considering I was only reading one DC proper title before Flashpoint, it’s actually a pretty big increase.

Edited to add: For context, this brings the DC Universe back up to 50% of my active pull list. The rest is 1 Vertigo (The Unwritten), 3 BOOM! (Elric, Farscape & Darkwing Duck, at least until Farscape & Darkwing Duck end in a couple of months), 1 Dynamite (Wheel of Time) and 1 Aspen (Lady Mechanika). Mostly sci-fi/fantasy, with the closest to a traditional superhero being Darkwing Duck.

How about you? What are you planning to pick up?

*Of course it’s a reboot. They’re resetting the system, with some things altered and others preserved. They installed a service pack, and now they’re rebooting. People use the term reboot to mean starting over completely from the beginning, but if we’re going to use the computer metaphor properly, that would be a wipe-and-reinstall.

If You Could Only Buy Three Comics…

A few weeks ago I talked about decluttering the pull list. Over the weekend, noscans_daily took things it a bit further, asking people to consider how they’d cut down to three titles. I didn’t properly do the suitcase test last time, since I approached it from the “What can I drop?” perspective instead of “What do I have to keep?” but a specific number — however harsh — really puts things into perspective.

If I had to cut it to three, I think I’d go for:

  • The Unwritten – My favorite new series of the year. I’m always a sucker for stories about stories, and this one’s holding up well.
  • Madame Xanadu – My favorite new series of last year. I never had any interest in the character before, but casting her as a magical detective/troubleshooter rather than simply fortune teller, and making it possible to tell stories anywhere from Arthurian times to the present, has made this
  • The Unknown – Mystery, a protagonist whose key feature is intelligence, and exploring the boundary between science and the supernatural — or at least what seems to be supernatural to us. This is currently on its second 4-issue miniseries, and Mark Waid said at Long Beach Comic-Con that he could see it going for 3 or 4 minis depending on how long they can keep the artist.

The other more-or-less regular books, not counting miniseries with only one issue left:

  • Flash: Rebirth – At this point I’d be perfectly willing to wait until they launch the ongoing next year, by which time The Unknown should be finished. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m looking forward to Blackest Night: The Flash, which will overlap. But just based on what’s in progress now, I’d drop it if I had to. (Of course, since I run a Flash fan site, that’s not really an option!)
  • Fallen Angel – This would be the hardest one to cut. If I were choosing my top 4 instead of top 3, it would definitely be in there.
  • Astro City – I can wait for the trade on this one.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I’m pretty far behind on this, which should tell me something.
  • Dynamo 5 – It’s the best superhero book I’ve read in a while, but I’ve also been losing interest in superheroes.
  • Farscape – I’m waiting until each mini finishes to read it anyway, so I may as well trade-wait.
  • Wheel of Time – I half-suspect this is on hold anyway.

The surprise for me was finding that neither Flash nor Fallen Angel — two books which have been my #1 favorites at various times in the last few years — quite made the cut. I hope this will change once the ongoing Flash and Kid Flash series launch.

So…If you had to buy only three comics a month, what would you choose?