JAMES BOND – FELIX LEITER / VIXEN / JUSTICE LEAGUE v POWER RANGERS / GOD COUNTRY [Reviews]: Of Heroes and Sidekicks.
Another week, another set of titles out for us to review. We’re well into the start of the new year, and we’re well settled to see what great new titles are coming our way, so let’s let our leaders in the religion of geek lead the way!
This week, at GodHatesGeeks, we’ve got some reviews for an unusual crossover, the start of a new title from Image, the continuation of DC’s Rebirth event, and a sidekick headlining his own title for the first time in over 60-years! Also…a poetic review? That’s a new one! It’s a lot of exciting work to go over, so let’s dive right in…
James Bond’s veritable, reliable, one-armed/legged partner-in-world-saving Felix Leiter gets his own series from Dynamite, and this site couldn’t have picked a more appropriate reviewer. Having fallen for (and collected the entirety of) Grant Morrison’s blunt, no-frills James Bond series “VARGR”, this spin-off was ripe with potential. As it is, though, it comes off feeling slightly flat.
The story starts promisingly enough, with Felix off to Tokyo to meet up with Tiger Tanaka (who appears in several of the canon novels), but winds up coming across Alena Davoff, a hardened woman from his past. The two trade blows and words after Felix realizes that he is the only person who seems to know who she is, and her appearance complicates a mission that will (if the last page is to be trusted) lead to a nerve gas attack plot. James Bond does make an appearance midway through in a flashback explaining how Felix gets his state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs, and there’s plenty of impending mystery to uncover. James Robinson’s (Starman, Red Sonja) script moves swiftly enough, but feels disconnected, like it’s trying to be compelling. It’s a bit of an unnatural building of tension, if that makes any sense; whereas the Bond title uses visuals to compellingly push the plot forward, this relies a bit too much on expository voiceover.
The tone is appropriate for cloak-and-dagger espionage, with dealings (and fisticuffs) in back alleys and dark corners. But there are two massive setbacks that really hinder the potential of this title: first off, is the design choice for Felix himself. With his shaggy, long blond hair and brown duster, more than once I’d actually gotten confused to what title I was reading, as his appearance looks almost exactly like that of my all-time favorite comic character, John Constantine (which I’m currently rereading). Especially in the first few opening pages, where Aaron Campbell’s (The Shadow, Uncanny) art really dives deep into the dark, rainy atmosphere of modern day Tokyo, it genuinely looked, felt, and even READ like a Hellblazer title. It’s not a big quibble, but one that I hope gets rectified with a newer design choice. Felix, as a character, has never really been droll or subdued, and often played as a more lively foil to Bond’s more professional, detached demeanor. The only sequence wherein Felix felt remotely interesting was during the aforementioned flashback, where he gets to play off of Bond.
The second (and, perhaps, more problematic) issue with this title is that Felix has, up until this point, never carried a story all his own. He is a supporting player first and foremost, and unless he is developed in a much more interesting manner, this title may begin to suffer from lack of a compelling lead, especially when the main James Bond titles has been consistently excellent. There just doesn’t seem, so far, to be anything particularly compelling or different enough from the original Bond title to make this a title worth remaining committed. Unless something unique and compelling occurs the next issue though, it can go either way. 2.5/5 Japanese Whiskies.
Going in, I’ll admit my knowledge of Vixen had been limited to a few episodes I’ve seen of the animated series. This being a one-shot I wondered if it would provide enough story to keep me engaged.
Vixen’s rebirth reads as a typical origin story that naturally toggles back and forth paralleling between Mari McCabe’s tragic youth and a current calamity with young fan. While I could have done without her secret identity being divulged so quickly, I did like having her Tantu totem as the narrative because it opens up unique opportunities for Vixen to employ a variety of animal powers to engage and conquer any potential super heroine situation. There is a genuine flow in the writing making the cultural commentary empowering and relevant to today’s world while thematically connecting Mari’s past to her present.
Artist Jamal Campbell’s unique visuals — in his premiere DC work — of an ongoing blue and orange theme is probably what I love best about this book, the artwork alone is worth the price of the one-shot. It is obvious that co-authors Steve Orlando (Midnighter, Detective Comics) and Jody Houser (Mother Panic) have a good understanding of this character and present a sense of confidence while mixing a meaningful message to create another strong JLA heroine addition to the line up of DC’s post Rebirth world with lots of potential. 4/5 Bibles.
I can’t wait until the end of this review to tell you how much I loved this comic! Tom Taylor (Injustice, Batman/Superman) captured all the cheesiness of the old 90’s MMPR show, and still managed to capture everything I love about DC characters. Quick synopsis: ominous opening, flashback, Lord Zedd attacks the command center, something breaks, rangers are sent to the DC Universe. That’s your typical crossover beginning, but if its not broken, don’t fix it. The Rangers meet up with a couple DC heroes, and chaos ensues.
The premise is simple but effective, and the characters feel like you’re stepping back into your childhood. I, also, have to give it up to Stephen Byrne (Green Arrow) for his Saturday morning cartoon style on the art and colors. It really helped make me want a bowl of cereal, a glass of OJ, and the full stack of this series. I really cannot wait to see where this goes! 4.5/5 Power Coins.
Out in a West Texas town of no name
Roy Quinlan fell in love with an Alzheimer-ed geezer
Nighttime would find them in Tornado’s cantina
Music would howl and Demonic would creeper
Blacker than night were the eyes of this Demon
Wicked and evil while conjuring up Hell
Roy’s love was deep for this Alzheimer-ed senior
He loved Papa Emmett, and that 12’ sword did it swell
That night did this wild Demon come in
Vile as East Texas and dripping with sin
Slashing and swearing, his fear he was sharing
Ohh wicked Demonic, the one that would scare
So in danger Papa championed his love for his junior
Down went his fist with the blade that he bore
Emmett’s challenge was answered in less than a backslash
That dastardly Demon lay dead by the door
Just for a moment he bled there in silence
Dropped by the saintly deed Papa did done
Many slashes hacked through his brain as he stood there
He’ll have many more chances to sever and gun
Inspired by the song, El Paso, written and performed by Marty Robbins, 1959.
Donny Cates (Interceptor, Buzzkill), Verses
Geoff Shaw (Buzzkill, The Paybacks), Visions
Jason Wordie (Johnny Red, Plunder), Chromatics
John J. Hill (Nailbiter, Harley Quinn), Inscriptions
2.5/5 Godless Seasons.