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<p>Everybody knows that Clark Kent is Superman and Bruce Wayne is Batman — remembering Wonder Woman’s alter ego might take you a while, though.</p>







Wonder Woman: Love And Murder

Authors: Jodi Picoult, Terry Dodson, Drew Johnson, Paco Diaz

Publisher: DC Comics

Price: $23.99/$19.99 US (Hardcover)

*** 1/2 (out of five)





Everybody knows that Clark Kent is Superman and Bruce Wayne is Batman — remembering Wonder Woman’s alter ego might take you a while, though.





Not much attention has been spent developing the Amazon warrior’s human guise over the past several years and she had, perhaps, lost some of her humanity.





Enter Jodi Picoult, author of 14 novels, including the recent New York Times bestseller, Nineteen Minutes.





As the first female writer to take on the character’s regular monthly series, Picoult set to the task of breathing a little bit more of that human element into Wonder Woman, using her alias of Diana Prince to walk among the people she protects.





Just as she’s starting to make a little progress, Wonder Woman is forced to take on her old enemy, Circe, avoid the U.S. government who want to take her in for questioning in a murder case and to try to stop her mother from destroying Washington. D.C.





Love And Murder is a solid story with some clever observations on the oddness of Wonder Woman’s everyday life and it leads nicely into DC Comics’ Amazons Attack crossover series, which is now available in collected form.












The Goon: Chinatown And The Mystery Of Mr. Wicker

Creator: Eric Powell

Dark Horse Books

$19.95 US (Hardcover)

**** (out of five)





The Goon is the toughest crook in town and everybody knows it, but the mysterious Mr. Wicker is keen to test that fact.





Bit by bit, the Goon’s territory, business and allies (even his best friend Franky) all get gobbled up by his supernaturally powerful rival, and the challenge to get it all back forces our hero to reflect back to a time when he was a better person — a man in love — back in Chinatown.





Creator Eric Powell finally draws back the curtain on some of the Goon’s greatest mysteries, including how he came by his trademark facial scars, in a stirring and notably darker original graphic novel than the Goon’s bimonthly Dark Horse Comics series.










Ex Machina Vol. 6: Power Down

Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, Jim Clark, JD Metler

Wildstorm/DC Comics

$15.99/$12.99 US (Paperback)

*** 1/2





Mitchell Hundred has wished thousands of times that his ability to communicate with inanimate objects would just go away and leave him in peace — until one day it did.





The former superhero known as The Great Machine, who turned his fame into a successful move into becoming mayor of New York City, Hundred finds himself powerless just as the infamous blackout of 2003 strikes.





Without the ability to make a gun jam or any other device come to his rescue, the mayor is forced to face off against a madman who holds his mother and his mentor hostage.





Making matters even more complicated is the fact this gun-wielding fiend may actually be able to help Hundred put some pieces together regarding the accident that gave him his abilities.





The dynamic duo of writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Tony Harris just continue to up the ante on their outstanding Wildstorm series.










The Flash: Wonderland

Geoff Johns, Angel Unzueta, Doug Hazlewood

DC Comics

$15.99/$12.99 US (Paperback)

*** 1/2





It’s amazing how much a person can accomplish in just six issues.





Having already proven he knew his stuff as a comic book writer with Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E., Geoff Johns landed his dream project back in 2000: The Flash.





A life-long fan of the Scarlet Speedster, Johns picked up the reigns of this DC cornerstone series for a six-issue story arc and managed to stretch it out for half a decade, creating a signature run that will be hard for any future scribe to match.





So how did it all begin?





Displaying his love for adding great depth to the villains of the DC Universe, Johns teamed the Flash, a.k.a Wally West, up with Captain Cold and Mirror Master as they attempt to get themselves out of a mixed up parallel world where there has never been a Flash.





Things don’t get much better when the hero and his ne’er do well allies find their way home as they discover their native city has vanished — along with Wally’s wife!





With a passion for his characters so evident, it was easy to like Johns’ work on this series right from the start and given that the rest of it had already been available in collected form, it’s great that this final piece — where it all began — is now out there, too.










Green Arrow: Road To Jericho

Judd Winick, Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens

DC Comics

$21.99/$17.99 US (Paperback)

****





Broken, bloodied and beaten, Green Arrow was left to die as his city crumbled around him.





Thing is, he’s just too stubborn to die.





DC Comics’ One Year Later event, which fast forwarded all of its series 365 days, showed us a new Oliver Queen, one who blended his night job as the bow and arrow wielding vigilante Green Arrow with a new day job: Mayor of Star City.





How Oliver managed to come up with the plan to get that job, and how Green Arrow remade himself as a much more dangerous combatant, though, remained a mystery — until now.





Road To Jericho, written by Judd Winick and drawn by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens, reveals how Oliver went through extensive training with some of the world’s deadliest fighters, including some on the wrong side of the law, to help hone his abilities in the wake of getting beaten down by Merlyn and Dr. Light.





This whopping and highly enjoyable 10-issue collection also contains an interesting little superhero team up with Batman and culminates with an all-out battle against Deathstroke and a shocking scene that ends with Ollie, the most notorious womanizer of a hero, on one knee.










American Virgin Vol. 3: Wet

Steven T. Seagle, Becky Cloonan, Jim Rugg

Vertigo/DC Comics

$15.99/$12.99 US (Paperback)

*** ½





Just when Adam Chamberlain thought his life couldn’t get any weirder…





After a turbulent few months where the deep faith of the teen virginity advocate was tested by the murder of his girlfriend, Cassie, and later witnessing the death of her killer, Adam is back home in the U.S. looking to get back to work.





Unfortunately the plane ride back to Miami ends with it skidding off the runway and Adam having a near-death experience that makes him question whether Cassie was truly the only woman he was ever meant to be with.





Now, with a little help from his shady stepbrothers, Adam attempts to track down Miss Right among a handful of women that he met years ago — an undertaking that leads the formerly clean-cut youth pastor into some more remarkably seedy situations.





If you think you’ve been shocked by previous collections of American Virgin, written by Steven T. Seagle and drawn Becky Cloonan and Jim Rugg, you won’t believe your eyes when you read volume 3.










Robin: Teenage Wasteland

Adam Beechen, Freddie Williams II, Frazer Irving

DC Comics

$21.99/$17.99 US (Paperback)

*** ½





Doing homework, meeting girls and stopping crimes.





OK, so Tim Drake’s got a few different priorities than your average teenager, but in spite of the fact he spends his nights as Robin, The Boy Wonder, he’s still pretty normal.





In Teenage Wasteland, writer Adam Beechen, with help from the excellent artistic tandem of Freddie Williams II and Frazer Irving, does a nice job of balancing the angst of high school life (as Tim tries to woo his lovely tutor, Zoanne) and his action on the streets (where his decision to spurn a would-be sidekick named Dodge comes back to haunt him — big-time).





The big question is: Can Tim successfully keep juggling his dual life or will it all come crashing down on top of him?










Nightwing: Love And War

Marv Wolfman, Dan Jurgens, Jamal Igle

DC Comics

$17.99/$14.99 US

***





He can’t seem to catch the newest supervillain in town, he’s having rotten luck with women and he can’t seem to find a job that he’d like to do.





Times are tough for the handsome, wealthy, athletic hero known as Nightwing.





With comic book writing icon Marv Wolfman (New Teen Titans, Crisis On Infinite Earths) at the helm, the adventures of the now-full-grown Dick Grayson, formerly the boy sidekick known as Robin, promised to take an upward turn.





The unfortunate truth is that in Love And War, Nightwing comes off as whiny and self-absorbed as he laments things like not being able to find a job he’ll enjoy (even though he’s got all the money he’ll ever need), having little luck meeting women (in spite of the fact that he’s handsome, charming and athletic) and can’t seem to stop the masked villain called the Raptor (even though a few months ago he helped save the multiverse).





Boo hoo.





While the action in this latest Nightwing book is quick paced and often eye catching, all the whining from someone who’s seemingly got it is just a little hard to take.










Northlanders #1

Brian Wood, Davide Gianfelice

Vertigo/DC Comics

$3.65/$2.99 US

****


Brian Wood sure has a knack for telling strong stories about people and communities.





His series like DMZ and Local are outstanding because they establish deep and complex characters and, just as importantly, flesh out the places they live in just as in-depth a manner.





Oh, sure, Northlanders — set in northern Scotland in the Viking age in 980 A.D. — is a bit of a departure from the vast cityscapes that Wood’s readers may be used to, but the same formula is there.





This debut issue, drawn in gruesome glory by Davide Gianfelice, follows Sven, a young warrior who has long since abandoned his family’s homeland and now captains a ship on the southern seas, as he returns to the harsh and rugged north to confront his uncle and reclaim what is rightfully his.





With the same grit and depth that makes DMZ such a compelling title, Wood opens up the ancient world in Northlanders in a series that is sure to resonate with modern readers.










Salvation Run #1 (of 7)

Bill Willingham, Sean Chen, Walden Wong

DC Comics

$3.65/$2.99 US

****





Welcome to Murder World.





Thanks to the continued death and destruction they reap, the villains of the DC Universe are going on a little (forced) vacation.





Instead of locking them up in the prisons that they so routinely escape from, they are being rounded up by Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad and transported to a planet on the other side of the galaxy where they can live out their days without harming another innocent soul.





Yeah, right.





With sneaks like the Flash’s Rogues (Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Weather Wizard, Mirror Master), Batman’s baddies (the Joker, Clayface, Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc) and a dozen others, with more on the way, there’s not much chance they’re going to sit quietly.





Now, thanks to writer Bill Willingham and artists Sean Chen and Walden Wong, we all get to sit back and watch the DCU’s version of ultimate Survivor — knowing the winners are going to be supremely pissed off when they figure out how to get home.










Wonder Woman #14

Gail Simone, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson

DC Comics

$3.65/$2.99 US

****





As the old adage goes: Every comic book writer’s got a Superman story.





Only a select few, however, have one for Wonder Woman.





Gail Simone has made a name for herself as one of the top writers in the industry with remarkable runs on series like Birds Of Prey, Action Comics and Secret Six, but a part of her heart and mind have always been on the Amazon Princess.





She knew that one day she’d get her shot and, thankfully for readers, that day is here.





Simone, along with the husband-and-wife art team of Terry and Rachel Dodson, kicks off her run telling the monthly adventures of Wonder Woman by pitting her in a deadly battle against sentient gorillas and later revealing the Department of Metahuman Affairs has opened a covert investigation of Diana Prince (the warrior’s human alias) and that her Amazon homeland of Themyscira is in danger on two deadly fronts.





Simone’s passion for the character is already bubbling to the surface and her turn telling Wonder Woman’s adventures promises to be epic.










Batman And The Outsiders #1

Chuck Dixon, Julian Lopez, Bit

DC Comics

$3.65/$2.99 US

*** 1/2





Desperate times call for desperate measures and nobody knows that better than Batman.





Realizing that the Justice League needs to keep its actions completely above board, the Dark Knight gathers the remnants of the most recent group of heroes to call themselves the Outsiders (Metamorpho, Thunder, Grace, Katana), added a few familiar faces (Catwoman, Martian Manhunter) and created a team that could do some real dirty work.





This debut issue sees the new team infiltrating a high-tech facility that could contain some really nasty radioactive materials — only to discover what they’re really hiding is much, much worse.





Seeing how far Batman and the Outsiders will go in the pursuit of justice ought to make this a monthly book worth reading.










Crawl Space #1

Rick Remender, Kieron Dwyer, Tony Moore

Image Comics

$2.99

****





Zombies and 70s porno in one sweet series: Welcome to the Crawl Space.





Jenny and Scott are new to the adult movie business and are expecting a few bumps (if you’ll pardon the pun), but they have no way to be ready for a zombie plague that sweeps across Los Angeles and right on to the set of their movie — where one of the undead ends up in the action!





From Rick Remender, Kieron Dwyer and Tony Moore — the former two the minds that brought you the vampire-pirate comic, Sea Of Red — comes one of the sickest, funniest and most wonderfully wrong books of the year.










Fearless #1 (of 4)

Mark Sable, David Roth, P.J. Holden

Image Comics

$2.99 US

*** 1/2





The only thing crime has to fear is Fear himself.





Millionaire Adam Rygert, once a painfully anxious child who was tormented by other kids, has learned to conquer his fear using a unique chemical compound developed by his mentor and he uses it along with a high-tech supersuit to battle crime as the hero, Fear.





When his campaign brings him into conflict with a powerful crime family, they villains are determined to strike back and Adam comes face to face with one of his worst nightmares.





Written by Mark Sable, the man behind the highly entertaining miniseries Grounded, and drawn by David Roth and P.J. Holden, Fearless looks to be a real nail-biter of an action-adventure.










Proof #1

Alex Grecian, Riley Rossmo, Tyler Jenkins

Image Comics

$3.25/$2.99 US

*** 1/2





Ginger Brown has seen some truly inexplicable things in her job as a New York City cop, but none of it could prepare her for meeting her new partner.





After encountering a real, live (or dead, as the case may be) Golem while trying to break up a diamond store robbery, Ginger’s report on the incident earns her scorn from her superiors, but also catches the eyes of some people involved with a very special agency.





Next thing you know and Ginger has been transferred to Washington state and finds her self face-to-face with a nine-foot tall Bigfoot named John “Proof” Prufrock — her new partner — and the two get their first assignment: Stop a people-hungry Chupacabra (a.k.a. the Mexican Bigfoot) from snacking in a Minnesota state park.





Likeable characters and an interesting setup make Proof a new comic to watch.










Teen Titans East Special #1

Judd Winick, Ian Churchill, Norm Rapmund

DC Comics

$4.75/$3.99 US

*** 1/2





The Titans are back in New York City — or at least they were for a few hours.





Vic Stone, a.k.a. Cyborg, is ready to revive the Titans on the East Coast (the current Teen Titans moved out West several years ago), and after getting rejected by longtime members like Nightwing, The Flash, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and others, he sets his sights in a new direction.





Thus is born a team made up of Hawk and Dove, Power Boy, Little Barda, Anima, Son of Vulcan and, ahem, Lagoon Boy.





But on the their first training mission — a war game where the new squad tries to capture Power Boy — tragedy strikes and the new team is attacked and left bloodied and broken.





Who will be left to pick up the pieces?





After a pretty solid setup issue, readers now have to wait for the answer in the all-new Titans #1, featuring the return of some of those longtime members mentioned earlier, coming sometime (don’t ask me when) in 2008.





jonathan.kuehlein@metronews.ca





With a den filled with thousands and thousands of comics, Jonathan P. Kuehlein is Metro’s professional geek. He is, however, 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, so you probably shouldn’t call him that to his face.


 
 
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