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Tuesday, December 23, 2008
What You Need
Some mornings, it's a picture of Wildcat groping Power Girl
"Karen didn't seem to like that much, Ted." "Yeah, well, that's what Joan said last night, Jay." "What?" "You heard me!" "But it doesn't make sense..." "Yeah, well, that's what she said." "What?"
"Say, Jay, what happened to Joan? Weren't you supposed to be bringing her?" "Well, I certainly didn't vibrate her atoms into a wall because she threatened to tell you and Ted about my premature ejaculation problem, if that's what you're implying Alan." "What?" "Nothing." "Did someone say ejaculation?" "Not now, Ted."
"Hey, Clark, I ever tell you about the time I tricked a female astronaut into thinking the Earth had been destroyed and we had to recreate the human species on an alien planet?" "Yes, Bruce. You have. Many times. That's exactly the sort of behavior that I'm sure makes your parents proud of you." "...Screw you, Clark." "What, do I look like an astronaut to you?"
"*sob* They just didn't know...how much it hurt...to be Superboy, Bruce." "What, am I your therapist now, Clark?" "I'm sorry, Bruce, I just thought, you know, seeing your parents gunned down in front of you might make you more sensitive to the pain of child-hood."
"I don't get it, Clark. I can do twelve backflips from a standing position, know a dozen ways to cripple a man with my pinkie, but I can't hit a damn baseball." "Well, Bruce, I know when I was a kid, my dad took me out to the fields every day and practiced throwing and hitting a ball with me. It's just a question of muscle memory." "..." "Oh, right, sorry. I forgot." "Screw you, Clark."
So, I've been amused by DC Universe: Decisions, and not particularly in the "wow, this is a really good comic" sort of way. Now, this comic series isn't as bad as you've been hearing, not by a long shot...but it's not any good either. I've been enjoying it as "stupid DC fun", and since it's been coming out during the Final Crisis skip-month, it's also filled my "DC heroes team up and bicker" quota for the month.
But it's still hard, even as someone who is finding some enjoyment in it, to see what the point of the series is, other than to give people on message-boards something to complain about. To be sure, there are the usual complaints about the writers, Bill Willingham and Judd Winick, mostly of the fan-anger and fan-entitlement varieties. I was hoping for more overt attempts to alienate fans from characters by revealing previously unguessed at abhorrent political beliefs of various super-heroes, like finding out that the Question is a Libertarian with Objectivist overtones (oh, wait...), as I joked about in this post. So far, the closest we've come is the laughable revelation that Lois Lane is a Republican:
I mean, this characterization can sorta work...if this is the hateful, emasculating shrew Lois of the Golden and Silver Age Superman comics. But the modern Lois is a muck-racking journalist with an emphasis on exposing corporate crime, and her background consists pretty much of rebelling against her hard-line conservative military father. I mean, the whole reason that the Lois Lane as Bill O'Reilly bit works in Trinity is that it represents a complete inversion of the character's personality:
And we can tell this is what Busiek is going for, because the same issue gives us mobster Dick Grayson and nerd Donna Troy. But Lois as a Republican in the mainstream DCU? That's just laughable. That's making a character a Republican just to do it. It shows no thought or creativity.
Which is the big problem with Decisions, it's lazy. For a book that's supposed to tell us the political opinions of super-heroes, all we've really been told is that Green Arrow and Guy Gardner are jack-asses. We don't know anything about the politics of the candidates, which makes the endorsements from the various heroes utterly meaningless. We can infer something about their policies based on who endorses who: Green Arrow's candidate is probably a far left liberal activist who is more than willing to pay lip service to progressive politics, and then ditch them when they become politically inconvenient, because that's just the kind of candidate old Ollie would gravitate towards. And we can presume that Guy Gardner's candidate is just shy of being a fascist because it's inconceivable that Guy would support anyone else. That Hawkman, who pretty much is a fascist, supports the same candidate would seem to support this, except that Power Girl, a militant feminist, supports the same candidate as well. Which leads me to the real significant problem with this comic:
You see that? That's Wildcat and Power Girl supporting the same politician. And this is how I know the book has lazy writing, because it's painfully apparent that neither Willingham nor Winnick has ever read a book with Wildcat or Power Girl in it before. Ted and Karen...agreeing on something? No, never, that's simply not going to happen. Since Power Girl was first introduced, she and Wildcat have never agreed on anything, and they will pointedly disagree on things just to get a rise out of the other. I mean, come on...let's get on the ball here and at least write Wildcat correctly, guys.
Two things: One, judging by that second panel, Lana forgot to mention the role meth played in her current situation. And two, since when does Silver Age Lois give a damn about anyone but herself? What is this, Bizarro-World?
Inter-office romances weren't unusual in the Justice League, especially amongst the characters without regular titles of their own. Zatanna alone worked her way through most of the team at one point. But, before DC editorial selected Green Arrow as Black Canary's most obvious partner, they did briefly experiment with giving her a romance with another Leaguer.
Oh, go cry about it, Dinah. You are? Well, all right then.
"Everyday affairs" is a particularly cruel way of reminding her that she's not from this Earth...has no friends...no job...nothing to live for except monitor duty, really.
Wait, I know this one...Selina! Talia! Vicki! Silver! Dick! Cripes, Bruce has had a lot of "one true loves."
What I like about this panel is that it's almost as if Dick Dillin is daring Roy Lichenstein to swipe it.
And now, Bruce Wayne, Ladies Man:
"With the awkward tenderness of a man?" Really? Because, honestly, what he's most likely thinking in that moment is that he knows twelve ways to cripple her from that position.
And Bruce moves in...GOAL!
And then Dinah remembered her dead husband and Bruce realized that in the time he spent kissing her, the Joker could have escaped from Arkham and killed a half-dozen people. And besides, he can't surrender any of his vital energies while he wages his war on crime...
Before there was "the internet" comic fans used to share their opinions about stories by writing these things called "letters" and doing this thing called "mailing them" to the editors and publishers of the comics. This was bad, because it meant that it took several months after the publication of a comic to see what other people thought about it. This was good, because it meant that the bug-fuck crazy fans didn't get their letters printed. Also, there was no such thing as scans_daily. So basically the good outweighed the bad.
So, since I alluded to the "Snapper Carr betrays the Justice League to the Joker, because apparently Snapper is the world's biggest idiot" story yesterday, I thought I'd share some period reactions to the story:
I love that idea that it's simply implausible for the Joker to defeat the Justice League. At the time, the team's membership consisted of three aliens and a woman from a parallel reality...but the Joker taking out the League, no, that's straining credibility...
As I've done every year prior, I undertook the masochistic task of getting my hands on, and reading, and reviewing, every single Free Comic Book Day book available. This year I missed out on a few, as they failed to get to me in time. I've heard that I didn't miss anything. The review scale is the same as before. If I say Get It, that means that I think the book is worth your attention. If I say It's Free, that means either the book is good, but nothing exciting, and you should probably either be happy with it for being free or pass. Avoid, I would hope, is self-explanatory.
All Star Superman The best Superman comic in decades, with fantastic art and a real sense of humanity in the writing? If you haven't already been picking up this book, read this, and lose all your excuses for not getting it. Get It
Amelia Rules: Comics and Stories An engaging cast of characters, in all ages stories, with suitably dramatic and emotive stories without being preachy, condescending or reminiscent of an after-school special. Oh, and also funny and well drawn. Get It
Atomic Robo The lead story here is a fun adventure comic featuring robots, crazy Russian scientists and explosions. It's a little reminiscent of Hellboy in tone, but in a good way. It's Free
Bongo Comics Free-For-All Several inoffensive Simpsons stories, mildly amusing at best, but nothing remarkable. The best thing in the book is the art on Nina Matsumoto's manga-fied Simpsons story. It's Free
Broken Trinity Prelude A text-heavy recapping of the last several years worth of Witchblade and Darkness comics. The art has a nice, painterly quality to it, but the story is simply dreadful. Avoid
Cartoonapalooza Highly uneven in terms of subject matter and artistic quality, there's some momentary diversion to be found here, but nothing very compelling. It's Free
Comic Book Challenge Showcase A flip-book, with Hero By Night, a well-drawn but somewhat derivative super-hero comic, and Gunplay, a western with utterly undecipherable plot details, just based on this preview. It's Free
Comic Book Diner A collection of all-ages, and mostly very young-skewing at that, stories. As with most of the anthology titles, the quality of material is very uneven, but overall there's more good than bad or indifferent here. It's Free
Comics Go Hollywood A sampling of articles from magazines published by TwoMorrows about comic books and film. It's mostly interesting, but it's almost explicitly aimed at the older, long-time comic fan, and much of the material feels a bit randomly chosen and not particularly relevant to the interests of a new or casual comic book reader. It's Free
Dabel Brothers & Del Rey 2008 Preview A sampler of comics based on fantasy and sci-fi novels, overall of fairly good quality. The art on many stories is possibly too stylized to be of broad appeal, and the samples are a little short to be very effective, but not a bad package. It's Free
Dan Dare/Stranded What we have here is a not interesting at all science-fiction story and a revival of a decades long defunct British sci-fi property. It's hard to tell who the target audience for these is supposed to be, but since neither story is engaging in the slightest, it probably doesn't matter. Avoid
Drafted This is just horrible. Terrible art and a thread-bare concept that screams "buy me and turn me into a movie." Avoid
EC Sampler It's free EC stories, so there's no question as to the quality of material or its value, but only one of the stories really stand out as an iconic example of the EC style. A good idea, but not the best selection for this purpose. It's Free
Gekiga Two excerpts from Drawn & Quarterly's mini-line of, for lack of a better phrase, "indie" manga books. It's good material, and the excerpts stand alone and create interest in the complete story. Get It
Graphic Classics A broad selection of artists adapt great works of literature into comics form. A stand-out collection. Get It
Gyro Gearloose A bit of a disappointment compared to previous Disney releases from Gemstone, as Gyro stories tend to be more than a little repetitive, even by the standards of Duck comics. It's Free
Hellboy Interesting supernatural adventure stories, but there's a strong suggestion here that you should probably already be more than passingly familiar with Hellboy and his supporting cast. It's Free
Ignatz Another uneven collection, this time with the added benefit of self-importance, in this sampler of books from Fantagraphics "Ignatz" line of comics. There are a few good stories here, in the few self-contained pieces, but overall there's little to impress. It's Free
Impact University Volumre 4 Nothing but a glorified ad for pricey "art instruction" books. Avoid
Jughead Even by the standards of contemporary Archie comics, this is tedious and charmless, and the advertorial nature of the inclusion of the Geppi's Entertainment Museum is off-putting. Avoid
Kid Houdini and the Silver-Dollar Misfits There's an interesting art style on display here, and the idea of a young Harry Houdini solving Scooby-Doo-esque mysteries with his gang of circus side-show freaks is quite clever. A complete story, however, would have been preferred. Get It
Love and Capes #7 This is a real charmer, a funny super-hero romance book with a distinctive and appealing art style. If you haven't read this before, this is a nice place to start and a good introduction to the book. Get It
Maintenance This was fun, a bit too impressed with it's own cleverness, but an amusing take on the "super-villain" concept focusing on the guys who have to do the actual heavy lifting. Get It
Marvel Adventures: Iron Man & Hulk & Spider-Man Fairly inoffensive, but feels a bit to "talks down" to kids a bit. As far as introducing new readers to the characters, it's an okay effort, and it nicely capitalizes on upcoming Marvel movies. It's Free
Maximum Ride As a manga-style adaptation of a young adult novel, there really isn't anything here to recommend it unless you're already familiar with and a fan of the novels. There isn't even any kind of recap page to explain why people have wings. Avoid
The Moth Nice art, but it's in service to a completely generic super-hero story. It's Free
Owly and Friends Nicely illustrated kid-friendly comics. Most of the stories are dialogue free, making this an excellent choice for pre-readers, and the art is simply lovely on almost all these stories, giving the book appeal to all readers. Get It
Project Super-Powers: The Death-Defying 'Devil Most of the book is actually taken up by ads, mostly focused on Dynamite's licensed properties. The main story is unremarkable, featuring characters that even long-time comic fans will probably have to strain to remember, and the format chosen, having the characters explain a past adventure, makes for an undynamic book. That the villain is one of the more egregious "Yellow Peril" characters ever produced does not help matters either. Avoid
Salem Queen of Thorns I might have liked this more, if it didn't seem like it only existed in order to have something to hand off to potential film investors. There's probably still some good entertainment to be wrought from the fantasy/mystery genre, and this isn't terrible by any means, but it feels like a means to an end, rather than a finished product. It's Free
Shonen Jump Special A good over-view of several Shonen Jump titles, marred by the in media res nature of two of the stories. It's Free
Sonic the Hedgehog There is a certain charm to this, and the art is lively. It does definitely talk down to kids, though, and suffers from the same sort of going-through-the-motions quirks that most Archie adventure books have historically displayed. It's Free
Tiny Titans Pure, undiluted joy. Great art, cute stories, and fun. Get It
Transformers Animated I was actually looking forward to reading this, as I think the character designs for the new Transformers cartoon are fantastic...and then I saw this was a poorly designed fumetti using blurry screenshots instead of an actually drawn book. Avoid
Wizard: How To Draw Wizard has a bad history of putting out completely inappropriate material for FCBD, but this is actually not bad, cover aside, with good drawing advice from talented artists. It's Free
Worlds of Aspen I've been reading comics a long time, and I can't tell what the hell is supposed to be going on in any of these stories. I even know the basic concepts of the books featured, and I still can't figure out what's going on. So either I'm a complete illiterate, or this is just inept. Avoid
X-Men A character I've never heard of, a new status quo for the X-books alluded to, but not really explained, and enemies that as far as I know haven't been seen since the seventies, and weren't very interesting then either. On top of all that, we've got the traced-over-porn art of Greg Land presenting all this to us. It's completely unpleasant to look at, but it's "slick" so I imagine it will go over well, so long as people only look at the pictures and don't try to read the damn thing. Avoid
DC's are up, and there's actually stuff here worth commenting on.
I'm just not feeling the Final Crisis trade dress yet. You've got your choice between the "sliver" image and the "iconic" image, and the allegedly iconic images frankly bore me, and the "sliver" design...it's just not working for me. I'll probably end up going with the "sliver" design because, frankly, they tie into the narrative, and I like my covers to represent what's in the book.
Final Crisis: Requiem A very special FINAL CRISIS one-shot honoring the passing of a great hero who’s been a staple in the DC Universe for years. All that remains is one final memory that the League experiences together as they must fulfill his last wishes or die trying! This is the solicited cover:
So, if you had any hopes of the Martian Manhunter making it out of this cross-over alive, well... (Right now, on scans_daily, someone just became the world's biggest Martian Manhunter fan...)
On the "vaguely ties into ongoing plot threads" scene, Final Crisis: Rogues Revenge and Reign in Hell look like they have the most potential to be entertaining, Rann/Thanagar: Holy War will be okay, but under-appreciated, and Ambush Bug: Year None will be brilliant and wildly hated for making fun of the wrong things, instead of feeding the confirmation biases of most super-hero fans.
I'm sure the five Joker's Asylum one-shots aren't just a shameless attempt to have as much Batman and Joker branded comics on the shelves in time for the movie to come out, oh no... (And while I like the idea of Two-Face: Year One, it seems to be part of the same impulse.)
I'm actually disappointed that Catwoman and The All New Atom are cancelled, as I was enjoying those. Will Pfeifer's run on Catwoman was good enough his next book gets an automatic look from me (and, oh man, am I ever hoping that it's not yet another Avengers or X-Men spin-off). But I'm always annoyed that books I like get cancelled and books that are simply terrible live on. Like Robin.
Blue Beetle gets a new writers, and as nervous as I was about John Rogers ending his tenure on the book, Matthew Sturges, from what I've seen so far, should do quite well as well. Like the also recently returned Manhunter, this is one of the books you really should be reading for good super-hero adventure stories.
Oh, my, that's a lot of implied penis on the cover for Justice Society of America Annual #1...I hope the fanboys can take it without having panic attacks...
Long forgotten, and in one case, probably deservedly so, cross-overs Millennium and Invasion! finally get trade collections. AT $20 and $25 dollars, they seem a little pricey, but given that Millennium alone had about 500 cross-overs, those are bargain prices. I'm sure showing other publishers that DC already did those stories never factored into the decision to put these out at this point in time...
At the kid-friendlier DC line, Mike Kunkel's Shazam series starts, the surprisingly better than you thought it would be Super Friends continues, and look who shows up in Tiny Titans:
(Wait...is Arm Fall Off Boy seriously appearing in Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century? Really?)
Okay, so Christos Gage hasn't done me wrong yet, and that whole Armageddon/Revelations/Number of the Beast story-arc in the Wildstorm books has proven to be pretty good...I'm still reluctant to pick up a new Wildcats book.
G'Nort action figure:
The world just got a little bit better.
Another World of Warcraft action figure gets solicited, and I only have three words to say:
I was really looking forward to this new Booster Gold comic that DC is putting out, "Showcase Presents Booster Gold" because I thought, finally DC had seen the error of their ways and given us a new Booster Gold comic instead of the horrible character assasination Geoff Johns is putting out.
And it's not DC, under that ragime of Didiot, has once again spit on the face of one of the most imporant and vital characters in comic book history. In this new comic, which is stupidly thick, it's more like some sort of weird manga type book instead of a real comic, Booster is once again portrayed as a selfish, vain, egotistical man instead of the selfless and noble hero that all true Booster fans know him to be.
I've selected a few choice and particularly egregiious panels to show you what I mean, since I CANNOT in good conscience suggest to any of the Booster fans that they waste their hard earned money on this trash!
Booster would never place ahigher priorty on the value of property than on a human life. HIS SISTER DIED! Do you really think he'd be so callous?
Booster would never be so sexist as to demean women by making Black Canary lingerie. I don't even know what that is, and I don't want to know, probably another sick fetish of Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison that they forced the other DC writers to include in this book.
I agree with what Booster is saying her, because Superman is a moral failure as a character for failing to take the VERY REAL threat of terrorism seriously and deal with it, but the problem I have here is that Booster would never be so ungracious to another hero as to criticise them in public.
BOOSTER IS A FRIEND TO THE LITTLE GUY! He is a supporter of working Americans and would not do anything that would stop them from having the American dream and that includes owning an AMERICAN_MADE car.
Booster would never have anything to do with the corrupt American film industry an dtheir unpatriotic ways. he's not some wrong coast Hollyweird elitist scumbag who hates average working Americans. He was a football player, for gosh sake.
I have saved the worst for last
This is just sick. This is some kind of sick caricature of G. Gordon Liddy, another true American hero, and here he is being made to say these awful, not true things about Booster. It's vile and sick and everyone associated with this book should be arrested if there was any justice in this country.
Something has really gone wrong at DC. This is really just a symptom of a larger problem. What DC needs to do is take the advice of people like my friend who used to work as the assistant to the mail room manager at DC before they fired him because it's people like him who really know what the problem is which is the free reign given to character disrespecting writers like Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison and it's all the fault of the incompetent clods in upper management like Levitz and Didio.
This book is just one more disgrace. I have no idea who this Dan Jurgens is who wrote and drew this book, but he owes the creator of Booster Gold an apology!!!
Ultimate Spider-Man #123 begins a storyline that ties into a Spider-Man video game. If ever a title had what the kids call a "jumping off point" a video-game tie-in issue is probably it.
Ultimate X-Men #95 tentatively interests me. First, the new writer can't possibly be any worse on the book than the last few have been, and this:
Is that Ultimate Beak? Okay, yeah, I can hang with that.
I mentioned the other day that I like Todd Nauck's art, and the next couple of issues of American Dream are solicited. I kinda like the "Spider-Girl" family of titles. They're not ground-breaking, oh no, but they have their charm. If nothing else, they're frequently the only Marvel titles where the marquee characters aren't acting like colossal dicks.
While I'm on subject: Avengers/Invaders #2 is drawn by Steve Sadowski, and I can't get him drawing more comics with Wildcat in them, I'll settle for this. I just hope it avoids the "let's do a serious and grim version of Super Friends!" thing that bogged down Justice.
I find the optimism in starting a third ongoing Hulk series to be touching. And a bit touched.
I'm genuinely surprised at how disinterested I am in Secret Invasion. So, it's a soft reboot of various characters, that creates an even more potentially nightmarish mess of keeping continuity straight? And the major heroes are still acting like assholes? Yeah, I'm really not interested. At least World War Hulk had a very easy to understand through-line, even if they botched the ending by removing culpability from the people who sent Hulk out into space in the first place. I mean come on! *ahem* Anyway, I was all set to ignore the series and settle back to watch other people wring their hair over it (and honestly, trying to hype it by having Patton Oswalt talk up all the "kewl deaths" just makes it worse! The guy's good, but he's been terribly over-hyped by nerds seeking validation, as if his success was somehow because of his nerdy obsessions, not in spite of them and...) *cough* So, as I was saying, I was going to pass, but then I spotted this:
SECRET INVASION: RUNAWAYS/YOUNG AVENGERS #1 (of 3) Written by CHRISTOPHER YOST Penciled by TAKESHI MIYAZAWA Cover by MICHAEL RYAN The Skrulls are invading and the Runaways and the Young Avengers both have a Skrull on their team. Coincidence? We think not. You two favorite teen teams come together again as the Marvel U is pushed to the brink. 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99
Well, it's only a three issue tie-in series. I can live with that.
It's been awhile since we had one, but here's Marvel's Beefcake Of The Month:
Trinity is probably going to be the book to watch. Yeah, DC has shown that they can do a weekly series, but a weekly series with the same writer and artist? Yeah, that's going to be a neat trick.
I see there's a Robin/Spoiler special coming out. Man, I hope they kill her off again soon. No, I'm serious. Complaining about Spoiler gave the crazy people something to keep themselves occupied, so that the rest of us could go on with our lives. I mean, just imagine what kind of damage would be wrought on the world if the "scans_daily" crowd took that complaining about Spoiler energy and directed it towards health care reform...we'd all be dead of some vile new plague... (A plague, by the way, they would somehow still manage to blame on Dan Didio...)
The Brave and the Bold is a book that's perennially on the bubble with me. I'm not sure in which direction having Scott Kollins on art will push me: drop or keep.
Manhunter is back! Manhunter is back! Yeah, that gets me a little excited. Hmm...that good news may require a bit of...special treatment...in the near future.
I want to put up a picture of the cover to the final JSA Classified, as it's Wildcat, but it's also Dough Mahnke, and his work just does nothing for me. On the plus side, I remain blindly optimistic that the book got cancelled because DC plans a Wildcat & Son ongoing. Hey, if Hulk can have two, and one for his son, even though historically the character's sales barely justify one, I can hold out hope...
I'm also stupidly excited about the JLA hard-cover reprinting the Grant Morrison run, as now I can re-read those stories as often as I want without wrecking my existing comics. Plus, both Marvel and DC put some intensely stupid things out in hard-cover, it's nice to see something that deserves a nice treatment get one.
More Diana Prince: Wonder Woman is on the way, and no, the stories still aren't any damn good, but I will be buying this because I want the series to last long enough to reprint the Delany stories, dammit!
This is a fantastic cover:
I would also encourage anyone who was upset by my earlier comments about Spoiler and "scans_daily" to read Super Friends. No conflict, nothing bad happens to anyone, and everything gets reset at the end. It's the perfect comic for some of the fans out there...
A Chuck comic? Really? That's as left-field, coming-out-of as a Lost Boys 2 comic. But with Huan and Noto on art, it will at least look good.
I had to scroll down quite a bit to find something appropriate for the DC's Beefcake of the Month
Too bad the solicitation rather gives away a plot point. Not one anyone hadn't already guessed, but still.
As sad as I am to see the passing of The Exterminators, I'm slightly mollified to see a new Matt Wagner book, Madame Xanadu coming out.
Speaking of World of Warcraft, sort of, a third batch of action figures is coming out. And there's still no Tauren. But we get yet another pissy little Blood Elf...come on guys, get on the ball...
It's two whole months in a row where there was enough amazing/horrifying things in Previews to warrant a post.
Let's start with Dark Horse
That is easily the evilest cat I've ever seen.
But that's okay, between Indiana Jones Adventures, The Complete K Chronicles and Wondermark: Beards of our Forefathers the publisher easily makes up scaring a year or two off my life-span with horrifying Japanese cats.
It's not directly relevant to the issue of Buffy solicited here, but I do want to note that straight guys congratulating themselves for their commitment to diversity by putting hawt lesbo sex into their films, comics and tv shows really aren't fooling anyone at this point. Of course, I'm sure someone will pop along any minute now to lecture me about how Buffy having sex with another woman for the titillation of her male fanbase is empowering to women...somehow...
There are actually quite a number of things coming out from DC that are interesting, but they're interesting in that "I've been reading super-hero comics for 25+ years and this looks like an entertaining example of the genre." Which is a rather select value of "interesting" but there you go.
Image has a new issue of Tod Nauck's under-rated Wildguard comic...and another beefcake-ish figure from McFarlane Toys...that's two months in a row. Weird.
Avengers/Invaders is drawn by Steve Sadowski, so that'll look good...and, yeah...that's about as nice as I can be to Marvel this month.
All I'm willing to say in public about Dave Sim's Judenhass at this time: yeah, something tells me this isn't going to end well.
This is awfully random merchandising:
I know others have mentioned it, but this “zombie variant cover” shit has got to stop:
At this rate I fully expect Archie to get in on the action.
Gemstone brings us the third collection of Carl Barks Duck stories paired with a sequel by Don Rosa. This is a very good thing.
Knockabout Comics has an adaptation of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Hunt Emerson. This is going to be one of those very good, very worthwhile comics that almost no one will talk about.
Grant Morrison’s Doctor Who story “The World Shapers” is collected by Panini. Doctor Who. By Grant Morrison. It pretty much goes without saying that you should be buying it.
Platinum Studios has something called I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space. For ninety-nine cents. From Platinum Studios. Only $ 0.99. Platinum Studios... I’m genuinely torn...
Radical Comics seems to have slipped under my radar, but I see they have a Free Comic Book Day sampler coming out, and a very potentially beefcake-tastic Hercules comic, as well as a Western retelling of Arthurian legends. Both these ideas are interesting to me, even if the samples in Previews look a bit heavily Photo-shopped for my tastes, coloring wise. I’m cautiously curious.
There is what appears to be a fumetti version of the live-action Asterix film Asterix at the Olympic Games coming out from Sterling Publishing. I’d really rather know when a Region 1 release of the live-action films can be expected.
Viz is re-releasing Rumiko Takahashi’s One Pound Gospel, which surprises me, as I seemed to recall it not selling well during its inital release. At all. Like, below Urusei Yatsura levels, which Ranma 1/2 and Inu-Yasha fans seemed to reject in droves. I’ll probably pick it up this time. Though I would really like to see the return of Urusei Yatsura... They’ve also got the Kazuo Umezu series Cat Eyed Boy, which feels pricey for manga at $25 a volume, but look at this:
Yeah, I’m there.
Okay, so I know I was just praising the idea of Indiana Jones Adventures, but an Indiana Jones Magazine just seems like over-kill. We’re going to be sick to death of Indy by the time the movie comes out, aren’t we. It’s going to be The Phantom Menace all over again.
Of course, a magazine isn’t as much overkill as a "fake leather" $75 hard-cover...
Previews also has John Barrowman’s auto-biography, Anything Goes, solicited for sale...that’s a little surprising. It’s mostly about his career in theater.
"Say Mr. Comics Retailer, I wish to purchase a t-shirt that advertises to the world my devotion to the lowest lows of pop-culture ephemera." "Well, young lady, how do you feel about a shirt featuring a pedophile with erectile dysfunction that is allegedly a Star Wars parody?"
I suppose it was only a matter of time before we started to get Song of Fire and Ice merchandise of this nature but still I was surprised to see this:
Eddard and Sandor look fairly book-accurate, but something about Daenarys feels really off to me. Maybe I’m just uncomfortable with a somewhat sexualized statue of a fifteen year old girl...
Dear Japan, A cloak and knee-boots are not acceptable winter wear;
A page and a half of Sweeney Todd merchandise...at last, the real motive for making the film is revealed; giving Hot Topic something to sell the nine months out of the year no one gives a fuck about Nightmare Before Christmas.
The new DC solicitations have been released, and these are the ones containing the first solicitations for Final Crisis and the, by the scale of these things, modest number of cross-overs. And, predictably, I've already seen, here and there, a few mumblings of discontent over the fact that, judging by these early solicitations, two obscure and nearly forgotten villains are at the center of Final Crisis, namely Libra and the Human Flame. "Oh, why can't it be someone important, like Darkseid or Mongul or Sinestro?" they say. "Why can't it be someone cool, like Hush or the Joker or Doomsday?" a few say as well.
Well, bah to the whiners I say, because:
There are a couple of very good reasons to use obscure characters for a project like this. Primarily, minor and forgotten characters are great tools for writers. They have no huge backlog of history or continuity to get tangled up with. They're blanks, and a good writer will take that blank and turn it into whatever they want it to be. History, motivation, personality; the characters were one-off and one-note when they first appeared, now they can be more. But more importantly, there's a very practical reason why a minor Justice League villain and an unknown Martian Manhunter villain are ideal for a project like this. Frankly, no one cares about them. They're not going to be appearing in any movies. They're not going to be featured in any cartoons. No one is clamoring for a Libra lunch-box. This means that Morrison is free to do...pretty much anything he wants with or to them, and no one is going to be terribly upset. No marketing or licensing opportunities of significance will be lost if the Human Flame is killed off. No will send death threats to Morrison if Libra dies in the story. Well, except for the people who post to scans_daily, and they whine if a character so much as stubs their toe in a comic.
Also of note: DC Universe Special: Justice League of America, reprinting issues 111, 166, 167 and 168 of the original Justice League series. These would be the issues that feature Libra and the Secret Society of Super-Villains, including the infamous "the Society does a mind-swap with the League" story that so many DC writers have referenced in recent years.
Narcopolis #1, by Jamie Delano and Jeremy Rock, published by Avatar A new sci-fi serial by one of the most under-appreciated writers in recent years? Yeah, I'm up for that. Delano creates a bold world, throwing readers head-first into it without context, forcing you to work to understand both the setting the clever language games he's using for dialogue. It's breathtakingly innovative work, with stunning artwork from Jeremy Rock. It's easily one of the most exciting first issues I've read in years.
Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, published by About Comics This is a reprint of an "adult" humor magazine from 1922. I use scare quotes because it's neither particularly risque or off-color, just somewhat deliberately, even self-consciously, naughty and provocative. Given that this is an early Fawcett publication, that level of smirking smug schoolboy naughtiness isn't terribly surprising. It has a certain charm though, in a contemporary setting, as a reminder that the supposed innocent ages of the past weren't so terribly innocent. (Yes, I know this isn't a comic.)
The Last Musketeer by Jason, published by Fantagraphics Jason's work never really seems to prize narrative as a focus. There's an almost surreal sense of story on display here, a kind of "this happens, then this happens, then that happens" rhythm to events that is suggestive to me of the kinds of imaginative play that children often engage in. The ideas come quickly, and blend together disparate elements that don't suggest natural pairings; in this case, a Dumas-ian musketeer thwarting a Martian invasion by a disinterested Martian Emperor while his daughter smacks her boyfriend into doing what she says. The art is deceptively clever, and highlighted by simple flat coloring.
Incognegro, by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece, published by DC/Vertigo Moral certainty is an easy out when dealing with stories set in the South during the segregation period, but Johnson's historical mystery goes beyond a simple black/white race-based conflict to incorporate issues of class and gender as well, set against the vital artistry of the Harlem Renaissance. It's a flawed work; the evilness of the villains approaches the one-note, lacking any nuance, but it's still a strong and compelling work. Pleece's work is expressive, and he takes full advantage of the symbolism the black-and-white format of the work affords him in his characterization.
Comics What Could Have Been Better
WWH Aftersmash: Damage Control #1, by Dwayne McDuffie and Salva Espin, published by Marvel The title alone should give you a big hint as to what my major problem with this book was. On it's own, this was a good title: well written, well drawn and genuinely funny. Unfortunately, it's been over 15 years since a Damage Control comic was published, and this comic assumes I've read World War Hulk, Civil War and the issues of Wolverine that tied into Civil War. Even a release of a Damage Control trade featuring the original issues would have alleviated some of these issues, at least it would have gone some way towards reminding me who these characters are supposed to be. But in the end, this is a book that could have been good, but is crippled by the presumption that the only people who could possibly be interested in it are intimately aware of the minutia of Marvel's publishing output.
Queen & Country: The Definitive Edition, Vol. 1 by Greg Rucka and others, published by Oni The plotting and character-ization here are top-notch, and it's a neat trick that Rucka has pulled off, creating a realistic espionage thriller that never feels like it's either pandering to popular political opinion or seeking to avoid causing offense. The significant problem here is that the change in art styles from story to story is jarring, and certain artists feel like extremely bad fits for the story. Steve Rolston and Brian Hurtt turn in the best work here, while Leandro Fernandez's contribution marks such a radical change in style, with grotesquely caricatured characters in comparison to the work that has gone before.
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman - Volume 1, by Denny O'Neil, Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano, published by DC Oh boy, are these comics no good. The only reason these comics are even readable is that the passage of time has rendered their very rough to look at art and naive stories amusing when viewed with an ironic detachment. So the end result is that these are enjoyable to read, but by no means whatsoever any damn good. At all. If you're a Wonder Woman completist, a blogger looking for easy content, or simply entertained by well meaning failure, than this is a book for you.
Indiana Jones Omnibus Volume 1, by Various, published by Dark Horse There is a trio of comics published shortly after the release of the third Indiana Jones movies reprinted here, from the period when Lucasfilm was trying to replicate the success of the so-called "Expanded Universe" of Star Wars to the Indiana Jones properties. The first, a comic adaptation of the stellar "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis" video game, is yet another reminder of the fact that video games, even the plot-heavy adventure games which used to dominate the market, simply don't make good source material for comics. The second story, "Thunder in the Orient" is a twice as long as it needs to be piece of Steve Canyon fan-fiction, complete with sultry Asian villainess, disguised as an Indiana Jones story. It's simply dreadful, to be blunt. The last story, "Indiana Jones and the Arms of Gold" comes off well, simply by being competently executed and not insultingly bad. The book is more of a test of patience to see how much of an Indiana Jones fan you really are to get through it.
Comics What Were Good, That Failed To Engage Me
Lust: Kinky Online Personal Ads from Seattle's The Stranger by Ellen Forney, published by Fantagraphics Forney's artwork is pretty, and there's a sly sense of humor on display in most of these pieces, but the nature of the project itself; single-panel adaptations of personals ads, doesn't lend itself to a big thick book. A few dozen or so in a pamphlet or in a magazine is one thing. One hundred and sixty or so pages of it becomes quite tedious. It doesn't help either that a good deal of contempt for the people placing the ads comes through from time to time. There's a certain "let's laugh at the sick desires of the loveless freaks" attitude that surfaces from time to time that's off-putting.
The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo Vol. 2, by Dan DeCarlo, published by Fantagraphics While DeCarlo's art is as fantastic as it ever was, and the production of this volume is fantastic, with excellent use of limited color to accent the artwork, this was still an unsatisfying read. Frankly, it's because the cartoons really aren't terribly funny. The cartoons are reprints from men's humor and pin-up mags, and so the point is more to draw a really stacked dame, maybe with a hint of nipple showing if it looks like the Post Office might not be looking too hard this month for things to censor, than to show much originality or wit.
Krazy & Ignatz 1941-1942: "A Ragout of Raspberries", by George Herriman, published by Fantagraphics Like the DeCarlo book, Herriman's art is amazing, and the production values on the book are excellent. Sadly, the work is too much of its time, and far too repetitive regarding the nature of the gag's, to really work successfully for a modern reader. It's an interesting curiosity of an earlier period, and an important piece of comics history, but in and of itself it fails to compel.
Hank Ketcham's Complete Dennis the Menace 1955-1958 Box Set by Hank Ketchum, published by Fantagraphics It's too much Dennis! I can't really think of any other way to put it. Ketchum's line work is still strong at this fairly early point in his career, and there is still an undercurrent of slightly risque humor that would disappear in later years on the strip, as it devolved into a mediocre "kids say/do funny things" gag strip. Dennis is actually more of a terror in these strips, which honestly doesn't say much for the parenting abilities of the Mitchell's. But then, given their seeming neglect of the boy and their own barely repressed anger towards each other and outsiders, perhaps it isn't too surprising that Dennis acts out. But that's over thinking the strips.
Comics What I Did Not Like Hotwire Comics #2, by Various, published by Fantagraphics Mome #10, by Various, published by Fantagraphics Anthology titles tend to be a mixed bag at the best of times, and while that's certainly the case here, on the whole there is more material in both of these books that is simply bad, if not unreadable, than is good or merely mediocre. Hotwire's contributors repeatedly make the mistake too many of today's self-consciously "edgy" cartoonists make, which is that they're so busy showing off how offensive or outrageous or envelope-pushing they can be that they forget to actually create a comic worth reading. Most of Mome's contributors make a similar mistake, which is to be overly self-regarding to the point of laughable pretentiousness.
Hey, who's the poster boy for condescending liberals? Why, Ollie Queen of course!
"Hey, what about the presumption of innocence?" "That's the way The Man does things, my noble savage friend." "You ARE The Man! Asshole."
"And just like the white man 'borrowed' your people's lands!" "I just killed three men with my bare hands, Mr. Arrow, sir...one more life sentence won't make much difference to me."
"That's right! I'm going to college, to major in hotel and restaurant management, and then I'm coming back here to open a casino, and take advantage of your people's vice for profit! And I'll fund my education by selling pot and mushrooms to hippies who think that a weekend of drug use puts them in touch with thousands of years of my culture!" "That's the spirit, kid!"
With some of the rather silly and strained defenses I saw for the "gay-baiting Batman" scene, I'm half-surprised no one went with the obvious defense; that it actually is in character for Batman to be a gay-baiting asshole.
To wit, Detective #570:
So, we have a villain who is coded as gay. How do we know that? Only his right ear is pierced, and he sticks his pinky out when he drinks. Both are accepted visual cues for homosexuality. If you don't know that, well, your media illiteracy is not my fault.
And how does Batman act when dealing with a character that's coded as gay?
Let's go over that again, for the slow of thinking who need symbolism painfully pointed out to them:
By request, more of the Zatanna story "The Boy Who Never Smiled", from Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane # 132...also featuring the introduction of "Melba."
First, the little bastard precocious skeptic:
Okay kid, even if it WERE physically possible for seeds to grow that fast...or to sprout on skin...she's still holding up a friggin' tree with her head...that's pretty impressive.
That's, uh, that's NOT how hallucinogenic gasses work, kid.
That's NOT how trick mirrors work, kid.
Actual satanic powers being used to his benefit doesn't impress him, but a woman falling on her ass does. This kid's not sick, he's a sadistic little sociopath! Clearly Zatanna has wandered into the psych ward by mistake. Get out now Zat, before he adds you to his "collection of pretty things!"
Hey, check out this cute scene from the most recent issue of Justice Society of America:
It's the JSA having a pancake breakfast with a bunch of firemen and kids. Only, someone's missing. Give it a moment's thought, I'm sure it will occur to you.
That's right, where's Obsidian? What really drove home his absence for me, though, was this panel:
So...firemen hitting on an underage Stargirl is played for laughs, but Obsidian is, yet again, a no show.
Now, setting aside that unfortunate "saving Obsidian from being further molested by other writers" talk before the series launched, and setting aside the creepy symbolism of putting a gay character in the book and then never showing his face and (almost) never having him talk (I think he's said all of two sentences in nine issues)...Geoff Johns apparently expects us to believe that Obsidian turned down a chance to have breakfast with hunky firemen!
So Johns has no clue how to write gay characters is what I'm getting from that. It's time to either give him more to do in the book than imitate wallpaper or let other writers use him.
That's from Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #124, dated July 1972. All it needs is a "you're raping my childhood by making Lucy Lane a dead crook" whine to be virtually indistinguishable from an average post on a contemporary comic book message board. Well, and worse grammar and spelling.
Anyway, two issues later, came this missive:
Man, I'd love to know what this guy thought of the story from 128, where Lois and Marsha Mallow get trapped on the Isle of Lesbos... Oh, because as if you couldn't tell, that was a man who wrote that letter. A man not at all comfortable with being reminded that, hey, women have opinions and there are people who aren't white in this world, while reading his "Emasculating Shrew and her Asshole Boyfriend Monthly"Lois Lane comics.
Hey, how many problems with Friedkin's statement can you spot?
Short Thoughts on This Week's Comics
APOCALYPSE NERD #5 (OF 6)-- I prefer Bagge's earlier, funnier works. His current work is just further support of my theory that you can't put your politics before your art.
COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY #1 (OF 8)-- I anticipate Steve Gerber's take on Dr. Fate more than having to hear more whining from the usual suspects about how DC is ill-serving Jeanclipso.
DR THIRTEEN ARCHITECTURE AND MORALITY TP-- Sheer brilliance.
EX MACHINA #30 (MR)-- Dropped because, at this point, the book is quite clearly not going anywhere with it's premise or characters.
GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY WEDDING SPECIAL #1-- If you value your sanity, or even just your basic faith in the worthiness of humanity, I suggest you avoid any message board or LiveJournal discussion of this title.
PENANCE RELENTLESS #1 (OF 5)-- Oh, 1990, I missed you.
GIRLS OF VIVID 2008 WALL CALENDAR (MR)-- Man, the things Diamond considers worthy of carrying...
This morning's mid-shower realization: zombie covers are the new pogs.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: "Man alive, Dorian, would you stop with the romance comics already and go back to making fun of washed up actors." But some of you are thinking: "There's no way that DC published a comic with a premise so horrible. Maybe Marvel or Charlton, but not DC!" But no, they did, and I'll break it down into plot beats for you:
Boy loses girl to best friend:
Boy blatantly foreshadows plot twist:
Boy may or may not have fragged his friend in a not at all homoerotic scene:
Boy makes worst grief counselor ever, apparently inspired by one too many readings of The Secret:
Boy makes suggestion that's more than a little creepy to the grieving single mom, in order to protect her from the stigma of raising a child alone:
Boy discovers the joys of young parenthood:
Seriously that, "the baby gets in the way of my hip lifestyle" thing went on for page after page...
Boy is resentful of total stranger's insinuations that his step-son is a bastard:
Boy becomes increasingly bitter over the fact that the baby is cramping his style, and starts to wish he'd maybe pointed out that sniper's nest to his buddy back in 'Nam:
Boy begins to trip out in a monstrously creepy panel:
Boy turns into a colossal dick. Yes, more so than before:
Boy, unable to get laid, what with the stench of marriage still clinging to him, goes back to the wife for the tritest ending known to man:
I usually try to keep my eyes open for interesting looking collections of newspaper strips I've never heard of; which isn't that hard, given the sorry state of newspaper comics pages. The satirical nature of this strip appealed to me. Given that even the mildly geeky humor of something like Foxtrot was too much for most newspapers, I was curious as to what an out and out parody of typical sci-fi adventure comics and films would be like. It's...actually pretty much what you would expect. The characters are well tread stereotypes: lunk-head captain, lazy engineer, somewhat evil scientist, annoying child sidekick. It's a minor blessing that the only regular female character in the collection turns out to be the only half-way competent member of the crew. The geek humor works in small doses, but in one big book it tends to drag on a little too long, especially in the longer storylines. So, it's a mildly entertaining diversion at best, which still puts it miles ahead of most of the other strips in the newspaper.
Booster Gold #1, by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz and Dan Jurgens, published by DC Comics
Speaking of mild diversions; the first issue of Booster Gold is darn near a textbook example of "harmless super-hero book." It's steeped in continuity, almost but not quite to the point of being about continuity, with appealing, easily defined characters. And while the book plays up a "the stakes are big" angle, it doesn't feel like a high-drama or high-angst book; it retains a light touch. The art is also the best work I've seen from Jurgens in years, bringing a suitably "heroic" look to the book.
In other comic news, Sticky writer Dale Lazarov and artist Delic Van Loond have a new adults-only web-comic called Fancy. It's a pantomime strip with beautiful line-work. The story so far could probably be called "gay barbarian fantasy" and if you're into that sort of thing you should definately check it out.
BIRDS OF PREY #109 A consistently fun book, and I'm curious to see what Bedard brings to it.
BLUE BEETLE #18 The best Spider-Man book on the market.
COUNTDOWN 36 Screw you, I like it.
GREEN ARROW YEAR ONE #4 (OF 6) Diggle and Jock, so a guaranteed sell. And Ollie doesn't come off as a complete tool. But that mischaracterization aside...
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #15 "Sinestro Corps War" is such a stupidly good idea.
JSA CLASSIFIED #29 Uhm, no idea...buyer's inertia? The overall ratio of "good" to "bad" is better than on JLA Classified.
OUTSIDERS FIVE OF A KIND WEEK 4 METAMORPHO AQUAMAN Is it wrong of me to hope that New Wave will show up in this new version of Batman and the Outsiders at some point?
SHOWCASE PRESENTS WONDER WOMAN VOL 1 TP These are dreadful, but in that semi-charming Silver Age nuttiness sort of way. Plus, you know, blogging fodder for dozens of people for weeks.
SPIRIT #9 Not sure if I'm going to stick with this past Cooke's departure.
SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #33 For Pete. I don't like this new version of the Legion at all.
SUPERMAN #666 (NOTE PRICE) I really like what Busiek has been doing with the Superman books. Between him and Morrison, the books are the best they've been in decades.
ANNIHILATION CONQUEST STAR LORD #2 (OF 4) That the presence of Rocket Raccoon is apparently enough for me and other people to pick this book up makes the odd lack of a trade for Mignola's Rocket Raccoon mini even more puzzling.
FANTASTIC FIVE #4 (OF 5) Consistently, I find myself liking the MU2 stuff more than the regular Marvel comics. They're slight, but they're good fun, and it's nice to see the Marvel heroes acting heroically.
THE ORDER #2 CWI Still on the fence. The first issue didn't suck, but neither did it blow me away. And why are all the female characters exposing their belly buttons?
ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #45 After that interminable Thanos story, there's been a noticeable uptick in quality.
INUBAKA CRAZY FOR DOGS VOL 4 TP Cute girls and cute dogs. It's almost like the perfect manga.
MOUSE GUARD WINTER 1152 #1 (OF 6) I debated switching to trades, but every issue I buy is one less for speculators to get their hands on.
NAOKI URASAWAS MONSTER VOL 10 TP Okay, no, this is the perfect manga.
Books I'm Not Buying This Week
BATMAN LOBO DEADLY SERIOUS #1 (OF 2) I digs me some Sam Keith, but I'm all about Lobo-ed out.
BOMB QUEEN III #4 (OF 4) (MR) Every time I see this on the shelf, I sigh quietly to myself. At least I don't have to actually sell it to people myself anymore.
AMAZING FANTASY OMNIBUS VOL 1 HC VAR $75 for pre-super-hero Marvel books? Uhm, pass, thanks.
HALO UPRISING #1 (OF 4) (MR) The Cult of Halo confuses me. It's just a FPS. And not even a very good one, from what I can tell.
30 DAYS OF NIGHT DARK DAYS TP NEW PTG (MR) Hey, look, the trades coming back into print in a reasonable amount of time before the movie premieres! That's how you can tell Dark Horse didn't publish this.
BLACK SUMMER #2 (OF 7) (MR) I'm definitely feeling Ellised out. I read the preview, and I just wasn't feeling this book. It's tired, well tread ground for Ellis and dozens of other creators.
SHOJO BEAT SEP 07 VOL 3 #9 Dropped. We're at the point now where the only thing in the magazine I want to read is Absolute Boyfriend, and I can't justify $6 a month for that.
TOUPYDOOPS #6 (RES) (MR) Mike says there's something in this issue which will annoy me. I'm assuming he means apart from the lack of anything funny in a supposed humor book.
ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS HC (OCT068201) If I ran the comics industry, there'd be no more fucking zombie books.
Metal Men #1, by Duncan Rouleau, published by DC Comics
I'm not a particular Metal Men fan; the concept is handled poorly slightly more often than it's handled well, but Rouleau handles the concept well. With this book he plays with DC comics history and creates a new/old continuity approach to one of the admittedly sillier concepts to have been produced in super-hero comics. But rather than try to force the characters and concepts into a "serious" mode, Rouleau runs with it and just lets the book be silly and fun while keeping it within an action-adventure mode. His stylized yet cartoonish art helps with that method of storytelling immensely.
Black Adam #1, by Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke, published by DC Comics
I'm not usually one to fault the books that exist only to fill in "continuity gaps" and make sure that fans of a super-hero universe have all their questions answered. It's at times a necessary evil when you publish a large and linked-together set of titles. But unless it's a subject or character I really want to know about, I usually can't be bothered to get too worked up positively or negatively about those types of books. This book exists only to explain what happened to Black Adam between the end of 52 and the start of Countdown. Heck, the cover pretty much announces that. And it's not as if it's a bad book, though those who object to grim and serious uses of characters originally intended for children's stories will definitely want to avoid this book. But it is, at best, only a thoroughly competent book. It does what it is meant to do with a minimum of fuss.
IDW finally manges to put out a book I'll buy. I mean, sure, it'll cost about $1 to $2 more than it should, but it's Doctor Who! Of course, I'm not optimistic about it's sales potential. Doctor Who is pretty much a cult show in the U.S. Comic books are a niche market. Comic adaptations of TV properties are even more of a niche market...you see where I'm going with this, right?
Top Shelf to reprint Marshall Law. Now all you little pissants complaining that Grant Morrison "clearly hates super-heroes" can see what a comic created by people who really hate super-heroes looks like.
Matt Wagner to write Madame Xanadu for Vertigo. So DCU characters can appear in Vertigo books, but characters in Vertigo books can't appear in DCU titles. I appreciate the intentions behind keeping the lines separate, but they're straining reader patience at this point with it.
Monster Attack Network by Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman and Nima Sorat, published by AIT/Planet Lar
Ever wondered who cleans up after those giant monster attacks? Or who is responsible for making sure the city gets evacuated? This is the story of the folks responsible for maintaining the safety of the citizens of the tiny island nation of Lapuatu. It's a decidedly high-concept book, with a beautifully calculated appeal to monster movie fans who don't take themselves too seriously in its premise. It's fast-paced, funny and has a frenetically expressionistic art style that's just enough this side of caricature to get the humor and energy of the story right. It's fantastic fun, escapist entertainment, to be brief.
Not going to Comic-Con. Not particularly interested in Comic-Con. Maybe if it were about two hours closer, about one-third to one-half the size, and actually about comic-books instead of selling games, movies and tv shows to nerds, I'd be interested, but everything I ever hear about it suggests that, nope, the closest thing the comics industry has to a trade expo is not for me.
Superboy, visiting his friends in the Legion, takes time to save someone who has fallen on the magno-train tracks. Typically, his motives aren't exactly pure...
Yes, that is normal day wear in the 30th Century.
"Several passengers were taken to Science Hospitals for various minor injuries after Superboy forced a train into making a sudden stop today..."
Okay, so...Superboy has met a girl...he's interested in the girl...the girl is interested in him...
Something horrible is going to happen, isn't it?
Yes, Superboy, you've been flirting with your great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grand-daugther! I'm not sure if that's "more creepy" or "less creepy" than hitting on your under-age cousin.
I count six books with the word Countdown in their title and another three explicitly identified as tie-ins. So DC learned the wrong lesson from Civil War... It's "better stories/fewer tie-ins" guys. When you release a flood of tie-ins, the good stories get lost and all the public sees is the cash-grab attempt.
For some reason, the notion of Starfire's adventures hanging out with Buddy Baker's kids amuses me greatly.
I still want to know who felt that the world needed a Lord Havok and the Extremeists mini-series. I just know that some horribly significant "event" will take place in the book, in order to justify its existence, because there aren't enough people on message boards and LiveJournal who insist DC bring back everything connected to the Giffen-era league to make this profitable.
Bill Morrison writing Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, terrible puns and all? Yes please.
You would think that Batman and the Outsiders would have enough retro-homage points in its favor to get me to at least look at it, but with Koi Turnbull on art I'm fairly indifferent to it, as I associate him pretty strongly with Michael Turner's Aspen studio, and I simply do not care for that style of art.
Green Arrow/Black Canary #1's solicitation refers to a "shocking event" at the wedding, and features Black Canary teamed up with Conor Hawke on the cover. So, it's either a fake-out or DC may have spoiled something.
Death of the New Gods: Okay, I'm the guy who actually kind of liked Jim Starlin's take on the characters. I mean, don't get me wrong, if you're going to do a new New Gods series, I'd rather see someone like Grant Morrison take it and go gonzo, or someone like Busiek take it and do a good polish, but I'm not going to sulk about either the presence of Starlin or the word "Death" in the title.
I'm actually looking forward to Greg Rucka's Crime Bible as well. Again, I seem to be one of the few who actually likes She-Question.
Metamorphoa Year One: I don't generally mind Dan Jurgens, but the notion of him doing a new origin for a goofy Kanigher character like Metamorpho is causing me to have flash-backs to that Metal Men book he did. That's not a good thing.
Gotham Underground features just about every Gotham-based character, or so it promises, including possibly the first significant post-52 appearance of the much reviled by fanboys, which is strange given she's a red-headed Jewish lesbian in leather, Batwoman. I'm a sucker for "Gotham" stories, apparently...I'll probably check this out.
Booster Gold #3: I've seen less homoerotic longing on a man's face in actual gay porn. Yes, I'm talking about Booster. Come on, I can't be the only one who sees it!
DC Infinite Halloween Special: DC villains telling horror stories about the heroes. Neat idea. And no pun to ruin by skittish middle-managers this time, either.
Blue Beetle #20 ties in to the Sinestro Corps storyline, and a perfectly good "torn uniform" cover is wasted on an underage character...
Batman #670 and Robin Annual #7 are preludes to the "Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul" storyline. Who wants to bet that Liam Neeson is making a return appearance in the next Batman movie?
Aquaman is apparently cancelled with issue #57. Which disappoints me, as I was really enjoying Tad Williams' run on the book. It's a nice balance between the fantasy tone Busiek relaunched the book with and traditional super-heroics. Now I'm just wondering if my pet theory about who the new Arthur Curry really is will turn out to be right or not...
I really like the cover to Birds of Prey #111 for no good reason:
Brave and the Bold #7 is a team-up with Wonder Woman and Power Girl...I'm going to make a bet with Mike about this book. I'm fairly certain I'm going to be right about..."reaction"...to this issue.
Countdown Special: The Flash 80 Page Giant: read the adventures of the Flash's Rogues from before they were turned into child-murderers and rendered pretty much unusable.
Justice League of America #14: Now with John Stewart!
The faces make me giggle, though. Yes, all of them.
Justice Society of America #10. More Kingdom Come nonsense. Why doesn't DC ever want to revisit a good comic?
I've noticed people making much of the supposed "spoiler" on the cover to Checkmate #19. Really, it screams "fake out" to me.
Metal Men #3 features the Death-Metal Men. Is it too soon to declare this my favorite comic?
This cover makes me laugh. I can just hear Detective Chip berating Enchantress for missing the chalk outline.
Dammit, Wonder Girl, get out of the way! You're blocking the man-candy!
Gail Simone starts her run on Wonder Woman with the thirteenth issue. I'm looking forward to it, I know lots of people are looking forward to it, but I'm starting to get a "this will be the cure to cancer and world hunger" vibe off of some of the people looking forward to it. Yeah, it'll be good, but let's temper our expectations a little, okay?
The cover for the hard-cover collection of the first The Brave and the Bold story-line features a new illustration. I can't even remember the last time I saw a new illustration on a collected edition cover...
I'm fairly indifferent to a Showcase Presents volume for the Suicide Squad, but the Secret Society of Super-Villains? One of those books I simply can never fill a run of? Yeah, I'm there.
I'm pretty sure that's what happened to the Black Dahlia...
Christos Gage and Darick Robertson on Authority? Yes, please.
Let's see...Trick 'R Treat...a four issue, weekly mini-series by Manhunter's Marc Andreyko...okay, interested..."based on the major motion picture"...oh dear. I simply do not trust my chances of finding a quality horror film in the current market-place.
Vinyl Underground is billed as a cross between Invisibles and CSI. Those...don't sound like complimentary influences. The cognitive dissonance created by trying to wrap my head around that has me curious.
Testament's third collection is due out...trust me, this is a good series. Also, The Exterminators. You should be reading those books.
An Ambush Bug Mini-Mate? To go with my Wildcat, Power Girl and Wonder Woman? Neat! Oh, it comes with Lobo? Never mind...
Marvel is launching two minis featuring characters created by Steve Gerber, Omega the Unknown and Howard the Duck. Steve Gerber isn't involved in either title. This tells me that someone at Marvel has fundamentally misunderstood the appeal of those characters.
Another new Marvel Zombies book begins, as Marvel is bound and determined to milk that particular cash cow until you're all damn good and sick of zombies.
New Avengers #35 features a Venom-possessed Wolverine on the cover. Wow...just when you think Marvel couldn't do anything more to make me dislike Wolverine, they find a way...
Okay, so New Warriors #s 1 and 2...pretty good. Surprisingly good, given how little interest I've had in the post-Civil War Marvel Universe. And now, the solicitation for #5 teases us with a "we're going to kill off our viewpoint character" cover. It's a bit too obvious...I doubt it will really happen, they're being so obvious...but still, way to undo the goodwill I was starting to feel towards your properties, there.
Why are all the female characters in The Order showing off their belly-buttons, anyway? Will that be addressed in the first issue?
X-Men: Die by the Sword looks to be an Exiles/New Excalibur cross-over. Man, if I were, say, eight, that might excite me.
The last Foolkiller mini-series was quite good. Given what the rest of Marvel was publishing at the time, it was pretty surprising that it was so good, as well. I seem to recall from earlier interviews with the creators that the impression I had of this new Foolkiller series was that it was going to be ultra-violent and focused on "ironic" punishments, in the vein of films like Saw. I think I can skip it. It's going to be a real hard sell to get me to look at it.
Wolverine: Evolution not only gets a hard-cover collection (and I'm always surprised by what Marvel thinks warrants a hard-cover collection), but a black-and-white variant edition as well. Okay, yeah...that's almost enough to make me never want to buy another comic with Wolverine in it ever again, for fear that it might encourage more things like that.
Marvel Beefcake for October
Really, Sub-Mariner? Is that the best Marvel can do?
Also of note, in the preview for the new DC solicitations, was this little...gem? COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: LORD HAVOK AND THE EXTREMISTS #1 Written by Frank Tieri Art and cover by Liam Sharpe Don’t miss this special 6-part COUNTDOWN miniseries featuring the most powerful beings on Earth-8 — Lord Havok and his Extremists — written by Frank Tieri (GOTHAM UNDERGROUND) and illustrated by Liam Sharp (TESTAMENT)! Lord Havok! Dr. Diehard! Tracer! Gorgon! Dreamslayer! Carny! Meet these dangerous individuals and learn why they are so integral to COUNTDOWN and the fate of the Multiverse! Guest-starring Monarch, the Monitors, Donna Troy, Jason Todd and Kyle Rayner! On sale October 31 • 1 of 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Okay, an Extremists mini-series? I blame all of you with paranoid fantasies about Dan Didio trying to "destroy" the Giffen-era Justice League for this. This is DC's answer to your complaints, you realize.
So, it's a typical day at Station Whiz, with Billy and his boss sitting around watching television instead of, you know, working...
"So, instead of reporting facts, I'll just be reporting any nonsense I make up? So it'll be like that summer I worked for Fox News?" "Exactly Billy!"
What follows is a montage of Captain Marvel staying in various haunted locales in search of inspiration for his stories. So it's kind of like one of those "Ghost Hunters" type shows, only without easily spooked idiots running around in the dark.
Well, Billy is a total disaster as a writer of ghost stories, so eventually Station Whiz has no choice but to, er, try to retain the good employee they made no attempt to keep in the first place...
So the station manager and Captain Marvel show up at I.J. Scarum's house, and force the butler to allow them to spend the night so that they can meet up with Mr. Scarum and persuade him to come back to work. Because intimidation, assault and trespassing aren't crimes if you're a big shot radio television station owner, apparently. Ah, but do the fates have a cruel twist in store for our heroes?
What follows is the most anti-climatic villain reveal ever:
Did Captain Marvel just resolve a conflict by bribing a ghost? Man, I love comics...
Bad enough we have one of those damn manikin things. But a salt grinder is suspect enough...cooking with sea salt is damn suspect...but combining the two, throwing in roasted garlic, and oh yeah, let's make sure the sea salt is Mediterranean? Gay.
"Zygons? When did I meet Zygons? Wait a minute...this book isn't in continuity!"
Another true tale from the comic shop, from when Employee Aaron heard about my twelve inch Doctor figure: Aaron: Did they make a Captain Jack figure? Dorian: They did in the six inch line, but I haven't heard of one in the twelve inch line. But, from what I've heard, a John Barrowman figure should really be ten inches. Mike: Gyah!
No one would ever forget the day that Scooter was roundly rogered by a kangaroo.
Young Romance #196 teaches all of us some valuable lessons. The chief lesson is that romance comics are way fucking creepy.
Pity poor Debbie...she's forced to bear witness to the most melodramatic divorce this side of a Lifetime movie. Although I do believe that this is the first time I've ever seen a family separate for the sake of the children's reputation.
Fortunately, Debbie's mom has an empty void in her life and an inability to function without thinking of herself as a man's property, so she's right back in the dating scene.
"Such a charming man...why, he even compliments my teenage daughter on how attractive she is. And he's always picking out these fancy clothes for her, wanting to spend time alone with her. What a perfect step-dad!"
Fortunately, before this becomes a "very special" episode of Degrassi, Debbie goes out with her pseudo-hippie boyfriend and discovers what her step-dad gets up to when Mom isn't around, and the marriage is thankfully K.O.-ed.
Of course, Mom's not complete without a man, so...
At least she appears to be marrying into money this time, and not into the Marina.
Is the creepiness over?
First rule of Fight Club: do NOT flirt with your step-brother. Wait, that's not right...
Okay, the kid is probably right, but it can't get any creepier, right?
"It's right for us," in addition to being one of the all-time lamest come on lines, right up there with "Just touch it", only becomes even more disturbing in the context of being spoken to your step-sister. Remember kids, implied incest is WRONG!
Anyway, Debbie briefly comes to her senses and takes up with her boyfriend not related to her by marriage.
"How dare you make out with some stranger boy when you've got a perfectly good step-brother at home, young lady!"
It's at this point that Debbie's step-brother proposes they run off together, but Debbie tells him "no glove, no love." No, wait, that's not right. She refuses to go with him unless they get married. I'm not sure in what state their love is legal, but there you go. So she runs back to Bill, only he wants nothing to do with her because her mom yelled at him. Bill, you're an idiot.
Luckily the story ends on this hopeful and not at all creep-tastic note.
So, remember back at the beginning, when Debbie asked us to judge her?