Friday Night Fights: Batwounding!

It’s another too short weekend after a too long week, so let’s not waste time — it’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from December 2011’s Batwoman #2 by Haden Blackman, James H. Williams III, and Dave Stewart, as Batwoman unleashes on some random thugs.


(click to embiggen)

Y’all don’t have nearly enough time, so everyone get out there and make the most of the weekend.

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Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door


The Wicked + the Divine #5

Lucifer has strolled out of jail and is casually blowing away any cops who come after her. Laura is desperate to help her before she gets into even worse trouble, but the rest of the gods aren’t very patient — Baal comes in swinging his fists and lightning bolts, and Sakhmet isn’t far behind. Laura runs for the Underground and summons the Morrigan, and they’re able to get Luci to safety. She agrees to go into hiding with the Morrigan — but the gods are wrathful and cruel, and they refuse to be denied.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, it’s beautifully illustrated and pretty damn beautifully written, too. And while it’s really nice to see the godheads cut loose with their powers, the whole issue is also a serious gut-punch. It’ll be very interesting to see what we’ll see happen next.


Lazarus #12

A Conclave has been called, and all the Families are gathering at a platform in the North Sea owned by the Armitage family. The Carlyles don’t have much to look forward to on this trip but serious politicking — Jakob Hock has their traitorous brother Jonah and has been torturing him. He hates the Carlyles to an insane degree, and the family is concerned that if he’s discovered something called the Longevity Code in their DNA, he could use his knowledge to get all the other Families on his side. Forever gets to meet up and spar with the other Families’ Lazari, and then it’s time for the Grand Ball, and Forever and Joacquim Morray put on a wonderful demonstration on the dance floor. And then Jakob Hock shows up with a surprise for everyone.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to meet some of the other Families, and especially their Lazari, who always seem to be the most interesting members of the entourages. All the talk of politics might normally seem a little dry, but Rucka makes it all entirely fascinating.

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Take the Plunge


Manifest Destiny #11

Lewis has a plan to harpoon the giant frog monster in the river to get the boat towed free from the arch it’s beached on. The problem is that when they throw it bait, its leaps into the air to catch it aren’t predictable enough for harpooners to hit. So a different solution is hit upon — dangle bait from a tree, then harpoon the monster when it leaps up to take the bait. And they’re going to use the rapist Hardy as the bait. The operation is mostly successful — the beast is harpooned, and Hardy only loses a leg — but now that it’s been struck, the monster is diving and pulling the boat underwater. Is there any way to save the boat and crew?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding, tense story, with great character work, beautiful artwork (yes, even of the monsters), and unexpectedly great action.


Evil Empire #6

We learn how President Sam Duggins got so messed up, and how he goes about consolidating his power — mainly by killing his Congressional opponents, rewriting the Constitution to make sociopathy the law of the land, and lots and lots of marketing. The new resistance, led by Reese and Theo, start making plans to overthrow Duggins, and their first act is to use some sort of hypertech CD to hack the DJ’s setup at a presidential drugs-and-sex party by the Washington Monument to make fun of Duggins. The Duggins administration reacts by shooting a few lowlifes, turning Disneyland into a pornographic park, revealing his incestuous relationship with his sister, and making her his vice president. Right now, the only benefit the resistance has is a mole on the inside of the administration.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I’m done with this book. It was sold as a semi-realistic vision of how the U.S. could end up going fascist, but it’s turned into a cartoon. The ease that Duggins flips most of the country into quasi-nazis is just beyond my ability to even kinda believe. In reality, pretty much everyone in Congress would be in Duggins’ opposition — the Republicans wouldn’t trust him because he’d run as a Democrat, and the Democrats would hate him for lying about everything in his campaign. Yes, Duggins would probably be able to get a lot of America’s cops to do his dirty work — but not near all of them. Maybe half, if he was lucky. And the military wouldn’t go for him, either — a guy banging his sister and running cocaine orgies on the National Mall just doesn’t have any kind of respectable discipline.

And again, there’s the fascism thing. There’s the incest-with-his-sister thing. There’s the let’s-make-America-legally-psychopathic thing. I don’t care how good your PR is — you’re not going to get enough people to go along with that. You might be able to get the fringe-of-the-fringe of either political party to go along with mass assassinations and turning Disneyland into an orgy camp, but 90% of the country would want your head on a stick.

And how stupid is the resistance? They’re somehow able to sneak into a presidential hedonism party, with one of the most famous pop stars in the country — and a known opponent of the crazy evil president — looming in the shadows just inside the treeline — nice work, Secret Service — and they go with sneaking a magic-tech CD that lets them use the DJ’s equipment to make fun of Duggins? Instead of taking advantage of the lax security and coked-up partygoers to put a bullet in Duggins’ head?

This is a crappy comic book, with badly thought-out ideas. I ain’t reading this no more.

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Over the Cliff


Daredevil #9

The Purple Man’s empowered children have gotten together and are using their mind-control powers to wreak havoc in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Matt Murdock is excitedly planning on writing his autobiography and looking forward to his $8 million advance. Kirsten and Foggy aren’t sure it’d ever work — Matt doesn’t have the patience to write a whole book, and his life has been, up to the last few years, spectacularly depressing, with most of his girlfriends dying, struggles with poverty, and repeated personal, emotional, and superheroic setbacks. Matt is assuring them he can handle it when he learns about the Purple Kids’ rampage through the city. Their combined emotion control powers, however, are a lot more than he can handle.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story and fantastic art. The Purple Kids have a great combination of menace and pathos, and the idea of Matt revisiting the old rotten and depressing days is something that’s perversely appealing — he’s had it pretty good for quite a while, so it’ll be interesting to see how Mark Waid writes him over the next issue or two.


Loki: Agent of Asgard #7

Dr. Doom has captured Loki in a field of null-time, trapping him between seconds so he’s unable to come up with any spells or tricks to escape. Verity Willis, a human who can see through any lie, traveled to Latveria with Loki, but she managed to turn invisible with Loki’s amulet of invisibility, but Valeria Richards easily detects that she’s there — but she decides not to reveal her to Doom, who has his own troubles when he finds Latverians fighting amongst themselves — something which Doom has decreed must never happen. But the people refuse to listen to him, and Doom deduces that the Red Skull, now possessing Charles Xavier’s telepathic powers, is causing a worldwide outbreak of hatred and strife. Is there any way to stop the Skull’s hate plague before Latveria destroys itself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not as much stuff about Loki this time, but a really excellent focus on Verity, Valeria, and Doom himself. It makes for a really entertaining story.


Trees #6

In the Chinese city of Shu, naive young artist Chenglei is questioning his sexuality and identity after a wild party when he realizes he’s falling in love with Zhen, a trans woman — all of this while the Chinese authorities are taking a new, ominous interest in the city. In Sicily, secret moves are underfoot against the local fascist gangs. And in the Arctic, the Tree-created flowers are a lot more difficult to eradicate than was expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The storyline in Shu is just plain outstanding. The scenes between Chenglei and Uncle and especially between Chenglei and Zhen are fantastic, poetic, absolutely beautiful. This is definitely turning out to be another great year for Warren Ellis comics.

Today’s Cool Links: 

  • Here’s a very nice one-minute-long horror movie for you.
  • You scared of Ebola? You scared of ISIS? You watch too much TV. Here are the things worth being afraid of.
  • And Texans, don’t forget, early voting begins today. Get out there and vote. Don’t you vote for that hyper-corrupt hypocritical weasel Greg Abbott. Dude’s so crooked he could hide behind a corkscrew.

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Friday Night Fights: Girls Kick Ass!

Alright, kids, it’s time to put on your rubber pants and batten down the hatches, ’cause it’s time once again to get the weekend started the right way — with… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Okay, listen, this one right here. Everyone tells us, OMG, no one will ever believe a girl beating people up in a movie, no one will buy that, it’s just insane, moviegoers want male action stars, comics readers want macho man superheroes. We can’t put Wonder Woman in a movie — no matter how excellently woman-led movies do at the box office. But lookit here, comics writers didn’t always think that way. Even all the way back in 1947, they knew you could have some fun with women who kick much ass. So here’s August 1947’s Wonder Comics #13 by Charles Stoddard and either Al Camy or Bob Oksner. Our star is Jill Trent, Science Sleuth, along with her friend Daisy — two women who are tougher than and smarter than anyone else in the comic. Here’s how they treat a dangerous murderer named Arthur Benson.





Man, look at her go! Daisy is a woman who very obviously loves getting into fights with gunmen wearing weird green suits. Unfortunately, Benson narrowly avoids his richly deserved beating… for now…


And then Jill and Daily unleash a curb-stomping so severe they have show it in silhouette to shield our innocent eyes from the brutality of the beatdown.


Lookit that — they should be giving Batman pointers in butt-whuppery.

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Lumber Cartel


Lumberjanes #7

The Lumberjanes want to get their hands on the blue crystal that scoutmaster Rosie is keeping in her office, so they stage a daring heist to distract her, get in, and get out with the trinket without being discovered. Once they get it, Diane has them combine it with the golden eye that Jo has been hiding — and a golden deer appears, calls Diane “Artemis,” and tells her to follow it. Artemis? Yes, apparently, Diane is the goddess Artemis, in a competition with her brother Apollo to take over the throne of the gods. The group makes it to the cave that the girls visited a few issues ago — they’d already solved all the puzzles and beaten the guardians, so it’s a breeze to get through. Unfortunately, the last puzzle in the cavern is guarded by a bunch of magical lightning bugs. And the only way to save everyone is for someone to make a sacrifice.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Another fantastic issue. Lots of fun, humor, and action, with a giant scoop of serious drama, too. My favorite parts? Other than the (seriously intense) sacrifice at the end? Rosie whittling logs into axe handles, Jen’s sweatshirt reading “Ringwald High Physics Club,” and the formerly antagonistic animated statues waving at the girls while they play chess.


Ms. Marvel #9

A giant robot has attacked Kamala Khan’s school, but she’s having trouble getting her shapeshifting powers to work. She’s eventually able to take the fight to the robot, but gets kayo’d after she destroys the bot. Luckily, Lockjaw shows up with Medusa, and they transport her and her friend Bruno to New Attilan. She gets healed up and learns that she’s not a mutant — she’s an Inhuman. And her healing powers don’t work as well the more she uses her shapeshifting powers, and vice versa. Once she returns home, she has a chat with her parents, then heads out to fight the Inventor again — this time she has a plan to cut off his supply of innocent victims he uses to power his devices. But even after beating the bad guys, things don’t turn out the way she expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an excellent story all the way through, and it finally gives us a chance to see Kamala among the Inhumans. Plus we get more great interaction with Kamala’s parents, who are just plain eternally awesome.

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Season of the Wytch


Wytches #1

Scott Snyder is the best horror writer working in comics right now, and Jock is one of the best at non-traditional, moody, gorgeous artwork. Putting them together on a new horror title this close to Halloween is something I would never have been able to resist.

Meet the Rooks family, new to town after moving when their daughter Sailor was involved in a mysterious disappearance. Dad is a cartoonist, Mom is in a wheelchair, Sailor is a misfit, even without the questions about why a psychotic bully “vanished” right in front of her. And weird things are going on around the family — a deer gets into the house and then dies bloodily in front of them. Something calls to Sailor from the treetops. And there’s a history of horrifying deaths in the area, spanning decades. Something awful is coming for the Rooks…

Verdict: It’s a gloriously creepy first issue, especially with that near-perfect cover. It promises scares bloody, jagged, and over-the-top, as well as quiet, shadowed, and subtle. I’ll be honest — I’d love for this one to go weekly ’til Halloween. It looks like it’s going to give me exactly the kind of horror I enjoy the most.


Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1

Archie Comics is really embracing their new horror comics more enthusiastically than I would’ve ever expected. Their new title focuses on the origin of Sabrina Spellman, the Teenage Witch, born the daughter of a warlock and a mortal woman and now living with her witch aunts Hilda and Zelda, along with her talking cat Salem. In the old Archie comics, this was all an occasion for fun, comedy, and romance. It ain’t like that in the new one.

In this issue, mostly set in the late 1950s and 1960s, the Witches Council lobotomizes Sabrina’s mother when she tries to escape with her infant daughter and later turns her father into a tree. Sabrina is placed with her almost entirely evil aunts, and when Sabrina’s classmates express prejudice against half-breed witches, they move to a little town called Greendale. She meets her cousin Ambrose, a spell-casting bad boy with a couple cobras as familiars, and he helps her land a boyfriend, handsome Harvey Kinkle. But there’s trouble outside of town — a pair of foolish witches from Riverdale have called up something they can’t put down again…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a spooky and funny debut, with all the familiar beats of the old Sabrina comics twisted into black comedy and/or straight horror. The scariest moments come at the very beginning, with Sabrina’s mother and her desperate and doomed flight through the forest, while the funniest comes toward the end, with Betty and Veronica trying to summon a succubus to help them decide who gets Archie…


Ghosted #14

An occult motorcycle gang is gunning for Danny Trick because he’s been using their sacred virgin-blood candles for purposes they don’t approve of. Anderson’s ghost is tearing the bikers apart and freaking out Oliver King. Jackson Winters and Nina Bloodcrow are keeping their wits about them, and it’s not long before the bikers have all been wiped out. Danny takes them to his hideout — and almost immediately betrays them. He’s a secret black magician, and he wants to figure out what Jackson’s connection is to the spirit world. Too bad Jackson has to die to reveal that…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Plenty of action, plenty of style, a juicy betrayal — the series is still running the supernatural heist game hard and very well.


Coffin Hill #12

Another one of Vertigo’s comics where they start the story on the cover. Seems like a decent gimmick, but this one isn’t nearly as eye-catching as the “Astro City” cover was.

Eve Coffin suspects one of her fellow police officers of being the Ice Fisher serial killer, so she prepares a potion called Liar’s Drops, designed to reveal untruths. The two detectives leading the investigation both pass the test — unless one of them is a warlock and able to suppress his reaction to the potion. Meanwhile, in the present, Eve’s boyfriend and his rotten brother are trying to break her out of jail while magical monsters try to kill her.

Verdict: Ehhh. I must say, the identity of the Ice Fisher was the most badly telegraphed reveal I’ve seen in ages. The killer has been all but wearing a sign that reads “I’m the Ice Fisher!” for the last several issues.

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Showdown in the West


Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle #4

Robo is stuck in the Old West, and his batteries are slowly dying on him. He’s traveling with U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves and outlaw dentist Doc Holliday as they try to track down Baron Heinrich von Helsingard — who definitely shouldn’t be in the Old West either, much less building killer robots out of outlaws and gunslingers in a mad plot to take over the United States. Once they get inside his hideout at Crestone Peak, it’s a running battle against the robots through the mountain and then on top of a gigantic dirigible. Can our heroes escape the robot army? And does Robo have a chance to survive before his batteries give out?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of action, lots of great art and characterization and the kind desperate humor you get when funny comic book characters are running for their lives. The next issue is probably gonna be a big one, so y’all hold on.


The Manhattan Projects #24

While the alien-co-opted Soviets continue their plans for conquest through cybernetics and brain transplants, LBJ comes to an agreement with General Groves and General Westmoreland — he’ll let them keep their power and positions in the Manhattan Projects, as long as they eliminate his boss. So how did all the conspiracy theories get started?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Pitch-black humor in the sunlit ’60s. This one has characters from history, alien monsters, mind control, eyeball trauma, magic bullets, and splattered brains. Enjoy the show!

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Friday Night Fights: Ant Mangled!

Merry Friday, everyone — it’s been yet another thoroughly horrible week, and the only thing that will restore our souls is a quick shot of the old cartoon ultra-violence. And that means it’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle is going to be short and sweet — from March 2014’s FF #16 by Matt Fraction, Karl Kesel, Lee Allred, Mike Allred, and Laura Allred, here’s Scott Lang completely unexpectedly taking Doctor Doom to pieces.


Yeah, I said I was going to keep it short — short like Ant-Man! Oh, man, that’s hilarious. Yeah, I still got it.

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Here’s to Fun Superheroes


Batgirl #35

Well, people, it’s the Batgirl everyone was waiting for — much hipper, much less grim-and-gritty, and almost certainly much more likely to make Dan DiDio and Jim Lee overdose on Rolaids. She’s got a redesigned costume, cool art, and a new creator team that isn’t beholden to stupid editors to make everything unpleasant and sad. (Gail Simone really should be allowed to make a fun Batgirl comic someday. You know it’d be keen, and she deserves to have some fun.)

Anyway, Barbara Gordon is moving into a new apartment in the trendy Burnside area of Gotham. After a hard-partying first night with the new roomies, she heads out to grab some coffee and ends up chasing down a computer thief. She comes home to find Dinah “Black Canary” Lance on her doorstep because her apartment burned down — and because Babs was storing some of her stuff there, she’s lost almost everything, too. And she and her roommates are all missing computers and phones. Can Barbara track down the thief? And can she somehow stop the mastermind, the scuzzy cyber-blackmailer Riot Black?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I get the impression that DC was a bit freaked out by Marvel’s success at appealing to markets beyond the stale old manchild gang — and it’s nice that they’ve managed to break out of their own old stereotypes so well. Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher are writing a Batgirl who’s less angsty, more realistic, and more interesting, and Babs Tarr’s artwork is definitely unlike anything else you’ll see with the DC bullet on the cover. I really do wish DC had given Gail Simone a chance to write this new more-fun Batgirl, but the new creative team has turned in a fantastic debut issue.


Astro City #16

Super-keen gimmick here and on other Vertigo covers this month — the story actually starts on the cover of the magazine.

This issue focuses on a couple high-school supers — good-hearted energy-projecting hero Starbright and bitter hyper-genius Simon Says. Simon calls Starbright out and offers him a truce — Simon will help the hero capture criminals for 24 hours, and in exchange, Starbright has to bring him the school’s outcasts for… a birthday party? What sort of scheme is Simon Says up to?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic characters, dialogue, plot — and a really nice twist long before the end that makes the whole story a lot more resonant and effective.


Captain Marvel #8

Well, it turns out that Carol’s cat Chewie actually is an alien called a flerken. And she’s just laid a ton of eggs with even more flerkens inside. And aliens are attacking the ship to either cat-nap them or kill them. Can Captain Marvel, Rocket Raccoon, and Tic stop the invaders, save the kitties, and get to safety?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a fairly straightforward story — mostly fighting and lasers and rocketships flying around — but it’s told well, and there’s something about weird alien cats with tentacles and pocket dimensions inside of them that really helps push a fun story all the way over the top.

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