The Long Arm of the Law

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Ms. Marvel #6

The villain known as the Inventor wants Ms. Marvel dead, but Kamala Khan has more pressing concerns — her parents want her to talk to Sheikh Abdullah, the family minister and one of Kamala’s nemeses. And as seems to be typical with Kamala, he’s nowhere near the monster she’s let herself be convinced he is — conservative, yes, but more compassionate and understanding than she’d expected from listening to his youth lectures at the mosque. She confesses that she sneaks out at night because she’s helping people, and he advises her to find a teacher to help her help people better.

When Kamala chases after a report of alligators in the sewers, what she finds is a bunch of cyber-alligators, created and controlled by the Inventor. He appears to her in a hologram, revealing himself as a cybernetically-enhanced mutant parakeet who claims to be the clone of Thomas Edison. And there’s someone else tracking the Inventor — and Kamala is delighted to learn she’s going to get to team up with Wolverine! But this isn’t the unstoppable mutant badass Wolverine she was hoping to meet and be trained by — this is the guy who’s recently lost his healing factor, and fighting monster alligators in an absurdly spacious sewer means he’s quickly a badly injured mutant who Kamala has to somehow keep alive…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Jacob Wyatt takes over the art on this story, which can sometimes be a serious speedbump on a comic, especially one as young as this one, but nope, everything keeps firing on all cylinders. The story is great, the dialogue is fantastic, the art is fun. It’s a grand comic with wonderful action, drama, humor, and wisdom — and really great characters, too. Y’all better be reading this series, or we’re gonna have trouble.

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Rat Queens #7

Dee’s husband, a worshiper of N’rygoth, has come to Palisade — just in time for Gerrig to enact his mad plan to punish the city for his life’s unhappiness. He intends to call N’rygoth itself to the city, but without any bindings to hold it back. Dee is a former N’rygoth worshiper, but she’s an atheist now — how will she handle concrete evidence of the monster-god’s existence? Plus there’s a really fantastic fight scene between Lola — who I really can’t say I remember at all — and a whole team of mercenaries.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The main story has all the humor and snark and drama we’ve come to expect from this series — but Lola’s battle against the seven mercenaries is really something else. Punishing, brutal, painful, and shockingly brilliant action — there’s more ass-whuppery in this five-page fight scene than you’ll find in a dozen other comics.

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She-Hulk #6

Shulkie learns that discussing the mysterious Blue File case has a tendency to make people lose their minds, attack people talking about the case, and attempt suicide. She meets with Dr. Kevin Trench, a former superhero named Nightwatch (who I’m pretty sure is supposed to be dead in current continuity) who was one of the people named in the deadly lawsuit. They’re attacked out of nowhere by a bunch of demons. When Angie Huang finally gets back to New York after her near-death experience, Jennifer has apparently had her mind altered so she doesn’t care about the case anymore.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This is a case where a new artist on a comic can do some serious damage. Sorry, but Ron Wimberly’s artwork on this is just bad. Distractingly bad. It killed off any enjoyment I would’ve gotten out of this issue. And it’s likely to kill off any enthusiasm I have for this comic until he’s given the heave-ho.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Marvel may be beating DC right now when it comes to diversity, but they’ve still got a ways to go.
  • Among its other influences, Dungeons & Dragons has helped to teach many people how to become better writers.
  • Universal Studios is considering relaunching their classic movie monsters and making them consistent with each other — similar to Marvel’s Avengers-related films.

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Friday Night Fights: Evil Wins!

Awright, kids, it’s time for another dose of Friday Night Fights — this week’s fight comes to us from October 1990′s Captain America #378 by Mark Gruenwald, Ron Lim, Danny Bulanadi, and Steve Buccellato.

The Red Skull is muscling in on the crime business in New York City. The Kingpin tells him to lay off, and the Skull challenges him to a no weapons fight to determine who takes over the underworld and who leaves town.

And to make sure they’re not hiding any weapons, they both strip down to their underwear. Because apparently, what we comic book fans want is Nazis in their skivvies and fat guys in their skivvies. No wonder the industry is dying.

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So the bad news is that the Kingpin is a ruthless criminal mastermind, and since he’s won, he’ll continue to make life hell for New York’s superheroes. But the good news is that the Nazi lost, and he lost by being bearhugged and smothered under a sweaty shirtless fat guy — because everyone hates Nazis. Huzzah for our hero Wilson Fisk!

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Support your Local Robo

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Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle #3

Robo is stuck in the Wild West, his atomic batteries burning out, traveling with U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves and outlaw dentist Doc Holliday. They’re tracking a bunch of bandits who’ve been kidnapping townspeople across the West for nefarious purposes — and after a wild shootout aboard a train, Robo learns that the Big Bad is none other than Helsingard, the villain who’s plagued Robo throughout his history, from an elderly Nazi to an undead cyborg floating-floating Nazi. What are Helsingard’s plans — and can Robo stop him before he dies?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Absolutely outstanding action — that running battle on board the train is a good dozen pages of the best swashbuckling Western you always wanted to see. Plus there’s a bit of humor, a bit of drama, and a little ominous foreshadowing for what the next two issues may hold for us.

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Manifest Destiny #8

Half the crew is stuck on a boat in the middle of a river, held fast by a gigantic tentacled toad-monster that’d like to eat as many people as it can. The other half is stuck on land, trying to find a safe place to camp, trying to figure out a way to rescue their stranded crewmen, and most likely, getting ready to get slaughtered by the monstrous wildlife of the American frontier…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Claustrophobic mood and rising tensions among the crew members. Plus we get one monster being carefully hidden from view, just to make us wonder what’s under the water — and another monster depicted in full technicolor gory, just for those of us who like to see some great monsters.

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The Witcher #5

Geralt the Witcher finally meets up with Marta and learns that she’s not a monstrous bruxa, but just a cursed woman, trapped between life and death after her husband, Jakob the hunter, killed her in a fit of jealous rage. Marta begs Geralt to kill Jakob, but he refuses — Witchers kill supernatural monsters, not human ones. But the question may be forced after all — Jakob is entirely mad and willing to kill anyone he thinks might come between him and his dead wife.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice end for the series, with most of the truly frightening bits reserved for the human villain rather than for the supernatural horrors — many of the monsters are themselves victims of a curse.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Thoroughly Bored

Sorry, y’all, I just didn’t feel like blogging anything Monday or Tuesday, and I don’t much feel like it today either. But we’ll do this anyway.

The problem is that I’m feeling almost completely bored by comics right now. Maybe it’s just the stuff I got last week, but almost everything felt like it was just marking time, putting together another 22 pages so they could sell another comic. I know they can’t all be works of perfect art every week, or even most weeks, but almost everything felt dry and dull.

My set of horror comics last week felt like the worst of the lot — they were all long-running series, and nothing particularly scary happened in them. Seems like a problem you get in any horror longer than a short story. Short stories are almost perfect for conveying horror, but once you start working with horror novels, or with long-running horror series, you gotta work a lot harder to get the scares in, and you gotta keep bringing your A-game to keep your story scary and creepy and shocking. And none of last week’s horror books were bringing their A-game.

And I was gonna go ahead and review the two other comics I had that didn’t bore me — but then I started reading them again, and I thought, ya know, they were really kinda boring, too.

Am I gonna be bored with comics from now on? I hope not. I hope it was just last week’s comics, I hope it’s just summer doldrums, I hope it’s just me feeling apathetic and unproductive.

But for now — ehh, I’m gonna go read a real book.

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Friday Night Fights: Wonderland Warfare!

I’m pert-near exhausted, and I ain’t got no time for clever intros this week, so let’s get straight into the Friday Night Fights action.

Tonight’s battle comes to us from April 2008′s Detective Comics #841 by Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, and John Kalisz. Tweedledee and Tweedledum pressured the Mad Hatter into participating in a Wonderland Gang — and it’s ended the way most criminal enterprises do in Gotham City: beaten down by the Batman and shipped off to Arkham. Luckily, Jervis Tetch is willing to forgive and forget…

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That’ll do it for me this week. Y’all get as much rest as you can manage this weekend, and with any luck, I’ll see y’all back here on Monday.

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Scouts’ Honor

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Lumberjanes #4

The Lumberjane Scouts are enjoying a nature hike in the weird spooky woods around their camp and trying to figure out a way to slip away from their cabin leader, Jen, so they can explore the mysterious tower in the distance. Then they run into a yeti. No, no mere yeti — judging from that handlebar mustache and doofus tattoo, this is a hipster yeti. He scares the whole bunch of them into running down a slope and straight into a huge patch of poison ivy.

Luckily, they meet up with the very wholesome and very orderly Scouting Lads from the exceptionally clean Mr. Theodore Tarquin Reginald Lancelot Herman Crumpet Camp for Boys. They have skin ointment for the girls, as well as freshly baked cookies. The girls are a bit disturbed by the Scouting Lads, but they agree to distract Jen while the Lumberjanes go explore the tower. Will the girls be able to get past the hipster yeti guards? Will they learn the tower’s secrets? And what horrible secrets are the Scouting Lads hiding?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is so wonderfully funny and weird. Probably the single funniest thing in this whole issue is the Scouting Lads’ camp director, who is so overflowing with machismo (and cookie-hatred, which is how you know he’s evil) that when he leaves, he shouts that he’s “going to catch a fish by wrestling it away from a bear.” But the rest of it is also remarkably and creepily weird, particularly the odd artifact in the tower and the terrifying tranformation of the Scouting Lads. This series is getting more and more interesting the more I read it.

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Captain Marvel #5

Carol discovers that the Spartax Empire is secretly mining Vibranium from the planet Torfa, and the symptoms so many of the residents are suffering are caused by Vibranium poisoning. And the Empire is prepared to invade and wipe out or imprison everyone on Torfa as soon as possible. Can Captain Marvel save everyone? With no backup? Against a full alien fleet?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Vibranium discovery was a nice surprise, and what really sells the issue is the interplay between all the species on Torfa, as they try to work out how much of this disaster is their own fault, and try to figure out whether they can resist against the imperial forces. And the art remains just plain dandy.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • I do really love the look they’re planning for Batgirl – but I’m still not planning on reading it. Can’t trust DC Comics anymore…
  • If you read and love “Mouse Guard,” you may be interested in this Kickstarter for the strategy game the mice play in the comic.
  • The horrible Rick Perry continues to be horrible, but at least this time, we get the chance to laugh at his buffoonery.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Atomic

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Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle #2

Robo is stranded in the Wild West — and his nuclear batteries are starting to run dry. Everyone thinks he’s some guy called Ironhide, and they expect him to be able to keep a bunch of townspeople safe — along with the notorious Doc Holliday. When the bandits torch the town, Robo, the marshal, and Holliday go to track them down, little suspecting that an unexpected enemy is waiting for them at the end of the trail.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really loving Robo in the West, and the last panel reveal of the Big Bad is excellently satisfying.

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Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #2

The Titans are trudging through the Arctic trying to find the Fortress of Solitude. They get to hang out briefly with Superman before he has to fly off to save Jimmy Olsen. They also call the various Brainiacs trying to get their shrunken treehouse back, but no luck. They also meet up with Bizarro, Match, and Bizarro-Girl — and a Bizarro Duck called DUckzarro. Man, I don’t know. Will even Superman be able to save the Titans’ treehouse?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wow, Duckzarro — I had no idea how something that crazy actually happened. I’m glad it did, though.

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Daredevil: Road Warrior

If you ever wanted to find out what happened while Matt Murdock was moving from New York City to San Francisco — and if you wanted it as its own separate one-shot comic instead of part of the regular series — well, I guess this one is for you. Matt and Kirsten McDuffie take a long train trip cross-country, and Daredevil tangles with the Man-Bull and a mysterious amnesiac shapeshifter — and with the Mad Thinker.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s especially nice to see the Mad Thinker treated as a genuine threat as well as a certified super-genius. But a big chunk of me suspects there was never any real good reason for this comic to exist. This could’ve been shoehorned into the current series without any difficulty — no reason for a special issue for it.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • We may yet get Guillermo Del Toro’s film adaptation of Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness.”
  • The always-crass DC Entertainment will put Superman’s “S” shield on everything from toys to sub sandwiches. But statues commemorating children? That doesn’t promote the brand or bring in any money.
  • Wanna get the Basic Rules for the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons — completely free? Go download the PDF right now.

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The Art of the Beat-Down

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Moon Knight #5

A girl has been kidnapped and is being held on the fifth floor of a six-floor building. Moon Knight, dressed in his incredibly-spiffy white suit, walks up six flights of stairs beating the crap out of every crook he meets. That’s it. That’s the entire plot.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s all the plot you need. I hate to say it’s a ballet of violence, but screw it, it’s a ballet of violence. It’s a really, really good ballet of violence. This is the next-to-the-last issue of Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire’s run on this series, and I absolutely pity whoever has to follow them up. They’ve rocked on mysteries, on head-trippy stuff, on superhero stuff, and they’ve turned a straightforward fight comic into the best darn comic of the whole month. I swear, Marvel should just cancel the series and not force the followup team to suffer through the coming reviews.

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Southern Bastards #3

Earl Tubb has embraced his daddy’s legacy. He’s got himself a great big ass-whupping plank of wood and a desire to visit vengeance on Craw County’s scumbags. But beating down on a few rednecks won’t solve the bone-deep problems with baked-in Alabama corruption. Earl Tubb is just one man, and if the bad guys can’t find him, they’ll hurt anyone who has a connection to him…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I don’t know where y’all live, but here, it’s a roasting hot Texas summer. It gets hot in the morning, gets hotter as the day goes on, and doesn’t start to cool down ’til well after sundown. It’s a weird feeling — it’s nighttime, it’s still uncomfortably hot and humid, and as a result, everyone is sweaty and miserable and pissed-off. This comic book feels that way, too. And in this case, that’s actually a good thing.

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Lazarus #9

It’s time for the Lift Selection — the Waste of the world, poverty-stricken, jobless, and mostly unwanted, have a chance to get hired as part of the staff of the Family Carlyle. The Barrets have traveled all the way to Denver and lost a daughter, all in the hope that their remaining child and a family friend can be designated Serfs and save the family from utter destitution. But at the same time, a terrorist is stalking the hordes of people in Denver, hoping to get close enough to the Carlyle patriarch to blow him up with a bomb. Can the Barrets make it through the punishing selection process? And can Forever Carlyle manage to find the terrorist before he massacres hundreds?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a tense, well-told, compassionate three-pronged story. The art is gorgeous, the writing is pretty darn grand, and the reader is stuck with conflicting emotions — the Carlyles are representations of a horrible corporate tyranny, but they’re also the only hope the Barrets have of escaping grinding poverty — whose side do you choose?

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Black Widow #8

While running an op, Natasha runs into the Winter Soldier, and they both get attacked by a horde of mercenaries. While they try to survive the paramilitary assault, Natasha’s lawyer is forced to take less-than-legal methods to recover money they haven’t been paid and must also deal with the repercussions of being the Black Widow’s public lawyer and business agent.

Verdict: As with so many issues of this series, there’s nothing particularly wrong with this issue, but it just bored me so much. Fantastic art, though — many kudos to Phil Noto.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Friday Night Fights: American Glory! And Batroc!

We’re still celebrating the Fourth of July, and we’ve gotten to point of the evening where we can start blowing stuff up. While we’re remembering not to blow our fingers off with fireworks — and also not to set off fireworks late at night outside my window while I’m trying to sleep — let’s enjoy some Friday Night Fights featuring our favorite patriotic hero and the most glorious French supervillain stereotype!

From December 1980′s Captain America #252 by John Byrne, Roger L. Stern, Joe Rubinstein, and Bob Sharen, the diabolical Mr. Hyde has a twisted plan to destroy New York City, just to avenge himself on one fellow supervillain. But he didn’t count on the always fantastic… Batroc! Ze Leapair!

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Soon enough, Captain America has joined the fight, leaving the two Revolutionary War allies fighting against the villain inspired by a British novel. So it’s historical and educational!

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Everyone have a wonderful Independence Day — and again, stop setting off those firecrackers outside my window! DON’T MAKE ME COME OUT THERE WITH THE HOSE, YOU PUNKS!

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The Patriotic Three-Day Weekend!

Huzzah, it’s the Fourth of July! Let’s celebrate our nation’s independence with a bunch of patriotic comic book covers!

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America’s a pretty keen place! Now if only we could convince our legislators, Supreme Court justices, preachers, and national pundits that it’s true.

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