Archive for September, 2007

The Return of Friday Night Fights: Tower of Power!

After a two-week hiatus, it begins anew! Bahlactus commands: Let Fridays be devoted to violence, pain, and brutal, merciless beat-downs! Let Friday Night Fights commence!

From the first issue of “The Umbrella Academy” by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba:

A ten-year-old boy beats the rivets off an evil, death-ray-shooting Eiffel Tower!

Beaucoup brutalite!

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Doing it Quick like a, um, Beetle

More fast reviews! ‘Cause I’m a busy man! I got work to do! Meetings to attend! Candy to eat! So onward! REVIEWS!


Blue Beetle #19

The extremely tall Giganta, one of Wonder Woman’s enemies, shows up to take down local crimelord La Dama, who’s secretly the beloved aunt of Jaime Reyes’ friend Brenda. Whoa, complication! Can Jaime save La Dama and still preserve the secret she’s been keeping from Brenda? Umm, no, he really can’t.

Verdict: Thumbs up! Good action, good jokes, decent soap opera. Paco gets the best lines, as usual. Have I told y’all to start buying this? You’ve been ignoring me, haven’t you? Don’t make me beat you!


Teen Titans #51

Oh, spit! It’s the evil Titans from the future! But I thought they stopped existing? I thought Conner Kent and Bart Allen were dead? Oh, well, they’ve stomped on the Justice League and have now sent the current Titans off against a bunch of supervillains who are being mind-controlled by Starro the Star Conqueror. Of course, the future Titans have some twisted reasons for being there, but Robin has a plan to stop them — a pretty drastic plan…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The future Titans are good, wicked fun. Hope they can maintain the fun over the next issue or two.


Countdown to Mystery #1

I’d planned to skip nearly all these Countdown tie-ins, but decided to give this one a shot because I heard it had Plastic Man in it, and Plastic Man’s my homie. So in the first part, we meet the new Dr. Fate, who, like the first Dr. Fate, is named Kent Nelson. Oooo, coincidences! He’s a down-on-his-luck bum who stumbles across Fate’s helmet in a dumpster in Vegas and then uses its power to destroy a demon. Yay for smelly homeless Dr. Fate!

In the second part, the Spectre kills a murderer, who steadfastly refuses to go to Hell, because he’s an atheist. Haw! Eat that, Mr. Wrath-of-God! Then we run into my pal Plas, who captures some muggers in Central Park, then gets accosted by Eclipso, who apparently turns him from wacky jokester to angst-ridden villain-to-be. And then there’s a flashback with Darkseid. But ya know, I wasn’t listening by that point. Because no one treats my pal Plastic Man that way. NO ONE TREATS MY PAL PLASTIC MAN THAT WAY.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The story with Dr. Fate was pretty good. But you do not treat my pal Plastic Man that way.

And now, just to burn a little more space, here’s another image you will never be able to un-see.


That’s right, Superboy saves people by biting them on the butt. Comics are wholesome!

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Quick Reviews for People with No Patience

Hey, kids! Who’s tired of doing long reviews of comics? Look around, see if you can find him! Wait, wait, there he is! That’s right — it’s me! So let’s do fast reviews of everything I’ve got left over!

B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground #2

Horrifically scarred tough-guy Ben Daimo summons a mystical Chinese mystic-guy, just in time for the guy to get eaten by a rampaging wendigo! Johann Kraus goes AWOL with his big, bad, hungry, horny body! Liz Sherman sees horrific visions of the end of the world!

Verdict: Thumbs up! Creepy stuff, gross stuff, more scary stuff on the way! Woo!


The Trials of Shazam #8

Atlas is a god who’s wired into the whole world, and he makes tiny minor changes to stave off major disasters. And someone just killed him! So Freddy Freeman has to fill in for him briefly, then Captain Marvel takes over, and then Freddy goes to fetch Atlas’ replacement, the god Apollo, who’s given up godhood to be a doctor. But Apollo don’t wanna be a god, and he’s willing to kill to stay normal.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not bad. But with four issues left, they better start wrapping stuff up fast.


Shadowpact #17

Lots of stuff happens, and I can’t be bothered to care.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Boooooring.

And now, to fill a bit more space: A picture you will never be able to un-see!

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Arrow Dynamics


Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #16

It’s writer Jeff Parker’s last issue on this title. With any luck, he’s taught the next guy what he needs to do to make sure this comic stays so cool.

Quick recap: The “Marvel Adventures” is an all-ages line — they’re specifically designed to be kid-friendly while still giving adults something they can enjoy, too. The Avengers, in the Marvel Adventures universe, are Captain America, Storm, Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Wolverine, and Giant-Girl. The Hulk doesn’t appear in this issue, but we get a guest appearance from costumed archer Hawkeye.

The team’s opponents this issue are the latest incarnation of the Masters of Evil — the Melter, Man-Bull, Whirlwind, and Egghead. Hawkeye shows up to try to help, but he’s mistaken for one of the villains. Though he persuades them to let him assist, the Avengers remain suspicious, especially since someone seems to be feeding the Masters of Evil some inside information about the team.

There’s a lot of wonderful stuff in this issue, including the return of hapless minion Karl from A.I.M., Hawkeye romancing both Storm and Giant-Girl, everyone making fun of the Mandroids’ names, and this great panel depicting what happens when the Melter shoots Iron Man with his melting ray.


Pantsless Iron Man = Comedy Gold.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again, Marvel better hope that their next writer is as awesome as Parker was…

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Awesome Umbrella


The Umbrella Academy #1

This comic, from its meager description in the previews, sounded like pure stunt casting. The writer is a guy named Gerard Way, and he’s the lead singer for an emo-punk band called My Chemical Romance. I figured it was about a bunch of moody pale white kids wearing school uniforms and domino masks, mainly produced to snap up some quick sales from the band’s fans before they move on to a new musical obsession.

Color me flabbergasted, because this comic kicks much booty.

First, yes, it does star a bunch of creepy little white kids wearing school uniforms and domino masks who have strange and vaguely goth powers. But this one breaks out of the stereotypes early and chugs down the entire bottle of Awesome Juice. The kids’ origins? Once upon a time, a professional wrestler knocked out a squid monster from outer space. Simultaneously, a bunch of kids were born to women who had not previously been pregnant. They were adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, also known as the Monocle, a wealthy and hyper-cultured scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, athlete, and secret space alien. Hargreeves takes seven of the kids — including a superstrong, hyper-competent leader-to-be, a superhuman liar, a kid who can levitate, a kid with tentacles growing out of his stomach, and a completely, hopelessly normal nobody — calls them only by numbers, and trains them to be a superteam.

Flash forward ten years — the kids, now known as the Umbrella Academy — visit Paris to find that the Eiffel Tower has apparently gone nuts and has started throwing people to their deaths. And shooting death rays. Who could possibly be responsible for this?


Yes, you heard right. Zombie-Robot Gustave Eiffel. That’s officially the awesomest thing in the universe.

And after the kids save Paris, they are given the key to the city and one scoop of ice cream apiece.

After that, we jump forward a couple decades into the future, when the hyper-competent leader kid now lives on the moon and has a gorilla body in place of his old body. We also get a glimpse of the normal nobody, who’s become estranged from her old teammates. And the rest of the team is showing up next issue for a very important funeral.

Verdict: Thumbs up times twenty. This is like getting an endorphin rush directly through your eyes. I hope Gerard Way keeps writing comics, ’cause he’s seriously got The Stuff.

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Just Another Manic Monday

Ya know what’s nice? Lazing around all weekend and not writing on the blog. I listened to two CDs I hadn’t listened to in years, I enjoyed the beautiful weather, I visited my grandmother, my brother, and my niece, and it was awfully nice. Unfortunately, that brings us to yet another Monday, and it puts me even farther behind on my comics reviewing, so let’s get a few of them done real quickly.


Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Parallax

It’s not really about Parallax; it’s really about Kyle Rayner. He’s trapped in his own head, watching Parallax use his body to wage war on the GL Corps, drawing on walls to distract himself. Parallax shows up from time to time to taunt him and make monster faces. Kyle stays trapped, but he’s not beaten yet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Kyle really is a wonderful character, and it’s been a long time since we got to spend enough time with him, especially when the story is written by Ron Marz, the guy who created Kyle.


The Flash #232

Wally’s been dragged under water by weirdo aliens, and his kids are on their own, trying to find their way home and fight off the aliens. There’s more, but — ugh, man alive, this one was just dull. Put me to sleep and everything.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Nice art, but gyaah, so boring.


Booster Gold #2

Booster gets Rip Hunter to agree to help save the late Blue Beetle if Booster will help him save time. First mission: go back in time to when Sinestro was still a good Green Lantern and somehow keep him from talking to future Green Lantern Guy Gardner. Just talking to Sinestro will cause Guy to become a GL and die earlier and allow the Sinestro Corps to be formed earlier and conquer the galaxy. The problem is that Sinestro is way, way, way out of Booster’s league. How can he stop someone so much more powerful than he is?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good, clever, well-written story. I’ve already heard people say this book reminds them of some of the stuff DC was producing in the mid-1990s, which isn’t a bad thing.

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The Return of the King


World War Hulk #4

In a desperate attempt to stop the Hulk’s rampage, Dr. Strange channels an extradimensional demon called Zom, and the additional power gives him more than enough oomph to beat the stuffing out of Hulk. But Strange gets knocked off his game when he accidentally endangers a bunch of civilians, and that gives Hulk the opportunity to batter Strange into unconsciousness. Rick Jones is still trying to talk some sense into Hulk, but he’s still getting ignored. So Hulk and his alien Warbound buddies outfit all the superheroes with “obedience disks” and force Iron Man, Black Bolt, Mr. Fantastic, and Dr. Strange into gladiatorial contests against each other.

Well, first, wowie, there sure has been a superhero drain in the Marvel Universe. Our spotlight characters are Hulk, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Mr. Fantastic, and Black Bolt, and I’m not sure you could call any of them unblemished heroes anymore. There’s a great sequence in the middle of the book where a bunch of people list off the various crimes committed by Iron Man, Strange, Reed Richards, and Black Bolt, and it’s a really powerful indictment of their behavior over the last few years.

Not that it makes the Hulk any more lovable. Cheeze Louize, I’m really hating him these days. I halfway hope they kill the arrogant spitwad in the next issue. And that’s not a complaint — that’s an example of really outstanding writing. Greg Pak has been writing a series chock-full of action, action, action, and he’s still able to throw in enough characterization to get you to care about what happens to people and to get you to change your opinions of the characters.

And yes, John Romita Jr. is one holy heck of an artist. I love Pak’s writing, but I can’t imagine any other artist drawing this series. Awesome fight scenes, body language, facial expressions.

Verdict: Thumbs up. One more issue to go, and I can’t figure out how they’re gonna wrap this one up. Can’t wait, can’t wait.

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Wedding Crashers


Green Arrow and Black Canary: Wedding Special

If we’re gonna talk about this issue, I’m gonna have to spoil it.

First of all, let me tell you about what I was expecting from this one. See, lately, DC Comics has been on a killing spree. They can’t seem to publish an “event” comic without killing at least one superhero for the sake of nabbing a little cheap shock theater. So part of me expected the big wedding of Green Arrow and Black Canary to end with the death of at least one of those two characters. But the smarter part of me — the part of me that’s actually written fiction before and knows that you gotta keep your readers guessing — figured that DC would give the readers a nice break from the usual carnage and let them enjoy a nice traditional superhero wedding, without all the angst and sorrow and bloodshed.

So we start out with Ollie and Dinah fighting, making up, fighting, sending out invitations, having bachelor and bachelorette parties. And the bad guys find out, and they show up, and everyone has a nice big fight. This is traditional for superhero weddings. You can’t have a superhero wedding without supervillains showing up to fight with everyone. And of course, the bad guys get their butts handed to ’em, and the bride and groom get successfully wedded.

Okay, let’s take a short break, and I’ll tell you how good it is so far. First, Amanda Conner’s art is entirely awesome. She’s really one of the best artists around — does outstanding facial expressions, great action, draws the sweetest eye candy you ever saw, and just makes ya wish she drew every dadgummed comic book out there. And it’s a funny comic, too. Everything from the reactions of the wedding invitees, Ollie’s and Dinah’s arguments, Ollie’s sedate bachelor party vs. Dinah’s raucous bachelorette party — they’re all chock full o’ funny. Even the big wedding battle has good funny moments, especially if you watch what’s going on in the background — even Lois Lane gets to pop out the brass knuckles and pepper spray and beat up on bad guys. Up to this point, it’s a wonderful comic book.

And then, on the wedding night, Ollie goes into a trance, tries to kill Dinah, and she stabs him through the neck with one of his arrows. Is it mind control? Oh, sure. Is Ollie dead. Probably not. Just seriously, horribly maimed. On his wedding night.

Thanks, DC. Thanks for living down to my low expectations.

Verdict: Thumbs down. You could list DC’s plotlines on a matchbook cover.

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Tales of Two-Fisted Intellectuals!


Action Philosophers!: The Lightning Round

It’s a comic book about philosophy. It features Confucius as King Kong, Mary Wollstonecraft beating Jean-Jacques Rousseau with a board, and what I consider to be solid proof that Gottfried Leibniz was a complete gibbering moron.

So, yeah, I love it.

Here’s a quick hit of a couple of panels from their summary of Diogenes the Cynic.



The rest of the book is a lot like that — Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey are very good at producing quick, snappy, somewhat goofy summaries of the lives of philosophers and what they believed. I can see professors getting some use out of this stuff — seems like it’d be a good, amusing introduction to philosophy.

I think it’s good fun for general readers, too. Lots of funny stuff here, though if your idea of philosophy is “Be nice to folks and have some fun when you can,” you’re probably gonna get irritated at all the wordy people wearing funny collars. And I don’t necessarily recommend this one for kids — the Life of the Mind is no place for immature brains, and neither are some of the artwork of nekkid philosophers.

Biggest downer: This is the final issue of this series. Luckily, they’re planning on collecting the entire comic in an anthology very soon, and they’ve announced some of their future projects, including “Action Presidents!”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wish I’d gotten on this bandwagon earlier.

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Serious High-Brow Literature

How many of y’all used to read the old “Classics Illustrated” comics? You remember they used to take classic novels like “Moby Dick,” The Last of the Mohicans,” “Frankenstein,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” and over a hundred others, and then they’d re-tell them in comic book format. What you got was something that was a lot shorter than the original novel, but got the general plot of the story correct and hopefully attracted a few kids into reading the classics. I doubt you could’ve used them to write a book report, but it was probably the only way you would’ve gotten kids to pay any interest in “Silas Marner” or “Wuthering Heights.”

Well, clearly, “Classics Illustrated” didn’t shorten the books enough. Or stick enough superheroes into them. Maybe they coulda produced something like this:

Comics in the Daring Dostoyevsky Demeanor!

As they say in the funny pages, go read the whole thing.

(Link from Jeff DeLuzio)

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