Archive for September, 2007

Avast, me Hearties!

Ahoy, maties, hoist the jolly roger high! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day! Yarrr!


Aye, lad, the captain of the Black Freighter wants ye to talk like a pirate this day, or he’ll have yer guts fer garters! Aarrr!


Avast ye, even those sissified, mutant-flogging space pirates in the Spacejammers want ye to talk like a pirate every bloody September 19, or they’ll keelhaul ye scurvy dogs!


Yarrr, that rocky landlubber Ben Grimm wants ye to talk like a pirate, too! Step lively, too, or ye’ll be dancin’ with Jack Ketch afore the day’s done!


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The Power of Steam!


We’re all acquainted with steampunk, right? Fantasy/sci-fi set in, usually, the 19th century, but with amazing advances in technology based on steam power, dirigibles, analog computing engines, and clockwork automata? So many people have never heard of it, but it’s really a fairly common sub-genre of fantasy. You ever read anything by Jules Verne or H.G. Welles? A lot of that is steampunk. You playing “Bioshock” these days? That’s steampunk, too. And there are even steampunk comics — Alan Moore’s “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and Phil Foglio’s “Girl Genius” are two of the best known.

Where am I leading to with all this? Just to this wonderful blog of steampunk goodness called Brass Goggles. Read it, marvel at it, wish you could afford a nice steampunk keyboard for your computer.

(Link from the Daily Illuminator)

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In ye Olden Days of Villain Stompage


Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #14

As you may be aware, the “Marvel Adventures” comics are Marvel’s line for all-ages comics. Now there are some all-ages comics that are really just for kids, but “Marvel Adventures” — particularly their “Avengers” comic — isn’t one of them. It’s grand fun for both kids and grownups, the stories are wonderful and funny, and you shouldn’t feel a trace of embarrassment about buying them.

So in this issue, the Avengers answer a request to help defend a farming village in a fantasy-based alternate universe from a horde of marauding bandits. But they know that if they just lay the smackdown on the baddies, the villagers won’t be able to defend themselves from future bandit raids. So they teach the farmers how to be warriors.

Yeah, it’s a fantasy version of “The Magnificent Seven” starring a bunch of superheroes. You think a 10-year-old is gonna catch on to that? Heck no. That’s why you’re here, grownups. To buy that kid some comics and make sure he watches “The Magnificent Seven” (and probably “The Seven Samurai,” too. You ain’t gonna diss Kurosawa, are ya?).

Aaaaaanyway, the story is fine, but the best part of this really is the dialogue and one-liners. Spidey gets most of the obvious one-liners, but Wolverine has his share of laugh lines, too. If I’ve got a complaint, it’s that they went to the trouble of designing new fantasy versions of the heroes’ costumes, then didn’t give them a decent spotlight. But that’s a minor quibble.

Ohh, and there’s this great little four-page mini-story at the end about the “Mini-Marvels” helping Hulk get through his date at the soda shop with Betty.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Kids can read this, parents can read this, and you all ought to be reading it.

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Invaders from Mars

I picked up a couple of different comics recently that had stories about alien invasions. Let’s give ’em a spin and see how they turned out…


Green Lantern #23

The Green Lanterns stuck on Qward have to fight their way home. Hal Jordan briefly puts on a whole bunch of Sinestro rings, but he doesn’t really know that much about manipulating fear, so he gets disarmed fairly quickly. They lose one of their number, an alien named Ke’haan, to an attack by the Anti-Monitor, but they’re able to recover the powerful Green Lantern entity called Ion.

Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Galaxy decide to rewrite some of the rules that govern the operation of the Green Lantern power rings — first, they now allow Lanterns to use lethal force against the Sinestro Corps. And finally, Jordan, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner return to Earth to enlist the aid of more superheroes, but discover that the Sinestro Corps has followed them home.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not entirely happy with the story. It could have been simplified a bit, and we’ve seen, so far, mighty little of some of the promised villains. But it’s still got more good stuff than bad stuff.


PS238 #25

Aliens are invading Earth! Superheroes are busy fighting against the invaders, as are the teachers and some of the students at PS238. Unfortunately, the aliens have fixated on powerless Tyler Marlocke (who nevertheless adventures as the mostly-hapless technology-based kid-hero Moon Shadow) as the key to their invasion. They’ve engineered a virus that, when injected into Tyler, will turn him into a typhoid mary who will spread a DNA-altering disease around the world — all future humans would turn out looking just like the aliens. Can everyone prevent Tyler from being injected with the virus, or is the Earth doomed?

Verdict: Thumbs up, but just barely. This book is at its best in straight-forward lighthearted shenanigans, and this story is just way, way too serious.

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Wedding Jitters


Justice League of America: Wedding Special

I bought this expecting another fairly lightweight story — lots of stuff from Green Arrow’s bachelor party and Black Canary’s bachelorette party. And there is some of that, and it’s nice and amusing. But there’s a real serious side to this issue, too. Firestorm almost gets killed by Lex Luthor, the Joker, Cheetah, and Killer Frost, who are organizing a new Injustice League, which includes just about every supervillain on the planet and meets in an HQ that looks just like the Legion of Doom’s hideout in the old “Super Friends” cartoon. And the villains are already moving against the Justice League.

This is the first issue written by Dwayne McDuffie, and if you know Dwayne McDuffie, you’re already dancing around the room singing hallelujah. He founded Milestone Media and helped create most of their characters, including Static, Icon, and the Blood Syndicate. He wrote episodes of “Static Shock,” “Justice League,” and “Teen Titans.” He knows comics and is one holy heck of a writer. If anyone can return the Justice League to greatness, it’s him.

The story is first-rate and includes lots of the little details that can make character-driven comics so much fun. The dialogue and characterization are great, and they’re doing a great job of ratcheting up the pressure about the Injustice League.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Can’t wait for the next regular “Justice League” comic.

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Justice is Blonde

Justice Society of America #9

Hey, wow, a comic with a competently-drawn Power Girl on the cover. That’s pretty dadgummed rare these days…

Anyway, this is a fairly cute transitional issue. Most of the story takes place at a benefit event the JSA is holding for a NYC firehouse. There’s a big pancake breakfast, with Citizen Steel and the kids of the Heywood family cooking up the flapjacks, and the two Wildcats (boxer Ted Grant and his were-panther son, Tommy) stage a charity prizefight. But midway through the first round, a fire call comes in, and everyone takes off for a burning factory. After evacuating everyone, the JSA discover the cause of the still-blazing fire — former Teen Titans villain/rock star/demon Goth got a hole blasted through his chest and what remains of his demonic powers are about to blow the factory sky-high. So to get rid of Goth’s body, Starman actually makes a black hole and throws him in it. And who steps out of the black hole afterwards? The Superman from the acclaimed Mark Waid/Alex Ross series “Kingdom Come.”

Can’t say I really know what to think of this one. On one hand, I really like these “Day in the Life” stories where we get to see super-people doing stuff like making pancakes and entertaining awe-struck kids. But I’m really not too keen on bringing the “Kingdom Come” Superman over here — DC’s continuity is already stretched just about to the breaking point, and adding another few Supermen isn’t going to do any of it much good. And dangit, it’s been ages since we saw characters like Sandman, Jakeem Thunder, Mr. Terrific, Dr. Mid-Nite, Obsidian, or Ma Hunkel. It’s way past time that this comic got back to giving all of its characters some time in the spotlight.

Verdict: I think I’ll give it a thumbs up. The pancake breakfast and boxing match really are fun.

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Double Trouble


She-Hulk #21

It’s the final issue for writer Dan Slott, and while he doesn’t go out with a bang, he does give us some of his trademark mind-blowing and a few giggles.

And part of the problem for me is that I can’t really give you a plot summary without spoiling the gimmick. And it’s a really good gimmick, so I ain’t a-gonna do it. But Slott manages to solve every single continuity error Marvel ever had and he manages to get She-Hulk’s powers back. Huzzah!

The only weak part of the story is that it overwhelms a lot of other stuff that would be pretty earth-shattering otherwise, like the semi-evil Mallory Book being made a partner in the law firm, or the truth about what’s been up with Pug over the past few issues.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The good stuff outweighs the not-so-good stuff, which is still pretty good. Peter David’s gonna be writing this one next month, and I hear he knows a thing or two about writing Marvel’s gamma-irradiated super-people…

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Comics on your Cell Phone?

Yes, comics on your cell phone!

The thing that amazes me the most about this story… is that it took so long for anyone to think of it.

Sean Demory realized a long-held dream of becoming a published comic book writer when “Thunder Road,” a post-apocalyptic adventure he developed with artist Steven Sanders, was released.

“I’ve been plugging away and pitching things for 15-20 years,” Demory said. “This is the first one that landed in fertile soil.”

But don’t look for the tales of Merritt and his buddies on the shelves of a comic book store or even the Internet. “Thunder Road” is the first comic book released in the U.S. exclusively on a cell phone, part of a lineup of mobile comic books offered by Kansas City-based uClick.

So you can get music on your cell phone, you can get weather, news, Internet, e-mail, radio broadcasts, video games, stocks, television shows, movies, YouTube, cameras, camcorders, and even (gasp!) telephone calls… and it took this long for somebody to say, “Wow, hey, we should stick some comics on these things!”

The comics companies aren’t even trying that hard to jump onto the bandwagon. As the article I linked to states, so far, they’ve just got some no-name comics and some out-of-print stuff like “Bone” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Can’t we at least get something current, like “Mary Worth”?!

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White Wedding? I think NOT.


Black Canary’s Wedding Planner

I picked this one up on a whim. Black Canary getting married to Green Arrow seems like a bad idea. Either it’ll end in an almost-immediate divorce, or DC is going to kill one or both characters to prove how “edgy” they are. But I’d heard other people had liked this story, so I figured what the heck.

The plot revolves around Black Canary trying to do last-minute planning for the wedding. Ollie ends up taking over a lot of the work by calling in favors. Beside that, Dinah picks out her dress, picks out her bridesmaids, picks out her honeymoon lingerie. It’s all quite cute.

There are some problems. The comic I got had some printing mistakes — in my case, several pages that were duplicated or assembled out of order. I don’t think I missed any of the story, but it made it more difficult to keep track of what was going on. And as far as characterization goes, I can’t see Dinah picking Wonder Woman as a bridesmaid, and I sure can’t see Wondy going along on the lingerie shopping spree and trying on lingerie.

Verdict: I think I’ll go with a thumbs up. It’s a very lightweight story, but there’s nothing wrong with lightweight (and light-hearted) stories.

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Outsiders Looking In…


Outsiders #50

This seems to be the last issue of this series, though they’re kicking off a new “Batman and the Outsiders” series sometime soon. And like far too many final issues, this one is an absolute mess.

First, Batman decided in the last issue to take over the team and staff it with his heroes of his own choosing. They ran five weekly one-shots over the past month where he picked his team; I skipped those issues, because DC gets enough of my money and didn’t need me to pay them $15 for some ill-considered, corporate-driven slush. So anyway, the new team is Katana, Metamorpho, the Martian Manhunter, and Grace, with Catwoman joining up at the end. They’re still trying to play the “We’re good guys disguised as bad guys” game, which doesn’t seem like it’d be very successful — heck, Batman’s a member, and everyone knows he’s in the Justice League. When you’ve got all these “criminals” associated with a well-connected vigilante like Bats, everyone’s gonna figure they’re running a scam on the underworld.

Anyway, the team hangs around some seedy dive in Gotham City (Well, Grace hangs around the club — everyone else is either in disguise or monitoring from outside). The Suicide Squad appears, including former Outsider Captain Boomerang, along with Thunder, another former Outsider — and Grace’s lover. On top of all that, the current Outsiders are trying to safeguard a bunch of low-rent amateur supervillains for some reason no one is aware of. There’s a lot of fighting and chaos and people doing stuff for no real purpose. It’s a complete muddle.

Verdict: Thumbs down. It’s especially irritating that there’s absolutely no explanation for why Thunder and Captain Boomerang are out, and Martian Manhunter is in. In other words, if you didn’t shell out an extra 15 bones for the weekly “Five of a Kind” one-shots, you didn’t find out the full story. That’s a rotten way to treat customers.

By the way, yes, my reviews are going a lot slower than I want them to. Sorry about that. I haven’t had a lot of spare time to work on them, so I’m stuck writing them in the few non-hectic hours I have. I’ll get the rest written ASAP.

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