Archive for December, 2007

War Pigs


Special Forces #2

Felony, our underdressed war hero on the cover, is in waaaay over her head. Zone, the autistic soldier, keeps getting himself in more and more trouble because he thinks he has to complete his mission, no matter what. So off he goes, one eye on the toy soldier he’s obsessed with, the other on the list detailing his orders, blundering into the gunsights of way too many enemy insurgents. So in trying to defend both Zone and herself, Felony wastes an absolutely incredible number of insurgents, blows up a car bomb while it’s trying to run her over, gets in a fistfight with a terrorist, and dodges numerous bullets and rockets.

Verdict: Thumbs up. There’s an insane amount of action in this story. This issue isn’t as political as the last one was — who has time for politics when you’re riding on the hood of a car bomb, right? But it’s still a fantastic story so far, and Felony is definitely developing into the toughest soldier in a war comic since Sgt. Rock…

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Bad Clowns, Killing Jokes, and One Bad Day


Booster Gold #5

Booster has a steep challenge this time — he has to stop the Joker from shooting and paralyzing Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon. Wait, wait, didn’t that already happen waaaaay back in 1988 in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s “The Killing Joke”? Does that mean that Booster has a chance to go back in time, prevent Barbara’s paralysis, completely pre-empt the entire “Birds of Prey” series, and more? Is Booster about to have an impact on DC’s real continuity?

Well, no. The Joker may not have any powers and may not be considered much of a fighter, but he gives Batman fits on a regular basis, so he’s a lot better than Booster can take on. But he tries over and over and over, until Rip Hunter finally tells him that it’s just not possible to stop the Joker — his shooting of Barbara Gordon is something that’s completely unchangeable.

Also, we finally learn who Supernova’s masters are: the immortal Ultra-Humanite, interstellar tyrant Despero, and time-traveling fascist Per Degaton. And we get a good look at Rip Hunter’s Time Blackboard, which reveals various clues about the DCU’s future…

Verdict: Thumbs up, I think. I don’t know that I’m happy with the idea of letting the Joker shoot Babs Gordon over and over, from Booster’s viewpoint, but the characterization seems good, there’s good action, good intrigue, and and it never hurts to be reminded of what a complete rotter the Joker is. And I love the fact that so much of the art recreates the look of Bolland’s art in “The Killing Joke.”

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Happy Birthday, Stan Lee!


Word on the street has it that Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Dr. Strange, Daredevil, and many more, is 85 years old today.

So if you see him hanging around your office today, tell him happy birthday and ask him for a slice of cake.

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Green Girls and Wonder Women

Well, there won’t be any new comics coming in this week here in Lubbock, but I’ve still got a lot of comics I can review from last week, so let’s hit a couple of them right now.


Wonder Woman #15

We start off with a glimpse of the distant past as Queen Hippolyta’s honor guard slowly lets their loyalty to her be replaced by demented and ultimately treasonous obsession with her. From there, we jump to the modern day, as Wonder Woman beats the snot out of Captain Nazi and then, touchingly, empathizes with the tortures he suffered as a child. From him, she learns that a bunch of neo-nazis are about to take over the mostly-deserted Paradise Island (though it looks like Hippolyta herself is doing some good old-fashioned nazi-stompage of her own). Diana wants to get to the island, but Athena has blocked off all access to the island, so she has to go ask members of Earth’s other pantheons for assistance in getting back home.

Verdict: Thumbs up. First, Terry Dodson’s artwork is just outstanding. Second, I actually enjoyed the scene with Captain Nazi — yeah, he gets thoroughly clobbered — as all nazis should be clobbered, of course — but when she forces him to confront the abuse he suffered as a child, and he starts just weeping and blubbering about it, and she feels sympathy for him — that’s getting something that’s been missing from Diana’s character for an awfully long time. The character seems to work best as a compassionate ass-kicker, despite all the contradictions involved. And the idea of Diana pledging her allegiance to a pantheon other than the Olympians is looking like something that’ll be really, really interesting.


She-Hulk #24

Well, we meet a little more of She-Hulk’s new supporting cast. Besides Jazinda, there’s an arrogant cop, the folks at the trailer park where Jen and Jazinda live, the people at the bonding company where Jen works, the mysterious new terrorist who’s got a mad on for She-Hulk. There’s a bombing, and She-Hulk pulls people to safety.

Verdict: I gotta give it a thumbs down. I love seeing good character development and interaction, but right now, we don’t have a plot or a direction for the comic. Once we get a good overarching plot going, this book is gonna start shining, but for now, it’s motionless.

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Just 364 Shopping Days Left…


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to December 26th, or as I prefer to call it, International Seasonal Let-Down Day.

You’ve been stuffed full of turkey, ham, and sweet potatoes, and you still have another two weeks of leftovers to look forward to. And after you’re done with the leftovers? You get to diet. Not that you’ll actually lose that weight, but you gotta do it anyway.

Your presents were nice, but you’re already a little bored with them. You’ve got gift cards and Christmas cash to use, but you also know your credit card bills are coming. And rent’s coming due, too.

You have to take the tree, the lights, and all the decorations down.

Uncle Ronnie was both shirtless and drunk before noon yesterday.

Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men completely failed to materialize for the 2,007th year in a row.

The coldest, most miserable part of winter is still ahead of you.

And if you’re like me, you have to go back to work today.

So no real blogging today. Just work.

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It’s a Wonderful Life


Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!


Merry Christmas, Justice League of America!


Merry Christmas, Spider-Man and Fantastic Four!


Merry Christmas, Teen Titans!


Merry Christmas, Matt from “Dork Tower!”


Merry Christmas, Hulk!


Merry Christmas, Flash!


Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!

“And a Happy New Year to you… in jail!”


Merry Christmas, Wolverine!


Merry Christmas, Justice Society!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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A Marvel-ous Christmas


Marvel Holiday Special

I’ve got time for one review this Christmas Eve, so let’s make it a review of a new Christmas comic. Marvel puts out a holiday special every year or two. I’m not gonna tell you they’re the greatest comics in the world. But they ain’t the worst either, and they’re some pretty good holiday fun.

Let’s hit the stories in this issue one by one, a’ight?

Our first story, “Piece of Cake” by Andrew Farago, Shaenon K. Garrity and Lou Kang, focuses on Wolverine and Spider-Man. Logan is trying to bring in a psychotic mall Santa who has acquired his very own giant Sentinel robot. Spidey, meanwhile, just wants to deliver an improbably large cake to his Aunt May’s house for a Christmas party. As expected, hijinks ensue. This is a great story, full of all the stuff we love about Spidey and Wolvie both. Funny jokes, outlandish action, improbably large cakes, Christmas puns.

Our second story — well, really, it’s just a two-page feature. It includes cartoons by the great Fred Hembeck of a number of Marvel characters wearing Santa Claus suits. It originally appeared back in 1984, and it’s still fun.

Third, there’s a short holiday story by C.B. Cebulski and Alina Urusov about a group of characters called the Loners having a Secret Santa gift exchange. If you know anything the characters, the story might mean something to you. However, if you, like me, have never heard of these guys, it’s just gonna be a waste of space.

Finally, there’s “The Meaning of Christmas” by Mike Carey and Nelson (that’s all, just “Nelson”) in which a reporter for the Daily Bugle travels all over the Marvel Universe asking villains and heroes what they think the meaning of Christmas is. It’s cute fluff. Not much more than that.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The first story alone with Spider-Man and Wolverine is worth the entire cost of the comic all by itself. The others are a nice little bit of tinsel on this package, too. If you can find it, pick it up.

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Comics and High Art


Phew, unbelievably busy day here. Apparently, there’s some big holiday coming up and everyone wants work done early. Wow, who know, right?

So I don’t really have time for a proper blog post today. But here’s a very interesting article I ran across this morning about a museum exhibit examining the art and history of the modern graphic novel.

Nearly 30 years ago, the noted cartoonist Will Eisner published a long-form comic book and called it a “graphic novel.” The literary world hasn’t been quite the same since.

More than 200 pages long, Eisner’s 1978 book, “A Contract With God,” stands as a landmark in a genre that today is eclipsing traditional comics and making serious inroads into mainstream publishing – not to mention attracting the deep-pocketed attention of Hollywood.

Excerpts from “A Contract With God” – an account of the artist’s gritty boyhood in the Bronx – anchor a captivating exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.

Although the exhibition reaches back to the beginning of the 20th century, “LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel” shows how things took a major turn in the 1960s, when counterculture artists, fed up with the corporate, sanitized adventures of Batman and Archie, began crafting graphic novels that were edgy, racy and often confrontational.

Much more there — make sure you go read the rest.

The article mentioned Will Eisner’s “A Contract with God” — which is as good an excuse as any to recommend you make every effort to read some of Eisner’s comics. A lot of comic geeks have already read some of them, but Eisner’s works are extremely accessible, even for folks who aren’t really into comics. Eisner is considered the comics industry’s very best storyteller ever, so don’t miss out on his stuff.

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No Place like Star for the Holiday?

Hey, if you’re in the Hub City, and you plan on doing some last-minute Christmas shopping for comics, you’re already almost out of time.

Star Comics — out on 2014 34th here in Lubbock — is going to be closed from Monday, December 24 to Wednesday, January 2. They’ll be re-opening as normal on Thursday, January 3.

So if you planned on picking up some comics for your kids’ stockings, you better get there ASAP. If you were going to spend part of your Christmas money on a new comics anthology, better plan on waiting ’til January.

Don’t wait too late! Otherwise, you’ll have to get your mom pans or a dress or underwear, instead of that Jack Kirby “Fourth World” omnibus she really wants! Don’t force your family to suffer through a non-comics Christmas! Get your shopping done now!

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Holiday Gift Bag: Ross-apalooza

We’re running short of shopping time before Christmas, so this’ll be our last look at the gift bag for the season. If you’ve got a comics fan on your shopping list, there’s a pretty good chance they already own these next two comics… but if they don’t have ’em yet, it’s a fairly sure bet that they want them.

Alex Ross, a comic-book painter who actually grew up here in Lubbock, has produced a lot of great comics, but these are some of his best.



Ross exploded onto the comics scene in 1994 with “Marvels,” which focused on a newspaper photographer named Phil Sheldon and his views of Marvel’s superheroes. The comic, written by Kurt Busiek, let Sheldon take a front row seat at battles between the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch, at the Fantastic Four’s epic battle against Galactus, and at the death of Spider-Man’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy.

Sheldon is a bit of a hero-worshipper — he’s constantly frustrated by the cynical view most citizens have of superheroes. In the Marvel Universe, superheroes are celebrities, and they get a lot of celebrity media coverage. One week, everyone loves the Fantastic Four and loves the fairy-tale wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm — the next week, everyone hates ’em and thinks they made up the battle against Galactus to boost their Q-ratings. Sheldon sees the heroes, a bit unrealistically, as the greatest, most noble people in the world, and public reaction to heroes drives him up the wall. But he’s also dead terrified of mutants, and in the best chapter of the book, he has to confront his own prejudices about mutants when his daughters meet and befriend a mutant on the run.

The artwork Ross produced was certainly a revelation for folks used to normal comic book art. There’s no painted-on spandex here — the clothing is realistically rendered, with wrinkles, folds, and everything. Faces are just gorgeous, expressive and realistic. And the lighting — Ross understands light sources, and some of his most beautiful paintings — the Silver Surfer reflecting blasts of fire, mutant-hunting Sentinels hovering over a city at night, Dr. Octopus sitting in a dim jail cell — are so striking solely because he uses lighting effectively and dramatically.

“Marvels” is available in softcover — you should be able to pick it up at your friendly neighborhood comic shop or at your average chain bookstore for about twenty bucks.


Kingdom Come

After “Marvels,” DC really wanted to get Ross on board for a miniseries of their own. So they got him to collaborate with Mark Wait to produce 1996’s “Kingdom Come.” Where “Marvels” was rooted in Marvel’s early comics, “Kingdom Come” focused on a possible apocalyptic future for DC’s heroes. About 20 years in the future, Superman and other superheroes retire as more violent heroes start to take over. The Spectre, foreseeing the end of the world coming soon, takes Norman McCay, a minister (based on Ross’s own father), as his human anchor to help him view the final days and render his judgment.

Just about everyone in the DCU gets some major changes — Batman has to wear an exoskeleton to move, the Flash is a constantly moving blur, Hawkman is a bird-human hybrid, Captain Marvel has been brainwashed by Lex Luthor, etc., etc. The forces are divided between multiple different factions, including Superman’s Justice League, the new violent superheroes, Lex Luthor’s Mankind Liberation Front, and a few others. Every step, no matter how well intentioned, moves everyone closer to the metahuman war prophesied to destroy the world.

“Marvels” is the book with the stronger emotional impact, but “Kingdom Come” is all about epic, world-shattering action. I always find myself comparing it to epic, big-budget, widescreen action movies.

“Kingdom Come” is also available in softcover. It’ll set you back about 15 bones.

And if you’d like something a bit more traditionally Christmasy, you might try to track this next one down.


Superman: Peace on Earth

This is an oversized coffee-table book about Superman trying, with only limited success, to feed all the hungry people in the world. It’s basically a great big, lushly painted Christmas card. Unfortunately, it’s out of print right now, so there’s not much of a chance of you being able to buy this one before the holidays are over.

If you can find ’em, go pick ’em up.

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