Archive for January, 2008

It’s Not Easy Being Green


She-Hulk #25

She-Hulk and Jazinda are road-tripping across the country. After they get buzzed by a UFO, they stomp around the woods while She-Hulk whines (and whines and whines) that she doesn’t want to be a superhero anymore. They run into an alien monarch on the run from an interstellar bounty hunter. And there are two different backup features.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Remember when this comic used to be fun? It ain’t anymore. The storyline, if there really is one so far, is just meandering all over the place. Even the backup features were dull and pointless. Dangit, a comic about a six-and-a-half-foot-tall, green-skinned, super-strong super-babe should not be this boring.

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Amazons vs. Nazis!


Wonder Woman #16

A flashback shows us how Queen Hippolyta’s royal guardians turned against her — they thought the birth of Diana threatened the Amazonian way of life. Meanwhile, in the present, the neo-nazi army gets stomped by Hippolyta, by Wonder Woman, by Diana’s gorilla pals, and by the escaped royal guardians. But there is at least one very important casualty.

Verdict: Thumbs up, mostly because people stomping on neo-nazis is always a good thing. However, I do wish they’d go somewhere solid with the story soon.


Teen Titans #55

Supergirl and Wonder Girl argue, and Supergirl leaves in a huff! Kid Devil likes Ravager, but she likes Blue Beetle instead! Miss Martian has her evil future self living in her head! Robin and Wonder Girl like each other, but (sob!) they can never be together!

Verdict: Thumbs down. Gaaah, the angst is absolutely murderous!

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Bucky Doodle Dandy


Well, if you ain’t heard the news, there’s a new Captain America, and he’s former Cap sidekick Bucky Barnes.

No big surprise, and the big reveal has already been spoiled in the media. I think most of us were expecting Bucky (or the Winter Soldier, as he’s now called) to take up the shield.

I honestly have a hard time getting excited about this. Cap’s death was just a publicity stunt, Bucky Barnes as Cap is just a publicity stunt, Cap’s eventual resurrection next year is gonna be just another publicity stunt. There’s mighty little old-fashioned storytelling getting done in comics these days. It’s all driven by fairly short-term marketing.

And the more I see of the new costume, the goofier it looks to me. First, he’s wearing a Puerto Rican flag on his chest. Sure, Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, but it ain’t quite the same as a regular American flag, now is it? And second, look at the point that big metal flag comes to. Poor Bucky ain’t gonna be able to sit down at all without stabbing hisself in the dinkyboo. Just a bad costume design in general.

And as long as I’m grousing about the new Cap, I’m getting plenty of amusement about people complaining that the new Cap is gonna use a gun. “OMG, Captain America doesn’t use a gun! When the real Cap comes back, he’s gonna be mad at Bucky for using a gun!” Pshaw, sez I. The original Cap was a soldier, so yer darned tootin’ he used a gun. It ain’t even that hard to dig up pictures of Cap lugging around various guns and even shooting people with ’em. If Cap comes back whining about Bucky using a gun, Bucky’s within his legal rights to hit Cap with a steamshovel. And that probably goes double for goofy fanboys.

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X Marks the Spot

Before I get to today’s review, I wanna let y’all know that I’m expecting work to be a bit busier than normal, and I’ve got houseguests coming over next weekend — so blogging may be unusually light until next week.

Anyway, on to the review:


Astonishing X-Men #24

The team splits up, with Cyclops and Emma Frost staying back with Colossus at the site where a prophecy and/or a blueprint says he will destroy the Breakworld, and Beast, Wolverine, Shadowcat, Armor, Danger, and Agent Brand heading out to stop the planet-killer missile aimed at Earth. So is Peter actually going to decide, for some reason, to go ahead and blow up the Breakworld? And what’s the awful secret of that big, bad missile?

Verdict: Thumbs up, nominally. As always, good dialogue by Joss Whedon and gorgeous art by John Cassaday. But I ain’t at all sure about some of the weird plot twists in this one. Yeah, I know cliffhangers have to be pretty big to be effective, and maybe it all comes together in the end, but it really seems a bit senseless right now.

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Friday Night Fights: Barroom Etiquette!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, if it’s Friday night, it must be time for Friday Night Fights!

From Birds of Prey #112, by Tony Bedard and David Cole: Lady Blackhawk may be a booze-swilling, short-skirted, hard-fighting, time-tossed temptress, but she always insists on good manners.


Bahlactus always plays by the rules!

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Superhero Blues


Blue Beetle #23

Jaime figures the best way to combat the evil alien threat of the Reach is to confront them directly, and the faster the better — they’re schedule-obsessed control-freaks, and throwing a monkey wrench into their schedules gets them good and looned-out.

After using his Scarab armor to pull some nifty time-travel tricks to get the aliens to give up the location of their mothership, Beetle kicks a little alien butt until the Reach distract him by threatening his family and friends back in El Paso. And once he’s distracted, the Reach know how to shut his powers down. Uh-oh…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Well, we know nothing really bad’s gonna happen, ’cause there’s more Blue Beetle comics on the way, but I’m dying to find out how Jaime gets outta this one. Also, we get some great moments with his family and friends, and that’s always been one of this book’s strongest points. You’re reading this one, right? If not, get to it.

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Groosome and Gorgeous


Groo: Hell on Earth #3

When last we left the mighty (but fairly dim) barbarian warrior Groo the Wanderer, he had been named the general of an army and was questing about mostly at random looking for another army to fight. Meanwhile, the Sage was trying to get all the different nations to stop abusing the environment — unfortunately, no one wants to take his advice because it would mean they’d have to work! Work’s no fun!

In this issue, much of the same. Groo is still leading his reluctant army, and the Sage is still meeting nothing but frustration when trying to convince anyone about what’s going on. But among all that, we get Groo interrogating pigs, Groo and his dog Rufferto gleefully feasting on rotten bison meat, the Sage getting on the bad end of an exploding cow belch, and Groo finally — finally! — running into a real army he can fight!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Groo is grand fun, no matter what.


Birds of Prey #114

Oracle is angry at herself over the failure of the mission last issue and the heavy loss of life, so she’s pushing herself and the rest of the BoP way too hard. She’s also taking out a lot of her frustrations on Misfit. Huntress and the time-displaced Lady Blackhawk go out drinkin’, and Lady B. runs into Killer Shark, an old enemy from back in the ’40s. Oh, and Black Alice shows up wanting to join the team.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of cool stuff in this issue. Lady Blackhawk talking about her AARP card. Huntress getting drunk. Misfit being terrified — rightfully — of having to fight Oracle. The Question refusing to play Oracle’s games. Lady Blackhawk’s thoroughly adorable dimples. And Black Alice is always a lot of fun — it’ll be fun to see her next issue.

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Iran from the Inside



If you haven’t heard the news yet, “Persepolis” was nominated for an Academy Award yesterday for Best Animated Feature Film, so this seems like a pretty good time to review the graphic novel that the movie is based on.

“Persepolis” is a story written by Marjane Satrapi about her youth in Iran during the post-revolution era. She writes about the weird fundamentalism of life there, about having to learn the right things to wear to keep from angering the authorities, about buying punk rock on the black market, about meeting your heroic uncle for the first time and later hearing that he’s been executed unjustly as a spy. She also writes about her parents sending her to high school in Austria to get her away from the fundamentalists, about living her life alone in a strange country, and about later returning to her home country.

This is a really excellent book, very engrossing and fascinating. Satrapi tells so many interesting stories, sometimes as simple throwaway anecdotes — her friend from school who gets killed by a missile during the Iran-Iraq War, another friend who’s been crippled by the war, her many roommates during her stay in Austria. Some of the most interesting moments come when you realize that Satrapi had been ostracized in Iran as a dangerously outspoken woman who reads books about politics and philosophy, and was later ostracized in Europe solely because she was an Iranian and “everyone knows those Iranians are crazy fundamentalists.”

Satrapi’s artwork is really wonderful, too. Like a lot of autobiographical comics, the book uses a deceptively cartoonish style — the artwork looks simple, but it’s great for showing emotion and building drama — and yes, for spotlighting funny stuff. There really is some funny stuff that goes on here — at the very least, the goofy surrealism of trying to live in an autocratic society that actually freaks out about the right way to wear a headscarf. Satrapi’s teenaged angst is also written about very humorously.

Verdict: A very big thumbs up. Iran is in the news a lot these days — apparentally, some folks think we should go bomb ’em a bit, maybe because we ain’t involved in enough pointless Middle Eastern wars on brown people yet — and I figure it sure won’t hurt you to learn a little bit about an unfamiliar culture. Plus, with the movie out, they’ve released the entire four-volume series in a single book, so it’s a lot more affordable. Go check it out.

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Why So Serious?


Why so serious? Probably because Heath Ledger’s dead.

Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday at a downtown Manhattan residence, and police said drugs may have been a factor. He was 28. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Ledger had an appointment for a massage at the Manhattan apartment believed to be his home. The housekeeper who went to let him know the masseuse had arrived found him dead at 3:26 p.m.

The Australian-born actor was nominated for an Oscar for “Brokeback Mountain,” where he met his wife, actress Michelle Williams, in 2005. Ledger and Williams had lived in Brooklyn and had a daughter, Matilda, until they split up last year.

Ledger was to appear as the Joker this year in “The Dark Knight,” a sequel to 2005’s “Batman Begins.” He’s had starring roles in “A Knight’s Tale” and “The Patriot,” and played the suicidal son of Billy Bob Thornton in “Monster’s Ball.”

So from the looks of it, the last time you’ll be able to see Heath Ledger in a movie is going to be in the Batman sequel this summer. You’ve seen him in the trailer for “The Dark Knight,” right? Looks incredible. It’s a bummer that we won’t be able to see him in anything else — I had him picked as picking up his first Oscar in the next coupla years…

Any of y’all see this coming? I sure didn’t. Ledger seemed like a guy who’d gotten his act together. To go out as a disposable bad guy in a comic-book movie just doesn’t seem right.

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Until the End of the World


The Umbrella Academy #5

There’s a lot of stuff going on here. Number 5 effortlessly kills a bunch of mysterious villains in a diner, implies that he had something to do with the Kennedy assassination, suddenly acquires a fondness for Hargreeves’ monocle, has disturbing visions about the Academy’s uplifted chimpanzee caretaker Pogo, and faints. Spaceboy and the Rumor have a quiet moment together, then Rumor uses her powers to get a liplock with Space — which is kinda creepy, since Rumor and Space have spent their whole lives thinking of each other as siblings. And Vanya, now operating as the destructively musical White Violin, does a very bad thing to a very nice person. Next Issue: The End of the World.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Ye gods, I love this series. The characters are just so wild and weird and vibrant — when Vanya makes her move, you don’t know whether to be mad at her, sad for her, or hopeful that she can somehow pull herself out of this part of her life. You should be reading this now, and if you don’t get with it, I’m gonna come to your house and hit you with boulders, I swear it.


Booster Gold #6

Booster defies Time Master Rip Hunter’s wishes and goes on a mission to save Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle who died prior to the Infinite Crisis, with three other Blue Beetles — Dan Garrett, the Golden Age Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle of today, and a mysterious Blue Beetle from the future. And things appear to go swimmingly — Booster and the Beetles manage to stop Mazwell Lord before he can shoot Ted. But can they really get away with disrupting the proper timeline? And is Rip Hunter planning to use Booster’s own ancestors to get back at him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is just a great series, and no one was expecting much of anything from it.


The Flash #236

The Flash and his kids save the JLA and save the world from the invading aquatic aliens, but they have to sacrifice their connection to the alien “Planet Flash” where they’ve occasionally traveled.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Okay, remember how bad the last issue was, with that insanely retch-inducing garbage about the JLA getting into “warrior-rage mode”? Well, that one was so cosmically bad, that its unholy stink reached forward in time to infect this comic. If any of y’all are ever in the same room with writer Mark Waid and a whiffle bat, please strike the former with the latter. Tell him I said “Hi.”

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