Archive for February, 2008

Friday Night Fights: Leaping for Leap Year!

Friday Night Fights and Leap Year Day happening on the same day? This calls for one thing:

Batroc the Leaper!

Oh, okay, Batroc, we’ll try it your way. Batroc ze Leapair!

Parlez-vous face-kicking, oui?

(From 2003’s Avengers/JLA #4 by Kurt Busiek and George Perez)

Comments off

Blue Thunder


Blue Beetle #24

So the evil aliens called the Reach are trying to blow up Jaime’s family and friends. They’ve captured Jaime, and they’ve killed the Scarab attached to his spine, leaving him completely powerless. Back in El Paso, just about every every member of BB’s supporting cast shows up to help fight off the aliens, but on the spaceship, Jaime’s locked up and helpless, right? Must be why the Reach are in a panic, in disarray, and in imminent peril of getting blown out of the sky. Must be why their Head Negotiator keeps freaking out and screaming in frustration. And coming up at the end? That’s how you do a cliffhanger, baby.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oh, I know, I didn’t tell you all the good stuff. I didn’t give you the plot twists and amazing moments and great lines and jaw-dropping thrills. I’m doing this for your benefit, people. You don’t want me to spoil all the fun, do you? Of course not. You want to see for yourself how Jaime gets out of his cell, how his family keeps the Reach at bay, how Jaime keeps setting these alien dorks up for fall after fall after fall. Go get this issue — heck, get every back issue you can get your claws on. This is one of the best comics DC is producing right now, and you don’t want to miss out.


The Umbrella Academy #6

It’s the end of the world, and the end of the Umbrella Academy, too! The White Violin (formerly the Academy’s powerless sister Vanya) has used her musically destructive powers to kill Pogo, the family’s chimpanzee caretaker, and she and the Orchestra Verdammten are working hard to bring about Armageddon. She easily handles Kraken, the Rumor, and Spaceboy, so is there any chance that 00.05 and Seance can stop Vanya? And even if they can, can anyone stop the End of Everything?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Once again, I’m leaving out so much cool stuff so you can enjoy discovering them yourself. But the Seance is an amazing actor, 00.05 is a complete jerk, and I still feel sorry for Vanya. It’s far from a completely happy ending, but it’s the right ending, and that’s all that matters. If writer Gerard Way ever gets tired of making music with his band, he’ll be eagerly welcomed back to comics. If you didn’t pick this one up before, go get it now, or wait for the eventual complete collection, but do make sure you read it. It’s big, big fun.

Comments off

Spirit of Justice


The Spirit #14

It’s the first issue with our new creative team — writers Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier and artist Mike Ploog. That’s right, Aragones, probably best known as the artist on “Groo” and several decades’ worth of MAD Magazines, is only the writer here. But that seems to be fine — I’m not sure his highly cartoonish style would’ve been a good fit for a book like “The Spirit.”

The plot is pretty simple — the Spirit is investigating a rash of murders of the city’s doctors. Commissioner Dolan becomes convinced that the murderers are a couple of elderly residents of an old folks home and throws them in jail, despite the obvious frame job. Can the Spirit track down the real murderer before he claims any more victims?”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Artwise, Mike Ploog isn’t Darwyn Cooke, but in a way, his rougher style fits the book better — Will Eisner’s “Spirit” was set in a rough-hewn city, with rough-hewn, sometimes cartoonish people. That isn’t to say that Cooke’s run on “The Spirit” wasn’t wonderful and beautiful, but Ploog’s interpretation has serious merit, too. I’ve got a few quibbles with the writing — Commissioner Dolan shouldn’t be anywhere near this stupid, and the personalities of the two oldsters are painted a bit too broad for my liking. Still, overall, I approve. If you haven’t been reading this one… start reading this one.

Comments off


Ladies and gentlemen, may I present: Lady Blackhawk’s impossibly adorable dimples!







All art from Birds of Prey #113-115, pencils by Nicola Scott and inks by Doug Hazlewood.

And on a serious note, ya ever noticed that most comic artists tend to draw most women exactly alike except for their costumes and hairstyles? (Michael Turner, Rob Liefeld, Ed Benes, I’m looking at you.) It’s really nice to see a character who doesn’t look like she was born in the clone-vats of Ceti-IV. I wish more artists would put more effort into drawing female characters who look different from each other…

Comments off

Magic Girls, Time Travel, and Robot Yetis


Birds of Prey #115

Huntress goes on a road trip with Lady Blackhawk and her impossibly adorable dimples to find the evil villain Killer Shark, who used to inject her with Evil Drugs back in the ’40s. Their plane crashes in the ocean, and they go swimming, where they get attacked by monster eels. Once they make it to Killer Shark’s island, he gets the drop on them. Meanwhile, magic-using goth Black Alice joins the group, and of course, Misfit hates her, because Oracle treats Black Alice as a valued team member and never has a kind word for Misfit. Anyway, in the end, Black Alice ends up stealing Misfit’s powers.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Black Alice is an amazingly cool character, and it’s great to see her get a bit more exposure. Misfit’s reactions to Black Alice seem appropriately realistic, and Huntress’ fear of drowning is also pretty well-done. And again, Lady Blackhawk has the world’s most completely awesome dimples. Go pick this one up — it’s lots of fun.


The Brave and the Bold #10

The Challengers of the Unknown tangle with the monster inside the Book of Destiny and find out what Megistus is after. Meanwhile, within the stories of the Book of Destiny, Superman travels in time to team up with the Silent Knight, and the Teen Titans team up with Aquaman. And an unexpected hero is fighting on Megistus’ side.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Teen Titans/Aquaman story was ehh, okay, but I was really surprised by how much I liked the Superman/Silent Knight story. You’ve never heard of the Silent Knight, have you? He’s an old, old character, created for the very first issue of the original run of “The Brave and the Bold” back in 1955, which is just part of what makes his appearance here so cool. He lives in medieval England, and he’s just a kid who’s found a suit of magical armor. He can actually talk, but he stays quiet when he’s wearing his armor because if the guy running his village finds out about him, he’ll try to have him killed. Anyway, that little burst of out-of-the-blue Silver-Age fantasy made the story way, way more fun than I was expecting it to be.


The Flash #237

Flash flunks some job interviews and helps Superman fight a robot yeti. The kids try to steal Superman’s cape and fight Livewire.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Groooaaan, why isn’t this comic book cooler than it is? The Flash is just about the coolest character DC has, with the best powers, and they still can’t find anyone who’ll put together a good story about him. Even the robot yeti is dull. Who ever heard of a dull robot yeti?!

Comments off

Champions Online

I’ve already mentioned my love for the “City of Heroes” game. Well, the studio that created the game, Cryptic Studios, sold the game to its publisher, NCSoft, a while back and started working on the Marvel Universe Online MMO. Unfortunately, that project died a quick and painful death. So Cryptic has now jumped into working on a new game — another superhero MMO called “Champions Online.”

Now if you play pen-and-paper roleplaying games, that name’s probably pretty familiar to you — “Champions” is probably the most successful superhero RPG ever, and attaching its name to an MMO computer game is a pretty smart move. It gets you some recognition from the folks who are fans of superhero gaming, but it’s also obscure enough to give the game designers lots of room to make changes.

On the surface, there look to be a lot of similarities between the “City of” franchise and Champions Online — it’s superheroes and supervillains, character/costume customization is muy bueno, etc. To keep it from being a CoH clone, Cryptic has added several features that have been frequently requested by CoH players but never added, including full power customization; zones for outer space, underwater, and snowy wastes; combat more like fighting games; and a system that lets you design your own archenemy.

I’m sure a lot of people will at least give it a try, but I don’t much think I’ll be among them at this point. I already have one superhero-videogame addiction — why would I want to add a second one?

Comments off

Friday Night Fights: Breaking the Funny Bone!

Sure, sure, we all love Friday Night Fights — and don’t try to pretend you don’t, ’cause I’ll know you’re lyin’! But sometimes, we all need a bit of levity, right? Because usually, Friday Night Fights is dead serious business. So let’s go with one funny guy punching another funny guy in the face.

From JLA #15 by Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, Gary Frank, and Greg Land: Plastic Man gets the drop on the Joker with a long-distance punch:

Bahlactus thinks that’s hilarious.

Comments off

Red Rage


Hulk #2

Well, SHIELD has tracked down the handgun used to kill the Abomination, and sure enough, it was somehow stolen from a SHIELD Helicarrier. How on earth did the Hulk get on board a Helicarrier to steal a frickin’ huge handgun? Maybe they can ask the Hulk since he’s RIGHT BEHIND YOU! Well, right behind SHIELD director Tony Stark. Red Hulk takes down She-Hulk pretty easy, ambushes Gen. Thunderbolt Ross and Doc Samson, hits Iron Man with jet planes, and wrecks the Helicarrier, mainly by taking out a few specialized systems that keep it in the air. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, the Hulk also confronts Rick Jones, who has one heck of a surprise up his sleeve.

Obviously, we finally get our first real look at the new Red Hulk. On the Helicarrier over New York, he’s mostly a growling animal, though he knows exactly what parts of the ship to take out to make it crash. But in Alaska, he talks normally and intelligently, though he still seems pretty dadblasted murderous. Obviously, Rick Jones isn’t the Hulk after all, so who is this new Hulk?

I got a theory — of all of the people listed on the “character page” in the front of the comic — Bruce Banner, the Abomination, Iron Man, She-Hulk, General Ross, Doc Samson, Maria Hill, and Rick Jones — there are three who we never actually see at all in this issue — Banner is in lockdown in a prison in Alaska, the Abomination is dead… and Doc Samson just isn’t there. And isn’t it funny how Samson, a guy trained in psychology, was pulling off a full CSI analysis of last issue’s crime scene… almost as if he actually knew in advance how the crime was really committed? Of course, there’s still a possibility that there’s more than one Red Hulk — he seems to get from New York to Alaska awfully fast, and he seems to have a different personality from one place to the other, too.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mystery!


Justice League of America #18

A bunch of supervillains afraid of getting sent off by the government to a prison planet (in other words, the “Salvation Run” miniseries) surrender to the Justice League in exchange for being given asylum. The Suicide Squad, a bunch of former villains who work for the government doing dirty black-ops jobs, show up to take custody but get turned away. Later, they sneak back when all the big guns are out, but they get their butts handed to them by Vixen, who now copies various metahuman powers instead of just animal powers. There’s also a backup story about Red Tornado deciding whether to take the risk of getting a new body, or continuing on as just a computer system aboard the JLA HQ.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The fight where Vixen takes out almost the entire Suicide Squad single-handedly is pretty cool, but this issue suffers the same problem as the last — they assume we all know about the “Salvation Run” series, they assume we know who Amanda Waller is, they assume we know who the Suicide Squad is. They assume we’re all fanboys who are clued in on all the minutiae of the DC Universe, and that we’re all reading every single pointless “event” comic that comes out. It’s not just that it’s the type of thing that’s going to confuse new readers and run them off — it’s also just plain sloppy storytelling.

Comments off

Politics in Comics: Hail to the Chief!

Is this not the weirdest political season you’ve seen in a while? It seems particularly unusual for us Texans — when was the last time that we actually had a say in helping to pick any of the nominees? Usually, the candidates have been narrowed to one-per-party long before the Texas primary hits. But this year, we’re still in play. Seems to make a lot of people much more interested in the presidential race than normal.

We’ve already had ol’ Bubba in town to talk up Hillary’s candidacy. Right now, Obama’s currently disappointing a lot of folks who were hoping he’d come to town, too. So right now, everyone’s thinking about matters political. And hey, I’m a shameless attention hound, so I figured I’d hunt down nice presidential-themed comic covers for your amusement.


Ya ever wondered who various superheroes would vote for? I figure Wonder Woman would be endorsing Hillary, right?


Captain America’s got a military background — I figure he’d pull the lever for McCain.


Green Arrow? While he hasn’t run for president, he did get elected as mayor of Star City not too long ago. I think he’d definitely be a Kucinich supporter, though I’m sure he complained that Kucinich was a bit too conservative for his tastes.


Hey, good ol’ Prez Rickard, the 18-year-old president from the old ’70s DC series. I’m betting Prez would write in whoever was running as the Green candidate. Crazy ’70s hippie weirdo presidents…


Yeah, the Savage Dragon was briefly the president. Who would he support in this election? Definitely the Greens. Get it? Get it? Oh, man, I’m hilarious.


No reason not to let the villains in on the act. In DC’s continuity, Lex Luthor actually got elected president of the U.S. back in 2000. He wasn’t considered too bad a president either, though he eventually got booted out of office after turning supervillain. As for who he’d vote for? I figure Lex would write himself in. Crazy megalomaniac ex-presidents…


I think I’m the only person in the world who liked the “Emperor Joker” storyline that ran in the Superman comics a few years ago. Sure, he’s not exactly presidential, but being an all-powerful emperor counts for something, I guess. I’m not sure the Joker would think any of the candidates were crazy enough for him. Maybe Alan Keyes. That dude’s craaaaaaazy. Maybe Huckabee, if he keeps talking up that garbage about making America a theocracy…


Whoa, looks like Superman’s endorsing Obama.

So who are your picks for the nation’s top job?

UPDATE: Can’t believe I forgot Howard the Duck!

I figure Howard would vote for Mallard Fillmore or Andrew Quackson…

Comments off

Beautie and the Boost


Astro City: Beautie

One of my very rare complaints about Kurt Busiek’s brilliant “Astro City” series? He comes up with all these wonderful, interesting characters, and then they only appear in a single issue, or in the background of several issues. We’ve only ever learned a bit of trivia here and there about MPH or the Gentleman or the N-Forcer. And one of the characters that has attracted the most interest is Beautie, a life-sized Barbie doll with superpowers.

So finally, Busiek has put together an entire double-sized comic focused on Beautie. Distant and aloof, she’s obsessed with learning her origins, looking at dolls in toy stores, and collecting fashionable clothing. She’s irritated by many men after years of having to deal with clumsy attempts to pick her up — after all, she’s not anatomically correct — and she actually feels more comfortable hanging out in gay bars, where the guys don’t try to pick her up and where she feels that she’s met a community of fellow outsiders. But as she gets closer and closer to discovering her origin, she begins developing mysterious memory troubles. What’s happening to her, and will she ever be able to make the right connections to learn who created her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one was big, big fun, and I hope Busiek does some more of these character specials to clue us in on some of Astro City’s other interesting characters.


Booster Gold #0

Holy moley, how long has it been since we’ve seen an honest-to-Graud Zero issue? And one of the coolest story ideas we’ve seen in ages — this is an actual crossover with the old “Zero Hour” miniseries from way back in 1994. Booster and the various Blue Beetles, including the resurrected Ted Kord, Jaime Reyes, and Dan Garrett, meet up with the Zero Hour villains, Extant and Parallax, while traveling through time. There’s a brief battle before Booster and the Beetles end up with a wrecked Time Sphere in the 25th century — Booster’s home time, actually. Booster briefly considers trying to keep his younger self from throwing the game that got him banned from football, and talks about the loss of his sister who followed him to the past and tried to be a superhero like her big brother.

Eventually, everyone steals another Time Sphere from a museum (and we meet a younger version of Skeets, too) before escaping back to their proper time periods. So everything’s okay, right? Ted Kord is alive again and is gonna help Booster safeguard the timestream, right? Well, maybe not. Max Lord’s OMACs may have something to say about all that…

Verdict: Thumbs up. How many times can I say that this series is surprisingly awesome? Every time I read a new issue, I end up underestimating how much I’ll enjoy it. The Zero Hour twist to this issue is also awfully fun. If you’re not reading this, please start. It’s an excellent comic, and I hope it lasts for years.

Comments off