Archive for February, 2008

Greens and Goons


Green Lantern Corps #21

This issue focuses on Boodikka, former mercenary from the planet Bellatrix, former hotheaded Green Lantern, and current emotionless Alpha Lantern. We get a small hint of her new powers, as she shuts down the programming on a whole herd of Manhunter robots, and we also get a glimpse into her past. For the most part, it’s all a lead-up to the cliffhanger, where she runs into the bounty hunters she used to run with, including her sister, who’s one of the newest Green Lanterns.

Verdict: Thumbs down, I think. The problem with emotionless characters is that it’s awfully hard for readers to get interested in them.


The Goon #21

The Goon’s old foe, the Zombie Priest, is confronted by a new zombie priest from out of town. Basically, the old Zombie Priest is in trouble, and this new, more competent zombie priest plans to take things over and take care of the Goon once and for all. Speaking of the Goon, he’s busy losing his dynamite stash to a bunch of street urchins and fighting the world’s largest transvestite. As for Franky, he has a very happy dream about a Velveteen Horsey, which unfortunately ends with a bear. And at the end of the comic, creator Eric Powell shares the joyous news with everyone that he’s officially sponsoring a cage fighter. Cage fighters are apparently really good at kicking people in the head, choking everyone who gets close, and pushing their sponsors in the swing.

Verdict: With colossal transvestites, Velveteen Horseys, and cage fighters, how could this be anything other than an enthusiastic Thumbs Up?

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The Haunted Heart

I spent yesterday reading some old horror stories. Old stuff — M.R. James, Robert W. Chambers, turn-of-the-century ghost story stuff, plus I watched some old trailers for horror flicks, too. So I’m in the mood to review a couple new horror comics. Let’s get to it, kiddies.


B.P.R.D.: 1946 #2

The adventures of Hellboy’s father, Trevor Bruttenholm, continue in post-war Berlin during the first years of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Bruttenholm and his associate, Trevor, narrowly avoid being attacked in the abandoned asylum when their soldier assistants show up to bring them home. Later, they meet up with an old woman who keeps her son, a former inmate at that asylum, locked away in a barn. The reason: The poor kid’s been turned into a vampire! The kid drags one of the soldiers up to the rafters when the Soviets show up — Varvara, the creepy little blonde girl who runs the USSR’s occult research division, had Bruttenholm followed. We learn a bit more about her after she goes into the barn to talk to the vamp, and later when she tells Bruttenholm an old legend about Peter the Great.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Varvara is a very, very scary little girl.


The Evil Dead #2

Ash and his friends are spending the weekend in a deserted cabin in the woods. One of them has already gone on a hover-in-the-air, eyes-gone-dead-white, speaking-in-freaky-voices, and trying-to-kill-everyone binge, but they’ve managed to lock her in the basement. Too bad that doesn’t solve the problem, as one other goes missing while another turns deadite on them — and not even hacking her up with an axe looks like it’ll keep her down.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yeah, it’s still largely a re-telling of the original “Evil Dead” film, but there ain’t nothing in the world wrong with a little early ’80s gore. John Bolton’s paintings are also awfully nice to look at.

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Closing the Circle


Wonder Woman #17

Here we’ve got the conclusion of the storyline for “The Circle,” with a flashback to the night of Diana’s birth, when Queen Hippolyta’s honor guard decided that they had to kill Diana to save the Amazons from, um, something or other. Obviously, they failed, and were imprisoned for the attempt. Meanwhile, back in the present, a very pissed-off Wonder Woman delivers a serious beat-down on the Nazis who’ve invaded Paradise Island and shot Hippolyta, and she gives the whole bunch of them a boot off the island. After that, it’s Wondy vs. the Amazon members of the Circle, who attack her with magical, god-made weapons. She still manages to beat them, and the leader, Alkyone, apparently throws herself to her death, though everyone knows she’ll come back later.

Verdict: Generally, thumbs up. There’s a lot of story packed into a fairly small space, and the story all seems to be good. I’ve got some quibbles, of course. Why does the Circle give Wondy time to recover when they’ve got her on the ropes? We’re still getting no real idea what it means that Wondy’s serving gods other than the Greek ones now. And I have no idea when the modern version of Etta Candy went from being an adversary in Diana’s intelligence agency to being one of her best friends. Still, the story is pretty good. Writer Gail Simone’s doing good work.

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Friday Night Fights: Battling Blonde Bunny!

The FDA recommends a full day’s supply of mayhem, violence, and butt-kicking every Friday night. You do wanna grow up big and strong, don’tcha? Well, then, you need a heaping dose of FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

And it’s not just guys who need to get their share of skull-stomping. Girls need to beat the brains out of people, too! So from 1967’s The Inferior Five #1 by E. Nelson Bridwell and Mike Sekowsky:


The panels scanned a bit smaller than I planned, so let’s hit the official transcript:

Panel 1: Bad Girl in Black: “You wouldn’t hit a woman with a baby, would you?”

Dumb Bunny: “No…”

Panel 2: Dumb Bunny: “…I’d hit her with a grown man!


I think that’s even more violence than the FDA recommends. If violence was riboflavin, that’d be 64 tons of riboflavin.

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Kid Stuff


Tiny Titans #1

This is probably the single cutest superhero comic you will ever see.

This is part of DC’s all-ages line — designed, at least in theory, to appeal to both children and grownups. In this case, we’ve got a collection of short gag strips starring little-kid versions of the Teen Titans. There’s no overarching plot here — just short joke comics, generally between two to five pages long. The kids get a new principal and a new substitute teacher, to the dismay of Rose and Raven. The girls give Plasmus a lollipop. Robin tries to figure out why Speedy is named Speedy when he’s not really speedy.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love the art on this one. If you’re getting this for a kid, it might work best for younger ones, rather than older kids. Grownups might get the most out of it — they’re probably going to be the only ones to catch all the Titans in-jokes.


The Spirit #13

Hey, it ain’t Christmas! Looks like this one shipped a bit later than it should have. This is actually a collection of three short stories by different writers and artists. We’ve got the Spirit tasked with retrieving diamonds from a tiger cage, with the assistance of a beautiful and dangerous animal trainer, then he helps an old woman recover her family treasure. Finally, we’ve got an almost silent story about a very, very cold night.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Even without Darwyn Cooke on board, this one’s still pretty good. I think the artists and writers know that if they’re working on something starring Will Eisner’s greatest creation, they know they’d better bring their grade-A storytelling skills to the table.


The Trials of Shazam #11

Freddie Freeman is losing his battle to become the new champion of the powers of Shazam — he and the evil Sabina are almost evenly matched in power, and while Freddie is drawing on the assistance of the Shadowpact and Captain Marvel, they can’t match Sabina in pure ruthlessness. She discovers that the god Mercury has, like Apollo, been living his life as a human, with a human family. So she kidnaps his kids and holds them hostage until Mercury gives himself up. If she gets his power, too, will there be any way to stop her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still liking it. One issue left for this all to be resolved. What’s gonna happen next?

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Tainted Love

Ahh, Valentine’s Day, when the hearts of even the geekiest fanboy turn from cartoonish violence to thoughts of love, romance, and the nighttime boogie-woogie. Isn’t that right, Dr. Thirteen?


Isn’t that right, Traci Thirteen, daughter of Dr. Thirteen?


Hey, wait a minute!


May your Valentine’s Day be similarly sticky, embarrassing, and creepy. 😉

(All images from “Doctor 13: Architecture and Mortality” by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. The book actually includes very little pervy incestuous dream content, so you should go get it, ’cause it’s awesome.)

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Something Smells Fishy


Abe Sapien #1

This is a tale of Abe Sapien, Hellboy’s amphibious buddy, and his first solo assignment with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. He gets sent to the site of a small shipwreck off the coast of France where a Victorian-era occult detective once put down an evil wizard — Abe and his small team of assistants are supposed to collect any interesting evidence they can find in the wreck, in particular, looking for one of the mystically powerful Lipu daggers. Of course, things don’t go according to plan…

Verdict: I can’t really say yet. The plot is pretty lightweight at this point, but Mignola’s scripts often start slow before ramping up to the good stuff. There are some excellent character bits, though, for Abe in particular, but also for a couple of his agents, grousing humorously about their worst, most boring assignments ever.


Project Superpowers #0

Yay! A comic book for a dollar! Too bad the story ain’t worth a plug nickel…

So Dynamite Entertainment has grabbed up a bunch of Golden Age characters, most of them in the public domain, and they’re gonna try to make their own superhero universe with ’em. But instead of the Golden Age, they’re going to fit most of it into the present day. We start out focusing on a former superhero called the Fighting Yank (Stop that laughing!), who is now an old man. He is confronted by the American Spirit (which seems to be a very angry American flag) and accused of betraying his fellow superheroes. Back during WWII, the Yank (Stop that laughing!) gained possession of the mythological Pandora’s Box. The Yank (Stop that laughing!) got his powers from the ghost of his Revolutionary War ancestor, who thinks that the box released evil into the world but also good, in the form of superheroes — in order to do away with evil, all the superheroes must first be imprisoned in the box, then evil will just be absorbed naturally. This makes not a lick of sense, but they go with it anyway.

Verdict: Thumbs down. First, the plot makes no sense. Second, I don’t care what anyone says, most superhero costumes in the Golden Age were brain-breakingly bad — the Fighting Yank’s is a white Wal-Mart sweatshirt with an American flag on it, along with a cape, a tricorner hat, and a domino mask. And his name’s the Fighting Yank, fer cryeye! The Nazis should’ve been able to drive him to suicide with constant taunting — “Vas is das? Is Amerikanner uber-dumpkopf? Yank, Yank, Yank! Ho ho ho, schnitzel!”

I’m also irritated by the fact that the creators throw all these obscure characters at us and then refuse to identify most of them — the story and characters might be more interesting if we had some hint about who they were. As it is, it’s looking like the one and only way Dynamite plans to sell this series is through the covers by comic-book painter Alex Ross.

Oh, and let’s not forget, most of these characters have already been relaunched much more successfully in Alan Moore’s “Terra Obscura” books. Go hunt those down if you wanna see a Golden Age revival done right.

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Steve Gerber, Rest in Peace


Ladies and gentlemen, hats off for Steve Gerber.

Legendary comics writer Steve Gerber passed away on Sunday, February 10, 2008, due to complications from pulmonary fibrosis. He was 60-years-old.

Best known for his creation Howard the Duck, Gerber was responsible for many of the memorable characters of the 1970s including Omega the Unknown, Man-Thing and Shanna the She-Devil. In the last two decades, Gerber authored celebrated Marvel Comics stories including runs on “Sub-Mariner,” “Daredevil” and  “Defenders.” DC Comics published Gerber’s creator-owned works “Nevada” and “Hard Time,” both of which were met with considerable critical acclaim.

Without a doubt, one of the best and most audaciously imaginative storytellers in comics.

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New Blood

I’m slowly but surely starting to feel better again. The weekend was plenty rough, but I seem to be on the road to recovery. So let’s get to a review.


Justice Society of America #12

Most of this issue is concerned with the latest JSA recruiting drive — in other words, new characters with some sort of legacy attachment to the Justice Society. We’ve already met the new Judomaster, a Japanese martial artist who has a power that makes her impossible to hit. Now we also meet the new Amazing-Man, the grandson of the original, a black community activist in New Orleans who can transform himself into any material that he touches; the new Mr. America, the former FBI partner of the Mr. America who was killed in the first issue of this series; Jennifer Pierce, one of Black Lightning’s daughters, who generates a spiky electrical field everytime she touches anything electronic; and Lance Corporal David Reid, a metahuman military man who generates plasma energy that he can fire with the aid of a metallic lance. On top of all that, Jakeem Thunder and the Thunderbolt rejoin the team, the Kingdom Come Superman continues to find his way with the team, and a new interdimensional threat is coming.

Problems? There are some. As Hannibal Tabu notes here, all of a sudden, Black Lightning has a second daughter? He has a strangely unnamed wife? Is Superboy Prime punching the universe again? Also, though I really do like most of these characters, the team is just way, way too large. They’ve currently got 23 members — you just can’t give that many characters the spotlights they all need in a monthly 22-page comic. Heck, when was the last time anyone even saw Sand? I think the creators have forgotten he’s supposed to be on the team…

Having said all that, I’m still giving this a thumbs up. I like all these new characters — they’ve all got good personalities, good storyline hooks, and I hope they keep ’em around for a long time, instead of sacrificing them all in “Final Crisis.” I particularly enjoyed the segments introducing Amazing-Man, which included a biography of the character from WWII that listed him as one of the DCU’s foremost civil rights leaders, and David Reid, whose family connection to the original JSA was completely unexpected. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

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Friday Night Fights: Kick to the Face!

So I called my doctor and said, “Hey, doc, I got a runny nose, wicked awful cough, fever, and I keep having dreams that I’m spontaneously forming my own evil post-human clone-minions from my own supernaturally overabundant snot. What should I do?”

Well, my doctor knows what I need the most. He yells out, top volume: “FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

From 1996’s Astro City #4 by Kurt Busiek, Brent E. Anderson, and Will Blyberg: The best ever one-kick takedown of a Paste-Pot Pete analogue by a busboy:


Bahlactus has a fever for pain!

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