Archive for April, 2008

Local Heroes


The New Fantastic Library for Curiosities #1

Hey, it’s a comic from a local artist! Let’s review it!

This is a comic by Colin Morse, who graduated from Texas Tech a year or so ago. And I have it on good authority that he’ll be at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo, this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Science Spectrum!

Anyway, we got a couple different parts of this comic. First, there’s an odd little comic called “The Statue in Space,” starring an astronaut called the Action Man. As he’s exploring a gigantic statue floating in space, he discovers that it’s inhabited by a very unexpected variety of creatures. Second, we’ve got a straight prose tale by Morse and Jason Rhode called “The Dreadful Business of Cultists,” which focuses on a Holmesian detective named B. Henry Montaigne.

Oh, I know, I barely described what went on at all. Listen, both stories are pretty short, and I ain’t interested in spoiling them.

Verdict: Thumbs up. “The Statue in Space” is really wonderful — simple but clear illustrations, a fascinating and profoundly weird story. The coolest thing about “The Dreadful Business of Cultists” is how perfectly it replicates the style and language of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. I’ve tried to write like this before, and it’s not at all easy to duplicate that archaic style of writing.

This one is not for kids, mind you — there’s some thoroughly adult content here. But you grownups should enjoy the heck out of this one.

And again, Colin will be at the Comic Expo this Saturday. If you’re not there to tell him how much you liked this, he’ll be very disappointed.

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Summer Knights

Hey! We’re back! Huzzah!

So here’s the thing that caught my eye this morning — the UK’s movie posters for the Dark Knight movie.

For example, here’s the one spotlighting Christian Bale as Batman…


Not bad. Very cool looking. Very iconic. Does seem a bit like there should be a caption that reads “Lookit! I gots a batarang!”


This is quite good — Heath Ledger as the Joker, obviously. Again, very iconic and cool. Probably a better poster than the one with Batman on it.


And this is the one that really rocks. Aaron Eckhart as district attorney Harvey Dent — my all-time favorite Bat-villain, the duality-obsessed Two-Face. I think this image here is the reason the other posters look the way they do. You get excellent foreshadowing about what’s going to happen to Harvey before the movie’s over. I approve wholeheartedly.

We got a lot of comic-themed movies coming out this summer — Iron Man this weekend, plus movies about the Hulk, Hellboy, and more. Which ones are you looking forward to?

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Okay, obviously, the blog is waaaay messed-up. Everyone decided to move the A-J’s blogs to a new server and didn’t remember the first and most important rule about moving to new servers: Moving to a new server always makes stuff blow up.

So this blog is on hiatus, possibly until next week, possibly ’til after that. Have patience, I’ll be back sooner or later, I promise.

‘Til then, y’all go out and read some comics, and prepare ye for my inevitable return.

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Lone Star Horror


Pigeons from Hell #1

Right here, we got a horror comic with a Texas pedigree.

It’s based on a classic and extremely creepy story by Robert E. Howard. He’s best known as the creator of fantasy heroes like Conan the Barbarian, Kull the Conqueror, and Solomon Kane, but Howard wrote a lot of horror, too. He corresponded with horror legend H.P. Lovecraft and wrote quite a few stories in the Cthulhu Mythos. He was a Texan, too — the guy who created Conan the Barbarian lived in a little town called Cross Plains, down in Callahan County.

And this comic is written by another Texan with tons of experience writing horror — Joe R. Lansdale. He lives in Nacogdoches, and he’s written some of the weirdest, creepiest stories I’ve read. He helped create the splatterpunk genre, and he’s penned a bunch of horror/Western combos. He’s already written his fair share of comics, including a Conan miniseries and several series about Jonah Hex. I discovered his stuff back when I first hit the post-Stephen-King period of my horror-readin’, right about the same time as I stumbled across Clive Barker’s “Books of Blood” and the classic zombie anthology “The Book of the Dead.” So seeing Howard’s and Lansdale’s names on the cover promises me some classic pulp horror and modern pulp horror all wrapped up into one gory knot.

So aaaaanyway… This comic isn’t a direct adaptation of Howard’s “Pigeons from Hell” — it’s updated to the present day, starring a couple of sisters, Claire and Janet Blassenville, descendants of slaves and new inheritors of an old Louisiana plantation. They’ve brought along three friends to check out their new property, and what they find is a filthy, decaying wreck of a mansion, infested with thousands of pigeons. What were the stories the Blassenville sisters used to hear about pigeons as the souls of the damned escaping Hell? Probably nothing, right?

Well, one of their friends gets injured, and when they try to get him to a hospital, they lose control of the car and drive it into a lake. Nowhere else to turn, so they go back to the mansion. Did they see someone inside the house? Why is it so ice-cold when it’s the middle of summer? What’s stirring out in the local graveyard?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I am loving this one.

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Six Hundred Threescore and Six


Number of the Beast #1

Well, that’s an ominous title and cover, isn’t it? This is part of a new crossover series in the Wildstorm Universe, with a “new” superteam taking the lead role. The team is called the Paladins, including Aeronaut, Engine Joe, the Thrush, Falconette, Wallflower, Johnny Ray-Gun, the Midnight Rider, Neandra, the Black Anvil, Mago, and Tumbleweed, and though this is the first time we’ve seen them, their backstory says they’re the top supergroup in the newest version of the Wildstorm Universe.

Anyway, the Paladins beat up some supervillains and fight off an invasion from the excellently-named Saucerlings from Saturn’s Moons. But sandwiching all of this is the really weird, disturbing stuff. There are a couple of low-level flunkies for the government, and they wear patches on their uniforms that look like an American flag with a stylized “666” in place of the stars. They dump a barrel-full of liquified human — actually a barrel-full of liquified human who’s still alive — into a storage tube. And much later, they start making people around the city vanish into thin air… by pushing a button marked “Rapture.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m a big fan of Chris Sprouse’s artwork — really, who isn’t? And the story mixes Silver Age superheroics with extraordinarily creepy religious horror. I hope it stays fun.


Wonder Woman #19

On the Khund homeworld, Wonder Woman meets up with a Green Lantern named Procanon Kaa who wants the mysterious Ichor Ship to destroy the warlike Khunds. Diana has to fight him down and simultaneously persuade him to embrace a peaceful solution. But the Khunds plan to destroy their own planet to save face for being defeated by the Ichor. Can Wondy get Kaa to rediscover his compassion? Can she stop the Khund plan for self-genocide? Can she get the Ichor to leave the Khund homeworld?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I don’t much like Bernard Chang’s skinny version of Wondy, but it’s a minor quibble. I do like Gail Simone’s characterization of Wonder Woman as someone who knows so much about battle that she can beat a guy weilding the most powerful weapon in the universe but who’s willing to take a beat-down for the cause of peace. Dude, that’s hardcore. Not sure why we really needed Etta Candy along for this ride, but I enjoyed the last couple of pages with Kaa and the Khund general’s daughter, Kho.


Green Lantern Corps #23

A batch of Green Lanterns, including Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner, are selected to track and recover a bunch of Sinestro Corps rings. A new yellow ring is delivered to Duel Eknham, a deformed alien who looks like a conjoined twin and has two warring personalities, both of whom love to kill people. And Mongul sets up some evil plans that include collecting a whole bunch of yellow power rings and big sackful of parasitic Black Mercy plants.

Thumbs up. The crazy siamese twin with the dueling personalities would probably make a cool villain. Some of the scenes at the beginning of the comic where various GLs are summoned to duty are pretty funny — Iolande, a member of her planet’s royal family, is vainly attempting to address her homeworld’s ruling council when she’s dragged away; the robotic Stel doesn’t get a chance to make extensive repairs to his body; and Guy Gardner stays sound asleep even as his ring pulls him to the Guardians.

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Fun Stuff to Click on

* Joe Simon, visionary co-creator of Captain America, on creating Cap, the new Cap, and creator’s rights.

* Could comics — particularly the extremely Islam-friendly “99” comic previously profiled here — be used as a tool to fight terrorism? Could be. (Seriously, y’all click on that article. Gotta be one of the best articles on comics I’ve ever seen from the mainstream media. Not a single “Biff Bam Pow! Comics for Grown-ups?!” in the entire article.)

* Every piece of cool trivia you’d ever want to know about Mike Mignola, Guillermo del Toro, Hellboy comics, and the latest Hellboy movie. “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane voicing the ectoplasmic Johann Kraus? Fantastic!

* The moderately notorious Gordon Lee censorship case out of Rome, Georgia, has been resolved, as the prosecution has dropped all charges. This has been one of those cases where it was pretty clear that the prosecution was playing dirty pool to try to run their local comics shop out of business — they even purposely defied the judge’s orders so they could get a mistrial and run up the defendant’s legal bills some more. Heck, back in November, the local paper published a complete throat-punch of an editorial denouncing the prosecutors’ methods.

And finally: Via Ragnell: This is the awesomest thing in the history of awesome.

From left to right: Catwoman, Barbara Gordon, Zatanna, Black Canary, Power Girl, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batwoman, Vixen, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn.

Click here for a larger version.

Superheroines rock.

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The Gang’s All Here


The Brave and the Bold #12

It’s the final chapter of this progressively more and more epic storyline. Megistus has stolen Green Lantern’s power battery, leaving Hal without any way to recharge his power ring, and he’s taken it to the sun, turning it from yellow to green, depriving both Superman and Ultraman, his evil duplicate from Earth-3, of their powers. Megistus has stolen a variety of magical items and used them to attract a red cloud of radiation across the universe that has the same effect on all biological life that Red Kryptonite has on Superman — uncontrollable and painful mutation.

The Challengers of the Unknown borrow Wonder Woman’s invisible plane to fly all of them up to the sun to do battle with the mad alchemist. Once they get close enough to the sun, GL is able to leech away enough energy to power up his ring and let enough solar energy through to give the Kryptonians their powers again. While Megistus knocks Superman and Ultraman around, the Challengers try to shut down the artifacts, and GL tries to free Metamorpho and Firestorm from captivity. Supergirl and Power Girl join the fight, while on Earth, Flash, Wonder Woman, and the Teen Titans work to save people from the red cloud. But stopping Megistus and neutralizing the red cloud is going to require some sacrifice before it’s too late…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely energetic and dramatic ending for this storyline. If I’ve got a complaint, it’s that we didn’t end up seeing all of the guest stars this series has spotlighted in the previous 12 issues. I know it would’ve made for a really large and unwieldy story, but I think it would’ve been fairly cool to see Batman, the Legion, Lobo, the Metal Men, and the Silent Knight in here somewhere…


Captain America #37

The Red Skull continues his plans to destroy America from the inside, as one of his stooge politicians announces a third-party bid for the presidency. Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes, the new Captain America, recovers from his recent injuries and gets into a fight with Clint “Hawkeye” Barton. After some weird dreams about Bucky and Cap fighting in World War II, Bucky meets up with Cap’s old friend the Falcon, who promises to give Bucky a chance to find his feet as a superhero. And finally, Carol Danvers Sharon Carter runs into someone who may be the resurrected Steve Rogers — but is the old Captain America now a pawn of the Red Skull?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Skull’s conspiracy continues to expand in devious ways, building up a nice, nasty challenge to the fledgling Cap. Oh, and Bucky’s dream, where he and the original Cap yell things like “Look out for the Internet!” and “Let Bob Hope text her for you tonight at the USO show!”, is pretty gleefully wacky.


Powers Annual 2008

Much of this issue is actually written by “Powers” illustrator Michael Avon Oeming. We get another look into Walker Christian’s prehistoric past, when he served as the chieftain of a tribe of cave-dwelling early humans. He gets to fight a boar, a bear, and an early metahuman, and he gets himself some sweet, sweet lovin’ from a bikini-wearing cavegal.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Nothing against Oeming’s writing, but so help me, we’ve seen Walker-as-a-caveman before, and even with the thong-wearing cavegirl, this story wasn’t interesting enough to warrant going way back there again.

(Correction made — thanks to Jeff in comments for the tip.)

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Friday Night Fights: Jack Attack!

Bahlactus declares that Friday Night Fights is back in business! But there’s a twist for this next 12-week round — all fights have to be in black-and-white! Why? Because BAHLACTUS SAYS SO, THAT’S WHY!

So let’s kick things off with one of the most thoroughly film noir-ish superhero comics of the mid-1990s, James Robinson’s glorious Starman. Here’s a bit from the climactic battle between Jack Knight and the Mist’s son, Kyle, from what I’m thinking is the third issue of the series.


Hmm, loses a bit without the color. Still, Tony Harris sure could draw a dandy fight.

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Glass Houses

Okay, it’s Friday, and the Lubbock Arts Festival officially started last night over at the Lubbock Civic Center, so I’m gonna take another short break from comics blogging to plug my sister’s glass artwork. Here’s another sample of some of the stuff she’ll be showing at the Arts Festival.




I finally got to go out to the Civic Center last night after work to see Alice’s booth, and it looked pretty good. Just about everything I saw out there looked pretty good — they’ve got tons of artists who’ve set up booths, and it really looks like a must-see event for us Lubbockites. What else you gonna be able to do in Lubbock this weekend for just a dollar? Okay, fine, you can turn George Washington’s head into a mushroom. Whatcha gonna do for fun with a dollar?

Anyway, y’all come on out and say hi! It’s gonna be a long weekend, especially for Alice, who’ll be at the Civic Center almost the whole time. She’d love to get to talk to ya and to trade some of her artwork for your hard-earned dolla bills. 🙂

And hey, for you out-of-towners or anyone else who wasn’t able to make it to the arts festival, you can check out more of her stuff at her Etsy store.

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Laughing Boys


Tiny Titans #3

More all-ages fun from Art Baltazar and Franco. As far as I can tell, every page of this comic was pure 100% awesome. The first page features Robin in a child-seat in the back of the Batmobile. After that, we get Beast Boy Puppy, the most adorable version of Jericho ever, Beast Boy’s elephant, and a bunch of rocket-propelled penguins. Not sure I like the idea of Dr. Light as a schoolteacher, but this is obviously out-of-continuity, so I guess it’s okay.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It really is colossal fun.


Booster Gold #8

In the severely altered present, Maxwell Lord and his OMACs rule the world, and Superman is under Max’s mental control. Booster and Ted Kord join up with the Resistance — Green Arrow, Hawkman, Pantha, Wild Dog, and Anthro. We know this is doomed from the git-go, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up, mainly because I’m amused by a superteam that included Pantha, Wild Dog, and Anthro.


B.P.R.D.: 1946 #4

The first year of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense continues, as Professor Bruttenholm persuades the demonic little girl Varvara to let him actually interrogate a Nazi prisoner instead of just slaughtering him. He learns the origins of the Nazi vampire project and discovers where the rest of the vampire hybrids are being stored. The Russians and Americans rush to destroy what’s left of the project, but instead discover some villains familiar to Hellboy fans…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Any comic book that ends with a deactivated cyborg giraffe, a Nazi head-in-a-jar, and a bunch of Nazi cyber-gorillas is a comic that I know we can all enjoy.

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