Archive for May, 2008

On the Dark Side

These two new comics surprised me. I was expecting some fairly predictable superhero hijinx — and there was some of that, sure. But there was something extra plugged in there that I wasn’t expecting to see.


The Flash #240

Okay, lately, this comic has not been very good, but this issue showed up and dropped the awesomebomb on me. First, we have previously lame supervillain Spin who’s summoned none other than Gorilla Grodd all the way from Gorilla City in Africa. And Grodd ain’t happy to be here. He ends up freeing a psychic freak that Spin used to control his powers, and that means Spin’s mind-control starts affecting almost everyone. So everyone starts acting out the tabloid threats pushed during sweeps-weeks news broadcasts and talking like cheesy news anchors. Drunk drivers drone about the failure of the system to control drunk drivers. Disgruntled gunmen warn viewers about the looming crisis of disgruntled gunmen. I never thought Spin really worked as a villain before, but just like that, they’ve turned him into a first-class threat.

Oh, but that’s not the really awesome thing. The awesome thing is the guys who are hunting Iris and Jai — they’re minions of Dark Side — no, not Darkseid, the powerful and evil Lord of Apokolips — we’re talking the extra-nasty crime boss from Grant Morrison’s “Mister Miracle” miniseries in the “Seven Soldiers” mega-series. Yeah, he was basically Darkseid, with a stylish urban gangsta exterior. But he was fairly rockin’, and no one really knew if we’d ever see any elements of that character or that miniseries again. The minions spout a pitch-perfect pastiche of Jack Kirby/Grant Morrison phraseology — the “Boom-Drive,” the “Sister Box” and about a billion extra exclamation points!!! And when Dark Side’s goons catch the kids, it triggers a very unexpected reaction from Iris…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Pages 4-5 are just about the best single scene I’ve ever seen of Grodd — the visuals and dialogue are just perfect. And the complete flabbergasted glee I felt when I realized that this was gonna be a Dark Side story was just about the happiest I’ve been all week.


Birds of Prey #118

And this one’s part of the same crossover, so it’s all about Dark Side, too. Misfit and Black Alice have been abducted by Dark Side’s crew, and Granny Goodness and the Female Furies — yes, the same stylish urban gangsta versions of Granny Goodness and the Female Furies that were in Morrison’s “Mister Miracle” miniseries — are keeping ’em doped up on angry-juice so they’ll participate in gladiatorial matches. So far, Misfit’s been the reigning champ, but Alice was only recently picked up. Alice steals Misfit’s powers to make her escape, but she gets caught by Dark Side himself just as she learns a really surprising secret about her past. So they stick both of them in the arena to see who’ll kill the other, but Alice actually manages to steal the powers of Etrigan the Demon, of all people, and then takes the fight to Granny herself.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not as skull-crushingly manic as the “Flash” comic, but still lots of fun with a couple of my favorite characters.

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Calling All Kids!


Tiny Titans #4

It’s another fun and funny issue of “Tiny Titans” — Beast Boy goes to the dentist, Kid Flash helps Starfire style her hair, and Robin has a robin infestation problem, which he apparently solves by changing his costume and calling himself Nightwing. Too bad everyone thinks he’s getting ready to go dancing. And Wonder Girl and Bumblebee have to babysit the Little Tiny Titans (Kid Devil, Miss Martian, Jericho, and Wildebeest), but they don’t seem to need much babysitting.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The artwork is adorable, and the jokes are funny. This is the best Titans comic out there right now. Ain’t that something?


Comic Book Diner

This is the last of the books I got for Free Comic Book Day. It’s basically a sampler of a bunch of different all-ages comics, including superheroes like Roboy Red and Buzzboy, a fantasy called “Dreamland Chronicles,” a Western ostrich con-man named Tbyrd Fearlessness, and a monkey called “Banana-Tail.” Oh, and Patrick the Wolf Boy, who’s drawn by the same folks who make “Tiny Titans!”

Verdict: Thumbs up, though I liked some stories more than others. I have trouble getting into fantasy, so “Dreamland Chronicles” didn’t thrill me, and “Banana-Tail” was written for a very young audience, I think. I thought Patrick the Wolf Boy was just plain awesome, and I wish they’d given him more space in the book. Probably the most useful pages are a reading list of all-ages comics. There are over 20 comics listed, and they’re from a wide variety of different companies, with a wide variety of different stories. Parents, if you’re looking for something your kids would enjoy, check out the list in this comic.

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True Love and Black Mercy


Love and Capes #7

This was one of the comics offered during Free Comic Book Day a couple of weeks ago. It bills itself as “the Heroically Super Situation Comedy” and focuses on Abby and Mark. Abby runs a bookstore. Mark is a superhero called the Crusader. They’re in love. Awwwww! Anyway, Mark wants to propose to Abby, but he can’t decide on the perfect way to pop the question. He gets advice from Abby’s sister and from a bunch of his superhero friends.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice characterization, good jokes. My only quibble is that it goes on for a bit longer than I would’ve preferred.


Green Lantern Corps #24

Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, and a bunch of other Green Lanterns are on a mission to track down some missing Sinestro Corps rings, but Arisia and Sodam Yat have been captured by Mongul. He’s strapped them to a couple of Black Mercies — they’re parasitic alien plants that have traditionally made the victim hallucinate their fondest dreams. But these have been altered by Mongul to cause the victims to experience horrific nightmares. And he plans to send the new Black Mercy plants all over the galaxy. Meanwhile, Sinestro and the other prisoners in the sciencells on Oa mutilate themselves so they can draw the Sinestro Corps symbol on their cell walls with their own blood. Grody.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Black Mercies are nasty, nasty plants, though not as nasty as watching Sinestro chew off his fingertip. That dude’s craaaazy.

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Ho-Hum Horror

I picked up a couple of horror books that I’ve been thinking of as sure things — that nevertheless just didn’t float my boat this time.


The Goon #24

There are two stories in this one — a spirit tells a hermit called the Buzzard how Lonely Street got to be so cursed and awful. Basically, he was a pioneer who was stranded in the woods with his family, his business partner, and a woman he lusted for. She manipulated him into becoming a cannibal and killing his family for her, then she left him alone to die. The second story is a silly little work about a gate to hell opening up, leading the Goon and Frankie on a short quest to shut it down.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I liked the first story, but the second just bored me.


Locke and Key #4

First, lemme say that’s a really pretty cover. It’s got nice, shiny gold lettering that, unfortunately, doesn’t scan very well.

The psychotic Sam Lesser has escaped from the insane asylum and is killing his way across the country to get to Tyler Locke and the rest of his family in the Keyhouse mansion in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. The best moment comes in a flashback when Sam watches a figure in a painting send him a message. Nice and creepy there, but the rest just didn’t grab my interest.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Granted, at least part of my problem with this one is that I read the first issue, then missed the next two. Still, I can’t really recommend it. Maybe it’ll be better when they collect the whole thing into a trade paperback.

Sorry, y’all, nothing real goofy-fun this time.

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Rule, Britannia!


Captain Britain and MI: 13 #1

The first issue of this new title hits during Marvel’s “Secret Invasion” crossover event. And for a Secret Invasion, it doesn’t seem to be very secret, what with all the Skrulls and Super-Skrulls running around out in the open, blowing up London, and all that. Anyway, our heroes here include British heroes like Captain Britain, Pete Wisdom, the Black Knight, a speedster named Spitfire, a seemingly-normal physician/superhero fangirl named Faiza, and a guy called John the Skrull, who is a renegade Skrull who looks just like John Lennon.

No one knows why the Skrulls are hitting England so hard — there are a lot more superheroes and resources in America, after all — until someone realizes that the Skrulls are after Avalon, one of the primary sources of magic on Earth. Can the team stop the Skrulls in time? And why is Pete Wisdom hearing voices in his head?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m digging the characters, particularly John the Skrull and Dr. Hussain. Tons of personality there, and frankly, with all the other team members, too.


B.P.R.D.: 1946 #5

The conclusion of the series brings us American and Soviet soldiers fighting rampaging Nazi cyber-gorillas, Nazi cyber-chimps speaking German, an evil Nazi head in a jar, and Nazi vampires on a rocket to America! You cannot possibly read this story without your head exploding with 100% Pure Awesomeness!

Verdict: Thumbs up? Naw, thumbs up like craaaaazy!


Titans #2

There’s still someone trying to track down and kill the Teen Titans — like all the Teen Titans, current and former. Everyone figures it’s Trigon, so Raven goes off to psychically confront her dear old dad, finding him in really awful shape. But he says he’s still powerful enough to do serious damage to the Titans and to Earth. And Raven learns that Trigon has help in his quest to kill the Titans — namely, his other children.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Ye gods, this has gotta be the worst comic I’ve read in months. The dialogue is absolutely moronic, the plotting is determinedly dorky, and the art by Joe Benitez is just astoundingly, vomitously bad. I was willing to give this title a chance after the first issue, but this issue is way, way beyond my ability to tolerate. I’m dropping it, with a song in my heart and bile in my throat.

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Young X-Men #2

Cyclops has formed a new team of X-Men, including Dust, Blindfold, Rockslide, Wolf Cub, and Ink, and he’s given them an assignment to hunt down and kill the current Brotherhood of Evil Mutants — the former New Mutants, Cannonball, Magma, Sunspot, and Dani Moonstar. Whoa, wait a minute, why did the New Mutants turn evil? Why does Cyclops want them dead? His explanations make no sense, and the team’s training against holographs of the old New Mutants team aren’t going well. Nevertheless, Cyke splits the team and sends them out after Dani Moonstar and Magma. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go that well, and even worse, there are suggestions that there’s a traitor on the team…

Verdict: Thumbs up for now. Yanick Paquette’s artwork is sweet, but I’d definitely like a credible explanation for Cyclops’ sudden and uncharacteristic bloodthirstiness.


Wonder Woman #20

A weird issue. On one hand, Wonder Woman is in a wintry wasteland, besieged by wolves, seeking out the legendary hero Beowulf. Elsewhere, she’s in the Department of Metahuman Affairs, in her mortal guise as Agent Diana Prince. Sarge Steel promotes her, even though he doesn’t seem to trust her at all. And she and Etta Candy run into the Stalker, an minor DC hero/villain from the ’70s, who manages to strand Diana in, well, a wintry wasteland where she has to seek out Beowulf.

Verdict: Thumbs up, mainly for the dialogue, which rocks. I’m less than thrilled with this Stalker dude, who really needs a little backstory and explanation to make him a decent character.

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Friday Night Fights: Spider Swattin’!

Man, ain’t it been a long week? For a work schedule that’s supposed to be just 40 hours long, it sure does feel like I worked twice that. But it’s Friday now, and you know what that means. It’s time for the perfect way to blow off some steam — it’s time for Friday Night Fights!

This week, our fightfest comes to us from 1978’s The Amazing Spider-Man #187 by Marv Wolfman and Jim Starlin. Spidey’s stuck in the suburbs investigating why a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have evacuated a small town when he runs into Captain America. Oh boy! Captain America! Good ol’ Captain America! He’ll help out!


Um, or he won’t, I guess. But Spidey has all those nifty spider powers, right? He can make mincemeat of that chemically-enhanced super-patriot, right?


That’s some mighty fine fisticuffing, young-uns. I think that Jim Starlin guy has a future in the comic book industry, don’t you?

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Rest in Peace?


Batman #676

First, niiiice cover. Ladies and gentleman, former Lubbock resident Alex Ross! Everybody give it up for Alex! Wooo!

Okay, this is the first issue of the new “Batman: R.I.P.” storyline. We get to meet the Black Hand for the first time — it’s basically the opposite version of the Batmen of All Nations from one of Grant Morrison’s previous storylines. We get to see the new version of the Batmobile — it apparently has a great stereo! We get to see Batman give a homeless guy a couple hundred bucks. We see Bruce Wayne hanging out with Jezebel Jet and receiving an ominous invitation from… the Black Glove! Uh-oh! And even worse — we see the Joker, and he’s got very, very nasty plans in store.

Verdict: Thumbs up, with a lot of the thumbs-upping going to that super-scary Joker interlude at the back of the book.


Booster Gold #9

In the new timeline where Maxwell Lord rules the world, Booster and Blue Beetle are re-assembling the old Justice League International, including Mister Miracle, Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice, and the Martian Manhunter. But Guy’s power ring is almost out of power, and Superman is still in Max’s thrall. Is there any way for the good guys to win?

Thumbs up, but I’d really like this particular storyline wrapped up soon.


Gemini #1

An interesting character concept. Gemini is an acrobatic superhero who has no idea he’s a superhero. He’s funded and controlled by a government agency that lets him live as a normal schlub most of the time, activating his superhero persona whenever he’s needed. We get to see him take on some supervillains, vegetate through his boring job, and finally lose his head during a domestic disturbance call. We also get acquainted with the government technicians who help keep him functioning from day to day.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Interesting debut here, let’s see how it all turns out.

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Thunder Lizards and War Machines


The War that Time Forgot #1

A little background on this one. Way back in 1960’s “Star Spangled War Stories,” Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru came up with a new formula of stories for the venerable old war comic — namely, they decided to pit WWII-era American soldiers against Triassic-era dinosaurs. All the action would take place on a mysterious island in the middle of the Pacific, where the soldiers would end up, often in the midst of a plane crash or shipwreck. Once there, they had to fight their way through hordes of angry sauropods until they were rescued or made their escape.

In this new version, we follow Lt. Carson, a P-40 pilot who winds up stranded on the time-lost island. And he’s not the only person there — some of his fellow castaways include old DC characters like Firehair, Tomahawk, and Enemy Ace! After we get the introductions out of the way, there’s a great deal of fighting against prehistoric monsters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Dinosaurs! But can they keep this going over 12 whole issues?


George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Hard Call #2

Alex tries to adjust to the fact that he’s become an electrically powered ace, and that his family hates him because he survived the Wild Card Virus, and his little brother didn’t. Alex’s friend Simon has also become an ace, with the ability to teleport between mirrors, and Kira, the girl Alex had loved from afar, is now a joker with a caterpillar-like body. Meanwhile, Croyd Crenson is trying to discover who killed his nurse friend, but has to keep away from the cops and the Jokertown Clinic’s orderlies. He and Alex have a heart-to-heart on the clinic’s roof while Mike is considering suicide. And the mystery here is deepening — Kira has vanished, under possibly violent circumstances. And why does Mr. Fallon, the clinic’s “transition counselor,” seem so creepy?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still a big fan of the “Wild Cards” series, and this feels like a return to the series’ classic form.

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West Texas Comic Book Writers, UNITE!


Lubbock already has the Lubbock Sketch Club for artists, but is there a similar resource for writers? You betcha. The West Texas Comic Book Writers Association had their first meeting a couple of weeks ago and is ready to hit the ground running.

The next meeting of the group is this Sunday, May 18, at 3 p.m. at Star Comics, 2014 34th Street. They may decide to change their meeting location later, if a lot of folks show up.

Bring pen and paper, your mad 1337 writing skillz, and a willingness to accept constructive criticism. Because you’re never going to get better if you storm out every time someone tells you to improve your dialogue, oy?

The group’s forum is, and the group e-mail addy is

And if you’ve got some good examples of comic book scriptwork, either in a standard script format or in the context of a comic book itself, bring that along to point out what you like.

I’d hoped to be able to attend these meetings, but I’ve had a pretty indestructible case of writer’s block for about three months now. I know, sucks to be me. :/

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