Archive for October, 2008

Evil Wins Again


Final Crisis #4

Darkseid’s Anti-Life Equation has been released all over Earth, instantly subjugating most of the Earth with its irresistable message of despair and servitude. A fairly small number of superheroes is still operating, spread out across the world. Officer Turpin is trying to resist becoming Darkseid’s newest incarnation, the Tattooed Man has temporarily joined the good guys, Barry Allen and Wally West escape the new Female Furies, Black Lightning and Green Arrow are captured and exposed to the Anti-Life Equation.

Verdict: Pff, not real thrilled with it. Maybe it’ll make more sense as a complete story. I’ve said that before, I know. But there’s a lot of stuff happening, and not a lot of progress being made in the storyline. Nothing to inspire, excite, or terrify here.


Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #1

A nice extra-length one-shot focusing on Jimmy Olsen. He’s got a handle on the scoop of the decade, and he can’t get enough respect from most people at the Daily Planet — or self-respect for himself — to take the initiative to get the story. A pep talk from Clark Kent gets Jimmy out tracking down the details of his story and quickly running afoul of an assassin called, umm, “Codename: Assassin.” He learns that “C:A” has already killed the Newsboy Legion and Dubbilex, and he has some narrow escapes from the assassin before meeting up with Greg Saunders, the Vigilante, and the last clone of the Guardian in a small town in Arizona.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good fun, great focus on Jimmy as a person, not just a kid in a bow tie. My only regret about this is that it’s a one-shot, designed solely to lead into a new storyline in the Superman comics. This is a great comic, and I think it’s time we saw a new monthly comic about Jimmy.


Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #29

Odin comes to New York looking for his son, Thor, but Thor doesn’t want to be found — he has a date with Storm, and dad wouldn’t approve of a god dating a mortal. So the rest of the Avengers have to run interference to keep Odin from busting up the date. There’s a subplot with Mr. Hyde and Cobra repeatedly trying and failing to complete a plot to defeat anyone, but ya know, the important stuff here is the Avengers trying to keep Odin occupied so he doesn’t ruin his kid’s date.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good gravy, this is an awesome comic. I don’t care if it says “Marvel Kids” on the cover, everyone should be reading this ’cause it’s so blasted fun.

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Politics in Comics: Sarah Palin

Hey, Samuel, got one more for ya!

Now I’ve already mentioned the recent appearance of GOP veep candidate Sarah Palin on the cover of the newest incarnation of “Tales from the Crypt,” right?

Well, lo and behold, there’s another comic coming out focusing entirely on Palin.

This one is similar to the recent comics biographies of Barack Obama and John McCain, and a related one on Hillary Clinton. It’s aiming to be a warts-and-all bio of Palin, but unfortunately, if you’re a Palin fan, you won’t be able to get it before the election. Due to long publication lead times, this one won’t hit the stands ’til early February. And depending on the outcome of the election, you’ll either get the Happy Palin Ending or the Sad Palin Ending.

(Never let it be said that I won’t throw any old thing up just for the sake of nabbing some hits from Republican Palin groupies. Yeah, that’s right, no shame whatsoever here. Just gimme those precious lifegiving hits, ya moose-worshiping Palinmonkeys! GIVE THEM ME.)

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Infinite Political Crisis


DC Universe Decisions #3

Wonder Woman endorses a Republican candidate who’s a former soldier, while Superman saves a Democratic candidate from another bomb — and apparently, the candidate himself placed the bomb. Mind control again, obviously, but a particular kind of mind control. Oh, and Flash gets in trouble when, frustrated that the media only cares about superhero endorsements and not about the threats to the candidates, he endorses the mad bomber for the presidency. Huntress steals Lady Blackhawk’s endorsement rationale, Wonder Woman’s and Bruce Wayne’s candidate endorsements were mainly an excuse to get closer to the candidates to track down other suspects, Clark Kent is sleeping on the couch, and the assassin is finally revealed…

Verdict: I’m not sure. On one hand, the story is generally fine, the dialogue is mostly good, everything generally makes sense. On the other hand, when something goes wrong, it seems to hit EPIC FAIL. Wonder Woman’s endorsement of the Republican former soldier indicates that she only approves of him because he’s a “warrior” — fine, that’s a reason why that character might think favorably of someone, but we also know that Wondy is actually an ambassador for peace from the Amazons, so being a soldier wouldn’t be her only reason to pick a candidate. Besides, Wondy’s long-running status as a feminist icon, both in the comics’ continuity and in real world pop culture, would suggest that she’d certainly want assurances from a candidate that he’d be favorably inclined towards feminist issues. (But I gotta say, the Republican candidate makes a great speech — really excellent dialogue there.)

We also get some more superhero endorsements, and this time, there are more of them who support candidates because of issues — Blue Beetle supports a candidate who favors universal health care, and Jay Garrick likes the moderate GOP candidate because she’d “get big government off our backs, without getting us into another world war.” It’s nice to see some actual issues being cited, instead of the same old shallow stuff.

Oh, and the big bad assassin? Last time I checked, he had become a good guy. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.


Booster Gold #13

Booster, Skeets, and Goldstar save the life of a single woman in a tremendous disaster, because she was the only person who’d been fated to live. When they return to Rip Hunter’s HQ, they discover that Rip has been taken over by a Starro spore! He gets away in his time sphere and changes history so that the entire world has been dominated by Starro for centuries. They foil the initial plot, but Rip gets away, and soon they’re attacked by a bunch of Starro-dominated supervillains. Can Booster get away without getting a mind-controlling starfish slapped over his face?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The giant Starro the Conqueror may have been a middleweight villain, but the little Starro starfish are just plain wonderful bad guys.

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The Children of Gog


Justice Society of America #19

Power Girl is still stuck on Earth-2 and has enlisted the aid of that universe’s Mr. Terrific — just a university professor — in getting back home. David Reid is adjusting very well to becoming the massively powerful Magog, and Gog himself plans to roam the world, changing it into what he thinks is good, even if that means killing everyone who he decides is evil. Half of the JSA wants to stop him — half wants to help him. And of course, that means everyone’s going to fight.

Verdict: A big fat meh. It’s not badly done, but it’s completely pedestrian and dull. And the storyline has been going on for far, far too long.


Captain Britain and MI-13 #6

Something nasty is going on in Birmingham, as demonic forces are granting everyone the illusion of their greatest desires being fulfilled. Captain Britain a bit foolishly charges right in to try to fix everything. Spitfire has somehow survived getting a stake driven through her heart by Blade, and now the two of them are brawling throughout the crisis. Faiza Hussain, Pete Wisdom, and the Black Knight rescue Captain Midlands. Of course, the demonic powers behind all this have more tricks up their sleeves, and a few bargaining chips to try to tip everything to their advantage.

Verdict: I’m going to give it a slim thumbs up. The action is pretty good, the threat is convincingly portrayed, but this comic has been a bit nonstop from its beginning, and I’d like a chance to get to know some of the characters as people, not just as people stuck in big fights.

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A Little Bit o’ Everything


* From the vague descriptions I’d read, I thought it was pretty likely that this comic book starring Wonder Woman and fashionista Diane von Furstenberg would be really odd, but I don’t think I’d ever imagined it would be this odd.

* I know I’ve been telling you and telling you to pick up Aaron Williams’ awesome “PS238” comic, and here, Aaron gives us a few hints about what the future may hold for the kids in Wonderburg.

* Kalinara played a fun little game recently — she picked ten characters, kept ’em secret, and asked folks to give her hypotheticals to see how they’d react in certain situations. Sounds complicated, but actually very simple and fun. Check it out.

* For my pal Swampy: Greedo gets even greener.

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Friday Night Fights: Stop Hitting Yourself! Stop Hitting Yourself!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, another workweek is over, and that’s as good an excuse as any for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

From this year’s Justice Society of America Annual #1 by Geoff Johns, Jerry Ordway, and Bob Wiacek: It’s Power Girl vs. Power Girl!

Mercy gracious!

Wow, that’s one way of kicking off a weekend, ain’t it?

(Edited to deal with me forgetting to edit this one properly before)

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Ambush Bug: Year None #2

Plot? Please, there is no plot. Ambush Bug goes to see Rama Kushna, but she’s decided to become Groucho Marx. Cheeks has become an OMAC. Heck, almost everyone has become an OMAC. Bug meets some horsey friends of the Flash, a Mauve Lantern named Don Gaye Apparel, and a Galactusized interior decorator. Ambush Bug becomes a bear to fight Go-Go Chex. DC editor Jann Jones goes anime. And a whole page accidentally gets printed without dialogue balloons or captions.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nothing big happens, just some nicely goofy stuff.


Ambush Bug: Year None #3

Ambush Bug went to Vegas, got drunk, had a blackout, and wakes up to learn that he’s gotten married to the Inferior Five’s Dumb Bunny. He desperately tries to get un-married, even traveling to Hell to bargain with the devil to erase his marriage. Hi, Spider-Man! He also meets Earth-2 Superman, Earth-2 Lois Lane, Earth-3 Alexander Luthor, and Superboy-Prime (played by Super-Turtle), who goes on a rampage and kills Pantha. Darkseid does karaoke. Go-Go Chex tries to eat all the mer-people in Atlantis. Next issue: The Return of Argh!yle!

Verdict: Thumbs up. I think this is the best issue of this series so far, at least partly because I’ve always liked Dumb Bunny and the rest of the Inferior Five.

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Politics in Comics: Liberality for All

There are not a lot of explicitly political comics that operate from a conservative point-of-view. One of the few — in fact, it originally promoted itself as the very first conservative comic book — was 2005’s “Liberality for All” from ACC Studios, by Mike Mackey and Donny Lin.

I’ll be perfectly honest here — in my opinion, if you’re a conservative or Republican, you should be absolutely mortified and embarrassed by this comic. I picked up the first issue when it came out, because I have a lot of interest in political matters, and I wanted to see how a conservative comic book would play out. It was pretty danged close to being the worst comic I’ve ever seen.

Now it wasn’t that the specific quality of the book was bad — it’s not like this had art by Rob Liefeld or something. The characters were depicted with the right number of arms and legs and noses and whatnot. The script wasn’t full of misspelled words or anything of that nature. But the entire premise of the story was simply howlingly idiotic.

Let’s set the scene: It’s about 20 years in the future, and the Democrats have taken over the country and instituted a dictatorship. I was actually willing to try to accept this, just for the sake of getting the story moving. We’ve seen plenty of stories through the years about authoritarian conservative governments — “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “V for Vendetta” are all about dictatorships with a hard conservative edge. A liberal-leaning dictatorship is fairly unique in fiction (Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron” is the only other one I can think of off the top of my head), and I was willing to accept the idea…

…Or I would’ve been willing, if there’d been an attempt to construct the story’s dictatorship out of something other than strawmen. All the liberals in the comic are virtually depicted with devil-horns — they have no real purpose other than being painted with all the capital-E Evils ascribed to non-conservatives in the fantasyland of talk radio. In fact, most of the great boogeymen of the right, 20 years later, are still running around — the Clintons are still in charge (This time, Chelsea is the president), filmmaker Michael Moore makes an appearance, and Osama bin Laden is a U.N. ambassador.

The evil liberal dictatorship is opposed by a small number of conservative freedom-fighters, gifted with special cybernetic powers and apparent immortality. Who would be the best heroes for a conservative comic? Ronald Reagan, perhaps? Barry Goldwater? William F. Buckley? George W. Bush — who, at the time this was written, was near his highest point of political popularity?

Nope, they go with talk-radio howler Sean Hannity, Watergate plumber/head-shot enthusiast/actual-fer-realz Hitler admirer G. Gordon Liddy, and Iran’s favorite arms merchant, Oliver North.

I’ll wait a moment for you to pick your jaw up off the floor.

Seriously, you’ve got your pick of any conservative icons you want, and with this type of story, you could probably go with long-dead historical figures — “The Spirit of Liberty, long thought vanished from this nation, has returned Abraham Lincoln to life, to fight for justice in America!” Yes, it would be completely mad, but it would work, and it would probably be fairly awesome. So you could choose any conservative heroes you want for this story… and you go with a bunch of talk-show hosts?!

Ohh, wait a minute. You don’t think the entire story was just a ploy to get invited to appear on Hannity’s, North’s, and Liddy’s radio shows, do you?

Mmmmm, could be.

So there it is — the most painfully inept political comic book I’ve ever seen. Not just because the story and premise are poorly rendered, but because it could have been good, if the creators were more interested in creating a story about conservative characters and ideas, and not just in stroking the egos of talk-radio hosts.

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Six of One…


Secret Six #2

While Catman distracts Batman with a big fight up and down Gotham’s skyscrapers, Deadshot, Scandal, Ragdoll, and Bane break into Alcatraz so they can break Tarantula out. Of course, things don’t go too smoothly, especially after super-strong trustee Mammoth shows up to stir up trouble. And Junior, the monstrously creepy crime boss who lives in a trunk, crawls out into the open just long enough to offer the world’s metavillains a bounty of $10 million for each one of the Six.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This book is so, so, so very wonderful. Action galore, awesome dialogue galore. Ragdoll is hilarious, Deadshot is hilarious, Bane is hilarious. Even Batman is kinda hilarious. Batman eats take-out burritos. Mammoth gets hit in his ornament-things. The only person here who isn’t hilarious is Junior. He’s just scary and creepy. Okay, he’s a little bit hilarious. You should be reading this book — it’s big fun.


Wonder Woman #25

The Queen of Fables is back, attacking Wonder Woman in Hollywood because she believes Wondy is Snow White. The Queen tries to trap Wondy in her vision for a “Wonder Woman” movie — all rotten dialogue, skimpy costumes, terrible history, and insulting plot twists. Eventually, we get a face-to-face battle between Diana and the Queen, and luckily, the planned movie gets put into turnaround.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one is a blast, at least partly because of Wondy’s mortified embarrassment about how bad the film of her life is going to be. All the movie-related banter is also pretty enjoyable. The Queen of Fables is a good villain — it’s too bad she isn’t used more often. She also gets the best line in the book: “I will feed you in pieces to three separate bears!” Something tells me Gail Simone had a lot of fun writing this one.


George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Hard Call #4

It’s been a while since the last issue of this one — I figured I’d missed ’em all. Alex is a new ace — one of the lucky few gifted with superpowers by an alien xenovirus that kills or disfigures almost everyone who contracts it. In an attempt to find Kira, a recently disfigured joker, who’s been kidnapped, Alex has enlisted the help of the infamous Croyd “The Sleeper” Crenson, an ace who gets new powers every time he goes to sleep and who’s prone to abusing uppers to the point of murderous psychosis. Meanwhile, the Jokertown Clinic’s counselor, Fallon, has started stealing and releasing the “Black Trump” virus, which is designed to reverse the effects of the Wild Card virus — unfortunately, it kills as many as it cures. Will Alex and Croyd be able to find Fallon before he kills again?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m a sucker for the “Wild Cards” series, sure, but I’m also enjoying the story a lot. Croyd was always one of my favorite characters in the novels, so it’s nice to see him getting a nice starring role in this one.

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Keep your Fingers Crossed


Crossed #1

Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows’ much-anticipated horror series gets started, as a small group of people try to survive in a world that’s been wrecked by an epidemic of mass murder. This is a story similar to your typical flesh-eating zombie story, but instead of the walking dead, the problem is that something is causing people to become extremely enthusiastic homicidal maniacs. The only way to tell them from normal people, aside from their really happy and evil smiles, is the bloody red cross-shaped rash that forms on their faces. We follow the survivors briefly on their extremely dreary struggle to get through another day, we get a brief flashback to the first day of the plague, and we get what may be a moment of hope — can the Crossed by stopped by simple table salt?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Imagine the dreariest, most hopeless, most pessimistic zombie movie you’ve ever seen. Then make it even more depressing. That’s “Crossed” for ya. The story is extraordinarily violent — the Crossed get what looks like a sexual charge out of violent murder, so there’s tons and tons of gruesome slaughter going on here. Parents, more than any other horror comic out there, you shouldn’t be leaving this around for the kids to pick up — there’s hyperviolence, gore, cuss words, nudity, torture, and the graphic slaughter of a family. And yeah, I’m still giving it a thumbs up. For adult horror fans, this is a brilliantly crafted zombie story with a few twists. Mark my words, someone’s eventually going to make a very disturbing movie out of this someday.


B.P.R.D.: The Warning #4

The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense is unable to do anything but watch as giant robots destroy Munchen, Germany. Abe Sapien and Johann Strauss take some soldiers back underground to try to figure out something about the subhuman savages who somehow managed to build the robots. The eventually find a chamber with some of the subhumans, two giant monsters, and some kind of huge engine. Abe kills one of the monsters with a rocket launcher, then Johann possesses it so he can kill the other one. Meanwhile, the other soldiers start planting explosives all over the giant engine. But will destroying the engine do anything to stop the crisis aboveground?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderful pulpy goodness. And I love the idea of a dead, zombified giant monster eating another one — inventive, creepy, and goofy all at the same time.

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