Archive for January, 2009

Science Fiction Book Club

Had a very interesting day yesterday. I went running a few vital errands around town — mailing job applications (Yeahhh, like anyone in Austin is actually going to hire a Lubbockite for anything?), returning a defective video card back to the manufacturer, and desperately searching for Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper. I was heading over for a quick visit to Awesome Books when, well, the car went kaput on me. Luckily, I was near my favorite garage, so I was able to limp the car over to them in time. Sometimes, it does seem like the universe is saying, “Hey, look, a jobless guy. Let’s make all his money go away!” Yeah, well, watch it, universe, or I’ll cut ya.

Anyway, the day was salvaged by my brother, who came and picked me up from the garage and took me around town for a few of his errands. We grabbed some sodas, had a right giggle at the “bargains” at Circuit City, and ended up standing in Barnes and Noble for at least half-an-hour jawboning about great science fiction, fantasy, and horror books with a guy we just ran into there. Now usually, this is a prescription for pain — someone you don’t know just starts talking to you in the bookstore about sci-fi, and it’s usually “Heh heh, I love this book ’cause it’s got a vampire lady, and she has big boobs, and there’s some heh heh heh.”

Didn’t happen this time — the guy had read almost everything, knew what the good stuff was, knew how to articulate what he liked about it. We talked about Terry Pratchett, Alice Sheldon, Neil Gaiman, Robert E. Howard, Harlan Ellison, Owl Goingback, Richard Matheson, Hammer Films, Charlaine Harris, Andrew Vachss, Joe R. Lansdale, George R.R. Martin, Christopher Moore, ’70s exploitation horror flicks, and many, many more. As most of y’all are doubtless very well aware, there is nothing that science fiction fans love more than getting to hang out with other science fiction fans — especially smart science fiction fans — and let your geek flag fly. My bro and I had so much fun, we’da put the guy on our Christmas card list if we’d thought to ask him what his name was.

Aaaaanyway, enough about my day. How was yours?

Comments off

Mystery Girls


Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade #2

Supergirl’s life continues to be generally sucky, including having to stay late after school, getting exposed to Kryptonite, and getting a superpowered imperfect-clone rival named Belinda Zee, but she does at least meet her first real friend, a red-headed genius named Lena Thorul. Umm, why do I suspect that last name would scramble into something ominous?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I would’ve enjoyed this one anyway, but any comic that includes the line “Must… fight crime… Save… cow!” is definitely a winner.


Terra #4

The final issue of this miniseries has Terra and Geo-Force work to stop the rampage of the maddened crystal-powered Richard What’s-His-Name. All that, plus another guest-appearance from Power Girl, clothes-shopping, and spitting out sushi. It makes more sense in context, trust me.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again, I just love Amanda Conner’s artwork. I hope she’s working on some new comics coming out? Oooh, what’s that? Conner, Palmiotti, and Gray are working on a new “Power Girl” ongoing series? Wonderful!

Comments off

Living in an Obama World

All told, it’s looking like it’s gonna be a pretty good day for Barack Obama, what with taking the oath of office and becoming the President of the United States and all that.

I was digging through my archives the other day and realized that, though there have been a lot of presidential guest-appearances in comics over the past few decades, there have been mighty few who were showing up in comics before their inaugurations.

After all, Obama starred in a nonfictional biography comic:

He teamed up with Spider-Man:

(Of course, who hasn’t teamed up with Spider-Man. I think Frog-Man has had more guest-appearances with Spidey than Obama has. Kinda takes the polish off that little honor…)

Obama has made more than one appearance with the Savage Dragon:

And he even got his photo snapped with the Man of Steel:

If there’s a downside to all this attention the comics world has been paying him, it’s gotta be this:

Yeah, Barack Obama is going to get drawn by talentless crapmonkey Rob Liefeld. I don’t think I’d wish a fate that horrible on anyone

Comments off

True Love, Fantasies, and Free Stuff


Captain Britain and MI:13 #9

The demonic Plotka has trapped the team in a netherworld, thanks to the treachery of Captain Midlands, and he’s going to use them as a power source to create more Mindless Ones and take over the planet. The team’s science advisor actually climbs inside a captured Mindless One to get to the dimension-lost Captain Britain and lead him to safety… but it turns out Cap’s late wife Meggan may actually really be alive again. Meanwhile, the rest of the team captures Captain Midlands, shatters his fantasy of his beloved wife, and uses the Black Knight’s sword to cut through the “Dream Corridor” and free all the imprisoned souls. But can the team still manage to stop Plotka in time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action going on here. I loved the aftermath — awww, Blade and Spitfire are gonna be friends after all! And even better — next issue: Dracula!


War of Kings Saga

It’s a free comic! Designed as a promotion for Marvel’s upcoming “War of Kings” crossover event, this is a history of the Inhumans and everyone connected to them, including Quicksilver, the Starjammers, the Shi’ar Empire, Havok, and many more.

Verdict: I was going to give this a thumbs down, ’cause I can’t summon any interest in “War of Kings” — but it is free, and it’s a pretty good resource for the very convoluted history of the Inhumans. So it’s a thumbs up.

Comments off

Friday Night Fights: Schnozz Crackin’!

Another dreary week in another dreary month. Keeps going on an on and on like a poison. You want the antidote? Then step up for 500cc’s of FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

These don’t always have to be complicated ballets of violence and pain. Sometimes, all you need is a single panel from February 1998’s New Year’s Evil: Body Doubles #1 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Joe Phillips, and Jasen Rodriguez, as Carmen Leno plays knuckle-hockey with the bridge of Merlyn’s nose.


If that don’t get you ready for the weekend, you got worse problems than I can fix…

UPDATE: How embarrassing! Crisis on Earth-Prime spotlighted the same fight as I did! That’s like showing up at the dance wearing the same dress as someone else! Um, I mean, that’s what I hear! Not that I’d know first-hand or anything…

Comments off

The Comics I Didn’t Read

There were a couple of different comics that I didn’t pick up this week. Actually, I didn’t even get a chance to get them — they weren’t in the store when I made it in. Could be because they were already sold out. Could be because they weren’t included in this week’s shipment — something that happens quite a lot. Still, even if they’d been available, I don’t think I would’ve bought them. But let’s talk about them a bit anyway.

The Amazing Spider-Man #583

Yeah, the issue where soon-to-be President Barack Obama does the terrorist fist jab with Spider-Man. I’d already heard from a friend who’d seen the comic earlier that he didn’t think it was a very good story, and I was already leery of this being something I’d buy, read, find boring, and want to get rid of ASAP. So it wasn’t appealing to me at all. Just another publicity stunt by Marvel, though by all accounts, it’s been an uncommonly successful publicity stunt — Marvel’s gone back for three printings already to keep up with the demand.

Final Crisis #6

Well, like I’d said previously, I’m quitting the crossovers, especially the crossovers that are $4 instead of $3. I’ve already heard that Grant Morrison finally delivers what he said he’d have in the “Batman R.I.P.” storyarc — the death of Batman. He gets zapped by Darkseid’s “Omega Effect” right after shooting him in the shoulder with a big gun. Way to go, Bats, you actually use a gun on someone, on the biggest, baddest villain in the DCU, a guy who’s planning on killing, well, everyone, and you still can’t shoot him in the head. Great work, man.

Also, please feel free to gasp in wonder at the stunning and humiliating depths of ineptitude displayed by DC’s public relations office. You’re part of a gigantic media megalith like Warner Brothers. You’ve just “killed” the most popular superhero in the world. And you can’t even get a mention on the news because everyone’s talking about Marvel’s publicity stunt with Barack Obama. Congratulations, DC Comics, you are officially the Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

And in a related topic, could I direct y’all’s attention to this silliness over at Valerie D’Orazio’s joint, referring to the new issue of “Final Crisis”?

This book comes out the same day as the Spider-Man Obama cover. Such a contrast in energy, direction.

I choose hope.

Puhhh-lease. The death of Batman and the guest-appearance of Obama have exactly the same goals: sales. In fact, the energy and direction of both events is blatantly, unashamedly cynical — fake events, publicity-seeking nothingness, and short-term sales boosts. Will Batman stay dead? Certainly not. Did Obama’s appearance serve any greater story? Certainly not. Both events are there only because the publishers believe that readers will buy into the hype and buy the comics.

If anything, I think the Spider-Man comic may actually be more cynical. Marvel head-honcho Joe Quesada has said they published the story only because they found out that Obama is a Spidey fan. It’s the equivalent of a commemorative plate. I don’t blame Marvel for publishing it — if I was in charge of the company, I’d be nuts not to hook my wagon to an incredibly popular president-elect. But let’s not ascribe unearned nobility to what is simply a fairly shrewd PR ploy.

Oh, and one more thing, ’cause I just can’t let this go yet. As far as all the “hope” at Marvel, and the “contrast in energy, direction” between Marvel and DC — in the past few years, Marvel has killed off Captain America, the Wasp, and Kitty Pryde, and had Spider-Man make a deal with the Devil to end his marriage. It takes more than a back-up story guest-starring a popular politician to erase years of cynical storytelling. The contrast between Marvel and DC is nil.

Comments off

Blue Moon

Blue Beetle #34

Uh-oh, Dr. Polaris has killed Blue Beetle! Or has he? Oh, of course he hasn’t. Actually, Jaime’s armor temporarily killed him to avoid getting vaporized by Polaris’ magnetic attacks. The new strategy: flood Polaris’ body with gluons to, well, make him feel really sick. Luckily, Jaime has some allies, like Polaris’ estranged daughter, who stabs him with a plank of wood, and some of his former minions, who also lay a little smackdown on him. Oh, and Jaime’s got a proton cannon, too, so that’ll probably help. On top of all that, Brenda and Paco ponder whether they’re ready to start a relationship together, and Jaime puts some mass-media hurt on an ambitious politician’s political aspirations.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Definitely feels like a return-to-form for this title, with great one-liners, great action, great plot development, great characterization. Final issue coming up soon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep showing it some love.

The Goon #31

It’s the final battle against the horrific Labrazio and his minions. Labrazio shoots one of the orphans, and it looks like he’s got the Goon over the barrel, but Franky comes to the rescue. Meanwhile, Buzzard surprises the monstrous woky by figuring out an answer to his question. The Goon and Buzzard know how to stop Labrazio once and for all, but will they be able to enact their plan before the villains hurt more of the Goon’s friends?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good gravy, what a thumbs up. Action galore, Labrazio’s secret revealed, a hopeless battle, a last-minute save, and a bit of last-page heartbreak to carry us home. Eric Powell has turned out one of the best comics of the past year right here. Go get this issue, go get the back issues, go get the collections.

Green Lantern #36

The Red Lanterns have Sinestro, with plans to torture him to death. Meanwhile, Fatality gets converted into the Star Sapphires, and the Green Lanterns get saved by a Blue Lantern, an alien who calls himself Saint Walker, whose ring is able to mega-charge Green Lantern power rings and provide hope and healing to anyone. Walker takes Hal Jordan to his home planet, where he meets Ganthet and Sayd, former Guardians who now run the Blue Lanterns. They tell him that they want him to become the leader of the Blue Lanterns.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The blood-puking Red Lanterns have gotten very tiresome, Saint Walker makes me want to hurt small children and puppies, and I’m no longer sure I can stand the creation of the Orange and Indigo Lanterns, much less the Black Lanterns.

Comments off

Linktastic Fiesta!


Here’s a collection of random links, nearly all of them comics-related, that I’ve found entertaining over the past few days.

Comments off


Okay, it’s time to start experimenting with a few changes around here.

If you haven’t heard yet — and I wouldn’t expect you to, ’cause I’ve been keeping it under my hat — I got laid off from the A-J back in November. So how am I enjoying looking for a job during the worst economic downturn we’ve seen in about a quarter-century, if not longer? It sucks.

Now I’m probably doing better than a lot of people in similar situations, ’cause I had a decent sum saved in the bank. But things ain’t exactly rosy either. Now the last time I had a big drop in my financial situation (I took a $5,000 pay cut to take my last job), I got rid of cable TV and my landline, and ended up doing alright. Unfortunately, that means I don’t have much else I can cut from my budget — can’t stop paying rent, can’t stop paying for car insurance, can’t stop paying the electric bill.

But I can cut back on comics.

So we’re gonna see how I do with a strict comics budget of $20 a week.

That means:

1. I’ll be getting only 5-6 comics every week, unless Marvel and DC boost their prices to four bucks apiece. And that means fewer reviews here on the blog. There might be days where I won’t post at all, might be days when I just post a bit of silliness, might be days when I just rant about job-hunting. There might be days when I review old comics. ‘Cause old comics I already got stored in the comics cabinet are cheaper than comics I have to spend extra cash for.

2. No more crossovers. No more “Final Crisis,” no “Blackest Night,” no “Dark Reign.” Crossovers are fine for flush economic times, when people have the spare leisure cash to spend on superfluous cosmic fisticuffs that’ll be forgotten and ignored in three months. Right now, DC and Marvel are hoping their customers will choose another six months of pointless crossovers over, say, buying food or heating the house or paying for the kids’ insurance. Ain’t gonna happen, and I ain’t gonna reward Marvel and DC for thinking like idiots. Besides, crossover books are more expensive than regular books.

3. I may still have to quit buying comics. One big doctor’s bill, one big car repair, another few months of trying to live on the unemployment handouts, and I’ll have to move into my brother’s spare apartment anyway. If the choice is paying my cell phone bill and buying comics, or paying for health insurance and buying comics — comics get the heave-ho. If that happens, I don’t know if the blog will continue. I enjoy the blog, and I think I can come up with stuff to blather about even if I don’t have a regular supply of new comics, but we’ll have to see.

4. There don’t seem to be a lot of jobs being offered in Lubbock. I know everyone says the economy in Lubbock is unusually great, but I tend to take stuff I hear from local bankers and economic development folks with about a quarter-ton of salt. I flip through the want ads, and I don’t really see many jobs being offered. It might be the same everywhere, which means I’ll be cooling my heels in my brother’s apartment for a year. If the job situation is better in other cities, then I’ll be hoping I get a job somewhere else. I like Lubbock an awful lot, but the choice between being unemployed and broke in Lubbock and having a job in another city is a real, real easy one to make. If I leave, I’ll hope to keep the blog going anyway — it might be tough to write about Lubbock’s comics community from a few hundred miles away, but it’s a challenge I think would be fun to undertake.

So does that mean we’ll be seeing big changes here at this blog immediately? Hopefully not. Ideally, I’d like y’all to never notice any significant difference between the way I blogged last week and the way I’ll blog now. But if you see some unusual or interesting new changes, or really weird topic choices, just remember it’s all in the name of science…

Comments off

Everyone All Together

Justice League of America #28

It’s the Justice League vs. the Shadow Cabinet. For the most part, it’s a story about a bunch of super-people beating each other up, though the confrontation between Superman and Icon is… interesting. Very interesting.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, I’m still grooving on the return of the characters from Milestone Comics. But there is a lot of excellent fisticuffs going on here. I approve.

Madame Xanadu #7

Nimue is now in Victorian London, using her fortunetelling and spellcasting to try to protect people from Jack the Ripper. And of course, the Phantom Stranger appears, infuriating Nimue with his failure to act to save anyone. She offers to help the police, but finds her ability to see the future mysteriously stymied when it comes to discovering the Ripper’s identity. She lays mystic alarms around Whitechapel to alert her to any attacks, but will her spells be enough to stop the madman? And whose side is the Phantom Stranger really on?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Obviously, this isn’t nearly as heavy as Alan Moore’s classic Ripper story “From Hell,” but there’s some good stuff in here. Ripperologists will find several interesting tidbits to enjoy.

Comments off