Archive for May, 2009

Tarnished Gold

Had an unusually rough night, what with a completely unexpected allergy attack and a bad dream about a bad, bad man with a chainsaw. So as long as I’m up early, I think I got time for one quick review, don’t I?


Booster Gold #20

Booster begs Rip Hunter to send him on a sightseeing tour of 1952, mainly because he’s a big fan of “Happy Days.” Unfortunately, he gets sent to Nevada, 1952, where there aren’t any sock hops, where’s there’s not even a real Las Vegas yet, where there’s not much but a secret rocket test site and a bunch of paranoid government agents who really, really don’t trust super-people. In fact, the federales include Jess Bright, Evan Hughs, and Karin Grace — Task Force X, better known as the original Suicide Squad. And their leader this time out is none other than Sgt. Frank Rock himself. And they want Booster to go undercover with them to infiltrate the rocket site to help them investigate a shady Russian scientist. The investigation soon turns out they intend to launch the rocket into space — and that makes it one of Booster’s prevent-someone-from-messing-with-history missions. In the end, Booster prevents the origin of, believe it or not, the Fantastic Four, and finally gets to go to a ’50s malt shop and make like the Fonz.

Verdict: I think I gotta give it the thumbs down. There are just too many weird errors for me to tolerate. Obviously, Sgt. Rock was never a member of the Suicide Squad, and I can’t think of any good reason to shoehorn him into the job instead of Rick Flagg, except that they just wanted to use Sgt. Rock. On top of that, one of the squad members was named Hugh Evans, not Evan Hughs. Yes, these are just silly continuity errors, but this entire series is about time-travel and comic-book continuity — in this kind of series, clumsy continuity errors matter. And finally — no, I just do not buy for one second that a guy born in the 25th century is going to be a fan of a ’70s nostalgia series about the 1950s. I mean, there’s silly, and then there’s much, much too silly to make proper sense…

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Friday Night Fights: Hit Him with the Musical Chairs!

Time for a new 12-round series of Friday Night Fights, and Spacebooger has a new theme and set of rules that I’m not real thrilled with — music lyrics. The rule is that I’m supposed to tie my panels of punishing pugilism to a song title or lyric. Well, great, but I’ve got a lousy memory for song titles and even worse for song lyrics. I really doubt I’d be able to consistently come up with songs that match the fights… so I’m gonna go ahead and plan on breaking the rules as often as I need to. Like, for example, today.

So here we’ve got a panel from January 2008’s The Goon #20 by Eric Powell, in which the Goon punches some oversized doofus across the chops:

So I wracked my brain trying to come up with a song to match up with that. I can’t find any lyrics for “Dude, I punched some guy who was taller than me” or “Lookit those teeth fly”. The closest I could come up with was that old kids’ song “Little Bunny Foo Foo,” but the bit where the Good Fairy saying “If you don’t behave, I’ll turn you into a GOON” isn’t even sung, it’s just spoken.

So instead of specific lyrics, let’s just hit the trailer for the upcoming “Dethklok vs. the Goon” one-shot. It’s about the Goon, and it certainly includes music by Dethklok, the most brutal death metal band ever. So I’m calling it a win. Huzzah!

QUICK UPDATE: Hey, I just realized that the music played at the end of the “Dethklok vs. the Goon” trailer is Dethklok’s “Face Fisted” — which actually appears to conform to Spacebooger’s rules. Nevertheless, I’m still declaring this to be a rule-breaker, just to emphasize that I’ll be breaking that rule pretty often, and that none of youse sorry mugs is tough enough to stop me.

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Roll for Initiative!

Maxo at Great Caesar’s Post had a really interesting article yesterday about the perceived rivalries between comics fans and pen-and-paper RPG fans. I fluctuate between thinking Maxo’s right and thinking he’s wrong — while there does seem to be a general rivalry between the two groups, it’s also pretty clear that there’s a lot of bleedover from fans of comics to fans of RPGs.

It all got me thinking about superhero games, too. I’ve only been able to play in one superhero RPG — when I was in college, some friends cracked open a copy of the classic Marvel Super Heroes game, they helped me roll up a character, and we played through a short scenario. When you roll up a random character, you’ll get stuck with some pretty crazy stuff — mine had very high strength, a nearly nonexistent IQ, and an absolutely incredible sense of smell. So I called him Mr. Nosey. (What? It’s a perfectly good superhero name.) I teamed up with SonicAttack (Battle cry: “You can’t stop… SONICATTACK! DAMAGE!”), and we took on Sterno-Man (a former bum who got his fire powers from drinking Sterno) and a fairly ineffectual refugee from a blaxploitation flick called Captain Alphonso Power.

Other than that, I’ve never actually been able to play in a superhero game, despite buying a metric ton of superhero RPG books. I could never get the hang of Champions, which is far and away the most popular superhero game. I always loved the insane detail in the character design process in Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS games, so I liked their GURPS Supers books, even if they were generally low-powered superheroes. I used to fill up stacks of legal pads with GURPS Supers characters, just to fill time after work. But as far as I can tell, I’ve always been the lone GURPShead in every town I’ve ever lived in.

I’ve recently started picking up the Mutants and Masterminds game from Green Ronin Publishing. Again, I haven’t played any games with it, but the books are jam-packed with good stuff, like a cross between the Justice League, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. You get the feeling that they got their inspiration from Grant Morrison’s modern “JLA,” but they also love to throw in cool bits from the Silver Age, like secret cities on the moon, atomic dinosaurs, and evil gorilla geniuses. I think it may be the best superhero RPG system ever, but I don’t know if they’ll ever grab the golden ring away from the Champions RPG.

And I’ve also enjoyed reading the Truth & Justice RPG from Atomic Sock Monkey Games. It’s a much more rules-light system — you get to skip a lot of the time-consuming elements of character creation in favor of just writing down who you are and what you can do (with the gamemaster’s approval, of course). There’s a lot of emphasis on improvisation, both by players and gamemasters, and the rules contain several pages of some of the crazy/cool themes and elements of comics — I suspect that’s just to remind players of some of the wicked-kewl stuff you can do with a superhero game.

So howzabout you? Have you ever gotten to play any superhero RPGs? Which ones are your favorites?

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Mr. and Mrs. Archie Andrews?

So the word on the street is that Archie is getting married.

Archie Andrews is about to make an offer someone can’t refuse. In what Archie Comics is billing as the “Archie Story of the Century,” Hollywood producer and comics writer Michael Uslan (“The Dark Knight,” “The Spirit”) is set to take Riverdale’s resident redhead into the future where he pops the question more than 65 years in making: “Will you marry me?”

Well, he’s not actually getting married, of course, because he’s a cartoon character and is not able to actually get married or sign contracts or purchase stocks and bonds. But even in the world of Archie Comics, he’s not really getting married.

This is a story that starts about five years in the future. And it takes place just as Archie and the Gang graduate from college. So what we do here is take a leap into the future and the device that I use here is similar to what happened back in “Archie Digest” #236. There was a story where Archie meets Archie. Archie walks down memory lane and meets Archie from 1941. This time, he goes up the street rather than down the street and winds up walking smack into his own future.

And it is just, to me, a really, really cool setup where we get to explore what impact, making a decision about who you are going to marry has.

In other words, it’s a publicity stunt, just like Spider-Man getting un-married, just like the new Batman, just like the death of Superman, just like, frankly, “Final Crisis.” It’s there to grab a few extra readers for a month or two, and then it’ll never be mentioned in-continuity again.

I don’t mind a few publicity stunts now and then. I just wish the comics industry was better at designing and publishing them.

Besides, everyone knows Archie would marry Betty. Right?

Everyone knows that.

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Fast and Furious

Tiny Titans #16

Sidekick Elementary’s PE coach is Lobo, which isn’t quite as cool as having Darkseid as a lunch lady, but it comes close. Anyway, Coach Lobo has decided that the best way to get all the students in shape is to have them race all the way around the world, which really isn’t going to be fair for most of the kids. We also get to meet the Tiny Titan version of Bombshell and Mas y Menos.

In addition to that, we also get this deliriously odd panel:

Mmmm, that’s great non sequitur!

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, this is just a very, very fun comic. It’s marketed to kids, but I think it’s a good read no matter how old you are.

Marvel Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1

Another in Marvel’s special comics to commemorate their 70th birthday, this one puts most of its focus on Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch, and the great rivalry they had during the Golden Age. We also get guest starring roles from Toro, the Angel, and Electro — not the Spider-Man villain, but an old robot hero from the ’40s. They’re all fighting Nazi saboteurs (of course) and a bunch of robots that burn with green flames. Once that’s over, we get treated to some reprints of classic Golden Age stories, including one with the Human Torch and another starring a guy called the Ferret, a detective whose gimmick is a trained ferret. Yeah, no kidding — pet ownership used to be enough to get you a comic book series…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The reprints at the back are pretty silly, but the main story is solid work — good script, excellent art, and I love Namor’s near-constant state of offended rage. It’s really too bad that we don’t see that version of the Sub-Mariner very much anymore.

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Capes in Hollywood

Here was my interesting inspiration for the weekend: a fan-made trailer for a “Green Lantern” movie that doesn’t actually exist. It includes snippets from everything from “Serenity” to “Iron Man” to “Star Trek” to “Prince Caspian” — and thanks to really wonderful editing, it all makes sense, and it looks like it would make a wonderful movie. I’d never thought of Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan, but now I think he’d be perfect for the role.

But in the real world, DC can’t seem to get a movie made to save its life. Compare Wikipedia’s list of DC movies to their list of Marvel movies, and it’s pretty clear that Marvel is stomping DC when it comes to getting movies on the big screen. Heck, Marvel is getting actually making sequels of movies that weren’t successes the first time out (like the Hulk and Punisher movies) — and while that may not mean they’re going to win any Oscars any time soon, it also means that when you watch the entertainment programs and read the entertainment mags, they’re all talking about those low-rent Marvel movies. I mean, Joss Whedon, creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly,” and “Dollhouse,” was champing at the bit to make a “Wonder Woman” movie, and DC blew him off. That’s not a publisher who has a single clue about film, don’tcha think?

If DC (and of course, their corporate parent, Warner Brothers) were smart, they’d follow the Marvel method of filmmaking — throw everything you’ve got at the wall and see what sticks. Yes, that means you’ll get some stinkers like “Elektra” and “Daredevil” and the third “Spider-Man” and “X-Men” movies. But holding your fire in the hopes that the third “Batman” movie will again do boffo box office is a great way to guarantee that, even if you make hundreds of millions with that one movie, you’ll still just be a Hollywood also-ran.

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Up the Academy

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #6

The whole team is now in Dallas in 1963, with young Number Five and the Rumor trying to assassinate President Kennedy, and Spaceboy, Kraken, Seance, and old Number Five trying to prevent the shooting. Wait, where is the Rumor anyway? Spaceboy’s group takes down the evil time travelers, and old Number Five shoots the assassins on the grassy knoll — well, he does miss one of them. (Is that too vague? Too bad — trying to prevent spoiling all the fun.) When the team gets back to the present day, they find (luckily) that the Earth hasn’t been destroyed, and that not much has changed. Is it good? Is it bad? Ultimately, it’s neither. It’s just the way things go.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A big powerful ending, with lots of surprises, great characterization, and great art. Great work by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba — hope they can bring this team back for more sometime soon.

Killapalooza #1

What if you had an insanely popular rock band that was also a team of metahuman assassins? They all hate each other and are planning on quitting the band and the hired-killer business, but they’ve got one more job to do, in the midst of all the other rock bands they hate — if they can get out alive.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Not a single appealing character. Very little characterization. Sketchy artwork. Predictable plot. Dull, dull, dull.

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Friday Night Non-Fights: Wait, what?!

Spacebooger has still declared us to be in the hiatus fortnight for Friday Night Fights, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get a little proper brawling in before the weekend, right? Sure, we had some trouble with not being able to get any actual violence in last week, but I got that solved — we’re going with something from January 2008’s The Goon #20 by Eric Powell. It’s the roughenest, toughenest, rootinest, tootinest scrap-happy comic there is, so I’m sure there’s gotta be something terrifically brutal in here.


No, wait, I mean, wha?

Alright, that did severe violence to my brain. That counts, doesn’t it?

Y’all have a merry weekend, despite the lack of fisticuffs.

Dangit, now I want a ham sandwich…

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Double Buck

I picked up a couple of comics yesterday starring people named either Buck or Bucky. Sometimes, the themes just fall into your lap. Let’s see how they shaped up…

Captain America #50

James “Bucky” Barnes, better known as the current Captain America, as well as the old Captain America’s original sidekick, is getting chased by a bunch of armored terrorists — not the best way to spend his birthday. And really, that’s about it as far as the plot goes — most of this is taken up with flashbacks to some of Bucky’s earlier birthdays during World War II, including one in the stockade and one with him, Cap, the Human Torch, and Toro being attacked by Nazi ubermensch.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yeah, not a lot of plot, but the action is outstanding, the flashbacks are grand fun, and the dialogue and characterization are first-rate. Ed Brubaker and Luke Ross are really producing a great comic book here.

Buck Rogers #0

It took me a while to realize that this one was sitting by the counter with a price tag of just 25 cents. It’s embarrassing that it took me so long to pick up on a bargain like that.

A preview issue for a new ongoing series about the sci-fi hero, this one starts with Buck captured by invading aliens who are actually giant-sized cells. He’s able to give them the slip for a while, but they’re on the verge of conquering the Earth. Will Buck Rogers have to sacrifice himself to save the planet?

Verdict: Thumbs up, mainly because it’s just a quarter. A quarter! That’s almost as good as “All in color for a dime”! Not entirely sure I’m enthused about the story — excellent artwork, interesting aliens, but I’m not sure there’s enough in this preview to give me the ammo to recommend it or not.

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The Legion of Super Pets?


Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1

Ohh, I had to get this one.

We start out with Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four visiting the Inhumans to discuss finding the massively powerful Infinity Gems to make sure they’re never brought together. However, unbeknownst to anyone else, the Inhumans’ oversized teleporting dog Lockjaw has already found the Mind Gem. Unable to get the Inhumans or Mr. Fantastic to pay any attention to him, Lockjaw decides to use the gem’s telepathic powers to assemble a team of animal superheroes to locate the rest of the gems, recruiting a new version of Frog Thor, Kitty Pryde’s dragon Lockheed, the Falcon’s falcon Redwing, Speedball’s cat Hairball, and Aunt May’s dog Ms. Lion. Once the team’s assembled, they’re off to the Savage Land to see if they can find some Infinity Gems before the dinosaurs do…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s very silly, and I’m in favor of a few silly comics from time to time. Frog Thor’s origin is a bit long, but I guess they figured they needed it to differentiate him from the real Thor that got turned into a frog (a story from Walt Simonson’s classic run on “Thor” that had the God of Thunder getting transformed by his evil brother Loki — read Khairul’s summary for all the details). The characterization is pretty good — Redwing is arrogant, Hairball is the team’s bad boy, Lockheed is still mourning Kitty Pryde, and almost everything Ms. Lion says is hilarious. Not much of a plot yet, but I trust that’ll develop some more now that all our characters have been introduced.


Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #11

Loki gets a frost giant and a fire demon to attack Thor and New York City. Thor manages to persuade the frost giant that Loki is using him for evil purposes, and they team up to defeat the demon.

Verdict: Ehh, thumbs down. The “Marvel Adventures” line is designed for all-ages readers, so I’m not expecting the most complicated storylines in the world, but this one was just a bit too lightweight for my tastes.

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