Archive for June, 2009

Thank Heaven for Super Girls

Power Girl #2

The Ultra-Humanite has captured Power Girl and is holding New York City hostage — by suspending it high above the earth and threatening to drop it. Ultra’s plan is to transplant his brain into Power Girl’s head, which PeeGee is not real happy about. Extended fisticuffs occur, the Big Apple panics, the Justice Society tries to maintain order, and Ultra tells Power Girl the latest version of his origin, in which he started out as a very sickly genius but, with the help of the kinkiest femme fatale ever, was reborn in the body of the mutant albino gorilla he now lives in. Finally, Ultra has drained her of enough solar radiation to allow him to start cutting into her skull — is there any way for Power Girl to get out of this?

Verdict: Thumbs up, but I gotta quibble about the Ultra-Humanite’s new origin — it leaves out a lot of the creepiest elements of Ultra’s traditional origins, like his co-opting of Hollywood starlet Delores Winters’ body in the ’40s. However, I love the characterizations of the employees in Starrware Industries while they worry about the world falling apart around them.

Wonder Woman #33

Wondy’s gravely injured, but she’s made it back to Themyscira — just in time for an attack by giant monsters. The Amazons fight the monsters, and eventually, Wondy joins them, after having her lasso and an ax taped to her hands, ’cause she’s too injured to hold them properly. In the end, the monsters are driven off, Ares apparently takes a mortal wound to the face, and Zeus appoints Achilles as the new ruler of Themyscira. Will Wonder Woman bother sticking around after all this?

Verdict: Thumbs down. The storyline was far, far, far too long, and for very little payoff. No one expects the Amazons to be out of power on Paradise Island for long, so this whole diversion is particularly pointless.

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2 Brave 2 Bold


The Brave and the Bold #23

We start out this issue of DC’s semi-venerable team-up comic with Booster Gold fishing Rip Hunter out of a future timestream where he’s battling someone who appears to be the new Magog from the “Justice Society of America” comic. This soon leads to a confrontation between the two after Magog involves himself in a hostage crisis in Kahndaq. Magog is pretty good at tearing terrorists’ arms off, but he’s not so good on little details, like where bombs are located, or where child hostages are. Booster is a good deal better with those sorts of details, but he’s not the sort of guy who can intimidate a hardcore badass like Magog.

Verdict: Ehh, I want to like it, but thumbs down. The main problem is that there’s no connection between Booster and Magog — it comes across as an entirely random meeting. That’s worked just fine in previous B&B comics, but here, there’s just no common ground. Magog meeting Guy Gardner would’ve worked — they’re both tough guys, but there are still enough differences between them to allow for plenty of friction. By the same token, I could see a good story coming about from a meeting between Booster and the JSA’s current Starman — both come from the future, and it would be fun to see Booster try to deal with Starman’s various mental illnesses.


The Brave and the Bold #24

This issue does it right — Black Lightning and Static. You get two African-American heroes, both electricity-slingers. One is the older, more established character, while the other is from the newly re-introduced Milestone Comics universe. The conflict here is that Jefferson Pierce used to be a Cabinet member in former President Lex Luthor’s administration, and so Static suspects him of being crooked. So does another Milestone character — the pyrokinetic gangster Holocaust, who’s willing to roast both heroes alive just so he’ll look tough.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good characterization, good action, excellent art by Howard Porter. All in all, a fun comic. The next several “Brave and the Bold” comics will spotlight Milestone characters — I hope they give all of them the great treatment they give Static here.

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Friday Night Fights: Explosivo!

Okay, all together now. What day is it? What time is it? What are we here for? June 26th Evening Watered-Down Margaritas? Wrong answer! It’s FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Our panel of pulverizin’ pain comes from October/November 1946’s Batman #37 by Jerry Robinson and an unknown writer, as Robin hits a guy so hard his heart explodes.

That is one seriously hardcore teen sidekick.

Tonight’s musical accompaniment comes from England’s most awesomely symphonic and theatrical rockers. Everybody on your feet for Queen!

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No, wait, that’s not it.


That’s not it either.


Ah, there we go.

Well, gee, that was weird, wasn’t it? Like pretty much everyone else around my age, I grew up listening to Michael Jackson. The “Thriller” album really is just about the most perfect pop album ever, after years of amazing pop-soul hits with the Jackson 5. And the guy made some of the best and most iconic music videos ever. I think the “Thriller” album my sister and I bought when we were kids is still around (It’s stored at my parents’ house, ’cause they’ve got a stereo cabinet that was built for storing vinyl albums. Come to think of it, they’ve got an actual fer-realz record player, and none of us kids do), not that we’ve listened to much of it in ages. I’ve got the song “Thriller” on my Halloween mix-tape, but that’s about it.

Of course, I’ve avoided thinking about MJ in years — pretty much for the same reason I avoid thinking about Carrot Top, Andy Dick, Amy Winehouse, the Coreys, or anyone on reality TV — why waste precious brainspace on someone whose existence has become one long, painful slog of embarrassment?

So yeah, an awful way to go out, after a really awful decade of seemingly non-stop, self-inflicted humiliations. I’ll try to dwell on the awesome stuff he did instead

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Hextra Credit

Tiny Titans #17

There’s a lot of stuff happening this issue. First, Raven shows off her new book of magic spells by summoning Mr. Mxyzptlk. The gang then repeatedly steals his hat, calls him an elf, and after he disappears, re-summons him over and over, just to wart him. Later, Beast Boy, Robin, and Cyborg match wits with a cow that has stolen Batman’s cape and cowl — and of course, they actually call it the “Battle for the Cow.” Robin later celebrates his birthday as his friends get him a whole bunch of new costumes, ranging from his Earth-2 uniforms, a couple of Tim Drake’s costumes, a couple different Nightwing uniforms (one with a detachable ponytail) and even the Carrie Kelly Robin costume from “The Dark Knight Returns.” And finally, Cyborg gets excluded from a sidekick picnic because he’s not a sidekick.

Verdict: Yet another thumbs up. I still think this is DC’s most consistently fun all-ages comic. As always, it’s full of cute cartooning, funny plots and dialogue, the goofiest sound effects around, and unexpectedly bizarre moments. It’s a great comic for kids of all ages, and it’s also fun for grownups who enjoy a nice fat dose of silliness.

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Sketching out your Week


It’s been a while since I plugged any of the Lubbock Sketch Club’s weekly activities, so let’s get that out of the way right now…

Every Saturday evening is Sketch Night. Basically, a bunch of folks show up Saturdays from 7-10 p.m. at the Freebird’s restaurant at 4930 S. Loop 289 with paper and pencils. They draw stuff, critique each other, visit, drink sodas, and generally hang out and enjoy exercising their artistic muscles. Anyone is welcome — just come out, shake some hands, make some sketches, and get to know the folks in the club.

The other regular weekly event is the Figure Drawing Group, which meets every Wednesday from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Lubbock Municipal Garden and Arts Center at 44th Street and University. Ya can’t be an artist without learning how to draw the human body, and that’s what the Figure Drawing Group is there for. Giggly dorks should stay home — there are live models, some weeks clothed, some unclothed, and this is for serious artists who are working to improve their artistic skills. E-mail Robert Garza for more info.

The Lubbock Sketch Club is always looking for new members — get in touch with them today, make some new friends, and learn how to become a better artist.

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Iran So Far Away

I’ve been avoiding opening my big mouth about the recent contested Iranian election — I know so little about the situation over there, and I don’t want to be just another loudmouthed American shouter who thinks he’s an expert just because he’s read some blogs. I know there are a lot of folks out there who think Twittering about the Iranian election is their contribution to Iranian freedom, which honestly strikes me as colossally self-inflating: “I twittered about the election and re-colored my blog green in solidarity! That makes me a freedom-fighter even though I’m in no danger of being shot by Iranian soldiers!” Ya get right down to it, there ain’t a single thing any Americans can do to influence this, no matter how much we might wish we could — it’s ultimately all down to the Iranian people.

Oh, okay, I’ve got two observations about the Iranian election.

  • First, you remember Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the opposition candidate who officially lost the election but probably got it stolen from him, right? Not many people seem to realize that he was actually a member of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s government right after the revolution. So, yeah, almost certainly a better guy than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but no pure driven angel either.
  • Second, sorry to say it, but Ahmadinejad is a hard word to say. You think if we can trick him into saying his name backwards, he’ll disappear into the Fifth Dimension for 90 days?

Okay, seriously, some of y’all may remember last year when I reviewed Marjane Satrapi’s brilliant graphic novel “Persepolis” — Satrapi was in the news just a few days ago after presenting a document she thinks proves the election was fraudulent.

“Ahmadinejad received only 12 percent of the vote, not 65 percent,” said Satrapi, according to Adnkronos. She and Makhmalbaf presented the document, which they claimed came directly from the Iranian electoral commission, to the Green Party MPs in the European parliament.

Satrapi and Makhmalbaf believe that the democratic process in Iran was derailed when election results were ignored and replaced with fraudulent results naming Ahmadinejad as the winner with more than 65 percent of the vote.

Satrapi, who was born in Iran to Marxist parents, discussed her personal and family histories in the country in “Persepolis” and has gone on to compose two more graphic novels “Embroideries” and “Chicken with Plums,” the latter of which she and director Vincent Paronnaud are seeking to adapt into a live-action film.

Also, let me throw in one more plug for “Persepolis” — there’s obviously no info about this most recent election, but Satrapi’s graphic novel is definitely a great way to learn more about the Iranian people and see some of the ways that the last three decades of history have influenced them and their culture. I visited some of the local bookstores this weekend, and they look like they stocked up with a lot of extra copies of “Persepolis” — I reckon they think folks might be interested in an accessible and entertaining introduction to the Iranian people. Go out and pick up a copy today.

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Jurassic Dog Park

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #2

The Pet Avengers — namely, the Inhumans’ teleporting dog Lockjaw, a new version of Frog Thor, the Falcon’s falcon Redwing, Speedball’s cat Hairball, Kitty Pryde’s dragon Lockheed, and Aunt May’s dog Ms. Lion — visit the Savage Land and get a new member: Ka-Zar’s sabretoothed tiger Zabu. They all travel to the distant past to retrieve one of the Infinity Gems — and they tangle with none other than the great Devil Dinosaur to get it. Can they all get the gem, avoid Devil Dinosaur, and return to the present? Or are they going to have to leave some team members behind?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is a great deal of fun, with great characterization. And hey, Devil Dinosaur! Everyone loves Devil Dinosaur!

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #5

This is the first issue of this series without Mike Kunkel running the show — his stuff is wonderful, but he works slow, which makes it hard to keep a monthly series coming out every month. So this time, the art is provided by Byron Vaughns, with script by Art Baltazar and Franco, creators of the “Tiny Titans” and “Patrick the Wolf Boy” series.

After Captain Marvel saves a school bus, Billy Batson finds that his alter ego has gotten a little old-hat — WHIZ-TV needs new footage for their newscasts. Luckily (or unluckily), the imprisoned Dr. Sivana picks that moment to unleash his giant robot, Mr. Atom, on the city. Can Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel shut Mr. Atom down without getting themselves — or the city — blown up in the process?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Baltazar and Franco’s story and script aren’t nearly as complex or wordy as Kunkel’s usually were, but it does make an interesting change. And Vaughns’ artwork is close enough to Kunkel’s usual style to keep everyone happy. So seriously, why hasn’t this comic been turned into a cartoon yet? There’s not much doubt it’d make an awesome cartoon…

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The Unwritten #2

Tom Taylor is the son of the vanished Wilson Taylor, who wrote the highly popular Tommy Taylor novels, about a boy wizard’s adventures. Usedta be, everyone thought Wilson Taylor just used his son’s name as a laugh — but now, a lot of people think Tom is the real Tommy Taylor. Tom isn’t happy about this — he liked being able to make money on his close relationship to the novels, but having a lot of crazies who think he’s a messiah isn’t a lot of fun. So he sets out to find out if he’s really Wilson Taylor’s son or if he’s the son of Romanian parents who gave him to Wilson Taylor to use as a prop.

But Tom is definitely down the rabbit hole now. He’s being stalked by a hitman who has the ability to reduce anything to liquified words. He questions his father’s ex-mistress, who gives him a short and very unnerving lesson in magic and the nature of truth and the universe. And a trip to his old family home in Switzerland reveals some very unpleasant memories and an unusual tattoo he’s gotten on his hand. Is Tom Taylor being victimized by a powerful conspiracy? Or is he really a grown-up boy wizard from a fictional universe?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is developing into an excellent mystery. Tom, with his funny obsession with literary geography, makes an entertaining sleuth, even if he keeps missing the really interesting clues that happen after he’s done questioning someone. The Harry Potter-esque story that goes on in the background of the story is also a lot of fun. And yes, I’m very glad I’m reading this one — it promises a lot of good stuff down the road.

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The Secrets of Calvinism


I’ve talked plenty of times before about how much I love Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip, but as much as I love it, there’s not much doubt that Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” was the best strip ever. In its short ten-year run, it set standards for art, creativity, and humor that haven’t yet been matched by anyone — and may never be matched, considering the sorry state of newspaper comic strips nowadays. Watterson’s strip was so popular that he was allowed uncommon leeway in how “Calvin and Hobbes” was displayed on the page, and no strip since then has been able to command that level of popularity. It’s hard to imagine that any strip ever will…

Anyway, just a short post today, mainly to direct your attention to this excellent page covering some of Bill Watterson’s rarest creations — editorial cartoons, T-shirts, cartoons of himself, a few Calvin strips that have never been reprinted, and much more. Go check it out.

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