Archive for June, 2009

Friday Night Fights: Monkey Mayhem!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the weekend! As always, we prefer to kick things off with a little gratuitous buttstompage in the form of… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight, we get our fisticuffs from August 1999’s The Flash #151 by Joe Casey, Duncan Rouleau, and Aaron Sowd, as Kid Flash gets slapped around by Montague, one of the intelligent apes from Gorilla City:


And for our musical accompaniment tonight, we’ll head for the bright, shining lights of Broadway!

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The Golden Age of Beating up Nazis

Marvel’s having its 70th birthday, so it seems like all their comics are including references to their characters from World War II…

Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #37

It’s 1954, and Miss America and Golden Girl have discovered that Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, and Toro have all gone missing. When the Whizzer (Heh.) disappears before their eyes, they follow him through a time portal to find themselves in the modern day, where the villainous Puppet Master is controlling the Golden Age heroes with plans to send them back to the past to take over the world for him. Wolverine, Spider-Man, and the modern-day Captain America show up to help out, but they’ve got their hands full with just the Whizzer (Heh.) — how are they going to handle it when the Sub-Mariner, Human Torch, and Toro show up?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Dario Brizuela provides a different art style than we’ve usually seen on this comic, but it works out quite well. And Paul Tobin’s dialogue is plenty of fun, especially the way Wolverine keeps making fun of the Whizzer’s name.

Sub-Mariner Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1

We get three different stories about Marvel’s Golden Age bad boy. The first one, written by Roy Thomas his ownself and beautifully illustrated by Mitch Breitweiser, focuses on Namor being tempted to join up with the Germans. The second is a somewhat pulpy story about Namor fighting Nazis with the aid of a female American pilot and a giant squid. But the third is the real prize — Bill Everett’s very first “Sub-Mariner” story from 1939’s Marvel Comics #1, starring a particularly rotten version of Namor killing divers and wrecking a recovery ship.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Three excellent stories — ain’t nothing to complain about.

Miss America Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1

Well, while the character on the cover is blonde, the Miss America in the lead story is very definitely brunette. And she wears glasses. Even in her superhero costume. Definitely makes for a unique look. Most of the action involves Miss America undercover at an American shipyard snooping out some Nazi saboteurs. After that, there are two classic stories starring the Whizzer (Heh.) and a short feature called “Let’s Play Detective.”

Verdict: Thumbs down. I enjoyed the first story alright, but for a character as obscure as Miss America, we should’ve gotten a little background on her — something other than “She’s strong, she flies, she wears glasses, she’s engaged to the Whizzer.” But what killed the fun on this one was the backup stories — they just weren’t interesting or exciting.

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The Horror of it All


The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft #2

Two ruffians have ended up dead, horribly mutilated by… something, and the only evidence points to wallflower weird-tales writer H.P. Lovecraft, who, luckily, has an alibi — he was at home asleep, and the dead guys had his watch because they stole it from them the previous day. But Lovecraft knows something is wrong — he hears ominous voices and sees evil visions when he looks at an ancient book in the university library, and he knows that his resentment of the muggers is what caused them to be killed. And right on schedule, his romantic rival for the heart of his ex-girlfriend shows up, bullies him, gloats at him, and kicks him out of the library. And just like before, Lovecraft goes to sleep, has horrific dreams, and wakes up knowing that his nightmares are literally coming true. So Lovecraft — who really is in no way a man of action — heads over to his rival’s house to try to save him from the otherdimensional horrors trying to eat him. Can Lovecraft save his rival? And even if he can, will he be able to stop the cthulhoid monstrosities from eating the rest of the city?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The impressionistic art style is working very well for the story, and the monster designs have been unexpectedly good. I do hope they can keep this going for the rest of the miniseries, because it’s been a great deal of fun so far.


B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs #3

In a story set before the current storyarc, Liz Sherman, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense’s pyrokinetic badass, has been struck by a strange malaise after leading a series of successful but very, very destructive raids against the frogs, the amphibious toad-like monsters who have been the most prominent baddies through nearly all of Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” comics. Is her sickness a matter of burnout? A disease caused by the frogs? Or something worse?

Verdict: Thumbs up. We don’t get to see Liz setting fires and kicking ass nearly enough, so this is plenty of fun, while also serving as a prequel to more current “B.P.R.D.” storylines.

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Where Walks the Cyber Bear!


Buck Rogers #1

I wasn’t actually planning on picking this one up, but I flipped through it and found one specific thing that guaranteed I’d be bringing it home.

This is essentially a new, rebooted origin for Buck Rogers, the swashbuckling sci-fi pulp hero who got his start back in the late ’20s. Much of the story is fairly familiar — hot-headed pilot Buck Rogers is accidentally put into suspended animation aboard his experimental spaceship and wakes up several hundred years in the future. Not knowing where (or when) he is, he crashlands his ship in a convenient stretch of forest and is rescued by Colonel Wilma Deering. Unfortunately, they’re both stuck in a hunting zone used by an organization called the Pack, and they both get attacked by one of the Pack hunters…


Let that soak in — a cybernetically enhanced grizzly bear with a raygun.

Yes, welcome to your shiny, futuristic new home in Awesometown.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, yes, the cyber-bear is fun, but as for the rest of the story… I’m cautiously optimistic. So far, the writing is solid and the art is solid. Can they keep this going, with or without awesome cyber-bears? Let’s hope so.


Secret Six #10

The Six get hired by someone claiming to be their old benefactor, Mockingbird, to escort a large and dangerous-looking box to a jungle compound. It quickly becomes clear (to the readers, particularly, if not the team itself) that the folks who just hired them are particularly cruel slavers, willing to execute any number of their workers just to punish a single rebellious slave. Of course, the Six aren’t really very nice people — they’re doing the job so they can get paid, not because they want to work with fine, upstanding citizens. But do the slavers have some unpleasant plans for the Six themselves? On top of that, Scandal Savage and Bane continue to grow closer, and the extremely weird romance between Deadshot and Jeanette keeps getting weirder.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Our main villains’ ruthlessness is demonstrated very brutally in the first four pages of the comic, and again, more unexpectedly, in the last two. These are definitely rotten customers, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that a few of them get entertainingly killed before the end of the storyarc. Also, excellent dialogue and characterization for Bane, Scandal, Deadshot, and Jeanette.

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There Are No Super Dogs


More proof that stupid people are everywhere, and that they tend to gravitate toward positions of authority. Multiple people have been convicted and imprisoned for decades because of the “testimony” of a supposedly superpowered (in other words, very well-trained) police dog.

Last weekend, we looked at the case of Bill Dillon, the Brevard County resident imprisoned for 27 years before DNA tests set him free…

At least two other men suffered the same fate — and another shared link: a dog.

Not just any dog. A wonder dog helped convict all three men: a German shepherd named Harass II, who wowed juries with his amazing ability to place suspects at the scenes of crimes.

Harass could supposedly do things no other dog could: tracking scents months later and even across water, according to his handler, John Preston.

Especially depressing: Florida authorities aren’t gonna go to any trouble to let falsely convicted prisoners go. “Hey, it’s not the state’s fault that they were convicted because of false evidence provided by the state, right? That’s someone else’s fault, somewhere, we don’t know who. Just don’t sue us, that’s all we ask. Bad enough that our artificially inflated conviction records don’t look as good, but heaven forfend that we should pay any penalty for monkeywrenching some poor stooge’s life…”

Besides the falsely convicted folks, I gotta admit I feel sorry for the dog. Ain’t his fault his trainer lied about his talents and used him unethically.

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Glub Glub Glub


Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #12

Captain America and Rick Jones are investigating Hydra and snooping around the Hydra homepage, which is full of happy families singing Hydra’s praises and an adorably mascot called Hydra Boy. Cap doesn’t really understand or trust this new-fangled “Internet” thingamabob — and with good reason, because Hydra is able to use webcams to recognize Cap and teleport him and Rick into the Internet itself! While Hydra Boy uses his abilities to alter the website’s environment to vex Cap, Rick sets out behind the scenes to phone for help and figure out how to alter the website himself. In the end, of course, Cap and Rick escape, riding a big search-engine locomotive.

There’s also a backup story, set stateside during WWII, in which Cap and Bucky fight this guy:


A prototype MODOK!

That’s really all I can say about it. Prototype MODOK! Whooo!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Hydra Boy was an amusingly nasty villain, and the story contained a wealth of great visual puns about the Internet. And again — Prototype MODOK!


Captain Britain and MI-13 Annual #1

One of the last issues of this comic we’ll see, as Marvel has already announced that they’ve cancelled it. Cancelling really outstanding comics seems to be the very favorite thing for comic publishers to do.

There are two stories here, the first focusing on Meggan, the mutant shapeshifter who used to be married to Captain Britain. Most of the story is a retrospective on her history, from her childhood, where she frequently got into trouble for accidentally using her shapeshifting powers to reflect back what people thought of her (at one point turning into a cartoonish stereotyped image of a Gypsy crone when someone accuses her family of being Roma) to her accidental imprisonment in Hell. However, she’s the only non-tormented soul in Hell, very optimistic and hopeful, which unnerves the rulers of Hell so much that they trick her into using her empathetic powers to let everyone in Hell shape her appearance. Once she’s been turned into a deformed monster, they exile her to a distant part of Hell, where she ends up leading a revolt, receives her first-ever superhero name, and meets up with Dr. Doom.

The second story puts the spotlight on Captain Britain as the rest of the MI-13 team spends an afternoon playing cricket. It’s a pretty amusing story — Blade can’t seem to pitch the ball correctly (Is “pitch” the right word? I know nothing about cricket.), Faiza Hussein is a cricket fanatic, and Spitfire uses very weird British slang.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More emphasis on Meggan than I would’ve expected, but it all seems to work out well. I really don’t understand anything about cricket, but I still thought the second story was funny. Sure, I didn’t understand very much of it because it was grounded so deeply in British culture, but I still enjoyed it.

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Friday Night Fights: Everything Louder than Everything Else!

Another week gone by, another weekend ready to start. You roused up enough for it? No, I don’t think you are roused up enough for this weekend. You need one little boost to get you ready. You need one little bottlerocket shoved under your tailbone. You need a big, thick steamin’ bowl of FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

And if tonight’s battle don’t get you roused up for action and mayhem, then it ain’t even possible to rouse you anymore. From September 2008’s Hellboy: The Crooked Man #3 by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben: Hellboy hits a diabolical spirit called the Crooked Man with… a consecrated shovel!




Our musical accompaniment for tonight? I had some trouble with it — couldn’t find any lyrics at all having to do with consecrated shovels, and that was really the big sticking point. You’d think that, at some point, some ambitious death metal band, or maybe Elvis, woulda written a song about hitting monsters with a consecrated shovel, but I guess not.

Finally, I was just looking at the panels, and it just came to me. Any time you need to convey, through music, what it’s like when a reformed, angst-ridden demon hits a misshapen, top-hatted monstrosity with a holy consecrated shovel so hard that everything EXPLODES… you must, absolutely must, dial up Marvin Lee Aday to provide the soundtrack.

Turn it up loud, and have a great weekend.

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Nothing Matters but the Blue Beetle

Booster Gold #21

Rip Hunter is acting mysterious, Booster meets Nightwing/Batman, and the Black Beetle makes an appearance.

Okay, that’s enough of that. It’s an alright story — and it’s a lot better than most recent “Booster Gold” stories — but no one cares about Booster. What’s important is the backup story.

The backup story stars Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle.

Good gravy, how much have I missed this guy?

We get Jaime, Paco, and Brenda hanging around a burger joint wondering why superheroes don’t get their own henchmen when the city is attacked by a giant yellow robot bellowing “THINKO! IS UNSTOPPABLE!” and “DESTROY ALL HUMANS!”After Jaime (eventually) destroys THINKO!, the gang learns that it originally attacked El Paso during World War II. They disguise themselves as reporters and head off to question the son of the robot’s creator, who is in jail for building his own evil robot called Unimate. He has no idea who’d rebuild his dad’s machine and crows fiendishly about the superiority of Unimate. Suspicious? Maybe a bit — especially when a horde of Unimate robots appear and try to destroy El Paso…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again, the Booster Gold story was okay, but holy guacamole, did I ever enjoy the Blue Beetle story. I picked up this comic not expecting a whole lot from it, but the very first page of the backup was a colossal reminder of how awesome the “Blue Beetle” comic was, and of how much we’ve lost as comic readers now that it’s been cancelled. Everything from the great dialogue and chemistry between Jaime and his friends to the outstandingly mad THINKO! robot was just picture-perfect classic “Blue Beetle.” Not to wish anything bad on “Booster Gold,” ’cause I still get enjoyment out of the series, but really, “Blue Beetle” should be the lead feature. That’s all there is to it.

Astro City: The Dark Age, Book Three #2

Royal Williams is trying to lay low and avoid Pyramid Agents, the local criminal syndicates, and his brother Charles, who, as a member of E.A.G.L.E., is becoming more obsessed with the high-ranking Pyramid Agent who killed the brothers’ parents. And all around them, the world is becoming a bleaker, more brutal place, right down to the formerly noble and merciful superheroes. The Williams brothers are wedged in the middle of this powderkeg — will they be able to survive when the sparks start flying?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love the way the tension here is slowly ratcheting upwards. Royal Williams really is a very interesting character — but the way things are going, who knows what the future holds for him or anyone else in this story?

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Dragons and Dungeons

PS238 #39

Alec Kent used to be a normal kid with a talent for art and mathematics, but after taking a trip to another universe a couple issues ago, he emerged with the ability to draw pictures and patterns that have magical properties. As a result, he gets introduced to the metahuman kids at PS238, where he’ll soon be enrolled as a student. Tyler Marlocke takes him on a short tour — he points out spellcasting teacher Vashti Imperia’s office, which has been blocked off by a magical brick wall ever since her mysterious disappearance. Unfortunately, Alec draws one of his teleportation patterns on the brick wall and goes after her — Tyler follows, after putting on his Moon Shadow costume. What they find on the other side is a magical fantasy world of castles and adventurers and witches and a very large, angry dragon. They also run into a little girl named Vashti Imperia — not a de-aged Vashti, but her actual younger self — Alec and Moon Shadow have traveled in time to a magic-based “Heroic Age.”

Of course, they run into the older Vashti Imperia, disguised as a wicked witch, but they also run into some unexpected guest stars: the fantasy misadventurers from PS238 creator Aaron Williams’ other humor comic, “Nodwick.” Besides the big-schnozzed, sensible, and frequently-killed henchman Nodwick, they include Yeager the musclebound fighter, Atrax, a wizard with an outrageous mustache, Rowan, a hyper-aggressive ranger, and the bespectacled cleric Piffany.

Alec and Moon Shadow have to keep from getting shish-kebabed by Nodwick’s trigger-happy crew, get Ms. Imperia back to the school, and make sure the younger Vashti gets properly rescued… all while avoiding the aforementioned very large, angry dragon.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A great introductory story for Alec, a great return for Vashti Imperia, and a pretty cool crossover for Nodwick and his crew. The big climax of the story is actually pretty epic and dramatic — big props for Aaron Williams’ artistic and storytelling skills. This one is hard to find, but it’s worth the effort for you to track it down.

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Simone Says

In the mood for a non-comic-book book review about comics and comedy by the funniest ex-hairdresser to ever write a comic book?

You’ll All Be Sorry! by Gail Simone

Before Gail Simone began writing comics like “Birds of Prey,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Secret Six,” she wrote a weekly humor column at Comic Book Resources called “You’ll All Be Sorry!” Her satires and parodies were extremely popular, both with comics fans and with comics creators. And it took ’em almost ten years to get those columns collected into a single book.

We actually have a number of Simone’s original columns, plus some new material. So we get: ridiculous Batman fanfiction by Brendan “Nightwing” Hockenberry and Fern Rosario; the softer side of the Punisher; a teen romance comic script starring an innocent high school girl and a quasi-mystical and heavily bearded British comic book writer; the secret history of the Hulk’s time with the Beatles; a dating guide by misogynist lunatic Dave Sim; a blog by Galactus, Eater of Worlds; and the epic tale of “Conan and Hobbes.”

In addition, there are a number of “Condensed Comics Classics” scattered throughout the book. These are (mostly) short, (mostly) funny summaries of comic series, written by the actual creators of the comics. In other words, the summary of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” (condensed to about six lines) was actually written by Marv Wolfman.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Only one or two duds, and the rest are consistently hilarious. If you can find it, get it. Heck, if you can’t find it, get it anyway. Borrow it, order it, steal it, whatever it takes.

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