Archive for December, 2009

Comics Smorgasbord


Tiny Titans #23

Robin’s having to share his home with a whole lot of penguins and bunnies. Bad enough they’re filling his bathtub with ice and trying to get him to eat carrots and fish for breakfast, but they’ve scared all the bats out of the Batcave. And Batman wants his bats back in the Batcave ASAP! Can Batgirl, Batmite, two familiar toddlers, and a bunch of miniature Batman costumes fool the Dark Knight Detective? And where did all those bats go anyway?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an awesome and hilarious story, and that should be enough, but then Baltazar and Franco show us, on the Bat-Computer, the Tiny Titans version of Two-Face:


That may be the coolest Two-Face ever.

And there’s this:



The Tiny Titans versions of Jason Todd and Tim Drake, the first two post-Dick Grayson Robins. I laughed out loud when I saw that. Does this mean we can look forward to Stepanie Brown, Damian Wayne, and Carrie Kelly showing up in “Tiny Titans”?

Batgirl #5

There are a series of arsons targeting a building development on the rougher end of Gotham, and Batgirl tracks down the arsonist, a weirdo named Diesel who has gasoline for blood. Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson and bratty Damian Wayne) show up to grab the glory, and to stop Diesel from torching Robin, Batgirl hits both of them with some freeze-arangs. As expected, this makes both Dick and Damian very snippy, which makes Barbara Gordon, Stephanie’s mentor, very snippy. Once they’re off the clock, Barbara meets a cop that her dad is trying to set her up with and proceeds to get snippy on him for no real reason, and Stephanie spies on a dishy classmate whose dad may be involved in shady business connected to the arsons. Stephanie later has an amusing argument with Damian and tries to meet up with her classmate for an improvised date, only to run into a bunch of kidnappers with murder on their minds.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding dialogue, funny situations, and top-notch superheroics. Stephanie is an extremely charming lead, Barbara is almost as much fun as she was in “Birds of Prey,” and even the normally insufferable Damian comes across as merely a ten-year-old pill. This book is getting some of the best buzz of any DC series right now, and it’s still early in its run, so there’s time for you to jump aboard and enjoy the ride.


Secret Six #16

The Six get hired to help a serial killer escape from the police? But it turns out that one of his victims actually hired the Six, so too bad about your drastically shortened lifespan, Mr. Serial Killer! But they’ve been found out by Black Alice, a somewhat nutty gothpunk with the power to duplicate the powers of any magic-based superhero or villain. And she’s willing to blackmail them into letting her join the group. They stop off at the nudie bar where Scandal’s sweetie works when the rest of the team shows up and tells Alice to get lost. Then the cops show up, Black Alice steals Jeanette’s banshee powers and beats up on the cops… and the rest of the Six. Is there any way to calm her down and get her to lay off?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good grief, Black Alice is awesome. I mean, the rest of the group is fine — Ragdoll gets to crack his usual ton of great one-liners. But Black Alice is just the bee’s knees.

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The Princess and the Frogs


Power Girl #7

We start out on the planet Valeron, where Vartox, a Superman-like hero who made his original debut in the 1970s (and who dresses like Sean Connery in the utterly mad sci-fi flick “Zardoz“) fights off a bunch of alien yeti space pirates. But the battle was just a distraction for the pirates’ real attack — the detonation of a contraceptive bomb! A contraceptive bomb?! Yep, and everyone on Valeron except for Vartox has been sterilized — their race is doomed to die out… unless Vartox can find himself a suitable mate. And of course, he chooses a certain busty, superpowered blonde living on Earth.

And speaking of Power Girl, she and Doctor Mid-Nite are chasing a supervillain named the Blue Snowman, who is some crazy person in a powered armor suit who shoots ice from her cyber-hat and cyber-pipe. Unsurprisingly, the Blue Snowman is no great challenge. That’s when Vartox shows up in a giant floating robot head (Just like “Zardoz”! You think they’re going with a theme here?) and shoots Kara with something called “Seduction Musk,” which, luckily, doesn’t work on her. And then Vartox unveils a big fang-faced monster called an Ix Negaspike, which he intends to defeat to win Kara’s love. This doesn’t work out at all — it’s entirely indestructible and ravenously hungry. Can PeeGee beat the Ix Negaspike and fend off Vartox’s unwanted advances?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is awesomely funny from beginning to end, with lots of silly touches, like the ridiculously 1960s-70s culture of Vartox’s homeworld (His chancellor is named Groovicus Mellow and the leader of the military is named General Peacemonger) and the ineptness of Blue Snowman. The dialogue between Power Girl and Doctor Mid-Nite is also fun. And as good as Gray and Palmiotti’s writing is, Amanda Conner’s artwork really sells this — great, funny, beautiful art here, everything from facial expressions and body language down to the details of the buildings Vartox gets punched through.


B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs #4

It’s the conclusion of this extended miniseries (just four issues, but spread out over many, many months) as disembodied medium Johann Kraus leads a team of agents from the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense against a cult of the amphibious froggy monsters called the Frogs. While they manage to wipe them out easily, Johann discovers that he is able to see the spirits of the recently deceased Frogs, and they want his help in finding out where their afterlife is. He doesn’t think he can help them — who knows what on earth Heaven is like to murderous unnatural frog monsters? — but once they start making other BPRD members deathly sick, he agrees to try to help them. Can Johann lead them to their monster paradise successfully? And even if he can, will he be able to escape the other hungry monsters that dwell there?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This was one of my favorite issues of the BPRD series in a while — most of the stories focusing on Johann are interesting, but this one was especially fun, with the focus on trying to find the spiritual realm of things that shouldn’t have souls at all.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Yotsuba&!

I know I’ve got a fair number of readers who aren’t that familiar with comics, and they may be wondering what they could buy their comics-reading friends and family for holiday gifts. OR they may be looking for a good comic that they can read themselves. Let’s take another look into the gift recommendations…

Today, we’re talking Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma. As you might guess from the artwork, this is a Japanese comic book — what is usually called manga (as opposed to anime, which is a Japanese animated cartoon). You’re probably wondering about that funky “&!” at the end of the title — think of it as shorthand for “Yotsuba and (something)!” as every episode of this story is about Yotsuba discovering something and getting excited about it.

Yotsuba is our main character in this one. She’s a six-year-old girl living in a new city with her adopted father, Koiwai. Yotsuba is fantastically enthusiastic and energetic about everything. She loves to draw, even though she’s not very good at it. She loves to swim, even though no one else she knows is very good at it. She loves cicadas, frogs, flowers, fireworks, farms, and festivals. She’s fascinated by all the things you were fascinated with when you were six, if only you could remember what they all were.

Her friends include the family next door, the Ayeses, who are generally bewildered by Yotsuba, but more than willing to be dragged along with her antics and adventures. And there’s Jumbo, her dad’s best friend, who is just a shade under seven feet tall. None of them are as adorably loony as Yotsuba, but they’re all pretty completely cracked.

This is a slice-of-life comedy series. There are no giant robots, tentacle monsters, no evil diaries, no demons, no orange-clad ninja twerps. There’s just Yotsuba and her friends being adorable and awesome. I find something to laugh out loud at in every book, something to smile about in every chapter, and something that’s wonderfully fun on every page. I know, I know, the cynical thing to do is to say it’s just silly kid stuff. But there are no cynics when it comes to this book — I don’t know anyone who hasn’t read it who doesn’t end up loving it.

There are seven or eight volumes of this book out on the shelves now, but here are the first three to get you started. Each one will only cost you about $10, and these days, that’s just ridiculously affordable. If you get it, remember that to Western readers, Japanese manga reads backwards — you start out reading the back of the book and move on to the front, and the panels are meant to be read from right to left, instead of left to right. It can be a little confusing at first, but it’s easy to get adjusted.

Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma. Go pick it up.

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Hex Factor

Jonah Hex #50

I just can’t resist an issue of this comic when Darwyn Cooke is doing the artwork.

Scarred, cynical bounty hunter Jonah Hex is huntin’ down ne’er-do-wells with Tallulah Black, a scarred, one-eyed bounty hunter — and Jonah’s occasional lover. After she gives him the slip the next morning, Jonah is offered a chance to bring in a bunch of new bounties, all at the request of a wealthy oilman. The more he brings in, the more he stands to earn. So he sets off killin’ a bunch of badmen. Meanwhile, Tallulah Black has turned up in a little town called Silver Springs. The sheriff doesn’t trust her, but Tallulah wants to put her past behind her and try to become, if not respectable, at least not a bounty hunter anymore. Elsewhere, the remaining criminals on Jonah’s hit-list confer to figure out a way to get rid of Hex — they decide to invade a small town, run off or kill the residents, and use it as a trap to lure Jonah to his death. The town they pick is Silver Springs.

A few months pass, and we learn that Tallulah’s pregnant with Jonah’s child, she’s building herself a home, and getting along with most of the Silver Springs folks, except for the religious nut who helps run the dress shop. And right about time Tallulah’s ready to give birth, the crooks finally invade Silver Springs, and Abigail, the aforementioned religious nut, slugs Tallulah over the head with a hammer, stabs her with a pair of scissors, and cuts the baby out of her, fleeing on the first train out of town. Jonah shows up in time to save Tallulah, and resolves to go track down Abigail and get the baby back.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good grief, what a thumbs up. It’s a done-in-one story, and it’s more epic than every mega-crossover event you’ll see this year and next. Aside from Darwyn Cooke’s amazingly beautiful artwork (Check out that incredible supersized splash page on page 2!), the storytelling here by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti is absolutely pitch-perfect for everything you’d want from a “Jonah Hex” comic — funny, grim, heartbreaking, terrifying, hard-bitten, and cynical. The dialogue just sings, especially between Tallulah and the sheriff. The last page is just outstanding, without a word being said. Go get it, y’all.

North 40 #6

Sacrifices have been made, and Cthulhu — or something very much like him — is loose in Conover County. Wyatt Hinkle, Amanda Walker, and Sheriff Morgan are in a desperate race to lead the monster-god to water so they can perform a ceremony to banish it. We learn some new insights about some of our players, get one more confrontation with the awful Atterhull clan. But even if the monster can be destroyed, what other threats are ahead for the mystically transformed county residents?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This whole series has been a great big wad of fun. And a nice crisis to finish things off. Even better, they’re still able to add new monsters and freaks into the mix clear up to the end. I sure hope they make this one a continuing series, ’cause I’d love to read more of this stuff.


Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #18

Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Vision, and the Invisible Woman are investigating worldwide incidents of towns suffering from uncontrollable fits of rage and violence. They visit a small village in England, where Nova and some of his friends are on the trail of a spriggan, an unpleasant kind of faerie. And they’re all joined by the Black Widow, who’s bored and looking for some excitement. Can all these heroes figure out how to work together as a team?

Verdict: Ehh, not bad, but not a completely enthusiastic thumbs up. There are some nice moments here, but I can’t get over the weird composition of this team. They’re calling themselves the Avengers — does that mean there’s not a “Marvel Adventures: Avengers” comic anymore? I was a big fan of that one. Nova and Black Widow really don’t seem like the kinds of characters you’d want on a new “Avengers” squad like this. And it seems strange to see Sue Storm outside of the Fantastic Four — and wearing that green-and-red costume…

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Fractured Society


Justice Society of America #33

The Justice Society is still under attack by a small army of supervillains, and the traitor who almost killed Mr. Terrific has finally been revealed — the guy who was initially accused, the All-American Kid, who’s better known as Kid Karnevil, one of the psychos Bill Willingham introduced in his “Shadowpact” series. The bad guys are putting up a pretty good fight until Dr. Fate casts a spell that makes all the villains blissfully happy. Kid Karnevil hands over Obsidian to some mysterious somebody, but gets taken down by a healed-up Mr. Terrific. And the rest of the Justice Society finally decides on a solution to the ongoing disagreements about whether the JSA should be a school for new superheroes or a military organization — by splitting the group into two new teams.

Verdict: Man, I don’t know. Good action, nice spotlight moments for King Chimera and Dr. Fate, nice to see Kid Karnevil still running around the DCU, but I just can’t buy that they’d split the team just cause Magog’s being a jerk.


JSA All-Stars #1

And this is the first issue spotlighting the Justice Society’s military-themed squad. The new team takes down a bunch of communist robots, then regroups at their temporary headquarters, a ranch in upstate New York. Rex Tyler, the original Hourman, is the team’s technical guru, Stargirl is upset about getting uprooted from the old team, and Power Girl tells her she’s there because all of the younger members of the squad respect her. Magog puts everyone through a bunch of pseudo-military training, Cyclone and King Chimera have a moment, and Sand gets one of his yearly single-page cameos. Later, the team gets attacked by a high-tech strikeforce — there’s a big fight, Stargirl gets kidnapped, and we finally find out who’s been ordering supervillains not to attack her, and why.

Verdict: Again, I’m still not sold on it yet. For one thing, the art is incredibly… eccentric. Chunky and blocky and sometimes downright ugly. And the more I see Magog acting like a military commander, the more it bugs me. In his old life, David Reid was just a lance corporal in the Marines. Does he even have the skillsets to be a decent drill sergeant? Aside from that, though, more excellent action, pretty good dialogue, and it’s nice to see the return of the villain on the last pages.

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Monster Flowers and Killer Taters


Better be careful what you’re digging up in the garden or putting into your soup, ’cause scientists now think there are a lot more carnivorous plants than we previously thought…

At least six different kinds of killer plants have been recognized since the time of Darwin, such as Venus flytraps, which snares insects between its jaw-like leaves, and pitcher plants, which capture victims in slippery pits. These plants apparently target animals to supplement their growth in harsh, nutrient-poor habitats.

Many other plants, some quite common, have also been suggested as potential carnivores over the years that have failed to gain wide acceptance as such thus far. Petunias and potatoes, for instance, have sticky hairs that trap insects, and several species of campion flowers have the common name catchfly for the same reason.

“We may be surrounded by many more murderous plants than we think,” said botanist Mark Chase, Keeper of the Jodrell Laboratory at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in England.

Seems like time to break out some appropriate dinner music, doesn’t it?

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Holiday Gift Bag: Champions Online

Another edition of “Holiday Gift Bag” already? Yeah, I’m running a bit behind, so I decided to pick up the pace a little to get some more gift recommendations done. Today, we’re going to look at Champions Online.


This is going to be a bit of an unusual recommendation for me, because I don’t own this game and haven’t played it. My computer is old enough that it probably wouldn’t be able to run it. Plus, I’ve still got my ongoing addiction of rival superhero MMO “City of Heroes,” and haven’t bought any new computer games in years.

Nevertheless, Champions Online looks pretty good. Like I said, it’s a superhero MMORPG — in fact, it was developed by Cryptic Studios, which originally designed “City of Heroes.” In the game, you play a superhero or a supervillain taking on a wide variety of opponents in Millennium City or other locations, including the Stronghold superprison, the undersea Lemuria City, the icy-cold Burial Butte, Canada, Monster Island, Snake Gulch, and more.


Because this is a superhero game, a lot of work has been done to create cool powers. Unlike “City of Heroes” — and actually, most other games — Champions doesn’t have character classes or archetypes. Any character can take any power they want and customize it almost any way they want.

One of Champions’ spotlight features is the custom nemesis. At a certain point in your superhero/villain career, you’ll be able to create your very own archnemesis, who will periodically ambush you, leave clues to new schemes, and generally serve as the Joker to your Batman, the Sabretooth to your Wolverine, the Doctor Bong to your Howard the Duck…


Longtime players of the Champions pen-and-paper roleplaying game will probably recognize some characters who will show up as NPCs, allies, or enemies, including Defender, Ironclad, Sapphire, Menton, Grond, Armadillo, Doctor Destroyer, and even Foxbat. Yes, Foxbat! Everyone loves Foxbat!

Because Champions Online is an MMO, there is going to be a monthly $15 subscription rate to play the game on top of the cost of the game itself. That fifteen bucks isn’t a whole lot, but keep it in mind if you’re buying the game as a gift — you’ll want to make sure your gift recipient can afford to keep playing the game if they enjoy it.


Champions Online. Go pick it up.

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Stories Around the World


Daytripper #1

This is a new series by Brazilian twin brothers Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, who have done art chores for “The Umbrella Academy” and “Casanova,” along with other comics here and there. This one focuses on Brás de Oliva Domingos, a Brazilian man working as an editorial writer. His father is a famous writer, and Brás would like to be a writer, too, but outside of work, he’s plagued by writer’s block. On his birthday, he goes, somewhat unwillingly, to an event for his father, visits a bar for some smokes… and gets an unwelcome surprise.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oooh, did I not have enough description up there? Was it all a bit vague? Too bad, perfesser — it’s got a nice shocker of a cliffhanger, and I don’t much wanna spoil it. But the art is beautiful, the dialogue and characterization are first-rate, and the whole thing is extraordinarily intriguing. I’m looking forward to seeing where this one will lead us.


The Unwritten #8

This one is actually something of a flashback to previous issues of this series, but this time, our focus is on Chadron, the warden of the French prison where Tom Taylor is being held — and in particular, on Chadron’s two children. Chadron is himself a huge fan of the Tommy Taylor fantasy novels and engages in a lot of imaginative roleplaying with young Cosi and Peter, but his wife is no fan of all the foolishness. She’s concerned that the children — Cosi especially — are dwelling too deeply in their fantasy world. Cosi draws magic symbols on the windows and attacks a couple of schoolmates while pretending to cast magic spells. A psychiatrist diagnoses her with a mild psychosis — she has trouble telling fantasy from reality. But can the children’s faith in the Tommy Taylor fantasy save their father and the real Tom Taylor?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I was kinda hoping we’d get to meet the warden’s family a bit more, as he’s developed into an unexpectedly fascinating character — part hard-nosed prison administrator, part doting, fantasy-loving father. The rest of the family seems equally interesting, from the children’s utter faith in the Tommy Taylor fiction, to their mother’s complete hostility about the fantasy lives that she can’t join.


Strange #2

Last issue, Stephen Strange taught a minor vanishing spell to Casey and magicked up her glasses so they’d be able to see the capital-T Truth of anything she looked at. Now she’s trying to track Strange down again to see if he can teach her more magic, and in the process, she’s making a lot of stuff vanish — irritating cell phones, parking tickets, a moving van. She runs into a few people who claim they know who Stephen Strange is, but they’re all either con men or lunatics — or, in one case, a demonic monster who’s willing to eat her for asking the wrong questions. Luckily, Strange shows up to save her, and is surprised that Casey is still able to use the small spells that he meant to be temporary — but it turns out the vanishing spell doesn’t really make things vanish — it just sends them to another dimension. And the sole inhabitant of that dimension is tired of Casey using his dimension as a junkyard. Strange and Casey have to pay the interdimensional monster a visit to beg him not to kill them — but is he going to be willing to listen to a couple of mostly-powerless humans?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still enjoying this much-more relaxed version of Dr. Strange, and the characterization for Casey — midway between a spoiled rich girl with abandonment issues and a quick-thinking magical neophyte who can’t plan more than two seconds ahead — is also a lot of fun.

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Death Race 2009


Blackest Night: The Flash #1

The ever-expanding “Blackest Night” crossover moves into a three-issue miniseries starring Barry Allen, the Silver-Age Flash. He’s warning as many heroes as he can about the dangers of the Black Lanterns and how they can be stopped — he’s even making sure some of his enemies know — namely, the mostly honorable Rogues, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, the new Trickster. And it looks like all of them will have to pitch in — many of the zombified Black Lanterns are former Rogues who are probably going to be going after their former friends. While Tar Pit and the new Captain Boomerang wait for the arrival of the original deceased Captain Boomerang (the old one was the new one’s father), Barry tangles briefly with the zombified Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, then heads to Gorilla City to get advice from his old friend Solovar, the ruler of Gorilla City. Unfortunately, Barry doesn’t know that Solovar died years ago, and Barry has to fight an undead psychic gorilla who keeps trying to convince him that he’s not all bad. Meanwhile, the Rogues are preparing to take the fight directly to their Black Lantern counterparts with a raid on their new hideout in Iron Heights Prison.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A big part of the reason I enjoyed this is the artwork — Scott Kolins was one of my favorite artists during the Wally West glory days of “The Flash, with a gritty style that perfectly suited the more blue-collar vision of Flash, the Rogues, and Central/Keystone City of the early 2000s. To be honest, I’m looking forward to this miniseries more for the Rogues than for Barry — Wally West was the Flash I knew and cared about, but the Rogues are classics, and anything that shines a good bright spotlight on them is great with me.


Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1

And another new “Blackest Night” crossover, as Wonder Woman goes to Washington, DC, to confront Black Lantern Maxwell Lord, the former ally turned enemy who Wondy killed a few years back. She finds him in Arlington National Cemetery, where he’s using his psychic powers to hold hostage the guards of the Tomb of the Unknowns. She isn’t having much difficulty with Max until his reinforcements arrive — enough Black Lantern rings to zombify everyone buried in the cemetery, including a few members of the WWII Blackhawk Squadron and DC’s original Unknown Soldier. How does she deal with several thousand zombies? She makes her magic lasso emit pure, blinding light and incinerates all of them.

Verdict: Man, I don’t know. I absolutely love Nicola Scott’s always outstanding artwork, but I got some serious squick going on with the idea of desecrating every body in Arlington National Cemetery and cremating them all down into random piles of ash. No, not even if it’s just fictional. “Hey, families of American soldiers! Wonder Woman just torched your grampa’s dead body! Wheee!” I know, I know, probably getting carried away, but that was my reaction when I first read it, and I don’t feel a lot better about it yet.


The Incredible Hercules #138

Hercules, Amadeus Cho, a few renegade Greek gods, and the Avengers need to storm a skyscraper housing the Olympus Group, where the rest of the Greek gods are holed up while Hera prepares to unleash her “Continuum” plan that will eliminate human life from Earth. With so many gods watching over the building, a frontal assault can’t succeed, but a little cleverness and misdirection gets everyone in the front door and ready to fight. But can anyone survive when the God of Death makes his appearance? And in a backup story starring the Agents of Atlas, Venus is freed from her hypnotic spell, depriving the monster Phorcys of the legions of mortals he was about to eat. He retreats to the sea, and the Agents prepare to make their own assault on the Olympus Group.

Verdict: Thumbs up. What I’m enjoying the most about this story is the characterization. Hercules, Amadeus, Zeus, Hebe, and Spider-Man are all excellently represented here, but the real standout star as a character is, of all people, USAgent, who comes across as a cross between a monotheist and an atheist by insisting that Hercules, Zeus, and the rest are merely garden-variety metahumans who’ve convinced themselves that they’re actual gods — and he’s actually allowed to make a good case of it, too. Definitely not the standard treatment for comic-book skeptics, who are usually not much more than comic relief.

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Holiday Gift Bag: PS238

I still got more gift recommendations for the comics fan in your life. Today, we’re going to look at PS238.


“PS238” is comic book created by Aaron Williams, creator of the fantasy spoof “Nodwick” and writer of the recent Wildstorm horror title “North 40.” It’s currently published by Do Gooder Press. I’m a huge fan, as you might be able to tell by reading through my archives.

Imagine you live in a world with superheroes. If they’re anything like the ones in the comics, they’re always falling in love with each other and sometimes even getting married to each other. Every once in a while, one of them will have a child. So what do you do with an eight-year-old with the power of an Asgardian thunder god? Send ’em to a school where they’ll eventually end up incinerating their classroom in a temper tantrum over not getting to use the green crayon? No, you send ’em to PS238, the School for Metaprodigy Children.

Constructed three miles beneath a normal public school, PS238 is designed to teach superhuman children how to use their powers and how to maintain a secret identity. Since many of their classes are taken alongside normal children and teachers, the kids are required to pretend to be perfectly normal kids. For some, this requires only a change of clothing — others need elaborate holographic disguises. When it’s time for metahuman-centric classes, the kids are transferred by high-tech conveyors to the subterranean facility, where, on an ideal day, the kids learn a little more about what it means to be super. Of course, on most days, simple mayhem breaks out.


The comic features a rotating ensemble cast of teachers and students, including Principal Alfred Cranston, a former holder of high office who resigned under mysterious circumstances to head the school; Cristina Kyle, formerly known as Micro-Might, the only teacher at PS238 to have teaching experience prior to the opening of the school; Vashti Impiria, who used to be known as the magic-wielding Spell Syrin; Herschel Clay, the school’s director of maintenance, who used to be a powersuit-wearing hero named Mantium; Captain Clarinet (Ron Peterson), a shy but immensely strong kid who would prefer to spend all his time playing his clarinet; Suzi Fusion (Suzanne Finster), a bespectacled six-year-old who throws radioactive temper tantrums; Zodon, an evil genius whose countless schemes have prompted the school to fit him with devices that, among other things, convert his tirades of profanity into rousing show tunes; Tyler Marlocke, a completely normal kid whose superhero parents are solidly convinced that he’ll be manifesting powers any day now (and who, despite his lack of powers, is now fighting crime in secret as the football-helmeted Moon Shadow); and many, many more.

“PS238” is very light-hearted and fun — Williams has a pretty good grasp of what makes kids and superheroes funny, and he does a great job of combining the two, as well as crafting interesting and distinct personalities for the major characters. The kids aren’t written as short adults — they’re children, through and through. Zodon acts like the most mature of the kids (despite being the youngest), but that’s because he’s hyper-intelligent, evil, and makes cutting remarks about everyone. The rest of the kids freak out when they lose their capes, get afraid of heights, look forward to macaroni pie day in the cafeteria, and try to make friends with older snooty kids. Trust me, if Superman and Spider-Man were eight years old, they’d act just like these kids do.


The comics are collected into a number of trade paperbacks. They’d make great gifts for younger readers, teachers, and any comics fan who enjoys fast and funny superhero comics.

PS238 by Aaron Williams. Go pick it up.

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