Archive for January, 2010

A Brief Pause While I Wrassle with Technology


I done got me a brand new computer! It showed up on my doorstep yesterday, and it was so cute in its little baby bonnet, I had to bring it in and give it a ham.

So I’m taking a short blogging break. Probably just a day or two, to make sure I’ve got everything plugged in correctly. The video card on the old machine had been giving me trouble, so I haven’t been able to play my beloved “City of Heroes” since before Christmas. So I’m jonesing bad to head over to Paragon City and smite some evildoers. So yeah, I gotta do that, too.

Ya never know, might take a bit longer, if I’m having too much fun with “City of Heroes,” or if the machine don’t work, for some reason. But more than likely, I’ll be blogging normally in a day or two.

You guys be good and don’t set anything on fire while I’m gone…

Comments off

Walk through the Fire


The Unwritten #9

A secret strikeforce of assassins has invaded the prison where Tom Taylor is being held, killing everyone they can in an attempt to kick off a riot and assassinate Tom. An apparition of the literary knight Roland is roaming the prison grounds. Tom and Savoy are trying to get themselves out and help Lizzie Hexam get free before they’re all killed, with the aid of a winged cat and a magic doorknob, all while the warden and his two hyper-imaginative children run about the grounds. And it all ends tragically.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautifully written, beautifully illustrated. But man, what a kick in the gut that ending was.


Strange #3

Stephen Strange, almost-powerless former Sorcerer Supreme, and his new apprentice Casey, have been recruited by a demon named Larry to help foil a plot by a smarmy upstart demon named Virilian to steal souls by fixing a kiddie beauty pageant. While Dr. Strange and Larry travel to Hell to look up some of Virilian’s former clients, Casey is left behind disguised as one of the eight-year-old contestants to keep an eye on the proceedings. While she has to watch the all-too-human evil of the pageant mothers, she eventually realizes that Virilian has made a much more sinister bargain. Can Strange, Casey, and Larry fix everything in time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wow, all those crazed pageant mothers make some of the most awful villains of the year. Very nicely written by Mark Waid. Too bad this one is just a miniseries — it looks like the next one will be the final issue.

Comments off

Legendary Stardust Cowboy

Reed Gunther #3

Rough and tough (but not real smart) cowboy Reed Gunther and his bear Sterling are waiting on a train so they and Reed’s kinda-sorta gal-pal Starla can go after the dastardly Mr. Picks, who’s stolen a bunch of cave monsters so he can display them and make a fortune. But the train won’t let bears aboard, so Reed smuggles Sterling into an empty cattle car. While Reed and Starla travel in style, the old idol packed into the car with Sterling starts floating and glowing… and making monsters, including a steel-driving railroad zombie. Eventually, everyone makes it to Topeka, but can they keep Mr. Picks from finding out about idol’s other powers? All that plus pinups, a sketchbook, and a guest appearance by Grover Cleveland! Holy baloney, Grover Cleveland!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good all-ages Western fun from Shane and Chris Houghton. The artwork combines cartoonish, exaggerated characters with lots and lots of detail on everything else. Lots and lots of excellent humor, and the zombie is good and scary, too.


Batgirl #6

Stephanie got shot in the head last issue — well, grazed only, which is a good thing, ’cause it’d mean this series ended too early. At any rate, she escapes from the ambulance with Oracle’s help, spars with the always-attitudinal Robin, and gets ordered by Batman to stop pursuing the case of her kidnapped friend, Francisco Gracia. Of course, she ignores him. In fact, she and Robin start their own independent investigation, interviewing the kidnap victim’s girlfriend to find out that Francisco’s father has a bad gambling problem, and he’s made a deal to get the debt erased — Roulette, a slinky villain who runs a gladiatorial arena and casino, is going to take bets on three villains who are hoping to kill Batman.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is turning into a really fun superhero comic. Great dialogue and humor, excellent action, metric tons of personality and smarts. It’s fun watching Stephanie try to fit her less-angsty personality into the mostly dysfunctional Bat-family. Favorite moments this issue: Stepanie and Damien’s interrogation of Francisco’s girlfriend, and the great dialogue between Dick Grayson and Babs Gordon.

Booster Gold #28

Booster smacks around the Royal Flush Gang, then gets called back into the timestream for another chronal crisis. In this case, it’s a mission he’d prefer to skip — he has to save the shuttle mission that ended with astronaut Hank Henshaw becoming the evil Cyborg Superman. Unfortunately, he’s not there to prevent the disaster — he’s supposed to make sure the shuttle goes into space as scheduled to make sure Henshaw’s position as a supervillain isn’t prevented. Meanwhile, Booster’s sister Michelle, on the run through time, realizes that she’s stuck in Coast City mere hours before the Cyborg Superman blows the city to cinders. Our second feature focuses on Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle. Concerned that his Scarab is acting up, he and his friends take a trip to Egypt to visit the pyramid where the original Blue Beetle found the Scarab in the ’40s. Unfortunately, his attempt to get the Scarab back to normal may actually be too successful…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun stuff here — the Royal Flush Gang makes for entertaining cannon fodder for Booster, and it’s kinda nice to get to see the Cyborg Superman again in all his inglorious glory. The backup Blue Beetle story might be even better, with one of the better cliffhangers I’ve seen in these second features.

Comments off


Secret Six #17

This story is a direct continuation of the one from the recent “Blackest Night” crossover Suicide Squad #67. The Secret Six and the Suicide Squad are both stuck in Belle Reve prison in the middle of an attack by the Black Lantern zombies, while Scandal Savage is trapped by a bunch of Multiplex clones with a taste for arson. Nightshade and Count Vertigo get close to taking Bane down before Black Alice copies Nightshade’s powers and saves his bacon. Catman and Bronze Tiger try their darndest to beat each other to death. Virtuosa, the new female Fiddler, drops some pain on Ragdoll ’til Jeannette comes to his rescue — then the Black Lantern version of the Fiddler shows up and tries to kill all of them. And Yesemin Soze, killed in the previous issue, comes back from the dead to try to execute Deadshot and Rick Flagg.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of chaos, lots of battles, lots of fun. Lots of funny stuff, as always — my favorite ones were Bane’s complete boredom with Nightshade’s attempts at fisticuffs and Virtuosa’s fangirl glee at meeting the zombified Fiddler.

Daytripper #2

I loved the first issue of this new series by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, and half-suspected I knew what was going to happen in the second issue. I was way, way wrong. Brás de Oliva Domingos is 21 — so this is set about 11 years before the events of the first issue. He and his friend Jorge are on a sightseeing trip to El Salvador. He meets a beautiful girl named Olinda, and while the three of them are visiting the market, she tells him that his dreams of a woman calling him from the water may be about Iemanjá, a spirit of the waters, whose celebration day is coming up tomorrow. Brás and Olinda make love the night of the celebration, then she vanishes, telling him to find her on the beach. He and a fisherman take the flowers, gifts, and offerings to Iemanjá out to sea. And then something unexpected happens.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Holy cow, the art on this one is amazing. The dialogue is fun, the story is great, and as of the last page, this one is now something I want to get every single issue of.

Neonomicon hornbook

Whuzzah? What’s a “hornbook”? Martha, that comic book guy’s gone corruptin’ our youth agin with hornybooks! Git mah shotgun! No, no, wait, a hornbook is an old name for an educational primer — but in this case, it’s a short comic used as a preview for an upcoming series.

So Alan Moore, famed bearded mad genius of comics, and Jacen Burrows, hyper-realistic artist whose most recent work is in Garth Ennis’ bleak pseudo-zombie epic “Crossed,” are going to be making a new Lovecraft-inspired horror comic called “Neonomicon,” a sequel to their series “The Courtyard.” We follow a couple of FBI agents, Merril Brears and Gordon Lamper, as they visit a pschiatric hospital to interview Aldo Sax, a former FBI agent who went bad in a big way and started hacking people to death. Sax speaks in a pseudo-Cthulhoid language, which isn’t real helpful in an interview. Brears and Lamper try to quiz Sax about a copycat killer, but he unexpectedly clams up when they mention a place called Club Zothique.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Nine pages and a script excerpt. Two dollars. Massive rip-off.

Comments off

Friday Night Fights: Armed and Dangerous!

Ya say it’s been a long week of drudgery, workin’ for the Man and not making enough dough? Well, I got good news, my friend — it’s the weekend! You get a whole two days of not workin’ for the Man ahead of you. (probably won’t be making any extra money either, but them’s the breaks, kid.) And the best way to get your weekend started is with a little of the ol’ ultraviolence. In other words, it’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Today, we’re going with September 1998’s Major Bummer #14, cancelled over a decade ago and still not collected into a trade paperback. What the heck, DC?! Anyway, the Lou Martin of the future, now middle-aged, balding, and packing a spare tire, takes on a multi-armed time-travelling alien… and things don’t go well.




Hope y’all have a better weekend than that…

Comments off

Your Daily Dose of Random Madness


Hey, look! It’s Batman riding an elephant!

And now — LINKS.

Hope those links will keep y’all happily clicking through your Friday…

Comments off

Smackdowns for Everyone


Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #19

Well, first things first: Even if she’s not wearing her familiar Fantastic Four outfit, that’s one of the most awesome cover shots of Sue Storm I’ve ever seen.

Second, I found out, to my great disappointment, that the entirely awesome and hilarious “Marvel Adventures: The Avengers” series has been cancelled, and that nearly all of the “Marvel Adventures” titles are either being cancelled or are going to get revamped and retooled. Honestly, I didn’t see anything wrong with ’em in the first place. And where are we going to get our monthly dose of Giant-Girl?

But anyway, for as long as this title lasts, the current lineup of the Avengers is Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Invisible Woman, the Vision, Nova, and Black Widow. They’re moving into their new headquarters when the supervillain Plant Man pays them a visit. But he’s not here to fight — he needs help because the Silver Surfer has seemingly gone nuts and keeps trying to kill him. While the rest of the Avengers make preparations for the Surfer, the Vision goes to visit the alchemist Diablo who the team met a few issues ago. While they discuss the secret codes of the Voynich Manuscript, the Silver Surfer finally arrives, attacking everyone around him in an attempt to get at Plant Man. And he’s so juiced-up on the Power Cosmic that even Thor has trouble dealing with him. So why won’t the Vision help out in the battle? And what is Reed Richards hiding from the team?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some amusing character bits with Plant Man, a nice solution to the problem of the out-of-control Silver Surfer, and a new mystery to add into the mix. Isn’t it depressing that the only comics that focus on the fun of superheroic stories are the ones marketed mostly to kids?


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #11

Billy is still suffering from something that’s already turned Captain Marvel evil and is slowly corrupting him as well. Mary Marvel and Tawky Tawny escort him to the Rock of Eternity to see if the Wizard Shazam can help him. Trying to figure out what’s wrong, the wizard has Billy say his magic word, then draws the evil out of him — and it manifests as a mirror-image of Captain Marvel who speaks in reverse. While Captain Marvel tries to stop his double from wreaking havoc on the world, the wizard fears that something far more terrible is at work.

Verdict: Thumbs up. If I’ve got a quibble, it’s that the creators didn’t give Evil Marvel the same costume he has on the cover — instead, he and regular Captain Marvel have almost the same costumes, which can sometimes make it hard to tell the two apart. However, beyond that, it’s a great issue, with good characterizations, decent dialogue, excellent action, and a wonderful mystery.

Comments off

Suicide Kings


Suicide Squad #67

This is another of the old cancelled titles that DC has resurrected for just one more issue during the “Blackest Night” crossover. And it’s a bit misleading. There’s only minimal material with the Black Lantern zombies, and the Suicide Squad aren’t the main characters. Most of our focus is on the Secret Six. After the overprotective Bane interrogates Scandal Savage’s date, Liana, the rest of the team gets called out on a mission to rescue a drug dealer from Belle Reve prison. The team gets into the prison no problem — Black Alice borrows Giganta’s powers, which surely ought to make a few kinksters out there happy — but the whole thing was a trap set by Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad. Waller wants Deadshot back on her team, and she’s willing to wipe out the rest of the Six to get him back. But the fight between the two teams may have to wait once the latest crop of Black Lantern rings find the many deceased Suicide Squad members…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A bonus “Secret Six” issue! Huzzah! And co-written by both Gail Simone and John Ostrander! Funny stuff with Bane and Ragdoll, plus Nightshade and the rarely-seen female Fiddler make appearances. All that plus Amanda Waller, DC’s foremost scary, driven, badass government bureaucrat! Everyone loves Amanda Waller!


Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2

We jump back to the period when Wonder Woman was a Black Lantern not-quite-a-zombie, fighting Mera, Queen of Atlantis and Aquaman’s ex-wife. The fight doesn’t generally go in Mera’s favor, seeing as how Wonder Woman is way, way more powerful than she is. Wonder Woman is apparently conscious inside, unable to stop herself from trying to kill Mera. Wondy briefly gets control back, flees to some nearby island, then kills Wonder Girl and Donna Troy, tries to kill her mother, and goes all smoochy on Bruce Wayne. Wait, what? Did I forget my medication this morning?

Verdict: Thumbs down. I agree with a lot of what Chris Sims has to say here, but the thing that kept irritating me the most was the way non-zombie Diana, sublimated under the control of the black ring, kept whining. DC’s most prominent, most powerful female character has an inner voice that’s one continuous whine. Better to have the inner voice completely absent than to make the character look that weak.

Comments off

Highway to Hell


Hellboy: The Bride of Hell

A quick one-shot issue from the superstar team of Mike Mignola and Richard Corben, the folks behind 2008’s brilliant “Hellboy: The Crooked Man” miniseries. Hellboy travels to France on behalf of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense to rescue a girl kidnapped by a cult that wants to make her into the bride of a demon. Of course, things don’t go entirely to plan, as Hellboy is stuck with an unconscious bride-to-be and an angry monster-demon. He finds temporary respite in an ancient cemetery dedicated to a saint reknowned for his powers against the forces of Hell. A lone monk tells him that his order has slowly been picked off over the years by the demon — while it can’t enter the cemetery, it can attack anyone who leaves. Knowing he’ll have to take out the monster in order to get the girl home, Hellboy leaves her sleeping in the cemetery while he goes out to find the demon, who has his own backstory to tell.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mignola’s storytelling is wonderful as always. Corben’s artwork is hully-chee-whiz drop-dead gorgeous. Asmodeus’ story is beautifully told, alternating between chilling and amusing, particularly his boredom after taking over a kingdom and having to deal with the mundane aspects of governing. It’s an absolutely awesome comic, and you should go hunt it down so you can enjoy it.


B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #1

In the wake of the disastrous mission to Mongolia that wiped out a bunch of American military men during an attack by an army of monsters, the BPRD has lost the support of the American government. While Dr. Manning and Abe Sapien try to decide how they’ll take the fight back to the frogs and the subterrans, Liz Sherman looks forward to burning some monsters, and Kate Corrigan takes a trip to the infamous Hunte Castle with her German military friend Bruno and the ghost of Lobster Johnson, possessing Johann Kraus’ ectoplasmic form.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice beginning to this new storyline. Lobster Johnson is an eerie and sad presence throughout the story. And Andrew Devon’s nervousness around ancient Egyptian mummy Panya and her awesome new Queen Elizabeth II hairstyle is an amusing mood-breaker.

Comments off

Origin Donor


Detective Comics #860

The conclusion of Batwoman’s origin story opens with Kate Kane pulling undercover surveillance work from inside a sleazy bar. When the place gets busted by the Gotham City Police Department, she runs into her old flame Renee Montoya, who thinks she’s hit bottom and turned into a bar skank. However, Kate’s been collecting intelligence on gunrunners — she busts them up, but her father busts her later — he’s discovered that she’s been stealing military gear from the base. He tells her to drop the crimefighting nonsense, but she insists that, without the military, this is her way to serve the greater good. Her father agrees to let her, but insists she take on extensive combat training and study while he rebuilds her makeshift base and gets her an actual superhero costume. After that, we jump back to the present day, where Batwoman gets her confirmation that the twisted maniac Alice was actually Kate’s twin sister Elizabeth, who she’d believed died years ago.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More freakin’ outstanding storytelling and art from Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III. It’s great that this comic is so amazingly fun and mind-blowingly excellent.


Madame Xanadu #18

Nimue’s sister Morgaine le Fey has returned to the mortal world after taking over the transformed body of 1950s housewife Betty Reynolds. She spent hundreds of years refining her magic and living amongst goblins, and she’s grade-A certified bananas. The two sisters quarrel, magic attacks get thrown, and Nimue ends up buried under her own house. Meanwhile, detective John Jones is tracking a related case using his unearthly powers of telepathy.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I liked this one a lot less than previous issues, though. Morgaine’s story just doesn’t come across as particularly compelling, and beyond that, there’s mostly a lot of magic zapping. Gotta say I love seeing the Martian Manhunter in here, even if he’s still running around in a trenchcoat and fedora.

Comments off