Archive for February, 2010

Boston Herald, Don't Be Hatin'…

Wow, I’m actually fairly amazed that anyone is willing to try something like this: The Boston Herald has decided that Amy Bishop, the University of Alabama professor who shot several colleagues recently, did it all because of Dungeons and Dragons.

Accused campus killer Amy Bishop was a devotee of Dungeons & Dragons – just like Michael “Mucko” McDermott, the lone gunman behind the devastating workplace killings at Edgewater Technology in Wakefield in 2000.

Bishop, now a University of Alabama professor, and her husband James Anderson met and fell in love in a Dungeons & Dragons club while biology students at Northeastern University in the early 1980s, and were heavily into the fantasy role-playing board game, a source told the Herald.

“They even acted this crap out,” the source said.

OMG, did you hear that Amy Bishop breathed air and ate food?! JUST LIKE JEFFREY DAHMER! Someone ban food and breathing, quick! Ohh, won’t someone think of the children?!

Seriously, I thought this kind of “blame D&D for everything” style of reporting went out-of-style back when the old Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons group died off. I know it’s been completely discredited since then.

And the tone of the article is just so precious, isn’t it? Midway between fearful terror and bewildered rage. You can almost imagine the reporter screaming “NERRRRDS!!!” while she was writing the article.

I was lucky enough that, back when I played D&D, my parents just thought of it as another hobby. I never had to deal with anyone who freaked out that I was going to turn into a Satanist or serial killer. How ’bout you? Did the old media witchhunts about D&D ever affect your ability to play D&D and other RPGs?

Comments off

Booster Shots

Booster Gold #29

Booster’s sister Michelle is stuck in the past, living in Coast City, and finally remembering that the entire place is about to be destroyed by Mongul and the Cyborg Superman. Meanwhile, Booster and Rip Hunter have figured out that the renegade time traveler who tried to kill Hank Henshaw last issue is going to try to stop him from blowing up Coast City, no matter what damage may occur to the timestream. Booster reluctantly goes to stop her — he’d prefer to save Coast City, too — but it may already be too late. And our backup story focuses on Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle. The Scarab armor has gone bad and taken Jaime over — it’s planning on doing whatever it can to destroy the world, and only Paco, Brenda, Traci Thirteen, and Peacemaker have a chance to stop him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Booster story is fine, but I wanna talk about the Blue Beetle backup story. It ends well, of course — except that this is the final Blue Beetle backup story in the “Booster Gold” comic. This is rotten news — I’ve enjoyed most of the Booster stories, but the fact remains that the stories about Jaime, his friends, and family have generally been of higher quality. Jaime deserves a place in the DCU outside of occasional guest appearances or in the spectacularly awful “Teen Titans” comic. Hopefully, someone at DC will get smart and give him back a regular ongoing title again.

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #20

It’s the current crop of Avengers — Captain America, the Vision, Iron Man, the Invisible Woman, Thor, Black Widow, and Nova — against Diablo, an immortal alchemist. Diablo beats Iron Man like a drum while the rest of the team is running around New York trying to locate them — and they’re being attacked by gigantic fire and stone elementals. Will the team be able to save Iron Man, stop Diablo, and discover who has been causing emotional freakouts all over the world?

Verdict: I’ll give it a thumbs up. Nothing entirely outstanding, but there was nothing seriously wrong with it either. There are a few really nice character moments in here, and Diablo makes a very threatening villain.

Comments off

Bat vs. Bat

Batman and Robin #8

We get a little flashback to begin with, showing us how Batwoman got captured — she was knocked out with narcotic soot (!) while fighting Satanic chimneysweeps (!!!) — before we get to this issue’s real problem: Batman has been raised from the dead by a Lazarus Pit and has gone temporarily insane. Except it’s not really Batman — it’s an evil clone of Batman created by Darkseid during the “Final Crisis” crossover. And it’s taking everything Dick Grayson, Batwoman, the Knight, and the Squire have just to slow him down. And one of the British crimelords on the surface plans to wipe them all out with explosives in the mine — and someone’s going to pay with their life. Meanwhile, Damian Wayne is recovering from spinal replacement surgery and is under strict orders not to exert himself — which could mean some serious trouble when the Batman clone comes calling…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Action, intrigue, suspense, and superheroics, all in a single issue — this is great stuff. And it’s got a two excellent cliffhangers, too.


Strange #4

The final issue of this very enjoyable miniseries. Magic has been broken, and the magic users of the world are getting their butts kicked every time they try to cast a spell. Even worse, it’s likely that the mystical backlash is going to tear the whole planet, if not the entire universe, apart. Dr. Strange has vastly decreased magical powers, but he still has the best chance to fix the situation — he’s going to use his surgical knowledge to try to repair the flow of magical energies through the universe. But his new apprentice, Casey, suffering from the loss of her soul last issue, is going to have to guard his body while he does so. But when an old enemy of Dr. Strange’s comes looking for him in the midst of all the chaos, does Casey have a chance of saving him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This has been a really fun series — I wouldn’t mind reading more stuff about the de-powered Stephen Strange, and I hope someone at Marvel gives Mark Waid a chance to write about the former Sorcerer Supreme and his apprentice very soon.

B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #2

While Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, and Andrew Devon explore the tunnels beneath Agartha, Kate Corrigan and her new beau Bruno have come to the infamous Hunte Castle in Austria to see if the ghost of crimefighter Lobster Johnson will release the spirit of ectoplasmic medium Johann Kraus.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The whole issue was just fine, but the final two pages combine to make it really awesome and cool.

Comments off

Friday Night Fights: Unhappy Dreams!

If it’s Friday, and it’s anywhere close to evening, then it must be time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Today, we’re getting our stack of brutal brutality from 1995’s Astro City #1 by Kurt Busiek and Brent E. Anderson and the epic battle between the Samaritan and the Living Nightmare:

And that should be enough to get y’all started on an epic and awesome weekend. Everyone have fun, and let’s hope Monday takes its time getting here…

Comments off

Animal House

Tails of the Pet Avengers #1

The Pet Avengers, from the recently completed miniseries and the soon-to-begin ongoing series, are back in a one-shot full of short solo adventures. Frog Thor returns to his frog tribe in Central Park to fight off alligators and ponder whether his godlike power is too powerful for his tribe’s own good. Zabu fights off some raptors and adopts some new kids into his family. Ms. Lion helps save a cruise ship from poisoners. Lockjaw battles Mad-Dog for the Inhumans’ Terrigen Mists. Lockheed helps make a lonely girl’s prom night perfect. Redwing must deal with unwanted help as he stops jewel thieves.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun stories for kids of all ages. Heck, there’s not a bad story in the whole bunch.

Batgirl #7

Batman has been shot down by a trio of supervillains so gambling queen Roulette can take bets on who will manage to kill him first. Batgirl gets ditched by bratty Damian Wayne, the new pre-teen Robin, so Oracle gets her a shiny new Batgirl-Cycle so she can make it in time to help. At that point, it’s Robin and Batgirl, plus a wounded Batman, vs. Dr. Phosphorus, Roxy Rocket, and Riot, with the Dark Knight’s life on the line…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely frantic action, lots of great dialogue and banter, and great characterizations. Bryan Q. Miller has a talent for writing incredibly charismatic superheroes — even Damian is likeable in this, and everyone hates Damian!

Marvel Super Hero Squad #2

I had no intention of ever picking this series up — from the character designs, I assumed that all the stories would boil down to “We can stop Doctor Doom… with the power of FRIENDSHIP!” What changed my mind? I watched a couple episodes of the cartoon series — namely, the pilot episode (see here for Part II and Part III) and this amazing little thing called “Mental Organism Designed Only for Kisses” (see here for Part II and Part III). So it’s a good deal goofier and more subversive than it looks on first glance, and I decided that made the comic series worth checking out.

Anyway, this issue is dedicated to Valentine’s Day and all things love-related. We start out with a trio of supervillainesses — Enchantress, Mystique, and Screaming Mimi — trying to use their feminine wiles to get the good guys in the Super Hero Squad to give them the awesomely-powerful superpower-granting crystals called fractals. While Enchantress uses her magic to ensnare Wolverine, Thor, the Falcon, and the Silver Surfer (though Hulk is completely immune, ’cause all he wants to do is fight monsters), Mystique impersonates Ms. Marvel to try to get Iron Man to lead her to the fractals, and Screaming Mimi hangs out with Hulk mainly for something entertaining to do. Our second story features teen dinosaur-transformer Reptil, who is hoping Valentine’s Day will mean all the girls in school will be swooning over him. And finally, the rest of the “Squaddies” learn who Hulk’s true love is…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very cute stuff. Not particularly edgy, but it’s going to be fun for all-ages readers, or for anyone who enjoys the cartoon.

Comments off

Monkey Business

Hit-Monkey #1

Marvel’s been talking this one up a lot. “Character creation of the year” and all that. It starts out focusing on a hitman, injured and on the run. He gets inexplicably taken in, cared for and healed by a small tribe of Japanese macaque monkeys — he is accepted by all of the monkeys but one. While the assassin heals up enough to be able to move about, he doesn’t have a lot of bullets and knows he’s still not well, so he starts training himself in unarmed combat, observed by the one untrusting monkey. In time, the people who tried to kill the hitman come after him, killing him and all the monkeys but the one outcast who didn’t trust the assassin — ironically, he’s learned enough about martial arts and gunplay by watching the hitman that he’s now able to take his revenge for the death of his tribe.

Verdict: Thumbs down. It’s actually a fairly dull story, and it certainly doesn’t live up to the hype that Marvel has given it. We never see the monkey in the snappy suit from the cover. We never get any indication that he’s actually smart enough to care about wearing a suit, much less figuring out how to use a handgun. Oh, I know, you should never ever expect too much logic from comics — especially not from comics about monkeys. Nevertheless, I was hoping for better.

JSA All-Stars #3

Hurray! It’s the happiest cover ever! Maybe DC really is figuring out that everyone hates Magog…

On the other hand, this is a pretty danged awkward issue. The JSA annual came out just last week, but this entire issue is set before the annual. So at this point, Magog is still a member in moderately good standing within the All-Stars. Most of the action in this issue takes place during a team training session, where Magog mainly tries to encourage everyone to kill their opponents, and Power Girl eventually clocks him a good one. But there’s some background stuff, too. Johnny Sorrow kills Killer Wasp mostly for grins, Atom-Smasher has been kidnapped by some evil magic user, and Sandman is waking up from his dreams with a mission. Oh, and Power Girl apparently has a new costume without the infamous/celebrated “boob window.” The backup story about Hourman and Liberty Belle is full of lots of good comedy, mainly stemming from Tigress and Icicle buying a plane ticket from Liberty Belle while she’s in civvies, giving the two married superheroes some extra cash to spend in Venice.

Verdict: Ehh, thumbs up, I guess. Nothing much to recommend it, but at least there’s nothing particularly bad either. The background elements are actually more interesting than the main storyline. And I do wonder why the decision was made to alter Power Girl’s costume, since I doubt her uniform will change in any of her other comic appearances.


Punisher #13

I missed an issue of this one a while back, but Frank Castle is still a stitched-together Frankensteinian killing machine, trying to save a bunch of monsters from cyber-samurai trying to destroy all monsters. That’s really the whole summary of the issue. There are some good fights with Morbius the Living Vampire, Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, and lots of scenes with the Punisher shooting the heck out of samurai.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of good fights, lots of fun monsters. I heartily approve.

Comments off

(exasperated groan)

So Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada apologized because the teabaggers got added into an issue of “Captain America,” and for some reason, the teabaggers got mad, possibly because all they ever do is get mad, so Joe apologized because — I don’t know why.

Quesada hasn’t apologized to me yet for having Spider-Man sell his soul to the devil, or for cancelling “She-Hulk” and “Captain Britain” and “Marvel Adventures: The Avengers”… but all the crazy screaming people get apologized to because they got put into a comic book? No big surprise they’re yelling that his apology isn’t enough. I’m not sure what they want him to do — kill himself? Kill the writer? Blow up a federal building? Did Joe think the teabaggers were gonna go out and buy some comic books? Methinks not, man — once you’re the focus of the Two Minutes Hate, you never get back on their good side again.

So here’s my open letter to Big Joe Q — I’m sure he’ll be keen to read it. As long as he’s paying attention to tiny fringe groups with questionable sanity, I’m sure he’ll want to bookmark me and read me all the time:

“Dear Joe,

Please stop apologizing to the angry screaming people who hang teabags on their hats.

Ignore them, and they’ll forget about you as soon as they get distracted by whatever random object enrages them next. When you give them the attention they crave, they write your name down in their ‘These Guys Are Easy Marks Who We Can Get to Pay Attention to Us’ book, and they’ll just keep screaming at you.

P.S.: Jeph Loeb and Brian Bendis aren’t as great as you think they are. Please stop giving them so much work. Or any work. Good luck with the ‘Heroic Age’ stuff, but betwixt you and me, I reckon y’all will be right back to killing off B-list superheroes before the end of the year.

Hugs and kisses,
That Dude Who Writes ‘Hero Sandwich'”

I’d share with y’all my open letter to Dan DiDio at DC, but I don’t think y’all want to be exposed to quite that many F-bombs…

Comments off

Goofus and Gallant

I Hate Gallant Girl trade paperback

This is a series I’d actually been really interested in getting when it first came out, but I ended up missing every issue. When I saw that it was out in a trade paperback, I figured it was a great opportunity to read it.

The story is by Jim Valentino and Kat Cahill with art by Seth Damoose. Backstory: the Fellowship of Freedom has a pageant every decade to select a new Gallant Girl. One of the newest candidates, Miss Maine, Renee Tempete, is plenty frustrated that she wasn’t chosen — she’s got pretty awe-inspiringly powerful abilities, and the new Gallant Girl doesn’t have any powers at all. But she is a buxom blonde, and Renee is a less-well-endowed brunette, and that’s all the Fellowship really cares about. After Renee later puts a major smackdown on a giant robot attacking the airport, the Fellowship’s leader, the Commander, offers a position with the team — as Gallant Girl’s stand-in. Renee would do all the work, and Gallant Girl would get all the credit.

One of the Fellowship members, Blue Thunder, takes Renee under his wing, and she makes her own debut as a heroine called Tempest, completely upstaging Gallant Girl. And Renee soon discovers that there are some seriously bad characters running around the superhero world. Can she get to the bottom of all this without getting killed?

Verdict: Thumbs down. I like Renee as a character, and I thought the art was really great. But the entire story builds toward an ultimate confrontation between Renee and Gallant Girl, and when the confrontation finally gets here — it falls flat, and the entire thing is deferred ’til later. They were probably hoping to get another comic series out of it, but that never really developed. All in all, this story probably would’ve been pretty good if it had run for four issues, but because it only ran for three, it ends up being no fun.

Comments off

Inhumane Society


Justice Society of America Annual #2

The JSA All-Stars get called out to a prison called Haven — a very unusual prison in that it looks like a small suburban town from the ’50s but actually houses the most dangerous mad scientists in the country. There’s been a report of a breakout, with Magog leading the prisoners. While it initially looks deserted, the prisoners soon show themselves and the fighting gets started. Dr. Sivana and a guy named Mind Czar are leading the prisoners, and Haven’s warden is also working against everyone — he’s secretly in cahoots with shady forces who want to kill the prisoners and superheroes and steal all the high-tech toys for themselves. The main JSA team eventually makes its appearance, and it’s not long before it’s everyone on both teams piling on Magog, who is more than willing to try to kill or cripple prisoners and to accidentally shoot his own teammates and then blame them for getting in his way. And by the time it’s all over, Haven’s been destroyed, Magog has gotten the boot from the JSA, and neither team is going to get back together.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story is fine, and it’s good that Magog is out of the picture, because no one really liked the guy anyway. But it definitely does make me question the stated reasoning for breaking the JSA into two groups. The only reason the teams were ever split was because Magog wanted ’em split — why leave them split now, when most characters have already said they’d like the teams reconciled again? Okay, fine, it’s because DC Comics wants ’em to be on two teams, the better to sell more comics. But dang it, a little logic and decent storytelling wouldn’t hurt nobody.


Jonah Hex #52

Jonah has done got hisself shot, and he makes his way to a small house outside a swamp to try to get shelter and medical attention. The lady of the house is able to get the bullet out of him and his wounds stitched up, and he tells her how he got wounded — he was attacked in the swamp by a little kid hoping to rob his corpse, and he killed the kid in self-defense. Unfortunately, his rotten kinfolk are now after Hex for revenge — and his benefactor now wants him out as quick as possible, to keep from risking her baby’s life. When a trio of the swamp rat’s relatives show up at the door, is there any way for Hex to beat the odds and get away?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s another cruel, brutal, heartless Western, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wasn’t 100% thrilled with the art, but I gotta say, there’s one splash page of Hex, gut-shot, soaked in swamp water and blood, covered in leeches, that’s just plain fantastic.

Comments off

Battle Royale with Cheese: Darkseid vs. Galactus

Comics reviews, comics reviews, comics reviews. I need a break. I bet you do, too. So give me your opinions on the absolutely vital question of WHO WOULD WIN?

The combatants:

DC’s Darkseid, Lord of Apokolips, master of the Omega Effect, prophet of Anti-Life, the Rock and the Chain and the Lightning, your New God, now and forever…

…vs. Marvel’s Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, master of the Power Cosmic, immense godlike destroyer, and possessor of the craziest hat ever!

We’ll go for a best-three-out-of-five battle.

Contest 1:

Generic Minion Whomping!

Contest 2:


Contest 3:

Cake Baking!

Contest 4:

Dance Marathon!

Contest 5:

Beach Volleyball! (with Desaad and Terrax the Tamer to fill out the teams)


(My picks are in the comments…)

Comments off