Archive for May, 2010


The Flash #2

Flash is confronted by a bunch of guys who look like the Rogues and have the Rogues’ powers, but they’re actually a bunch of superpowered policemen from the future who claim that they need to arrest him for the future murder of one of their fellow officers named Mirror Monarch. He’s able to force them all back to the future, but the chronal mishap ends up destroying a nearby apartment building. Flash evacuates the building and then completely rebuilds it. Meanwhile, Captain Boomerang runs into Mirror Master and Captain Cold in prison, who tell him that, due to the way he let himself go before he was killed, they’re not just going to let him back into the Rogues until he can prove himself by giving the Flash as much trouble as possible. Back at the precinct house, Barry Allen opens a closed case that his boss wants to stay closed, plus he gets some bad news about the Mirror Monarch investigation.

Verdict: Ehh, not that enthused, sorry to say. The story seems fine, but this is all stuff that Barry did back in the old days. This title needs to prove that Barry Allen’s resurrection served some purpose other than letting Geoff Johns write about his old Silver Age heroes.

Daytripper #6

Brás de Oliva Domingos is now 33 years old, writing obituaries for a Brazilian newspaper. But his role at the paper gets a lot more prominent when there’s a colossal plane crash, and he’s tasked with helping families find closure by writing obits for all of the victims. And while he’s trying to create tributes to all the plane’s victims, he’s also upset because his friend Jorge has disappeared. Was he on the plane? Is he safe? Alive? And how does Brás’ fate intertwine with a long-haul trucker?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Another beautifully written and illustrated story from Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá. Brás’ ongoing depression about Jorge and the difficulty of writing about a national tragedy is nicely contrasted with excerpts from his heartfelt obits for the victims of the crash. And the covers of this comic have all been absolutely brilliant so far — someone better be framing these somewhere, or printing them up in a book…

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Rock Me, Amadeus

Prince of Power #1

In the aftermath of Hercules’ death, Athena has orchestrated to put his friend Amadeus Cho, the seventh smartest person on the planet, in charge of the Olympus Group. Amadeus has accepted the position mainly because it gives him the resources to try to locate Hercules, since he’s learned that Herc isn’t in Hades, the Greek god afterlife. So while he runs around beating up supervillains like the Griffin (using Hercules’ magical Adamantine mace and an energy shield developed by Bruce Banner), he’s also got Banner spending a half-trillion dollars’ worth of the Olympus Group’s money to build a machine capable of scanning the entire multiverse for signs of Hercules. Unfortunately, the quantum observer effect means that the simple fact of making a scan of that magnitude creates even more multiverses, making the search vastly more complicated.

After that, Amadeus gets a visit from a guy named Vali Halfling, an Asgardian supervillain with a tendency to fight the Hulk. Halfling tells Amadeus that he has a plan to steal various mythological artifacts from a number of different godly pantheons to enable humans to become actual gods themselves. Amadeus gives Halfling a whuppin’, but realizes that godly omniscience would sure help speed up the quest to find Herc, so he sets off for the first item on the quest list — the Golden Apples of Asgard.

Verdict: Thumbs up. All the usual brilliant characterization, dialogue, humor, and action we’ve come to expect from Greg Pak and Fred van Lente. The battle against the Griffin is entirely excellent, but there are also some wonderful scenes that are very low-key and quiet — Amadeus’ monologue with the incarcerated and generally displeased Delphyne Gorgon, his snake-haired ex-girlfriend, is nice, and the scene with townspeople from Broxton, Oklahoma running a food drive for the recently wrecked Asgard (the entire realm had taken up residence over Oklahoma until the end of the “Siege” crossover) is both awesome and funny.

Batgirl #10

The Calculator has lost it big time. He’s keeping his son Marvin’s corpse around to talk to, and he’s planning revenge on Oracle for keeping his daughter Wendy away from him — ’cause after all, he’s so freakin’ crazy and criminal, he should have all kinds of visitation rights. Oracle suspects he’s about to pull something rotten, and so she’s unplugging all of her Internet connections — and it turns out it’s for a very good reason, ’cause Calculator manages to broadcast a nanite-technovirus over the Internet that lets him turn half the population of Gotham City into robot-zombies, all trying to track down Barbara Gordon — including the students in her classroom and her own father. And as bad as things start with thousands of Gothamites turned into Calculator-controlled drones, it gets much worse when other costumed crimefighters get added to the mix…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice story with a lot of claustrophobic tension. Very funny dialogue between Steph and Detective Gage. Not a lot else to say — just a really good superhero comic…

Secret Six #21

Catman is on his own, torturing and killing anyone who he thinks might have killed his son. Deadshot, Scandal Savage, Ragdoll, and Black Alice are trying to track him down, either to rescue him or to help him. Bane and Jeannette are trying to keep the Secret Six going under their own leadership by hiring a bunch of other metahuman crooks. Catman tracks his next victim down to South Africa — a big superstrong sadist called Loki. Does he have a chance against someone that powerful? And will the remainder of the team tear itself apart without him?

verdict: Another thumbs up. Loved the background material on Catman’s entirely rotten father. Lots of excellent dialogue, too, and a ton of blisteringly gruesome violence. I know there are other comics focusing on supervillains as the protagonists, but this one really is the best one out there.

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What a Thor Head!

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #2

Before we get started, could I just say that I hate Marvel’s trade dress for this comic? When you’re hiding the actual title of the comic way down at the bottom of the cover, while putting the very large logo for a completely different comic up at the top, it makes it very hard to identify the comic in the stores, and it makes it harder to build new fans for the series — if they liked last issue, they’ll be looking for an Iron Man comic, ’cause he was on the cover of last issue. Will they look for this issue, when it seems to be a Thor comic? It’s just a poor design/marketing decision.

Now on to the story — it seems that Galactus, Eater of Worlds, needs a new herald — he says he wants to give some human immense cosmic powers so they can fly all over the universe and guide him to new planets to devour. And the funny thing is — he took out a classified to find someone. Wha? Yeah, that’s what the Avengers think, too. So they show up in Austin, of all places, with a few thousand people desperate to get superpowers. When Firelord, one of Galactus’ last heralds, shows up, he announces that the price to get all that cosmic power is… any priceless item.

Well, that kicks off a global crime wave, as people start burglarizing art museums for priceless items. With most of the team protecting the world’s art treasures, can the Invisible Woman, Iron Man, and Black Widow find out what this Galactus plot is really all about?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent hook for this story — Galactus placing a classified ad for a new herald? Firelord handing out paper applications for the position? That really draws you into the story fast, and it definitely keeps you reading. Great story, excellent characterization and development, and good dialogue, too. Spend a little extra time hunting this one down in the store, ’cause it’s worth picking up.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #5

And speaking of problems with the trade dress — this one keeps changing the logo on the cover! It keeps switching from “Marvel Super Hero Squad” to “Super Hero Squad Show.” It’s not too confusing, since the logos look very similar, but I do wish they’d be a bit more consistent.

When one of MODOK’s already outlandish schemes goes even more outlandishly awry, we get stuck with a Hulk made out of high-energy fractal shards, and a bunch of superheroes (but not nearly all of them depicted on the cover) with the Hulk’s strength, rage, and IQ running wild. We also get some connected stories starring Loki and Ant-Man.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This takeoff of Marvel’s recent mini-event on “Hulked-Out Heroes” has all the fun and charm that the original lacked, with 100% less Deadpool. The stories are pretty humorous, but I enjoyed the Ant-Man story at the end the most — great mix of humor and action.

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My Sense of Humor is Sophisticated and Mature

So I finally got the fourth volume of “Yotsuba&!” recently (out of eight — I still need to get a ton more). I was reading along quite merrily when I hit the following sequence that made me laugh like a loon for a good five minutes.

What’s the setup? Yotsuba and her dad have gone to the grocery store, planning out a super-delicious — no, wait, just a regular-delicious meal, filling up their shopping cart with food…

…when Yotsuba’s dad realizes that he left his wallet at home.

And that wasn’t even the funniest moment in the book. The neighbor kid suffering from heartbreak was what led to a couple of the funniest chapters of the story ever…

You guys are reading this series, right? You better get with it or else…

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Bird Watching

Birds of Prey #1

Huzzah! “Birds of Prey” is back! With Gail Simone still writing it! And with Ed Benes on art! Oh, wait, that’s not good. Ed Benes’ main artistic skill is drawing girls’ butts. Well, at least Gail Simone is writing it!

We start out with Black Canary very gratifyingly beating the snot out of a kidnapper in Russia while Lady Blackhawk provides air cover. Then they and Huntress get a call from Oracle — she’s getting the gang back together. While Lady Blackhawk recruits Hawk and Dove, Barbara tells Huntress and Black Canary why she needs them back — she’s getting blackmailed by someone who’s compiled every important secret there is about every superhero and supervillain in the world. If the Birds of Prey don’t go after him, he’s going to release the entire list in mere hours. And even if they do go after him, he’s going to kill someone on the list once an hour until they stop him. But who’s really behind this scheme? And do the Birds have a chance to survive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s great that this series is back, especially with Simone in charge. Benes’ more unsubtle cheesecake impulses are at least reined in, which makes his artwork more bearable. I’m not sure how thrilled I am to see Hawk and Dove here — both of them just bore me to tears, but maybe Simone has a plan for ’em. I also wish Misfit were in this one. As for the story itself, I’m pretty pleased with it. The opening scene is just plain awesome, and the impending crisis and the confrontation with the blackmailer on the last pages is very good. Definitely looking forward to reading more of this one.

The Unwritten #13

Tom Taylor has been lying low for a few months, along with Lizzie Hexam and Richard Savoy, as they try to avoid tipping off the authorities that they’re still alive. Meanwhile, the world is abuzz about the brand new Tommy Taylor novel that’s about to be released. The evil literary assassin Pullman is being prepped to kill both Tom and his father Wilson. And it turns out that the new Tommy Taylor novel is a complete fake — the evil conspiracy is publishing a completely crap-quality novel in an attempt to get Wilson Taylor to come out of hiding. Tom and Savoy both run into old acquaintances — one a friend and one a great enemy…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very nice start to a new storyline. Characterization, dialogue, artwork — this one hits everything it needs to. And hey, pay attention to the captions on the TV reports in the story — there are a few good laughs lurking in there…

B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #5

And here’s the wrapup of another BPRD storyline. In the aftermath of last issue’s disasters, the field team is in the hospital, the islands of Borneo and Sulawesi have been completely destroyed, and a gigantic insectoid leviathan has appeared on the Salton Sea in California — it’s emitting some kind of noxious gas that turns people into monsters. Director Manning, Kate Corrigan, and Johann Kraus are getting raked over the coals by the UN — although the BPRD also gets some very good news out of their interrogation. The field team doesn’t trust Abe Sapien anymore, the frequently evil megacorp Zinco is trying to appear humanitarian, and Liz Sherman turns up alone in Bangkok.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A good finish for a frequently confusing storyarc, with some new status quos for everyone and new mysteries on the horizon. It’s been implied that things are just going to get worse and worse in future storyarcs — hopefully, the storytelling will continue to improve.

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Attack of the Cave-Bat

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1

Holy cow, Bruce Wayne is stuck in the distant past?! Why didn’t anyone tell us about this?!

Okay, okay, Batman being stuck in the past wasn’t really much of a secret. Apparently, after Darkseid hit him with the Omega Effect during the “Final Crisis” series, he got shot clear back to prehistory, where he met up with Anthro the First Boy on Earth (just before he dies of old age), and drawing a few superhero symbols on a cave wall. Now Batman, addled and amnesiac from his time trip, meets up with Anthro’s tribe just before they’re attacked by a rival tribe of cavemen led by Vandal Savage. They kill numerous people and capture Bruce, staking him out on the ground overnight. But he’s rescued by Anthro’s grandson, one of the survivors of the attack, who’s gone and suited himself up with an actual domino mask. Batman then attacks Savage, wearing a giant bat skin as a cape and cowl, and then he kicks Savage’s butt with a whole lot of gadgets from his utility belt. But by the time Superman, Green Lantern, Booster Gold, and Rip Hunter make a time-travel trip to retrieve him, Batman has disappeared again.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a weird, weird book — a caveman Robin who makes his own domino mask? It’s even slow-moving, in an odd, first-issue kind of way. But once Bruce Wayne dons the dead bat skin as a costume, it’s all weird in the best, most awesome way possible.

Astro City: The Dark Age – Book Four #4

The final issue of this miniseries has the Pale Horseman killing people for real and imagined crimes, while the Street Angel and Quarrel try to stop him. Charles and Royal Williams are still tracking down Aubrey Jason, the man who killed their parents, but he’s now stealing some of the Pale Horseman’s power to shore up his own rapidly vanishing lifeforce. Will they be able to work with the Silver Agent to stop him, when they blame the Agent for their parents’ deaths almost as much? And is there still a way for the brothers — or Astro City — to pull a happy ending out of this dark, bleak story?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It is a dark, bleak story, crammed full of more shadows than you’d expect, but it ends on the right note, with the Pale Horseman and Aubrey Jason getting the proper comeuppance, and all done with the right amount of heroism. And then the epilogue makes it all even cooler. Low-key, calm, quiet, but still cool.

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Lost in Time

Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #1

Spidey and Wolverine have found themselves transported back to prehistoric times. While Spidey has turned into a hermit, caging up giant spiders, letting his beard grow, and doing hardcore research into the time period, Wolverine has taken up a role as the leader of a stone-age tribe, teaching them how to fend off larger and more barbaric cavemen. But Spidey’s discovered that an extinction-event meteor is on its way, and they’re all going to die tomorrow. Is there any hope for anyone to survive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This had a very nice set-up and fun dialogue. Petey and Logan have been stuck out here for quite a while, and their limited interaction was pretty cool. Not sure we’re going to have any deeply meaningful story here — this is mainly an excuse to get Wolverine and Spider-Man involved in some fun time-travel stuff. There are some things that bug me — humans and dinosaurs never existed at the same time, and how did Peter Parker manage to refine glass lenses to make a telescope? — but those are minor quibbles in a very enjoyable story.

JSA All-Stars #6

A botched spell by Anna Fortune has somehow brought the terrible Subtle Realms to our own dimension — and released the monstrous King of Tears from captivity. Meanwhile, Stargirl has just discovered that the Atom-Smasher who she’s been traveling with for the past month is actually Johnny Sorrow in disguise — he’s been trying to get her to fall in love with him so he can sacrifice her to bring himself back to life. Is there any way for the team to destroy the King of Tears, stop Johnny Sorrow, and rescue Stargirl and the real Atom-Smasher?

Verdict: Amazingly, thumbs up. The art is still awful, but the story and pacing finally make up for it. We get multiple storylines with focuses on numerous JSA members, and they all make sense, and they all get decent coverage. That’s something that this book hasn’t managed yet, and I’m hoping it means good things for this title’s future.

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Don’t Hate on the Linkdump

Hey! It’s International Linkdump Day! Yes, I just invented that day myself. The important thing is that we all get the day off! YAY, DAY OFF! Also, we get a bunch of links to click on. YAY, LINKS TO CLICK ON!

  • Lubbock artist Dustin Wallace — who I got to meet at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo — got a nice mention in Boing Boing. He makes metal insect-lizard monsters that look fantastically cool.
  • DC is bringing back all their old Silver Age characters, at the expense of the tiny bit of racial diversity they’d tried to build up in recent years. Chris Sims provides the excellent analysis.
  • Green Ronin Publishing, the company that makes the highly-excellent “Mutants and Masterminds” RPG, is going to be publishing the new DC Comics RPG.
  • An eight-year-old girl who loves horror movies requested a zombie-themed birthday party, so her mom made this awesome cake. Awesome eight-year-old girl and mother? Or AWESOMEST eight-year-old girl and mother?
  • KISS goes to Homecoming.
  • Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse” played on GIANT HARMONICAS!
  • You all love “Twin Peaks,” right? I mean, that gum you like is going to come back in style! Did you know David Lynch made a bunch of “Twin Peaks” ads for a Japanese coffee company? Well, he did!
  • This is a little bit rude, but very funny. Grownups only, please, may go read about dinosaurs and sodomy.

And now for the most important part of International Linkdump Day — the ceremonial Sending Gigantic Checks to the Dude Running the Comic Book Blog…

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Dead Ringers

iZombie #1

This is the first issue of the new series by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, and it’s available for just a buck, which means you should go pick it up, ’cause nowadays, that’s dirt cheap.

Not a whole lot of plot in this first issue — just introducing our cast of characters. Our lead is Gwen Dylan, a gravedigger with a secret — she’s dead as a doornail. Luckily, as long as she eats one fresh brain a month, she won’t go all “Night of the Living Dead” on anyone. But for a week after she eats that one brain, she’s going to have the deceased person’s memories, and she’s going to try to take care of their unfinished business. Her friends include a ’60s-era ghost named Ellie and a wereterrier named Spot, and other supernatural types in the area include a bunch of vampire babes who run a paintball course and a couple of monster hunters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice art, decent dialogue, nice setup for the characters, and again, it’s just a dollar! Go get it already!

Brightest Day #1

A white power battery has appeared, and no one seems to be able to lift it. Deadman finds himself on board a ship smuggling children and is unable to help, but Aquaman and Mera appear and save the kids — with the aid of some unexpected zombie sea creatures. Meanwhile, the villain formerly known as Black Manta is working out of a seaside fish shop — when he hears that Aquaman has returned to life, he kills all his customers and gets his armor out of storage. Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch are unable to separate from the Firestorm matrix, and the Martian Manhunter, trying to terraform Mars, has a vision of himself murdering Professor Erdel, the Earth scientist who accidentally brought him to Earth. And Hawkman and Hawkgirl pursue a bunch of criminals who have stolen the bones of Prince Khufu and Princess Chay-Ara — the original versions of the Hawks from Ancient Egypt.

Verdict: Thumbs down. We get a lot of different stories, all just barely addressed before we rush off to some other barely-addressed story. It’s a rotten way to tell a story — it’s only a way to stretch out a crossover. And there are worse problems than that. In the zero issue, Aquaman was afraid to go in the water — now he’s swimming around just fine. We also get calls-back to the “Blackest Night” crossover, with Aquaman’s zombie sea minions and the partial reappearance of Martian Manhunter’s Black Lantern costume when he has his vision of Professor Erdel. And quite honestly, as much fun as “Blackest Night” was, it’s not a good sign when your first crossover afterwards is already running back to that well again.

And on top of that, the implied promise of “Brightest Day” — a more hopeful, more “Silver Age,” less mindlessly murderous future for DC’s comics — has already been completely abandoned. A zombie shark gorily dismembers someone, a blood-drenched Black Manta slaughters three people at more-or-less random, and we get treated to detailed closeups of some commandos getting shot in the back of the head. Sure, I expected DC to go back to lazy massacres soon, but I never imagined it’d happen so quickly. I thought for sure Geoff Johns could go at least a few issues before splattering some guy’s blood across the page.

I’m giving this one just one more chance. I don’t have infinite patience for crossovers any more.

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Friday Night Fights: You Hockey Puck!

It’s been a long, crazy week, and the one thing we all need to get the weekend started right is a nice little dose of the old ultraviolence in the form of… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

This one’s crazier than most. It comes from Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #139 by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta. Kirby had just recently started work at DC, and he’d asked to take over the low-sales Jimmy Olsen book ’cause he figured DC would let him go wild with crazy ideas to try to pump up the sales. (EDIT: See RAB’s comment for another explanation. I’d always heard it this way, but his explanation has merit, too.) He hatched up an idea to have a celebrity guest star — insult comic Don Rickles. But Don didn’t even appear right away — the first issue was dominated by Don’s bizarre lookalike, Goody Rickles, who’s enthusiastically nice, works for Morgan Edge, and likes to wear a superhero costume, even though he’s got no powers or fighting skills.

So this is what happens when Jimmy Olsen and Goody Rickles get attacked by Intergang’s goons:

Don showed up an issue later and was entirely horrified by his good twin. Then Goody and Jimmy caught fire for a while. Seriously. Jack Kirby was the King… but man, I don’t know where he came up with some of this stuff…

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