Archive for November, 2010

The Wrong Stuff

The New Avengers #6

Well, I didn’t like this one at all.

Wolverine has been mystically granted the full power of all the Avengers so he can fight Agamotto, which he does, for page after page after page. Agamotto is a shapshifter, so he never looks the same twice, which was probably the only way to make Glowing-Wolverine-fighting-magician-on-pages-with-no-backgrounds at all interesting. The rest of the Avengers mostly sit around in a magic circle and chit-chat about what’s going on. Dr. Voodoo’s long-deceased brother Daniel is in Agamotto’s realm and tries to help out, and Voodoo freaks out, goes charging into the fight, and sacrifices himself to destroy Agamotto.

Ladies and gentlemen, Brian Michael Bendis, writer of “The New Avengers” and way, way too many of Marvel’s books, just killed the black guy so he could move Dr. Strange back into the Sorcerer Supreme slot. And that’s about 18 months after Bendis himself moved Dr. Voodoo into that same position. What was the point? Bendis hadn’t gotten to kill a random character in too long? Bendis decided he’d be more edgy and exxxxtreme if he killed a black character for no reason?

(Pictured: Brian Michael Bendis, unretouched photo)

On top of that, on the last page, Daimon Hellstrom goes out and scolds a bunch of random New Yorkers because they weren’t genuflecting low enough to the Avengers.Who didn’t really do much beyond sitting on their butts while a non-member, Dr. Voodoo, saved everyone. Why? I dunno, maybe because Brian Michael Bendis is a colossal douchecanoe.

So to sum up: Wolverine does stuff. Dr. Voodoo does stuff. Dr. Strange cries. The rest of the Avengers sit on their butts. Bendis collects a fat paycheck for writing yet another rotten comic book.

Brian Michael Bendis is an extremely lazy and vastly over-rated writer.

Verdict: Thumbs down. And you can add Bendis to the list of writers whose comics I won’t read any more.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6

Finally, and only a few weeks late, Grant Morrison drops this bucket of insanity on us. Bruce Wayne appears at the very end of time, dying of an infection by Apokolyptian monster. The mostly-robotic keepers of the end of time can keep him from dying, at least temporarily, and they disguise him as one of their own number. He returns to the present and fights off the current version of the Justice League while Superman, Green Lantern, Booster Gold, and Rip Hunter try to figure out a way to follow him when they don’t even have a time machine anymore. Wonder Woman hits Batman with her Lasso of Truth and learns that his armor is now possessed by Darkseid’s last doomsday weapon while deadly Omega Radiation burns him from the inside out. Is there any way to save Batman and save the world?

Verdict: I think I’m gonna thumbs it down. There was a lot of good stuff here, but it was all just a bit too frantic. And coming after Bruce Wayne made his return last week in “Batman and Robin,” it takes a lot of the oomph and thrill out of this one. Maybe it’ll all look better in the trade paperback…

Batgirl #15

After a great opening where Stephanie tries to explain the ins-and-outs of the Bat Family to Wendy using funny cartoons, we jump to Batgirl beating on a bunch of robed bad guys when she’s interrupted by a guy calling himself the Grey Ghost — actually an obsessive train bomber who Steph corralled a few issues back. Unfortunately, the Grey Ghost’s inept intervention allows the robed guys to kill a university student — and who’s gonna get the blame for that one, huh?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The opening cartoon is just plain wonderful, and the rest of it ain’t bad either. Excellent dialogue, action, humor, you name it. Have I told y’all before how great this comic book is?

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Oh, and while I got y’all here — don’t forget the meeting that’s being held TONIGHT about possible future comic conventions in Lubbock. Remember, it’ll happen at 8 p.m. this evening in the Metro Tower/NTS Building downtown, up on the 19th floor. If you’ve got any interest in comic-cons in Lubbock, don’t miss it…

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Convention News plus Reviews

First of all, we have some very interesting news for comics lovers in Lubbock.

There’s going to be a meeting tomorrow evening for folks interested in holding more comics conventions here in the Hub City.

It’s going to be happening at 8 p.m. sharp on Thursday, November 11, in the Metro Tower/NTS Building downtown, way up on the 19th floor in the large meeting room at the end of the hall.

They want anyone interested to come on out — whether you’re wanting to run a table, be a guest, or have some larger part in future conventions.

Got questions? Drop Nicholas an e-mail, and he’ll set ya up.

Alright, now let’s hit a few reviews.

iZombie #7

Gwen needs to chow down on a brain soon, or she’s going to turn into a mindless shambler zombie. But before she can get to her cerebellum lunch, we get to see Claire the vampire raised from the dead again by a mad scientist, Spot meets a new friend, and Horatio and Diogenes, the monster hunters, bite off more than they can chew with a van full of vampires.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful artwork, fun writing, and more craziness injected into Gwen’s undeath. The cliffhanger is pretty good, too.

Avengers Academy #6

Our focus this issue is on Reptil, the academy’s dinosaur-morphing golden boy. He’s dreamed of being in the Avengers his whole life, he’s just been elected as the class leader, and he should be on top of the world, but stress over his parents’ deaths, his potentially out-of-control powers, and having to keep too many secrets buried on behalf of his classmates is driving him towards a nervous breakdown. Can anyone help him make an emotional breakthrough?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m enjoying this comic a lot more than I ever expected to. The dialogue is good, the art is good, the plotlines and characterization are good. It’s well worth reading — hope you’re giving it a shot.

Secret Six #27

The two different Secret Six teams keep brawling with each other in Skartaris, but they call a fast halt to the proceedings after Scandal accidentally slashes Bane’s throat out. Luckily, Skartaris has healers who can fix him up fine. But the two teams are still at odds, still heading for a confrontation between two armies to determine who will control the fantasy kingdom. All that, plus Amanda Waller shoots someone in the head!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not much to say about it — all the good stuff we’ve come to expect from the “Secret Six” series.

Chaos War #3

The Chaos King is whuppin’ everyone’s butts. He’s already taken over the Underworld, which allows him to control dead gods like Zeus, Hera, and Ares, who, backed up by Chaos’ power, can even smack Galactus around. Hercules is finally forced to kill Zeus, who encourages Herc to team up with the rest of the gods in the rest of the pantheons. Unfortunately, when Hercules uses his new omniscience to find where they’re all hiding out, he reveals their location to the Chaos King — and the more gods he devours, the more infinitely powerful he becomes. Is there any way to win when there’s no chance to win? And who is the Chaos King’s secret ally?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, by this time, the threat to the universe has been risen way, way out of anyone’s league — so it’ll be fun to see how Herc and Amadeus Cho get out of this one next issue…

Today’s Cool Links:

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Pump Action Fantasy

I need a short break from reviewing comics, so today, we’re reviewing a book. Yay, books!

Shotgun Sorceress by Lucy A. Snyder

You may remember a while back when I reviewed Lucy A. Snyder’s debut novel “Spellbent.” Well, she came out with a sequel, and as much as I enjoyed the first one, I figured I should definitely check out this followup.

The story picks up just after the end of the first novel. Jessie Shimmer has successfully rescued her lover Cooper from Hell after the worst week of her life, and come out of the experience with a magic eye, a hellfire arm, and a formerly cute ferret familiar that’s now a giant spider monster. All she wants to do is curl up and recuperate from her efforts, but first she has to make nice with the local wizard’s council in a nasty corner of the faerie realm.

And that’s the easy part of the story. After that, the vengeful alien gods of magic send her to Texas — specifically, a corner of the Lone Star State bled dry of magic and ruled by a monstrous but impossibly sexy soul harvester named Miko. Can Jessie beat the odds a second time and save her friends and an entire town from horrific evil? Or are her magically debased emotions going to see her spending eternity as Miko’s girltoy?

Snyder’s story here is a great deal darker than her previous one. Already stressed out after the first novel’s adventures, Jessie’s emotions are on a hair-trigger now, even considering Miko’s power to artificially exaggerate the emotions of humans. In fact, all our lead characters are on edge and snappish for most of the novel, with only Pal, Jessie’s familiar, on a fairly even keel.

Snyder’s character work here really knocks things home, with even minor characters given full and fascinating personalities. The mood and settings are great, too — from the beautiful but dangerous Faery to a cramped, besieged, and paranoid college campus to a makeshift pup tent in the backyard, all the settings make you feel like you’re right there watching the action. And there’s a ton of action, too — Jessie may be a spellcaster, but she spends a lot of her time beating people up, shooting zombies, and running to catch up with the bad guys.

If you loved “Spellbent” — and you better have, or else — you’re going to love “Shotgun Sorceress,” too. Go pick it up.

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Friday Night Fights: A Sound of Thunder!

Kids, I know what you’re thinking. It’s been a rough week, full of drudgery and stress and chaos, and what you really need to get your weekend started is a bowl of cold oatmeal and the complete “Lawrence Welk Show” on DVD, right? WRONG! You need excitement and fun and relaxation and gratuitous cartoon fisticuffs and… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes from December 1976’s Shazam! #26 by E. Nelson Bridwell and Kurt Schaffenberger, as Captain Marvel gets dragged back in time, along with everyone in Congress. (In other words, a typical day in Congress)

Ya know, I do believe that was Captain Marvel punching out a Tyrannosaurus rex. Does that make this the most awesome Friday Night Fights ever? At least ’til someone manages to shoehorn ninjas, pirates, and robots into the next one?

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Bat Family Reunion

Batman and Robin #16

Barring the off-schedule ending of “Return of Bruce Wayne,” this comic is the final chapter of Grant Morrison’s long-running Batman epic — heck, come to think of it, it’s basically the secret last chapter of “Final Crisis.” How’s it turn out?

After a short visit to colonial times to see the evil Thomas Wayne make his bargain for immortality with the demon Barbatos, the rest of the issue focuses on the returned Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Damian Wayne taking on Thomas Wayne as Dr. Hurt, Professor Pyg, and the 99 Fiends. Bruce gets trapped in a deathtrap by Hurt — but of course he escapes, and he has to choose between aprehending Hurt or saving Alfred. All that plus the Joker! All that plus Bruce Wayne spills the beans to the press!

Verdict: Thumbs up. All the attention is going to Bruce’s announcement at the end (that he is Batman’s corporate funder) — I think it’s a pretty decent idea, though probably not absolutely necessary. But Morrison’s final issue here is a pretty rollicking story all on its own. It was grand fun, and I’m glad I got to read along with it.

Mystery Society #4

Nick Hammond lets himself get captured by the government so he can look for evidence that he and his wife Anastasia Collins have been framed. Meanwhile, the Secret Skull and Jules Verne (in his awesome steampunk robot body) chase down the man who stole Edgar Allan Poe’s skull. Can everyone get back together and figure out a way to rescue Nick?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun stuff going on here, particularly anything having to do with the Secret Skull and Jules Verne (and his awesome steampunk robot body) (and its amazing butt rocket). The story’s fun, the art is fun, it’s all worth picking up.

Strange Science Fantasy #5

Rusty Irons is a palooka boxer with a heart of gold. He falls in love with a girl named Suzie, helps take care of her senile mother, and dreams of being able to buy her a ring. He finally agrees to throw a fight to get the money, but he gets double-crossed and sent to the hospital. Suzie shells out the dough for an experimental treatment — and Rusty is transformed into a hyper-elastic man. Can Rusty get over the birth pangs of his new existence and make it up to Suzie and her mother?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great fun — Scott Morse channels Jack Cole in this great pulpish Plastic Man story.


Zodon, Guardian Angel, 84, and USA Patriot Act have traveled to an alternate dimension to prevent Victor Von Fogg from destroying it to power his reality-altering machine. Will the kids be able to fight off a squad of agents from the Trans Dimensional Defense Division? Why is Zodon so interested in keeping this superhero-less world safe? Will Forak be able to keep the dimensional gateway safe? Will Moon Shadow and Captain Clarinet be able to keep from killing each other while they’re lost in deep space?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s going to be fun to find out more about Zodon’s past in the next few issues. As always, Aaron Williams’ great storytelling and artwork make this comic a must-read.

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A Farewell to Cap

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #21

This kid-friendly series — the last comic featuring the classic Marvel Family — has finally come to its end. Black Adam is now more powerful than ever, and he’s not having much difficulty mopping up on the Marvels. Can Captain Marvel figure out how to stop him? Will it require a final sacrifice by one of the Marvel Family members? And what’s going to happen when the entire Justice League comes calling?

Verdict: Thumbs up. At its best — and the last few issues of this have been among its best — this has always been a pretty fun, though often wordy, series. It’s too bad that another all-ages comic is going away, and it’s also too bad that we can’t see the classic Marvel Family anywhere in any current comics now…

Zatanna #6

Zachary Zatara is peeved at his cousin, Zatanna, because she’s ditched his show again. When he learns that she’s vanished, he tracks her to a secret chapel owned by casino kingpin Sonny Raymond — she’s been bewitched and is about to marry him, giving him another soul to sacrifice to Mammon in exchange for more years of unnatural life. Is there a way to extract Zatanna from this mockery of a wedding? And what punishments are going to visited upon Sonny Raymond and Mammon?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not the greatest story around, but not bad, and it’s nice to see Zach Zatara getting to do something in a comic…

Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London #2

Billy’s been tossed in the hoosegow in London, believed to be Jack the Ripper himself. He gets broken out of the joint by a British freak, but Sproule and Isadora, unaware of where he is, go out to find him. They run into H.H. Holmes, who sends Sproule off on a wild goose chase while he leads Isadora off — but another freak soon shows up to rescue Isadora. Who’s really behind the murders in Whitechapel? And in the backup story, the Goon tangles with a giant fish monster and the Mighty Fog Hat. And someone’s stolen Franky’s weiners!

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love any comic that includes the spectacularly rotten H.H. Holmes. And the Goon backup is supremely silly. Good stuff all around.

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The Greatest Paranormal Investigators Ever?

Hellboy/Beasts of Burden: Sacrifice

Mike Mignola’s red-skinned paranormal investigator teaming up with Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s four-legged spellcasters? Is there any way in the world this would not completely rock?

Verdict: Yes, it completely rocks. Mignola and Dorkin worked together on the script for this, and the result is big on action, supernatural weirdness, great dialogue, and great humor. Puggsley, normally the comic relief, gets his chance to shine — heck, everyone gets their chance to shine. It’s a grand story all around, and I’m glad the creators got together to make it happen.

Detective Comics #870

The conclusion of the Imposter Wars storyarc has the Jokerz and the Guardian Bats going to war in the middle of a carnival. It’s no great surprise that the deformed Winslow Heath is behind both the Jokerz and the Guardian Bats, but what is surprising and horrifying is the personal reason behind his madness — and it’s not just the Joker Venom he was exposed to years ago…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice end to the storyline. Granted, it’s an extremely downbeat and grim ending, but it’s likely the ending we had coming all along.

Madame Xanadu #28

It’s 1966, and Charlotte Blackwood is a college student who’s just had her first LSD experience. Unfortunately, once she comes off the trip, everything is vastly different for her — she can’t eat anything without experiencing its entire life-cycle. Tough enough when she has visions of wheat being harvested when she eats a bowl of cereal, but much worse when she feels what it’s like to die in a slaughterhouse while eating a hamburger. Can Madame Xanadu help her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, great hook, and Marian Churchland’s art really works well for this story.

Justice Society of America #44

New writer and artist on this series, and they’ve decided to celebrate by completely blowing up the team’s status quo again. Jay Garrick wants to retire as a superhero, Mr. Terrific is slowly losing his intelligence, a metahuman terrorist breaks Green Lantern’s neck, and corralling the terrorist means the team has to almost destroy a city to get him under control.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I remember when this title was the very best thing DC was publishing. Not anymore. And I’m done subjecting myself to the continuing decline of a once-great series.

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