Archive for February, 2011

Flash Bang

The Flash #9

I got dead bored with this title for a while but am gonna give it another shot as they’re starting the buildup to the big fancy “Flashpoint” crossover event. We start out with a character named Hot Pursuit — some kind of supercop driving a superspeed, time-traveling motorcycle — showing up in Central City looking for the Flash. Barry Allen, meanwhile, has been sent out to investigate the dead body of an old man wearing a superhero costume — specifically, the costume of the Elongated Man, though for some reason, Barry doesn’t recognize it. When the body’s fingerprints are identified, it turns out to be a local teen hero called the Elongated Kid. No one knows why a teenager aged into a 90-year-old corpse. On top of that, Barry is avoiding attending a “Flash family picnic,” and his wife Iris is unhappy at him for that. Finally, Hot Pursuit shows up again and busts a window in the crime lab right in front of Barry. When Barry chases him down, Hot Pursuit reveals himself to be (Spoiler Alert, if you didn’t figure out the extremely obvious reveal by Page 2) Barry Allen, trying to prevent “the single greatest time anomaly to ever threaten reality.”

Verdict: I think I’m going to go with a thumbs down. First, it irritated me that Barry Allen wasn’t able to recognize the Elongated Man’s costume — longstanding continuity, confirmed only a few short years ago by Geoff Johns himself, has established that the Flash and the Elongated Man have been close friends for years. It bugs me that Johns is such a sloppy writer now that he can’t even remember something he’d written not that long ago. Yeah, it’s just one small moment in the comic, but it annoyed me enough to completely ruin the rest of the story for me. I’ll give it another issue or two to try to draw me back in, but they better step up their game quick.

Batman and Robin #20

Dick Grayson attends a performance of Das Rheingold which gets disrupted when a guy dressed as an angel plummets 80 stories to his death on the red carpet. The guy’s wings were filled with some kind of glowing yellow substance and his fingerprints and footprints have been burned off with acid. While Batman and Robin are investigating the crime scene, they’re accosted by Man-Bat, covered with some kind of glowing white substance and shouting about screams that only he can hear. And then the glowing white bats show up.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Seriously weird story and starting out very, very interestingly. But I must say, my favorite part of the whole story is the very beginning, with Bruce, Dick, Tim Drake, Damian, and Alfred all settling down with popcorn and strawberry milkshakes to watch “The Mark of Zorro” on DVD. It’s a great, fun moment.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – Gods #2

This issue is actually set at the same time as the previous issue, but told from the POV of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, and particularly with Abe Sapien as our focus. He and Andrew Devon have it out about the strong disagreements between the two of them over the last few months, the whole team reviews the situation in Texas, with an emphasis on Fenix’s ability to lead large numbers of refugees to safety, and they hear from a borderline crackpot named Professor O’Donnell, who theorizes that the monsters overrunning Texas were also responsible for the destruction of ancient Hyperborea. It all culminates where last issue did, in the ruined football field.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see a little character development getting processed for Abe and Andrew, along with a little more backstory for the Texas situation.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Friday Night Fights: Pot Wars!

Well, I’ve heard how you’ve been spending your weekends, and I’m very disappointed. You could at least try to live it up, instead of spending all your time eating cold biscuits, raking the yard, organizing your underwear drawer in order of colors of skidmarks, and taking glamour shots of your refrigerator. Please try to spend your weekend the right way — with debauchery and sleeping late and running about making the neighbors think you’re crazy… and you can get it all started with a little FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Today’s battle comes from April 1998’s Quantum and Woody #11 by Christopher Priest, M.D. Bright, Greg Adams, and Keith Williams, as we enjoy a flashback of Eric Henderson taking care of a bunch of racist douchebags.

Y’all have a hellaciously awesome weekend, and I’ll see y’all back here on Monday.

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Robo Jungle

Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #3

Well, Robo and Jack Tarot tangled with a colossal robot and got trounced, while the robot escaped with a fancy computer. And Robo is on the outs with Mr. Tesla — he’s upset that Robo is sneaking out of the house without permission, and Robo is unhappy that Tesla treats him like a child. Robo ends up moving out of Tesla’s home and moving in with Tarot and his pretty daughter Helen to learn how to be a real crimefighter. And sparks fly — metaphorically — between Robo and Helen. Will Robo reconcile with his creator? Is there a romantic future for a woman and a robot? And who was behind that giant thieving robot anyway?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The romance was maybe a bit unexpected — and really, that was just about the hottest smooch I’ve ever seen in which one of the smoochers doesn’t even have a mouth. So, ya know, good stuff.

Love and Capes: Ever After #1

Mark and Abby haven’t been married long, but they’ve got some major real estate woes. They need to move to a larger apartment, and the landlord of the building where Abby’s bookstore is located keeps raising her rent. All that, plus Amazonia and Darkblade are now dating, Mark and Abby get the grand tour of Darkblade’s mansion, and we get acquainted with the dastardly but presumably sexy villainy of the Menagerie a Trois gang.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice story with Tom Zahler’s usual perfectly mixed blend of humor and drama. Great dialogue, cool cartoony art (with really cool coloring), and fun characterization.

PS238 #48

While Argonaut and Moon Shadow are stranded on the opposite end of the galaxy in a depowered spaceship, Guardian Angel, USA Patriot Act, and 84 are roaming around an alternate universe while they try to help Zodon keep Victor Von Fogg from destroying the place. Guardian Angel gets drafted into the Trans-Dimensional Defense Division, a bunch of dimension-hopping police officers, and everyone gets acquainted with the other-dimensional and non-powered versions of Zodon (who specializes in creating extremely lucrative websites) and Von Fogg (who’s a Bieberesque pop star). Alexandria Von Fogg is trying to figure out how to bring down the Headmaster running the Praetorian Academy, and Victor makes his bid for supreme power to try to conquer a whole universe all for himself.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The visions of Zodon’s and Victor’s alternate lives are great, as is everyone’s reaction to the cute kitten video. There’s even heavy-duty comic-book science-fiction gobbledygook that actually almost makes sense, which is pretty good for heavy-duty comic-book science-fiction gobbledygook. As always, great characterization and artwork. Go pick it up, por favor.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Secrets and Dooms

Secret Six #30

This is a crossover issue with the Doom Patrol. We start out getting introduced to a junior crime lord whose resources have all come from his recently deceased evil grandfather, then we jump into the strip club where Scandal’s girlfriend works, where Bane is going on a date, despite his complete inability to engage in civil or appropriate interpersonal communications. And after that, we visit scenic Oolong Island, home to mad scientists galore and current headquarters of the Doom Patrol. Robotman is trying to get some fishing in — specifically for a monster fish that used to be a human.

Anyway, after a while, the Secret Six show up — they’ve been hired by the junior crime lord to take over the island so he can have his very own secret volcano base. King Shark makes the first attack when he chomps off Elasti-Girl’s leg. This doesn’t seem to bother anyone much — it looks like she can regrow her limbs, which I didn’t remember being part of her original powerset. Black Alice grows to Giganta-size to fight Rita, Ambush Bug makes with the funny, as do King Shark, Ragdoll, and Negative Man, and there’s a volcano that’s about to blow up the island. To be continued in “Doom Patrol,” if I ever feel like getting that one.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I didn’t know Ambush Bug was in the Doom Patrol. I didn’t know they were based on Oolong Island either. It all helps make a nice, fun story. I still don’t know if I’ll care enough to actually grab a copy of “Doom Patrol,” which I’ve heard mixed reviews of, but who knows?

Marvel Super Hero Squad Spectacular #1

Well, the Beyonder is in town, and he’s in his bizarre Elvis-inspired costume from “Secret Wars II.” This does not bode well at all. He decides to kidnap a bunch of superheroes and supervillains and make them fight each other for his own general amusement, so he grabs the Super Hero Squad, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and Speedball, as well as Dr. Doom’s crew. Then there is a lot of random hitting while the heroes try to figure out how to make it back home. Meanwhile, crime is out of control with the heroes gone from the city, but Power Man, Iron Fist, Cloak and Dagger, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver step up to help keep the city under control, so Ms. Marvel inducts all of them into a Substitute Super Hero Squad. All that, plus Reptil does some stuff.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Seriously, you bring in the Elvis-Beyonder, and you’ve pretty much lost me from that point on. The rest of it was too frantic, too jokey even for a joke-filled all-ages comic, and just generally irritating.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Not really a link, but definitely worth mentioning: There will be a meeting this Friday, February 11th at 7 p.m., for volunteers and organizers for the upcoming Lubbock Comic Book Expo. The meeting will take place at Awesome Books, 3009A 34th Street. Please show up and help make the Expo another great success!
  • Awesome animated short of classic-style Superman.
  • This video game, based on artwork by animator Michel Gagne, looks insanely cool.
  • I absolutely endorse this rendition of the National Anthem.
  • Have I mentioned lately how very, very much I dislike Rick Perry? Looking at a $15 billion budget hole, and he wants to show off by cutting peanuts. What a showboating failure we’ve got running the state. I wish someone would zero out the budgets for the most useless and destructive state organizations — namely, the Gov’s office and the Lege itself…

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Dead Men Tell No Tales

Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #2

Well, Hellboy is trapped in a basement with a monster that’s part zombie, part ghost, part nursery-rhyme-quoting little girl, and he’s not doing so well. The monster can knock him around easily, but she turns insubstantial everytime Hellboy throws a punch. Meanwhile, the vampire who created her and turned her big sister into a vamp gets mad when he finds out that Hellboy killed the older vampire, so he sets a horde of zombies after a couple of investigating B.P.R.D. agents. Can Hellboy figure out a way to stop all this? Or is his usual punch-first-ask-questions-later methodology going to release the monster into the world?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely done story that flips between punchathon violent to understated creepy. Best place to find stories like that is, as usual, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy stories.

iZombie #10

Gwen finally goes to see Tricia Nakagawa — a girl who knew her when she was still alive — to let her know that her deceased mother still loves her — and discovers a secret she was not prepared for. Spot discovers that Ellie’s new talent of shoehorning her soul into other people’s bodies might be useful for helping his grandfather. Horatio and Diogenes have some serious trouble with the vampires. And Galatea’s plans get progressively nastier.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But this is a series that’s starting to look like it’s mired down in soap-opera plot developments that never lead to any resolution — it’d be nice to see some plot threads start getting tied down here and there.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #1

Edward Grey, former Witchfinder for the British government, has gone walkabout in the American West. He stumbles into a mostly lawless town with a destroyed church. He ends up gunning down a lot of the locals in a saloon gunfight and gets escorted out of town by a frontier scout — who probably just saved him from getting beaten to death by the rest of the folks in town. The scout reveals some of the town’s past — a mysterious incident that cause much of the population to vanish, leaving only some sort of magic circle etched into the floor of the church. So what’s behind all this? And why do so many people want Sir Edward dead?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice beginning for a new storyline — and I like the idea of moving the very British Witchfinder into a more rough-and-tumble environment.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Friday Night Fights: The Deadly Mantis!

Well, the bad news is: It’s February. The worst month of the year. Luckily, it’s also the shortest, but that means you get a maximum amount of horribleness packed into each and every day. And the good news is: Well, there is no good news. I mean, it’s February.

But we can take a little comfort in the fact that it’s Friday, and that means the weekend, and that means FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Our fight today comes from February 1989’s Silver Surfer #20 by Steve Englehart and Ron Lim, in which Mantis shows up somewhere, jumps out of a plane, and kicks the carp out of two random security guards.

One may ask why Mantis felt the need to beat up cops who probably had a good reason to ask why a green woman had just jumped out of a plane. Maybe they want her to disembark through the terminal, like a normal passenger. Maybe they wanted to make sure she remembered to go pick up her luggage. Maybe they like green women in skimpy clothing. But who doesn’t, right?

But both of them learned a valuable lesson: February is a horrible, horrible month.

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A Dose of Awesome: Ben Franklin!

People, it’s been a crazy week, and we need a dose of awesome to get us all back on track. So let’s look at one of our most awesome Founding Fathers: Benjamin Franklin!

Ben Franklin is awesome because… Wait, wait, I’m not really going to have to explain all this to you, am I? You can read a (relatively) short biography of him if your historical knowledge is just embarrassingly lacking, or you can read a lot of funny pop culture references to him. But man, the dude experimented with electricity (he did fly a kite in a thunderstorm, but there wasn’t a key tied to the line, ’cause it woulda killed him), invented all kinds of awesome stuff, published a newspaper, edited the Declaration of Independence, was the first Postmaster General, fooled around aaaaaaall over France, and still had time to write essays like the awesomely titled “Fart Proudly.” He was never President, but he still made it onto the $100 bill.

And he’s one of the most awesomely quotable figures in American history — to the point where people actually think some of his quotes are from the Bible. When people mistake stuff you said for the Word of God, you know you’re pretty awesome.

How awesome was Ben Franklin? He was so awesome that the rest of the Founding Fathers — including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — probably sat around talking about how awesome Ben Franklin was. And I’m not joking either. You know how brainy some of the Founding Fathers were, and I’m pretty sure they were amazed at how awesome and smart Franklin was.

And you gotta be pretty awesome to meet up with an unholy anthropomorphic drink pitcher and not freak out about it.

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Agents of Chaos

Chaos War #5

It’s the final battle against the Chaos King. Hercules is very nearly all-powerful, but is he all-powerful enough to take out the much more all-powerful Chaos King? Can Amadeus Cho get a few million humans transported into the artificial replacement universe, at the cost of billions of other lives? Or will he choke and doom all life to extinction? What great sacrifice will Hercules ultimately make to save everything?

Verdict: Thumbs up, with a number of reservations. I thought the solution to the problem of the Chaos King was a pretty good one. Not so sure I like a completely depowered Herc, though. Wait, was that a spoiler? There was also a resurrection of dead heroes — and I really couldn’t tell who they brought back. Was it just Alpha Flight? Or were there more? All in all, it just barely made the grade.

Zatanna #9

This one is vaguely problematic. Zatanna’s been tied up with marionette string by an evil ventriloquist dummy that has the soul of a murderous old puppeteer inside it. Once Zee gets the puppet confined, she… asks him to tell her his life story. And of course, he insists he’s not really evil. And Zatanna believes him! So its off to the family mansion to figure out a way to unpuppetize him. That’s the entire story in just 12 pages, which is kinda short for a lead feature.

The backup is pretty good — it focuses on “Zatanna, Junior Sorceress” — Zatanna when she was a preteen. She’s just gotten braces and she can’t talk clearly, and she has to figure out some way to stop a gunman when she can’t recite any of her backwards spells.

Verdict: I’m still giving this one a thumbs up. The first story is too short and makes very little sense… but the artwork by Cliff Chiang is, as always, fantastic. Much, much better is the backup — Zatanna as a teenager is just plain hilarious.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Wow, Kevin Church has just completely unexpectedly and somewhat abruptly ended “The Rack,” his long-running comic-shop webcomic. “FIGHT!“, luckily, is still going strong.
  • Scott Kaufman has an interesting discussion of race in comics, with examples from “Maus” and “American Born Chinese.”
  • And speaking of race in comics, David Brothers makes a short analysis of the career of George Herriman, creator of “Krazy Kat.”

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