Archive for March, 2011

Viva Gaucho!

Batman Inc. #3

Batman travels to Argentina to team up with the impressively mustachioed Gaucho, one of the members of the old Club of Heroes, and offer him membership in Batman Incorporated. To his surprise, Gaucho turns him down, but they still unite to defeat El Papagayo, his mooks, and his swarm of explosive Blue Scorpions. He’s working for someone who has kidnapped a trio of blind children from the poor side of the tracks, but won’t give up the name of his boss. After Bruce Wayne and Don Santiago Vargas, the Gaucho’s alter ego, stage a disagreement over the deadly femme fatale Scorpiana, the two heroes discover new clues to the kidnapping to lead them to a deserted and boobytrapped warehouse. Once they’re inside, they’re provided with taser-gauntlets and ordered by a voice over loudspeakers that they must fight to the death or the kidnapped children will die.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Gaucho is just cooler’n heck. Scorpiana’s appearance is also 100% awesome and sexy. And wow, Yanick Paquette’s artwork is just divine.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – Gods #3

The conclusion of the newest storyarc sees Abe Sapien and his team from the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense taking on some of the monsters invading Texas and working to corner and recruit the mysterious Fenix. And things do not end the way Abe would’ve expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A shocking ending, a shocking betrayal — and a shocking departure by artist Guy Davis, who’s leaving the B.P.R.D. comics for pastures elsewhere.

Supergirl #61

I’m behind on reviewing this one — my copy got lost in the mail somewhere, and it took a few weeks for a new one to be shipped out to me. Anyway, in this issue, Supergirl has been ambushed by a bunch of Superman’s villains, thanks to a new smart-phone app called “Flyover” that encourages users to snap photos of superheroes and post them — allowing our mastermind villain, the psychic technophile Alex, to dispatch supervillains anywhere someone’s seen a hero. After Kara takes out the villains attacking her, she meets up with Lois Lane, who clues her in on certain shenanigans at Cadmus Labs. And after that, the Flyover app targets Robin in Gotham City, and Kara flies off to help him deal with the sudden attack by Clayface and Mr. Freeze. But what’s really stalking the young heroes of the DCU?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of plot plugged into this one, and it all makes decent sense. Nice mystery being developed, too. Good, distinctive dialogue for all the characters. All that, and Kara’s sporting a shorter haircut — looks pretty good. Hope it sticks around, rather than getting re-lengthened by the next artist. And can we give a shout-out for that great cover by Amy Reeder? — gotta love the use of sound effects there.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • First, another reminder: There’s going to be a planning for the Comic Book Expo this evening at 7 p.m. at Awesome Books, 3009 34th St. If you can help out, please attend.
  • Anyone noticed lately that Rick Perry is a weasel? “Don’t blame me for the rotten condition of the state budget just because I spent a decade screwing up the state budget! Please ignore me and your legislatures and vent your rage on your neighbors! It makes it easier for us to get away with screwing over the state when you fight each other instead of us!” Whatever, weasel.
  • And hey, lookit what I’ve got lying around on my desktop! A nice handy link with info on how to contact your state and national representatives!
  • And here’s some nice advice on how to effectively lobby your politicians so they’ll be more likely to listen to you.
  • Why does Universal Studios hate Guillermo del Toro, H.P. Lovecraft, and the freely given entertainment dollars of hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic Lovecraft fans?
  • And finally, here’s a great article on the resurgence of Dungeons & Dragons with older roleplayers.

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Hell Razors

Secret Six #31

Scandal Savage has a secret “Get Out of Hell Free” card, and she’s finally decided she wants to use it to free her lover Knockout from, well, Hell. But the dang thing’s been stolen from her safe — and the only one of the Secret Six with that kind of safecracking ability is Ragdoll. When Scandal barges into his room demanding the card back, he fights back — until Scandal stabs him in the stomach. Realizing he’s dying, he grabs the card and whisks himself to Hell. The team decides to follow him and drag him back — Black Alice says she’ll never return there, but she shows them one of the secret entrances — inside the world’s worst shopping mall. But there’s nothing good that can happen when you willingly walk into Hell. All that, plus a serial killer has some dire plans in store for Liana, Scandal’s current girlfriend…

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, deeply twisted, funny, grim, brilliant storytelling here. And amazing stuff going on here — particularly the serial killer, who likes to punish himself by putting hot sauce in his eyes. And the hellishly dull shopping mall. The whole thing is just wonderful, and I’ll be really surprised if the rest of the storyarc isn’t just as outstanding.

Green Lantern #63

The seven representatives of the ring corpsmen go off in search of the energy entities that Krona has kidnapped. They find Krona’s hideout, access the ominous Book of the Black to learn that he was at least partially responsible for the use of green energy as a weapon and that he was directly responsible for the programming error that caused the Manhunters to go rogue ages ago. And the Guardians have decided to act directly against Hal Jordan by ordering an ambush.

Verdict: Thumbs down. It’s all frustratingly dull and slow-moving. It’s all being stretched out to fit future trade paperbacks, and that means it’s turning into a poorly created story.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Not a link — just a short Expo note. The next planning meeting for the upcoming Comic Book Expo is happening this Friday at 7 p.m. at Awesome Books, 3009 34th St. The Expo is happening in less than a month, so if you want to help out, don’t miss this meeting!
  • Project Rooftop is starting their tribute to Dwayne McDuffie with some redesigns of Static.
  • Bully digs up some superhero blueprints.
  • Beautiful photos from Antarctica.
  • When you really want a super plumbing job

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The Last Barbarian

Joe the Barbarian #8

It’s been much, much too long since we saw the last issue of this, so let’s review. Joe is a normal kid in the modern world. His dad’s dead, his mom is distant, the bank is about to foreclose on their house. Joe is bullied by other kids, and he’s diabetic. It’s been too long since he had anything to eat, and he’s now hallucinating that he’s in a fantasy world based on his own house, where all the citizens are based on his toys, the land is under attack by the forces of King Death, and Joe is acclaimed as a mythical hero called, ominously, the Dying Boy. But is he really hallucinating? Or is this all happening on another level? Will Joe be able to make it downstairs to the kitchen to get a soda, or will he and the fantasy world he imagines die a dark, cold death?

Well, last issue, Joe was on the verge of getting his much-needed dose of sugar when he lost his soda and fell into the basement. Now Joe is injured, trapped in the realm of King Death himself. His pet rat-turned-knightly-protector Jack is on hand to help, but even his fighting spirit falters when King Death raises his long-dead brothers to fight against them. Smoot and Zyxy show up to help, and King Death’s forces suffer a revolt from within. But only Joe can save the day. Will he be able to bring light and life back to the twilight fantasy world? Will he get a soda? Can he find a way to ensure the future of both the fantasy world and his real life?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one ends on a pretty epic note. Great writing by Grant Morrison and even more beautiful artwork by Sean Murphy. If you haven’t read this one before now, you may as well wait for the trade paperback, but you definitely will want to read the whole thing.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #2

Sir Edward gets to know his guide, the frontier scout Kaler, and his friend, a crazy Paiute named Isaac. Kaler warns him that he shouldn’t bother going back to the town, or they’ll kill him. But Sir Edward is still intent on tracking down Lord Glaren, so Kaler agrees to try to help. They meet up with Eris, a pretty blonde woman who preaches a weird combination of Christianity and witchcraft to the Indians. After Kaler reveals that he and Isaac have been reading fictionalized accounts of Sir Edward’s adventures in dime novels, Grey recounts his own origin story — as a boy, he tracked down, was injured by, and killed a werewolf, and was saved from the curse of lycanthropy by a combination of faith and science. With all that out of the way, and with a mysterious gunman on their trail, will Grey and Kaler be able to track down Lord Glaren?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots and lots of stuff packed into this one, and I really wished for even more. It’s a great story so far, mysterious and spooky and action-packed. Definitely looking forward to the rest of this series.

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Friday Night Fights: Dignified Demolition!

Alright, short and simple tonight. Y’all know the rules, right? Friday Night Fights is all about the fightin’.

Tonight’s battle comes from July 2009’s Chew #2 by John Layman and Rob Guillory, as the very calm, very sophisticated Mason Savoy faces off against a bunch of mafia ninjas.

So there we go. See youse mugs next week!

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Axe Cop!

Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #1

For those of you who aren’t already familiar with Axe Cop, let me sum things up for you. It’s a comic created by two brothers. The artist, Ethan Nicolle, is 30 years old. The writer, Malachai Nicolle, is six.

I’ll repeat that for you: The writer is six years old.

This means that the series is impossibly awesome.

It’s been a webcomic for about a year, but Dark Horse is now giving it a limited three-issue series.

Our heroes here are Axe Cop (a cop who fights crime with an axe) and Dinosaur Soldier (Axe Cop’s partner, who is a dinosaur soldier). They must contend with normal cops and the army, who are offended that a police officer would use an axe instead of a gun, an evil planet that wants to destroy Earth, and psychic villains who want to turn everyone on the planet into criminals. Can our heroes prevail, armed only with axes, faint bombs, a flying police car, a planet shocker, a laser-portal gun that can travel through time, a good guy machine, and a fire-breathing dinosaur with giant chainguns for arms?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Seriously, didn’t you hear me say “fire-breathing dinosaur with giant chainguns for arms”?

Love and Capes: Ever After #2

Married bliss continues for Abby and Mark (better known to the world as the superhero Crusader). They purchase a building in the city, start remodeling plans for their apartment, and prepare for a visit from their parents. Complications ensue, of course, including Mark getting temporarily de-aged to 10 years old. And they decide to reveal Mark’s secret identity to Abby’s parents, creating some all new complications.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A fun story — actually, several fun stories — with excellent art, dialogue, and humor. It actually feels like there are too many mini-plotlines in here, but I still enjoyed the full comic just fine.

Avengers Academy #10

Well, let’s see — Veil is desperately trying to avoid being kicked out of the Academy, but it seems like she can’t stop putting her foot in it. Giant-Man comes up with an idea to help Hazmat live a normal day — he teams her up with mutant power-drainer Leech, whose ability to shut off her powers means she can spend a day outside of her containment suit. And Speedball takes the class on a field trip to Stamford, Connecticut, where he was involved in an accident that killed several hundred people a few years ago.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice change-of-pace story. Speedball takes the lead, Hazmat gets her chance to act mature, and Veil shows her dangerously impulsive side. Fantastic art by Sean Chen.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Chris Sims got to make an appearance on “The Daily Show” to talk about Batman. You can watch the video here, as well as be horrified by comments by awful racist douchehats.
  • Here’s a fun article about the influence of awesome illustrator Edward Gorey.
  • And finally… Vampire Hockey Players!

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Blood Red

American Vampire #12

We finally get another issue focusing on Skinner Sweet. He’s gone to visit a Wild West Show in Idaho in 1919 that includes some actors recreating the popular retelling of the gunfight that supposedly killed him. Sweet’s not impressed with the historical inaccuracy, nor with the has-beens and losers who make up the show’s stars — one of whom is a former madam of a famous brothel, and one of Skinner’s lovers. But he’s willing to let the inaccuracies stand, until he learns that his former lover actually betrayed him to the authorities. He kills some of the actors and lets the rest kill each other, but his confrontation with his former lover doesn’t turn out the way he expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Loved the story — the Wild West Shows always struck me as particularly bizarre sideshows, and they’re certainly a perfect place for a monster like Skinner Sweet to go on a rampage. Wasn’t real fond of the artwork in this one — it’s not by the regular artist, and he had some trouble drawing the “American Vampire” style of bloodsucker. Pretty pale palette of colors, too…

Detective Comics #874

Batman and Red Robin are investigating some animal smugglers, but Dick is still suffering occasional hallucinations from the poison he got dosed with last issue. Meanwhile, the bulk of this issue focuses on Commissioner Jim Gordon, who has a rare meeting with his estranged son, Jim Jr., a character I wasn’t previously familiar with. Junior is a clinical psychopath, his sister believes he’s a murderer, and his dad doesn’t know what to believe. The question is whether Junior’s mental illness is controlled by medication… or whether it isn’t.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I enjoyed the lengthy dialogue between Commissioner Gordon and his son a lot more than I was expecting to. Jim Jr. doesn’t come off as a mentally healthy person, but there’s also enough doubt there to make you wonder whether or not he’s a bad guy.

Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #4

That scoundrel Thomas Edison is making his schemes while Robo and Mr. Tesla try to figure out the connection between all the robberies. When Robo later meets up with Jack Tarot and his daughter (and Robo’s girlfriend) Helen, he tangles with another of Edison’s giant robots and then realizes what small detail all the robberies included. All that, plus Helen discovers that Robo is, um, underage…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Loved this one so much. The dialogue between Robo and Helen was excellent and hilarious.

Today’s Cool Links:

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