Archive for April, 2011

Oh Noez! Superman Renounced His Citizenship!

I’m pretty astonished that anyone cares about this stuff. I mean, fer cryin’ out loud, I don’t care, and I actually read the freakin’ things! I assumed everyone would ignore the publicity stunt and get on with their real lives. Just shows what you get when you assume people won’t go nuts about trivial stuff.

Listen, here’s how y’all should be thinking of this thing. Back in ’93, Superman got killed by a monster from outer space. The same year, Batman got his back broken by Bane. Captain America was shot to death in 2007. And for some reason, none of those characters is dead or crippled any more. Because comics is a business, and sometimes, they try to shake things up by pulling crazy publicity stunts for a few months before putting their characters right back in their old status quo.

In other words, the screaming ninnies may take heart in the fact that in a few months, whenever this latest Superman storyarc is wrapped up, the Man of Steel will be waving the red, white, and blue again. “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” is too important to the character’s core, and DC Comics — a company very firmly locked into never deviating from their status quo — won’t ever give that up. It’s a stunt and nothing more.

And for goodness sake, I certainly hope DC doesn’t chicken out in the face of all the usual impotent Fox News screaming.

See, I think of it this way: The Tea Party is dying a slow and ugly death, ranting new variations of the black helicopter myths and mostly ignored by their preferred political party. Fox News has hitched itself to an aging demographic addicted to constant fits of panic and outrage. The Republican Party is trying to decide which crazy racist it’s going to latch onto as its latest savior.

They’re threatening boycotts now, but they’re toothless threats. The vast majority of those groups never read comics. The vast majority of them never watch summer superhero blockbusters. DC and Warner Bros. can easily afford to wait them out until all the screaming morons get distracted by the next shiny object to catch their eye. Seriously, can anyone really keep track of everything that Fox News attack poodle Megyn Kelly gets offended about? I think her hair got bleached by her own natural bile.

And hopefully, DC will have learned from Marvel’s previous embarrassing example — when you cave in for the screaming morons, you just humiliate yourself.

So if you’re mad about Superman — who’s an illegal immigrant anyway — renouncing his American citizenship, just settle down and forget it — it’ll all be over and forgotten before you know it.

And while we’re at it, please realize how fortunate you are that worrying about the citizenship of a fictional comic book character is the most pressing issue in your life… and maybe, you know, try to find some more valuable thing to spend your time focusing on.

And if you’re DC Comics, come on, guys, get yerself a backbone and don’t sweat the easily-distracted screamers.

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Friday Night Fights: Wrecked!

Okay, kids, it’s time for another weekend, and it’s time to get things started with another edition of… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Today’s battle is from August 1991’s Fantastic Four #355 by Danny Fingeroth and Al Milgrom. This was a great story — it had the Wrecker tearing up Yancy Street, and Ben Grimm just letting the bad guy hit him with his magic crowbar to keep him from attacking the Yancy Streeters. But the Thing eventually gains the upper hand…

See youse mugs on Monday, unless I end up seeing you earlier…

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Save the Whale


Detective Comics #876

This one starts with one of the best opening mysteries I’ve ever seen — a bank in Gotham City opens its doors in the morning and finds a full-grown killer whale dead on the floor. Obviously, no one has a clue how it got there. All the bank’s cameras blanked out for an hour during the night. The bank is owned by the daughter of the gangster who killed Dick Grayson’s parents, but there’s absolutely no evidence that she’s anything but a law-abiding citizen. And there’s a dead body in the whale’s stomach. What can it all mean?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding beginning for this mystery — the entire thing is tantalizing and bizarre, and I really want to see how it all turns out.

Xombi #2

David Kim is pumped full of nanites that heal him of any injury and make him immortal, but he doesn’t feel too healthy when this comic opens. He’s just been attacked by a magical being called a snow angel that’s tearing his arm off. And once Catholic Girl has used her holy powers to stop it, they’re all getting attacked by a bunch of zombie kids in Halloween costumes. Clearly, these monsters aren’t who broke a mystical Mr.-Hyde-transforming prisoner out of prison. They find the transportational portal that the escapees used, leaving David to pursue, accompanied by a guardian golem called a rustling husk — a creature formed out of the discarded husks of millions of insects that died while trapped inside windows. But once David catches up to  the escapees, is he going to find something even more awful to worry about?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Holy bananas, this one is just so relentlessly weird, from the clerical superheroes like Catholic Girl and Nun of the Above to the talking pocket change to the Maranatha, part lion, part demon, part King Kong, who ends up being the main villain in this piece. And if there’s one thing I enjoy, it’s a weird, weird comic book.

Morning Glories #9

Our focus in this issue is on Jun, the Academy’s resident badass — and on his mysteriously hostile twin brother Hisao. We see their childhood, when they were much friendlier to each other — and when the Morning Glory Academy first came after them. How did they come to be enemies? How were they separated? What happened to their families, and who rescued one of them? Only some of those questions get an answer, but it’s still a good ride.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m enjoying the focus on the individual students — something that was definitely missing from the first storyarc. The one thing that bugged me in this issue is that it spotlights Jun’s past, captioning it as “Five years ago,” while depicting him and his brother as, at the most 8-10 years old — that’s just much too young for a guy who is presented, in the present day, in his upper teens.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • This. That’s all. And I sure do wish some of the idiot scumbag birthers would move the heck out of my country.

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Tickled Pink

Tiny Titans #39

Alfred has washed all the Bat-family’s laundry, and he’s washed Superman’s capes with them — so now everyone has bright pink costumes. Plasmus likes it, but he was already completely pink. Robin hates his new all-pink costume, even though he had a pretty brightly colored costume before. And Cassandra hates listening to Robin whine. Superman doesn’t like it, because Supergirl keeps getting the credit whenever he saves people. But is there anything all that bad about pink costumes?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, everything about this series makes me grin. It may say it’s an all-ages book, but that just means grownups should love it, too.

Zatanna #12

There’s a redneck serial killer named Backslash running around San Francisco. He’s captured a fairy, which gives him the power to see the supernatural elements running around the city, and he’s armed with a magical sword that lets him rewind time to prevent any attacks against him. Can Zatanna stop him when she can’t say her spells backwards and can’t even run away from him?

Verdict: Ehh, it’s not bad, but the palindrome gimmick isn’t nearly clever enough to sustain that ending.

Dungeons & Dragons #6

The malfunctioning portal in the old dwarven fortress has sucked our party of adventurers backwards into their own memories, so we can see how they all came together for the first time. Adric Fell gets hired on to help excavate a lost city — aside from the usual mix of hired soldiers, there’s a wizard and his two apprentices tagging along. They have to escape from an underground monster called a bulette and rescue Khal the dwarven paladin, stranded in the middle of a river. Then they run into the lost city — a magical city that only appears for one night every ten years. The wizard figures they’ll be able to scavenge all the city’s ancient secrets. But they didn’t expect to be ambushed by a band of elves and eladrin, including Varis…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action and dialogue, and it’s fun to see how these folks got together for the first time.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Twilight Action

Twilight Guardian #4

The Guardian meets a man who claims to be her father and reveals that he’s actually Steve Ditko — well, maybe not really Steve Ditko, but at least a paranoid comic book creator with an unhealthy obsession with Objectivism. After he finally leaves, she reads one of his comic books — “The Gulch,” a black and white comic that reads like a parody of Ditko’s maniacally Objectivist hero Mr. A. And after that, it’s back to another quiet neighborhood patrol while — Wait a minute! There’s a house on fire! And the only person who can help is the Twilight Guardian! Can she finally come through when the chips are down? Or is the Dusk Devil going to have the last laugh?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Holy cow — action! And it’s pretty blasted good action, too. And that comes on top of what looked like just another weirdly off-kilter issue. In fact, all the weird stuff definitely reminds you that, despite the derring-do and whupassery that closed the series, the Guardian still has a lot of the same problems she had before — she’s still off her meds, she’s still got some severe issues with paranoia and delusion (surely I can’t be blamed for wondering if her long-lost father was ever in her house at all), and she’s still using her “crimefighting patrols” as an excuse for not dealing with the broken parts of her life. Is it a happy ending? Maybe it is… but like every other superhero comic, it’s just a temporary triumph before more difficulties start up…

Avengers Academy #12

Korvac, the cosmic menace with the name like a vacuum cleaner, has defeated the Avengers — now it’s all down to the students at Avengers Academy. But Korvac’s ex-wife, Carina, has used her own powers to turn the kids into adults — she’s put the kids’ minds into aged-up bodies from other dimensions and given them the knowledge so they can use their new powers effectively. That’s not entirely good news — for one thing, these are the best possible bodies from every possible future, so there’s a good chance that they won’t actually end up so fortunate in their own lives. So Veil still has to worry about dying, and Mettle and Hazmat know that they’re almost certainly stuck with their unpleasant powers forever. But can even their expanded powers let them survive Korvac? And even if they do, what other changes are they going to have to deal with?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, good personality work. Just about everyone gets socked with some big changes — some good, some bad. And the last page packs an emotional whallop you won’t find in many comics out there today.

Green Lantern #65

Krona has reintroduced Parallax — and the yellow impurity — back into Oa’s Central Power Battery, allowing him to take mental control of most of the Green Lanterns. Only Earth’s Green Lanterns have been immune because they’d been influenced by Parallax in the past and were thus able to recognize him in time to get their rings off. Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner travel to Oa by spaceship and are able to locate Kyle Rayner and John Stewart before the mind-controlled Lanterns blow the ship out of the sky. Since they can’t wear their regular power rings without risking being taken over, Jordan offers them the non-green power rings lost by the other ring bearers when they were absorbed into the Book of the Black.

Verdict: Thumbs down. There’s really not much of anything happening in this one. If you’re just desperate to see Hal wearing a yellow ring, Guy with a red ring, Kyle with a blue ring (which, remember, is only really good for overcharging green rings — nice choice, Kyle), or John dressed as an indigo hippie sniper… Well, that’s still not enough reason to get this one, frankly.

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Happy Easter from your WORST NIGHTMARES

Ya know what I’m doing for Easter? I’m watching THIS.

Why am I watching a movie about Halloween on Easter?

Because shut up, that’s why.

Look, here’s some bunnies.

Come to think of it, today really is the perfect day for me to be watching some zombie movies, shouldn’t I?

Think about it, won’t you?

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Friday Night Fights: Doooom!

Awright, ya long-eared varmints, it’s been a long week, and we all need a little dose of mayhem and chaos to kick off the weekend, which means it’s definitely time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes from September 2003’s Fantastic Four #500 by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, in which the Invisible Woman and the Thing use a temporarily magic-focused Dr. Doom as a pinata.

I’m just sorry I couldn’t put that last panel in here full-sized. But a two-page spread of Mike Wieringo’s glorious art would break the page layout — and possibly your brains, too.

See y’all on Monday, and have a Happy Easter, too.

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Awesomesaurus Rex

Super Dinosaur #1

Here’s a new all-ages title from Robert Kirkman, the guy who created “The Walking Dead” and “Invincible.” Our stars include Derek Dynamo, his scientist father Doctor Dynamo, his pet robot Wheels, and of course the title character, Super Dinosaur, a nine-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex wearing a high-tech battlesuit. They charge into action fighting a bunch of dinosaur supervillains, like Terrordactyl, Breakeosaurus, Dreadasaurus, and Tricerachops, most of them working for the evil but self-doubting supervillain Max Maximus. But Dr. Dynamo has a problem — his genius is slipping, and the government is sending an assistant. Derek needs to keep the new assistants from exposing his father and shutting his funding down — and he and Super Dinosaur have to stop the latest dinosaur rampage.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I believe we’re all quite aware of how awesome dinosaurs are, right? Well, this is a pretty fun comic. The design for Super Dinosaur is great, the dinosaur names are wonderfully punny, and the action is really great. If I’ve got any complaint, I’d like Derek to stop using the word “awesome” quite so much — I love the word a lot, but man, that kid needs a broader vocabulary…

Dark Horse Presents #1

Dark Horse Comics’ great anthology series makes its return to print with a full 80 pages of comics. We get a Concrete story by Paul Chadwick, a very short sneak peak of “Xerxes,” Frank Miller’s prequel to “300,” a short all-text story by Harlan Ellison, a “Star Wars” comic, and stories by Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams, Carla Speed McNeil, Richard Corben, and David Chelsea.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Favorite stories were the Concrete story (I haven’t read nearly enough Concrete, but good grief, every story I read is just a bucket of glory), the Harlan Ellison story (with two different endings for you to choose from), and David Chelsea’s “Snow Angel” story. I got absolutely no joy out of the “Xerxes” stuff — honestly, Frank Miller has declined a lot more than he should’ve. So some good stuff and some not-so-good stuff. Worst thing about it? The eight-dollar price tag. That’s steeper than DC’s 80 Page Giants. Granted, the quality of the stories here is a heck of a lot better than in DC’s stuff, but that’s still a mighty chunk of change. If they’re going to try to make this a monthly comic, that’s gonna be way too much money. If it’s going to be quarterly, it’s going to be a lot more doable…

Supergirl #63

Robin, Blue Beetle, and Miss Martian have all been captured by the evil Alex, a superpowered technophile who hates young superheroes. Supergirl, meanwhile, is trapped inside an energy bubble over the Harvard campus. And Lois Lane is meeting with a woman who had a hand in creating Alex. And Kara learns Alex’s true identity, too.

Verdict: Ehh, it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t much to write home about either. Hopefully, the next issue will turn out better.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • I mentioned the trailer for this a few weeks back, but here’s the epic celebrity-drenched time-traveling three-part video for the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right Revisited.”
  • There’s a heck of a big gender gap at both Marvel and DC.
  • A comic book about how to use a college library? Meh. A comic book about how to use a college library… during a zombie apocalypse? That’s more like it!
  • Hee Haw comics? (fearful shudder)
  • Steve Jackson Games is running a Munchkin contest for webcomic cartoonists…

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Torching the Protocols

The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

I found this a couple weeks ago and was actually really excited to get it. I’d heard that Will Eisner was working on this a few years before he died in 2005, but I’d never managed to find this in stores and assumed it was out of print by now — I was glad to see I was mistaken.

Basically, Eisner — one of the most important creators in the history of comics, creator of “The Spirit,” creator of what’s considered the first graphic novel — decided a few decades back that he wanted to research and write a history of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” If you’re fortunate enough not to be aware of that, it’s a very old anti-semitic hoax claiming to represent a ploy by Jews to take over the world.

Eisner starts his story all the way back in 1848, with a French writer named Maurice Joly, a critic of Napoleon III. Joly wrote a book called “The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu,” a coded, over-the-top denunciation of Napoleon III as a diabolical dictator who intended all manner of cartoonish evil for France and the rest of the world. Joly’s book was mostly forgotten until 1894, when members of the Russian secret police resurrected it in a bid to influence Tsar Nicholas II. Some creative rewriting of Joly’s book, and the focus was changed from Napoleon III to the ever-popular scapegoats in the Jewish population.

And a couple decades later, Hitler got his rotten hands on it. And from there, it was off to the races.

Artistically, I think this has Eisner near the top of his game, which is pretty awesome, considering that he finished it only a few months before his death. Lots of wonderfully expressive faces and postures — most of the work here looks just as fantastic as anything he ever did on “The Spirit.” It’s a bit of a shock at times to see how much Eisner uses really insulting caricature — one of the characters is depicted as a dead ringer for Rasputin — but on the other hand, a lot of the characters depicted were responsible for the most disgustingly hate-filled rhetoric on the planet, and it’s a bit hard to work up much sympathy for them. So they’re depicted as ugly, barely human cartoons? Well, turn-about is fair play.

On the other hand, there’s a lot less art than you’d probably expect. The entire book is very text-heavy. Page and pages are devoted to side-by-side comparisons of Joly’s “Dialogue in Hell” and the Protocols, along with vast amounts of background and analysis. Eisner was clearly thinking of this less as a comic book and more as a simple history book with some illustrations. But if you’re expecting a fast, cartoon-filled read, you’re not going to get it — reading the whole thing is a bit of a slog.

One of the interesting — and I suppose, depressing — elements of the tale is how frequently the Protocols get debunked, always in high profile exposes in prominent publications and by powerful organizations — and every time, the debunkers allow themselves their moment of triumph and think, “Surely, this is the end of the Protocols. No one will ever believe it now.” And every time, the damned Protocols just keep on going and going. Eisner was at least under no illusions about what effect his graphic novel would have on the people who wanted to believe lies. In other words, don’t get this expecting a happy, uplifting ending — hate always finds a way forward, unfortunately.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But with some reservations. When I said it was a slog to get through, I mean, seriously, it was a major slog to get through. The side-by-side comparison, for example, while certainly informative, ran the narrative straight into a brick wall. This is less a graphic novel and more a graphic historical narrative.

Nevertheless, it’s still worth reading. It may be a slog to read as a comic book, but it’s much quicker to read than a full-length history of the Protocols would be — and it’s clear that Eisner meant it to be that way. He didn’t mean this to be the be-all-and-end-all of Protocol histories — he knew that more complete books had already been published and more would eventually follow. So this was, I think, always meant to be more of a fast summary of events — enough to quickly refute the Protocols and get other readers interested in more of the history (the book includes a nice bibliography).

And again, you get some really outstanding Will Eisner artwork. So you get to enjoy awesome comic art and strike a blow against haters and Nazis at the same time. Sounds like more than enough reason to pick it up…

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Flash in the Pan

The Flash #10

Well, the motorcycle-riding speedster Hot Pursuit is really an alternate-universe version of Barry Allen himself. He warns that some kind of time anomaly is about to drastically alter history and reveals that Barry Allen himself is the generator of the Speed Force. Kid Flash shows up, and Barry blows him off because, well, no one knows. And former police lab scientist Patty Spivot returns to visit Barry and apparently try to start some kind of romantic triangle with Barry’s wife, Iris.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Holy bananas, this is rotten stuff. They’re trying to get all the pieces in line for the upcoming “Flashpoint” crossover, but this really is coming across very ineptly. I’m especially irritated by the “Barry is the source for the Speed Force” thing, ’cause it’s just thrown out there almost at random, which is a really poor way to do a retcon.

Batgirl #20

Batgirl and Proxy are trying to track a shadowy group employing Slipstream, a technology-based superspeedster who plans on a major heist. And it turns out that Slipstream was actually one of Stephanie’s classmates. So how does a college student with some Batarangs beat a speedster?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great dialogue, jokes, and action. Do I need to keep telling y’all this is DC’s best superhero comic?

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #13

Thor and Valkyrie bring Nova along on a trip to Asgard, where they’re going to meet up with an Asgardian soldier who has been punished for the last several thousand years for a failure in battle. Nova points out that this is a pretty harsh punishment for a single failure, which angers Thor and amuses Valkyrie. What’s going to happen when the three of them finally catch up to the condemned warrior?

Verdict: Thumbs down, mostly because this series has been the all-Thor-Valkirie-and-Nova show lately, and I’m getting bored with that. C’mon, Marvel, I know there’s a “Thor” movie coming out, but give it a rest, okay?

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #3

Sir Edward and Kaler dispose of the undead Mr. Glaren by burning him in a campfire and are soon afterwards set upon by some sort of demonic hound — and Edward is saved by Isaac, the simple-minded Paiute Indian. Edward and Isaac exchange gifts — Edward reads an old letter to Isaac, who gives the Englishman a bracelet. While all this is going on, the witch Eris is continuing to work her influence over the local Indian tribes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m loving John Severin’s artwork. I’m also getting a charge out of the rest of the story. The dialogue is wonderful, of course, but I think the most fun is the small moments — the letter Edward reads to Isaac doesn’t seem to be any earthshattering thing, but it’s a nice moment anyway.

Today’s Cool Links:

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