Archive for July, 2011

Friday Night Fights: First Things

Well, looka here, looks like it’s time for the weekend again, and you still ain’t got no plans more sophisticated than watching TV, washing your socks, and drankin’ diet root beer. No way, my friend, that is not going to happen on my watch. We are going to get you good and pumped up for the weekend, and we’re going to do it the mindlessly violent way — with FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s fight comes from all the way back in November 1961’s landmark Fantastic Four #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, as Ben Grimm, in his first appearance, beats up streets and cars.

“Fool! Did you not see me in time?” There you go, ladies and gentlemen — Ben Grimm used to talk just like Dr. Doom. Wotta revoltin’ development that was…

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Time Travel Cowboys


This is another in the new line of comics written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. It’s longer than a regular single-issue comic, not quite the size of a graphic novel, and priced at $6.

The story focuses on Jacob Mills, a modern-day hitman with an impressive record of success targeting organized crime. But he hasn’t been as careful about covering his tracks as he’s always thought, leading to the deaths of his secretary and the nun who raised him when he was an orphan. He thinks he can’t testify — if the Mafia could track him when he worked so hard to stay under the radar, there’s no witness protection program that can keep him safe. But the government has what looks like the perfect way to protect him — a working time machine. Unfortunately, it can only send someone 142 years into the past — it’s a one-way trip, with no nonliving material from the future allowed, to keep time refugees from changing the past too much.

So Jacob testifies and takes his trip back to Texas 1869. He meets other refugees from the future, who help him get acclimated, and he actually becomes the local town’s sheriff and meets a girl who he falls in love with. But of course, good things can’t last forever. A jailbreak in 2012 lets one of the mobsters out, and he learns about the time machine. Now there’s a squad of modern-day mercenaries hunting Jacob in Civil-War era Texas — and a cleanup squad from the government hunting all of them to make sure the secret of time travel doesn’t get out. How can Jacob survive those odds?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story and dialogue are excellent, which I’ve come to expect from Gray and Palmiotti. The artwork by Jim Daly and Paul Mounts is also great. So far, I’m really enjoying the stories Gray and Palmiotti are working on through their Paperfilms line of comics, and I hope they have some serious success with this — I haven’t loved every single comic they’ve worked on, but they’ve definitely been on more often than they’ve been off, and I think that’s worth supporting. Go out and pick this one up for a nice little fusion of science fiction, Westerns, and crime fiction.

Secret Six #35

It’s the next to the last issue of this great series. Bane has realized that breaking Batman’s back all those years ago didn’t actually break the Bat’s spirit — and he still wants that more than anything. Jeannette senses death closing in on the team. Knockout, back from Hell, is still suffering significant emotional trauma from the experience. And King Shark? King Shark is a shaaaark. So what’s Bane’s plan for taking on Batman? He wants to target and destroy the Bat-family and anyone else the Dark Knight may care for. But to have a shot at taking on Gotham’s heroes, they’re going to have to get inside information from someone with their finger on the pulse of Gotham City’s underworld…

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, glorious writing from Gail Simone and incredibly fun artwork from Jim Calafiore. Bane’s obsessions, Jeannette’s fears, Knockout’s madness, and King Shark’s undying exuberance about being a shaaaaark are all wonderfully depicted. I’m going to miss this series so very, very much when it ends.

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Wild West Batman

Batman Inc. #7

We pay a visit to the American Southwest, where Native American superhero Man-of-Bats and his sidekick Little Raven fight crime and try to bring hope to their reservation. But times are changing — the new hospital administrator gives Man-of-Bats trouble in his civilian identity as Dr. Sam Black Elk, gangs backed by Leviathan move onto the reservation, and Little Raven considers quitting the crimefighting life. Can an appearance by Bruce Wayne help turn things around? Or is it already too late for the people on the reservation?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love Man-of-Bats — he’s a great character, and he has one of my favorite superhero theme costumes. He does what Batman does, just without all the money and equipment. I also like the story’s emphasis on the real-life poverty, despair, and general rotten conditions on many reservations.

American Vampire #16

Henry Preston and the squad of military vampire-hunters from the Vassals of the Morning Star are in deep trouble. They’re stuck on Taipan during World War II, and they’ve been captured by Japanese soldiers — and the Japanese plan to turn all of them into the savage, mindless, eyeless vampires who have overrun the island. But Henry knows they’ve got an ace in the hole — Skinner Sweet is a vampire, and though he’s injured, if Henry gives him some of his blood, Skinner will get them free and give them a fighting chance. But can Sweet be trusted? And even if he can, do they stand a chance against Taipan’s vampire hordes?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice creepy stuff. Rafael Albuquerque is developing into one of the best artists in horror comics, and writer Scott Snyder is continuing his reign as DC/Vertigo’s best-kept secret.

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In the Name of Godzilla

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #4

We get introduced to a new spotlight character this issue — Steven Woods, depressed Gulf War vet. He’s down about how shallow society has gotten — and then the rise of the monsters starts to upset almost everything. In France, we see Battra laying waste to the countryside, at the behest of two creepy twins with psychic powers, who soon crown themselves the new Queens of France. Meanwhile, Godzilla and Anguirus are heading for a showdown in Los Angeles.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Part of what has been most interesting about this series has been writer Eric Powell’s extremely cynical outlook on modern society and pop culture. He’s not a fan of Lady Gaga, Jersey Shore, news anchors, or materialism — is this series his attempt to take what he sees as a corrupted, decaying society and wipe it out with giant monsters? Or is all of this just funny background for the story?

Rocketeer Adventures #2

We get some fun stories from Mark Waid and Chris Weston, about the Rocketeer saving an actor posing as a superhero and inadvertently making him even more successful; Darwyn Cooke in a story appropriately titled “Betty Saves the Day!”; and Lowell Francis and Gene Ha, about Cliff Secord taking on a far-stronger and better equipped opponent in a desperate aerial battle.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But far and away the most awesome thing in this issue is the Darwyn Cooke story, which is every bit as awesome and fun as everything else he’s ever done.

Super Dinosaur #3

Super Dinosaur and Derek Dynamo have the Exile on the ropes, but he manages to make an escape, submerging his entire base under the Arctic ice. While the heroes return home, we get introduced to one of the Exile’s allies, a great-looking character called Squidious — and Terrordactyl really dislikes being cooped up underwater, so he eventually busts out so he can get some air-time. And once he leaves the base, the Dynamos can track him, so Derek and Super Dinosaur pursue him in a fancy jet-rig. But can a couple of newcomers to the world of flight hold out against a dinosaur who’s used to the air?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Actually, this issue is much improved over previous issues, mainly because Derek quits pronouncing everything as “AWESOME!” That really got extremely tiring, and removing it makes the comic much more fun to read.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Happy Independence Day!

Well, according to my calendar, the United States is now… (consults almanac, punches numbers into calculator, counts fingers)… really, really old. Definitely old enough to buy beer, cigarettes, and porn. WAY TO GO, AMERICA!

Now let’s celebrate in a much more age-appropriate manner.

And I’d like to remind y’all in Lubbock and anywhere else across the Southwest not to blow up fireworks this year. It’s too dadgummed hot and dry, and you’ll start a fire. So just skip the firecrackers, seriously.

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Friday Night Fights: For AMERICA!

Hey, it’s Fourth of July weekend! That means it’s time to get into a special edition of Friday Night Fights that’s guaranteed to not start fires (’cause dagblast it, it’s dry as freakin’ kindling out there!) and is a perfect representation of America itself!

(digs in Friday Night Fight Files to find something that’ll fit the necessary criteria)

(digs some more)

Well, okay, fine. I’m never going to find a battle that features the Thing that fits the criteria. You don’t think Ben Grimm would ever fight Captain America, do you? NO WAY! (And if you find something that has Ben Grimm fighting Captain America… keep it quiet, bucko.)

So instead, here’s the Thing doing what he does best: from February 1976’s Fantastic Four #176, by Roy Thomas, George Perez, and Joe Sinnott: The Thing vs. the Hulk!

There we go — enjoy your (hopefully) long weekend, eat some barbecue, listen to some Sousa marches… and NO FREAKIN’ FIREWORKS! Ya wanna burn everything up, ya loons?!

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The Return of the Goon!

The Goon #34

After much, much too long, Eric Powell brings the Goon back for some more fun. And who’s his opponent this issue? Vampires. And what kind of vampires?

Sparkly vampires. With jazz hands and everything.

Luckily, that particular challenge doesn’t take too long, and then it’s on to the real story — there’s a new kid at the amazingly awful orphanage, and it turns out she’s actually a horrible, horrible monster. The orphans are plenty tough, but not quite tough enough to deal with a shapeshifting horror all by themselves. So they head down to Norton’s pub to enlist the Goon’s aid. But he’s too busy watching football, so the kids get him good and drunk, then drag him back to the orphanage. But can even the Goon stop a monster when he’s had that much to drink. Wait, that’s a silly question, isn’t it?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Thank you, Eric Powell, for making this world a little more awesome every time you publish a comic book.

Detective Comics #878

Batman has been captured by Tiger Shark, a pirate based in an underwater hideout with a collection of starved killer whales that he sics on his enemies. Can Dick Grayson evade a bunch of crazed orcas, trained mercenaries, and an undersea detonation to discover who’s the mastermind behind the entire scheme? All that, plus it turns out Commissioner Gordon’s son James isn’t crazy after all. That’s great news, isn’t it? Isn’t it?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Hey, most of it was just alright, but that last page is disturbing and freaky enough to push it higher than I was expecting.

Xombi #4

David Kim is a xombi, blessed by a combination of magic and high technology to live forever. He and the other members of Dakota’s magical/religious crimefighting community (Rabbi Sinnowitz, Nun of the Above, Nun the Less, and Catholic Girl) question Annie Palmer, a woman rescued last issue from the Maranatha and a man named Roland Finch. Annie reveals that she was actually born in 1871 and has spent nearly all her life in a magical floating stronghold. She was seduced by Roland Finch and betrayed after she’d been duped into helping him take over the stronghold. She managed to escape to our world, bringing a map to other floating strongholds, but now Finch has stolen the map, too. Can the group of heroes figure out how to keep Finch from destroying all the other strongholds?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great dialogue from John Rozum and lots of weird stuff all over the place. I like Frazer Irving’s art, but sometimes, David Kim’s helmet of hair kinda freaks me out…

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Chris Sims wants to know why DC chickened out on a story about another Muslim superhero.
  • Snell has some questions about why DC’s letters pages haven’t been edited to acknowledge the upcoming reboot.
  • And speaking of the reboot — for a company that trumpeted their dedication to diversity, DC’s new Justice League sure is stuffed full of white dudes
  • Here’s a cool short film about a simple plot device and how it changes the world — repeatedly — for one film fan.

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