Archive for October, 2011

All Hail Halloween!

Ladies and gentlemen, boils and ghouls, it’s the Happiest Day of the Year again. Whether you’re dressing up, handing out candy, going out to party, enjoying some horror movies, or just feasting upon the blood of the innocent, I hope you have a wonderful, spooky day.

And now, that great Halloween tradition: A whole bunch of thematically linked comics covers!

Everyone have a safe and fun holiday.

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Friday Night Fights: All-Wrasslin’ Monster Action!

Hey, it’s the last Friday before Halloween, and that means it’s time to check in with some extra-monstery violence! So let’s get right to it — from May 2010’s brilliant Hellboy in Mexico by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben, here’s Hellboy facing off with the masked vampire luchador Camazotz!

If there’s one thing I love about Halloween, it’s the way it brings together demonic monster-fighters and vampire luchadors.

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Hell House

Still tired of doing reviews all the blasted time, so I’m hoping to get all the reviews out of the way before the weekend. Can I do it? Let’s see!

Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest #2

Abe is in a bad way after getting mobbed and cut to ribbons by a bunch of little monsters. He meets up with the ghost of the demonologist Van Laer while he’s hallucinating — he tells him how he let his arrogance convince him to raise a powerful demon. He was able to destroy it, but not before it infected his wife with a poison that turned her into a monster. Will Abe and the sheriff be able to survive before help arrives?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Monsters, monsters, monsters. Fishmen, ghosts, demons, axes. Everything I need in a pre-Halloween comic book. Yes, get both chapters of this, if you can.

Daredevil #5

Blind translater Austin Cao has hired Matt Murdock to represent him in a wrongful termination suit. But Cao was fired because his boss feared he’d overheard some shady dealings, and the crooks employing his boss decide to deal with both Cao and Murdock with a hit squad. It’s a good thing Matt Murdock is Daredevil so he can beat the stuffins out of the assassins. Matt gets Austin to a safe location, then helps him remember the conversation he’d accidentally overheard — a scheme to register the ships of criminal organizations with Latveria to make sure they’ll be able to fly below any legal radar. Daredevil moves to protect Austin’s boss from the bad guys, but there’s a new assassin on the way — a superstrong killing machine called Bruiser.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Smart, smart writing from Mark Waid, and amazingly gorgeous art from Marcos Martin. You’re reading this comic, aren’t you? Why aren’t you reading this comic?

Secret Avengers #18

Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter, and Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, are in a secret hideout in another dimension — a broken dimension, actually, with laws of physics that don’t work right. However, some matter in this broken dimension can be transported to our own — and due to its weird physical properties, this transmatter can very easily be made to undergo nuclear fusion. This means that a small amount of it could be used to completely destroy the Earth. So they need to stop a degraded clone-copy of Arnim Zola from transporting the transmatter back to Earth. What’s this all boil down to? A heck of a lot of Shang-Chi beating up people.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Come on, this issue is basically a tribute to how much fun it is to see Shang-Chi beat people up. And that’s a very, very good thing.

All Star Western #2

Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham are in big trouble. They know that Gotham City’s serial killer is actually supported by a secret conspiracy of many of the city’s most powerful people, all belonging to something called the Religion of Crime, and they’ll never let them live with that knowledge. Of course, you send a squad of gunmen to take on Jonah Hex, you’re likely to end up with a squad of dead gunmen. But Hex and Arkham are still just two men against a whole city of evil. All that, plus there’s a backup story starring the new version of Western hero El Diablo, riding into town to save a bunch of townspeople from zombies.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see that the Religion of Crime hasn’t been scrapheaped with the old DC Universe. Nice to see Hex shooting a buttload of bad guys. But I do hope we see Arkham doing something other than merely observing the action soon.

Avengers Academy #20

In the aftermath of “Fear Itself,” Veil has decided to leave Avengers Academy — and she calls mega-wealthy metahuman sociopath Jeremy Briggs to see if he’ll give her a job with his company. In addition, Speedball has also decided to quit the group, finally feeling that he’s made up for the Stamford disaster and wanting to be a regular hero again. So is this the beginning of the end of Avengers Academy, or just the end of the beginning?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The farewell to Veil, Speedball, and some other characters is nice — but honestly, the ones leaving were the ones that were the least interesting characters in the comic. Still, I’m fairly keen on the fact that this really cool comic is going to continue.

All reviews complete? ALL REVIEWS COMPLETE!

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Another article on how DC is shooting itself in the foot by marketing themselves solely to immature white males — and why it’s important to keep saying so.
  • This was a really interesting article about scientists who study octopus intelligence and the suprising things they’re learning.
  • If you’ve been missing Allie Brosh’s posts on “Hyperbole and a Half,” she has the sad but inspiring story of where she’s been.

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Calling All Monsters

Holy bananas, when’s the last time I did anything other than review comics? Let’s see if I can get this week’s comics reviewed before the weekend, okay?

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #8

Once again, the story is split into two parts. We get Godzilla in an epic battle against King Ghidorah for half the issue, and in the rest of it, Sgt. Woods and Allie continue their journey across the country, fighting off desperate bandits and trying to stay away from the giant monsters. But when Steven is bitten by a poisonous snake, it puts their survival at risk — unless they get rescued by an unlikely savior.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really, the most interesting part of this story focuses on the human survivors — I think the comic has actually gotten better now that we have some real protagonists. But I do think it’s interesting that King Ghidorah, normally the villain in Toho Studios‘ “Godzilla” movies, is cast as the good guy here.

Spaceman #1

A new sci-fi comic from Brian Azzarello, creator of “100 Bullets,” and it’s available for just one dollar! Yeah! Our lead character is Orson, a genetically engineered man. He was designed to live and work in space, and he looks more like a gorilla than a man. Orson hasn’t been in space for quite a while, though he still has plenty of dreams about it. Now he scrapes by working as a scrap metal collector — he sets sail in a rough little boat and tries to find some salvage out in the ocean. Meanwhile, the police are investigating an odd crime — a contestant on a reality show competing to be adopted by the future versions of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt has been kidnapped, and no one knows where she is. How are these plot threads going to twist together?

Verdict: Thumbs up. For one thing, it’s just a dollar. JUST A DOLLAH! Second, I love the future lingo, part textspeak, part weird abbreviations. It’s fun to try to decipher what’s being said. But ya know what? Even though I like it, I’m not going to keep picking it up. I collect too dadgum many comics as it is, and the last thing I need is yet another monthly filling up my shortboxes. If it keeps a good rep, maybe I’ll pick it up someday when it gets collected.

The Amazing Spider-Man #671

Well, I lost track of this one somewhere down the road, so we’re gonna review two of these. Mary Jane Watson is just about the last person in the city to get any spider powers, so she gets busy saving lives and kicking butt. Elsewhere, Spidey manages to web up the transformed J. Jonah Jameson before he can kill anyone, but his mental link with the Spider-Queen clues her in that the resistance against her is centered at Horizon Labs. Eddie Brock is letting the scientists drain him of his spider-curing antibodies, even though it means he’ll never be able to become Anti-Venom again. The Queen sends Tarantula, who used to be Kaine, one of Spidey’s clones, to destroy the pool of spider decontaminant. Spidey almost gets beat, but Horizon Labs has been working on a way to restore the Wall-Crawler’s lost Spider-Sense, which gives him the edge to stop Tarantula and knock him into the decontaminant vat, turning him back into Kaine. Unfortunately, turning Peter’s Spider-Sense back on ends up super-charging the Queen…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Tons of stuff going on, with the end of Anti-Venom, the return of Kaine and the Spider-Sense, and even some fun guest stars.

The Amazing Spider-Man #672

So what’s the Spider-Queen do, now that she’s got a steep increase in power? She turns into a giant spider-monster to attack the city! Spidey loans Kaine one of his fancy high-tech spider-suits, Mary Jane shows up to help fight, the Avengers, the X-Men, and most of the other heroes in the city have trouble slowing the Queen down, and Peter realizes how to cure everyone in the city of their spider powers and stop the Queen at the same time. Can Peter and Mary Jane save the day?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s big and crazy and overblown and a bit goofy, but I liked it anyway. So sue me.

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Goin’ Down to Dunwich

The Dunwich Horror #1

This adaptation of one of H.P. Lovecraft’s most popular stories is written by horror writer Joe R. Lansdale, which is definitely a step in the right direction. It’s a fairly loose adaptation of the story — for one thing, it’s set in 2011, not in the 1930s. We’re focused on a group of friends getting back together after another friend has been killed and beheaded by persons unknown. But the friends know who the culprit is — an otherworldly, invisible horror who they all summoned in a ritual a long time ago. It’s loose now and stalking them, and the only way to avoid being eventually torn apart by the monster is to find it and send it back where it came from. They’ve probably got quite a task in front of them — a local barn has been blown apart by the thing, and it’s stacked up a gigantic pile of dead, bloody animals that it’s partially eaten. And since it’s invisible, they have no idea if it’s far away, or if it’s getting closer and closer…

There’s also a backup feature — an adaptation of Lovecraft’s “The Hound” by Robert Weinberg and a guy called menton3. I couldn’t actually make heads nor tails of it, primarily because the lettering was tiny and crabbed and just plain too much trouble to read.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yeah, I didn’t get much out of “The Hound,” and it’s a bit odd to see an adaptation of “The Dunwich Horror” that doesn’t start out with Wilbur Whateley and his awful, awful family, but I’m still enjoying what I see. There are enough elements from the original story for me to recognize, and I’ve got enough faith in Joe Lansdale that I expect he won’t steer the story wrong.

Wonder Woman #2

We get to meet Hera — queenly, haughty, hates Zeus, hates his consorts worse — and Strife — skinny, gothy, devious, chaos-loving — before we move to Wonder Woman, arriving on Paradise island with Hermes and Zola. They meet Hippolyta and engage in a tournament — but when Strife herself pays a visit to the island, all bets are off. What secret is the goddess of chaos and discord hiding?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The whole thing is quite nicely done, with great writing, great art, lots of action, intrigue, suspense, and weird stuff. I’m digging this quite a bit.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Clanking Chains

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – Russia #2

Kate Corrigan and Johann Kraus meet the director of the Russian Occult Bureau, and he’s not what they expected. In fact, he’s a stitched-together corpse wearing a protective suit similar to Johann’s. But he’s intelligent, erudite, and not particularly sinister. In fact, he’s Iosif, the same walking corpse who Abe Sapien met in a state of extremely advanced decomposition on the ocean floor in last year’s “Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain.” Iosif is now smarter than he used to be and has managed to become director of the entire bureau. But Johann soon learns that Iosif may not be the most stable guy as he uses harsh methods to deal with a man he claims is possessed. And what’s going on in the mysterious city of Rampayedik?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A really interesting story with lots of intrigue and supernatural zing. Iosif’s return is amazingly welcome, as “Abyssal Plain” was a big favorite of mine.

Dark Horse Presents #5

Another bunch of great stories in this comics anthology — including new chapters for Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia’s “The Adventures of Dog Mendonca and Pizzaboy,” Robert Love and David Walker’s “Number 13,” Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s “Resident Alien,” Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten’s “Criminal Macabre,” Neal Adams’ “Blood,” Carla Speed McNeil’s “Finder: Third World,” and Howard Chaykin’s “Marked Man,” along with new stories — Eric Powell’s “Isolation” and Andi Watson’s “Skeleton Key: Dead Can’t Dance.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Anthologies are always a mixed bag of brilliant and not-so-brilliant, but there were a lot more good stories here than bad ones. Definite high points would be Powell’s robot debauchery mini-epic “Isolation,” Chaykin’s always amazing “Marked Man,” and McNeil’s tribute to strange futures “Finder.”

Blue Beetle #2

Jaime Reyes has an alien super-weapon wrapped around him and screaming in his ear while he tries to avoid killing everyone around him. And the Reach has noticed that Earth’s scarab has just activated, so they start making plans to invade.

Verdict: Man, so not enthused about this right now. This is the problem with rebooting a new series like this — especially when you’re not really changing much of anything about Jaime and the scarab’s origins. We could’ve skipped all the repeat of Jaime’s origin in favor of telling some new Blue Beetle stories. Nevertheless, the writing and art are A-OK, and I’m still a big fan of the character, so I reckon I’ll be sticking with it.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Looks like Marvel’s recent layoffs were apparently done for the same reason most other layoffs happen — greedy managers who want to make themselves look like big profit-grabbers for their bosses.
  • What the 1% have but can never appreciate, and what they want but can never have. (By sci-fi/horror megastar author Charles Stross)

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Friday Night Fights: Trick Question!

Alrighty, we’ve all had a rough week, full of painful work assignments, painful bosses, painful customers, and painful getting-out-of-bed-too-early. But the weekend is finally here, and the only pain any of us have to deal with now is… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes from January 2008’s Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood #2 by Greg Rucka and Jesus Saiz, as Renee Montoya puts on her faceless mask and goes out as the Question to beat up on bad guys.

That was pretty nice. I sure do hope DC is going to bring Renee back as the Question — she was just too much fun as a character.

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More than One Way to Skin a Bat

Batman #2

After nabbing some art thieves in a tense game of chicken between the Batmobile and a helicopter, Batman assists with the autopsy of the John Doe who’d been found tortured to death last issue. He seems to have some sort of connection to an organization called the Court of Owls, which Batman insists is just a legend. Nightwing reveals how his skin got under the dead man’s fingernails — the man had accosted Dick Grayson a week before with some sort of garbled warning, and the man had scratched him before security guards pulled him away. Later, Bruce meets with Lincoln March, a wealthy politician, and they’re both attacked by a man in an owl suit who stabs both men and kicks Bruce out of Wayne Tower? What chance does Bruce have to survive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Crazy good writing, crazy good art, and a really fun, complex story. This might not be the best of the new rebooted comics, but it’s definitely in the top three.

Dungeons & Dragons #12

Adric Fell and his band of adventurers help fight off an attack of insect-like kruthiks on a wagon convoy, and dwarven paladin Khal discovers a letter from his girlfriend Danni. But Khal suspects that the letters have been forged, and he leads the group to his old dwarven home in the mountains. Turns out the stead is also under attack from kruthiks — in fact, they’ve got a infestation of the monsters. And most interestingly, Khal’s love poetry has made him a rock star among the dwarves. Unfortunately, Danni’s mother rules the place, and she hates Khal’s guts — the only thing that keeps her from having Khal killed is another attack from the kruthiks. Can everyone avoid getting killed somehow?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good grief, this series is fun. Great writing, dialogue, and plotting. Extremely fun art. Great characters, great action — this comic is just awesome.

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It’s My Party

Tiny Titans #45

All the Batgirls are going to have a Batgirl Party. So that means Barbara is invited, Cassandra, Flamebird… and Stephanie, who finally gets her own Batgirl costume! Plus Starfire and Raven also get some Batgirl costumes so they can attend. Robin isn’t real happy about this, but Batman gave the party his blessing, so what can ya do? We also meet Pantha, the soccer-loving… well, no one seems to know what kind of critter she is. We’re pretty sure she isn’t a bat, because the bats in the Batcave insist that she isn’t. Elsewhere, Coach Huntress’s soccer team isn’t doing so well against Coach Lobo’s team. And who does Coach Lobo have on his squad?

Just the Tiny Titans versions of the Secret Six, that’s who. Lookit, Tiny Scandal is adorable.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one is worth the cover price not only for the Secret Six, but for Starfire and Raven’s Batgirl costumes.

Atomic Robo: The Ghost of Station X #2

Last issue, Atomic Robo and his employees managed a short-deadline rescue for astronauts in danger. But there were no astronauts, just a collision with a satellite, leaving Robo facing a long and deeply unsafe fall from low-earth orbit to a catastrophic crash landing. Robo’s pilots manage — barely — to catch him before he falls into the ocean, but he came really, really close to dying or having his atomic batteries meltdown. When his team finally has him rebuilt days later, he gets a call from NASA — they never called him about a shuttle mission in danger because the space shuttle was never in danger. Someone just tried very hard to kill Robo and his company…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very tense, suspenseful issue — the beginning is a hair’s-breadth miracle rescue which is one of the best things I’ve read in a comic book in weeks, and the rest is the beginnings of several interesting mysteries. Definitely a fun read — if you aren’t reading this, you should be.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Frankenstein Unbound

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #2

The team members discover that the town has been dumping residents in a nearby lake as sacrifices to demonic powers. Unfortunately, the invasion they had hoped to stave off is happening anyway — the monsters on the other side of the dimensional portal were just gleefully eating everyone they dumped, with no intention of honoring any bargains. Of course, once the team discovers the portal, they’re all going to have to go through it, right? On top of all that, we also get some background on the life of fishwoman Nina Mazursky and how she decided to give up her humanity to become a monster.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, good humor. Some really good dialogue here and there. The art style is way wonky, but that may be something that’ll grow on me eventually.

American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #5

In the conclusion of this miniseries, Felicia Book and Cash McCogan, members of the vampire-hunting Vassals of the Morning Star, are trapped facing hordes of Nazi vampires — until some titanic and powerful ancient vampires emerge from the castle, give the Americans their apparent permission to leave, and begin attacking the Nazis. Unfortunately, some of the Nazis evade the ancients and give chase in a tank. Can Felicia and Cash make it to their pickup point, or are the bad guys going to win?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This has been a grand series, both for Scott Snyder’s writing and dialogue, but for Sean Murphy’s outstanding artwork.

Today’s Cool Links:

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