Archive for June, 2012

Friday Night Fights: Cat Fight Club!

Awright, kids, it’s Friday night, we got a pitifully short weekend ahead, maybe a single day off in the middle of next week, and then another pitifully short weekend after that. But let’s make the best of it while we can. It’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from May 1983’s Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #15 by Scott Shaw!, E. Nelson Bridwell, and Carol Lay as our spell-slinging hero Alley-Kat-Abra faces off against the evil sorcerer Feline Faust!

(Not the best image quality — sorry, folks, it’s hard to get a very clear scan on stuff that’s unfortunately not been kept in the best of shape since I bought ’em in junior high. All the more reason for DC to hurry up and get us a Showcase Presents phonebook for the Zoo Crew comics, right?)

Anyway, there we go, people. Get out there and enjoy your weekend. Stay cool, drink plenty of liquids (It’s hot out there, dangit), and I’ll see y’all back here in a few days.

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So Much Robo!

Holy zambonis, two Atomic Robo comics released on the same day?! We all must have been very, very good boys and girls this year!

Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #1

Robo is out over the South Pacific in 1951 testing an experimental aircraft when he gets attacked by a bunch of sky pirates flying foo fighters — and then he gets defended by a squad of pilots wearing jet-packs! And once Robo gets his plane safely crash-landed on a beach, and the foo fighters are run off, he discovers that the jet-pack pilots are all girls! Yeah, holy cow, ya mouthless atomic-powered robot, way to get all judgmental about gender, dork. Anyway, they give Robo a ride on their frankly astounding flying machine and meets Hazel, Lauren, the technical genius, Valerya, the pilot, Captain May Carter, and the other members of the She-Devils, a bunch of renegades who are operating as sky pirates against all the other sky pirates in the region. But the She-Devils have plenty of enemies, and Robo’s arrival may give them the opportunity to destroy them…

Verdict: Thumbs up, of course, because Atomic Robo is awesome. I’m loving the characters we’re meeting, too. Even the ones we meet for just a few panels are interesting folks. I do think this one is going to be fun — be sure you pick it up!

Atomic Robo Presents: Real Science Adventures #3

Lots of great stuff here — the ongoing adventures of the Sparrow during World War II, Robo being trained in martial arts by Bruce Lee, and Robo forced into a surreal mental battle against a computer virus. But the best one here is “Tesla’s Electric Sky Schooner,” set in 1895, and starring, on the first page, Nikola Tesla, George Westinghouse, and Charles Fort preparing to lay siege to the terrible War Zeppelin Nemesis — but there are plenty of awesome members of their strikeforce in reserve…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yeah, I love the stories, but wow, the art is just phenomenal. Ryan Cody, Gurihiru, John Broglia, and Christian Ward just hammer the ball outta the park. Again, far and away, my favorite story here is “Tesla’s Electric Sky Schooner” — I would love to see Brian Clevinger and Gurihiru do an ongoing series about this one. Also, how much do I love that cover with Robo as the Shadow? I love it a lot.

Superman Family Adventures #2

Bizarro makes his way to Earth, causing a huge panic in Metropolis. Supergirl and Superboy hear the racket all the way in the Fortress of Solitude (where they’re hanging out with — huzzah! — the Tiny Titans!), so Supergirl and Streaky head out to see what’s up. She has her hands full keeping him from tearing the city apart, and even Superman has trouble with him. But Supergirl eventually gets the situation handled… with ice cream! With Bizarro calmed down, they bring him to the Fortress, but it’s not long before he’s causing more havoc, by releasing all the Kryptonian animals and scattering Kryptonite everywhere! How are Supergirl and Superboy going to clean up this mess?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Cute artwork, funny storytelling, good all-ages fun.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Leave Me out of Your Stupid Fantasies

I shouldn’t EVEN be talking about this, but it’s been bugging me for days. In the past few days, I’ve been hearing a lot of monumentally stupid stuff, so we’re gonna drag it all out and kick the tar out of it. COME ON, KIDS, IT’LL BE FUN.

From the rightward side of the political aisle, we get people talking about wanting to move to Texas and secede from the union, exemplified by this idiot who makes his living being a moron on the radio:

I would SERIOUSLY consider moving to Texas if it would secede from the union and re-form as The Republic of Texas. It has that power.

There are SO MANY THINGS wrong with that.

First, no, Texas is not able to secede from the union and turn itself into the Republic of Texas. In theory, the state could split itself into five new states (not four, not three, not two, not six, but five exactly), but that’s really never going to happen, because it would be stupid. There’s also nothing in the state constitution or in any laws anywhere that say that Texas can secede from the union. We tried that once, and you might remember how that got resolved. Your side got its ass kicked.

And if I may say, I got no patience whatsoever for scumbags who talk about seceding from the U.S. ‘Round here, that’s what I call treason. I don’t like it when my stupid governor talks about it. I don’t like it when my stupid legislators talk about it. I don’t like it when stupid people on the Internet talk about it. If folks ever wise up and elect me governor or even president, I guarantee there’s gonna be some whupass unleashed on folks who talk smack like that.

And it’s stupid anyway. You love America so much you want to leave it? You’re stupid, and your face is stupid. George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and Ben Franklin are gonna rise from their graves to kick your stupid face in.

So again, angry Republicans who are mad at the world and like to run your mouths without thinking: leave me and my state out of your stupid fantasies.

But wait, I’m not done!

From the leftward side of the political aisle, we get people (no major pundits or politicos, thank goodness, just idjits prattling on blogs and discussion boards) talking about they’re mad at the wingnuts and want all of them to move to Texas and secede.

There are SO MANY THINGS wrong with that.

I mean, come on, lefties, you spend the last few decades talking about improving the world for minorities, for women, for gays, for everyone, and you want to throw out a whole state full of people? Including vast numbers of minorities, women, gays, and just plain American citizens? And you want to give them over to the crazies and wingnuts and moral monsters who live in the fringe right, build a wall on the Oklahoma border, and just shrug it off when the nuts roll things back to the 1600s and start burning people at the stake?

Fer cry-eye, lefties, you want to just hand over the gravesites of LBJ, Molly Ivins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Selena, Buddy Holly, and SERIOUSLY, do you have any idea how many of your late idols may have plots here? Are you really going to let the New Confederate Neo-Nazi Douchebag Brigade start taking care of those gravesites?!

Really, Texas barely counts as a red state nowadays. The last few elections, we’ve come down in purple territory. You’re talking about disenfranchising people when they’re starting to trend in your direction!

Ultimately, it’s really about as treasonous as the wingnuts who talk secession. Because you’re still talking about throwing perfectly good American citizens out of the country because you don’t like how your opposing party acts. And it’ll never happen because no one’s ever going to let any state secede again, no matter how much you don’t like its citizens. Even talking about it is stupid, and your face is stupid.

So again, angry lefties who are mad at the Texas GOP and like to run your mouths without thinking: leave me and my state out of your stupid fantasies.

In summation: Stupid people on the right and the left: shut up, stop being stupid, leave me and my state out of your stupid fantasies.

And read more Atomic Robo and Yotsuba comics.

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The Hypernaturals #1

Think of this new series as an alternate world Legion of Super-Heroes. And it’s written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the creators of one of the most beloved (by fans, not so much by DC) versions of the Legion ever.

Our setting is the distant future, a hundred years after the Quantinuum AI “achieved Singularity and refashioned human galactic culture.” Superhumans are moderately common, and the best of the best are selected to serve five-year terms as members of the Hypernaturals, the galaxy’s greatest superteam. We get introduced to them through a Hypernaturals team from seven years ago, including Clone 45, Bewilder, Thinkwell, Kobalt Blue, and Shard as they battle a super-genius called Sublime, who has obtained a weapon that he hopes to use to kill off the Quantinuum AI that has become a near-god.

But before we can even see how that turned out, we jump forward to the present-day. Clone 45 is a down-and-out schlub, Bewilder is the media relations contact for the current Hypernaturals team, Thinkwell is retired — and the new Hypernaturals team have all been killed in their first mission — along with everyone else on the planet 28 Kosov. Bewilder and Thinkwell are chosen to investigate the disaster, along with Shoal, a newbie with the power to control strangelets, and DeeDee, who came in second place in the competition to be in the last Hypernaturals team and wear the high-tech Halfshell powered armor. Will the team discover what happened on 28 Kosov? Or are they as doomed as the last team of heroes?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An excellent debut issue, with lots of very interesting characters, a semi-familiar setting, great dialogue and action. So far, characters are where this first issue really shines — I want to find out a lot more about all these people, and I hope this series continues for a while.

Batman Inc. #2

This issue focuses almost entirely on Talia al Ghul, daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, mother of Damian Wayne. We watch her childhood being trained as an assassin and mostly being ignored by her father. He’ll buy her anything she wants, but she doesn’t know her mother and her father doesn’t really value her as much as he’d value a male heir.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I was actually a bit nervous about this one — that Talia would be portrayed solely as a seductress. As it is, we get a much more femme fatale view of her — at least as competent as her father or Batman, and possibly more dangerous. Yes, she’s seductive, but she’s also smart, a devastating fighter and assassin, and as ruthless a leader as her father is. It’s also clever the way we get some flashbacks into Batman’s most famous battles against Ra’s. All in all, I was fairly happy with it.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Turns out the DC Reboot was a disaster from the start, with no planning, no foresight, and ultimately no future. Here’s to the day DiDio, Johns, and Lee get their walking papers.
  • A bunch of Stephanie Brown fans have started a campaign to get the former (and best) Batgirl back in comics.
  • If you like the “Meet the Team” videos for the Team Fortress 2 computer game (and you should like ’em, ’cause they’re very funny), the final one — “Meet the Pyro” — has been released.

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Go West, Young Man

Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse

Here’s a nice little graphic novel that was previewed in Archaia’s awesome mini-hardcover Free Comic Book Day collection a few weeks back. I wasn’t sure that it’d ever make its way down to Denton, but I was able to grab hold of it last weekend, so let’s give it a whirl.

It’s an all-ages Western, written by Nate Cosby and illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos, with a few short mini-features by Roger Langridge, Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Mike Maihack, and Colleen Coover.

It’s the story of a ten-year-old boy named Boyd Linney, who’s out roaming the Wild West all by himself. Boyd is a bounty hunter, dedicated to capturing his own family, all notorious outlaws and scallywags, and bringing them to justice. His only allies are a horse and his Horse — a hobby horse that he’s converted into a shotgun.

So we get to watch Boyd go after his own criminal kin, including his sad-sack father, his low-down brother, and more besides. We get a look at his awful childhood, as his rotten relations made his sleep in the pig pen. We get to watch him accidentally make a man’s life worse by defending him from bullies. We get to watch him foil crooked lawmen, and we get to see him have a few fleeting moments of happiness before he’s left on his own again.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Let’s talk about the art. Hopefully, y’all are familiar with Chris Eliopoulos by now — he’s got a simple, straightforward, cartoony style, which I’ve told y’all before is the best way to make a comic that’s both fun and emotional. There is nothing more hilarious than watching Boyd gruffly grumble his way through some outlandish feat of derring-do. There’s also nothing more heart-wrenching than watching him — or anyone else — choke back tears.

And there are tears a-plenty. This is an all-ages comic, but I think there’s a chance some kids may not be able to handle the emotional content, especially if they have abandonment issues or if they’re a bit clingy. On the other hand, other kids are going to be completely gleeful about the fantasy of a little kid roaming the Wild West and blowing up saloons. Buyer beware, parents — know your kids, read the book, decide if your young-uns will be okay with it.

For all the emotional heart-tugging, this is also a very funny comic, with buckets of humor both whimsical and more down-to-earth. There is also a wagon-load of action and thrills. And it’s a beautifully made book, a hardcover that’s just a joy to hold in your hands. Cosby, Eliopoulos, and Archaia have done an outstanding job with this one.

You may want to get it for your kids. You may want to get it just for you. But I do think you should go pick it up.

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Dead Wonders

Wonder Woman #10

The wedding of Hades and Wonder Woman is about to begin — and Hades has Wonder Woman’s neck in a noose made of her own Golden Lasso, demanding that she tell him the truth of whether or not she loves him. She says yes — and it’s true! But the wedding’s still off, ’cause she’s pissed that he didn’t trust her and was willing to kill her because he was incapable of trust. Diana steals a horse, and there’s a great chase through Hell as Hades tries to corral or kill her. Can Wonder Woman escape the power of a god?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, dialogue, art, characterization. Just about everyone gets their little moments to shine, but Wondy, of course, gets the best ones. And she’s still wearing that awesome wedding dress/suit of armor that she had last issue, too.

Batwoman #10

Another huge bucket of competing storyarcs — We get to see Killer Croc transformed from supervillain to monstrous urban legend; we see the Medusa organization strike a blow at the D.E.O.; we see Jacob Kane make a heartbreaking confession to his still-comatose niece Bette Kane; and we see Batwoman discover a terrible secret about one of her allies.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The art is still pretty much the best you’re going to see in any comic books today. The writing ain’t that bad either. To be honest, I’ve been enjoying Jacob Kane’s storyarc the most — it’s had a lot more resonance for me than any of the superhero punch-ups in the rest of the book. Although if we get to see some more spooky emphasis on Gotham’s other urban legends, I’ll be pretty happy with that, too.

The Unwritten #38

Fiction has disappeared as a concept from the human mind — with the exception of Tom Taylor, who is the only person left on the planet who can still channel stories. The police in Australia are on the hunt for a Tommy Taylor cult that’s causing disappearances, and Detective Sandra Patterson finds Daniel Armitage, a patsy she can send undercover into the cult’s hiding places to learn their secrets. And Daniel finds one doozy of a secret, too…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Still not seeing our main characters much, other than Savoy, but Det. Patterson makes a good protagonist in their stead. I’m also digging the slow buildup of details about how doomed the world is without stories, particularly the suicidal writer who can’t think of anything fictional anymore…

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Free Falling

Snarked #9

The Walrus, the Carpenter, Queen Scarlett, and Prince Rusty have finally found the dreaded Snark Island. But of course, one of the big problems with Snark Island is that it’s got a Snark on it, and no one wants to mess with a Snark. It’s has plenty of other problems, too, including treacherous cliffs, deadly traps, and a Lion and a Unicorn who are guarding the king’s prison. Once they persuade the Lion and the Unicorn to let them pass, they discover that they king not only doesn’t want to leave his cave, he doesn’t even remember his own daughter! Plus the monstrous Snark is still out there on the island somewhere…

Verdict: Thumbs up. This was a joy to read from beginning to end. Characterization, humor, danger, dialogue, artwork, you name it. Go get it, people, come on.

Daredevil #14

Matt Murdock has been captured and imprisoned in Latveria, home of Doctor Doom — but his captor isn’t Doom, it’s Chancellor Beltane, Minister of the Bank of Latveria, and he’s not happy that Daredevil stole the Omega Drive with all the secrets of the world’s Megacrime organizations. Beltane hits him with some kind of gas before Matt makes his escape, but while he’s on the run, he realizes that the gas is slowly eliminating his senses. Can Daredevil escape from Latveria and get help before all his senses disappear permanently?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding action and dialogue. Seriously, it’s amazingly thrilling stuff, and nice and tense, too, as Matt’s amplified senses vanish one by one. All that plus a cool twist ending that leaves me very interested in where the next issue will go…

Avengers Academy #32

Juston Seyfert, the kid with his own reprogrammed Sentinel robot, joins the main cast in this issue, as he has to deal with various people who are unhappy about there being a Sentinel at a school where there are several mutant students. X-23 tries to get Juston to shut it down, and he tells her that, despite its tendency to occasionally bellow “Destroy all mutants!” most of its other directives override that one. Juston discovered that it’s not actually possible to erase that part of its programming, and rather than destroy what he thinks is a living mind, he’s chosen to make sure that its “destroy all mutants” directive is its lowest priority.

Meanwhile, the Avengers vs. X-Men war is still going on, and the X-Men have basically won because the Phoenix Force has bonded with five mutants — including Emma Frost, who shows up ready to destroy Juston’s Sentinel — the last Sentinel on the planet. Will the students try to stand against one of the most powerful, destructive beings in the universe? Should they even try?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good dialogue and characterization — it’s nice to learn more about Juston, who’s been a background character for the past several issues, and we also continue to get a good focus on X-23’s hellish past and how she’s dealing with that. I have one serious complaint — the art is pretty alarmingly horrendous. Everyone’s poses look mostly unnatural, and every female character has the exact same body type and stance. It’s just astonishingly unattractive, and I hope they get the regular artist back very soon.

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Friday Night Fights: Power and Glory!

Time to kick off a new round of Friday Night Fights? Let’s get things going with a classic.

Tonight’s battle is from February 1978’s Showcase #97, by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, and Joe Orlando. Power Girl vs. random thugs? I think we know who wins that one, right?

Head over to Spacebooger’s joint and pick out your favorites!

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Ghost to Ghost

Dark Horse Presents #13

This month’s highlights include Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto rebooting Ghost for the era of paranormal reality TV; Carla Speed McNeil’s always-amazing “Finder: Third World”; John Layman and Sam Kieth looking at android psychology in the ongoing battle against xenomorph aliens; John Arcudi and Jonathon Case’s deformed detective in “The Creep”; Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten sending the heroes of “Criminal Macabre” up against a horde of werewolves; and much, much more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun stuff this time, particularly “Finder,” “The Creep,” and “Aliens.” The “Ghost” reboot was interesting, at least for a first chapter. There were a few stinkers in this issue, too, but on the whole, it’s still worth reading.

Alabaster: Wolves #3

Dancy Flammarion has a new benefactor — the ghost of the werewolf girl she killed in the first issue! She drags her out of the burning church and helps nurse her back to health, but Dancy doesn’t trust her. She demands answers to her questions about her former guardian angel, and Dancy tells her about the time the angel guided her to a werepanther she had to kill, and about the panther’s cruel owner.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good, creepy fun. Moody, good dialogue, excellent characterization. I loved this all the way through.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Devil’s Engine #2

Estranged BPRD agent Andrew Devon, flighty precognitive Fenix, and Bruiser, Fenix’s dog, are out walking along a deserted highway, the lone survivors of the colossal train crash that stranded them out in the desert. They finally locate a semi truck they can use for transport — only to discover there’s half a dead body inside. And then they get attacked by giant monsters. They manage to flee, but there’s not enough gas to get them far. Is there any hope for them? Meanwhile, the Nazi bastards running Zinco are working hard to get their old diabolical, world-ending tricks going again.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent apocalyptic action. Outstanding monsters and tension. Just an all-around great comic. It’s amazing how good nearly all of the BPRD comics have been for the last few years.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Blood Pack

American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #1

Huzzah, a new “American Vampire” miniseries, written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. Somehow, I’d missed that this was coming out, so it ended up being a nice surprise on my pull-list last week.

It’s 1954, and Agent Hobbes of the vampire-hunting Vassals of the Morning Star meets up with an irritating American tourist named Tommy Glass, who actually knows a heck of a lot more about vampires than he should. In fact, he knows about something mysterious and terrible that the Vassals keep locked up somewhere very safe, and he has a well-thought-out plan to set it free. The resulting disaster forces Hobbes to travel to Paris to seek the assistance of former agent and half-vampire Felicia Book. What’s the new threat facing the world? And do Hobbes and Book have any chance of stopping it?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderful writing and art, of course, with an interesting and off-kilter villain in Tommy Glass and an even more interesting one teased at the cliffhanger. I’m now looking forward to this one quite a bit…

Batgirl #10

Batgirl lays some smackdown on some low-rent car thieves targeting the parking garage in a building hosting a fancy black-tie society gathering. But the last thief ends up stepping in a bear trap someone left outside a doorway. The event security shows up and take the thief into custody. And what’s the black-tie event about? A wealthy debutante named Charise Carnes is hosting a fundraiser to help clean up Gotham, and Lois Lane is on hand to quiz her about her project — and about the rumors about her involvement in the deaths of her family years ago. Carnes was cleared of the crime, but one suspects she may be less than innocent, what with the man she has hidden away and chained in a cage, and what with Batgirl’s discovery that the bear-trap victim is still being held in the building, with his leg cut off, and what with the fact that her bodyguards are all costumed super-criminals. Can Batgirl face all of them down?

Verdict: Thumbs up. While the identities of the villains were pretty obvious from their first appearances — and who on earth has event security wear formal dresses to an event? — I really enjoyed this issue a lot. Batgirl was a lot more competent than she’s previously been depicted, and the villains, calling themselves the Disgraced, are all plenty fun, with interesting motivations.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #10

After an attack by giant insects, S.H.A.D.E. determines that one of its undercover agents — Crowly, stationed in Untropolis, a quasi-interdimensional, monster-filled sister-city of Metropolis — may have been responsible for the incident. Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos are dispatched through the deadly border between dimensions. Can they track Crowly, apprehend her, and find out what’s going on?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The action is pretty good, Frank’s dialogue is great (the rest of the characters are honestly a bit drab), and the graphics for Untropolis are quite fun, but what I really enjoyed this for was the mystery of what kind of strange visions Frankenstein is having. Are they about his past? Or is this something altogether different? I’m mystified by it, but still enjoying it.

Today’s Cool Links:

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