Archive for November, 2012

Friday Night Fights: City of Heroes Forever!

Okay, I was taking the week off, but I couldn’t say no to a little Friday Night Fights, could I?

Well, it’s November 30th, and in mere hours, City of Heroes, the best dang superhero MMO ever, will be shut down. The game’s owner, NCSoft, has shown more dedication and grit and focus in getting the game cancelled than anything else it did over the last eight years, and the loyal players and developers have been amazing and impressive in the ways they’ve worked to save the game. Unfortunately, it’s looking very clear that nothing is going to save the game, despite nearly the entire playerbase working together and supporting each other. So again, mere hours ’til the game’s servers are shut down. I expect to spend my last day in City of Heroes running missions and taskforces, and probably sitting around in Atlas Park outside of City Hall, reminiscing about how much fun we’ve all had.

I’m gonna miss this game a lot, not just because I loved playing superheroes and supervillains, not just because the costume creator was the best ever made for a game, not just because of all the friendships I made with other players. But also because it was fun to drop some whupass on the bad guys.

So, from the minds of Cryptic Studios and Paragon Studios, here are the heroes and villains of City of Heroes. Please give it up for…

The Orange Avenger!


Miss Mega!

Jonni Rotten!


The Brain from Planet 7!

Blue Heaven!

Murderin’ Jack!



Plutonium Lass!

Justice Gal!

The game may end tonight, but in my imagination, they’ll be fighting the good fight forever.

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Final Heroes

I’m taking most of this week off blogging. I’ve got plenty of comics to review, but right now, I’ve got a leisure activity I’d prefer to focus on for now.

As I’ve mentioned before, my beloved City of Heroes is shutting down at the end of this week. I’m still not real happy about that, but I’d like to spend as much time as I can this week running around Paragon City and the Rogue Isles — and I can’t do that if I’m coming home and worrying about how I’m going to fill up a blog post.

So no blogging for most of this week. If you’re playing CoH, I hope I’ll get to see you online, and we can toast this mad, glorious game in its final days.

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Friday Night Fights: Robot Wreckage!

Busy, busy, busy, no time for cutesy intros, so here’s FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from February 2011’s Power Girl #19 by Judd Winick and Sami Basri, as PeeGee faces off against Ace, the robot powerhouse from the Royal Flush Gang.

And that’s my second groin-injury FNF in as many weeks. Do I get a prize for that?

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Holiday Gift Bag: We3

Well, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and we all know what that means. Time to head out to the mall in the middle of the night, fight our way through jam-packed parking, and commit major felonies just so you can get our hands on — what’s the hot toy this year? Furbies? You’re kidding, right? Furbies? I’m supposed to beat up housewives so I can buy a freakin’ Furby?! That does it, I quit Planet Christmas.

But wait, we have an alternative to irritating Black Friday shopping! Comics! Yes, go visit your friendly local comic book store, where the parking lots are less crowded, the customers are more sophisticated, and the employees are dedicated to helping you find the perfect gift. We’ll spend a few weeks looking through our Holiday Gift Bag to find some great presents for any comic-lover on your list.

So let’s get things started this year with a book I’m honestly amazed I’ve never reviewed before now: We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.

This was released as a three-issue Vertigo miniseries in 2004, then put out in a trade paperback in 2005. It focuses on three animals that have been turned into cybernetically-enhanced war machines by the government. They are:

  • a dog, called “1” who functions as the leader and mini-tank;
  • a cat, called “2” equipped with flechette weapons and a very poor attitude; and
  • a rabbit, called “3” who specializes in dropping bombs and poison gas.

All three animals have brain modifications that allow them to speak — but not very well. Most of what they say looks like very simple leet-speak, with the rabbit only able to manage very simple words, never sentences. They’re just animals — they’re not as smart as people, they don’t think like humans, so their speech is strange and bestial, while still retaining emotional resonance.

After a very successful testing program, the government decides that the We3 project is to be decommissioned and the animals killed. Their trainer releases the locks on the animals and lets them free, but they’re pursued by the military and other animal-machine hybrids, including a bunch of cyber-rats and a terrifying mastiff killing machine. And for the most part, the We3 animals tear through everything that comes after them. They massacre the soldiers who chase them, they blow up a train, they kill civilians who have the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But they can’t run forever. They run out of ammunition. Their health deteriorates when they don’t get the drug treatments they need to stay healthy. The military gets smarter, and their opponents get deadlier. The odds are stacked against them, and they may never manage to find the fabled land they long for — “Home.”

I think this is an amazing story. I love how much Grant Morrison obviously worked to get into the heads of the animals — 1 prizes loyalty above almost everything else. He loves helping people, and obsesses over being a good dog. 2 is perpetually bad-tempered and sarcastic, challenging 1’s leadership and intelligence, and gleefully using his advanced weapons to shoot down helicopters — or just songbirds. And 3 is simple and direct — he wants to be fed, he wants his equipment fixed, and he wants someone to take care of him. He’s slow to anger, but is more than capable of dishing out the violence when his team is threatened.

Morrison’s emphasis is on the animals, but he also writes empathetically about the humans as well. Dr. Roseanne is We3’s trainer and advocate, loyal and loving to her animal charges, willing to sacrifice her career and more to make sure they’re happy and safe. The lead scientist spends most of the story trying to capture or kill We3, but when he eventually sees the error of his ways, it’s a great moment — heartbreak, sorrow, love, compassion, all in one or two beautiful panels. And the bum the animals encounter is a great character, too — ultimately, I think he’s Morrison’s viewpoint character, in that he believes the best thing you can do for an animal is to love it.

And Frank Quitely’s art is absolutely amazing. When the animals escape, we watch it happen through dozens of different security cameras. When We3 attacks the military or blows up a drug cartel, we see it through a prism of tiny windows, each showing a brief second of action, all the details we’d never be able to make out in a full page — an eye getting pierced, a finger being severed, a bullet exiting a skull. The effect is very much like watching a movie that you can rewind, that lets you zoom in on small details.

It’s a very violent book. It doesn’t glory in violence — it’s depicted graphically, but not with glee or romance. We3 are war machines, and what they do is commit violence, not for fun (well, the cat probably thinks it’s fun), but because violence is part of their functions and programming. It’s the violence of the battlefield — not a good thing, but not something that can be glossed over and prettied up.

Amazon’s actually out of stock of this right now, but it looks like they may be expecting more. It might help if you contact your local comic shop or bookstore and ask when they expect to have them in stock. The hardcover is going to run you about $16; a Kindle edition is $10.

We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Go pick it up.

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Adoption Option

In case you haven’t noticed, November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Why am I writing about it now? Well, obviously, because it’s a great cause, an important celebration of adoptees and adoptive families, and a fantastic goal of getting more children adopted into loving families.

And also because maybe I don’t have anything else to write about today.

So should we as comic fans care about adoptees? Well, of course we should! Without adoptees and adoptive families, we wouldn’t have many of our favorite characters!

Clark Kent!

Dick Grayson!

Little Orphan Annie!


Roy Harper!

Donna Troy!

Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa!


Jessica Jones!

Mia Dearden!


Garfield Logan!


Tim Drake!

Astro Boy!


and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

So won’t you and your family consider adoption? The kid you adopt today could be the superhero of tomorrow…

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The Last Samurais

Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #4

Robo has been captured by renegade Japanese soldiers who never accepted Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II — and they plan to destroy America with their secret weapon: Project Chokaiten. What’s Project Chokaiten? Well, it’s an earthquake bomb. Sounds unlikely, but they already sank She-Devil Island with a one-percent yield bomb, so they figure a full-powered one dropped in the San Andreas Fault should do some extreme damage. The She-Devils manage to rescue Robo before the Japanese scientists cut him apart but after the rest of the Japanese fleet heads for the American coast with Project Chokaiten. Can Atomic Robo and the She-Devils catch up to the Japanese fleet in time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, great action, humor, dialogue, and drama. Atomic Robo is the best dadgum comic book in the universe, and if you ain’t reading it, you are stone crazy.

Ame-Comi Girls Featuring Batgirl #2

In the Ame-Comi version of the DC Universe, there basically aren’t any male superheroes or villains, so while you’ve got Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, she was never inspired by Batman. Other differences? Batgirl has a Robin — her cousin Carrie — and Jim Gordon is in a wheelchair.

So Batgirl and Robin are out on the town beating up Poison Ivy when they get ambushed by Catwoman and Harley Quinn. They manage to capture Batgirl and drag her off to meet Duela Dent, this universe’s version of the Joker, who is also hanging out with the Cheetah who attacked Wonder Woman last issue. Can Robin rescue Batgirl, or will she be on her own against five different supervillains?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The art isn’t as cool as it was last issue, when Amanda Conner was running the pencils. But all in all, it’s still a good story, with lots of action, humor, and fun.

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Friday Night Fights: Ow Ow Ow Ow!

Okay, kiddios, the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, the holidays are already threatening to overwhelm us, and we all need a break from workweek stress. Button up your Dungarees, kids, it’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from 2007’s Batman: Jekyll and Hyde by Paul Jenkins, Jae Lee, and Sean Phillips. Batman’s facing off against some mooks, and he demonstrates why it’s never smart to wear your gun tucked into your waistband.

Yep, the night just got a lot more uncomfortable, didn’t it?

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The Joke’s on You

Batgirl #14

Barbara Gordon’s mother has been kidnapped, and Babs has now gotten a mysterious call from someone who claims to know the inside story. He keeps her occupied on the phone long enough for the kidnappers to come after her, too — and then she unleashes maximum pain on the trio of thugs. After that, the caller, who knows her secret identity, tells her where to find her mother… and the Joker. Can Batgirl save her mother and stop the Joker? Or does the Clown Prince of Crime have something terrible in store for her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Joker is thoroughly twisted (though I really can’t stand his new “Oooh, lookit us, aren’t we dark and hardcore” tattered-and-stitched-on face). The mysterious caller (who isn’t that mysterious, if you’ve been paying attention to the last few years of Batman comics) is wonderfully menacing. And Batgirl gets to be an absolute badass, which I’m always in favor of.

Punk Rock Jesus #5

As Chris, the supposed clone of Jesus, continues his infuriated tour as the lead singer of the Flak Jackets punk rock band, he earns angry denunciations from the New American Christians and meets up with Thomas, the former IRA terrorist turned security goon — and he offers to serve as the Flak Jackets’ new security manager, because he’d promised Chris’ late mother that he’d keep him safe. So the Flak Jackets get more and more popular, the protests get more and more vehement, and the potential crisis point gets more and more explosive — Chris decides he wants to take the band and his atheist message to Jerusalem.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art, great storytelling, wonderful action. It’s great to see even more of Thomas’ backstory — as interesting as Chris’ story has been, Thomas really has felt like the real star of this book.

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A Dose of Awesome: Bears!

Just about every time we talk about why some stuff is awesome, I’ve got a pretty good idea why they’re considered so cool. But I’m a little stumped when it comes to bears. Yes, I absolutely believe that bears are awesome. But I also believe bears are pretty dang scary, too.

On the one paw, we’ve got stuff like this:

Almost impossibly cute, aren’t they? There’s a reason why teddy bears are so popular. Bears can be so cute, especially as cubs, but even as adults sometimes. Like this guy:

Aww, look, he thinks he’s Batman!

Why I bet all bears are cute like that, aren’t they? Come on, kids, let’s head up to Yellowstone and feed the bears some jelly donuts!

Uh, maybe not.

You wanna get fairly nervous about bears? Read this article about “bear danger.” You wanna get good and squicked-out about a dude who bought into the idea that bears were big cuddly huggyfuns and paid the ultimate price for it? Read about Timothy Treadwell. You wanna decide you’d rather never go into the woods again? Read this terrifyingly long list of fatal bear attacks in North America. We’re lucky the bears haven’t turned Yellowstone National Park into one huge tourist buffet. All those idiots feeding bears sandwiches out of their cars are just asking for it. And don’t get me started on those adorable polar bears in the Coca-Cola ads.

Maybe that’s what makes bears so cool. They’re cute — heck, I think we can call even an adult bear beautiful — as well as massive, powerful, fast, smart, and agile. And for all their beauty, for all the times they seem docile and good natured, they are just about the scariest, most dangerous animals we can find. That’s kinda awesome all by itself.

That’s not true for all bears, of course. Some are just plain huggable.

‘Scuse me, I meant Huggy. Still awesome anyway.

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Under Your Skin

Colder #1

Well, there we go, ain’t that something to wake up to in the morning? If there’s a prize for the Most Beautifully Well-Done Yet Least Pleasant To Look At comic cover, I think this one has a shot for first place.

So we start out at mental hospital in 1941. A disastrous fire has engulfed the building, and while the doctors and nurses try to either restrain the patients or let them loose — and while the patients themselves either run amok or die — something strange happens, and a hole in reality is opened up. A man — or something — calling himself Nimble Jack steps through, picks out a random patient named Declan, and tells him “You will grow… colder.”

From there, we jump forward to present day Boston, where Nimble jack makes his way into another mental hospital, persuades an inmate to hang himself, and then eats his soul.

Elsewhere, Reece, a nurse, gets mugged, and while giving her statement to the police, draws the attention of Nimble Jack — apparently, no one is able to see him, so he tags along to her home, where we learn that she is now the guardian of Declan, still alive, still looking the same, but catatonic, gray-skinned and with a body temperature of only 47 degrees. It’s only after Nimble Jack has a demented one-way conversation with Declan that he unexpectedly comes out of his catatonia…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A lot of this issue is devoted to setting the stage for the story to come. We get an excellent villain in Nimble Jack, we get an interesting, charismatic heroine in Reece, we get a fully mysterious hero in Declan. The scenes in the 1941 asylum are probably a bit over-the-top — most mentally ill people aren’t particularly cartoonishly deranged like the people here — but it’s definitely creepy and bizarre storytelling. I’m looking forward to more of the story, though I think I also hope the future covers aren’t quite as squick-inducing…

Freelancers #1

So here’s Val and Cassie — best friends, orphans, martial artists, and freelance bounty hunters. They start out on the trail of Lobo Ramirez, a stylish crook with a stylish wildcat, before they lose him (but nab the wildcat) then get tossed off the case by their boss, in favor of a Katherine Rushmore, a high-profile freelancer and rival for the girls. But they get an inside tip on where they can track down Ramirez — but they’ll have to fight their way through his entire crew first. Why is a simple job getting so dang complicated?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Appealing characters, good action, excellent humor, and an actual fer-realz mystery. Cheesecake? Yeah, there’s a little of that. Most of the emphasis is on action, humor, and character, though, so this comic feels like a winner to me.

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