Archive for November, 2012

Friday Night Fights: Combo Breaker!

Let’s get this crazy thing goin’! It’s the weekend, and that means it’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from April 2004’s Teen Titans #8 by Geoff Johns, Tom Grummett, Kevin Conrad, and Jeromy Cox, as we watch Wonder Girl, Starfire, and Cyborg take Mammoth apart.

I ain’t doin’ anything fancier than that. I gotta get my weekend started right now! (runs away, leaves you all on your own)

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Graduation Day

Avengers Academy #39

It’s the final issue of “Avengers Academy,” one of Marvel’s best series. Let’s start off by congratulating Christos Gage, Tom Grummett, and the other artists who worked on the series. It was great fun almost all the way through, and a great example that a superhero series can break the mold in numerous ways and still enjoy some success. I just wish it had enjoyed a bit more success…

What we get here is a lot of wrap-up of character stories. X-23 and Finesse essentially agree to disagree. Striker goes on a date and starts adjusting to his status as a gay icon. Hazmat and Mettle take their relationship to the next level. Reptil and White Tiger start their own relationship, as do Lightspeed and Karolina Dean. The students reveal to their teachers that they’ve known all along that they were considered potential supervillains, and they also learn what their future is with the Avengers.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An excellent ending for an excellent series. Great emotional moments for almost everyone — yes, even Finesse. My only regret is that most of the cast members here will be moving on “Avengers Arena,” where they’re scheduled to be pointlessly killed. But it was a good run while it lasted.

The Hypernaturals #5

While the Hypernaturals try to solve the mystery of what destroyed the previous Hypernaturals team, they track down a couple of stray clues — they search for the significance of something called the Chernovski Event, and they try to track down the mysterious Clone 21, the only one of the Clone series to go into hiding. Meanwhile, former member Stellerator, desperate for a cure for her husband, who was de-aged by Sublime, agrees to break the supervillain out of prison so he can find out who’s been impersonating him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still good, futuristic fun, like an alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Excellent action and dialogue, and tons of intrigue and mysteries. Mysteries piled on top of mysteries, in fact. The characterization is pretty good, too. All in all, it’s a lot of fun.

Worlds’ Finest #6

While Huntress visits Gotham City to steal a few million dollars from Bruce Wayne, to help finance her activities, she runs into Damian Wayne, who is essentially her alternate universe half-brother. They spend at least half the issue beating the heck out of each other. Power Girl, meanwhile, is focused on her own research, which generally involves highjacking some computing cycles from communications satellites and avoiding any contact with Supergirl.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action and beautiful art by both Kevin Maguire and George Perez. Still can’t stand Power Girl’s new costume — not like anyone else can either. That’s probably the only thing they’d have to fix to make this series even more enjoyable.

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It’s Time to Pass National Voting Standards

I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to think of something I wanted to blog about. I already finished my comics reviews, and any other comic book news has been pretty generically dull and/or depressing.

But everyone’s minds are still pretty stuck on politics for now, so let’s just knock something out about that.

One of the things that’s been bugging me lately is the wide disparity between voting conditions in various states and cities. While many people were able to get into their voting location, vote, and get gone within mere minutes, there were plenty of stories about people in other areas who had to wait in line for hours and hours. Nearly all of these long lines seemed to take place in districts that had large minority populations or large numbers of poor people.

Some precincts have touch-screen voting machines, some have scroll-wheel machines, some use lever machines, some use pencil and paper.

In Ohio, Florida, and other states, politicians have been trying to drastically cut the number of days that early voting goes on, mostly as a way to reduce the number of people who vote in elections. And the voter ID laws seem to have been invented, not to stop any voter fraud, since that’s almost nonexistent, but to make it much more difficult for certain classes of people to vote.

Here in Texas, the state passed a law that said your NRA membership card was considered a legal voter ID. Your university ID card, however, was not. (The courts overturned the law before the election.)

The whole thing is really messed up.

I think it’s time the United States had a single national standard for voting. Early voting should be the same days all over the country. States shouldn’t be able to play crooked games to keep people away from the ballot box. Voting requirements should be standardized everywhere. There should always be enough voting machines to accommodate everyone who wants to vote in a precinct. And if voting machines can’t be made secure, we should go back to pen-and-paper ballots.

There isn’t a single reason for minority districts in Florida to have a more difficult time voting than rural white districts in Kansas. There’s no reason why Jon Husted, the Ohio Secretary of State, should be allowed to get away with as many underhanded, if not illegal, attempts to restrict the right to vote as he’s been making in the last few months.

And frankly, I think Election Day should be a holiday — I hate hearing that employers sometimes won’t let their employees have time off to vote, and a national holiday would guarantee that almost everyone would have enough time to make it to their polling place. And I kinda think Australia has the right idea. Down Under, voting is compulsory. No whining that you’d rather stay home and sleep, or that you hate all the candidates. Too bad, so sad, go vote.

I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to get politicians to do all of that honestly or competently. But I really think it’s time we started trying to do it. So could you please take the time today to write your Congressmen, legislators, and any other politicians you can, and encourage them to start bringing the U.S. in line with the rest of the civilized world?

Muchos gracias.

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Vote or Else!

It’s Election Day, people.

I’ll make this real simple. I got my preferences for who I’d like to see win the election today, but ultimately, I just want to see as many people vote as possible. It’s America, fer cryin’ out loud — we were the first place to do democracy right, and we ought to keep doing it every chance we get.

So I don’t care who you vote for. Just get out there and vote, if you haven’t voted already. ‘Cause if you don’t vote, I’m going to put multiple hatchets through your torso.

Word to the wise, as they say.

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Marvel vs. Marvel

Captain Marvel #6

Carol Danvers is still traveling through time, now with her old idol Helen Cobb reluctantly tagging along. And they’ve just arrived at the event where a battle between a Kree supervillain and the original Mar-Vell ends up giving Carol her own superpowers. Will Helen end up stealing Carol’s powers and taking her place?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, good dialogue, and some seriously freaky time-travel stuff. This is just a grand series — I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am.

Happy #2

Former cop and current hitman Nick Sax is drugged and trapped in a mob hospital while a crew of sadistic torturers close in on him — and his only ally is a tiny blue cartoon pegasus named Happy, the imaginary friend of a little girl who’s been kidnapped by a serial killer. Happy wants Nick to help rescue Hailey, but Nick doesn’t do any favors for anyone, and even Happy’s help during a high-stakes poker game may not convince Nick to help out.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A thoroughly bizarre series so far — part hard-boiled crime thriller, part — well, something with a little blue horsie in it. I don’t really know how to classify it, but it’s good violentastic fun.

Batgirl Annual #1

So we get a big teamup with Batgirl and Catwoman. Selina helps the female Talon from an earlier Batgirl story escape from jail and makes friends with her when she learns she has no family and no friends of her own. When Catwoman delivers her to what’s left of the Court of Owls, they order the cat burglar executed, but Batgirl comes to the rescue. But can either of them handle fighting off not just one, but another half-dozen of the near-unstoppable Talons?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action and dialogue. Gail Simone loves writing about female heroes, and she manages to fit three absolutely awesome ones in this story. Heck, if Catwoman had been written like this instead of Judd Winick’s useless sexpot, that comic would’ve been more worth reading.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Friday Night Fights: Circus of Mayhem!

Well, last week’s edition of Friday Night Fights may have been a leeeettle more violent than normal, so let’s slow things down this week.

From Bizarro World, a 2005 collection of superhero comics created by alt-comics stars, here’s “Marvel Family Circus” by Evan Dorkin and R. Sikoryak.

(click to embiggen)

Isn’t it nice to see comics that know how to be fun, instead of getting foolishly obsessed with being gritty and faux-adult? Don’t worry, we’ll take over DC and Marvel again eventually.

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Ghosts and Vampires

Halloween’s over, but we’ve got two more horror-themed comics to review…

Ghosts #1

This year’s Halloween one-shot from Vertigo features comics from some big names, some not-so-big names, and one really, really big name.

The star of the show is the late Joe Kubert’s final comic art — “The Boy and the Old Man,” which Kubert had finished penciling but not inking or coloring. It’s printed here with only Kubert’s rough pencils and computer lettering to make it readable. Besides that, we’ve got a story about a kid who meets his own ghost — or at least the ghost of the life he could have been leading. We get a story of the Dead Boy Detectives from “Sandman” (but not written by Neil Gaiman), a story about a couple who become ghosts to each other, a tale of Satanic chili, a science fiction tale from Paul Pope, Gilbert Hernandez’s story about “The Dark Lady,” and Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire writing about some brothers who hire themselves out haunting homes.

Verdict: I think, on the whole, thumbs down. Some of this was quite good — Kubert’s story is worth reading just to see how good he still was so late in life. Al Ewing and Rufus Dayglo’s “The Night After I Took the Data Entry Job I Was Visited by my Own Ghost” was clever and amusing, Cecil Castellucci and Amy Reeder’s “Wallflower” was entirely beautiful, and Neil Kleid and John McCrea’s “A Bowl of Red” is designed to make you want to eat more chili. But the rest were either completely forgettable, nonsensical, or criminally dull.

American Vampire #32

Pearl has been captured by her old friend Hattie Hargrove, who’s now running the Hollywood vampire covens. And she and Skinner Sweet plan to invade the headquarters of the Vassals of the Morning Star and kill everyone inside, including Pearl’s husband Henry. Is there any chance for Pearl to escape and save the day?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Hopeless situations abound, betrayals, violence, trauma, and bright, sunlit horror. It’s a great read. If you love horror and you aren’t reading “American Vampire,” you’re outta yer fool mind.

Today’s Cool Links:

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