Archive for April, 2013

Arrows and Laser Guns


Young Avengers #4

Hulkling, Wiccan, Miss America, and Kid Loki have all been captured by Mother, an interdimensional, mind-controlling, reality-warping parasite accidentally summoned by Wiccan. Luckily, Hawkeye and Noh-Varr show up to save the day. And save the day they do, in entirely spectacular fashion — but they immediately run into problems when Noh-Varr’s long-deceased parents show up, like everyone else’s parents, all under Mother’s control. In the rush to escape, Loki sows some doubt in Hulkling’s mind that Wiccan’s reality-warping powers may be why he’s in love with him. Loki also points out that they have two possible solutions to the problem: either Loki gets Wiccan’s powers for ten minutes, or Wiccan has to die.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great to finally see the entire group together. Noh-Varr really does shine here — his page of effortless ass-whoopin’, followed by the amazing “Come with me if you want to be awesome” line, are just phenomenal, and we get some great scenes with Kate Bishop, too. Kid Loki is grand fun as well. Excellent action, suspense, characterization, and art. I’m getting lots of enjoyment from this series so far.


The Manhattan Projects #11

I picked up the first two trade paperbacks of this series and really enjoyed ’em. So I’m going to try the single issues from here on out.

Here’s the general pitch: We go back to 1940s Los Alamos, full of scientific geniuses, we stuff ’em full of weird science lunacy, and we watch them take over the world. We have comic versions of real people, like Einstein, Oppenheimer, Richard Feynman, Enrico Fermi, Wernher von Braun, Gen. Leslie Groves, Yuri Gagarin, Laika, FDR, et cetera… and for the most part, they’re all psychotics. Think of it as “Atomic Robo” with a lot more murderous sociopathy.

This issue focuses on Harry Daghlian, a physicist who, in the real world, accidentally exposed himself to plutonium in 1945 and died of radiation poisoning 25 days later. In the comic, however, Daghlian’s radiation exposure merely turned him into a dangerously radioactive skeleton in a containment suit. Harry feels isolated at the Projects — he’s a core member of the leadership team, but everyone is afraid of him because he’s so blasted dangerous. His only real friend is Enrico Fermi, a guy who is similarly mistrusted because he’s not really human.

Alongside the character focus on Harry, we also learn that, while the scientists have won and basically control the world, they’re now having to deal with the specifics of how to control the world. Dr. Oppenheimer shares some of his plans for humanity’s future — travel to Mars, increasing human lifespan, improving the planet’s energy situation — oh, and of course, he’s got his own secret, more deadly plans, as well…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really wonderful characterization in this one — Daghlian and Fermi have been, for the most part, cyphers, so it’s nice to see more of their backgrounds. If you haven’t read this series before, I would advise you to read the first couple of trades, just to get caught up on the characters, their secrets, and the backstory. I really do see this series as the bizarro version of Atomic Robo — they’re both high-concept pulp sci-fi character studies, they’re both great fun to read, but “Manhattan Projects” definitely gives you more of the bad crazy, contrasting with Atomic Robo’s good crazy.

If I’ve got to thumbs any portion of this down, it’s got to be the covers. All of the covers look like that. I’m sure they’re very nice examples of fine graphic design… But don’t try to tell me these completely abstract covers do much to sell the comics, a’ight? This series would be better served by covers that give some sort of hint about the stories and characters inside…

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Friday Night Fights: Off-Panel Pain!

Okay, time to get the weekend going with another round of FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS! And SpaceBooger is giving us a quick theme for tonight — the final blow has to take place either off panel or by surprise.

So tonight, we’re going with just one single panel where all we see — in fact, the only image we see of the entire battle — is just the image of the hero’s victory.

From February 2006’s GLX-Mas Special by Dan Slott, Georges Jeanty, and Drew Geraci, here’s Squirrel Girl vs. Thanos.


(Click to embiggen)

So run on over to SpaceBooger’s joint and vote for your favorite fight — the winner this time gets a small prize, so be sure to pick the one you think most deserves an Amazon card. But I’m pretty sure Squirrel Girl wants you to vote for me. Not like Uatu will interfere, right?

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All the Things are Great


FF #6

This is just a plain great issue. Dragon Man tries to figure out where Medusa and Bentley-23 have vanished to. Scott Lang continues to slide into depression, if not madness, because of the death of his daughter. She-Hulk and Ahura visit the Inhumans to see if they know where Medusa is, and they get to bring Lockjaw home with them. This is good because Lockjaw is awesome.

The bulk of the story focuses on the Yancy Street Gang, which is not happy that Darla Deering is wearing a Thing exoskeleton that Ben Grimm wore once when he didn’t have his powers. They hack her cell phone and give the photos she took of herself wearing silly helmets to the Daily Bugle. They also invade one of her concerts, throw food at her, and chase her out of the concert hall. Is there going to be any way to appease Ben Grimm’s fanatical foes/fans?

And there’s one little scene with the Moloids that we will discuss in detail a bit later.

Verdict: Thumbs up. How many thumbs up? All of the thumbs. It’s clever and cute and funny and cool in all the right ways. Joe Quinones is the artist on this issue, doing a great job of aping Mike Allred’s style. Matt Fraction just writes a hell of a fun comic. There are so many excellent bits here: The D.O.O.M.H.E.R.B.I.E.S., She-Hulk’s expression when she sees the newspaper, the sleazy Internet cafe, Artie and Leech making shadow puppets in the theater, Scott Lang’s deeply creepy nightmare.

But here is the best bit. And I am going to spoil it completely for you. It is just so good, that I don’t care. I’m going to spoil it because you should be reading this comic anyway, people, and if you aren’t, you should be ashamed. I’m going to spoil it because it’s too good not to spoil.

These are the Future Foundation’s evolved Moloids Tong, Turg, Mik, and Korr:






That’s just a single page. It goes from sublimely ridiculous — a Moloid wearing a dress is silly, I don’t care what anyone says — to astonishingly, gloriously, heartwarmingly beautiful. Gail Simone’s “Batgirl” got all kinds of big publicity when Barbara’s roommate came out as transgender — and I think Gail is just entirely awesome, y’all know that — but this one page, with a Moloid in a party dress and her family who love her no matter what — it’s a billion times better than that issue of “Batgirl.” It’s better than anything else I’ve read this year.

If you’re not reading FF, you need to start doing it as quickly as you can.


Freelancers #5

Val and Cass have joined forces with their mostly-hated rival Katherine Rushmore, as they try to foil Drachmann’s plans to take over Los Angeles. They help reform one of Drachmann’s minions, then recruit Patrick, their… what do you call a guy who hands out assignments for freelance bounty hunters/bodyguards? I dunno, we’ll call him their assignment manager. Anyway, they recruit him to help fight Drachmann, too. And the four of them go walking into the nightclub where Drachmann is building up his army of goons. Do they have a chance? Maybe… but maybe not, once all the betrayals start to pile up.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, drama, dialogue, and humor. I’m enjoying this plenty, and it looks like it’s all building up to an ending. I thought this was going to be an ongoing series? Not sure now…

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So Drowsy…


Nothing from me today, folks.

I’ve got plenty of stuff to review and write about, but work has been completely wearing me out lately, and I decided I’d like to spend a little extra time avoiding blogging.

Can’t say this is going to do a lot to recharge my batteries, but I think it’ll do me some good to have a day I can devote to reading, writing, or sleeping on the couch…

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For Science!


Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures #7

It’s been a while since we saw an issue of this comic. And it looks like we’re getting a bit of a format change. Instead of an anthology of short stories orienting around Atomic Robo, this is going to be an ongoing tale about the Consortium of Science from Real Science Adventures #3, a partnership of real-life scientists and adventurers from the late 1800s.

So this issue focuses on eccentric genius Nikola Tesla and industrialist George Westinghouse during the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, where Tesla plans to debut a new scientific breakthrough that will allow mankind to easily access free power anywhere on Earth. But his demonstration doesn’t go as planned — he’s attacked on stage by a trio of thugs who attempt to kill him (the bullets are deflected thanks to the electrical wonders he’s working with) and do manage to steal some of his equipment. The culprits? A trio of wealthy villains: Frank Reade Jr., Jack Wright, and Robert Trydan, who aim to use Tesla’s technology to take over the country. Clearly, the rest of the Consortium of Science will need to be brought in to foil the villains’ plans.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Consortium of Science was such a grand idea when it originally appeared, and I’m thrilled that there’s going to be a new story about them. I’m also sorta jazzed by the fact that at least two, if not all three, of the villains are actually characters from old pulp-action fiction series — it’s kind of keen to see how the boy geniuses of the past ended up as the adult villains of the, um, also past…


Daredevil #25

Matt Murdock meets up with another guy who’s been given the treatment that gave him his own super-sensory abilities. Unfortunately, he’s not a schmuck who’s been deranged by sensory overload like the mob he encountered a couple issues back — he’s a trained martial artist who calls himself Ikari. So Daredevil spends most of this issue fighting for his life, hoping that his greater experience with his abilities will give him enough of an edge to pull out a victory. But what if he’s wrong?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic action and suspense, and a great way to introduce a new nemesis for the Man without Fear.

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Good Art and Bad Art


Batwoman #19

Most of this issue is basically a lead-up to the next major storyarc, all revolving around a strong theme of family strife and secrets. DEO agent Cameron Chase clashes with her sister about their superhero-wannabe father. Jacob Kane and his wife argue about his training Kate and Bette as crimefighters. Bette and Kate argue about Batwoman working for the DEO. And Director Bones tries to insist that Batwoman investigate Batman.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great artwork from beginning to end. How many times do I have to say it? This comic has the best art of any book on the stands. We also get some really enjoyable interpersonal characterization in here. I am really looking forward to seeing how the next few issues progress, ’cause it looks like there are some serious fireworks ahead.


Captain Marvel #12

Carol Danvers spends the whole issue trying to beat up Deathbird without flying, while her doctors discuss her case, the weird lesion in her brain, and her connection to Helen Cobb.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Really, the story is basically fine. But again, the art by Filipe Andrade is shockingly, embarrassingly bad. When you’ve got a comic with really good writing and a lead character who seems to be growing more popular with every appearance, when you’ve got outstanding cover art on every issue, why on earth would you stick it with art this horrific on the inside?

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The Return of Zita

Crud, I don’t have a lot of time for a long review today, so we’re going to make this one kinda short.


Legends of Zita the Spacegirl

We reviewed the first book in this fun series by cartoonist Ben Hatke way back before Christmas. This one picks up shortly after the end of the previous graphic novel.

Zita, along with all of her alien and robot friends, has saved the planet of Scriptorius and is hailed across the galaxy as a hero. But she doesn’t really enjoy all the acclaim and attention. Luckily, she stumbles on a robot with a bad case of hero worship — and it’s able to turn itself into a close duplicate of Zita. Seeing an opportunity to avoid some irritating public appearances, she lets the robot impersonate her while she and her giant mouse pal go to the circus. Unfortunately, the robot loves being Zita too much, and the real Zita gets left behind by her friends. And when she tries to steal a spaceship to catch up with them, she quickly finds herself a wanted criminal across the sector.

And even if Zita can escape the cops and bounty hunters and soldiers who are tracking her, will she have a chance to get back to her friends? Will she be able to save yet another planet from certain doom without sacrificing her own life in the process?

Verdict: Thumbs up. If you loved the characters, art, story, dialogue, and all-around fun factor of the first “Zita the Spacegirl” graphic novel — and if you didn’t love it, there’s something bad wrong with your head — then you’re going to love the banana creme frosting out of this one, too. Ben Hatke has absolutely got it goin’ on, and you are going to want this on your bookshelf, or on the shelf of your kids or anyone else who loves great all-ages science fiction heroics.

I know, I know, it’s a short review, but don’t take that to mean this is an unimportant or inconsequential comic. It’s big fun, and you really should go pick it up. (Now I just hope Hatke will create some more Zita comics…)

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Blazing Arrow


Hawkeye #9

I’m way, way late to the party on this comic, which has gotten justified raves from almost everyone. I caught up recently, thanks to the just-released trade paperback, which you should totally go read if you haven’t previously been reading this book.

Well, Hawkeye is in trouble again, and once again, it seems to revolve around the Russian gangs he tangled with in the previous issues of this series. There’s a woman from his past, Penny Wright, who’s gotten him in over his head, and the other women in his life, including the Black Widow, Mockingbird, Spider-Woman, and Kate Bishop, do their best to find out what’s going on and to keep the “bros” off his back.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun retro art style, great dialogue and humor, and nice action, too. I’m really sorry I wasn’t reading this book from the first issue.


Batgirl #19

Barbara’s psychotic brother, James Jr., is working to make his entire family’s lives as miserable as possible. Babs reveals a lot of the family secrets to her roommate Alysia, including the fact that her boyfriend is a psycho and that Babs was formerly paralyzed by the Joker, while Alysia reveals that she is transgender. James lures his mother, father, and Batgirl to the local amusement park and sets about trying to kill them — how successful is he going to be?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action and suspense. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of James Jr. in the future — he’s simply been too wonderful a villain to discard.

There’s only one element of this story that I have to thumbs down, and that’s the bit with Alysia revealing that she’s transgendered. I’m not disappointed that she’s transgender — as Gail Simone has said in the many articles focusing on this issue, it’s probably way past time that comics start looking at this issue with more clear eyes. No, the problem here is that this comes out of nowhere. There’s never been any hint that Alysia was transgender or had any kinds of secrets she was hiding. It pretty much comes across as Simone deciding someone needed to be transgender, so she just went with the closest character available. It was like Judd Winick took over the writing on that one page. It was just immensely clumsy and badly done, and it was irritating to read it, because Simone is a far better writer than that.

Anyway, we’ll have to hope Alysia gets to be better written in future issues, or we’ll end up revisiting this plenty of times.

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Friday Night Fights: Cass Bash!

Well, it’s been another long, hard, horrific week, and we only get two days off, then we all have to go back and do it all over again for another five days. This is a far-from-ideal situation, but we gotta make do with what we got — two days of relative freedom, all started off with a little… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s fairly epic battle comes to us from April 2002’s Batgirl #25 by Kelley Puckett, Damion Scott, and Robert Campanella, as Cassandra Cain squares off against Lady Shiva! Let’s take a look at this awesome brawl through a whole bunch of full pages, okay?







That’ll do it on this end of things. Y’all go have a great weekend.

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The Most Adorable Batman


Batman: Li’l Gotham #1

Hey, a cute little all-ages series by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs. It’s got Nguyen’s adorable watercolors and some amazingly cute stories featuring our favorite members of the Bat-family.

Our first tale is set at Halloween and focuses on Batman and Damian — yay, Damian’s still alive in this one! Damian doesn’t really understand Halloween — all the kids are dressed as monsters and supervillains, and his methods for getting candy are not polite or socially acceptable. And when the Dynamic Duo stumble onto some supervillains enjoying a holiday meal, the stage is set for an epic confrontation.

The second story happens at Thanksgiving, when the Penguin decides to rescue all the Thanksgiving turkeys in Gotham City. This turns out about as well as you’d expect, and the entire Bat-family gets to enjoy a holiday meal together.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is absolutely glorious. And it features Babs Gordon as Oracle, as well as Cassandra Cain. So yes, seriously, you need to go get it because this is the kind of happy-making comics the industry should care more about making.


Uncanny Avengers #6

This entire issue takes place a thousand years ago, with a younger, more brash Thor, armed with a battleaxe called Jarnbjorn, instead of the more familiar Mjolnir. He is unexpectedly attacked by Apocalypse — and En Sabah Nur wipes the floor with him. Thor flees back to Asgard, asking Odin for assistance, but he refuses, saying that destroying Apocalypse would cause greater troubles in the future. Loki offers Thor an enchantment that will allow his axe to pierce Apocalypse’s invulnerable armor, and Thor heads back for a rematch — while Apocalypse and his Horsemen are attempting to kill Wolverine’s distant ancestor, Folkbern Logan. But is someone else manipulating events behind the scenes?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice action, and a nice alternate take on Thor (I haven’t been reading the recent comics where this version of the Odinson hangs out).


Sledgehammer 44 #2

While the American soldiers are trying to wheel the guy in the powered armor to safety, they’ve gotten ambushed by a bunch of Nazi goons. They manage to take ’em out, but one of the soldiers gets a bullet in the chest for his trouble. Now lugging an injured squadmate along with the armor, the soldiers barely make it to safety in a deserted barn — but they’re still outnumbered and outgunned by a bunch of villains who’ll use the armor to develop technology to destroy the world? How can the good guys come out on top?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It was a very short story, but a pretty good one anyway. Excellent drama and dialogue and art — all around, a fun read.

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