Archive for May, 2013

Comics Can Be Murder


Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins

Wait a minute, Max Allan Collins never wrote “The Seduction of the Innocent“! That was the infamous anti-comics screed by psychologist Fredric Wertham! Max Allan Collins is a mystery writer and the creator of the “Road to Perdition” graphic novel! What kinda funny business am I tryin’ to pull here?!?

Settle down, youngster. This is indeed a book by the prolific Collins, as part of his Jack and Maggie Starr series of mysteries. In this series, Maggie Starr is a former burlesque performer who inherited her late husband’s comics syndicate, and her stepson Jack Starr is a part-time private eye and veep of the company. The previous mysteries in this series (“A Killing in Comics” and “Strip for Murder,” neither of which I’ve read) were based on fictionalized versions of real comics creators — this one is no different.

It’s the 1950s, and comics have become big news for all the wrong reasons. Even though every kid in America (and a decent proportion of adults) is reading comic books, the Powers That Be have decided that comics are a corrupting influence, saturating their minds with violence and perversion through superhero comics, crime comics, and horror comics. Maggie and Jack run a syndicate for newspaper comic strips, but even they are feeling some of the heat, and it’s a lot worse for publishers and creators at the comic book companies. And just about all of them have a reason to hate Dr. Werner Frederick, the psychologist behind the attacks on comics. But does someone hate him enough to commit murder? Well, of course, they do. Now Jack has to track down the killer as quickly as possible to make sure the damaging publicity won’t prove equally fatal to the comics biz.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I used to be a complete mystery fanatic in my younger years, mostly Agatha Christie books in my teens, Raymond Chandler hardboiled detective novels in my 20s. And this novel was a nice, fun blend of my childhood love of mysteries and my more recent love of comics (That usually goes the other way around, doesn’t it?).

The characters are pretty keen. Jack and Maggie are both pretty appealing characters — Maggie is probably made more interesting because she’s used pretty sparingly in the story. Jack makes an interesting hero, too — he’s a fairly traditional hard-boiled detective — well, not too hard-boiled, I guess — he doesn’t drink, he’s not particularly over-violent, he’s got pretty modern sensibilities. But mixed in with that noir-style detective is a guy who’s part businessman and part comics afficianado. He’s not really a comics geek — he doesn’t collect comics or get very obsessive about the hobby. But he knows all the artists and writers and publishers and clearly appreciates what they do. He decorates his apartment with framed comic art. That combination of private eye and comics connoisseur makes for a hero who’s offbeat enough to be fun to read about.

Other characters? Well, the fun bit here is that they’re all fictional versions of people like Bill Gaines, Al Feldstein, Al Williamson, Charles Biro, Bob Wood, Tarpe Mills, and others. Some of them are a lot more fictionalized than others, and some of them act out actual events that their real-world counterparts took part in. EC Comics publisher Gaines’ disastrous testimony before Congress, in particular, is fairly cringe-inducing to read about in the novel because we comics fans know just how badly it all turned out.

Plot-wise? It’s a good solid mystery. It’s even got some elements of Agatha Christie’s drawing room mysteries, just because Frederick’s murder is so thoroughly unusual. All the potential suspects could’ve done it, and there are plenty of plot convolutions, twists, and guest villains to keep most readers guessing.

This isn’t a real long novel, and it reads fast anyway, so it’ll feel like you’re done with it in record time.

I thought it was a pretty cool story, and hey, any mystery that has someone putting Dr. Fredric Wertham on ice has gotta be good fun for comics fans. Go pick it up.

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How to Fix DC Comics


Y’all settle down and get comfortable. I’m gonna be talkin’ for a while.

Let’s start out with something that should be obvious to all of us: DC Comics is broken, and broken badly.

The New 52 has been, by and large, a disaster. The stuff that worked was either already working before the reboot or would’ve worked with or without it. The company makes poor decisions that seem to have no purpose other than gratifying the people running the company, and they seem to be working as hard as possible to alienate their readers. The marketing and public relations efforts are so laughable, they’ve inspired this wonderful site, which tries to track how long it’s been since the last DC PR disaster.

Which isn’t to say that Marvel doesn’t have its problems — an over-reliance on summer crossover events and a bizarre focus on giving Millar and Bendis way, way too many comics to write being chief among them — but they’re just not as screwed-up as DC is.

So what happens if the higher-ups at Warner Entertainment get a clue and put me in charge of their comics division? Let’s run down the list.

First, and most obviously, we’ll be firing the guys in charge of the company: Diane Nelson (if we’ll get hire-and-fire privileges over Warner execs), Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Bob Harras. And I can tell some folks are already saying “No, not Geoff Johns! Not Jim Lee!” Sorry, they’re both getting the axe. Johns is the Chief Creative Officer — and DC has been publishing a lot of deeply uncreative stories since the reboot. He is at least as responsible for the ongoing debacle as DiDio.

As for Lee — listen, I realize he draws real pretty, but he’s also the guy responsible for Superman’s new armored costume. And any costume that makes the long-maligned red-underwear costume look really, really good in comparison has got to be classified as a complete failure in costume design. Even worse is the costume redesign for the Flash. He took one of the most perfect superhero costumes in history and turned it into an over-busy disaster. That’s like deciding to improve the Taj Mahal by adding racing stripes and Ed Hardy logos. And it seems very likely that Lee is behind DC’s move to the ’90s-Image, flash-over-substance, let’s-make-everything-gritty-and-exxxtreme garbage. The guy hired Rob Liefeld, after all.

Ideally, not only would I fire these guys, but I’d try to blackball them as well. They’ve screwed DC up so hard, none of them really deserve to work in comics anymore. However, the comics business being the way it is, trying to keep these guys out, even for the good of the medium and the industry, would probably be an exercise in futility.

Second, dump the New 52. Let the writers finish their current storylines, then dump the Reboot completely. Need a way out of it? Try this: “Hey, Barry Allen, it’s me, Wally West! Flashpoint shot you into Earth-53, where everyone is unhappy and the costumes look like crap! Come on, I came over on the Time Treadmill to bring you back to Earth-1!” Or alternately, just leave Barry over there. I’m not a big fan of Barry Allen, and I wouldn’t care a smudge if we left him in a parallel universe.

With the Reboot out of the way, start rolling things back to the way they were before. Restore the classic looks for Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Superboy, Supergirl, Nightwing, Beast Boy, Captain Marvel, and more. Restore the Robins to their proper places in the Bat-family. Leave Jason Todd — unfortunately, his resurrection has gotten too well-established by now, but he works best as an anti-hero or even a villain. Bring Damian Wayne back as the current Robin. Sorry, Grant Morrison — Damian is too good a character to discard, so he’s still alive on Earth-1.

What else? Huntress is going to be Helena Bertinelli again. I thought her story was a lot more interesting than Helena Wayne’s. Also, Batman isn’t going to have sleazy sex on rooftops with Catwoman, Starfire is not going to be an amnesiac slut, Roy Harper is going to have both arms.

Ya know who’s going to be making their triumphant returns? Pretty much everyone. Wally West, Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Renee Montoya (as the Question), Ryan Choi, Atlee, Lian Harper, Misfit, the entire Justice Society, the Secret Six, and Donna Troy will all exist again.

That doesn’t mean we’re completely abandoning characters created for the New 52. If we’ve got any characters we want to write stories about, we can have versions of them exist on Earth-1 as well — Batwing, Starling, Simon Baz, Bunker, Element Woman, Frankenstein, etc., etc. We own ’em — we’re not going to abandon them if they’re worth keeping.

And yes, we’re restoring DC’s classic continuity again. That’s one of the strengths of any long-lasting comic publisher — something Marvel definitely realizes. You dump your continuity, you dump your history — and comic fans really, really love continuity. We all know it’s true, and it’s time to accept that there are things we should be doing just because they make comics fans happy.

But we’re not necessarily going to restore the entire continuity. Frankly, this is a great opportunity to take some of the bad stories from the years just before the New 52 and throw them into the East River. Let’s get rid of “Cry for Justice” — Lian Harper is alive, Roy Harper isn’t an amputee, Green Arrow didn’t somehow get the drop on Prometheus, the Atom didn’t torture people by kicking their brains. Let’s get rid of “Identity Crisis,” too. There were parts of that story I kinda liked, but it’s worth it to memory-hole stuff like “Dr. Light raped Sue Dibny” and “Deathstroke moves faster than the Flash.”

Now here’s a tough question we’ll have to take care of: Is Barbara Gordon still Batgirl? Or is she wheelchair-bound Oracle again? That’s a damn good question, and trying to answer it is actually kinda scary. I think Barbara was a better character as Oracle, but you don’t want to take her out of the chair and then re-paralyze her again. It seems cruel. I think my preferred solution would give her both worlds — on Earth-1, she’s still paralyzed and does most of her good deeds, including leading the Birds of Prey, as Oracle. But in a world as full of technological miracles as the DCU, she should have access to a temporary treatment or super-suit that lets her periodically swing around Gotham as Batgirl.

However, for something as important as the fate of Barbara Gordon, I think I’d probably let some of the smart writers who love Babs, including Gail Simone and John Ostrander, take the lead in figuring out what happens to her.

Okay, that takes care of the New 52. But there are plenty of other items on our rebuilding agenda that we need to talk about.

What are we going to publish? No, I’m not going to talk about every single comic that’ll have the DC bullet on the cover, but let’s discuss some general trends. We should aim at publishing two Superman books, three starring Batman, and two for Green Lantern. There should also be a solo book for Damian Wayne. I’d love to see Power Girl back in her own comic again. And I think we should be publishing a comic called “Batgirls” that would star Barbara, Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, and any other Batgirls we want to include — maybe the Huntress, maybe Carrie Kelly, maybe Harper Row.

I want “Dial H” moved under the Vertigo banner. It just doesn’t fit in a mainstream superhero universe, and we shouldn’t handicap it by trying to force it into that mold. I also want John Constantine out of the mainstream DCU and back in Vertigo. Heck, Vertigo needs to be strengthened in general — there’s more to comics than superheroes, and DC should embrace Vertigo’s vision. Can we get Karen Berger back in charge? Let’s try.

We’ll be giving the Wildstorm properties back to Jim Lee. There are actually some characters I think we could have some fun with, but we’ll be parting with Lee on less-than-friendly terms, and I think he’d be unlikely to let us keep using them.

I’d also like for DC to start publishing Milestone again, either as a separate imprint or more strongly blended into the mainstream DCU. DC and the comics world in general owe a debt to Dwayne McDuffie, and part of the way we could pay it back is to make sure his creations are still available to readers.

And one of the first things I’m going to do when I’m put in charge of the company? I’m greenlighting “Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 9th Grade.” Because in complete seriousness, “Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade,” the 2009 all-ages series by Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones, was phenomenally fun, and the creators had a great plan to continue the series all the way up to Supergirl’s senior year in high school.

I also want to give Art Baltazar and Franco permission to do anything they want to for our all-ages line. “Tiny Titans,” “Superman Family Adventures,” another series entirely — their work is just too much fun.

We need to be expanding our all-ages comics anyway. Not just comics based on TV shows, though those are important, too, but all kinds of comics for readers young and old. I don’t care if they’re not million-sellers. All-ages comics are how we get young readers and their parents caring about comic books. It’s how we persuade them to become lifelong comics fans. All-ages books are an investment in the future of the industry, and I think we need a lot of them.

And I want us to start cultivating more women and minority creators. It’s embarrassing that DC is so bad in that area. We need talent, and we don’t need to alienate anyone who has the skills to make good comics for us.

Also: Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, creators of “Atomic Robo”? We need them working on a book for us. Pronto.

And finally, let’s talk about the business side of things. And we’re going to start out scaring the crap out of the stockholders, ’cause a couple of our decisions will, in the short term, lose us some money.

I’d like to see us improve things financially for our freelancers. I’m the type of guy who’d kinda like to pay everyone a salary, but I also know that’s really not the way things work in the publishing world. Writers and artists in magazines, book publishing, and comics are, for the most part, freelancers who get paid when they do work for us. Not much of a way we’re going to be able to break that pattern, and ultimately, there’s probably no reason for us to try. But I’m tired of hearing about comic creators who die destitute or have to declare bankruptcy because of health troubles. We screw over too many of our creators while the corporation gets insanely rich on their work. So let’s try to improve things a bit. Better insurance options, better savings options, profit-sharing — anything we can do to keep creators’ heads above water. It’s not just good for our creators either — it’s good publicity for the company. And that is a gain for us in the long-term.

Ya know what else? It’s time to let Alan Moore have “Watchmen” back. He signed an agreement in good faith, and the company has gamed the system to keep from letting him have the rights back. I think it’s time to hand the rights back over. Now I’m sure the lawyers will have their say about which rights he’ll get — sorry, Alan, it’s really unlikely that you’ll be allowed to burn every copy of the movie. And here’s the other thing — after we give him the rights to “Watchmen” back, we say, “Listen, we know we haven’t had the best relationship, but that was with a different administration of the company. We want to let bygones be bygones. Now, would you like to write anything for Vertigo?” And that is also a gain for us in the long-term.

Anything else? I think it’s time to stop leaving marketing and PR in the hands of us hotheads in upper management. Comic readers and creators have strong opinions, and that often leads to us saying things that don’t go over well with the fans. It’s time to do what we can to reduce that, and that means hiring some real marketing and public relations professionals to make sure our messages — and our corporate messaging — are clear and efficient. And I think we need some of them helping guide us through pitfalls we’re not even aware of, so I want a public relations pro in a fairly high position to watch what we’re creating, who our creators are, who our readers are — and how to improve our communications and marketing, and to warn us when we’re about to do something that will needlessly alienate and anger our audiences. I don’t want them there to write corporation-safe stories for us — I want them to help us make sure great stories are getting told the right way.

And I’d like to improve the availability of all our collections, graphic novels, and trade paperbacks. I ran into a situation a couple weeks ago where I really wanted to get one particular trade paperback — a fairly recent one, too — but it was already out-of-print. That should never happen, barring short periods where we’re between print runs — everything we’ve published in book form should be available to readers, either in print or digital — or even in print-on-demand. We shouldn’t force readers to pay $50 for a trade paperback to complete their run on a series. We shouldn’t force them to torrent a series that isn’t available otherwise — because it’d be better for us to sell it to them ourselves! And I really think that, though it’ll cost some to make sure our comics — including the DC Showcase collections — are available, it’ll also be a long-term gain for us.

And finally, when it comes to our publishing philosophy, part of the work we’re doing needs to be comics evangelism. I’m not talking Stan Lee-style evangelism, because there’s only one Stan Lee, and I don’t think he’s gonna start publishing Stan’s Soapbox for us. What it does mean is that we need to work to spread the good news of comics everywhere. That means all-ages comics as an investment in the future of comics; alternative comics to make sure we’re not neglecting adult storytelling; female and minority heroes and creators because we need to expand our audience. And always great stories and great art and great characters. Because that’s still the best way to get more people reading and caring about comics.

And that, my children, is how we’re going to fix DC Comics.

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Friday Night Fights: Bullseye!

Alright, it’s time to start up another 12-round series of Friday Night Fights, for which I am once again woefully unprepared. There’s only a finite number of comic books out there, with only a finite number of fights — it’s only a matter of time before I’m posting panels of Garfield kicking Odie off the table. Nevertheless, we must forge ahead.

Tonight’s battle comes to us from June 1981’s Charlton Bullseye #1 by Benjamin Smith and Dan Reed, in which the Blue Beetle and the Question fight off a gang of thugs.





That’ll do it for tonight — y’all try to have a weekend so good, you won’t even mind the rest of the coming workweek.

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Heart of the Sun

I picked up a ridiculously small number of comics on Wednesday, but here’s what I gotta say about ’em.


Uncanny Avengers #8

The Peak Space Station — the HQ for S.W.O.R.D. — has been knocked out of orbit, but Thor and Sunfire manage to — just barely — save Rio de Janeiro from the plummeting wreckage. After Sunfire takes a few minutes to get uncharacteristically egotistical about praising himself, he and Thor take off after the Apocalypse Twins, whose murder of a Celestial has set the whole disaster in motion. They reveal that Wolverine, as a member of the black ops X-Force team, participated in the executions of Warren Worthington and a young clone of Apocalypse. Meanwhile, Captain America finds himself trapped in hostile territory in the Sudan, where an unknown person has brought him for a secret meeting. And as the rest of the team rushes to Apocalypse’s old home base at Akkaba, the Apocalypse Twins destroy their old followers and then blow up the city.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story and art. Nice set-ups for future issues — Thor doubts Wolverine, Sunfire’s an arrogant dork, Cap is meeting someone mysterious. Still a bit bugged by how little I care about the Apocalypse Twins, though. And that I didn’t know Angel was dead. I was pretty sure he was appearing in one of the X-books…


DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology 2013

Basically, it’s a bit oversized listing of what DC considers its most important graphic novels, along with some spotlighted GNs and trade paperbacks for most of their characters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. At least partly because it’s free.

For the most part, I’m in agreement with the books they pick to spotlight. I’ve got some quibbles — Ain’t no way JMS’s “Earth One” books are considered worth getting, and there’s a pretty vast amount of emphasis on the New 52 and Flashpoint vs. the older comics that were generally considered the best reads. Not a word is mentioned of any Flashes other than Barry Allen or any Batgirls prior to Barbara Gordon. And there are a pitifully small number of Wonder Woman collections listed, which DC should feel really embarrassed about. And not a single all-ages collection from a series that hasn’t been cancelled. Holy crap, DC Comics, how did you let that happen?!

But most of this is a pretty good summary of the better DC graphic novels, as well as books from Vertigo and MAD. It’s a decent reminder of some comics you may not have picked up yet. And again, it’s free.

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There’s a Shoggoth at the End of this Book


Where’s My Shoggoth? by Ian Thomas and Adam Bolton

Here’s a book published by Archaia Entertainment, publishers of excellent comics like Mouse Guard, Return of the Dapper Men, Cow Boy, Rust, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, and plenty of others. But this isn’t really a comic book. I’m going to call it a children’s book. And really, I almost passed this one by entirely, until I noticed one little thing on the back cover that hooked itself into my intrigue gland:


It’s classified as horror. And it’s rated “E” for everyone.

Can you have a kid-friendly all-ages horror book?

Let’s find out.

There’s very little plot here, not that you need a lot. A young boy goes out one night to play with his pet shoggoth, only to discover that it’s broken out of its pen and gotten lost. He sets out to look for it, accompanied by a cute black kitten, and encounters a host of monsters and deities from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos — but none of them are my shoggoth! Where is my shoggoth?!

The story is told in poetic verse — really, a bit of child-like doggerel — and illustrated in gorgeous, detailed artwork that’s simultaneously adorable, creepy, and hilarious. I hope I can be forgiven for posting the rhymes from the page featuring the monstrous aquatic Deep Ones as an example:

What’s this? Is this my shoggoth?
It has great googly eyes.
Its toes have webs between them,
and it’s heaving heavy sighs.
It says it loves my sister,
and would like to ask her out.
So it can’t have met my sister…
all my sister does is shout!

I’m not going to try to reprint any of the artwork here. There’s so much detail on every page, I can’t imagine it scanning very well.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I loved this book so much, and I’m so glad I got it. If you’re a grownup who enjoys Lovecraftian horror and Lovecraftian humor, this is something you are probably going to want to have on your bookshelf.

Is it going to be something you’ll want for your kids? Well, obviously, every kid is different. If you’re lucky enough to have a kid who loves monsters (six-year-old me waves to the crowd), they’re going to really like this book, because it’s stuffed full of monsters, all depicted in a decent degree of (non-gory) detail. It’s got dark corners, cobwebs, tentacles reaching from the attic, spooky lights, monstrous mansions, and everything else monster-loving kids like. If you’ve got kids whose idea of edgy reading material is “Pat the Bunny,” they may not appreciate it very much. They might be bored, they might be scared, hard to say… but you know your kids and what they’d like better than I do, right?

No matter whether you get it for yourself or your kids, you’ll probably want to read it with a magnifying glass on hand. There are wonderful scary/hilarious images scattered throughout every page, and you won’t want to miss out on any of them.

Anything else? The cover glows in the dark, and there’s a “Chutes and Ladders” style game on the book’s endpages called “Stairs and Tentacles.”

I think you’ll like it. Go pick it up.

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Tears of a Clown


Hawkeye #10

Most of this issue focuses on a guy named Kazimierz Kasimierczak, a guy who grew up in a war-torn region of Europe, saw his whole family killed during various acts of war, and eventually grew up to be an assassin wearing whiteface clown makeup. And he’s on Hawkeye’s trail.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good story with good art, good dialogue, and all the great stuff we expect from this series. I wish we knew if this guy had some sort of codename — it’s going to get very tiring if I have to type that name very often…


Worlds’ Finest #12

The new version of Desaad, an inhuman fanged monster, has shown up, and he’s disguised as Michael “Mr. Terrific” Holt. After the authorities try to arrest Huntress and Power Girl for attacking him, they make their escape, but Karen soon finds her business failing because of financial attacks and more destructive terrorist bombings. Can the heroes keep from losing everything?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice ramp-up in the mystery and danger for the heroes. A lot of the publicity about this issue has to deal with getting Power Girl back into her classic “boob window” costume, but it appears almost as an afterthought, which is probably a good way to do it. The new costume was really awful, though, and I hope we don’t see anything like it again.

And let’s take a very quick look at the comics I got for Free Comic Book Day:


World of Archie Digest

Almost 100 pages of Archie comics? Reprints both old and new? Archie takes the prize for the year’s best release for FCBD.


Mouse Guard/Rust

Archaia always puts out great stuff for FCBD — solid stories designed to preview upcoming comics and promote what’s already out there for new readers. Everything here was great fun to read, and the Cow Boy story in the middle even has some fun with the comic’s flip-book format.


Finding Gossamyr/The Stuff of Legend

Loved these a lot. Both are long-running stories, and the FCBD comic was able to both summarize the previous storyarcs and create new mini-stories that were fun to read.


R.I.P.D./True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys/Mass Effect

Ehh. Almost completely forgettable stuff. I’d been considering picking up the Killjoys series, but I’m questioning whether I really care that much about it now.


Marvel Infinity

Beyond forgettable. There were more of this comic than anything else on FCBD. The lead story was depressing and un-fun. The ’70s reprint was depressing and un-fun. The preview from “Endless Wartime” was more entertaining, but it was just a preview. Come on, Marvel — Free Comic Book Day is supposed to bring new readers in, not scare them off.

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The Only Word Better than “Comics” is “Free”


Hey, kids, it’s Free Comic Book Day!

That means it’s time to head out to your Friendly Local Comic Book Store and see what free stuff you can get!

But I hope that, by now, you know that there are some very important limits to what kind of free stuff you’ll be able to take home, right?

You can’t just get any comic book free. The comics publishers send out their own special Free Comic Book Day comics — and those are the only free comics you’ll be able to get. They might be really awesome comics, and they might be very much less awesome comics. But those are the only ones that are free.

If you think you’re going to get any other comics free, you’re out of luck. You can’t go load up on graphic novels and trade paperbacks and every comic in the New This Week rack and expect to walk out without paying.

So seriously — for the sanity of the folks at the comic shop, for the sake of your own dignity — don’t be the entitled douchebag who goes in and demands all the comics for free. You’ll get the Free Comic Book Day comics for free, so just accept that.

Come to think of it, you probably won’t be able to get all the Free Comic Book Day comics either. Quantities are very limited, so most shops will only let you have two or three comics for free, just so they’ll have some left for anyone who comes in late. So it’s better to go in early to make sure the stuff you want is still available. If you go in late, you might miss out on the best comics. You might even miss out on all of them.

And one more thing — could I ask y’all a favor? When you go in to get your free comics, could you go ahead and buy some other comics as well? See, the comic shops have to pay for all those free comics — a lot of them end up taking a beating sales-wise, just for the opportunity to try to pick up the occasional new customer. A lot of folks show up on Free Comic Book Day, get their free books, then vanish out the door again ’til next year. But y’all are good guys, and you know it’s never a good thing for your local comic book shop when they don’t make a little money.

So just for the sake of niceness — buy a comic book, too. Could be an issue or two of a regular comic. Could be a new trade paperback or graphic novel. Could even be a game or a toy or a shortbox. But buy something, just as a way to let your local shop know that you appreciate them offering the free comics every year.

Thanks much, kids — now go out and nab those free comics!

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Restoration Movement


The Movement #1

The new high-profile book from Gail Simone looks to contrast a band of 99-percenter “people’s heroes” with Art Baltazar and Franco’s upcoming “Green Team” of superhero billionaires. So what do we have here?

Our setting is Coral City, a run-down hellhole of a city with a deeply corrupt police force and a serial killer problem. We meet the kids who are our heroes: the emotion telepath Virtue, demon-possessed Burden, winged warrior Katharsis (who previously appeared as a villain in Simone’s “Batgirl” comics), earthquake-inducing Tremor, and rodent-controlling Mouse.

Verdict: Ehh, I dunno yet. It’s not particularly bad. And it’s a first issue, where we’re introducing a bunch of mostly new characters. So that doesn’t give us a lot of time for characterization. Having said that — I sure wouldn’t want to have to write these guys. Most of them come across as deeply unpleasant people with powers that are either cartoonishly useless or much more useful for your average supervillain. I’ll be more than willing to give this a few issues to win me over — I’m sure the next few issues will have a great deal more characterization, for one thing — but I sure hope it gets more appealing quickly.


The Hypernaturals #11

With “Sublime-Lite” preparing to fire the Nephilim Fragment into the Network — an act that could potentially destroy the Quantinuum supercomputer and devastate the galaxy — the Hypernaturals embark on desperate plans to stop the looming disaster. Will the team manage to defeat the Hyper-Bads guarding the Sublime copy? Will they be able to prevent the Nephilim bullet from being fired? Will they be able to defend the Quantinuum AI? Or should they let it die?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action, drama, suspense, revelations, surprises. This is entirely grand fun. I’m hearing that next issue may be the last for the series — I have my fingers crossed that it’ll continue.


Ame-Comi Girls #3

We meet the Ame-Comi version of Green Lantern — a blind Chinese girl named Jade Yifei who receives her power ring while climbing a mountain and being attacked by a supervillain called the Flying Guillotine. Elsewhere, Wonder Woman, Power Girl, and Steve Trevor announce that a Justice League will be formed in Themyscira, the Chinese government plots to get its hand on Jade’s ring, Carol Ferris get a purple power ring of her own and quickly gets into a conflict with Power Girl when she mind-controls Jimmy Olsen into falling in love with her.

Verdict: I’m going to thumbs this one down. Some parts of it are interesting — Jade’s character-shift into a blind Chinese daredevil, the more musical nature of the Green Lantern ring, Carol Ferris as an astronaut — but the anime-style art is getting more and more wearying. And the bit at the end where Power Girl, Star Sapphire, and every other woman in Metropolis is in love with Jimmy Olsen? That completely broke my brain, man.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Wil Wheaton has a message for all the nerdfamilies.
  • City of Heroes, the best dang superhero MMO ever, is no more. But the people who loved the game have been inspired to create new games to replace it.
  • The new Superman is ONE OF US.

And One More Thing:

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Mad Bat


Batman Inc. #10

In the wake of Damian’s death, Batman recruits Azrael to join the fight while Talia and Leviathan work to completely shut down Gotham City. The various Robins track down where Jason Todd is being held captive, Kirk Langstrom has a gift for Batman, Talia disciplines the Heretic, and Batman makes a fateful decision.

Verdict: Thumbs up. If anything, the stuff outside of the main storyline are the most interesting. I’m finding myself caring less about Batman vs. Talia and more about the former Squire (now the new Knight), Kirk Langstrom, and the people who kidnapped Jason Todd. That’s not really a bad thing, because these are pretty interesting stories, and I’d love to see how they’re going to play out in the story.


Uncanny Avengers #7

A lot of this story is set in space, focused on Genocide, the son of Apocalypse, who is preparing to petition the Celestials to appoint him the new Apocalypse. But he and his Horsemen are unexpectedly attacked by a couple of characters called the Apocalypse Twins, the children of Archangel and Pestilence. They thrash the Horsemen and use Thor’s old axe, Jarnbjorn, enchanted to be able to pierce a Celestial’s armor, to assassinate the Celestial summoned by Genocide. That means the Celestials are going to come to Earth to take revenge.

And the Avengers still can’t stop arguing among themselves — should they bar Rogue from the group after she accidentally killed Wonder Man’s brother? Can Alex Summers lead the team effectively? Will Wasp’s attempts to market mutant chic to the young help turn things around?

Verdict: Ehh, it’s alright, but I just can’t pronounce myself thrilled with this. Too much emphasis on Genocide and the Apocalypse Twins, who I’d never heard of before. And I thought the bit with Wasp putting the moves on Alex solely because he was the team’s leader was creepy and out-of-character. Still, the bit with the Celestial assassination is a cool, attention-grabbing bit.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • AOL has shut down Comics Alliance. No, this is not good — I didn’t always agree with everything they covered, but they did excellent comics journalism that was fun, geek-embracing, and not condescending — but let’s remember some very important points. First, the very, very smart writers from Comics Alliance are probably going to get snapped up by other sites pretty quickly. And second, this says more about the financial health of AOL (probably very, very poor) and not very much at all about the success of Comics Alliance (which was very, very popular).
  • Why do female supervillains trend toward the skanky side of town?
  • Greg Rucka would prefer that “Man of Steel” get a PG rating.
  • Looks like the teddy bear needs an operation!

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