Archive for June, 2013

Riding in Cars with Animals


Empowered: Animal Style

Empowered has taken a part-time job working overnight security for the 20th Annual International/Interchronal Alternate Timeline Superhero Auto Show. And as is typical for her rotten luck, it gets invaded for the first time ever by car thieves. In fact, it’s a team of villains wearing animal-themed powered armor who call themselves Animal Style. Emp is entirely outnumbered, so she’ll have to use her best superpower — brains. Will that be enough to let her save the day and avoid getting tied up again? Knowing Emp’s luck… probably not.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Extremely funny stuff all the way through — I can’t get enough of Terrorpin’s battle cry, and the glimpses we get of the alternate reality cars are just brilliant, especially Juicetice and Kato’s infamous White Superbronco and the Egyptian-styled car designed by Ed “Big Daddy” Thoth. And it’s also really cool to see Emp kick so much ass — it’s usually pretty rare, even in the full-length collections.


The Movement #2

The members of the Movement have taken some of the more corrupt officers of the Coral City Police Department into custody, which is leading to some concerns that they’re treading down the same path as the authoritarian police. And there are plenty of other conflicts tearing at the group. Mouse and Burden are thoroughly insane — Mouse swings from abject sorrow every time one of his rats dies to almost immediately wanting to eat the bodies raw, while Burden keeps flipping from emotionally abused religious fanatic to demonic hellmonster, almost at random. And all Katharsis ever wants to do is fight and kill the group’s enemies. So while Katharsis goes off on her own to fight the cops and their wealthy paymaster, the rest of the team sets out on the trail of the so-called Cornea Killer, which sets them up against the ominously-named Weather Witch.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Much better than the first issue, as we’re finally getting some clue about the Movement’s personalities. The action is quite good, too, and the interpersonal conflicts are excellently drawn. Having said that, I am a little curious how it’s going to work with two team members so thoroughly broken mentally. And I’m afraid I did let out an exasperated groan when we learned the true identity of the Weather Witch…

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Friday Night Fights: The Secret of Time Travel!

Gaah, just ain’t had a lot of time to find some more battles (I’ve been trying to spend more time doing fun writing, as opposed to blog writing, which is frequently not fun), but Friday Night Fights waits for no one, so here we are.

So tonight, here’s Atomic Robo Free Comic Book Day 2009 (which you can and should read right here) by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, as we get to witness the first meeting between Atomic Robo and his arch-nemesis, Dr. Dinosaur!






All hail Dr. Dinosaur! ALL HAIL DR. DINOSAUR!

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Back to the Big City


Astro City #1

Great news! Astro City is back on the map! No longer at Wildstorm (since Wildstorm no longer exists), it’s now being published as a Vertigo comic.

Our re-introduction to the city comes through the narration of a purple-skinned guy called the Broken Man. He addresses the readers directly, trying to involve us in some ill-defined scheme to prevent a future disaster. We also get introduced to a new character — American Chibi, a new superhero who looks kinda like chibi anime characters. She encounters a mysterious door floating in midair over the Gaines River, but she — and none of the other superheroes in town — are able to get the doors to open. Meanwhile, we run into Ben Pullam, a character we met waaaaay back in the first issue of the second “Astro City” series. (You can find it in the “Family Album” trade paperback.) Back then, Ben was a widower with two young daughters — today, he’s a good deal older, and his daughters are grown up. They’ve gotten together for an overdue visit — but what is Ben’s connection to the mysterious being who finally emerges from the door over the river?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Broken Man is a tad irritating, but I assume that’s a lot of his purpose. Aside from that, this is all the stuff you love about Astro City — fun superheroics, some innovative twists on the superhero formula, normal people getting the spotlight, and an excellent story and art. If you ain’t reading this, you’re stone crazy.

(I do wonder if this is really a Vertigo comic. Granted, there’s no way it should go under the DC banner, which is apparently solely devoted to the New 52 — and makes almost everything associated with it suck — but it seems odd to see it here as part of DC’s mature readers line.)


The Hypernaturals #12

The last issue?! Bah! But how do things turn out? Sublime is preparing to kill the Quantinuum AI — which will end up wreaking havoc across the galaxy. Shoal reveals that the Quantinuum is a refugee from another universe — but it’s insane, desperate to help others at the same time as it wants to kill itself, so it creates superheroes and supervillains. Elsewhere, the rest of the Hypernaturals team has to fight off an army of supervillains — actually normal people in the teleportation network who’ve been transformed into monsters. Can the team stop all the bad guys? Can Shoal and Thinkwell save the Quantinuum?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very nice end for the series. Lots of action, great dialogue and characterization, and all around fun stuff. I’d really love it if this series was continued, but I guess that depends on whether Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning want to keep it going.


Ame-Comi Girls #4

Power Girl and the new Green Lantern fight Star Sapphire for the heart of Jimmy Olsen. Avril Palmer — the Atom — fights off the Brainiac infection in Supergirl’s brain while Supergirl and Power Girl punch each other. And Sinestra gets hold of both a yellow power ring and a black one.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I’m just not even a little bit interested in this series anymore.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Fairy Tale of New York


The New York Magician by J.B. Zimmerman

Hey, here’s a new novel — brand-spankin’ new, actually — that I think you’re gonna love.

The novel — well, really more of a collection of interconnected short stories — follows the exploits of Michel Wibert, a lifelong New Yorker working in the finance industry. But his real job is in communications. You see, Michel is able to see and speak to the gods, spirits, and magical beings who call the Big Apple home. His grandmother taught him about the city’s secret residents, and he now uses this knowledge to negotiate and bargain his way across New York, offering some of these beings their own lost possessions, some vital information, and many the one thing they crave the most — a friendly, sympathetic ear.

So Michel ends up meeting everyone from Baba Yaga (dishing drinks in a trendy bar), Cthulhu (hangin’ in the sewers), Malsumis (an evil Algonquian god), Hapi (the friendly god of the Nile), and Shu (Hapi’s much less friendly brother). He also encounters plenty of other interesting characters, though a bit more mundane — firemen with an unusual haunting, the Jamaican arms dealers who sell him guns, and Kevin, a big Irish immigrant who saves Michel’s bacon when he gets in over his head.

Michel himself makes a pretty interesting, distinctive character — almost always found wearing his custom enchanted Burberry coat, bandolier, pocket watch, ancient spearhead, and Desert Eagle handgun, just about his only special talents are his ability to see and talk to supernatural creatures and his lightning-quick wits. Even the few spells he can cast are tricky work-arounds using special magical items, along with the energy generated by a blast or two from his Desert Eagle. He functions as something of a hard-boiled private eye combined with a medieval knight, always looking to improve things — sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally — for the supernatural entities of NYC, as well as the everyday citizens who need him.

Verdict: A very enthusiastic thumbs up. It’s an incredible book, wildly charismatic and likable, with great glorious tons of action, excitement, mystery, humor, everything you want from great fantasy. It’s completely steeped in the feel of New York City — Zimmerman is a native of the City that Never Sleeps, and the description of the setting is close to perfect. This is perfect urban fantasy — you couldn’t separate the fantasy from the urban setting if you tried.

Characterization is a massive strong point — yes, Michel is a great character, as I’ve already said, but everyone else we meet is a great character, too. Baba Yaga has the loneliness of someone far from home, the wisdom of someone incomparably ancient, and the cruelty of, well, Baba Yaga. Malsumis is an absolute bastard and yet still intensely likable. The djinn who can’t stop switching bodies combines the desperation of someone who just wants someone he can talk to with inhuman intelligence and motives. Even Cthulhu manages to come across as someone who’d be fairly cool to have a beer with — except for the whole “vastly monstrous elder god who will drive mankind insane and destroy the Earth” thing. The humans are just as unique and fascinating, too.

I’m putting this in the strongest possible terms, people. This is an outstanding book, and I think you should read it. Go pick it up.

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