Archive for September, 2013

Friday Night Fights: Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Shulkie!

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and neighbors, kids and other kids, it’s long past time to get the weekend started. To be honest, I would’ve been pretty good starting it on Tuesday or even Monday. But it’s finally here, and that calls for a celebration — namely: FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from March 1983’s The Avengers #229 by Roger L. Stern, Al Milgrom, and Joe Sinnott. She-Hulk has temporarily lost her powers after a run-in with the Radioactive Man, and Hawkeye decides to help her out by being a colossal douche.






Yes, Hawkeye, it’s always smart to taunt someone until they get mad enough to turn into an enormous green rage monster.

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Mighty Guys


Mighty Avengers #1

The Avengers are all off in outer space dealing with some intergalactic threat, which makes Thanos figure he can invade Earth ’cause the Avengers aren’t around to stop him. Of course, there are plenty of other heroes running around the joint. Which brings us to the newest incarnation of the Heroes for Hire — Luke Cage, White Tiger, and Power Man (who’s a completely different guy — a smartass teenager nowadays). But that team only lasts ’til the Superior Spider-Man shows up, talks some smack, and convinces White Tiger to take a hike.

Elsewhere, Monica Rambeau is back in town, now wearing a new costume and calling herself Spectrum. She has a mysterious, shadowy benefactor, too. Aaaaanyway, Thanos’ minions finally attack New York City — does this ragtag band of do-gooders stand a chance?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun dialogue, action, humor, and drama. Excellent characterization, too. This is a darned interesting group, and I’d really like to read more about them as quickly as possible.

Oh, but I do have some serious quibbles. First, the art. Hey, it’s by Greg Land, who is infamous for tracing other people’s art and photos. Looks like he’s up to the same gig here, with lots of weirdly awkward facial expressions and poses that you just know look like that because he copied them somewhere else. Why does Marvel still employ this guy? Does he have some serious blackmail photos of Joe Quesada?

Another thing that bugs me is the way Monica Rambeau looks in this. I’m not a big fan of the new costume — I actually liked the look of the jacket she wore in her previous appearances. But new costumes show up all the time for B-list characters, and really, this costume isn’t all that bad. But I do think her hair is a more serious problem.

Look, “Mighty Avengers” is pretty much getting marketed as Marvel’s “Black Avengers” comic, much like Brian Wood’s new “X-Men” book was billed as the “Female X-Men” book. It’s got more African-American characters than any mainstream superhero book has had since Milestone’s glory days.

Among the female characters we know of, Spectrum is black, White Tiger is Hispanic, and She-Hulk is, regardless of her skin color, Caucasian. And all three of them have straight hair. I might be able to excuse it if Monica had ever been depicted with straight hair, but in her most recent appearances, she had cornrows. And taking your only African-American woman and giving her chemically-straightened hair isn’t really the most enlightened thing to do. I’ve got to assume Monica’s hair has been straightened because the women Land traced had straight hair, but that’s just another reason not to use Land as your artist.


The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #4

Red and Blue, the porno droids on the run from BLI, are trying to make it out of Battery City. Their power will shut off once they pass the city limits, but they figure they’ll be able to die together. Elsewhere, Korse’s secret — he’s fallen in love — is revealed, and his lover has been killed. Now he’ll be taken away to be reprogrammed. And the Girl is stuck in the desert, forced to hang out with the rotten Val Velocity as he barrels down the road into paranoid psychosis and self-destruction. Can any of them survive BLI’s crackdown?

Verdict: Thumbs up. All the storylines are really picking up and turning seriously enjoyable. Great art, great storytelling, great characters — excellent pop/sci-fi comics, and it’s worth picking up.


Red Sonja #3

Sonja is wandering the wilderness, burning with fever as the plague begins to overwhelm her. Forced to surrender to an enemy in the last issue to protect innocent villagers, she’s been cast out and humiliated — and she’s beginning to hallucinate as the plague starts to destroy her mind. She sees her long-deceased father and relives the nightmare of her childhood when sadistic raiders destroyed her family and village. Will the hopelessness of her past predict her own doom?

Verdict: Thumbs up. More excellent storytelling and art. Sonja’s childhood is simultaneously incredibly grim and grandly badass, and the latest cliffhanger is very nice, though I’m pretty sure we know how it’s going to turn out…

Today’s Cool Links:

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Drawing the Line


I think it’s very, very well-established at this point that DC Comics does a lot of extremely stupid things.

I was willing to forgive a lot. Honestly, I think I was much too forgiving. But running J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman off of “Batwoman” — the most astoundingly beautiful comic book on the stands today — and then spitefully cutting their run even shorter? That’s too stupid. That’s too malicious. And I’m not going to forgive it.

When Williams’ and Blackman’s final issue of “Batwoman” comes out, I’m dropping nearly all DC Comics off my pull list. That’s probably about a month or two away, so we’ll have plenty of DC books to review for the next few weeks.

There are some of their comics I’ll keep buying. I completely refuse to drop “Astro City,” which I’ve been reading long before it was published by Wildstorm or Vertigo and which I consider one of the best long-running superhero comics out there. I suspect I’ll keep reading “American Vampire,” but since it’s going to remain on hiatus ’til March 2014, that may not make a lot of difference.

But I’ll give up “Batgirl” and “Batman ’66” and “Batman: Li’l Gotham” and “Wonder Woman” and all the rest of them. It’ll suck, because I’ve been a DC fan since I was a little kid. I love a lot of those characters. I love a lot of these creators. It’ll suck, and I may be miserable about it.

I’ll give myself permission to buy DC books when I see them at the used bookstore, where I know DC won’t get my money. I give myself permission to buy DC’s “Showcase Presents” collections of old comics, as well as all-ages books like “Tiny Titans” or “Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade,” especially if I’m buying them as gifts. I’ll give myself permission to buy an occasional DC book — this isn’t a hard boycott, obviously. But I’m done feeding so much of my money and attention into that sick, bleeding, rabid beast.

I think there’s a time to say things have gone too far, that things have gotten too bad, that comics fans should stop supporting a company that doesn’t respect readers, creators, characters, or stories.

Get rid of Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Bob Harras, and you’ve got a good chance of getting me back. Otherwise, I’ll buy books from Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Boom, Red 5, Archaia, First Second, and just about anyone else.

I’ve got no illusions about this. I’m one guy, and the money I spend on comics is insignificant, even within the far-from-profitable comics industry. I’m one guy with a blog that has fewer than 20 readers a day. I’m one guy, and this will have absolutely no effect on DC.

But I’ll do it anyway. I’ve had enough. The line, at least for me, must be drawn here. This far, no further.

And I’ll remind y’all — and any Time-Warner execs who just happen to blunder onto this blog — that I know how to fix DC Comics, and when the global megacorp finally gets tired of watching their highly profitable and marketable trademarks getting devalued, I’m available to help get the ship righted.

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Friday Night Fights: Wall of Pain!

Another dreary week is finally in the rear-view mirror, and our all-too-short weekend is upon us. You ready to get going? Let’s kick things off with… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s brawl comes to us from October 1989’s Suicide Squad #34 by John Ostrander, Kim Yale and John K. Snyder III. Need to go on some misguided trip to a cosmic hellhole like Apokolips? You’ll probably want to bring Superman with you. If you can’t bring Superman? Just bring Amanda Waller instead.






That’ll do it for this week — y’all have a fantastic weekend.

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Up Ahead: Light Blogging

I don’t think I’ve got any choice but to drop back to a lighter blogging schedule this week.

First, you know how many comics I bought this week? NONE AT ALL. It doesn’t help that all of DC’s books for the whole month are going to be these useless villain profile comics. DC does this every couple of years, and they just seem to get more and more pathetic. Anyway, I’m not going to reward them with any pity sales, and Marvel didn’t put out anything I was going to read this week, and nothing else looked interesting. So here we are — no comics.

And on top of that, I’ve got a list of Things I’ve Got To Do as long as your arm. And I’ll never make any progress on any of them if I spend the next week wracking my brains trying to think up something I care to blog about.

So in other words: Light blogging this week. We’ll do Friday Night Fights later today, and if anything pops up that I feel really needs my random chitchattery, I’ll blog about that. But I ain’t gonna knock myself out if I don’t gotta.

So I’ll see ya when I see ya.

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Universal Translator


The Lexicon of Comicana by Mort Walker

I’m feeling a bit under the weather, so I’d like to get a quick review done, rather than something long and involved. So here’s this book. It’s not a new book at all, or even within spitting range of being new. It was published way back in 1980 by Mort Walker, creator of the “Beetle Bailey” comic strip, as his own personal glossary of cartoon symbology.

It’s not a particularly serious book at all. It’s filled with cartoons and jokes, some of them really overwhelmingly silly. It’s definitely not as scholarly and exhaustive as Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.

Again, this is a very light-hearted glossary of comics symbology. We all accept that comics and cartooning have their own special language that doesn’t really have anything to do with the real world, right? When people are nervous, giant beads of sweat don’t really go flying off their heads. Pain doesn’t really cause stars or birds to appear. Bombs nearly never resemble a black ball with a fuse on top. Criminals don’t wear domino masks; reporters don’t wear fedoras with their press passes in the brim; professors don’t wear their mortarboards to teach classes. But these are all part of the common language of cartoons.

This isn’t controversial — everyone accepts it as obvious. What Walker does here is compile them in one place, give them some invented names, and discuss them a bit, usually making a few jokes about ’em. And it’s really, really fun to read about.

For example, here’s Walker talking about what he calls emanata:


And here’s a bit about the lucaflect:


Honestly, that last one really kinda blew my mind. Yeah, when we draw round, shiny things, we put a reflection of a window on them. Even if the items are located outside or away from windows or before the invention of windows. Why? Because that’s how our language says round, shiny things look. It doesn’t make logical sense for the same reason the word “bow” can mean a ribbon on a package, an archer’s weapon, the front of a ship, or bending forward at the waist. Because language grows organically, in crazy ways that make perfect sense when you’re using these symbols, but don’t make a lot of sense when you think about ’em very hard.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This was a vastly fun book. It’s basically the goofball uncle of McCloud’s more serious “Understanding Comics.” It’s sometimes silly to the point of being complete nonsense — and to be honest, if you don’t care for Walker’s terminology (I don’t — words like “plewds,” “grawlixes,” and “briffits” just seem like gibberish to me), you can just ignore them. There’s still a lot of interesting stuff to learn here.

It’s a really fast read, and it’s perfect for kids — or for grown-up kids, or for regular grown-ups who love comics and cartooning. And it’s still in print, so it won’t cost you a whole lot to get it. Go pick it up.

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A Bunch of Comics that Really Didn’t Do that Much for Me

Let’s run through ’em fast.


Captain Marvel #15

So Carol didn’t die in space. She just lost her memory and is somehow faking her way through everything. A ton of superheroes go to blow up some evil aliens called the Builders, but Carol gets stuck in space all alone, then she turns into Binary. Okay, fine, everything old is new again.

Verdict: Ehh.


FF #11

The FF go back in time to try to rescue the Fantastic Four, but they get hijacked by the Impossible Man, and they agree to take on his son Adolf as a student.

Verdict: Ehh.


The Green Team #4

Everyone fights Riot, who turns out to be Comm’s father. Cecilia loses her cyborg arm, and the nanites in Comm’s suit give him superpowers.

Verdict: Ehh.


Lazarus #3

Forever Carlyle visits the Morray family to offer them a truce. She and Joacquim, the Morray Lazarus get along very well. Jonah and Johanna Carlyle, however, are plotting against everyone.

Verdict: A bit better, but still mostly ehh.


Uncanny Avengers #11

Daken stabs Wolverine through the head, the Sentry tears his own face off, and the Scarlet Witch may be about to rapture every mutant on Earth to another planet.

Verdict: I’m a little amazed how little I care about this comic.


Young Avengers #9

Prodigy’s smooch with Hulkling is just gonna cause more angst. The rest of the team meets Leah, a former handmaiden of Hela banished to another dimension by Loki years ago. The team finally rescues Hulkling and Prodigy from Mother’s dimension by hitting her with a bunch of evil alternates versions of themselves. And Kate Bishop is close enough to her birthday that she’ll end up becoming an adult and joining Mother’s side soon. Plus Hulkling’s new therapist looks familiar…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The only one of these I really enjoyed. Lots of fun, lots of action, plenty of intrigue and mystery and humor and spooky stuff.

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