Archive for January, 2014

Friday Night Fights: War of the Gargantuas!

Oh, hey, it’s Friday and that means we’re gonna get right into FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle definitely goes big time — from February 2011’s Avengers Academy #7 by Christos Gage, Mike McKone, Dave Meikis, and Scott Hanna, here’s Giant-Man vs. the Absorbing Man!





Man, look at Hank Pym — cleaning Crusher Creel’s clock and bonking him in the face with his own wrecking ball? Those Pym particles are somethin’ else!

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Wow, I picked up a grand total of one comic book this week. On one hand, this is good, because I didn’t spend much money, and a single comic won’t do too much damage to my way-too-overstuffed comic boxes. On the other hand, it’s gonna be way hard to fill the blog next week. Nevertheless, let’s get things rolling.


Revival #17

Officer Dana Cypress has had a narrow run-in with a masked, disfigured man who set fire to the office of Professor Aaron Weimar — a man who Dana suspects of murdering her sister Em (prior to Em rising from the dead as one of the Revivers). So Dana knows that someone may be after Weimar — and she can’t let anything happen to him, because otherwise she may never unravel the mystery of Em’s death.

And Weimar knows someone is after him, too, and he’s terrified that the mysterious someone is going to kill his wife Nithiya. He leaves her a note, then takes off, unaware that his wife had placed a tracker on his car because she was afraid he was unfaithful. So when Dana makes it to their home, she’s able to track his car.

So while Weimar’s wife reads his note confessing his life’s ambitions, failures, and shames, Dana tries to reach him in time to save his life. Can she locate him and salvage her investigation into her sister’s death and resurrection?

Meanwhile, Em is tracking down reporter May Tao, who may know that Em has killed a few people. And she learns more about what kind of people the Check brothers were. Did they really deserve to die? Will May need to die to preserve Em’s secrets?

Verdict: Thumbs up. We get the great art and great writing we’ve come to expect from this series.

But the real winner in this issue is the close focus on Weimar, a character who’s mostly been in the background, despite how close he’s been to the mystery of Em’s death. It’s nice to learn more about who he is, what he’s come to fear, and how he regrets what he’s made of his life. And May Tao’s monologue on just how absolutely rotten the Check brothers were is also very interesting.

We also get more mysteries. Who is the masked arsonist, and what are his motives? Just how ominous is the prison full of slowly deranging Revivers? How can Dana continue her investigation? And what’s with all the teeth?

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Dino Danger!


Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #5

It’s the grand conclusion of Atomic Robo’s latest storyarc! Dr. Dinosaur has built a gigantic time bomb — a bomb designed to wipe out time itself and roll history back to the age of the dinosaurs! But that’s not possible, is it? Everything Dr. Dinosaur does is stupid, right? But what if his mad science and crystals can finally do what seems impossible? Meanwhile, Tesladyne is being attacked by Majestic-12’s mercenaries — can Jenkins and Action Science save the day?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oh, as if I would ever give this series anything but a thumbs up! But it’s a great story, great art, lots of funny lines and great action. And it ends with a thoroughly glorious cliffhanger, so now we have to wait even more desperately for the next series…


Hawkeye #16

You may not have noticed, but Marvel just completely skipped Issue #15 of this series. I have no idea why, but they apparently plan to return to that issue soon. Maybe an art issue? Like I said, no idea.

Anyway, this issue focuses on Kate Bishop, living the down-and-out superhero lifestyle out in Los Angeles. Kate runs across a deeply depressed and imbalanced former musician named Will Bryson (clearly based on the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson). Bryson is upset that his long-unfinished masterwork, “Wish,” is being released without his permission on the Internet, and Kate resolves to help him stop his brother from ruining his greatest album. So she goes with her usual M.O. — breaking and entering — which ends the way it usually seems to — caught by the bad guys. Is there a way for Kate to solve the case, or is she just gonna stomped on by goons again?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a fun comic, action-packed, funny, clever, gorgeous art — and it’s also a pretty dark story. The Brysons have a pretty horrible relationship, mostly geared around driving each other more insane, and Kate has to deal with much more ruthless enemies than normal and sustains more serious injuries. And the whole story still ends up becoming a pretty positive thing, even with the ominous mini-cliffhanger at the end. Go read it, guys, this is a great series.


Black Widow #2

Natasha Romanov gets overconfident, gets in over her head, and has to somehow recover from a simple mission that’s gone entirely wrong, all thanks to a cunning schemer called the Iron Scorpion. Will the Black Widow survive — and who’s now plotting against Natasha’s attorney?

Verdict: Ehh, really, I dunno. The problem is that, while the story is decently exciting, the Black Widow is just a femme fatale superspy — she just doesn’t have a unique personality. You get a much better femme fatale superspy in Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s “Velvet” comic.

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Critical Hit


Near as I can figure, Sunday was the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons.

The articles I’ve seen about the anniversary focus either on the game’s history or the plans for the upcoming new edition of D&D, usually with a side order of “OMG, look at the nerds!” But this is what we’ve come to expect from the mainstream media when it comes to coverage of anything out of the mainstream, right?

I’m not in the best position to talk much about D&D. I haven’t played a D&D game since junior high, and I haven’t played any sort of roleplaying game since college. I know a few folks at work who play Pathfinder, which was based on D&D 3.5 — but I’ve never been very tempted to join in, because it’s been a long, long time since I had any serious interest in playing a fantasy RPG. Modern day games, horror, superhero, lots of other genres are appealing, but I can’t get very interested in playing a wizard or fighter or cleric.

But at the same time, I’ve also maintained serious interest in D&D, even while not playing it. I’ve got sourcebooks from almost every edition of Dungeons & Dragons, including the much-maligned fourth edition, which I think is mostly pretty good. Why do I keep picking them up when I know I’m probably never going to play them? I suspect it’s nostalgia more than anything else. Rust monsters, displacer beasts, beholders, owlbears, and green slimes — you just never get tired of some things.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about D&D a lot over the past week or so. I’ve seen a lot of articles that mentioned the fiction that influenced Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson — Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Lovecraft, and many others — but I’ve seen fewer that talked about how Dungeons & Dragons has influenced the world.

Gaming is the most obvious segment of the world that’s been changed by D&D. There’s no way the modern hobby game market would exist without Dungeons & Dragons — Gygax and Arneson invented and popularized the concept of the roleplaying game, paving the way for everything from Earthdawn, Runequest, and Pathfinder to Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, Champions, GURPS, and Vampire: The Masquerade. And you can extend that influence over almost all modern tabletop games — the popularity of D&D revitalized wargaming, inspired card games like Magic: The Gathering and Munchkin, and can claim at least partial influence over most geek-friendly board games out there.

And we’re not talking just tabletop games either. D&D’s game mechanics are used in one form or another in hundreds of video games. Pretty much every fantasy-themed video game, including World of Warcraft, Everquest, and Skyrim, has to claim D&D as a direct influence. And you just couldn’t have the cacodemon from DOOM without the beholder from D&D.

The game’s influence on general pop culture has been fairly strong, especially in recent years, as the nerd stigma has started to reduce — enough geeks have gone into show business that they can now talk openly about how much they loved the game, and even include it in TV shows, movies, songs, and books. And heck, look at that list of celebs who play D&D — it doesn’t even include Dame Judi Dench, who learned the game from Vin Diesel!

Influence on science, academics, journalism, politics, and most other “real world” topics? Probably incidental — but lots of smart kids learned math, storytelling, acting, and social skills by sitting around a table, rolling dice, and fighting imaginary wererats, mindflayers, and Acererak the Demi-Lich. Won’t be long before we have a president who started out as a paladin.

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Friday Night Fights: Marvelous Mashing!

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Friday night, and we are in dire need of some appropriately awesome comic book violence to get our weekend started off right. Would you please put your hands together for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from October 1977’s Marvel Team-Up #62 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Dave Hunt. The Super-Skrull is up to no good, and only Carol Danvers is around to stop him!




Even with a shapeshifting neck, that’s gotta hurt.

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Final Farewell to the FF


FF #16

It’s the last issue of this gloriously quirky comic book. The Future Foundation has managed to shut down all of Dr. Doom’s defenses. His robots have been destroyed, his allies are wrecked, his hostages freed, his science, sorcery, and stolen power have all been neutralized. It’s all down to Dr. Doom vs. Ant-Man. Scott Lang doesn’t stand a chance, does he? Oh, you might be surprised…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not trying to tell a lot of the plot, to avoid spoilers, but it’s quite interestingly done, and if Marvel doesn’t end up forgetting all this, it’s going to make anyone using Pym particles a lot more powerful. But most importantly, this is a wonderful farewell to an awesome cast of characters, adults, kids, superheroes, supervillains, freaks, and weirdoes. It’s really too bad this one isn’t going to stick around — I’m going to miss Darla Deering, Bentley-23, and Tong.


Mighty Avengers #5

The Superior Spider-Man has decided he wants to take over the Mighty Avengers and run it like his own personal paramilitary force. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones aren’t having any of that, and they clean Otto’s clock — at least until his Spiderling minions shoot them with high-tech weapons. Can anyone save them from Otto’s wrath? Maybe a big green lawyer. Meanwhile, inside Attilan, time-controlling corporate supervillain Quickfire is after some mystic artifacts while Spectrum, Falcon, Ronin (actually Blade — still don’t understand the silly subterfuge), Power Man, and White Tiger try to stop her — and while a three-headed monster tries to eat all of them. Who will survive and what will be left of them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m enjoying the writing, the characters, and the story even while I’m still despising Greg Land’s tracing.


Pretty Deadly #4

Looks like we’re gathering our cast of characters together, slowly but surely. Johnny Coyote rescues Sissy from drowning in the river. Ginny and the Mason battle each other, but eventually come to an understanding. Death restores Alice to her form so she can go out and kill more people. And we slowly find out what this is all about.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This story gets a lot more enjoyable when you can keep track of all the characters and what they’re up to. Honestly, I don’t think this ever should’ve been released as single-issue comics — it should’ve been a complete graphic novel from the very beginning.

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Post Ghosties


Ghosted #6

When last we saw Jackson Winters, he’d got away with stealing a bunch of ghosts, heisting a tidy sum of money, and getting revenge on an awful old bastard. Now he’s hiding out in the tropics and enjoying a life of leisure — but old enemies are trying to track him down, and after they shoot the heck out of him and his old con artist pal Trick, his abductors tell him what they want him to do: steal more ghosts.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see this series continuing — I wasn’t sure whether it’d be back, or if it’d switch over to more mainstream heists, but I’m glad to see it’ll continue with the previous winning formula. I’m also grooving on the groovy weirdness of our group of villains — a wealthy organized crime cartel completely run by Native Americans.


Coffin Hill #4

Eve Coffin’s best friend Mel has emerged from her catatonic state — but something’s very much not right. Might be that she recovered too quickly. Might be how she seems to know things she could never actually know. Might be how she’s got inky black monster goo that oozes out of her eyes and mouth. Can Eve save herself? Can she save Nate? Can she save the missing children?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun writing and art, keen dialogue, ever-rising tension, and so wonderfully creepy. Hope you’re reading and enjoying this one, kids.

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Seasonal Poison


Batman: Li’l Gotham #10

Poison Ivy is completely depressed because autumn is her least favorite season — yes, even more than winter, which she considers peaceful and calm, with less environmental destruction. But in the autumn, all the leaves are dying, and she can’t muster any enthusiasm for anything. Harley and Selina demand the Joker do something to cheer her up — and dangit, the Joker is just not any good at cheering people up! Meanwhile, Damian has noticed Alfred creeping into the east wing of Wayne Manor — carrying a body?! Soon, Damian, Tim, and Katana have decided that Alfred must be a mad genius performing unholy experiments. Can nothing stop the butler’s reign of terror?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, beautiful artwork and charming stories, all set in the pre-Reboot DCU. It’s good all-ages fun, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Daredevil #35

The racist Sons of the Serpent think they have Matt Murdock over the barrell. They know every one of his secrets, and they’re prepared to release them all to the press and to his enemies — but they’ll keep it all secret if he’ll defend the son of one of their leaders who’s been accused of murder. They know he’s innocent but they can’t say that in court without giving up their secrets, so they want Murdock to figure out a way to get him free. He meets up with Elektra and they beat up Constrictor and Mamba of the Serpent Society (which doesn’t have any real connection to the Sons of the Serpent, despite the name similarity) while Matt tries to figure out what to do. Does he take the case and defend the evil Sons of the Serpent? Or does he stick to his principles and ruin his life and the lives of his friends? Or does he seek a third way?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The action is pretty good, but the real focus in this story is on Matt’s cerebral gymnastics. Next to the last issue — at least until Marvel relaunches the title with a brand new #1 in a few months. Doesn’t constant relaunching just to get lots of #1s strike you as just about the silliest thing around? I mean, it’s not as silly as most of the things out of Dan DiDio’s mouth, but it’s definitely the silliest thing Marvel’s been up to lately.


Astro City #8

An unknown enemy is trying to paint Winged Victory as a secret supervillain — and the ploy seems to be working. She has both the Samaritan and the Confessor on her side (though they have to fight each other first because you just know how superheroes are always fighting each other), and even the authorities woh come to search her compound are giving her the benefit of the doubt. But her confidence is still severely shaken because she’s relying on protection from men — and the idea that women have to rely on men for protection is something that she’s been fighting against her entire career. Is the future hopeless for her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautifully illustrated, beautifully written. Tons of glorious characterization and a plot that really digs into the heart of Winged Victory’s character. It’s an absolutely fantastic comic book, and we’re only in the middle of the storyarc.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Today, it’s worth remembering that most of the media tends to not understand what Martin Luther King, Jr.’s real impact was. It was a lot more significant than merely marching and making speeches.
  • If you want to make yourself furious, read this article about the how-can-this-be-legal “troubled teen industry.” Why these thugs haven’t been dragged out of their torture camps and strung up, I’ll never know.
  • Booth babes are an offensive relic on any convention floor — but it turns out that they don’t make good business sense either, because they just don’t translate into sales.
  • The high-velocity (and high-larious) Slingshot Channel has devised a condom gun that’ll make you swear off sex forever.

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Friday Night Fights: Cumberbashed!

I see that the long-awaited third season of the BBC’s amazing “Sherlock” series is going to be airing in America on PBS this Sunday. I won’t be able to see it right away — I don’t have cable and can’t even get PBS over the antenna here, so NO SPOILERS, DAMMIT. But never let it be said that I won’t piggyback on someone else’s popularity for the chance to win… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

So anyway, tonight’s battle comes to us from June 2000’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1, #5 by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, where we get to watch the grand, semi-final battle between Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls.








So there we go, everyone go vote for me. But I swear to Kirby, any of you guys spoil this season, and I will be painting “RACHE” all over the walls with your innards.

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Murder on the Airwaves


A Voice in the Dark #3

The beginning of Zoey Aarons’ college career has been busy. After getting away with murder and fending off constant temptation to kill again, she started her first call-in show at the university — and her first guest, who she feared was suicidal, actually murdered her parents live on the air. The police have exonerated her of any wrongdoing — she didn’t know the girl would kill her parents, and she’d been following police instructions at the time. And her boss at the radio station is protecting her anonymity, so she’ll be able to continue broadcasting her show. Life seems to be settling comfortably down, with a leisurely lunch with her roommates and a comforting visit with a psychotherapist. But her new hometown has a lot of dark secrets — it’s the serial killer capital of the world, for one thing — and Zoey’s urges to kill are just growing stronger as time passes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice story, slightly slower, but this is the beginning of a new storyarc. Lots of background on the college town Zoey lives in, along with more characterization for Zoey’s roommates and boss. Larime Taylor’s art is still just gorgeous. His characters look great and realistic — no cookie-cutter faces or Barbie-doll bodies. Zoey and her roommates are attractive, but not pin-ups. Her boss wears glasses that make her eyes look much larger. Her therapist is realistically paunchy. It’s refreshing to see comic art of people who look like actual people.


Velvet #3

Velvet is still on the run from the agency that thinks she killed their best agent. She has one ally, a former agent gone to seed. Not willing to simply go into hiding, she decides to retrace the late Jefferson Keller’s steps. She travels to Europe to infiltrate a society party and meet with one of his conquests, the wife of a Yugoslavian general. But the wife is missing, and she soon learns that her affair with Keller was found out, and she was shipped off to prison. Can Velvet get the woman out of the gulag and learn her story? Or should she expect complications?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent espionage stuff, wonderful art, a nice twisty story, and lots of fun dialogue, action, and characterization. Ed Brubaker’s pretty good at this stuff, ain’t he?

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