Archive for February, 2014

Puzzle Time


Hawkeye #15

If you hadn’t noticed before, the previous issue of this comic was actually #16. Still don’t know why they had to publish these issues out of order. I guess we’re just lucky that every other issue switches the focus from Clint Barton to Kate Bishop, so at least we didn’t any stories out of order.

Clint’s brother Barney — who’s almost as big a sad sack as his brother — is in town for a visit. They both laze around his apartment, humiliate themselves, and periodically emerge to unleash serious whupass on the Bros. Anyway, it turns out that the Bros own every building in the area — except for the one Clint owns — but the Bros and their pet clownface assassin have just learned that Clint doesn’t actually own the building — so they can charge in and assault any of the tenants, and Clint won’t call the cops on them. And things don’t end well for the good guys after that.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s clever, wonderfully illustrated storytelling — even if I’m starting to wish Clint wasn’t quite the complete loser he’s always depicted as in this comic. Come on, the guy’s an Avenger in good standing — he should at least be able to keep his pants up when he goes outside, right?


Fantastic Four #1

The Fantastic Four is back on Earth for the first time in months, and everyone is completely sad. Sue is writing some months in the future that everything went to hell — Reed stopped inventing things, Ben went to jail for murder, Johnny dove into drinking and partying above everything else. But in the present, the team beats up Fin Fang Foom, everyone is wearing red costumes, Sue is sad about her daughter Valeria moving to Latveria, Ben is trying to restart his relationship with Alicia Masters, Johnny has signed a dumb contract with his publicist, and some gremlins have escaped into New York.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I should’ve realized when I saw James Robinson’s name on the cover that it was going to suck. Listen, when the FF has been away from Earth for so long, galavanting around outer space and the Negative Zone and whatnot, you really want to start off your new #1 issue with some reassurance for readers that this is going to be the Fantastic Four everyone knows and loves — explorers, family, jokesters — yes, you want a little angst in there, because the FF has always done angst well. The classic Mark Waid/Mike Wieringo run on the series should kinda be your model for the first issue — reintroduce your characters, hit the high points of their relationships, give us some grand excitement, promise more for the future, even as you plan dire challenges and near-defeats by Doctor Doom.

But when you start out saying “Everything is going to be depressing and sad and horrible and wrecked, and everyone’s wearing weird red costumes for some reason,” why should anyone want to read that? Well, okay, why should anyone but James Robinson want to read that? Depressing crap seems to be the only thing Robinson’s able to write anymore. Wouldn’t be surprised if he kills off both of the kids by Issue #6.

Definitely dropping this one — and I’d really been looking forward to it, too. But just reading this one issue was a depressing chore, and I’ve got enough depressing chores in my everyday life.

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Voices from the Hellmouth


A Voice in the Dark #4

Zoey is still fighting her homicidal urges, but she has a much bigger problem on her mind now — one of her roommates has shanghaied her and another roomie into going to a sorority party. Well, it’s not like those’ll ever make you want to kill anyone, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding art and a fairly light story that still manages to give us some good doses of humor and tension. It’s a very wordy issue — we get four pages of a classroom discussion on the death penalty, which actually does a great job of reminding you this is all set on a college campus. There’s a lot of funny stuff in this issue, but there’s still an undercurrent of weird creepiness going on, too. After all, this is a college town with an unusual number of serial killers — including our lead character.


Ghosted #7

Jackson Winters is on the team for another supernatural heist. He and a small crew — his old friend Trick and two members of a Native American organized crime family — are looking to rescue a member of the family who’s been kidnapped by the Brotherhood of the Closed Book. They wanted her because she’s been possessed by an evil spirit, and they plan to use her for nefarious purposes both supernatural and carnal — and unfortunately, they know Jackson is in town.

After dodging a hit squad — with the help of the ghostly assassin Anderson — it’s decided that Jackson will have to infiltrate the Brotherhood’s compound because he’s the only one in the group who can pass for a generic American businessman looking to get his sexual kicks. But it turns out the kidnapped girl has some dire surprises in store for Jackson.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Art and story are still first-rate. I do wish the scares were a bit more plentiful this time — the new storyarc hasn’t yet hit the levels of creepiness that the first arc was hammering early on.

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A Farewell to Hell’s Kitchen?


Daredevil #36

Matt Murdock is being blackmailed, forced to defend a murderer and a member of the racist Sons of the Serpent, because if he won’t, it’ll be revealed to the world, with ample proof, that he’s really Daredevil. So Matt upsets the chessboard — he testifies in open court, reveals his superheroic identity, and tells all the secrets that the Serpents were going to reveal. The Serpents lose their temper and attack the courtroom with a strikeforce of assassins, revealing the full extent of their conspiracy against Daredevil and against the city. But in the aftermath of the attack, what will the revelations about Matt’s secret life — and the way he’s used and abused the law — mean for his ability to remain in New York City?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great drama and action — as well as excellent courtroom drama.

Having said that, I do have some quibbles. How’s Foggy Nelson? Is he even alive? The beginning of this issue seemed to imply he was at death’s door, but I really can’t imagine them killing him off, especially not off-camera.

Second, we know that the series is going to be relaunched soon, with Matt practicing law in San Francisco instead of Hell’s Kitchen. How the heck is that even going to work? I don’t know that I can imagine Daredevil outside of Hell’s Kitchen or New York — partly because his entire history is tied to closely to those locales, and partly because there’s no city like New York for giving superheroes tons of great, tall buildings to jump off of and swing from. Is Daredevil going to have to get a car to get around the City by the Bay?

Still, just quibbles — I’ve loved just about every issue of this series, and I’m looking forward to the continuation over on the Left Coast.


Red Sonja #7

Sonja has been forced to take a contract by a corrupt quasi-Egyptian ruler. He’s dying, and he wants the very best of everything for his funeral. He wants Sonja to track down his list of the world’s greatest entertainers and craftsmen in one month — if she succeeds, he’ll free every slave in the city; if she fails, he’ll have them all put to death.

Sonja’s first assignment is to find Gribaldi, the world’s greatest chef. As it turns out, he lives in the swamp, and he works for a tribe of savage cannibals. Will Sonja be able to free the loony chef from his far loonier man-eating gourmands?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A wonderfully, bleakly hilarious comic. The bogmen are savage, cannibal nitwits — and perhaps the most sophisticated, enthusiastic foodies ever depicted. Gribaldi’s culinary artistry is praised by everyone who eats his food — except for Sonja, who sees food solely as fuel for the body. And what’s really funny is how she reacts when she finds out he doesn’t respect good beer…

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Friday Night Fights: Silly Shazam Smackdown!

People, it’s Friday night, and that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect time to sit around shelling peas. It doesn’t mean you should rewind all your clocks. It definitely doesn’t mean you should spend more time at the office. Friday night means it’s time for the weekend, and it’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from October 1974’s Shazam #14 by Denny O’Neil and Kurt Schaffenberger. The Monster Society of Evil is back, and they have their worst weapons ready for the Marvel Family! Can the Big Red Cheeses prevail?




That’s the craziest thing I’ve seen since at least last weekend. Head over to Spacebooger’s joint and vote for your favorite fight.

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This, That and the Other

I got a whole big bucket of stuff I wanna talk about today, and comics reviews ain’t even a one of ’em.



They’ve announced the cast for the rebooted Fantastic Four movie. And for the most part, my lone reaction is a colossal shrug — I’m not very good at mass-media consumption anymore, and I didn’t recognize the names of any of the actors. But what’s really got certain members of the racist douchebucket fanboy brigade up in arms is that Johnny Storm is going to be played by Michael B. Jordan, a black actor.

There are two proper reactions to this: braying mockery or really excellent commentary examining race in the comics.

Ultimately, this is about smart casting — Jordan is a well-respected actor, it gets the movie a quick pop of controversy, thanks to the never-shutting-up racist population, and it gives comic book movies the opportunity to grow out of the These-Are-Only-For-White-People niche they’ve been locked into for too long.



A bunch of bigots in the South Carolina legislature actually want to cut funds from a university for suggesting students read Alison Bechdel’s brilliant “Fun Home” graphic novel.

One of the legislators, a Republican from Greenville, SC named Garry Smith said, “One of the things I learned over the years is that if you want to make a point, you have to make it hurt.”

And one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that if you find a moralizing Republican lawmaker in South Carolina, you’re pretty damn certain to find out that he spends his free time having sex with barnyard animals. All it takes is enough patient research into Rep. Smith’s background.



I’m looking forward to the next week or so here in Denton — it’s the beginning of GeeKon, a celebration of all things geeky and awesome. It’s mostly geared toward college students, but I hope I can enjoy some of the events without anyone complaining too much about the middle-aged fat guy in the crowd.

I’ll probably end up missing out on a lot of events — some of the film screenings will be taking place during work hours, and some of the other events are really geared so strongly toward geeks in their 20s that I think I’d feel much too awkward being in the audience — but I’m really looking forward to the UNT Comics Studies Conference, which focuses on academic approaches to comics.

And finally…


Greg Abbott is a dillweed.

A racist, sexist, homophobic, cowardly dillweed.

When I take over this state, Greg Abbott is going to get escorted to the nearest state line and told to get out and not come back.

And when it comes to the nearest state line, I intend to start measuring from Galveston.

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Battle Angel


Astro City #9

Winged Victory has been targeted with attacks designed to make her look like a secret terrorist to destroy her credibility as a superhero. While she deals with some marauding villains, the Confessor has been investigating the problem and suggests that she may need to lay low for a while ’til the heat cools down. She considers returning to her unpowered form, but decides she’d rather not get through her troubles by hiding. She meets a member of the Council of Nike, which chose her for her superheroic identity. She tells Winged Victory her life story and inspires her to fight on. But the investigation isn’t going well…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely done story, most effectively in the tale of Maisie Shimura of the Council of Nike. We’re getting closer to the end of this one — hope it turns out well…


Batman: Li’l Gotham #11

Batman is taking Damian for an All Saints’ Day visit with his mother Talia — yeah, this Batman is a lot more casual about his kid hanging out with the al-Ghul family. The Batplane crashes in the desert on the way — Batman almost immediately gets rid of his shirt — because that’s what Batman does when he’s in the desert — and Damian has hilarious hallucinations about ridiculous superheroes wearing wearing armored costumes with high collars. They also meet up with Azrael before getting to the al-Ghul compound. And then Man-Bat shows up. And then the zombies show up.

And in the backup story, the Clock King successfully stops time, but not before Batman summons a whole bunch of alternate universe Batmen to stop him — including Adam West Batman, Vampire Batman, Knightfall Batman, elderly Bruce Wayne, Zebra Batman, and Fruitbat-Man. Can the motley crew of Batmen save the world?

Verdict: So very many thumbs up. All the variant Batmen were great, and it’s great to see that someone working for DC gets to make fun of the Nu52’s stupid costumes.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Here are three different links about how racist and sexist douchebags in comics, gaming, and science fiction all end up hurting themselves.

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Green Day


She-Hulk #1

Yay, a new She-Hulk comic! They keep canceling She-Hulk books, then keep bringing ’em back. You’d think they’d learn to just keep the series running, fer cry-eye.

We start out with Jennifer Walters looking forward to a highly favorable annual review and a big bonus check from the partners at her current law firm. But it turns out that it doesn’t matter to them how many billable hours she’s put in, how much money she’s earned for the firm, how many cases she’s won — all they wanted from her was a bunch of superheroes as clients. But after she walks out, she quickly gets a new client — Holly Harrow, widow of Dr. Jonas Harrow, criminal scientist. Holly says Stark Industries stole some of her husband’s technology. Jennifer figures she can get the whole thing settled with a friendly conversation with Tony Stark, but instead, she gets shunted over to Legal — not the Legal Department, but a dry-bones legal eagle called simply Legal. He makes it clear that the corporation will give Holly no money, and they’ll bury She-Hulk under so much legal paperwork, even she won’t be able to lift it. Can Jennifer win the case?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not that surprising that Marvel’s going with the “She-Hulk: Super-Lawyer” premise again — it’s a good one that’s been popular every time it’s been produced. What makes it a bit more interesting this time is that it’s written by Charles Soule, who actually is a lawyer. And it’s looking like it’ll be interesting to get a real lawyer’s perspective on the legal matters in the Marvel Universe. The chief interesting thing in this issue is that the law isn’t depicted as an intrinsically moral force. She-Hulk is a hero working for a supervillain’s widow, and she faces the lawyer for another superhero. Who’s on the side of right, and who’s on the side of wrong? Neither one — they’re just doing their jobs.

Javier Pulido’s art is initially a little off-putting — Shulkie’s chin sometimes seems comically ginormous — but the style grows on you fast. It’s good for personality and facial expressions and body language, good for action, good for quiet moments. It’s fantastically designed, and ultimately, it’s a lot of fun to look at.

Yay, a new She-Hulk comic! Hope they keep this one going for a nice, long time.


Manifest Destiny #4

The Lewis and Clark Expedition is trapped behind the walls of a near-deserted fort, besieged on the outside by bison/minotaur monsters and from within by plant-zombies. It’s decided that they’ll have to make a run overland to try to get to their boat, but that means some of the crew will have to sacrifice themselves to distract the minotaurs — but it turns out someone has already slaughtered the minotaurs! It’s Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife Sacagawea! (Actually, though Charbonneau takes all the credit, Sacagawea actually did all the slaughterin’. With the minotaurs out of the way, it should be an easy hike back to the boat, right? Well, maybe not…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not quite as over-the-top whackaloon as the previous issues, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the series is going to do with Sacagawea — and the cliffhanger, while expected, is still well-done.


Coffin Hill #5

Eve Coffin, ex-cop and black-magic witch, has to deal with the fact that some dark, eldritch force has taken over the body of her old friend Mel. In addition, she’s finally got a lead on the kids who’ve gone missing around Coffin Hill — and there may be an unexpected family connection to the mystery.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent creepy horror and some fine twists on the ongoing mystery. I hope you’re reading this — it’s one of the most enjoyable horror comics on the stands right now.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Friday Night Fights: Cat Fight!

Greetings, kids! I have good news and more good news! The good news is that it’s Friday, and it’s time for the weekend, and holy zagnuts, do we all need the weekend! And the other good news? It’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from 2004’s DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke! Ted “Wildcat” Grant is fighting the last match of his boxing career, and he’s up against a kid named Cassius Clay.





That’ll finish me off for the week — everyone get out there and enjoy the weekend while we still can! Monday’s coming in only a couple days…

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Love is a Battlefield

I don’t have all that much fondness for Valentine’s Day — if you need to rely on a single day to express romantic love to your partner, well, baby, you ain’t doing it right.

On the other hand, it’s a wonderful way to break up the monotony of February (the worst month of the entire year), there’s a lot of nice candy in the stores, and it gives me a great excuse to post comic book covers instead of writing actual content.













Y’all have a nice Valentine’s Day, a nice Friday, a nice mid-February, and go get me a box full of chocolates.

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Crazy like a Fox


The Fox #4

Paul Patton, Jr. is the Fox, everyman superhero trapped in a bizarre fantasy world. He’s facing off against the Marvel, a gun-wielding Golden Age superhero driven temporarily mad by the sorcery of the villainous Druid. Another Golden Age hero, the Inferno, manages to calm the Marvel down — unfortunately, he only manages to do it by inflicing a fairly serious wound to him. And that leaves the Fox to fight the mad, mind-controlled barbarian king on his own. Can the Fox prevail? Meanwhile, in the backup story, the Shield and his World War II enemies must join forces to battle an alien monster that plans to subjugate the entire earth. Can they stop the otherworldly horror without some unexpected help?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This series has been getting more and more enjoyable all the time, and the amazing double-twist ending at the end of both stories just ends up pushing the entire thing to an even higher level.


Black Widow #3

Natasha Romanov accepts a mission to rescue a wrongfully-convicted prisoner from an Argentinian prison. The jailbreak goes smoothly enough, with the guards and other hazards easily dispatched by the superheroic superspy — but Natasha starts to realize that the prisoner may not be everything he appears.

Verdict: Ehh, man, I dunno. It’s pretty by-the-numbers espionage stuff. The action is pretty good, and the glimpses we get of Natasha’s home life and her neighbors are enjoyable. But I’m just not seeing enough characterization of the Black Widow yet — and it takes more than decent action and by-the-numbers espionage to make a good comic.

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