Archive for March, 2014

Shifting Sands


The Sandman: Overture #2

Morpheus has discovered the strangest thing he’s ever seen in his entire long existence: scores of variant versions of Dream — aliens, robots, cats, superheroes, rock monsters, fish, giants, monoliths, witches, clowns, gasses, crystals, and more — and a vast, cyclopean Elder Dream that pre-dates all of them — all because another aspect of Dream has somehow died. What caused this? The answer: the universe is ending, and it’s Dream’s fault, because he once allowed a Dream Vortex to live, she destroyed a world, and is now in the process of slowly snuffing out all the stars. Can Morpheus face this task alone?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderful storytelling by Neil Gaiman, beautiful art by J.H. Williams III. An entirely weird story, told with great imagination. My primary quibble is that we’re finding out that it’ll be many more months before we see the next issue of this series, and in fact, the rest of it probably won’t be coming out on any sort of a regular schedule. That’ll make it tough for readers of each individual issue to keep track of where the story has been in the past…


Hawkeye #18

We’re back in L.A. with dead-broke socialite-superhero-private eye Kate Bishop. One of Kate’s few Los Angleles friends, a sad-sack writer who she always meets, for some reason, in the cat food aisle at the grocery store, has decided he’s bailing on the city — and then she and her two gay friends find him beat up in his fancy home, declaring morosely that he’ll never get out of L.A. alive. In fact, he ran afoul of Count Nefaria and Madame Masque and discovered some of their awful secrets. Can Kate save her friend? Can she even save herself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Grandly goofball noir wrapped around hilarious superhero action.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Friday Night Fights: Creator Crushing!

Well, lookie here, it’s Friday night, we’re all ready for the weekend, and all we need to get it started off right is a little mindless — or at least mostly mindless — comic book violence. Must be time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from a backup feature in June 1982’s New Teen Titans #20 by Marv Wolfman, George Perez, and Romeo Tanghal. The evil Dr. Igor Igorigorigorivich has decided he wants to learn the secrets of the Teen Titans, so he breaches the dimensions to kidnap Marv Wolfman and George Perez!







I don’t know about you, but I’d really like to learn more about Len Wein and his teddy bears.

Comments off

Surfing with the Alien


Silver Surfer #1

New series starring the Sentinel of the Spaceways seem to come along every few years, and they tend to be hampered by the problem that the Silver Surfer is a little bit dull as a character and tends to over-dramatize everything a bit. So can a couple of creators known for strong skills in humanizing their characters — Dan Slott and Michael Allred — make the Surfer a bit less of a stick in the mud — while still offering the cosmic adventures that his fans expect?

We start out getting introduced to a very normal Earth girl — Dawn Greenwood, a dedicated homebody who never wants to leave her hometown of Anchor Bay, even while her twin sister Eve wants to see the whole world. But Dawn is perfectly content to stay at the little bed-and-breakfast her father runs and help show the tourists around. Meanwhile, the Surfer is doing his usual thing — helping alien worlds and being a bit morose. But he gets an unexpected invitation to become the new champion of the Impericon — a place he’s never actually heard of. He soon discovers an impossible, beautiful, and endlessly bizarre world — and he’s expected to save it from an unknown and terribly powerful threat. Now the question of the hour — what’s the connection between the Silver Surfer and Dawn Greenwood?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Three really great things that this comic does — it gets us a really strong look at a very mundane — but not uninteresting — person’s life on Earth; it gets us a really strong look at the fantastically weird life of the Surfer; and it gives us an opportunity to have a bit of a laugh at how weird the Surfer’s life really is. Allred’s art is, of course, fantastic — a great mixture of his signature style, Kirby’s sci-fi action, and Jim Starlin’s cosmic chaos. And Slott does a great job of both capturing the Surfer’s voice and attitude and tweaking it with a bit of contrast.


The Manhattan Projects #19

It’s the final battle for the mind of Oppenheimer, waged by the all-Oppenheimer armies of eccentric genius Robert Oppenheimer and his disembodied twin brother, psychotic genius Joseph Oppenheimer. The prize — to determine the One True Oppenheimer! The cost — complete annihilation, possibly of both personalities. Which twin will come out on top? Or will a completely different twin get the last word?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Can’t say a whole lot without spoiling everything, but it’s fantastically imaginative, and the ending is a lot like the one in the last issue — a complete game-changer.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Give the Girl a Big Hand


Ms. Marvel #2

Kamala Khan has just gotten a lungful of the Terrigen Mists, and it appears she had a trace of Inhuman ancestry, because she’s ended up with weird shapeshifting powers. In fact, she spends a decent chunk of the story looking a lot like a blonde white girl, because she’s obsessed with Carol Danvers and Captain Marvel. She manages finally figure out how her powers work, and she even saves a classmate when she falls in the river, but she soon finds superheroism is a mixed bag — she doesn’t like all the attention, she’s not a fan of the skimpy costume she manifests, and the whole thing is a bit overwhelming. She makes her way back home — but learns that she wasn’t actually very sneaky, and her parents are not happy with her for sneaking out.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Loved this one so very much. Kamala’s powers are seriously weird — like Plastic Man with a much more solid and less cartoony body. I’ve heard some folks worry that the art style is going to look weird, but it’s working out really well — seems like she spends a quarter of the issue with an absurdly giant hand, and it’s weird and hilarious and kinda awesome. It’s also a lot of fun to be inside Kamala’s head while she tries to figure out her new powers, and the brief visit we get to make with her family shows that they’re even more awesome that we thought they were last issue. You’re reading this, right? Come on, we’re just two issues in — go pick it up!


Daredevil #1

Another unnecessary number-one issue, mostly because Marvel is kinda absurd with this stuff. No one wants this crap, Marvel — stop trying to pretend it’s important.

Obviously, though, the story here isn’t at all bad, because it’s Mark Waid and Chris Samnee working on Daredevil again. Matt Murdock is living in San Francisco now, working closely with the cops as he uses his superhuman senses to track down kidnappers. But his big problem is that San Francisco isn’t New York City — Matt had the Big Apple memorized, but Frisco is mostly new territory for him. He doesn’t know where the best places are for superhero acrobatics, so he has his sorta ex-girlfriend Kirsten McDuffie yelling directions and instructions to him over an earpiece. He’s trying to rescue a kidnapped little girl, while her kidnappers chase him in rocketcars. And then he realizes that the kid is ticking — the kidnappers have implanted a bomb inside her! Why would anyone put a bomb inside a little girl? And can Daredevil save her in time? And where the hell is Foggy Nelson?

Verdict: Thumbs up. If you enjoyed the previous Daredevil series, it’s clear that you’ll enjoy this one, too. It’s weird to see Daredevil outside of New York, but this is obviously going to be a nice new challenge to keep the series fresh. Loved Matt’s sensory investigation, the extended chase sequence, the fantastic suspense when Matt discovers the bomb — and the entirely unexpected cliffhanger, which definitely makes you yearn for the next issue.

Comments off

Rocket Queen


Rocket Girl #4

A couple of Quintum Mechanics enforcers from the future, riding jetcycles, have traveled back to 1986 to kill teen future-cop Dayoung Johansson. This kicks off a desperate chase — Dayoung’s technology isn’t as good as Quintum’s, and in an attempt to take them away from civilians who could be harmed by the battle, she leads them into the subway. Of course, the problem with flying rockets in the subway is that eventually, you’re going to be facing a head-on collision with a train. Can Dayoung survive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s not quite nonstop action, since we make a few side visits to the future and to present-day Quintum Mechanics, and those are a bit more talky — but beyond that, the chase scene is absolutely thrilling and amazing. Spectacular storytelling here from Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder.


Lazarus #7

While Forever continues her investigation into the thefts of her family’s holdings and a possible upcoming terror attack, the Barret family — classified as Waste by the Carlyles — are on their way to Denver for the Lift Selection, hoping they can be picked to work for the Carlyles, giving them a chance to survive into the future. But the way is treacherous, and an encounter with bandits goes disastrously.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A heartbreaking but beautiful story — and not just for what happens to the Barrets, but also the glimpse we get into Forever’s punishing, lonely childhood.


A Voice in the Dark #5

In the aftermath of the disastrous sorority party, two of Zoey’s roommates have suffered some unfortunate consequences. Krista had deeply upsetting contacts with some frat boys, and Ashley has gotten an ethics sanction because sorority queen-bee Mandy told the university that Ash had slept with a professor during her freshman year. And Zoey later overhears Mandy and her boyfriend talking about how their plot to charge her with assault fell through because her uncle was a cop. Speaking of her uncle, Zoey has a talk with him about the current serial killer case in the community — and unbeknownst to her, she also has a brief run-in with the killer herself. And all of this has Zoey’s murderous instincts flaring up more than ever…

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, fantastic artwork and a very brainy story. There’s fantastic character work going on here — and while there’s not a lot that’s really frightening here, it’s all getting things set up for the horror to come — and we’re getting to know these characters very well, so it’s really gonna hurt when they get it in the neck. Y’all need to be picking this comic up.

Comments off

Friday Night Fights: Cop Rock!

Another week ended, another weekend begun, and it’s time for another dose of… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from March 2004’s Gotham Central #15 by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Michael Lark. The Joker got arrested but managed to get his hands on a gun and started shooting up the cops in the precinct. Is Batman gonna show up to stop his rampage? Actually… no.






Ladies and gentlemen — put your hands together for Maggie Sawyer!

Can you believe Gotham Central is over a decade old? Brilliant series — if you haven’t gotten to read it, go find the trade paperbacks.

Comments off

Back for More Blood


American Vampire: Second Cycle #1

American Vampire is back? Yes! American Vampire is back!

We quickly get re-acquainted with our main characters. It’s 1965, and Pearl Jones is running a secret underground railroad in Kansas for refugee children. And Skinner Sweet is hijacking illegal arms shipments on the Mexican border. Of course, they’ve got their own little vampire twists on their new vocations. Skinner uses his ability to survive stuff other people can’t to take out the competition. And Pearl’s refugees are all different species of vampires. But something big and scary is on the horizon — something scary even for vampires — the Gray Trader is coming.

Verdict: Thumbs up. So glad to see American Vampire back on the stands — and especially glad to see that it’s still absolutely glorious, non-glittery horror. If you ain’t been reading this title before, I gotta assume you just don’t enjoy horror. For the rest of you, time to get back aboard the train.


The Witcher #1

If any of y’all have played the “Witcher” computer game, you’re probably pretty familiar with our setting and main character. We’re in a generic European medieval fantasy setting, and our hero is Geralt, a witcher, or supernaturally-powered monster hunter. He encounters a lonely hunter named Jakob, who reveals that his wife is dead — but she watches him from a nearby hilltop. She’d been turned into a vampire, but had thus far been unwilling to attack her husband. Jakob is hoping to leave his old life — and his monstrous wife — behind, and Geralt agrees to help guide him through the Black Forest. But there are things much worse than vampires in the forest.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not expecting much from a video game adaptation? Hah! It’s written by the always awesome Paul Tobin, fools! Of course it’s wonderful! Seriously, the mood is wonderfully grim and claustrophobic. Not a lot of outright scares yet, but the mood promises some really wonderful stuff ahead.


Ghosted #8

Jackson Winters has been captured by the Brotherhood of the Closed Book, but they realize he’s haunted by literal ghosts, which gets him special treatment beyond just torturing him or throwing him to monsters in the dark. Their leader shows him their operation — they bring in girls who’ve been possessed by ghosts and set them to work transcribing the spellbooks imprinted on their souls. Is there a way for Jackson to escape the Brotherhood’s clutches and liberate the girl he’s been sent to steal? And just how many ghosts is he going to have to fight his way through?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So wonderfully weird. The Brotherhood is amazingly creepy, from their eyeless priests, drooling ghost secretaries, and bird-headed demons. And as always, Jackson keeps finding himself in deeper and deeper trouble.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

It’s a Clint Barton Christmas!


Hawkeye #17

In a flashback to a previous issue, Clint falls asleep while watching a cheesy Christmas cartoon and dreams that he’s a cartoon dog who has to rescue the superheroic and holiday-themed Winter Friends — even though he has no superpowers. He’s assisted and hampered by a bunch of other cartoon dogs with suspicious similarities to his friends and teammates. Can he save Christmas?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Glorious cartooning by Chris Eliopoulos. Really, I don’t know what else I can say — just plain glorious cartooning by Chris Eliopoulos.


The Fox #5

Paul Patton finds himself trapped in the past — stuck in a battle between the Druid and a trio of WWII supersoldiers — the Shield from America, Master Race from Germany, and Hachiman from Japan. The Druid plans to use his magical powers to destroy the world, and the humans can’t stop fighting each other instead of the true menace. The Fox has to convince them to join forces — not just as superheroes, not just as fellow humans, but as kindred spirits.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice story, and a nice wrap-up to the series. Nice to see the rare example of the Axis supervillains given a chance at redemption, too.


Black Widow #4

Natasha gets a very routine assignment that gets very complicated when someone blows up an embassy right out from under her. The villain is some sort of deluded powerhouse monk, and he’s more than a match for the unpowered superspy.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Much more enjoyable story this time — it makes it much more bearable for this character when she’s taking on people who are tougher than she is, instead of a bunch of normal schmucks.

Comments off

Captain Marvel is Back


Captain Marvel #1

The good news is we got new Captain Marvel comics! The bad news is it’s a pointless new #1 issue when we could’ve been enjoying a few months of comics about Carol Danvers between the end of the previous series and the beginning of this one.

Anyway, we start out with Carol on a distant alien world, hanging out with a bunch of aliens, all on a secret mission to find some trinket. Then we flash back to a mere six weeks ago, when Carol was still on Earth. She and Iron Patriot (better known as James “War Machine” Rhodes) intercept an apparent missile that actually contains an unconscious alien life form. Later, Carol visits with her young friend Kit — who is living, with her mother, inside Carol’s apartment inside the Statue of Liberty — which has really gotta be a nice crash pad. She and Tony Stark bust some muggers while discussing assigning her or Rhodey as temporary Avengers reps with the Guardians of the Galaxy. We learn that Carol and Rhodey have actually been an item for a while before Carol finally decides to take her trip into outer space.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s great to see a new series starring this character — even though the original series never should’ve been cancelled in the first place. It’s also fantastic to see that Marvel has finally put a competent artist on the book — the previous series had gorgeous covers and inept interior artwork, and I hope they keep more A-list artistic talent on the book. The writing, dialogue, and plotting are all outstanding. My only real quibble is that we completely missed out on the Carol-Rhodey romance — but I also always think Earth-based stories are more interesting than stories set in space.


Astro City #10

Winged Victory, Samaritan, and the Confessor are working to track Karnazon and the missing women from Winged Victory’s shelters. She returns to be judged by the Council of Nike, which is debating whether to remove her powers for good. But in the midst of their interrogation, one of her signal devices activates — a teenager who’d sneaked into Karnazon’s hideout triggers it when the villain’s troops attack him. The heroes rout the bad guys, and W.V. returns to the Council, which is unhappy that she associates with male superheroes instead of serving as a symbol of female empowerment. She rejects their judgement, saying it’s wrong to insist that women can only be strong by standing alone, and that there are times to stand alone and times to join with like-minded allies. Will it be enough for the Council?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Though it’s probably not the strongest ending possible, but the entire storyarc was making it clear that this wasn’t going to be something that ended with a perfect moment of awesomeness and triumph. It’s more of a mixed victory, ’cause that’s more how the world works. Still, great art, dialogue, and everything else we’ve come to expect from Astro City.


Mighty Avengers #8

The Blue Marvel, Spectrum, and She-Hulk head out after they receive an alert about someone in the Pacific Ocean trying to open up a portal to somewhere called the Neutral Zone, an interdimensional plane where positive and negative matter coexists. Meanwhile, the White Tiger makes peace with the tiger god that gives her superpowers — and by “make peace,” I mean “taunts it into giving up and giving her all of its powers.” And back in the Pacific, our heroes run up against a supervillain calling himself Dr. Positron — and he has a serious surprise in store for the Blue Marvel.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of nice action and surprises. Excellent dialogue. Great art. Just an all-around fun issue.

Comments off

Friday Night Fights: Love Struck!

Thanks to everyone who voted for me last week — the great news is that I won! Yay! And the great news after that is that it’s time for even more… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes from June 2009’s Green Arrow/Black Canary #19 by Andrew Kreisberg, Mike Norton, and Joe Rubinstein. Green Arrow has been captured by some nutbag called Cupid and shackled to a subway track. I must assume that Ollie got captured because he was distracted by Cupid’s costume, which is dumber’n snot, but does show off her cleavage — and that’s the best way to distract Ollie. Anyway, after that, Cupid just adds injury to insult.



I think what bugs me the most about this is that Cupid was a male god. Giving that name to a female character is a little silly, isn’t it?

Comments (2)