Archive for April, 2014

Friday Night Fights: Vamp Violence!

We’ll keep it short and simple tonight, not ’cause we’re short of time, but just because I need the weekend too badly to bother coming up with anything clever for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from October 2010’s Spitfire #1 by Paul Cornell and Elena Casagrande. The British aristocratic vampiresque speedster has been sent to eliminate a vampire who aided the Nazis during World War II. Things definitely don’t end well for the rival vampire.



We’ll see you guys back here on Monday — ’til then, have a great weekend!

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Shutter Island


Shutter #1

Kate Kristopher is the daughter of one of the most famous explorers in the world. Her father discovered wild and bizarre miracles across the planet and worked hard to instill his own sense of enthusiastic curiosity into her. But at the age of 27, Kate is a professional photographer — she gave up the exploration biz years ago, despite her own colossal fame. She really seems to crave normalcy, despite living in a world of almost endless wonders. But when Kate is unexpectedly attacked by ninjas and defended by electro-telekinetic steampunk robots, it seems her life will never be boring.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very fun storytelling and art by Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca. Kate and her father are excellent characters, but the best thing about this comic is just plain checking out all the absolute weirdness going on in the background, whether on the monster-filled streets of New York City or in the framed photos on her father’s wall. I’m hoping this comic is going to be a lot of fun.


Daredevil #1.50

Number 1.50? Marvel, you’ve really got to quit the stupid numbering stunts.

What we’ve got here is a trio of odd little stories, two set in the future, one in the past. In the first, Matt Murdock has just had his 50th birthday, his son is sighted but has his sensory powers and a bad case of permanent jumpiness, and Foggy Nelson is alive, healthy, and skinny. And then almost everyone in San Francisco suddenly goes blind. Who’s behind it? The daughter of the Owl, who apparently has a weird case of the hots for Matt. Can Matt save San Francisco? Not without a serious sacrifice.

The second story is a text story about Matt’s future wife, and the third comes in the form of a video recorded by Mike Murdock, who was apparently a stunt pulled by Matt years ago in which he pretended to be his own twin brother to keep people from believing he was Daredevil. That’s just weirder’n spit, man.

Verdict: Man, I don’t know. I wasn’t a big fan of the Mike Murdock story or of the text story. The first story was pretty good, but I’m not a big fan of these “Here’s how we’re going to screw with the hero’s life in the coming years” stories. Just surprise us — don’t try to make predictions that we know will eventually be tossed down the memory hole.


Manifest Destiny #6

The Lewis and Clark expedition is besieged by plant-zombies from all possible species. They’re able to use Greek fire to stop some of the monsters, but the zombies take their own toll on the group. And even worse is what Lewis and Clark themselves encounter — a giant, hyper-intelligent alien flower that wants to digest the explorers alive. Can anyone save them from destruction?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of zombie killin’ and an unexpectedly Lovecraftian end to the first storyarc. The series will continue in a month or two — hope it stays fun, creepy, and faux-historical.

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Green Doom


She-Hulk #3

Jennifer Walters has her first client — Kristoff Vernard, the son of Victor von Doom. And he wants to defect to the United States. The problem is that he doesn’t want to be Doom’s puppet, either now or someday when he inherits his father’s throne, and he’d rather be his own person in America. And the problem for She-Hulk is that he’s been in the U.S. exactly a year — and that’s the cut-off point for filing a legal claim for asylum. And the other problem is that there are a heck of a lot of Doombots between them and the courthouse. And even if they can get hold of a judge, there’s one more problem — where Kristoff goes, Dr. Doom is probably close behind.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Grand art, fun storytelling and dialogue, and wonderful action, both on the physical and legal levels. It’s a fantastically fun comic, and one more example of how Marvel is doing almost everything right. I mean, can you imagine DC making a comic like this?


Veil #2

Veil somehow made a bunch of thugs kill themselves — but she did it at Dante’s apartment, so they’re both on the run from the cops. But the problem with running from the cops is that they catch up with you eventually. Meanwhile, there’s something unpleasantly supernatural going on — a ritual spellcaster called Cormac performing sacrifices on behalf of a crooked politician. He has some sort of connection to Veil, but what is it? And what is Veil anyway?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s not as good as the first issue, to be honest — Veil suddenly stops talking in her weird sing-song rhyme and starts speaking perfectly normally, which takes half the fun out of the whole thing. But it’s still a good story, with cool, stylized art and lots and lots of mystery. I ain’t giving up on it yet.

Today’s Cool Links:

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The Red-Headed League

Y’all up for a bunch of comics about redheads?


Red Sonja #8

Sonja has successfully corralled Gribaldi, the world’s greatest chef, on the orders of a corrupt emperor, who wants to experience the talents of the greatest artisans in the world before he dies. Gribaldi is obsessed with cuisine, which doesn’t endear him to Sonja, who sees food only as sustenance — and she’s also frustrated because she can’t convince Gribaldi to help her satisfy her more carnal hungers.

Anyway, Sonja and Gribaldi are now off on their second quest — to obtain the services of Kalayah, the world’s greatest animal trainer. Unfortunately, Sonja would really rather see him dead, messily, because of his sadism and cruelty to the animals in his shows. But when attends a show in which a trained bear is savaged by starved dogs, Sonja mercy-kills the bear, and she and Gribaldi are thrown into the dungeon. Even if Sonja can escape execution, how will she obtain the Beast Lord’s services?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art and story, wonderful characterization, and an outstanding villain given an appropriate comeuppance. I hope you’re enjoying this comic, people.


Black Widow #5

Natasha is on the trail of a terrorist killing machine called the Hammer of God, a former Russian Orthodox monk. She tries to stop him from blowing an airplane out of the sky, but he still manages to get it on the ground. He’s killed when he’s sucked into the airplane engine, and Natasha learns that the airplane had only a single passenger. Who is he? Who paid for a whole flight just for him? What does he know, and who wants him dead?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice mix of action and intrigue, though it’s frustrating how the Black Widow’s leads keep getting killed off so quickly. But this is finally feeling like an exciting comic, and that’s definitely a good thing.


Hellboy: 20th Anniversary Sampler

Yes, Hellboy is obvously a redhead. And definitely as dead sexy as the other two.

We get an excellent collection of short stories here. First, Mike Mignola and Fabio Moon tell a tale of Hellboy’s fight against the Coffin Man, a demon who raises and steals the dead, and his shapeshifting demon donkey. And yes, this is entirely as funny and awesome as you’d expect it to be. Next, there’s a tale written and illustrated by Mignola about Hellboy going up against a poetry-quoting ghoul who has previously masqueraded as a normal family man to hide his hunger for dead bodies. We also follow Abe Sapien and Johann Strauss as they face a zombie plague with an unusual genesis. All that, plus a bunch of wonderful cartoons about Hellboy by R. Sikoryak — in the form of Peanuts, Popeye, Garfield, Dilbert, Ziggy, and more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s grand, glorious fun, with all the strongest, most enjoyable aspects of Mignola’s Hellboy storytelling on display. And that definitely includes the humor — aside from Sikoryak’s wonderful cartoons, I haven’t enjoyed a line in a comic in months the way I did Hellboy yelling “SIT DOWN, DONKEY!” at a shapeshifting monster mule.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Friday Night Fights: Mad Hat Trick!

The workweek is always too long, and the weekends are always too short. It’ll always be that way, no way around it. But it helps if you start your weekend off the right way — with comic books and violence! It’s time again for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Not all battles are physical — sometimes the whupass is all about breaking the brain and not the body. So tonight’s battles comes to us from October 2006’s Secret Six #4 by Gail Simone, Brad Walker, and Jimmy Palmiotti. The Doom Patrol is mopping up on our favorite criminal rebels — until they bring out their secret weapon — Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter?!


(Click to embiggen)

One page, three words, and he completely turns the battle around. “Secret Six” was a seriously grand series, and it was great to see the Mad Hatter depicted as both a complete nutbag and a serious threat.

And somewhat off-topic, but congratulations going out to our handsome host SpaceBooger, who’s just welcomed a new kid into the world.

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Shoot the Moon


Moon Knight #2

A sniper is killing a bunch of people in a skyscraper, and Moon Knight moves in to take him down. It’s a tremendous knock-down, drag-out battle over the skies and inside the offices of New York. Can Marc Spector stop the assassin? Will he ever find out what triggered his murderous rampage?

Verdict: Thumbs up. You need to go get this comic. I ain’t even joking. The first eight pages are some of the most perfectly created graphic storytelling I’ve seen in months. It’s stunning, shocking, brilliant work, and you need to go get this now, ’cause it’s gonna win awards later this year.


Pretty Deadly #5

Basically, it’s a big ol’ gunfight and sword battle and a trip to the underworld — just in time for a truly epic gunfight with Death himself. And who ever wins a gunfight with Death? Can even Deathface Ginny pull that off?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An appropriately epic ending for this deeply surreal Western.

Today’s Cool Links:

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You Were Made to Be Ruled


Loki: Agent of Asgard #3

Teen Loki doesn’t really appear in this issue — what we’re treated to is a tale of the ancient past of Old Supervillain Loki. After Old Supervillain Loki walks out of his secret Asgardian prison, he travels in time to meet a young Odin. After befriending him, Loki kills a giant otter — and Odin only learns later that the otter was actually an innkeeper’s son who was able to change his shape. Loki agrees to get the innkeeper and his other sons a vast amount of gold to pay them back — and he gets that by finding a giant gar guarding a hoard of gold and blowing it up with a bazooka. But one of the innkeeper’s sons steals the gold and becomes Fafnir the dragon — and then is slain by Sigurd. What does this all have to do with Loki’s byzantine plans?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a fun story of Loki’s treachery — and it’s got the mad, anarchic, drawn-out lunacy you expect to see in old Norse legends. Nevertheless, I do wish we could focus on Teen Loki, instead of taking a detour to a villain spotlight only three issues in…


The Premature Burial

Oh, hey, you got a new comic by horror illustrator genius Richard Corben? Working on more Edgar Allan Poe adaptations? Well, do we know anyone around here who’d be interested in that?

What’ve we got here? Basically adaptations of Poe’s “The Premature Burial” and “A Cask of Amontillado.” Fairly straightforward, I think.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m a sucker for Corben — I love almost everything he does. I did have a bit of a stutter at “Amontillado,” which is, far and away, my favorite of Poe’s stories — and therefore, it didn’t quite live up to my mental image of EAP’s tale of cruel, cold-blooded revenge. Still, it’s hard to hold that against Corben — both stories are very, very good, and I reckon I shouldn’t blame him for not being able to read my mind.


Revival #19

Lots of little things going on — Lester Majak’s beloved dog has died and been possessed by a ghost, which then tries to possess Lester. The local rotten wingnut terrorist wannabe is antagonizing the sheriff while his minions get up to something shady undercover. Officer Dana Cypress tries to convince Ibrahaim to help her investigate Em’s murder. The mayor is up to something — he’s got his wife tied up in the bathtub, and he’s hiding something more serious from the Cypresses. And Em meets up with Skateboarding Jesus and the Easter Bunny — and at least one of them is a Reviver.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some really weird stuff going on, some really ominous stuff, and some really creepy stuff, too — probably ain’t nothin’ creepier than Lester’s dog and his glowing eyes.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Here’s a really interesting long read about how one arrogant media schmuck single-handedly wrecked what was going to be a big-name independent video game jam.
  • None of the big movie critics understood the Black Widow in Marvel’s movies — in fact, they never even tried to understand her.
  • Marine Todd is really lame when the wingnuts do it, but really awesome when everyone else does it.

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Once Upon a Time…


Tales of Zo, edited by Andrew Byers and Chad Underkoffler

So there’s this cool roleplaying game that came out a few years ago. It basically lets you roleplay in a world that’s a cross between your generic fairy-tale setting and L. Frank Baum’s various “Wizard of Oz” books. It’s called “The Zantabulous Zorcerer of Zo” — which is an entirely awesome name — and it was written by Chad Underkoffler on his Atomic Sock Monkey Press. It’s a fun game — pretty rules light, with more emphasis on characters and setting, which is how it should be.

Anyway, a little earlier this year, Underkoffler put together this book of short stories set in the Land of Zo. The authors include Andrew Byers, Michaelbrent Collings, Michael Hill, Scott Kane, Jon F. Zeigler, and Underkoffler himself, who contributes the most stories to the collection. They lead us through the adventures of characters like the Blue Tailor, the greatest tailor in the world, the Gingerbread Knight, the Horse Prince, the Bespectacled Boy, the Wooden Pirate, and many more.

And facing almost all of them: Shaykosch, the Deathless Wolf, the Gray Wind, Death-on-Four-Legs, a hellish fusion of the Big Bad Wolf, Koschei the Deathless, and Darkseid. Endlessly hungry and a diabolical shapeshifter, he rises to threaten the Land of Zo every few years, only for brave heroes to foil his plots. But he always comes back…

Verdict: Thumbs up. There are no bad stories in this book, and several that are really pretty world-class awesome. My personal favorites include Underkoffler’s “The Wooden Pirate” (simultaneously tragic and fairy-tale awesome) and “The Horse Prince” (for the very unconventional fantasy hero), Zeigler’s “Galen and the Golden-Coat Hare” (an outstandingly clever story with one great reveal after another), and Kane’s “The Wolf Trap Picnic,” which is anarchic and hilarious.

The characterization is strong in almost every story, but the settings are particularly wonderful. The Land of Zo wears its Oz inspirations proudly, and every country within is quite clearly visualized — while also leaving some up to the imagination of the reader. These settings started out, after all, in a roleplaying game, where it always pays to leave something up to the players’ and the readers’ imaginations.

Definitely the strongest character is the Adversary himself, Shaykosch, who seems to be the rare fairy tale foe who gets charisma, overpowering intelligence, and an aura of real menace all at once. When he appears, you always know the heroes will win out over him — but you also worry that maybe this will be the one time he wins out. And even if he doesn’t win, he might kill or maim several innocent people. He’s a rotten, nasty customer, and you really end up looking forward to seeing him in as many stories as possible, because he’s so much fun to hate.

If I’ve got a quibble with this collection, it would be with the fairly small number of female heroines. I counted only three major heroines, and two of them had to share their stories with male heroes. Considering the large number of female protagonists in fairy tales in general and in fairy tale-inspired stories like Oz, Wonderland, Narnia, etc., there should’ve been more girls in this book vanquishing evil.

Still, only a minor quibble for a collection as stuffed full of fun as this one is. If you enjoy fairy tales, and if you enjoyed the Zorcerer of Zo game, this is definitely something you’ll want to check out.

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