Archive for July, 2014

The Good, the Bad, and the Atomic


Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle #2

Robo is stranded in the Wild West — and his nuclear batteries are starting to run dry. Everyone thinks he’s some guy called Ironhide, and they expect him to be able to keep a bunch of townspeople safe — along with the notorious Doc Holliday. When the bandits torch the town, Robo, the marshal, and Holliday go to track them down, little suspecting that an unexpected enemy is waiting for them at the end of the trail.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really loving Robo in the West, and the last panel reveal of the Big Bad is excellently satisfying.


Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #2

The Titans are trudging through the Arctic trying to find the Fortress of Solitude. They get to hang out briefly with Superman before he has to fly off to save Jimmy Olsen. They also call the various Brainiacs trying to get their shrunken treehouse back, but no luck. They also meet up with Bizarro, Match, and Bizarro-Girl — and a Bizarro Duck called DUckzarro. Man, I don’t know. Will even Superman be able to save the Titans’ treehouse?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wow, Duckzarro — I had no idea how something that crazy actually happened. I’m glad it did, though.


Daredevil: Road Warrior

If you ever wanted to find out what happened while Matt Murdock was moving from New York City to San Francisco — and if you wanted it as its own separate one-shot comic instead of part of the regular series — well, I guess this one is for you. Matt and Kirsten McDuffie take a long train trip cross-country, and Daredevil tangles with the Man-Bull and a mysterious amnesiac shapeshifter — and with the Mad Thinker.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s especially nice to see the Mad Thinker treated as a genuine threat as well as a certified super-genius. But a big chunk of me suspects there was never any real good reason for this comic to exist. This could’ve been shoehorned into the current series without any difficulty — no reason for a special issue for it.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • We may yet get Guillermo Del Toro’s film adaptation of Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness.”
  • The always-crass DC Entertainment will put Superman’s “S” shield on everything from toys to sub sandwiches. But statues commemorating children? That doesn’t promote the brand or bring in any money.
  • Wanna get the Basic Rules for the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons — completely free? Go download the PDF right now.

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The Art of the Beat-Down


Moon Knight #5

A girl has been kidnapped and is being held on the fifth floor of a six-floor building. Moon Knight, dressed in his incredibly-spiffy white suit, walks up six flights of stairs beating the crap out of every crook he meets. That’s it. That’s the entire plot.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s all the plot you need. I hate to say it’s a ballet of violence, but screw it, it’s a ballet of violence. It’s a really, really good ballet of violence. This is the next-to-the-last issue of Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire’s run on this series, and I absolutely pity whoever has to follow them up. They’ve rocked on mysteries, on head-trippy stuff, on superhero stuff, and they’ve turned a straightforward fight comic into the best darn comic of the whole month. I swear, Marvel should just cancel the series and not force the followup team to suffer through the coming reviews.


Southern Bastards #3

Earl Tubb has embraced his daddy’s legacy. He’s got himself a great big ass-whupping plank of wood and a desire to visit vengeance on Craw County’s scumbags. But beating down on a few rednecks won’t solve the bone-deep problems with baked-in Alabama corruption. Earl Tubb is just one man, and if the bad guys can’t find him, they’ll hurt anyone who has a connection to him…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I don’t know where y’all live, but here, it’s a roasting hot Texas summer. It gets hot in the morning, gets hotter as the day goes on, and doesn’t start to cool down ’til well after sundown. It’s a weird feeling — it’s nighttime, it’s still uncomfortably hot and humid, and as a result, everyone is sweaty and miserable and pissed-off. This comic book feels that way, too. And in this case, that’s actually a good thing.


Lazarus #9

It’s time for the Lift Selection — the Waste of the world, poverty-stricken, jobless, and mostly unwanted, have a chance to get hired as part of the staff of the Family Carlyle. The Barrets have traveled all the way to Denver and lost a daughter, all in the hope that their remaining child and a family friend can be designated Serfs and save the family from utter destitution. But at the same time, a terrorist is stalking the hordes of people in Denver, hoping to get close enough to the Carlyle patriarch to blow him up with a bomb. Can the Barrets make it through the punishing selection process? And can Forever Carlyle manage to find the terrorist before he massacres hundreds?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a tense, well-told, compassionate three-pronged story. The art is gorgeous, the writing is pretty darn grand, and the reader is stuck with conflicting emotions — the Carlyles are representations of a horrible corporate tyranny, but they’re also the only hope the Barrets have of escaping grinding poverty — whose side do you choose?


Black Widow #8

While running an op, Natasha runs into the Winter Soldier, and they both get attacked by a horde of mercenaries. While they try to survive the paramilitary assault, Natasha’s lawyer is forced to take less-than-legal methods to recover money they haven’t been paid and must also deal with the repercussions of being the Black Widow’s public lawyer and business agent.

Verdict: As with so many issues of this series, there’s nothing particularly wrong with this issue, but it just bored me so much. Fantastic art, though — many kudos to Phil Noto.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Friday Night Fights: American Glory! And Batroc!

We’re still celebrating the Fourth of July, and we’ve gotten to point of the evening where we can start blowing stuff up. While we’re remembering not to blow our fingers off with fireworks — and also not to set off fireworks late at night outside my window while I’m trying to sleep — let’s enjoy some Friday Night Fights featuring our favorite patriotic hero and the most glorious French supervillain stereotype!

From December 1980’s Captain America #252 by John Byrne, Roger L. Stern, Joe Rubinstein, and Bob Sharen, the diabolical Mr. Hyde has a twisted plan to destroy New York City, just to avenge himself on one fellow supervillain. But he didn’t count on the always fantastic… Batroc! Ze Leapair!






Soon enough, Captain America has joined the fight, leaving the two Revolutionary War allies fighting against the villain inspired by a British novel. So it’s historical and educational!




Everyone have a wonderful Independence Day — and again, stop setting off those firecrackers outside my window! DON’T MAKE ME COME OUT THERE WITH THE HOSE, YOU PUNKS!

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The Patriotic Three-Day Weekend!

Huzzah, it’s the Fourth of July! Let’s celebrate our nation’s independence with a bunch of patriotic comic book covers!











America’s a pretty keen place! Now if only we could convince our legislators, Supreme Court justices, preachers, and national pundits that it’s true.

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India Inked


Turbulence by Samit Basu

If there’s one thing we’re accustomed to in American comics, it’s that most superheroes are Americans. Sure, you get the occasional nod to superheroes from Canada, the UK, Russia, Japan, or China. But we always focus on American superheroes. And we always consider it a triumph for diversity when a team of heroes has more than one person of color. But if we went by total population, who’d have the largest populations of super-powered people? China first, obviously, but after that would be India — and that’s the setting for this book.

Our setup for the novel comes when everyone aboard a plane traveling from London to Delhi ends up getting powers, some grand and earth-shattering, some modest and barely noticible, but all exactly the powers that suited each person’s personality and greatest desires.

So we meet Aman, who gets vast powers over telecommunications and decides he wants to save the world from itself. Vir, a pilot in the Indian Air Force, gets flight, superspeed, and super-durability. Aspiring actress Uzma becomes superhumanly likeable. Harried housewife Tia can clone herself as many times as she wants. Sher is a tiger-headed super-warrior. Princess Anima is a schoolgirl with massively powerful anime-inspired combat abilities. And Jai is entirely indestructible — and he wants to conquer the entire world.

And they’re not all heroes. Jai is certainly the most powerful being on the planet, and he gathers most of the other really powerful people to his side really quickly. He kills the people who aren’t useful to him. The pitifully few heroes don’t tend to have the most combat-worthy abilities, and they’re generally outgunned and seemingly doomed. What chance do they have to save India, much less the rest of the world?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a novel with a setting that’s surprisingly refreshing — it’s fun to get better acquainted with India and its gigantically diverse population through this book. But it’s not just a geographical lesson plan — because that would be no fun at all. This is a superhero story, and it really excels.

The characters are amazingly fun — I really couldn’t pick out a favorite. Aman and his pigheaded naivete, Uzma and the way she slowly grows out of her shallow egotism, Tia’s maternal kickassery, Vir’s stubborn and frequently stupid heroism. Sher and Princess Anima are both terrifying in different ways and also hugely charismatic in equally different ways. And Jai is so despicably dislikeable — but you really wouldn’t hate him so much if her weren’t such a gloriously created villain. And there are plenty of minor characters who you wish had larger roles in the story just so you could get to know them better.

The action and fight scenes are fantastic, harrowing, horrifying, and everything you’d want from a bunch of super-battles. And the story continually grows more and more exciting, with the stakes being continually raised higher and higher. The further along you go in the story, the less likely you are to want to put it down for very long.

Is it a good superhero story? Heck, yes. It may be one of the best I’ve ever read. Should you go pick it up. Yes, seriously, go pick it up. You’ll love this.

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