Archive for August, 2014

Magic Words and Tiny Science


Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #3

The Tiny Titans enlist the help of Billy Batson, Mary Marvel, and the wizard Shazam as they try to locate a new treehouse. After enjoying some magic snowcones, Billy demonstrates how he can use his magic word to turn into Captain Marvel, and Robin tries to see if he can pull the same trick. Of course he can’t, which frustrates him even more when he learns that the wizard gave the awesome powers to Hoppy the Marvel Bunny. Later, Hoppy pays a visit to the League of Just Us Cows, and Robin gets his revenge on Freddie when he decides to gloat about his powers.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, a cute, funny story with keen art and tons of cleverness. Kids’ll love it, grownups’ll love it. Everyone should go read it.


She-Hulk #7

Jennifer Walters and Patsy Walker meet up with some inventors who’ve invented a way to shrink objects and people without using Pym particles. Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems. First, one of the inventors has shrunk himself and gotten lost in his backyard. Second, their shrinking process is unstable when used on living creatures — he could explode with enough force to level several blocks of the city if he’s not found and returned to his normal size. Hank Pym shrinks She-Hulk and Hellcat to help find the scientist, but he’s unexpectedly stolen away by a sparrow, forcing the two heroines to try to locate the lost man alone. Can Patsy master Hank’s ant-controlling helmet? Can She-Hulk survive a battle against feral cats? Can anyone keep the scientist from exploding?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a deeply goofy story about shrinking, and if we’ve learned anything from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” it’s that deeply goofy stories about shrinking are often lots and lots of fun. On top of that, we’ve got the return of Javier Pulido on art. And the front and back pages of this issue make an enjoyable contrast. The whole thing is just a nice, fun comic.

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Friday Night Fights: Lazarus Punted!

Busy days ’round here, not much time for rigmarole, so let’s just jump right into it. It’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from March 2006’s Plastic Man #20 by Kyle Baker. Plas and company are way in the background, ’cause all the action in this one is between Wonder Woman and Ra’s al-Ghul.






Busy weeks and months ahead — anyone willing to sell me a refrigerator, washer, and drier for cheap? How am I ever gonna get moved into that dang house?

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The Knight Triumphant


Moon Knight #6

I’m basically counting this as the last issue of this series. Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey were only on board for these six issues, and there ain’t no way I’m going to read anything by Brian Wood. So this is it, as far as I’m concerned.

We start out with a short flashback to the very first issue. The NYPD is letting “Mister Knight” take care of a serial killer for them, and after Moon Knight leaves the scene, one of the cops complains about him getting special favors. One of the detectives on the scene tells the street cop to shaddap because he’s a nonentity who’ll never amount to anything. And it turns out this cop, Ryan Trent, has heard this same thing his entire life — and this time, he reacts by getting obsessed with Moon Knight and deciding he’ll become the new Black Spectre, one of Marc Spector’s old villains, so he can kill Moon Knight and take his place. He impersonates a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, practices his dart-throwing skills, kills his girlfriend, and starts rigging up IEDs so he can lure Moon Knight to his death. Can he succeed where everyone else has failed?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This has been such a great series. It’s weird to have so much emphasis on the wannabe supervillain in the final issue, but most of it is designed to emphasize Marc Spector’s strengths by playing them against Ryan Trent’s mental and emotional weaknesses. And whenever Moon Knight finally makes it to the scene, he’s dominant, both physically and graphically. What starts out as a study of Ryan Trent’s darkness ends up playing up the Moon Knight’s strengths through fire and blaringly white cloth. It’s beautiful, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the series as much as I have.


Lazarus #10

Jonah Carlyle thought he could betray his family and win, and when it turned out he couldn’t win, he decided he’d be able to defect to one of the Carlyle’s enemies and win anyway. So he heads for the territory of Jakob Hock, east of the Mississippi into New York City. He expects to be greeted as aristocracy. But Hock territory makes the Carlyle family holdings look like a utopia. In Manhattan, everyone is dirt-poor, propaganda, lies, and drugs are fed to the populace to keep them docile, the police are brutal and murderous, and Jonah Carlyle’s only purpose is to be tortured to harm the rest of his family.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Jonah Carlyle has been a completely unsympathetic douche, and the Carlyle family in general are autocrats. But Hock is running a North Korea-style dictatorship, and what he does to Jonah will make you feel sorry for him, even as you think that the spoiled brat is getting just what he deserves.


Black Widow #9

Natasha invades a ship which she suspects contains information she needs, but she gets on the bad side of Crossbones — at least until the Punisher shows up to save her. He’s planted bombs all over the ship to sink it, so she has only three minutes to search it, avoid hit squads, and find some sort of information she can use.

Verdict: Thumbs down. It just wasn’t particularly interesting, sorry. Great artwork, but an almost entirely forgettable story.

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Hard Traveling


Well, I should start out saying I’ve got a nice chunk of wonderful news — it’s looking quite likely that I’ll soon be able to buy a house and move out of my apartment. It’s been almost a year of looking at houses and getting the best ones sniped out from under me by investors, but, cross your fingers, knock on wood, I think I’m close to being able to close the deal on a nice place here in Denton.

It comes with a bit of bad news — namely, I’m going to be too busy some evenings to get any blogging done. I’ve got documents to peruse, emails to send, old bills to shred, books to pack, and many, many other chores to attend to before I can get moved. And stuff like that is going to have to hold precedence over the blog from time to time.

And I think today is going to be the first time I’ll have to skip a post so I can focus on other chores around the apartment. I’ll try to limit them as much as I can, but sorry to say, blogging will sometimes have to lose out to real life concerns.

For the sake of including some actual content in here, let me toss out the following observations:

  • I finally got to watch HBO’s “True Detective” series over the weekend, and thought it was just dang great. Part of it was the fantastic acting and mystery, part of it was the cool hints of cosmic horror, part of it was the rural Lousiana scenery, which I got to see for the first time last Christmas and which I’ve been wishing I could see more of in recent months.
  • This roundtable discussion of the Wonder Woman costume from the upcoming Superman/Batman movie is pretty good for the discussion of what works and what doesn’t in the uniform, but it’s also lots and lots of fun for all the tangents about the coolest WW costumes and interpretations.
  • The bright side of this is that there’s no way that wastes-of-protoplasm Opie and Anthony will ever make it back on mainstream radio again.

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She-Devil with a Sword


Red Sonja #0

Red Sonja is dead! And left behind is her beloved… husband? Red Malak is a tubby loser who insists Sonja was a delicate princess who loved pretty dresses and flowers. Of course, Sonja soon turns up, very much alive, very much not a delicate princess, and has to deal with the lovesick conman who’s slandered her — and the townspeople who think she’ll pay for his debts.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely light-hearted story that still has all the action, mayhem, and general crudity you love in Gail Simone’s Red Sonja stories.


Clive Barker’s Nightbreed #3

In this latest issue of the anthology series, the seemingly demonic Chocolat must protect her hatchlings in 15th century Italy, while during the Summer of Love in San Francisco, a very young Rev. Ashberry learns of the dangers of temptation.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Pretty well-done storytelling — and nicely themed, too, as we get twin studies on the natures of good hiding within apparent evil, and evil hiding out within the appearance of good.

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Friday Night Fights: Plant Punishment!

It’s Friday night at last, time for an all-too-brief break from work drudgery, so let’s get the party started with some… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from August 1999’s Detective Comics #735 by Greg Rucka, Dan Jurgens, and Bill Sienkiewicz. One of Clayface’s plots involved manipulating Poison Ivy, and she’s not happy about that.



There we go, kids! Now go enjoy your weekend!

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Give Me a Sign


Hawkeye #19

After the Bros made another attempt to take over the apartment building in a recent issue, Clint Barton ended up getting temporarily deafened while his brother Barney got a little bit shot. Luckily, Barney isn’t too terribly injured — other than being in a wheelchair, he’s getting released by the hospital. He’s definitely better off emotionally than Clint is — even though he was deafened as a kid and has struggled with occasional hearing problems in the past, Clint just can’t get a handle on anything. Barney tries to talk to him in sign language, but Clint won’t respond. Can Barney get Clint back in the game in time to help himself and everyone in the apartment building?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice storytelling gimmick, with much of the dialogue being communicated through sign language. I do wish they’d given us a translation in the back, but the visual storytelling is more than good enough to make sure we know what’s going on.


The Manhattan Projects #22

All of our regular characters are apparently being taken off the stage away from Earth. Yuri Gagarin has to flee Russia when it turns out that alien hybrids have taken over the Politburo — and then, after receiving an interstellar message from Laika, leaves the planet with Wernher von Braun to find her. Harry Daghlian leaves for the desert and declares himself an Atomic Messiah. The FDR A.I. plans its own takeover of everything. The Einsteins and Richard Feynman leave to explore the multiverse. Is this the end of the Manhattan Projects?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Well, I know the series is going to continue, because there’s another issue on the way next month. But I do wonder what form future issues will take when most of our protagonists aren’t on the stage anymore. Still, fun storytelling, great humor, and a decent dose of drama, too.


The Sandman: Overture #3

A star has gone mad and somehow, this is going to bring about the end of everything — and hundreds of nihilist alien races are rushing to take advantage of the chaos. Meanwhile, Morpheus and, um, Morpheus the Cat encounter the Furies, who are, as usual, terrible people. They get a new traveling companion, a little blue-skinned girl named Hope. Morpheus scares off some foes in a very unexpected way and tells Hope a story about a princess. And everyone pays a visit to the City of Stars.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A lot of stuff happened — enough stuff that you’d normally spread it out across two or three issues. Hope is a nice perspective character, Dream’s princess tale is just what I want from a comic about the King of Stories — and J.H. Williams III’s art continues to be spectacularly beautiful.

Today’s Cool Links:

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