Archive for September, 2014

You Are Likely to Be Beaten by a Groo


Groo vs. Conan #3

Poor Sergio Aragones is still over-medicated and completely out of his mind, running amuck in a Renaissance faire. He’s arrested and taken to jail — but then there’s a jailbreak, and the prisoners drag him away with them. Meanwhile, in our mix-and-match fantasy world, Conan has realized that Groo is not a gigantic monster — just a complete idiot. But he’s still a dangerous combatant. Is he too much for Conan to handle?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great cartooning, humor, and action. It’s still fun to see these two wildly-different characters interacting together, partly humorously, partly seriously.


Clive Barker’s Nightbreed #5

Our origin stories in this issue focus on devil-faced Lude and two-faced Annastasjia. Lude’s story starts back in Germany in the 1600s, when his mother is attacked by a demonic satyr and later gives birth to an adorable, obsidian-skinned, fanged, horned baby. Annastasjia’s is more recent — the 1920s — when she was a vain, shallow movie star, scarred in a bar fight. Her efforts to regain her beauty lead her into methods very far from medical science.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still kinda hard for me to believe I’m enjoying this as much as I am. The stories are still fun — and monstery and gross and often funny — and there are a lot more of the Nightbreed the creators can mine for stories…


Evil Empire #5

We get a break from the main storyline as we meet up with Ace, a serial killer, and Talia, his chosen victim. Ace’s gimmick is that he prefers to tie his victim up and make her watch him torture and murder people for days before finally killing her. He’s moderately well-adjusted, socially and mentally — he just likes to kill people and mentally torture women who remind him of his mother. But as the country starts to go to hell during the presidential campaign, Ace starts discovering that life is a lot more dangerous — people are murdering each other left and right, and no one’s getting in trouble for it. And when everything is permitted, Ace really doesn’t get the same charge he used to get from serial murder. Is there hope for his redemption?

Verdict: Thumbs down. I liked parts of this — the humor is really quite well done. Ace complaining about his new doubts about serial killing comes while he’s eating a body, for example, and his murderous impulses are largely played for laughs. The thing is, I’m buying the premise of the story less and less, and I especially couldn’t believe that a serial killer would give it all up just because everyone else is a serial killer, too.

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Friday Night Fights: Dance Dance Revolution!

Well, here we are again. It’s the prize fight segment of Friday Night Fights, and we’ve got a theme designed solely to ruin my day. What’s the theme? Dance battles. Grrrrreat. I don’t have any comics with Vibe or Dazzler. In fact, I’m so out of ideas, I’m going to have to break the rules and go with a fight I’ve used before. So, as originally used back on March 22, 2013, here’s Scott Pilgrim vs. Matthew Patel from 2004’s Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley.












Now, y’all go vote for your favorite fight — but make sure you don’t vote for this one, ’cause it sucks to use the same fight twice, and them’s the facts.

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Jane Power


Lumberjanes #6

The Lumberjanes are competing in a game of capture the flag, and they’re on the losing end of things, partly because one of the girls on the other side is a secret teleporter who is definitely not who everyone thought she was. Everyone suspects Jo of being some sort of ancient mythical being in disguise, despite her vehement denials. Will the girls win the game? How will they escape from jail? And who the heck are the ancient mythical beings in disguise?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderfully funny, with great action. The dialogue is fantastic — my favorite wildly hilarious interjection in this issue is “For the love of Sister Rosetta Tharpe.”


Loki: Agent of Asgard #6

It’s been a few months since this one came out last, I think. Most of this issue is centered in Latveria. Dr. Doom is time-traveling, with the help of Valeria Richards. He encounters a vast wasteland in the far future, inhabited only by old Loki and a skull spirit, who inform Doom that he’s standing in the ruins of Latveria itself. Then they puke bugs at him and completely freak him out before Valeria is able to pull him back to the present. This convinces Doom that he needs to eliminate Loki now. After kidnapping him with his time portal, Doom tells him they’re going to have a magical duel that will take the form of a conversation about the nature of stories, and then about the nature of Doom himself — is he flesh and blood, is he a robot, or is he a god himself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is really something else — it goes from scores of beetles crawling out of old Loki’s mouth and eyes — and genuinely frightening Dr. Doom himself — to a lengthy philosophical conversation. And it’s still a fascinating, action-filled comic. Definitely worth reading.


Mighty Avengers #14

The Deathwalkers have merged into a single monstrous being and enslaved the world with crippling illusions. Only Luke Cage seems to be immune — he manages to get the Deathwalkers’ chalice to Kaluu, who uses it to combine the Avengers’ spirits into the Avenger Prime. But can even the united Avengers stop the Prime Deathwalker?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The action is good, though the metaphysics are maybe a bit flaky. Not really sure how Luke managed to get free from the Deathwalkers’ influence when no one else worldwide was able to do it. This is apparently the final issue, but it’ll be relaunched in a couple months as Captain America and the Mighty Avengers. Hopefully, it’ll be completely free of the curse of Greg Land.

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Purple Prose


Daredevil #8

Matt Murdock meets Kirsten McDuffie’s parents — and they have a business proposition for him. Her dad works in publishing, and he wants Matt to write a tell-all autobiography. It would solve a lot of money problems, but is it really the right thing to do for Daredevil? Meanwhile, the Purple Man — for my money, the absolute rottenest, most vile supervillain in the Marvel Universe — is in San Francisco, collecting the illegitimate children he’s fathered over the years, hoping to turn them into his elite minions — and hoping to finally get the love he craves from them. But it turns out that no one, not even the Purple Man, can resist a bunch of cute little kids…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Purple Man is an absolutely terrible person, as far as fictional people go. And that makes this issue fun, partly because we get to watch him being absolutely terrible, and partly because we also get to watch absolutely terrible things happen to him.


Sensation Comics #2

Two very nice stories in this one, both set pre-Reboot for added awesomeness. In the first, Wonder Woman discovers that she’s losing her powers, apparently because the gods have abandoned her. Can she stop even routine muggers with fading powers, much less heavy-hitters like the Cheetah?

The second story focuses on Diana’s childhood, where over the course of several years, she attempts to defeat her mother in battle, by hook or by crook, so she can claim one of the silver bracelets she wears.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Neither one of the stories in this issue is bad. Excellent art, fun storytelling — I sure hope they keep this up, ’cause I’d love the whole series to be readable.


Manifest Destiny #10

Turns out those monster mosquitos use humans as incubators, which puts the hosts in jeopardy, but doesn’t tend to kill them. And it gives Clark a chance to capture one of the monsters and determine how to kill it. Meanwhile, it’s been discovered that one of the soldiers raped one of the villagers — Mrs. Boniface wants the man killed, but Lewis, surprisingly, argues for letting him live, primarily because in this hostile territory, they need every able-bodied person to be able to contribute to the group’s survival. Can the group combat the gigantic skeeters? Can they defeat the monster keeping the boat stranded? Will the tensions finally boil over?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice horror, hitting everything from pure grossness to simple tension to moral quandries, all lit by nice, bright sunlight.

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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy


The Wicked + the Divine #4

Laura and her “friend” Cassandra meet up with Baal, who’s basically classic-era Kanye West — incredibly arrogant because he’s incredibly good. He tells them he’s not Baal Hammon, the vengeful fiery sky-god — he’s Baal Hadad, who’s less vengeful and more electrical. He insists that Lucifer has to serve her time in jail because the gods are ultimately powerless to free her. He leaves Cassandra behind and brings Laura to meet a contingent of the gods, including Amaterasu, Sakhmet, Minerva, Woden, and the mysterious Ananke. They tell Laura that any of them could be the killer, but Lucifer has to stay in jail ’til the real killer is found — if she’s not the real killer anyway. If the rest of humanity realizes all the gods could be as loose-cannon as Luci is, the gods might never be able to return again. Lucifer doesn’t react well when Laura tells her what the rest of the Pantheon had to say.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a gorgeous story full of gorgeous people. Still loving the interpretations of the gods. I do wish the explanation for why the gods couldn’t interfere to free Lucifer, and why they were so uninspired to find the real killer — after all, he or she could kill again and leave them with the same problem all over again.


George Perez’s Sirens #1

Quite honestly, this one was a maze of nonsense. There’s tons of time-jumping, tons of different characters, most of them unidentified, with the ultimate goal being to bring these timelost heroines to the distant future to stop some cosmic threat.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Like I said, it’s a maze of nonsense. Gorgeous art, but not much else to recommend it.


Trees #5

A small African nation has gotten some serious international attention by placing weapons on top of one of the Trees so they can threaten a neighboring state they want to take over. In China, repressed young artist Tian Chenglei gets a bit less repressed — all just in time for the government to make a move on the city he’s in. In Cefalu, Sicily, the older man, with an unexpected knowledge of historical occultism, takes a younger rebellious woman as an apprentice. And in the Arctic, the flowers that sprang from the Trees are more persistent, infectious, and dangerous than anyone expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. We’ve got a lot of different storylines, and they’re all right on the edge of jumping to the next segment of rising action. This seems to me that it’s going to be a very exciting and interesting story.

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The Girl in the Spider Suit


Edge of Spider-Verse #2

Goodness knows there’ve been plenty of women who’ve taken on the mantle of Spider-Man over the years. There’ve been multiple Spider-Women and Spider-Girls and the occasional Araña — but this particular character has really seemed to grab a lot of attention, and though I haven’t been all that interested in the upcoming Spider-Verse crossover, this definitely looked like something worth checking out.

We’re visiting an alternate universe in this story, with an alternate spider-powered superhero. In this case, the person who got bitten by that radioactive spider was Gwen Stacy. She becomes the hoodie-wearing heroine Spider-Woman. Peter Parker, obsessed with getting back at bullies, turns himself into the Lizard, but dies when Gwen subdues him. As a result, she’s wanted by the police, including her father, Police Captain George Stacy. And Gwen tries to work out the frustrations of her life by drumming in Mary Jane Watson’s all-girl rock band, the Mary Janes.

Anyway, while Gwen is busy flaking out on her band, the Kingpin has hired the Rhino (through Matt Murdock — for shame, Daredevil!) to kill Captain Stacy. Can Gwen make it to her gig, save her father, and keep him from blowing her own head off?

Verdict: Thumbs up. There aren’t many characters who’ve gotten as bum a rap as Gwen Stacy — she’s still best known as the original Woman in a Refrigerator, killed primarily to motivate a male superhero. So this issue — giving her some real agency, giving her the real powers, giving her an awesome costume, even giving her an actual hobby, because her only previous hobby was being Peter Parker’s doomed pretty girlfriend — this is something that’s really kinda glorious.

I’d love to see her — and her entire supporting cast and universe — in an ongoing series. And frankly, if that’s not already in Marvel’s plans, they’re completely out of their minds. Buzz for this single issue has been incredible, and no smart publisher lets that much positive attention fade away.


The Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors from the Counter World #1

Alright, that’s gotta be the grand prize winner in the over-long title contest, don’t it?

On Earth-20, a great world war has just ended, and the planet’s greatest heroes — two-fisted spellslinger Doc Fate, roving adventurer Immortal Man, the barnstorming pilots of the all-girl Blackhawk Squadron, the sweater-vest-wearing Mighty Atom, and demonic-in-appearance Abin Sur — join together as the Society of Super-Heroes. But terrible challenges are on the horizon — there’s an invasion coming from an alternate universe, with supervillains who are near-perfect opposites of the heroes. Soon, Vandal Savage, Felix Faust, Lady Shiva, Count Sinestro, Blockbuster, and their armies of zombies are on a rampage across the planet. Can anything save them all from the unstoppable threat?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s grand pulp adventure, the kind of thing no one publishes anymore. Loved the characters (well, other than Count Sinestro, who we meet for just a single panel when he’s already unconscious, but I bet he woulda been fun), loved the dialogue and story, and of course, Chris Sprouse’s art was wonderfully pulptastic.


Shutter #6

Kate Kristopher and her surprise baby brother Chris are on the run. Ekland and Shaw are assigned to capture them alive — but that doesn’t turn out real well for them. Kate forces Ekland to tell her who hired her — and in answer, she hands over her phone and tells her if she calls the only number on the phone, the client will be able to track her. Kate decides to bargain with the client — and discovers that the client is very, very, very bad news.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wildly weird and violentastic. And the cliffhanger is a real jaw-dropper. It sucks that we’re going to have to wait ’til December to find out how this turns out.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Our friend SpaceBooger has had a hectic life lately — but it sounds like things are going great right now.
  • A great long-read on the history of Wonder Woman and her original creators.
  • Writers who get mad at tropes are as nutty as people who get mad about breathing air.
  • Twitter users help track down a bunch of gay-bashing preppies.
  • Zoe Quinn writes for Cracked about what it’s like to be the target of the #GamerGate douchebags.
  • And speaking of #GamerGate, those guys are so nice and wholesome, they went and called in bomb threats on an award presentation that wasn’t being douchebaggy enough for them. You can always trust terrorists, right?

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Pop and Lockjaw


Ms. Marvel #8

Kamala Khan has just gotten herself a pet — Lockjaw, the gigantic, teleporting bulldog of the Inhumans. She gets him to teleport her to one of the Inventor’s hideouts, where she fights off a giant robot and rescues a fellow student who was being used as the robot’s brain. And the next day, she gets attacked by another giant robot — but this time, she finds that her powers aren’t really working anymore…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art and writing, a fun new co-star that’s likely to pull Kamala deeper into her Inhuman background, and fantastic characterization of Kamala, her family, and her classmates and teachers.


Astro City #15

Ellie Jimson has been arrested and charged with masterminding a recent spree of robot-based crimes. But Ellie is too scatterbrained to be a genuine villain. And after her robot friends show up to rescue her and she returns to her old home to meet her nephew Fred, her memories and her wits start to return to her. She remembers being a collegiate robotics genius, close friends with a fellow genius named Vivi Victor, who eventually turned on her and used a device to map her brainwave patterns to use to program robots, wrecking her mind in the process. Vivi went on to become a global supervillain, and now she wants to completely destroy Ellie’s life. Is there any way Ellie can fight back?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a neat twist on the rivalry between Reed Richards and Victor von Doom, just gender-switched, aged up a few decades, and focused more heavily on robots.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Eye of the Hawk


Hawkeye #20

Kate Bishop is trying to figure out who killed her friend — with one of her own arrows, no less — bouncing in and out of jail, raiding Madame Masque’s hidout, brawling with Masque’s goons — and she finds out that what’s running Masque’s criminal empire isn’t just common crime, but cloning and immortality — and the results hit uncomfortably close to her. Can Kate stop Madame Masque, get out of jail, avoid another beating, and get out of Los Angeles?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Gorgeous art and an engaging story — lots of humor, great dialogue, outstanding action. I gotta admit, I really enjoy Kate Bishop’s storyarcs more than Clint Barton’s — she’s more pro-active, funnier, less mopey.


Velvet #7

Our focus in this issue is on two men in the agency searching for Velvet — Colt and Roberts. Colt is a superspy, traveling around the world, blowing up bad guys, and finding his clues by blowing up more bad guys. Roberts is more of an investigator — less contact with the bad guys, more digging in records. Both of them feel Velvet is leading them on a wild goose chase, always feeling surprised that the woman they thought was a common secretary was so difficult to get hold of.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A breather issue from the main storyline, with great art and action and storytelling. My quibble this issue is that both Colt and Roberts are very generic handsome white guys, which doesn’t really make it easy to tell them apart. Of course, that’s a standard trope for the British superspy genre — but maybe it shouldn’t be.


Captain Marvel #7

Carol and Tic are returning to pick up her spaceship and her cat, which have both been looked after by Rocket Raccoon. That’s a potential problem, because he believes Carol’s cat is actually a terrible egg-laying creature called a flerken, which can travel to other dimensions. Carol is less than pleased with how Chewie has been treated (Not really that badly — stuffed in a crate, true, but not abused), but before she can have it out with Rocket, aliens clamp onto the ship and start drilling their way in. What’s behind this new attack?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun and humor, great characterization, and a little drama, too. The plot twist is fairly predictable, but still fun.

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Friday Night Fights: Doom Squeezins!

Alright, kids, it’s the weekend! Whatcha gonna do to start things off? Darn your socks? NO! Mop the garage? NO! Go on Twitter and send threats to people because their race, gender, or sexual orientation differs from your own? NO! Hug adorable fluffy animals? Well, actually, that sounds like a great thing to do. But what we definitely will do to start the weekend is indulge in pointless comic-book violence! That means it’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from October 1971’s The Incredible Hulk #144 by Gary Friedrich, Roy Thomas, Dick Ayers, and John Powers Severin, as the Hulk meets up with the colossal villainy of Dr. Doom! Turns out Hulk likes to give hugs, too!






I have nothing more to say. I’m off to hug some adorable fluffy animals.

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Pick a Card, Any Card


Ghosted #13

Jackson Winters meets up with the latest member of his team — an old lady with a bunch of voodoo dolls. A little investigating in an unnervingly ghost-filled mental ward leads them on a search for a magic-user’s black market called the Death Card, where they meet up with Danny Trick, the late Trick’s son — and it turns out that Danny is in a heap of trouble of his own.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good, creepy stuff mixed with black humor and crime hijinks. I do wish we had a list of our characters — they’re getting more and more numerous, and it’s harder to keep track of all of them.


Lazarus #11

While Eve Carlyle is about to get some of her more advanced abilities surgically installed, she also begins to question whether she’s actually a Carlyle at all. Meanwhile, Sonja Bittner, the sword-slinging Lazarus for the Family Bittner, comes calling on Carlyle territory — Jakob Hock has Jonah Carlyle and wants to call a Conclave of all the Families to determine whether he’ll be returned.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a wonderfully political issue, with lots of behind-the-scenes negotiation and analysis and scheming. Sonja Bittner is an interesting character — so buttoned-down and controlled that she seems to be more of a robot than a human, at least mentally — an interesting change from Eve, who is also controlled and careful, but also completely human in her thinking.


Coffin Hill #11

This one’s been going on a while, and it’s maybe getting a liiiiittle bit confusing. But basically, in the four-years-ago timeline, Eve Coffin is starting to suspect that the serial killer in Boston may be a police officer, and in the current timeline, Nate’s brother Patrick seems to be a murderous witch-hater — despite using some magic himself.

Verdict: There are some interesting bits here and there — enjoyed the analysis on why the killer might be a cop, liked Patrick’s scary eyeless mentor — but it’s getting to be more and more of a muddle as things go along. This extended timeline split should maybe have been limited to only a few issues instead of a long storyarc.

Today’s Cool Links: 

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