Archive for Avengers Academy

Friday Night Fights: War of the Gargantuas!

Oh, hey, it’s Friday and that means we’re gonna get right into FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle definitely goes big time — from February 2011’s Avengers Academy #7 by Christos Gage, Mike McKone, Dave Meikis, and Scott Hanna, here’s Giant-Man vs. the Absorbing Man!

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Man, look at Hank Pym — cleaning Crusher Creel’s clock and bonking him in the face with his own wrecking ball? Those Pym particles are somethin’ else!

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Friday Night Fights: Heavy Metal!

Awright, time to start up another weekend — hopefully, for a lot of you, it’ll be a nice long holiday weekend. But no matter how long or short, the best way to start the weekend is with… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from November 2013’s Avengers Academy #37 by Christos Gage, Tom Grummett, and Cory Hamscher. One thing you never want to do is get a big metal-skinned super-strong guy like Mettle angry at you.

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There we go — everyone have a great Labor Day weekend!

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Friday Night Fights: Veil of Pain!

Well, it’s the last weekend of June, and we all know what that means. It means July is almost here. And it’s going to start getting even hotter and more miserable. But we’ll have to take whatever meager comfort we can get from the weekend and, of course, from… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from January 2013’s Avengers Academy #39 by Christos Gage, Tom Grummett, and Cory Hamscher. In the final issue of the series, Veil is left on the outside, the only member of the team to completely lose her powers. So she goes back to high school. And everyone knows how much high school sucks, right?

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Those are what we call “Prepare for an Asskickin'” eyes.

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Yeah, the great thing about being a superhero has got to be getting a crash course on how to beat the crap out of everyone in the world.

Y’all have a great weekend — stay cool while you can…

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The Hero Sandwich List of Favorite Comics for 2012

Well, 2012 is almost over, and I’m absolutely delighted to see it go. This has been, without a single doubt, the absolute worst year of my life.

My grandmother died in January — she was 100 years old, but nope, you’re never prepared for that, never, never. Three friends died of cancer. We lost Ray Bradbury. I was diagnosed with diabetes. “City of Heroes” was shut down.

Oh, I know, there are lots of ways it could’ve been worse. Lots of people have gone through more horrible things this year, and I’ve got it relatively good. My family is healthy and happy. I have a job that keeps a roof over my head, food on the table, and comics in the longboxes. I’ve lost about 45 pounds since July, and my health is overall pretty good.

Nevertheless. It’s been a deeply unpleasant, depressing, sorrowful year, and I won’t be at all sad to see it end.

And ya know, this hasn’t been a very good year for comics, either.

We’ve had to sit through DC firing Gail Simone from “Batgirl” for no apparent reason (and then hiring her back when they realized that she was much more popular than anyone else at the company); DC shutting down “Hellblazer” so they can try to turn John Constantine into a superhero; fans responding to the (truly awful sounding) Amazing Spider-Man #700 by making serious death threats against writer Dan Slott (Pff, like Slott came up with that? Joe Quesada and Alex Alonso probably thought that one up, then assigned him to work on it.); DC just straight up being a dick to Alan Moore almost all year long with the (mostly ignored by readers) “Before Watchmen” comics.

And dominating geek news for the entire year has been the bizarre hostility in comics and gaming toward anyone who isn’t a straight white male. In a lot of ways, the gaming industry has been far worse with the hating-on-everyone problem, but the new obsession with Fake Geek Girls is largely focused on the comics fan community, especially cosplayers. Tony Harris’s bizarre misogyny helped play it up, but DC and Marvel have had more than their fair share of He Man Woman Hater moments, too. Really, would you be particularly surprised if Dan DiDio announced he was firing all the female creators at DC?

I’m probably forgetting some really important awful moments for comics, too, but there have just been so dang many of them…

Even the year’s major successes — the films of “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” — were really to be attributed more to the skill, talent, and imagination of movie studios than to comics publishers.

DC, of course, has been the leader in bad comics and bad decisions. Marvel’s been a bit better, but has still shown too much enthusiasm for dull crossover events and poor judgement. The independents have been better than both of the Big Two — and yet I’ve still felt mostly bored with the comics that’ve been released this year.

I went through my pull-list earlier this year and stripped a lot of it out. I was tired of spending so much money on comics, of having to find storage space for all my books. And a lot of what I got rid of was actually pretty good. Scott Snyder’s Batman comic, for example, got pulled off my list. It was just fine, Snyder’s still a fantastic writer, and his work on the Dark Knight is just plain some of the best work anyone’s done with him for years. But I still took it off my list because I wasn’t excited about it. It wasn’t a book I looked forward to getting anymore. There were lots of comics like that — The Massive, Dark Horse Presents, Dial H, Demon Knights, Fatale, Frankenstein, Morning Glories, Popeye, Saucer Country, Unwritten, even B.P.R.D. — and I don’t really regret taking any of them off the list.

So what are my picks for my favorite comics of 2012? Here they are, in alphabetical order…

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American Vampire

Still the best and most gloriously visceral horror comic we’ve got. Great characterization, art, and plotting make it a winner every issue.

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Atomic Robo

Possibly the most consistently fun and entertaining comic out there. Any comic fan who isn’t reading this is utterly, utterly mad.

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Avengers Academy

Cancelled long before its time, I loved this one for the great characterization and for its refusal to fall into the same boring traps as other teen-oriented comics. Random, shock-value deaths were avoided, and the heroes got out of plenty of problems by talking instead of fighting.

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Axe Cop

This remains one of the best humor comics you’ll find — the Nicolle brothers are still hugely imaginative, funny, and audacious, even years after they started their comic.

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Batwoman

Month after month, the best art you’re going to find in any comic book on the stands.

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Daredevil

Probably the best pure superhero comic out there. Mark Waid’s Daredevil is fun, charismatic, clever, action-packed, and just all-around fantastic. And the art is usually pretty darn good, too.

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The Goon

Rude? Yes. Hilarious? Yes. Unexpectedly emotional? Yes, yes, yes. Eric Powell would probably kick my ass for saying it, but he’s got more heart than any other comic book creator.

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Love and Capes

This superhero sitcom is light on the action, but heavy on the humor, awesome characterization, and brainy storytelling. I would like more of you to read this, please.

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Punk Rock Jesus

An amazing story combining religion, punk rock, politics of all stripes, science fiction, and our global obsessions with pop culture and entertainment. Sean Murphy deserves to win all kinds of awards for this.

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Snarked

A very fun modernized re-telling of Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark.” Great characters, dialogue, humor, and action, all wrapped up in a very friendly all-ages bow. I want Roger Langridge to make more and more comics, that’s all there is to it.

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Wonder Woman

This isn’t really a superhero book at all — it’s part horror comic, part urban fantasy, part reboot of the ancient Greek myths. Half the fun of this is seeing what bizarre new forms the Greek gods and monsters will take.

So that’s what I’ve got for this year. I left off a lot of good comics — books that debuted in only the last few months, books that were cancelled in the first month or two of the year, books that were of unquestionably high-quality but which were nevertheless boring me when I finally dropped them.

What can we hope for in the future? I’m sure not dumb enough to try to make predictions, but I’d like to think that, after a year this bad, there’s nowhere the comics industry can go but up. Unfortunately, my optimism bone done got snapped off, and it wouldn’t shock me a bit to see things get even worse in 2013.

Hold on to your hats, and pray for miracles.

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Graduation Day

Avengers Academy #39

It’s the final issue of “Avengers Academy,” one of Marvel’s best series. Let’s start off by congratulating Christos Gage, Tom Grummett, and the other artists who worked on the series. It was great fun almost all the way through, and a great example that a superhero series can break the mold in numerous ways and still enjoy some success. I just wish it had enjoyed a bit more success…

What we get here is a lot of wrap-up of character stories. X-23 and Finesse essentially agree to disagree. Striker goes on a date and starts adjusting to his status as a gay icon. Hazmat and Mettle take their relationship to the next level. Reptil and White Tiger start their own relationship, as do Lightspeed and Karolina Dean. The students reveal to their teachers that they’ve known all along that they were considered potential supervillains, and they also learn what their future is with the Avengers.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An excellent ending for an excellent series. Great emotional moments for almost everyone — yes, even Finesse. My only regret is that most of the cast members here will be moving on “Avengers Arena,” where they’re scheduled to be pointlessly killed. But it was a good run while it lasted.

The Hypernaturals #5

While the Hypernaturals try to solve the mystery of what destroyed the previous Hypernaturals team, they track down a couple of stray clues — they search for the significance of something called the Chernovski Event, and they try to track down the mysterious Clone 21, the only one of the Clone series to go into hiding. Meanwhile, former member Stellerator, desperate for a cure for her husband, who was de-aged by Sublime, agrees to break the supervillain out of prison so he can find out who’s been impersonating him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still good, futuristic fun, like an alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Excellent action and dialogue, and tons of intrigue and mysteries. Mysteries piled on top of mysteries, in fact. The characterization is pretty good, too. All in all, it’s a lot of fun.

Worlds’ Finest #6

While Huntress visits Gotham City to steal a few million dollars from Bruce Wayne, to help finance her activities, she runs into Damian Wayne, who is essentially her alternate universe half-brother. They spend at least half the issue beating the heck out of each other. Power Girl, meanwhile, is focused on her own research, which generally involves highjacking some computing cycles from communications satellites and avoiding any contact with Supergirl.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action and beautiful art by both Kevin Maguire and George Perez. Still can’t stand Power Girl’s new costume — not like anyone else can either. That’s probably the only thing they’d have to fix to make this series even more enjoyable.

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Sidekick Stuff

Love and Capes: What to Expect #3

Aside from the pregnancy preparations we’d expect from this series, including an agreement between Abby and Mark to let the baby’s gender be a surprise and Abby’s distress about all the women who tell her horror stories about pregnancy, Darkblade takes on three new sidekicks, and Amazonia gets some bad news from home.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good stuff, funny, nice dialogue, clever situations, and even some cliffhangers to up the tension.

Avengers Academy #38

Okay, it’s not the end of the series, but we’re getting close, as the Avengers Academy students and teachers play a game of flag football against the students and teachers at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, which is headmastered by Wolverine. Nothing too serious going on, mostly just hijinx.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Like I said, mostly silly stuff, but this series deserved a break from the serious crises and angst.

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The Vanishing

Hey, I got a lotta comics last week, and they were all pretty good. I don’t think I got time to review all of ‘em, but here’s some of the stuff I thought was cool.

Snarked #12

The final issue of this series?! What the heck, no one had any clue this one was ending. But it’s a good ending. Our cast of heroes has to do battle with the Snark — who is also a Boojum. That means he can make you disappear, throwing you forward in time 20 years, if you look at him without wearing special goggles. And a very important cast member loses his goggles…

What we’re left with is a bittersweet ending, but still a very sweet tale. Y’all go get it if you’ve been reading it, or pick up the eventual trade paperback. It’s a good one.

Sword of Sorcery #0

I liked it. A fairly familiar story — young outsider discovers she’s actually a princess in another world — but it’s well-told and entertaining. The backup feature, featuring a far-future sci-fi variation on the “Beowulf” story.

The sticking point for a lot of people is the attempted rape in the “Amethyst” story. It’s not a good thing, and it’s entirely unnecessary for the story. It reads like someone decided to prove it’s “not a little girl’s story” which happens just too damn often.

Perhaps more depressing, however, are the comments at the end of Chris Sims’ very nice article about it — most of the commenters seem to have an attitude of “Hey, we want comics with more rape!” Maybe we get the crappy comics we deserve.

Oh, also? The Who’s Who page in the back says Amethyst was first introduced in this very issue. It’s not so. Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld made her first appearance in April 1983, in Legion of Super-Heroes #298. She was created by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, and Ernie Colón.

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It’s the students’ final stand against Jeremy Briggs’ villainy. A few surprising choices are made. And it’s a very good issue — great action and dialogue and a moral core to the tale that carries it over the top.

Only one more issue of this, and that’s a huge disappointment.

Wonder Woman #0

A wonderful little story about Princess Diana’s teen years, stealing a harpy’s egg to commemorate her birthday, getting her teen angst on when people make fun of her (supposed) origin as a clay statue, being trained by Ares, and battling the minotaur. It’s a very, very nice story, and I had a blast reading it.

And again, the Who’s Who page gets things irritatingly and insultingly wrong. It says Wonder Woman’s first appearance was in 2011. But she had her debut in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941. She was created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter. You’d think they’d get this right because Marston’s name is on Page 1 as the character’s creator, and he sure as heck wasn’t around in 2011.

Womanthology: Space #1

A new anthology focused on spotlighting the work of women creators gets started, this time with the focus on science fiction. We get stories by Bonnie Burton, Jessica Hickman, Sandy King Carpenter, Tanja Wooten, Allison Ross, Stephanie Hans, Ming Doyle, Jordie Bellaire, Stacie Ponder, and Rachel Deering, and they’re all pretty good…

And since this is a new miniseries, we can look forward to a few more months of cool comics created by women. Too bad DC and Marvel aren’t so good about working on that…

Batwoman #0

We get a short look back at Kate Kane’s younger years, from her childhood, through mourning the death of her mother and the supposed death of her twin sister, being accepted to West Point, then being drummed out of the military, trying to find a purpose to her life, and the long, hard years of training that her father put her through to make sure she was really ready to become a crimefighter.

It’s a great story. It’s got great action, the plot zips along like lightning, and there are tearjerker moments you won’t believe. It’s an astoundingly good comic book.

And again, because it’s important not to let DC tell stupid lies about this stuff, but Batwoman wasn’t created in 2011, no matter what the Who’s Who page says. The modern Kate Kane debuted in 52 #7 in 2006.

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Adventures in Comics Sitting

Love and Capes: What to Expect #2

Abby and Mark continue their pregnancy preparations, including volunteering to babysit a friend’s baby to see how they handle pre-parenthood. Things don’t go as planned, though nothing truly disastrous happens.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, not a whole lot happens in here. No smackdowns against crazed supervillains, no terrible crisis to solve, no danger or derring-do. But it’s a good, fun, funny story, so heck yeah, it’s a thumbs up.

Worlds’ Finest #0

We get a look back on Power Girl and the Huntress when they were Supergirl and Robin on Earth-2. Robin has her debut adventure, with the permission of her mother, Catwoman (though daddy Batman disapproves). Superman trains Supergirl for potential attacks by Apocalypse. Tragedy brings the two fledgling heroines together.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice writing by Paul Levitz, and amazingly appealing art by Kevin Maguire. Honestly, I’d rather read about Robin and Supergirl than almost anything else DC is publishing right now.

Avengers Academy #36

Jeremy Briggs has depowered most of the Academy members, and he’s planning on depowering the rest of the world’s heroes and villains, too. Hazmat has gotten her powers back, Striker has gotten his face scarred, Mettle gets his powers back, but only letting Hazmat burn his flesh away, and White Tiger and Reptil have to persuade their own magic powers to come back to them. Will they be able to get the rest of the team’s powers back? Will they be able to stop Jeremy from releasing the Clean Slate virus?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I like these characters a lot. Even without their powers, they’re a lot of fun. Also, Hazmat and Mettle are just so awesome. I’m gonna miss this series so very much.

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Baby Showers

Love and Capes: What to Expect #1

Tom Zahler is back with a new mini about Abby Spencer, her husband Mark — better known to the world as the superhero Crusader — and their assorted friends and family. Abby’s pregnant, which brings many changes to their lives. Not even considering the mundane concerns — no alcohol, no caffeine, getting good prenatal care, putting aside money for college — there are other things to worry about when the baby’s father is a superhero — namely, what do you do about the danger of a super-baby kicking a hole in mama? In addition, we get to meet the second Doctor Karma, we learn if Mark can keep his big secret from Darkblade, and we get to sit in on the scene when Mark and Abby break the news to their parents.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent humor, characterization, and dialogue. Really, I’m looking forward to this series so much, and I don’t know what else I can say about it.

Avengers Academy #34

Apparently, this is going to be the final storyarc before the series cancellation, which is too danged bad.

In the aftermath of the closing of Avengers Academy, the students are mostly on their own, until teenaged CEO and all-around shady character Jeremy Briggs calls Hazmat and Mettle to let them know he’s discovered a way to remove their powers and let them live normal lives. The rest of the students come along, mostly to make sure Jeremy isn’t planning on doing something rotten to them. But as it turns out, Jeremy’s “Clean Slate” formula returns Hazmat and Mettle to the forms they had before they got their powers. Unfortunately, he’s decided he wants to dose everyone in the world with Clean Slate — he thinks superheroes and supervillains are a huge problem, and he wants to make sure that the only people with powers are himself and whoever he decides is suitably loyal to him. And they’ve all been breathing in the Clean Slate formula ever since they got there.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent intensity and characterization. We always figured Jeremy was a bad guy, but it’s nice to see that his level of villainy got cranked up extra high for this storyarc. I am disappointed, however, that the other teachers from the academy won’t be around for this arc.

Beasts of Burden: Neighborhood Watch

A quick one-shot for fans of Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s great “Beasts of Burden” series. This collects the three stories that appeared a few months ago in “Dark Horse Presents” — so if you don’t shell out the bucks for DHP, you can still read them. So we’ve got a light-hearted story with the gang forced to deal with a chicken-stealing goblin, and second one with the wise dog telling some puppies about a heroic dog who fought against evil, and final one, particularly creepy, about a lost herd of sheep.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent stories, with the last one being my favorite because it really is wonderfully eerie. Wonderful art and wonderful empathetic storytelling. These stories aren’t just about monsters and ghosts — they’ve got concerns about heroism, friendship, philosophy, and mortality.

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Free Falling

Snarked #9

The Walrus, the Carpenter, Queen Scarlett, and Prince Rusty have finally found the dreaded Snark Island. But of course, one of the big problems with Snark Island is that it’s got a Snark on it, and no one wants to mess with a Snark. It’s has plenty of other problems, too, including treacherous cliffs, deadly traps, and a Lion and a Unicorn who are guarding the king’s prison. Once they persuade the Lion and the Unicorn to let them pass, they discover that they king not only doesn’t want to leave his cave, he doesn’t even remember his own daughter! Plus the monstrous Snark is still out there on the island somewhere…

Verdict: Thumbs up. This was a joy to read from beginning to end. Characterization, humor, danger, dialogue, artwork, you name it. Go get it, people, come on.

Daredevil #14

Matt Murdock has been captured and imprisoned in Latveria, home of Doctor Doom — but his captor isn’t Doom, it’s Chancellor Beltane, Minister of the Bank of Latveria, and he’s not happy that Daredevil stole the Omega Drive with all the secrets of the world’s Megacrime organizations. Beltane hits him with some kind of gas before Matt makes his escape, but while he’s on the run, he realizes that the gas is slowly eliminating his senses. Can Daredevil escape from Latveria and get help before all his senses disappear permanently?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding action and dialogue. Seriously, it’s amazingly thrilling stuff, and nice and tense, too, as Matt’s amplified senses vanish one by one. All that plus a cool twist ending that leaves me very interested in where the next issue will go…

Avengers Academy #32

Juston Seyfert, the kid with his own reprogrammed Sentinel robot, joins the main cast in this issue, as he has to deal with various people who are unhappy about there being a Sentinel at a school where there are several mutant students. X-23 tries to get Juston to shut it down, and he tells her that, despite its tendency to occasionally bellow “Destroy all mutants!” most of its other directives override that one. Juston discovered that it’s not actually possible to erase that part of its programming, and rather than destroy what he thinks is a living mind, he’s chosen to make sure that its “destroy all mutants” directive is its lowest priority.

Meanwhile, the Avengers vs. X-Men war is still going on, and the X-Men have basically won because the Phoenix Force has bonded with five mutants — including Emma Frost, who shows up ready to destroy Juston’s Sentinel — the last Sentinel on the planet. Will the students try to stand against one of the most powerful, destructive beings in the universe? Should they even try?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good dialogue and characterization — it’s nice to learn more about Juston, who’s been a background character for the past several issues, and we also continue to get a good focus on X-23’s hellish past and how she’s dealing with that. I have one serious complaint — the art is pretty alarmingly horrendous. Everyone’s poses look mostly unnatural, and every female character has the exact same body type and stance. It’s just astonishingly unattractive, and I hope they get the regular artist back very soon.

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