Archive for Billy the Kid

Billy and the Goon

The Goon #43

Hey, it’s a secret crossover between the Goon and Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities! We start out back when Billy the Kid was young and helping to run the old freakshow — Billy wins a trinket in a card game. What is it? It’s the Ossified Baby of Nuremberg, which seems to be a stone statue but is actually alive, and if it isn’t fed a bottle of milk and goat’s blood every Halloween, it’ll come to life and kill everyone it can. Sooooo many years later, the now-elderly Billy comes to town for a show, and a bunch of kids steal the Ossified Baby, which, deprived of its yearly blood-and-milk snack, runs amok. How will this terrible crisis be solved? Easier than you might expect…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not the funniest Goon story or the most violent, but it’s still got lots of great stuff to enjoy. Y’all should be reading every issue of this comic, and I’m a little amazed that y’all don’t.

Daredevil #20

The bizarre teleporting villain Coyote — who used to apparently be the Spot — has severed Daredevil’s head. But Daredevil is still okay, because Coyote’s powers have somehow left the head and the body connected, even though they’re not, well, connected. But Matt can still feel his body, so while Coyote monologues for Daredevil, the hero’s body slips out of its bonds and goes exploring the bad guy’s hideout. Turns out Coyote is running quite a criminal operation based on his teleportational abilities, most of it focused on just generally making people miserable, including using pregnant women as drug mules and creating a vast slavery organization of people who have been teleportationally decapitated like Daredevil. So how can Matt Murdock stop Coyote when he’s got no head?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A vastly clever story. Matt manages some wonderful stunts — even if it’s just his headless body using his cane to feel his way around the lair. And Coyote’s operation is as despicable as you can imagine — he’s definitely a villain worth hating.

Batwoman #14

Batwoman and Wonder Woman have just met Pegasus, son of Medusa. He doesn’t look like a winged horse — he’s more of an immortal cowboy who’s been beaten and tortured horribly by the evil Falchion — and because he’s immortal, it will take him thousands of years to heal, thousands of years of agony. He tells them where to find Medusa — right back in Gotham — and then Wonder Woman grants him a merciful death. Back in Gotham, the Medusa herself is laying siege to the city, along with her army of brainwashed minions and urban legends. Medusa offers Killer Croc another transformation — from the ultimate sewer alligator to the Beast of Babylon. Can two heroines save the day, or is the Medusa’s power too great?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I liked the story just fine, people, but this is worth buying just so you can marvel at the stunning beauty of the artwork. Every artist who works on this turns in some of their most visually stunning art ever, and I think we really do have to give at least some of the credit for that to writer J.H. Williams III — his astoundingly gorgeous artwork was all over this title, and I strongly suspect his writing instructions are helping the art look so amazing.

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Elephant Graveyard

Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London #4

Edward Hyde, the good half of serial killer H.H. Holmes — well, he might not be the good half after all. In fact, there may be no good half of him, because the minute he’s alone with Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, he goes straight-up psycho on him. Can Billy and the rest of the freak posse catch up to him before he makes his escape? And in the backup story, the Goon and Franky are up against a gang of feral hobos, the King Hobo, and Dr. Metaphoric Name. Can they survive the terrifying onslaught?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some unexpected twists to the story and altogether a good ending, along with a nice lead-in for the next series. The Goon story is, as always, funny, crude, and awesome.

Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #1

Hellboy is hunting a vampire, when some old guy shoots him to rescue the bloodsucker. When Hellboy gets back to his feet, he tracks the vamp’s blood trail back to an old mansion, where the old gunman tells how an vampire once decimated his family, turning him into a slave, turning one of his sisters into a vampire (the one, in fact, that Hellboy just destroyed), and doing something even more unspeakable to his youngest sister. And when Hellboy gets dropped into the spooky basement, something nasty is going to be coming after him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice and creepy, just like I like my Hellboy stories.

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Batmen, Batwomen, and Everyone Else, Too

Batwoman #0

Did you need another introduction to Batwoman? Just in case you were a schmuck and hadn’t read her story earlier this year in Detective Comics? Well, that’s what this issue is. The new series will start up soon enough, so we get Bruce Wayne following Batwoman and Kate Kane around incognito for a few days trying to figure out what makes her tick.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s great to see J.H. Williams III’s artwork again — and this time, Amy Reeder is apparently doing half of the pencils — it looks like Williams is going to be drawing the Batwoman side of the equation, while Reeder will draw whatever Kate is up to. Will it work? I have no idea — I need more than one issue to evaluate this stuff, man.

Madame Xanadu #29

Well, crud, it’s the final issue of this comic. Nimue spends some time instructing her new apprentice, Charlotte Blackwood, in the intricacies of the Tarot, the crystal ball, and the benefits and disadvantages of being able to see the future. She cleans up a loose end — Betty Reynolds, last seen as the innocent woman forced to serve as Morgaine le Fey’s host body, and now living a thoroughly rotten life because of it — and she has one final meeting with the Phantom Stranger, in which both of them contemplate the coming age of superheroes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not happy to see that this series is ending, but I’m glad to see that Matt Wagner was able to bring Amy Reeder back for one final issue. And her art is as top-notch as ever here — beautifully expressive work all over, though my favorite is the snarl that Nimue greets the Phantom Stranger with — if there’s an award for “Best Facial Expression of the Year,” that one should be in the running.

Detective Comics #871

Scott Snyder and Jock make their debuts on this title with Dick Grayson opening up a new forensics lab for the Gotham PD. After discovering that a teenager who morphed into a crocodilian monster was actually dosed with Killer Croc’s mutagen from the police evidence locker, Dick investigates as Batman — the teenager’s family butler is soon killed by the lady of the house — who’s been exposed to a mind-control patch developed by the Mad Hatter. When Batman finally traces the stolen evidence to a former cop, he learns about some guy called “The Dealer” who runs illegal auctions selling villain paraphernalia. But before the cop can spill too much, he’s killed by a vine that erupts out of his throat. Who’s behind all this?

Verdict: Thumbs up. We’ve all gotten to know Scott Snyder through “American Vampire,” so I figured this was going to be worth reading. Very nice character work with both Dick Grayson and Commissioner Gordon, and I love the developing mystery so far. I’ve got my suspicions of who the Dealer really is, but we’ll see how it all plays out…

Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London #3

Billy and Sproul have cornered Edward Hyde, the ape-faced freak who seems to be Jack the Ripper — but then he turns into H.H. Holmes, who Isadora identifies as the Ripper. Billy and Sproul chase him, but Billy has already been identified by the police as the Ripper, and he runs out of bullets just as he runs into an angry mob. They beat the snot out of him, but he’s rescued by Hyde — it appears that Hyde is the good version of Holmes. Now the group must try to figure out a way to get rid of Holmes without killing innocent Hyde. And in the backup story, the Goon and Franky chase after the hobo who stole their weiners. The Goon beats up an alligator, but will he have such an easy time when he has to fight an army of hobos?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, fun art, and some entertaining whuppins. And the Goon story is chock full o’ hobos, so that’s another one in the WIN column.

Batman and Robin #17

Paul Cornell takes over this title from Grant Morrison and gives us Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne taking on a really twisted bridal party in the process of investigating the death and disinterment of a woman named Una Nemo, one of Bruce Wayne’s former flames. And the question that seems to be on everyone’s minds — what are we missing? And how does the answer to that question affect Batman and Robin?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A seriously freaky story — excellently weird villains from beginning to end and nicely bizarre mystery to clear up.

Today’s Cool Links:

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A Farewell to Cap

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #21

This kid-friendly series — the last comic featuring the classic Marvel Family — has finally come to its end. Black Adam is now more powerful than ever, and he’s not having much difficulty mopping up on the Marvels. Can Captain Marvel figure out how to stop him? Will it require a final sacrifice by one of the Marvel Family members? And what’s going to happen when the entire Justice League comes calling?

Verdict: Thumbs up. At its best — and the last few issues of this have been among its best — this has always been a pretty fun, though often wordy, series. It’s too bad that another all-ages comic is going away, and it’s also too bad that we can’t see the classic Marvel Family anywhere in any current comics now…

Zatanna #6

Zachary Zatara is peeved at his cousin, Zatanna, because she’s ditched his show again. When he learns that she’s vanished, he tracks her to a secret chapel owned by casino kingpin Sonny Raymond — she’s been bewitched and is about to marry him, giving him another soul to sacrifice to Mammon in exchange for more years of unnatural life. Is there a way to extract Zatanna from this mockery of a wedding? And what punishments are going to visited upon Sonny Raymond and Mammon?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not the greatest story around, but not bad, and it’s nice to see Zach Zatara getting to do something in a comic…

Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London #2

Billy’s been tossed in the hoosegow in London, believed to be Jack the Ripper himself. He gets broken out of the joint by a British freak, but Sproule and Isadora, unaware of where he is, go out to find him. They run into H.H. Holmes, who sends Sproule off on a wild goose chase while he leads Isadora off — but another freak soon shows up to rescue Isadora. Who’s really behind the murders in Whitechapel? And in the backup story, the Goon tangles with a giant fish monster and the Mighty Fog Hat. And someone’s stolen Franky’s weiners!

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love any comic that includes the spectacularly rotten H.H. Holmes. And the Goon backup is supremely silly. Good stuff all around.

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Wild Western Freaks

Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London #1

The prize for the longest title of the week goes to this one right here. Spinning out of the backup stories in Eric Powell’s recent “Buzzard” miniseries, this is written by Powell, with Kyle Hotz taking care of the art. Billy the Kid accompanies his cohorts in the traveling freak show — owner Fineas Sproule, who has hands in place of his feet, creatively tattooed Isadora, the extraordinarily small Jeffrey Tinsle, and the lizard-faced Aldwin Callahan — as they journey to London. They start out by meeting one of the most famous freaks — Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, looking a great deal more pachydermian than he ever did in real life.

Merrick tells them that Jack the Ripper is on the loose, and the terrified populace, desperate to find a scapegoat for the murders, has latched onto London’s apparently sizable collection of genetic freaks as the likely culprits, lynching one of them from time to time. Fineas agrees to investigate, dragging Billy along. While Billy gets friendly with one of the local prostitutes, Fineas meets up with a fellow American named H.H. Holmes. And then Billy gets drugged, the prostitute gets her head lopped off, and Billy gets accused of being the Ripper. This is likely to be a lot of trouble now…

All that, plus there’s a backup story starring the Goon and Frankie! They’re both on vacation, wearing Hawaiian shirts and shorts and sandals out on the docks. Hey, one of the local freaks just stole all of their weiners! Can the Goon stop them, even while wearing kicky summer sandals?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of utterly bizarre fun. Billy is entirely hilarious in his complete clueless crudity, especially in comparison to Joseph Merrick’s gentle nature and super-literate behavior. The story looks to be developing pretty well, too, and Kyle Hotz sure does draw some entertaining freaks. The Goon story is fun, too — I never imagined I’d be so entertained by the Goon wearing flip-flops.

Weird War Tales #1

When I first heard that DC was going to be publishing these one-shots of their classic war comics, this was the one that really got me interested — partly because “Weird War Tales” was always one of those great high-concept comics — military comics + horror/sci-fi! Wheee! — and partly because it was going to have a cover and story by Darwyn Cooke.

Well, Cooke’s story leads us off, as many of history’s great warriors and military leaders get together once every year as undead revenants to, well, drink, shoot each other in the head, and dismember each other. We get Hannibal on an undead elephant, Winston Churchill shooting himself in the head, Genghis Khan losing his skull  to one of Joan of Arc’s arrows and then stepping on his head — and then it ends with Hitler beating everyone?! Like heck! We also get a story of a seemingly immortal dead man in a sunken submarine, and of a couple of war buddies keeping themselves entertained in their final moments with stories of dinosaurs attacking German tanks.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Okay, I really enjoyed the “Private Parker Sees Thunder Lizards” story that closed out the comic, but the Darwyn Cooke story was a bit of a stinker. And blast it, no proper American comic book ever ends with Hitler as the winner, even if it is Hitler’s zombie!

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Bully has a great tribute to the 80th anniversary of the “Blondie” comic strip.
  • Kate Beaton draws Nancy Drew.
  • I’ve never been particularly good with horror video games unless I can switch on god mode — and even then, I’d just as soon hide in a safe location and not venture out to meet the monsters — but this “Amnesia: The Dark Descent” game sounds simultaneously awesomely terrifying and unpleasantly terrifying. From the videos I’ve seen, I’m not sure I’d ever make it past the log-in screen…

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