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The Most Marvelous Marvel

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Ms. Marvel #4

Kamala’s brother, Aamir, has announced that he wants to get married to his girlfriend Tyesha. While Kamala is initially elated, her spirits fall when she realizes the newlyweds will still be living in her parents’ home, so she’s going to be more overwhelmed than ever, particularly with her grades falling and her duties as a superhero and Avenger getting tougher. But when she discovers that Bruno is running a new experiment utilizing 3D printed robots and rudimentary artificial intelligence, Kamala hits on an idea — she gets a couple of robot duplicates of herself that are just smart enough to repeat a few simple phrases and mimic her movements. Now she can be in more than one place at the same time! Things should work great as long as the 3D printer doesn’t go out of control, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oh, mercy, glorious super-science superhero super-shenanigans! It’s a wonderfully well-told story with great art and absolutely grand humor. People, y’all are reading this, right? If you aren’t, you’re freakin’ crazy, and you need to go out and buy all the Ms. Marvel comics you can. Do not hesitate, people!

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The Totally Awesome Hulk #3

Lady Hellbender, the Monster Queen of Seknarf Nine, wants to capture Earth’s greatest monster — Fin Fang Foom! Amadeus Cho, the new Hulk, is eager to help out — but there’s the issue of a cruise ship in distress nearby. Can he save the ship without losing control of his anger? And can he stop Fin Fang Foom with his brain and not just his brawn? And is Lady Hellbender really on the Hulk’s side?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nice, action-filled comic that’s never shy about dipping into the humor of the situation. It’s great to see Amadeus remembering that he can use his genius to fight monsters and not just the Hulk’s strength. Also, dang it, I’m in favor of any comic with a good guest-starring role for Fin Fang Foom.

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Chained Heat

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Bitch Planet #6

Last issue, Meiko Maki was murdered by the guards on Bitch Planet. In this issue, we learn who she was and what she did to piss off the Powers That Be. Her parents were secret rebels against Earth’s male-centric corruption. Her mother is a violin teacher — but her violin lessons are just a cover so she can teach girls forbidden subjects like math. And her father is a spaceship engineer who’s just made a not-so-accidental error on his latest design that would fatally sabotage a spacecraft. Unfortunately, his latest error has been caught by a colleague who plans to blackmail the family — he’ll help cover up the error in exchange for having sex with his daughters. But Meiko has her own plan to save her family, even if it dooms her to an early death on Bitch Planet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story is really wonderful, the characterization is great. I love the violin lessons as cover for secret math class. And I must say, I’m becoming more and more amazed, happily amazed, by the devotion the series is shown by fans. Women getting the “NC” (Non-Compliant) tattoos from the comic in real life? Do you know of any other independent comic series that inspires fans like that? And I love the way the comic is now including short articles on feminism and related topics in the back pages. This comic is something special, and while I want to learn what happens next in the story, I also want to learn what happens next with the fandom.

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The Totally Awesome Hulk #2

Amadeus, Maddy, She-Hulk, and Miles Morales meet up with Lady Hellbender, the Monster Queen of Seknarf Nine. She and her giant lizard mostly knock the Hulk around, mainly because Amadeus is a sexist dweeb. Maddy settles most of the problem, Amadeus loses control of his temper, Lady Hellbender reveals that she collects monsters to take them to her homeworld, and we catch a glimpse of next issue’s Big Bad.

Verdict: Ehh, thumbs down. I didn’t find myself particularly entertained, and I’m starting to wish this comic had Banner in it as something other than a flashback.

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The Ultimates #3

Fresh off their success in evolving Galactus into a being who brings life to the universe instead of death, the Ultimates have just found out that the Shi’ar Empire is good and angry about the change in the Devourer. Meanwhile, it’s been discovered that too much time travel has caused severe damage to the space-time continuum, and in order to diagnose how bad the problem may be, the team will actually have to travel outside the universe in order to get a look at time from the outside. And once they make it to the Neutral Zone, the Blue Marvel discovers an old friend waiting for them.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding superheroic sci-fi, with wonderful characterization and art.

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Back in the Swing

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Spidey #1

Here’s this great new series by Robbie Thompson and Nick Bradshaw focusing on Spider-Man when he was still in high school. He tangles with the White Rabbit, does badly on a pop quiz, get pushed around by Flash Thompson and rescued by Gwen Stacy, and visits Oscorp just in time for an attack by Dr. Octopus. Can puny Parker save the day — and what more terrible menace is now keeping an eye on him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic story and art — the art is very reminiscent of Art Adams, by the way, which is definitely a good thing. And it’s always great to be able to revisit Peter Parker’s youth — Spidey’s glory days were definitely his high school years, and while this is modernized quite a bit — the Wall-Crawler takes a selfie of himself and White Rabbit after he defeats her — this story still has the feel of the classic era.

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The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

Well, Amadeus Cho, 19-year-old Korean-American smartass, buddy of both the Hulk and Hercules, eighth smartest person in the world, now has gamma-spawned powers of his own. So he runs around the world with his super-genius sister Maddy, beating up monsters (and often getting beat up by them, too), and getting accustomed to how gamma radiation messes with his own rage issues. So is life gonna be all sunshine and bacon cheeseburgers for Amadeus?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, I could take or leave Frank Cho — he draws pretty, but his arrogance always makes me want to find more interesting artists. But Greg Pak writing Amadeus Cho? Yeah, I’m down with that.

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Prez #6

The whole country is freaking out about the cat flu, and Boss Smiley and his corporate flunkies have crafted a bill to let them cure the flu, but also give them the right to patent any living organism. President Beth Ross thinks that sounds like bull, and she throws ’em out. The bill gets passed over her objections, but a very wealthy supporter manages to patent the DNA of the corporate goons himself and threatens to sue them for existing. Meanwhile, the former War Beast drone, now calling herself Tina, wants to live her own life and is looking for a new job. Might that include protecting the President from deranged cat-flu worshipers?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice political satire with a cool sci-fi edge. (The comic makes a point that Tina is transgender — which I’m not sure is entirely accurate for an only-recently sapient genderless robot. Personally, I think what makes her really interesting is her embrace of evangelical Christianity…)

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Sensation Comics #17

The final issue of this series features a story by the great Trina Robbins. Wonder Woman meets up with the Cheetah, who reveals that the plant that grants her cheetah-like powers is almost extinct — and without it, she’ll die. Diana agrees to fly her to the island where the berries are native and help her harvest the last of them, but her invisible jet is shot down. They discover a mad scientist has been using the berries to transform animals into quasi-human forms. When Lex Luthor sends his goons to shut down the project, a bloodbath ensues. Can Wonder Woman rescue everyone? Can the Cheetah be saved? Or will she become worse than ever before?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The cheetah-human hybrid really is tailor-made for an “Island of Dr. Moreau” pastiche, right? The art by Chris Gugliotti is a bit funky, but I’m really happy to see any and all stories by Trina Robbins, so it’s all good, as far as I’m concerned.

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All Star Section Eight #6

The miniseries wraps up with Sixpack getting to hang out with Superman in the Fortress of Solitude. Sixpack confesses that he’s afraid he’s not real, that his adventures are just the hallucinations of a drunk freezing to death in an alley. But Supes tells him it’s all real, shows him a statue of Sixpack as one of the world’s great heroes and… hands him a bottle of whiskey. But just as Section 8’s leader is ready to go, the rest of his team is falling apart. Will there be anyone to save the world from All-Consuming Evil?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The rapid self-destruction of the team is really the funniest bit of the issue, though the hallucinatory Superman telling Sixpack “It’s going to be okay” while  handing him a bottle of rotgut is grimly hilarious. Still, I do wish this issue had lived up to the promise of the previous one.

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Friday Night Fights: Free for All!

Well, my children, it’s the end of another thoroughly gruesome week, and one measly weekend just ain’t really gonna settle things down for us. But it’ll help. So let’s celebrate while we can with everyone’s favorite: FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from February 1983’s Marvel Two-in-One #96 by Tom DeFalco, Ron Wilson, and Mike Esposito. Ben Grimm is stuck in the hospital after a rough battle, and now a whole bunch of supervillains are on the way to finish him off.

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But Marvel’s superheroes aren’t gonna let Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew down, are they?

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That’s a bunch of Marvel’s greatest superheroes beating up on the Rhino, MODOK, and a bunch of Moloids. Not a bad way to kick off the weekend, is it?

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The Best Sound Effect Ever

I’ve never been able to figure out which comic this panel came from (which is why I’ve never used it for Friday Night Fights), but it never fails to make me happy.

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I bet if you were ever around during a fight where Thor and the Hulk were smashing cars around, you’d need to go to the bathroom, too.

((ADDENDUM: In the comments, Habbakuk identifies the issue as “The Incredible Hulk #300 – mindless Hulk post-Secret Wars rampaging and being fought by all the different heroes before being banished by Doctor Strange to The Crossroads.” Many thanks, Habakkuk!))

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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!

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

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Friday Night Fights: Tummy Time!

Alright, kids, this may be my last Friday Night Fights for a few weeks. There’s a decent chance I’ll be moving before the end of the month, and there’s a real good chance I’ll be too busy for a while packing up my stuff, getting everything moved, and getting my house set up to spend a lot of time digging up new fights to post. If I can post something up, I’ll do it, but y’all don’t expect me to prioritize the fights over moving.

Tonight’s battle comes to us from September 1981’s Batman vs. the Incredible Hulk by Len Wein, José Luis García-López, Dick Giordano, and Glynis Oliver. Batman meets up with the Hulk, fisticuffs ensue, and the Dark Knight figures he’ll balance the ridiculously long odds by hitting Green Genes with some knockout gas. Doesn’t turn out the way he plans, though…

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A kick in the breadbasket by a normal man and a few lungfuls of gas is enough to KO the Hulk? I don’t buy it. But dig that awesome José Luis García-López artwork!

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Friday Morning Fights: Love is a Battlefield!

We’re doing things a bit different today. SpaceBooger has requested we have everything set up and ready to go early today — so here we are, starting the weekend even earlier than normal. We’ll have some reviews a bit later today, but for right now, it’s time for… FRIDAY MORNING FIGHTS!

People, I haven’t won a single match in this latest set of 12 rounds of Friday Night Fights — and I’m actually A-OK with that. It means I don’t have to dredge up an extra battle for the prize fight in the next couple weeks — I always have so much trouble finding decent fights for these things, so it means I get a couple weeks rest from worrying about finding good scans. Rest is good. I love rest.

And the last thing I want is to ruin my chance for a little extra rest by screwing up and actually winning this week’s match-up. So I’m throwing the match by posting something that doesn’t actually include any fighting!

So, from 2006’s Defenders: Indefensible by J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen, and Kevin Maguire, here’s magic-slinging cosmic villain Umar very definitely not fighting the Hulk.

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Tee Hee!

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Aw, poor exhausted Hulk! Poor, happy, exhausted Hulk!

Now go on, you mooks, and don’t vote for me! I need my rest.

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What is Best in Life?

People, I don’t have much of anything I want to blog about today, so I’m just gonna sit here and deliberately stir up trouble.

What I am about to reveal here is the complete, objective truth.

For example:

Who was the best Green Lantern?

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Answer: Kyle Rayner.

No, definitely not Hal Jordan. He’s always been a shallow, generally uninteresting character. “Fearless test pilot” isn’t a personality all by itself, and the people out there who seem to freakin’ worship Hal strike me as some of the weirdest people on earth. Yes, that includes the “Hal’s Emerald Attack Team” fanatics and Geoff Johns. As for the rest of them, Guy Gardner’s generally fun, but he’s mostly a gag character. I like John Stewart, especially in the Justice League cartoons. Simon Baz is too new. But Kyle, the last Green Lantern, uncertain, awkward, crab-masked, completely aware of his own fears, freelance artist with the no-yellow-impurity power ring? Kyle was the best.

Who was the best Flash?

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Answer: Wally West.

Definitely, definitely not Barry Allen. Having a crew cut and a bow tie makes him the *worst* Flash. Wally was funnier, cooler, more interesting in every possible way — and of course, he was far, far, far faster.

Who was the best Robin?

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Answer: Dick Grayson.

Really, I guess the best answer would be “Anyone but Jason Todd.” Because I really like all of the Robins. But Dick was the first Robin, he was Robin for the longest time, and he eventually ended up being the best possible Nightwing, so I’m giving the circus kid the crown.

Who was the best Batgirl?

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Answer: Stephanie Brown.

Not to take anything away from Barbara Gordon or Cassandra Cain, because they were pretty cool, but as grim and gritty as the Bat-verse generally is, it was just plain awesome to get to read a Bat-title every month where the lead character wasn’t an emotionally-crippled basket case. Steph was fun and funny and had the best dialogue.

Who was the best Aquaman?

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Answer: Bearded, hook-handed Aquaman.

Because I don’t care who writes him, the clean-shaven, orange-shirted nonentity from “Super Friends” just sucks on every possible level.

Who was the best Hawkgirl?

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Answer: Kendra Saunders.

Mostly because I liked the idea of a Hawkgirl who, at least initially, didn’t want to be the back half of “Hawkman and” — she didn’t love Hawkman, and she wanted to be her own person. She was even in relationships with people other than Hawkman. Eventually, she fell in love with Hawkman in a way that felt more organic, realistic, and worthwhile, and that was fine with me. She certainly didn’t deserve to get exit-stage-lefted the way she did…

Who was the best Green Arrow?

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Answer: The one with the beard.

I liked Connor Hawke, but he’d never be the equal of his dad. And Ollie without a beard just looks like a dork, so he’s gotta have the ridiculous beard.

Who was the best Hulk?

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Answer: Angry green stupid Hulk.

I liked the Professor Hulk, actually. And the Green Scar was cool. Joe Fixit is always fun. But angry green stupid Hulk is the strongest one there is.

Who was the best Spider-Man?

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Answer: The Peter Parker married to Mary Jane Watson.

Because Spider-Man isn’t Otto Octavius, and he doesn’t make deals with the Devil.

What are the best zombies? Fast or slow?

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Answer: Slow zombies.

To quote Max Brooks: “Ha ha, there are no such things as fast zombies!”

So there we go, friends and neighbors, all the mysteries of life cleared up. Go on about your business, please.

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Friday Night Fights: Breakneck Sheep!

Okay, so our last edition of Friday Night Fights featured the Hulk not really covering himself in glory when he, the most powerful creature in the Marvel Universe, fights a bear and accidentally breaks its neck because he’s too dim to know his own strength. But surely, that’s unfair to the Hulk — who wouldn’t get carried away doing something as awesome as fighting a bear? I bet he’s much more in-control of himself normally, right?

So, from the same comic as last week, November 1984’s Marvel Fanfare #17, in a story by David Anthony Kraft and Tony Salmons, the Hulk fights the cosmic menace of… a bighorn sheep.

OMG, Hulk, you are the worst.

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