Archive for Morning Glories

Save the Whale


Detective Comics #876

This one starts with one of the best opening mysteries I’ve ever seen — a bank in Gotham City opens its doors in the morning and finds a full-grown killer whale dead on the floor. Obviously, no one has a clue how it got there. All the bank’s cameras blanked out for an hour during the night. The bank is owned by the daughter of the gangster who killed Dick Grayson’s parents, but there’s absolutely no evidence that she’s anything but a law-abiding citizen. And there’s a dead body in the whale’s stomach. What can it all mean?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding beginning for this mystery — the entire thing is tantalizing and bizarre, and I really want to see how it all turns out.

Xombi #2

David Kim is pumped full of nanites that heal him of any injury and make him immortal, but he doesn’t feel too healthy when this comic opens. He’s just been attacked by a magical being called a snow angel that’s tearing his arm off. And once Catholic Girl has used her holy powers to stop it, they’re all getting attacked by a bunch of zombie kids in Halloween costumes. Clearly, these monsters aren’t who broke a mystical Mr.-Hyde-transforming prisoner out of prison. They find the transportational portal that the escapees used, leaving David to pursue, accompanied by a guardian golem called a rustling husk — a creature formed out of the discarded husks of millions of insects that died while trapped inside windows. But once David catches up to  the escapees, is he going to find something even more awful to worry about?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Holy bananas, this one is just so relentlessly weird, from the clerical superheroes like Catholic Girl and Nun of the Above to the talking pocket change to the Maranatha, part lion, part demon, part King Kong, who ends up being the main villain in this piece. And if there’s one thing I enjoy, it’s a weird, weird comic book.

Morning Glories #9

Our focus in this issue is on Jun, the Academy’s resident badass — and on his mysteriously hostile twin brother Hisao. We see their childhood, when they were much friendlier to each other — and when the Morning Glory Academy first came after them. How did they come to be enemies? How were they separated? What happened to their families, and who rescued one of them? Only some of those questions get an answer, but it’s still a good ride.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m enjoying the focus on the individual students — something that was definitely missing from the first storyarc. The one thing that bugged me in this issue is that it spotlights Jun’s past, captioning it as “Five years ago,” while depicting him and his brother as, at the most 8-10 years old — that’s just much too young for a guy who is presented, in the present day, in his upper teens.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • This. That’s all. And I sure do wish some of the idiot scumbag birthers would move the heck out of my country.

Comments off

Xombi Uprising

Xombi #1

Here’s one of the few former Milestone comics to get a full revival at DC. Originally, this comic was created by John Rozum and Denys Cowan in 1994 — it starred David Kim, a researcher who got a dose of nanotechnology that made him immortal, and it featured levels of weirdness on the level of Grant Morrison’s “Invisibles” and “Doom Patrol.”

This new series has Rozum back on board as the writer, with Fraser Irving handling the art chores. David Kim’s backstory remains the same, and the depth of the weirdness seems even higher than ever. On the first three pages, you’ve got paintings eating each other, vampires stepping out of movies, chickens bearing live young, talking coins, and evil rod-puppets made out of religious tracts. Before long, David is sent to visit the Prison of Industry with his allies Catholic Girl, Nun of the Above, Nun the Less, and Father Maxwell. They find the Prison, a mystically shrunken jail for people possessed by outside forces. Nun the Less shrinks down and finds all the prisoners dead except for one, a man with a supernatural Jekyll-Hyde complex. And then there are they self-typing typewriters and evil snow angels and even more than that…

Verdict: Honestly, I think I’m going to withhold judgment for now. David Kim is an extremely personable character, and I’ve always loved the concept of characters like Catholic Girl and Nun of the Above. But I wonder whether this one is layering on the weirdness just too thick.

Knight and Squire #6

The final issue of this miniseries sees the Joker running amok in Great Britain, dragging Jarvis Poker the British Joker (unfortunately dying of cancer) as a hostage and trying to kill as many British superheroes as he can. And he’s got a bunch of Joker masks that allow him to mind-control people. The Knight and Squire have been distracted by several prominent deaths — can they get England’s heroes, vigilantes, and even villains to pull together to stop the Joker? And does Jarvis Poker have a chance to survive the final battle?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The whole blasted series has been wonderful fun. If you haven’t gotten any of these other issues, you’ll probably want to wait for the trade paperback, but you definitely will want to read this one.

Morning Glories #8

We get some background on a couple of the other students at Morning Glory Academy. Most of our emphasis is on geeky loser Hunter — he’s just asked Casey on a date, and she said yes, but Hunter has an extreme problem with lateness. In fact, for some strange reason, every clock he looks at always reads 8:13. He nearly never knows what time it is, so he asks his roommate Jun to tell him when it’s time to go to his date. But then Hunter gets attacked by some supposedly friendly classmates — and Jun shows up to help them beat him up. Hunter ends up tied up and blindfolded, with his captors planning on torturing and killing him. Is anyone going to show up to save him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely weird issue. Hunter was probably the least interesting character before, but with the mystery behind his strange clock-reading problem, he’s leap-frogged into the most interesting spot.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Cheer for the Home Team

Morning Glories #7

Our focus in this issue is on Zoe’s history, from her childhood in Mumbai, orphaned but gifted with bizarre intelligence and insight, to her present, angry at the world, craving the popularity she used to enjoy, and stuck in the deeply psychotic Morning Glories Academy. We also get some flashbacks to a year ago, when she was living a seemingly normal life. And things start getting nasty when the Morning Glories cheerleading squad gives her a really simple tryout — she just has to answer a few simple questions about the worst moments of her life.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely done — after last issue’s future shocker, it’s nice to reconnect with the students. And it’s especially nice to see some character background and mysteries for the previously shallow Zoe.

Dethklok #3

Dethklok’s next tour is going to be something amazing — they’ve had an immense train built — the Dethtrain — and they’re going to perform their next concert on top of it. Of course, there are some problems ahead. Pickles, quite sensibly, doesn’t trust the scheme at all and thinks they’re all going to die on the train. Elderly bluesman Mashed Potato Johnson appears with a warning about an evil spirit that’ll be stalking the train and a request that the band help save him from the Blues Devil. Can anyone stop both the Train Ghoul and the Blues Devil? And just what perils are waiting at the end of the Dethtrain’s line?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nasty, brutish, and funny — everything I expect from the most brutal death metal band of all time.

Comments off

School’s Out

Avengers Academy #8

Okay, backstory — a while back — I think during “Civil War” or one of the other idiotic Marvel crossovers — some supervillain called the Hood ambushed Tigra, beat her up, and videotaped her so he could blackmail her into — I don’t remember. It was stupid and pointless — one of the things Brian Michael Bendis does so he’ll make his fanboys think he’s gangsta. Anyway, Tigra is now teaching at Avengers Academy, and the students have just discovered that the video has finally been released on the Internet. Tigra’s not happy about it, but she and Giant-Man shut the kids down when they suggest going after the Hood for revenge — the Academy is about getting them to play by the rules, not slip into supervillain thinking.

But of course, some of the students — specifically, Striker, Hazmat, and Veil — decide to track down the Hood (he’s escaped from prison but lost his powers), beat him up, and make their own tape. Meanwhile, Tigra is trying to deal with the residual effects of the trauma by creating her own foundation to assist anyone who’s undergone that kind of ordeal — from abused children and spouses all the way to suicidal vets. But how’s she going to react when she learns that the students have gone outside the law?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see that Christos Gage and other people at Marvel are willing to figure out ways to fix Bendis’ screwups. Good character work here, too, especially for Tigra. And an excellent cliffhanger to close everything out. No idea how they wrap this up without just resorting to the old reset button

Morning Glories #6

A new storyarc begins — and for most of this issue, we don’t really see any familiar faces. Our focus is on Julie Hayes, a researcher with connections to the mysterious rotating dynamo seen in the Morning Glory Academy’s basement. She’s on the run from the law because she made a mistake that cost 12 people their lives. She meets a member of the Academy’s staff who offers her a deal — come work for the Academy doing stuff that’s probably illegal, and the Academy will make her legal troubles go away. Will she take them up on the offer? And will the surprise on the last page make your jaw hit the floor, or drop all the way through to the basement?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I was considering giving this one up. But that last page definitely roped me in for the next storyarc.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Monster City

iZombie #9

Not really a cool-down issue — more a things-are-starting-to-slowly-heat-up-again issue. Gwen is out on a date mini-golfing with Horatio, which his monster-hunting partner Diogenes is being stalked by vampires. Scott the were-terrier is worried that one of his friends may find out even more of his secrets. And Galatea is up to something fiendish.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Still good fun. Great relationship work and characterization. And as always, beautiful artwork and dialogue.

Morning Glories #5

The first storyarc wraps up — Ike has betrayed everyone, Hunter buys everyone a little more time with a well-timed fire, and Zoe and Casey are on the run. Zoe gets lost, meets one of the Academy’s supernatural assassins, and gets covered in blood (luckily, not her own). And then the girls get captured again. But somehow, to the Academy instructors’ confusion, Jade is rescued by persons unknown. All that, plus we get to meet another of the psychotic teachers they keep on staff.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Most of the loose ends tied up, with a few left to worry about in the future and a few more new threads to keep an eye on. I’d still love to know what the heck is going on at the Academy, but I wasn’t under illusion that everything would be explained so quickly.

Today’s Cool Links:

I got nothing. I’ve seen no funny or amusing links since the mass shooting in Arizona. And the relevant links I’ve seen since then would probably piss some of y’all off pretty hard, so I ain’t gonna post ’em. But I’ll say something’s gone bad wrong with this country. I don’t really care how crazy this nut was — when your political discourse is dominated by veiled threats of violence, something bad is gonna happen eventually. Don’t like it when people tie the teapartiers to this attack? Too bad. Maybe you should less time waving guns around at town hall meetings.

And no, both sides aren’t just as bad — some random commenter on a blog isn’t equivalent to a former governor, former vice presidential candidate, TV news star/commenter, author, and possible future presidential candidate. It says something pretty unpleasant about her character that her first reaction to this tragedy was to try to hide her infamous crosshairs map, the second was to make a really half-assed apology, and the third was to pretend that the crosshairs were surveyor’s symbols. And it says something much worse about some Congressional leaders and pundits when they get angry because the county sheriff says there’s too much violent political rhetoric.

I’ve said a lot more than I was planning to about this, so I’ma shut up now.

Comments (2)

Hell is for Heroes

Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil

We get a couple cool Hellboy stories here, written by Mike Mignola, illustrated by Richard Corben, and framed as a couple of late movies at the most run-down theater in the universe.

In the first one, Hellboy is called in to investigate a man named Sullivan who claims his home is forcing him to kill — he tricks someone into entering a specific room in the house, the door slams, screams ensue, and a few gold coins bounce down the staircase in payment. When Hellboy enters the room himself, will he be able to combat the evil both inside and out? The second story focuses on a lunatic who thinks he’s a reincarnated priest of the Egyptian god Horus who raises a bunch of mummies to fight Hellboy and kidnap a woman he loves. But when the pressure’s on, what happens to an Egyptian priest who prays to the wrong god?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love all these collaborations between Mignola and Corben — they really play to each other’s strengths in these stories. I don’t think I could pick which of these was my favorite story — both are great examples of the best in horror comics. Corben’s art really should be savored — every panel is beautiful.

Morning Glories #4

Casey is working on a plan to rescue Jade from the psychotics running the academy and is trying to recruit some of her fellow classmates to assist her. The only one who flat refuses is Jun, who has his own suspicions of how dangerous the school is. The other three agree to help and meet in the basement to make Casey’s homebrew recipe for tear gas. But of course, no plan goes off without a hitch, especially in a place as surveillance-heavy as the Morning Glory Academy.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great intrigue all around, ever deepening mysteries, ever greater dangers. Excellent dialogue, even if it sometimes does run on for too long. They say the next issue will be the end of the first storyarc, and I’m very keen to see how they’re going to wrap this up.

Tiny Titans #34

Everyone thinks Superboy and Zatara look exactly alike. They don’t see the resemblance, but sure enough, when Raven magically switches their costumes, the mistaken identity cases get even more extreme. Supergirl takes Zatara off for a flight even though he can’t fly, and Cassie, Starfire, Barbara, and Bumblebee drag Superboy along to get him to create party favors for their tea party. All that plus Robin spends the whole issue eating breakfast, Jor-El shows off his observational skills, Plasmus gets a tuxedo, and everyone gets their own Kid Flash costume.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, lots and lots of funny stuff. I only wish we’d seen more of the cast in this issue — these stories seem to hit their highest points when more of the Titans get to participate in the madness.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Second Amendment Solutions

Vertigo Resurrected #1

Primarily a collection of reprints from other Vertigo comics, this one is getting attention because it’s the first time that Warren Ellis’ decade-old “Hellblazer” story about school shootings has been printed anywhere. In this one, our main viewpoint character is a federal investigator looking into a rash of school shootings for a Congressional committee. There’s no pattern, there’s no culprit that can be blamed — can’t blame music or TV or movies or parents having guns in the house — so what is to blame. But the investigator soon realizes that John Constantine, hard-boiled British magician, has been present at way, way too many of the shootings. What’s Constantine’s connection? And what’s going to happen when he shows up in the investigator’s office?

The other stories in the collection include a tale about cattle mutilations by Brian Azzarello, a bleak twist on “Toy Story” by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, a twisted stories of love featuring obsessed surgeons and obsessed literary scholars, a look at a monster-rental firm by Bill Willingham, and a story about love, lust, hypnosis, and zombies by Bruce Jones, Bernie Wrightson, and Timothy Bradstreet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The school shooting story is a good, ominous take on the issue, and it’s something that I’m disappointed hadn’t been printed before now — it’s not a particularly shocking story now, and it’s hard for me to imagine it was ever shocking. Publishers are just gutless sometimes. The other stories are a mixed bag — there’s a post-Gulf-War story by Garth Ennis and Jim Lee that suffered from a lot of mood whiplash, and a story about torture in turn-of-the-century third-world nations that I really didn’t get the point of. Steven T. Seagle and Tim Sale’s story about the obsessed surgeon was very, very good and creepy, though, and Peter Milligan’s “Death of a Romantic” was clever and funny.

The biggest downside to it is the eight-dollar price tag. If you think that’s worth paying for some stories that are very good and some that are not so good, then sure, go pick it up. But DC needs to be more certain they’re putting a fat wad of quality in these eight-dollar 100-Page Spectaculars…

Batman and Robin #15

The Joker is holding Damian prisoner, and Dr. Hurt has Dick Grayson. Once Robin gets away — a bit conveniently, almost like the Joker wanted him to escape — he manages to save Commissioner Gordon from Professor Pyg, and the adrenaline surge actually manages to break the hold of the viral narcotic. But Damian gets swarmed by Dr. Hurt’s men, and then Dick gets shot in the head with a .32 pellet — not enough to kill him, but enough to cause serious brain damage if Dr. Hurt doesn’t save his life — and he won’t do it unless Damian swears allegiance to him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really, a very fun story, and I’m absolutely loving the art by Frazer Irving — definitely one of the great pleasures of this series that people never think to comment on ’cause they’re enjoying Morrison’s storytelling so much.

Morning Glories #3

Casey knows the sadistic teachers have kidnapped Jade, but they won’t admit to it. Jade finds herself in the school nurse’s office — or rather, in the school nurse’s prison and neurosurgery complex. She meets up with one of the patients, who effortlessly kills four of the academy’s guards. Casey is getting close to some kind of break-through, but there may be nothing that can keep the nurse from torturing Jade.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely weird story. The frequently repeated mantra found written on walls is a very nice touch for ratcheting up the strangeness.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Return of the Barbarian

Joe the Barbarian #7

It’s been a while since we saw this one — the previous issue came out in early July. But it’s great to see that the delay is over and we can get back into the hallucinatory fantasy.

Joe is a diabetic kid who might need a glass of soda to stop his hallucinations — or he may actually not be hallucinating and really is leading an army of action figures against the tyranny of King Death. While the army is attacked by Deathcoats and zombies, reinforcements come in from Smoot’s family of submarine pirates, giving everyone a chance to finally make it to the Fountain of Life — otherwise known as the bottle of soda in the refrigerator. But will Joe use the Aqua Vitae to save himself or to save loyal members of his army? And can Joe survive a face-to-face meeting with King Death?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great to see this series is still going. Lots of excitement and thrills here, amazing battles, and some really terrifying dangers. This has been a great series — and next issue will be the last one.

Morning Glories #2

Casey has discovered that her parents have been killed by the teachers at the diabolical Morning Glory Academy — and they’re not glad she found out, so they torture her for a while before throwing her back in with her new classmates, who’ve all gotten detention. Ike and Hunter went on an after-curfew exploration and discovered a bunch of secret cultists, while one of the R.A.s tried to stab Jade and Zoe, but they got blamed for all the chaos. Casey refuses to tell the other students that her parents have been killed, and the teachers seal up the detention room and start flooding it. Are the teachers really trying to kill all of them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, with lots of intrigue and mystery. Not sure why Casey is working so hard to hide the fact that her parents are dead or that she’s been tortured — it’s not like the rest of the students don’t suspect something’s up anyway.

Kill Shakespeare #5

Iago successfully defect’s to the cause of the rebellion, to the consternation of the always-honorable Othello. Deciding that he needs to make his own way, Hamlet leaves the group of rebels to see if he can find the wizard Shakespeare by himself — only to fall prey to nightmarish visions of his dead father and Polonius. He also learns that Richard III’s men are torturing and slaughtering the peasants in the area, and he falls in with a group of travelers, Demetrius, Lysander, and Adriana — none suspecting that Richard’s soldiers are following them.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nothing really spectacular going on in this one — aside from Hamlet’s ghostly visions — but the story is advancing nicely, and it’s still keeping my interest. Looking forward to more of it…

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Teacher’s Pets

Morning Glories #1

I originally skipped this one because the initial buzz involved a lot of comparisons to Joe Casey’s superteens-at-evil-school comic series “The Intimates,” which I still think is one of the worst and most pointless comics of the past decade. But I got persuaded to give it a shot when they reprinted the first issue, so here we go.

The setting is indeed a spectacularly evil private boarding school, hidden from the public, housing intangible assassins, and keeping a bunch of super-genius students imprisoned for some unknown purpose. We follow a group of new students — pretty whiz kid Casey, rich sociopath Ike, golddigger Zoe, neglected geek Hunter, goth poet Jade, and exchange student Jun. They sit through a weird orientation video that features images of goat sacrifice, meet the hyperactive R.A.s, and barely missing seeing one of the recently executed upperclassmen. Jade learns that her father no longer remembers her, Casey learns that they all have the same birthday, and then finds out something much, much worse.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a large cast, but they’re all nicely distinct from each other, both visually and emotionally. The backstory — scant though it is for now — is also plenty interesting, and I’m sure it’ll be interesting to see how everything develops.

Strange Science Fantasy #3

Scott Morse’s retro storytelling platform continues with a weird film noir set in the early days of Hollywood. Our lead character is the Projectionist — because he has a projection camera for a head. Other projectionists in the city are being killed off by someone who wants to eliminate the movie industry in its infancy. The suspects include the Key Grip, who has keys for hands, the typewriter-headed Script Girl, the Prop Master, the Location Scout, and the deadly Silent Scream. Will the Projectionist be able to track down the Director before everything fades to black?

Verdict: Thumbs up, but you really gotta get yourself into a film noir mood to enjoy this one. Might not hurt to watch a few old detective movies — or heck, just go for the big one and watch “Sunset Boulevard.” On the other hand, I may just be encouraging you to watch “Sunset Boulevard” ’cause it’s really worth watching…

JSA All-Stars #10

The gods of Parador have returned to life, but they’re not content to remain in South America — they want to start over in Los Angeles. But they’re not fans of the current landscape, so they’re gonna knock the whole place down and build new temples. Can Power Girl and Stargirl hold out long enough for the rest of the team to arrive?

Verdict: Thumbs down. Good grief, what an awful mess this is. The plot makes nearly no sense, the artwork is weird, and I’m just completely bored with the whole thing.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments (1)