Archive for Powers

Merry Turkey Day!

Hey, it’s Thanksgiving! Hope you’re all able to spend time eating good food with friends and family. And for those of you who aren’t — I seriously hope next year is better than this one, both for you and for the rest of us.

It’s hard to find comics that are specifically about Thanksgiving, so instead, let’s look at some prominent comic book Pilgrims.


Super Pilgrim

Okay, I know absolutely nothing about this guy on the left side of this “Tick” cover. I’ve got to assume he’s a Pilgrim and he’s got superpowers. And since he’s in a “Tick” comic, I reckon it’s a sure bet that he’s very silly.


Just a Pilgrim

An apocalyptic sci-fi Western, this was written by Garth Ennis, illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra, and published by Black Bull Comics. Set in a future where the sun’s corona expanded, burning off the oceans and killing most of humanity, the story focuses on Pilgrim, a former cannibal who has burned a cross into his face to represent his renewed faith. He tries to defend some refugees crossing the Atlantic basin from pirates and in a later series, tries to defend some scientists trying to build a space shuttle to take them to another world. Despite Pilgrim’s badassery, the stories don’t often end very well.


Deena Pilgrim

Deena is a character in Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s “Powers” series. She’s a homicide detective partnered with Det. Christian Walker, and they investigate murders of “powers” — superheroes and supervillains. She’s a bit of a goofball, a bit of a punk rocker, and she always plays “Bad Cop” to Walker’s “Good Cop.” At one point, she actually developed contagious superpowers and went on the run, but I understand her powers have been cured now.


Scott Pilgrim

The lead character in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s epic comic series from Oni Press, Scott is a slacker and bass guitarist for a band called Sex Bob-Omb who falls in love with Ramona Flowers. But in order to date her, he must first defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends (which includes one evil ex-girlfriend from college). The whole series has lots of call-backs to video games — all the bands in the series have names based on computer games, and Scott’s battles against the seven evil exes are all reminiscent of video game boss battles. No, I’ve never read this, mostly because I’m too cheap to buy all the previous books.


Solomon Kane

He’s not technically a Pilgrim, but he is a Puritan. He had a series published by Marvel years ago, and a current series published by Dark Horse, but he got his start as a character created by Robert E. Howard, the guy who wrote the Conan the Barbarian stories. Solomon Kane was a dour, near-humorless 17th century swashbuckling Puritan swordsman who adventured across Europe and Africa fighting evil and rescuing innocents. Howard’s original Solomon Kane stories are great action pulp — to be honest, some of the best action prose I can recall reading anywhere — though it can be a bit of a slog to get past the 1920s-era racism that infects them — the more recent comic stories bleed that part out of them.

So there we have it — five different comic book Pilgrims for you to spend your Thanksgiving with. Make sure they get some of the sweet potato pie, a’ight?

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Friday Night Fights: Police Brutality!

Man, being ill and trying to recover is no fun at all. But ya know what is fun? FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

From 2002’s Powers #23 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. Hey, bad-tempered supercop Deena Pilgrim! What’s your favorite Ice-T song?


Hey, Deena! Can you use that girl’s head to keep the beat?


Hmm, yeah, that doesn’t work so well, I guess.

(Bahlactus is the King of Rock, there is none higher, sucker MC’s should call him Sire)

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The Gang’s All Here


The Brave and the Bold #12

It’s the final chapter of this progressively more and more epic storyline. Megistus has stolen Green Lantern’s power battery, leaving Hal without any way to recharge his power ring, and he’s taken it to the sun, turning it from yellow to green, depriving both Superman and Ultraman, his evil duplicate from Earth-3, of their powers. Megistus has stolen a variety of magical items and used them to attract a red cloud of radiation across the universe that has the same effect on all biological life that Red Kryptonite has on Superman — uncontrollable and painful mutation.

The Challengers of the Unknown borrow Wonder Woman’s invisible plane to fly all of them up to the sun to do battle with the mad alchemist. Once they get close enough to the sun, GL is able to leech away enough energy to power up his ring and let enough solar energy through to give the Kryptonians their powers again. While Megistus knocks Superman and Ultraman around, the Challengers try to shut down the artifacts, and GL tries to free Metamorpho and Firestorm from captivity. Supergirl and Power Girl join the fight, while on Earth, Flash, Wonder Woman, and the Teen Titans work to save people from the red cloud. But stopping Megistus and neutralizing the red cloud is going to require some sacrifice before it’s too late…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely energetic and dramatic ending for this storyline. If I’ve got a complaint, it’s that we didn’t end up seeing all of the guest stars this series has spotlighted in the previous 12 issues. I know it would’ve made for a really large and unwieldy story, but I think it would’ve been fairly cool to see Batman, the Legion, Lobo, the Metal Men, and the Silent Knight in here somewhere…


Captain America #37

The Red Skull continues his plans to destroy America from the inside, as one of his stooge politicians announces a third-party bid for the presidency. Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes, the new Captain America, recovers from his recent injuries and gets into a fight with Clint “Hawkeye” Barton. After some weird dreams about Bucky and Cap fighting in World War II, Bucky meets up with Cap’s old friend the Falcon, who promises to give Bucky a chance to find his feet as a superhero. And finally, Carol Danvers Sharon Carter runs into someone who may be the resurrected Steve Rogers — but is the old Captain America now a pawn of the Red Skull?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Skull’s conspiracy continues to expand in devious ways, building up a nice, nasty challenge to the fledgling Cap. Oh, and Bucky’s dream, where he and the original Cap yell things like “Look out for the Internet!” and “Let Bob Hope text her for you tonight at the USO show!”, is pretty gleefully wacky.


Powers Annual 2008

Much of this issue is actually written by “Powers” illustrator Michael Avon Oeming. We get another look into Walker Christian’s prehistoric past, when he served as the chieftain of a tribe of cave-dwelling early humans. He gets to fight a boar, a bear, and an early metahuman, and he gets himself some sweet, sweet lovin’ from a bikini-wearing cavegal.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Nothing against Oeming’s writing, but so help me, we’ve seen Walker-as-a-caveman before, and even with the thong-wearing cavegirl, this story wasn’t interesting enough to warrant going way back there again.

(Correction made — thanks to Jeff in comments for the tip.)

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Not for the Kiddies



Jeff Smith is a guy who’s best known for writing the very popular “Bone” series for over a decade. It was a very kid-friendly series, with lots of funny characters and jokes. It always looked like a cross between “Pogo,” Carl Barks’ Disney comics, and “Lil’ Abner.” He recently did “Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil” for DC, and it was still a pretty kid-friendly comic. His new series is called “RASL,” and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna be too kid-friendly at all.

The comic follows a so-far unnamed protagonist who is a dimension-hopping art thief. He breaks into a seventh-floor apartment from the outside, steals a painting, gets chased by the cops, drinks some liquor, and gets chased by a sinister camel-faced gunman. Who is he, how does he travel between dimensions, who’s pursuing him, and how can he survive? No answers yet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a weird, violent story, and so far, it’s more than interesting enough to make sure I come back for more.


Powers #28

Recap: Someone’s giving people a virus that gives them superpowers, and a serial killer — possibly the same person giving out the powers virus — is targeting blonde teenaged girls around the city. Former detective Deena Pilgrim is a suspect because she has the powers virus. Former techno superhero Triphammer has a daughter who’s been murdered by the killer. The cops and Detective Christian Walker — himself a secret superhero — are stymied. And Walker’s friend Calista, the new Retro Girl, has a plan to fix everything.

Calista’s plan is set herself out as bait for the killer — she’s a young blonde teen, and if she doesn’t let on that she has powers, she has a chance of taking the killer down before he knows he’s in trouble. Walker’s opposed to the idea, but Calista insists. Meanwhile, Deena’s been ambushed by a crime lord and his goons who think they’re gonna make out good by taking her down. She’s badly outnumbered, but she still manages to wipe everyone out. And how does the stakeout with Calista go? As you’d probably expect, not at all well.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is the most convoluted and confusing and suspenseful mystery I’ve seen from the “Powers” comics in quite a while. A surprisingly small amount of really adult content, though I’m sure the gratuitous nudity and cussin’ will be back in force next issue.

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Random Grab Bag

Whatta we got today? A little bit of everything — a dark and gloomy police procedural, a comedy book, and a straightforward superhero punchfest. Let’s get to ’em.


She-Hulk #23

Okay, first of all, look at Shulkie’s hand on that cover. Can you spread your fingers that far apart? I can’t. I’m not sure anyone can do it without getting their hands broken. I don’t think She-Hulk getting her hands broken is a part of the current storyline, so I’ll just chalk it up to lazy artwork.

Anyway, last issue, we had She-Hulk with a miniaturized Titania punching on her eardrum while a full-sized Absorbing Man punched on her face, plus we had Jennifer Walters with a broken neck but still walking around arresting perps. Wait, aren’t Jennifer Walters and She-Hulk the same person?!

Anyway, in this issue, Titania finally gets knocked out of Shulkie’s ear, but that doesn’t make it much easier for her to beat Absorbie. But we get to see him turn into everything from steel to Legos to a shark-human hybrid. And the broken-necked Jennifer Walters is revealed as a friendly Skrull named Jazinda. Wait, isn’t the Marvel Universe about to go to war with the Skrulls?!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Still not sure I’m down with the idea of She-Hulk as a bounty hunter, but the story has been pretty entertaining so far.


Groo: Hell on Earth #2

Groo, mighty barbarian warrior but a few crackers short of a Lunchable, has been made a general. Hey, he’s never been a general before! That means it’s time to go find other armies to fight. His own army is terrified of him — they think (quite rationally) that he’ll end up getting them killed. While Groo is marching around looking for an army to fight, the Sage is wandering to various villages trying to get them to stop polluting the air so the glaciers in the north don’t melt. Of course, the only people dumber than Groo are the other people in Groo’s world, so folks can always find new reasons for misunderstanding the Sage or increasing their smoke production — after all, Groo has an army, and everyone’s afraid he’ll attack!

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is actually my first “Groo” comic, so I can’t say I get all of the jokes. But the ones I get are good, and Sergio Aragones’ cartooning is, as always, wonderful and fun to read.


Powers #27

Deena Pilgrim, former cop, current carrier of the deadly Powers virus, leans on an underworld boss to get him to lean on the rest of the underworld to hunt down a serial killer. But when the crooks learn that Deena is herself one of the suspects, they don’t like that at all. Meanwhile, exiled hero Triphammer returns to the city to learn that his daughter is one of the killer’s victims.

Verdict: Thumbs up, but it’s a close thing. The problem is that not a lot happens here. Sure, it’s well-written and the dialogue pops, but there’s still not very much going on. Luckily, it should pick up some next issue.

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How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?

“Sure!” WHAMMO!


The Brave and the Bold #7

The new storyline starts off with Wonder Woman and Power Girl fighting a horde of mummies. Once they’re dispatched, Power Girl accidentally reveals, while touching Wonder Woman’s magic lasso, that she’s heading for the Fortress of Solitude to kill Superman. Whuh?! Well, PG’s been hypnotized by someone — a short investigation leads the two heroines to the supposedly-destroyed-but-secretly-hidden Library of Alexandria. There, they run into the rotten Dr. Alchemy, an old Flash villain, who manages to transfer his mind into Power Girl’s. From there, Alchemy ambushes Superman at the Fortress and turns the whole place into Red Kryptonite, which brings about a thoroughly grody sequence where Supes mutates rapidly through a bunch of gross-and-drippy alien forms. Wondy ends up saving the day, but no one can figure out why a minor Flash villain like Dr. Alchemy would come up with a scheme to take out Big Blue.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Red Kryptonite is a darn fun plot device, though it’s been a while since we’ve seen it used as lightheartedly as it used to be in the Silver Age. The character interplay is pretty good, and George Perez’s artwork is as dandy as ever.


Powers #26

Quick recap: Former superhero Christian Walker lost his powers and became a cop, paired with Deena Pilgrim. They spent several years solving murders of super-people. Pilgrim accidentally got superpowers from a supervillain, and they burn her up unless she kills people. Walker, meanwhile, was chosen to become an intergalactic super-cop protecting Earth. In this issue, Pilgrim is on the run from the law, is apparently Patient Zero for the Powers Virus that’s been killing people all over the city, and she’s madder’n heck at Walker because she thinks he lied to her about his powers. Meanwhile, mysterious drug pushers (or powers-pushers? Can’t tell yet, but they’re muy mysterioso) are victimizing kids all over the city.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Whoa, Deena’s gotten way scary. I got a bad feeling this storyline isn’t gonna end well for her. And by gum, I think this is the first “Powers” issue in at least several years where no one got nekkid and no one got bloodily dismembered. There’s still swearing galore, so you know it’s still Bendis doing the writing.


Booster Gold #3

Some bad guy’s stolen the powerful Supernova costume from Booster’s 21st century ancestor, and they plan to use it to kill Superman! But Rip Hunter, Time Master, discovers that they have a very devious plan — they’re going to kill the doctor who delivered Jonathan Kent’s great-grandfather, leading to his death during childbirth. As a result, the Luthors find baby Kal-El and Lex ends up killing him as a teenager. So, Booster and Rip have to travel to the Wild West, where Booster gets drunk with psycho gunfighter Jonah Hex, and Skeets gets to ride a horse (not an easy thing for a hovering robot the size of a dinner plate). Booster saves the doctor, gets back to Rip Hunter’s time machine, and then crashes into a couple of guys on a Cosmic Treadmill.

Verdict: Another thumbs up. The art is fun, the story is fun, and this series hasn’t made any serious missteps yet.


Death of the New Gods #1

Actually, this is one comic I absolutely refused to buy. DC kills off a whole boatload of Gentleman Jack Kirby’s characters. Why did I skip this one?

Because DC Comics has spent the last couple of years wallowing in cheap deaths of good characters for nothing more than shock value, hoping for some “Death of Superman” media coverage and a short-term boost in sales.

Because none of these shock-value comics have been worth spit, and I don’t expect this one to be any different.

Because relying on nothing but shock value is a good way to get your readers completely bored with shock value.

Finally, and maybe most importantly — because the New Gods were created by Jack Kirby. You don’t use cheap shock value as an excuse to go mess with characters created by the King of Comics, and that’s all there is to it.

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Comics for Kids, Comics for Grown-Ups

We got a little for the kids and a little for the non-kids in today’s reviews.


Gumby #1

Believe it or not, this is the second time that Bob Burden, creator of bizarre underground comix like “The Flaming Carrot,” has written a comic book about Gumby. And it’s pretty cool. He loads the story down with crazy, funny ideas — a house where everyone is named Jeffrey, gigantic fire hydrants, a man who is also a hot-air balloon — and he also gives us little opportunities to remember that Gumby is really made out of clay. Gumby turns himself into a sombrero and does his own Mexican hat dance to pay for some snacks, and a dog that bites his leg spits it right back out, because clay tastes bad! That’s both freaky and wonderful at the same time. The art is provided by Rick Geary, who has a great visual imagination to match Burden’s.

Our story involves Gumby and Pokey meeting a new friend. It’s a girl! Oh no! What if she wants to kiss him! Gumby also has to deal with his mean cousin, and faces danger from a fire and from a bunch of bad clowns.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The plot isn’t earthshaking, but it’s fun, and it’s the type of story that lots of kids would be very well entertained by. It’s probably not for all kids — older kids will think some of it is really cheesy — but for the right kid, it’s great.


Powers #25

And now a comic just for grown-ups. If you’re not familiar with the series, it follows two police detectives, Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim, who specialize in cases involving murders of superhumans. Walker used to be a superhero until he lost his powers, and he’s recently acquired new powers. Deena has also picked up some superpowers, but they’re dangerous to her as well as anyone she uses them on. Last issue, Deena went on the run when she and Walker discovered each other’s powers.

This issue, Walker gets a new partner and investigates an ongoing outbreak of a “powers virus” that gives random people superpowers. He also fights off an alien menace and has sex with his girlfriend for two pages’ worth of small but very detailed panels. See, told you, just for grown-ups. Kids, go read “Gumby.” Anyway, by the end, Walker runs into Deena again, and it looks like she’s spoiling for a fight.

Verdict: Thumbs up, but I was a bit disappointed. Brian Michael Bendis is still one of the best plotters around, and his dialogue is still great, but man alive, this storyline has been going on forever. And the sex scene is entirely Bendis trying to shock people. Either that, or he’s just trying to torture artist Michael Avon Oeming by making him draw all those itty-bitty nekkid people. Oeming’s art is still to die for, of course. Does anyone still read Bendis’ letter column anymore? It’s like reading transcripts of some immature shock-jock radio guy who thinks he’s really, really hip. And yeah, for all my complaints, I don’t see any reason why I’ll ever drop this comic — it’s one of the most consistently great comics out there.

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