Archive for PS238

Underwater and Outer Space

Tiny Titans #38

Obviously, our emphasis in this issue is on Aqualad, Lagoon Boy, and the other water-dwelling characters. After Aqualad and Lagoon Boy go for a swim, they meet Aquagirl and the other members of Underwater Tiny Titans — the Star Spangled Kid, Hard Rock, the Face, TNTeena, and Lagoon Girl. They also meet their Pet Club, which includes a sea cucumber, a real cucumber, a rabid raccoon (What?!), and a whole bunch of Starro the Star Conquerors. All that, plus there’s the question of how you change a wet diaper under the ocean…

Verdict: Thumbs up. There are some great gags in this one — Fluffy the Fish swimming in the ocean inside his fish bowl, the cucumbers, the complete non sequitur of the rabid raccoon as an underwater pet, the Starros, the diapers, and much more.

PS238 #49

There is a HUGE amount of stuff going on in this issue, mostly involving Cecil Holmes working several inter-connected gambits designed to bring Moon Shadow and Captain Clarinet back home from deep space and rescue the alternate dimension taken over by Victor Von Fogg. We also get some details about Zodon’s connection to the alternate world, and Alexandria Von Fogg discovers some of the Headmaster’s secrets.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again, a lot of stuff happening here, but it all makes sense, and it’s all moving the story forward. That and the art is all awesome, too. Landmark fiftieth issue coming up next time, too.

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Robo Jungle

Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #3

Well, Robo and Jack Tarot tangled with a colossal robot and got trounced, while the robot escaped with a fancy computer. And Robo is on the outs with Mr. Tesla — he’s upset that Robo is sneaking out of the house without permission, and Robo is unhappy that Tesla treats him like a child. Robo ends up moving out of Tesla’s home and moving in with Tarot and his pretty daughter Helen to learn how to be a real crimefighter. And sparks fly — metaphorically — between Robo and Helen. Will Robo reconcile with his creator? Is there a romantic future for a woman and a robot? And who was behind that giant thieving robot anyway?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The romance was maybe a bit unexpected — and really, that was just about the hottest smooch I’ve ever seen in which one of the smoochers doesn’t even have a mouth. So, ya know, good stuff.

Love and Capes: Ever After #1

Mark and Abby haven’t been married long, but they’ve got some major real estate woes. They need to move to a larger apartment, and the landlord of the building where Abby’s bookstore is located keeps raising her rent. All that, plus Amazonia and Darkblade are now dating, Mark and Abby get the grand tour of Darkblade’s mansion, and we get acquainted with the dastardly but presumably sexy villainy of the Menagerie a Trois gang.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice story with Tom Zahler’s usual perfectly mixed blend of humor and drama. Great dialogue, cool cartoony art (with really cool coloring), and fun characterization.

PS238 #48

While Argonaut and Moon Shadow are stranded on the opposite end of the galaxy in a depowered spaceship, Guardian Angel, USA Patriot Act, and 84 are roaming around an alternate universe while they try to help Zodon keep Victor Von Fogg from destroying the place. Guardian Angel gets drafted into the Trans-Dimensional Defense Division, a bunch of dimension-hopping police officers, and everyone gets acquainted with the other-dimensional and non-powered versions of Zodon (who specializes in creating extremely lucrative websites) and Von Fogg (who’s a Bieberesque pop star). Alexandria Von Fogg is trying to figure out how to bring down the Headmaster running the Praetorian Academy, and Victor makes his bid for supreme power to try to conquer a whole universe all for himself.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The visions of Zodon’s and Victor’s alternate lives are great, as is everyone’s reaction to the cute kitten video. There’s even heavy-duty comic-book science-fiction gobbledygook that actually almost makes sense, which is pretty good for heavy-duty comic-book science-fiction gobbledygook. As always, great characterization and artwork. Go pick it up, por favor.

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Bat Family Reunion

Batman and Robin #16

Barring the off-schedule ending of “Return of Bruce Wayne,” this comic is the final chapter of Grant Morrison’s long-running Batman epic — heck, come to think of it, it’s basically the secret last chapter of “Final Crisis.” How’s it turn out?

After a short visit to colonial times to see the evil Thomas Wayne make his bargain for immortality with the demon Barbatos, the rest of the issue focuses on the returned Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Damian Wayne taking on Thomas Wayne as Dr. Hurt, Professor Pyg, and the 99 Fiends. Bruce gets trapped in a deathtrap by Hurt — but of course he escapes, and he has to choose between aprehending Hurt or saving Alfred. All that plus the Joker! All that plus Bruce Wayne spills the beans to the press!

Verdict: Thumbs up. All the attention is going to Bruce’s announcement at the end (that he is Batman’s corporate funder) — I think it’s a pretty decent idea, though probably not absolutely necessary. But Morrison’s final issue here is a pretty rollicking story all on its own. It was grand fun, and I’m glad I got to read along with it.

Mystery Society #4

Nick Hammond lets himself get captured by the government so he can look for evidence that he and his wife Anastasia Collins have been framed. Meanwhile, the Secret Skull and Jules Verne (in his awesome steampunk robot body) chase down the man who stole Edgar Allan Poe’s skull. Can everyone get back together and figure out a way to rescue Nick?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun stuff going on here, particularly anything having to do with the Secret Skull and Jules Verne (and his awesome steampunk robot body) (and its amazing butt rocket). The story’s fun, the art is fun, it’s all worth picking up.

Strange Science Fantasy #5

Rusty Irons is a palooka boxer with a heart of gold. He falls in love with a girl named Suzie, helps take care of her senile mother, and dreams of being able to buy her a ring. He finally agrees to throw a fight to get the money, but he gets double-crossed and sent to the hospital. Suzie shells out the dough for an experimental treatment — and Rusty is transformed into a hyper-elastic man. Can Rusty get over the birth pangs of his new existence and make it up to Suzie and her mother?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great fun — Scott Morse channels Jack Cole in this great pulpish Plastic Man story.

PS238

Zodon, Guardian Angel, 84, and USA Patriot Act have traveled to an alternate dimension to prevent Victor Von Fogg from destroying it to power his reality-altering machine. Will the kids be able to fight off a squad of agents from the Trans Dimensional Defense Division? Why is Zodon so interested in keeping this superhero-less world safe? Will Forak be able to keep the dimensional gateway safe? Will Moon Shadow and Captain Clarinet be able to keep from killing each other while they’re lost in deep space?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s going to be fun to find out more about Zodon’s past in the next few issues. As always, Aaron Williams’ great storytelling and artwork make this comic a must-read.

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Clash of Worlds!

PS238 #46

Evil genius Victor von Fogg has gotten his hands on a machine that briefly gives him limitless power and omnipotence — and every time he uses the machine, he ends up using it for frivolous or benevolent purposes instead of enslaving the universe, like he’d normally prefer. And he has to keep trying to use the machine over and over to work the bugs out — and it takes a lot of power to operate. How much power? He has to drain all the energy from an alternate universe just to turn it on. And when Zodon finds out which alternate universe von Fogg is about to drain, he decides that he has to stop him. So why does an evil genius care about saving another universe from another evil genius? We don’t know, but he assembles a strikeforce of his fellow classmates to travel to another dimension to stop von Fogg.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Obviously, we’re at the beginning of a new storyarc, with Zodon leading his motley band of pint-sized heroes on an interdimensional rescue mission, with Victor and his sister Alexandria in hot pursuit. So for now, we’re just setting up the players. If you haven’t read this title before, it makes this issue a very good jumping-on point.

Hercules: Twilight of a God #4

While Hercules’ grandchildren discover that the villain behind all the recent disasters is actually their own entirely amoral grandmother, Hercules is awakened from his coma, because he’s the only person strong enough to deliver the White Hole Engine into the Galactus-powered black hole. He says his farewells to his son, the emperor, to his surviving grandkids, to his friends, the Recorder and Skyppi, an elderly Skrull preparing to die. But when Hercules and Galactus clash, will either of them emerge? Or are they both doomed?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nice story, a lot more emotional than I was expecting, with a lot of personality and humor coming along for the ride.

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The Replacement

PS238 #45

There’s a lot of stuff happening in this issue. Ron “Captain Clarinet” Peterson and Tyler “Moon Shadow” Marlocke are on the run from Dax-Ra’s guards. They manage to evade them and finally meet up with Ron’s father, Earth’s mightiest superhero, Atlas, who isn’t pleased to hear that Ron has been stripped of his powers or that Dax-Ra is plotting against him and his family. Meanwhile, back on Earth, the new substitute Atlas is Forak, an exiled Argosian engineer whose powers are vastly weaker than the original Atlas’. Besides that, he’s got no stomach or talent for crimefighting, Julie “84″ Finster has been assigned to try to teach him about superheroing and how to handle life on Earth. Of course, they run into trouble when they get kidnapped by a supervillain who wants to hold them for ransom. Can 84 get Forak to start thinking like a hero and not a whipping boy? Can Atlas get the kids safely back to Earth?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice art, nice storytelling, and unexpectedly high stakes for an all-ages comic. Aaron Williams always brings the fun with this book.

The Avengers #3

World-conquering super-mutant Apocalypse has just made the scene, along with his newest crop of Horsemen — the Scarlet Witch, Red Hulk, Wolverine, and Spider-Man. Obviously, these are Horsemen from an alternate future, since Wolverine and Spidey are current Avengers trying to stop Apocalypse’s rampage. They’re able to run the villains off after a pitched battle, but the problem now is that more timelost threats are appearing, and a small group of Avengers needs to travel into the future to stop their own children before they destroy the space-time continuum.

Verdict: Jeez, I dunno. The best parts were Spider-Man barely saving an armor-less Iron Man and Spidey later realizing after the fact that one of the Horsemen was supposed to be him. And the thing is, though those were pretty fun, they actually felt out-of-place in this all-fighting most-of-the-time issue. There are times I think Brian Michael Bendis should leave superheroics alone and just concentrate on stories with lots and lots and lots of dialogue, because he clearly loves that the most.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • I never thought I’d feel sorry for the Teabaggers ’til now. An Oregon GOP group has gone and stolen a slogan from the merciless, unforgiving, and moderately evil hacking group 4chan. Expect chaos.
  • This is funny but might be a bit rude. A zoologist meets up with a confused but amorous parrot while actor/comedian Stephen Fry makes wry commentary.

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Titanic Pets

Tiny Titans #28

It’s an all-superpets issue, as Krypto, Streaky, Comet, Beppo, Ace the Bat-Hound, and the Bat-Cow take the spotlight, with introductions for B’dg the Green Lantern squirrel, Proty the protoplasmic shapeshifting blob from the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Titano the giant gorilla. Beppo discovers a delicious way to subdue a giant gorilla, Krypto retrieves a stick, Streaky heat-visions a mouse, and everyone makes plans for a new Super Pets meeting.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very cute stuff, great cartooning, and a lot of unexpectedly clever awesomeness. In other words, it’s a lot like every other issue of “Tiny Titans.”

PS238 #44

While Emerald Gauntlet and 84 have to deal with a fairly puzzling challenge on an alien world (They’ve been assigned to perform some tasks to advance the war efforts of the Argosians and the Emerald Ones, but no one’s actually told them that yet), Moon Shadow and Argonaut have to deal with the treachery of the Argosians — they take away Argonaut’s powers because they think he’s an inferior half-breed and they want him dead. But even when friendly Argosians take them in and protect them, they’ve still got lots of problems ahead. Are any of them ever going to make it back to Earth?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is a really, really talky comic, but it still goes pretty fast. Good action, lots of devious trickery by the Argosians and Emerald Ones, lots of great characterization for the kids. Having said all that, I’m still looking forward to getting everyone back home — I miss finding out what kind of shenanigans are going on back at the school…

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The Gang Green

Tiny Titans #26

All of the green-colored and green-clad Tiny Titans get their spotlight this issue. While Beast Boy is babysitting Miss Martian, he takes her to a toy store to pick out a new dolly. Turns out, the dolly she wants is Gizmo. While Giz tries to make his escape, Kroc and Lagoon Boy get dragged into the action. And it all ends with everyone getting Green Holiday Festive Milkshakes spilled all over them.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Short, simple, to the point, and very, very silly. Miss Martian squeezing the stuffing out of Gizmo, Kroc eating a fishing pole, and Lagoon Boy complaining that he needs a bath are all definitely worth the price of admission.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #15

The bulk of our story focuses on a competition between Batman and the Flash to see who can wrap up a mystery involving a museum robbed of a few rare crystals. Even with all his speed, does the Flash have a chance of beating the greatest detective in the world? But I had the most fun with the story’s prequel, with Batman traveling back in time to the 1960s to stop the Mad Mod, aided by hippie ragdoll Brother Power the Geek and Bob Hope sidekick Super-Hip.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The entire story was just fine, but the entire prequel really sold it. I mean, seriously — Super-Hip? That’s just so bizarre and weird and awesome, it drags the whole thing to a whole new level of bizarre and weird and awesome. I also liked the way this comic ended up combining characters from three different TV cartoons — Batman from the recent “The Brave and the Bold” cartoon, the wisecracking Wally West from “Justice League,” and the Mad Mod from the “Teen Titans” cartoon.

PS238 #43

The Argosians have come to Earth and imprisoned Argonaut (otherwise known as Ron Peterson and Captain Clarinet). After his dad, Atlas, shows up and overpowers the Argosian pilot with a substance called Argonite. Turns out Argonite is artificial, designed by the government to affect Atlas if he ever went rogue — it also affects anyone with the combined powers of flight, invulnerability, superstrength, and superspeed, which explains why it affected 84 last issue. Argos was never the last survivor of Argos — he was just exiled as a child. Frustrated, he returns to Argos with Argonaut, Moon Shadow, and 84. And it turns out the Argosians aren’t very friendly. They don’t trust Atlas, they want to kill Argonaut because he’s not a pureblood Argosian, they want to kill Moon Shadow because they don’t like humans, and they send 84 on a supposed diplomatic mission that’s actually an attack against the Emerald Ones who empower Emerald Gauntlet.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I hate giving any issues of this comic a thumbs down, but it took too much focus off of the kids, who are the real stars of the series, it was jam-packed with byzantine political maneuvering, to the detriment of everything else, and the idea of Argonite as something that weakens only people who have superstrength, superspeed, flight, and invulnerability and no one else just took things a few dozen steps beyond what my suspension of disbelief could handle.

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Wedding Crashers

What’s the best way to start the New Year? Two aspirin, some hot coffee, and a couple new comic reviews.

LoveandCapes12

Love and Capes #12

It’s the big wedding day for Mark Spencer, the Crusader, top superhero on the planet, and Abby Tennyson, totally normal bookstore owner. Then there’s a crash of thunder, and everything’s different. Abby’s living in her old ratty apartment, no one remembers her wedding’s coming up, and it turns out the Crusader died three years ago. Abby tracks down Doctor Karma, the Liberty League’s resident sorcerer, who soon verifies that a supervillain called (snicker) Evil Brain went back in time and killed Crusader using his knowledge of past events. And only Abby is able to go back in time to set things right. Will she be able to do it and save her own wedding?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, I’m being a bit vague describing the plot — it’s a very good plot, and I don’t want to spoil it, or the stuff that comes afterwards. Yeah, sure, the timeline is saved — that’s not a big spoiler for a humor book — but it’s a nicely-designed save, with great tension and an elegant solution. Great character work from creator Thom Zahler all the way around.

PS238 #42

There’s a big spaceship over the city. The claim is that it’s an Argosian ship, from the same homeworld where the superhero Atlas came from. Atlas isn’t around to meet them, so the suspiciously shady Praetorian Academy sends Atlas’ son, Argonaut (formerly PS238′s Captain Clarinet) to make first contact. The Argosians immediately transport Argonaut into their ship and take him prisoner, while a group of PS238 students — Moon Shadow, 84, Guardian Angel (and her awesome exploding baseball bat), Cecil Holmes, Poly Mer, and American Eagle — sneak onto the ship and capture and shrink the ship’s much-abused technician. The kids get busy smashing up the ship, but once they get the Argosian commander’s attention, what chance do they have against someone with the powers of Earth’s strongest superhero?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art, great dialogue, funny situations, and a nice cliffhanger on the last page. Seriously, I love this comic so much, and I don’t know why more people aren’t reading it. Why aren’t you reading this, blog readers? Why are you trying to make your all-powerful bloggermeister so sad and cranky and stabby?

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Holiday Gift Bag: PS238

I still got more gift recommendations for the comics fan in your life. Today, we’re going to look at PS238.

PS238-Recess

“PS238″ is comic book created by Aaron Williams, creator of the fantasy spoof “Nodwick” and writer of the recent Wildstorm horror title “North 40.” It’s currently published by Do Gooder Press. I’m a huge fan, as you might be able to tell by reading through my archives.

Imagine you live in a world with superheroes. If they’re anything like the ones in the comics, they’re always falling in love with each other and sometimes even getting married to each other. Every once in a while, one of them will have a child. So what do you do with an eight-year-old with the power of an Asgardian thunder god? Send ‘em to a school where they’ll eventually end up incinerating their classroom in a temper tantrum over not getting to use the green crayon? No, you send ‘em to PS238, the School for Metaprodigy Children.

Constructed three miles beneath a normal public school, PS238 is designed to teach superhuman children how to use their powers and how to maintain a secret identity. Since many of their classes are taken alongside normal children and teachers, the kids are required to pretend to be perfectly normal kids. For some, this requires only a change of clothing — others need elaborate holographic disguises. When it’s time for metahuman-centric classes, the kids are transferred by high-tech conveyors to the subterranean facility, where, on an ideal day, the kids learn a little more about what it means to be super. Of course, on most days, simple mayhem breaks out.

PS238-Cafeteria

The comic features a rotating ensemble cast of teachers and students, including Principal Alfred Cranston, a former holder of high office who resigned under mysterious circumstances to head the school; Cristina Kyle, formerly known as Micro-Might, the only teacher at PS238 to have teaching experience prior to the opening of the school; Vashti Impiria, who used to be known as the magic-wielding Spell Syrin; Herschel Clay, the school’s director of maintenance, who used to be a powersuit-wearing hero named Mantium; Captain Clarinet (Ron Peterson), a shy but immensely strong kid who would prefer to spend all his time playing his clarinet; Suzi Fusion (Suzanne Finster), a bespectacled six-year-old who throws radioactive temper tantrums; Zodon, an evil genius whose countless schemes have prompted the school to fit him with devices that, among other things, convert his tirades of profanity into rousing show tunes; Tyler Marlocke, a completely normal kid whose superhero parents are solidly convinced that he’ll be manifesting powers any day now (and who, despite his lack of powers, is now fighting crime in secret as the football-helmeted Moon Shadow); and many, many more.

“PS238″ is very light-hearted and fun — Williams has a pretty good grasp of what makes kids and superheroes funny, and he does a great job of combining the two, as well as crafting interesting and distinct personalities for the major characters. The kids aren’t written as short adults — they’re children, through and through. Zodon acts like the most mature of the kids (despite being the youngest), but that’s because he’s hyper-intelligent, evil, and makes cutting remarks about everyone. The rest of the kids freak out when they lose their capes, get afraid of heights, look forward to macaroni pie day in the cafeteria, and try to make friends with older snooty kids. Trust me, if Superman and Spider-Man were eight years old, they’d act just like these kids do.

PS238-NoChild

The comics are collected into a number of trade paperbacks. They’d make great gifts for younger readers, teachers, and any comics fan who enjoys fast and funny superhero comics.

PS238 by Aaron Williams. Go pick it up.

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Stretching the Point

TinyTitans22

Tiny Titans #22

This issue features the introduction of Offspring, Plastic Man’s son, who kinda freaks the rest of the Tiny Titans out with his colossal enthusiasm. Plus we also get to meet the rest of the DCU’s stretchy guys:

TT-StretchyGuys

Indeed, there is nothing more awesome than a stretchy guy party.

Anyway, Bumblebee and the Atom kids lose a super-duper bouncy ball, which creates a lot of havoc, drenching Robin in oatmeal, getting coffee on Principal Slade’s hot dog, and tangling up the stretchy guys. We also attend a meeting of the Bird Scouts — will Robin be able to maintain his leadership of the club in the face of the amazing shininess and adorability of Golden Eagle?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The whole thing was great, but the Elastic Four were just outstanding.

PS238 #41

I tried to hold off on this one for a while, ’cause I missed Issue #40 somewhere down the line. I was hoping to be able to pick up a copy of the missing issue, but my usual sources have all come up empty. Might be a good time for me to start collecting the trade paperbacks of this one.

Anyway, sometime last issue, Emerald Gauntlet, the pint-sized Green Lantern clone, lost the emerald gauntlet that gives him his powers. He got it back, but now he’s having trouble using its power for even simple tasks, like holding up a tennis ball. His dad, the original Emerald Gauntlet brings his son to the Earth Defense League to see if they can figure out what’s wrong. They can’t, and even worse, a bunch of aliens create a teleportal vortex through the Emerald Gauntlet energy and kidnap the two Emerald Gauntlets and Alexandra von Fogg, kid sister of PS238 student Victor von Fogg, though she’s a student at the rival Praetorian Academy. This sets off a chase as the aliens pursue the kidnapped heroes (and kidnapped pre-teen megalomaniacal super-science villainess). What are the aliens really after? And meanwhile — is Captain Clarinet, now calling himself Argonaut, about to have an unhappy family reunion?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I wish I’d been able to see the previous issue, but it’s still a fun story. Nice to see some focus on Emerald Gauntlet, who seems to be a background character more often than not.

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