Archive for Secret Six

Rising to the Heights, Crashing to the Earth


Astro City #20

We continue Quarrel’s story. During an attack by the alien supervillain Imperion, Quarrel gets into a tight spot and is rescued by the speedster MPH. And since she and Crackerjack are on one of their periodic breakups, this leads to a relationship between the two. It lasts a ridiculously short time because Quarrel is absolutely awful at relationships because she focuses all her energy on training and none on stuff like remembering birthdays. Quarrel and Crackerjack are still getting their butts stomped periodically because they don’t have powers and they’re getting older and slower. But Crackerjack has a plan to make it all better, if it doesn’t make everything worse.

Verdict: Thumbs up, but not a real enthusiastic thumbs up. It’s a good story, don’t get me wrong, with lots of excellent characterization and dialogue, but it’s really here mostly to advance us to the final issue of the storyarc. There’s no real reason for Quarrel and MPH’s relationship, other than to fill time. A lot of this is stuff we’d already seen talked about in the previous issue, too. But the cliffhanger is a pretty good one — by which I mean, a pretty bad one…


Captain Marvel #12

Lila Cheney teleports Carol back to her spaceship — and Carol finds the place deserted, Tic and Chewie missing, the AI computer powered down, and the gravity shut off. When she finally gets the computer on, it’s just in time to take out another attacking spaceship. And she then learns that more aliens had kidnapped Tic and Chewie, and her best chance to catch up with them is to take a shortcut through something called the Endless Envelope. But the shortcut may not end up being very short at all…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderful art and very nice sci-fi action — not sure I’ve ever seen someone use the trick Carol does with the ship’s forceshields, and the Envelope’s gimmick is pretty sweet. I still wish a bit more had happened in this issue…


Secret Six #2

Well, the disembodied voice demanding the six supervillain captives pick one of their number to die spends the whole issue demanding that the six pick one of their number to die, so either it’s a really slow minute or a really patient disembodied voice. But the group manages to escape and beat up their captors a bit — and they apparently decide to stick together for the foreseeable future.

Verdict: Ehh, I ain’t real keen on it. The art is all kinds of messy. The newer characters are still complete cyphers, while Catman’s personality gets much weirder — his dislike of confinement makes sense; his dislike of getting wet is just odd. And there’s so very much attention given to the new Ventriloquist and her dummy, who are both just so utterly unlikeable. I hope this series improves a lot soon…

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Game of Secrets


Secret Six #1

Gail Simone is back writing a new “Secret Six” series, this time with Ken Lashley providing the art. The only character we recognize from the classic Secret Six is Catman, now much more bisexual than he was and also more unstable, with a severe dislike of confinement and captivity of any kind.

When Thomas Blake is abducted by an unknown organization, he finds himself in the company of five other people — Shauna Belzer, the new telekinetic Ventriloquist from Simone’s Batgirl comics; Porcelain, who can make things brittle; Damon Wells, a private eye called Big Shot who can make himself grow larger; Strix, a silent assassin; and Black Alice, with her vast stolen magical powers. The organization holding them demands to know the answer to the question “What is the secret?” and if they can’t provide an answer, they’re going to start killing people.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s nice to see Catman and Black Alice again, and some of the other characters look like they could be interesting. The art, however, is extremely uneven — sometimes really cool, and other times just slapped onto the page. We’ll need to see some improvement there quick…


Gotham Academy #3

Things continue to be incredibly weird around Olive Silverlock, including ghosts, secret conspiracies of teachers, secret conspiracies of students, stakeouts on the roof of the school, and heart-to-heart talks with her ex-boyfriend. When Olive and Maps see mysterious glowing eyes looking out from the closed North Hall of the school, they decide to break in and search the place, with the aid of a couple — well, not friends, really, but people who aren’t entirely hostile. What definitely is hostile, however, is the thing hiding underneath the floor in the North Wing…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The art and storytelling are both super-cool. And I love the way there’s so much weird stuff going on all around them. Will some of this stuff ever be explained? Seriously, I kinda hope not — I love the idea that there are some things that are just bizarre for no reason, and no one will ever think to mention them again…

Today’s Cool Links:

  • One of my friends did a TED Talk about her experiences with synaesthesia.
  • Soldiers in actual war zones are less aggressive than cops in American cities — and that means cops are just making things worse for themselves.
  • If you’re getting me anything for Christmas, I’d really love an Aztec Death Whistle.
  • A century ago, Thanksgiving was a lot more like Halloween.

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Friday Night Fights: Mad Hat Trick!

The workweek is always too long, and the weekends are always too short. It’ll always be that way, no way around it. But it helps if you start your weekend off the right way — with comic books and violence! It’s time again for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Not all battles are physical — sometimes the whupass is all about breaking the brain and not the body. So tonight’s battles comes to us from October 2006’s Secret Six #4 by Gail Simone, Brad Walker, and Jimmy Palmiotti. The Doom Patrol is mopping up on our favorite criminal rebels — until they bring out their secret weapon — Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter?!


(Click to embiggen)

One page, three words, and he completely turns the battle around. “Secret Six” was a seriously grand series, and it was great to see the Mad Hatter depicted as both a complete nutbag and a serious threat.

And somewhat off-topic, but congratulations going out to our handsome host SpaceBooger, who’s just welcomed a new kid into the world.

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Friday Night Fights: Bane Pain!

We had a short break from the battles last week, but we’re back on schedule for this weekend. Break out the Funyuns and Yoo-Hoo, kids — it’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from May 2009’s Secret Six #7 by Gail Simone, Nicola Scott, Doug Hazlewood, and Rodney Ramos. Bane has dosed himself with a little Venom, and he’s ready to party!





That’ll do it for me this week — see y’all on Monday morning.

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The Hero Sandwich List of Favorite Comics for 2011

Well, everyone else is doing end-of-year best-of lists, so I reckon I will, too. What’s Newsweek magazine got that I ain’t got, right? I mean, the way magazine readership has been falling, there’s a decent chance that I’ve got more readers now. ZING! Oh, Newsweek, you know I kid ’cause I love.

Anyway, this is not a list of the very best of all comics. I haven’t read all comics. I haven’t even gotten close. This is my list of the comics I read that I enjoyed the most.

Also, I don’t think I could manage to say which of these is the best — so I’d rather just arrange them in alphabetical order.

So here we go: The 16 comics I enjoyed reading the most in 2011.

American Vampire

This series by Scott Snyder is still carrying the torch for serious vampiric horror with great characterization, boundless imagination, and really awesome bloodsuckers.

Atomic Robo

One of the best comics out there — this one packs in action, humor, and mindblowing science into something that is always fun. Fun cameos by the famous and infamous, and an incredibly cool lead character.

Avengers Academy

Thank goodness someone still remembers how to do a good teen comic. You can do teen angst without it turning into a bloodbath. This series combines a great concept with outstanding characterization.

Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth

The most audaciously imaginative comic of the year, thanks to its seven-year-old writer. Loved the drama, loved the action, and laughed out loud at the humor.

Batgirl (pre-Reboot)

Stephanie Brown’s tenure as Batgirl was marked by great writing, excellent action, and a very strong sense of humor. Stephanie is still MIA in the new DC, unfortunately.

Batman comics by Scott Snyder

Whether it was on Detective Comics prior to the Reboot or on Batman afterwards, Snyder wrote some of the most engrossing tales of the Dark Knight.

Batman Inc.

Reading Grant Morrison’s Batman has been a treat for years, and it was fun to watch him create the new Batman megacorp.


J.H. Williams III’s writing has been fine, but his art is simply breathtaking. This was absolutely the most beautiful comic book on the stands in 2011.


Daredevil? I’ve never cared for Daredevil in my life. But this one is a blast. Writing and art are incredible. Humor, action, characterization — and again, fun. You can make a pretty good comic if you make it fun, ya know?

Dungeons & Dragons

Did anyone ever expect a D&D comic to be this good? Excellent dialogue, humor, action, drama, suspense — all while doing a pretty good job spotlighting the RPG it’s based on. Best fantasy comic of the year, right here.

Hellboy: The Fury

Mike Mignola has enjoyed another excellent year of comics, and I could’ve put almost any of his B.P.R.D. comics in here, but this one — Hellboy’s last hurrah — was really something special.

Knight and Squire

Paul Cornell’s miniseries focusing on London’s version of Batman and Robin was fun storytelling, along with a quick course in British pop culture. Excellent characters and adventures, and a wonderfully created setting.

Secret Six

Gail Simone’s awesomely epic series of supervillains occasionally doing the right thing had some of the funniest, saddest, most dramatic, most astounding moments in the comics world. Absolutely grand characters, too. Losing this series was one of DC’s biggest mistakes of the Reboot.

Supergirl (pre-Reboot)

After years of being the DC Universe’s version of the useless mallrat in a belly shirt, several creators finally realized they could make the character awesome by treating her more like a real person instead of an MTV stereotype. Yes, DC, character is everything!

Tiny Titans

The best all-ages comic on the market. Still can’t believe they’re going to let something this awesome go.


One of the weirdest comics to come out this year. There was usually at least one really mind-blowingly weird thing in every single issue. Beautiful art, too, along with great writing and dialogue. It was a joy to read.

And one more little category? How ’bout Publisher of the Year? DC and Marvel are out — they’ve spent the past 12 months pandering to the worst in comics, cancelling great series, and randomly insulting their readers. IDW, Dark Horse, Red 5, Image, all the other independents came close, because they’re doing more of what good comics publishers should be doing — gunning for new readers, pushing the artistic and storytelling envelopes, making excellent comics.

But I think the Publisher of the Year is Archie Comics. What? But I don’t read any Archies! But Archie is doing even more than the other independents to push the creative and social envelope. They’ve gotten lots of publicity with their Archie marries Betty/Veronica comics, but they also had a great crossover with the Tiny Titans. And who would have ever imagined that staid, conservative Archie Comics would end up being the most progressive comics publisher — whitebread Archie Andrews has recently dated Valerie Brown, the African-American bass player from Josie and the Pussycats, and Kevin Keller, Archie’s first openly gay character, has become more popular and more prominent in the comics. Archie Comics is outpacing all the other independent publishers and rocketing past the Big Two in terms of how much they’re moving the comics industry forward.

So there we go — 16 grand, fun comics series. And I think I’d still have to declare 2011 one of the worst years for comics we’ve seen in a long time. Almost half my list is made up of comics that were cancelled, will be cancelled in the next few months, or are in continual danger of being cancelled. DC enjoyed a nice sales surge in the first few months of the Reboot, but the numbers on many of their series are already dropping back to more normal levels. And they spent months alienating and angering long-time fans in one public relations disaster after another. Not that Marvel has fared much better — they’ve been cancelling comics hand over fist. The independents have a better track record for producing good comics — but of course, they’ve also had more trouble getting those comics sold.

2011 has been an awful, terrifying, depressing year for comics fans. I’d like to tell you that I think 2012 is going to be better. But I don’t think I’d get my hopes up very high. No one’s learned any lessons from this year’s catastrophes, and I’m not even sure the Big Two are even capable of doing anything other than shooting themselves in the foot.

Let’s just hope the non-comics portions of 2012 will be better for all of us. Y’all stay safe, buckle up, call a cab if you need to.

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Secret Six #36

Ladies and gentlemen, hats off. “Secret Six” is no more.

Bane knows he and the rest of the Six are going to Hell, and he’s proposed that it’s time for them to re-embrace their villainous natures and either establish themselves as the new rulers of Gotham City or go out in a final blaze of glory. The plan he proposes to Catman, Deadshot, Jeannette, Scandal, Knockout, Ragdoll, King Shark, and their very reluctant ally Penguin, is to break Batman’s will be killing Red Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman, and either Huntress or Azrael. The plan goes awry almost immediately, as they discover that their Gotham hideout comes complete with unexpected hostages — a poverty-stricken family who lives on the island in secret. And worse than that — the Penguin has already secretly summoned help.

So they look out the window and find members of the Birds of Prey, the Justice Society, the Titans, the Justice League, and more outside. Hey, that’s quite a lot of superheroes, but the Six have faced worse odds than that before and come out alright, so — oh, wait, now there are a couple Batmen on the scene, plus Robin, John Stewart, and Captain Atom. Worse odds, but Huntress sneaks into the Six’s hideout and offers to be their new hostage if they’ll let the family go. So the odds are actually improving a bit, with a higher-profile hostage and — oh, wait. Superman’s here now.

Well, that’s it, right? They can’t beat odds like that. They’ve got no tricks or powers that will let them get through firepower like that. Jeannette would rather die than go back to prison and is willing to start tearing Huntress into little pieces if they can’t go free. Catman isn’t willing to let Huntress come to harm, Deadshot isn’t willing to let Catman kill Jeannette, Scandal is willing to kill Deadshot to keep people from shooting. Things are coming to a head fast, but Bane has one final gambit — if they can’t survive, they can at least make sure they give the heroes a fight they’ll never forget.

He has Venom for everyone. And the last four pages are glorious and savage and heartbreaking.

Verdict: Thumbs up. We’re losing something amazing and rare with the end of “Secret Six.” It’s one of the comics that’s getting cancelled and isn’t going to be getting a new #1 issue with the new Reboot. So this is the end of it right here. I hope you got to enjoy it the way I did. If you didn’t, I’m sorry you missed out on this slice of comic book glory that Gail Simone left for us. Go out and get the trade paperbacks. Yeah, get all of them. You won’t regret it.

Hats off for “Secret Six,” everyone.

Jonah Hex #70

And speaking of cancelled comics, here’s the last issue of “Jonah Hex,” though it will at least get a continuation in the Reboot with “All-Star Western.”

This is a weird, hallucinatory comic. We start out in 1904, with scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex an old man at 66 years of age. He’s finally gunned down by an old foe, and he finds himself walking an old battlefield with his old (and dead) friend Jeb Turnbull, who tells him he died during that old battle during the Civil War. Then Jonah’s back in another saloon, with other Wild West heroes and the mothers of his children, getting gunned down by his own father. And he wakes up somewhere else with a little girl who has facial scars like his, and a basket full of human hearts. And then he’s alive again. Then dead again. Then alive. Is Jonah Hex dying? Is he already dead? Or can he ever die at all?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Well, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti will continue to write about Jonah in the new Reboot — one of the few creators to be allowed to keep working on the same character — but they nevertheless have given this latest version of Jonah Hex a weird, wonderful sendoff. It was also nice to get to see characters like Bat Lash and Tallulah Black one more time…

Hats off for “Jonah Hex,” too.

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Time Travel Cowboys


This is another in the new line of comics written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. It’s longer than a regular single-issue comic, not quite the size of a graphic novel, and priced at $6.

The story focuses on Jacob Mills, a modern-day hitman with an impressive record of success targeting organized crime. But he hasn’t been as careful about covering his tracks as he’s always thought, leading to the deaths of his secretary and the nun who raised him when he was an orphan. He thinks he can’t testify — if the Mafia could track him when he worked so hard to stay under the radar, there’s no witness protection program that can keep him safe. But the government has what looks like the perfect way to protect him — a working time machine. Unfortunately, it can only send someone 142 years into the past — it’s a one-way trip, with no nonliving material from the future allowed, to keep time refugees from changing the past too much.

So Jacob testifies and takes his trip back to Texas 1869. He meets other refugees from the future, who help him get acclimated, and he actually becomes the local town’s sheriff and meets a girl who he falls in love with. But of course, good things can’t last forever. A jailbreak in 2012 lets one of the mobsters out, and he learns about the time machine. Now there’s a squad of modern-day mercenaries hunting Jacob in Civil-War era Texas — and a cleanup squad from the government hunting all of them to make sure the secret of time travel doesn’t get out. How can Jacob survive those odds?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story and dialogue are excellent, which I’ve come to expect from Gray and Palmiotti. The artwork by Jim Daly and Paul Mounts is also great. So far, I’m really enjoying the stories Gray and Palmiotti are working on through their Paperfilms line of comics, and I hope they have some serious success with this — I haven’t loved every single comic they’ve worked on, but they’ve definitely been on more often than they’ve been off, and I think that’s worth supporting. Go out and pick this one up for a nice little fusion of science fiction, Westerns, and crime fiction.

Secret Six #35

It’s the next to the last issue of this great series. Bane has realized that breaking Batman’s back all those years ago didn’t actually break the Bat’s spirit — and he still wants that more than anything. Jeannette senses death closing in on the team. Knockout, back from Hell, is still suffering significant emotional trauma from the experience. And King Shark? King Shark is a shaaaark. So what’s Bane’s plan for taking on Batman? He wants to target and destroy the Bat-family and anyone else the Dark Knight may care for. But to have a shot at taking on Gotham’s heroes, they’re going to have to get inside information from someone with their finger on the pulse of Gotham City’s underworld…

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, glorious writing from Gail Simone and incredibly fun artwork from Jim Calafiore. Bane’s obsessions, Jeannette’s fears, Knockout’s madness, and King Shark’s undying exuberance about being a shaaaaark are all wonderfully depicted. I’m going to miss this series so very, very much when it ends.

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House of Bane

Secret Six #34

After the last storyarc sent the team to Hell, this issue is a much-welcomed rest break. The serial killer who’s kidnapped Scandal’s girlfriend Liana gets his meeting with the Six, and I don’t think it’s a big spoiler to reveal that it doesn’t turn out well for him. Scandal reconciles with Ragdoll, Jeannette sings an old Irish ballad, Bane goes on a date, and King Shark eats a turkey. But we’re warned that, as always seems to be the case with this book, more bad things are on the horizon.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Awesome dialogue, great action, wonderful art. Bane’s date is a bucket of pure win. King Shark is awesome, even though he’s only in one or two scenes. It’s sad, it’s sweet, it’s funny, it’s profane, it’s awesome.

How to improve this series: I’m not real sure you could improve on this. Gail Simone is one of DC’s best writers, and this is one of their best series. If they don’t preserve this for the Reboot, they’re completely insane.

Avengers Academy #14.1

What’s “14.1” mean? Well, Marvel’s trying to make sure there are some “0.1” issues for their series, to give new readers a chance to jump on board — so this issue is, in part, meant to be an introduction to the series for those who aren’t familiar with it.

After the Academy students battle the oh-so-1970s-weird Ruby Thursday, they decide they want to see how other young metahumans who were tortured by Norman Osborn turned out — Finesse quickly tracks down a kid named Jeremy Briggs, a super-genius matter-transmuter who is now running a very profitable chemical megacorp. He introduces them to some other former “students” of Osborn’s — a kid who used to turn into a monster whose transformations are now held in check with medicine; a healer keeping people healthy in third-world nations; and a cold-controller who, unfortunately, has just been killed trying to stop the Wendigo. And Briggs has an ulterior motive for talking to the Academy kids — he wants them to quit the hero-or-villain business and come to work for him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a depressing little story, but it’s very well-told. Dialogue and action are good, and the characterization is excellent. I hope we get to see more of Briggs in the future — he makes a great foil for the team.

How to improve this series: Ya know what I think I’d like the most for this title? A new costume for Hazmat. I hate the way the helmet hides most of her face — makes it so hard to get anything but a vague impression of her emotions and reactions.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #5

While Morgan tries to hold off a horde of undead bandits, Sir Edward ends up getting gutshot, and then seemingly killed by the witch Eris, who is bartering souls of Christians for colossal mystic power. But with one hero surrounded by unkillable zombies and the other shot full of lead and sitting in the Paiute land of the dead, is there any way to stop Eris?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A good end to the series. Absolutely gorgeous art by John Severin and Dave Stewart. Nicely suspenseful, too — it really looks like Sir Edward and Morgan are done for near the end.

How to improve this series: Can’t think of much you could do to fix this. It could’ve been an issue or two shorter, but that would’ve shortchanged the great interpersonal stuff between Sir Edward and Morgan that really made this series fun. We also could’ve found out more about Eris’ motivations and the weird mysteries behind Isaac. But that’s nitpicking.

The DC Reboot

In a way, I don’t want to say very much about this — all we really have to go on is DC’s press releases. There’s no way to tell yet what is going to work and what isn’t going to work and whether it’s going to be a good thing or a bad thing.

But I am not looking forward to this.

Part of it is that DC has tried reboots before — Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis — and they never last. Before long, readers and creators start jonesing for “classic” comics, and everything goes back to the way it was before. This one will be no different.

What else? I hate the costumes, and that’s something DC really pushed hard. Look at that Justice League cover above. The costumes are not good. Superman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern all have corny pop-up collars, and Wonder Woman’s choker is essentially the same kind of collar. And what the heck are those things on Flash’s and Cyborg’s chins? I don’t know a thing about art or clothing design, but those costumes look like garbage — and that’s what you get when you have one guy — Jim Lee, in this case — design all the costumes. His design preferences creep into everything so they all look alike. And these will be the first things that get discarded after the reboot. I mean, look at ’em. Superman looks like a complete dork. And look up the costume design for Green Arrow — it’s a direct copy from the “Smallville” TV series. A series that has been cancelled and which, honestly, was never all that popular in the first place. The costumes are bad, bad, bad.

I’ll admit I’m looking forward to some of the titles. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang working on “Wonder Woman”? I’ll be buying that. But most of the others are just not filling me with very much enthusiasm. Gail Simone writing “Firestorm”? Okay, but why is she being saddled with Ethan Van Sciber as co-writer? It’s an insult to Simone’s writing skills, to be honest. Geoff Johns — a writer I’m rapidly coming to think of as DC’s version of Brian Michael Bendis — is writing too many series. Dan DiDio is writing another, and I’m pretty sure y’all know I’m not a fan of that guy. I don’t trust DiDio or Johns to do good work on these — their instincts tend to lie more with DC’s previous tired gimmicks of Silver Age worship and pointless, over-the-top violence.

The announcement of the reboot threw retailers into a panic, thanks to DC’s decision to release digitial editions of comics on the same day as they release the print versions. That’d be the equivalent of movie studios letting you rent DVDs on the same day they released the movies in theaters — and it had a lot of retailers worried that lots of readers would quit buying from stores in favor of buying comics for their iPads. On the other hand, DC wants to charge the same prices for print and digital comics, which has digital readers scratching their heads, because no one else charges as much for digital as they do for print. So DC managed to alienate both retailers and digital comics fans at the same time.

Another thing that bugs me is this seems more like a publicity stunt than something that’s going to lead to long-term increases in readership. There’s not much here that seems to be designed to bring in new readers — just a lot of stuff to make current comics fans angry. Sometimes, it seems like that’s all that DC or Marvel know how to do — stir up buzz by doing stuff to upset their current readers. Sure, it gets coverage in USA Today, but media coverage doesn’t necessarily lead to more readers, and that’s what DC needs.

And ya know, I’ve already gone on for a lot longer than I meant to on this topic. So I’ll reiterate — I don’t like the idea of the DC Reboot. It’s a bad idea at a bad time, and I worry it’s going to do long-term damage to the comics industry as a whole. I hope I’m wrong, of course… but I worry I might be right.

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Hot Spidey Sundae

The Amazing Spider-Man: Spidey Sunday Spectacular

I had no plans to pick this up, but a quick flip-through in the store basically charmed the socks off me.

What we have here is a collection of a storyarc that ran as a backup feature in Amazing Spider-Man #634-645. The gimmick was that the whole story was told in 12 two-page chapters in each issue, giving each episode the appearance of an oversized Sunday comic strip. The story was written by Stan Lee himself and illustrated beautifully by Marcos Martin.

The plotline follows two crooks called Brain (the smart one) and Bull (the dumb one). Brain has invented a machine that allows them to escape the police and flee into an issue of a Spider-Man comic. They follow Spidey, try in vain to find out his secret identity, tangle with his rogues gallery, and do their best to steal a time machine. All this is wrapped in Marcos Martin’s amazing artwork and jaw-dropping layouts.

Verdict: Such a colossal thumbs up. Marcos Martin does such outstanding artwork here. Every page has a Spidey logo worked into the scenery somewhere, which gives the whole thing an amazing “Will Eisner’s The Spirit” vibe. The layouts and artwork make the whole thing scads of fun to read through. Stan’s story is maybe a bit silly, but that helps make it perfect for any all-ages readers out there.

Secret Six #33

The team is in Hell on a quest to rescue Ragdoll, if possible, and to retrieve Scandal’s late girlfriend Knockout. Unfortunately, Ragdoll is now second-in-command in Hell and leading its armies, and Knockout is Ragdoll’s betrothed. And the Six, freshly decked out in infernal finery, is confronted with the question of whether they should fight Hell’s armies — with the danger of losing and becoming one of the legions of damned souls — or join with them to become Hell’s new royalty. Meanwhile, Catman goes looking for his father, hoping that he’s being properly punished for killing his mother and ruining his life. Can the team escape their own personal hells and return to the living world, or are their souls as damned as everyone suspects?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great story, great art, great humor and action and drama and the whole blasted shebang. DC’s best grownups-only comic, without a doubt.

Herc #2

Hercules has lost most of his powers and all of his immortality. He’s focusing his efforts on becoming a street-level hero, working at and protecting a local Greek restaurant that the Kingpin wants to buy out and shut down. Herc tangles with the Hobgoblin and eventually, after a long, drawn-out battle, beats him up. After that, he learns that the restauranteur’s daughter has been trying to get the old man to sell, and the Kingpin himself shows up to ask Herc to take out the Ares worshipers destabilizing the city.

Verdict: Man, I don’t know. The action is good, the dialogue is fine, but I kinda prefer my Hercules comics with a bit less dead-serious about ’em.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Down the Rabbit Hole

The Unwritten #24

We get another break from the main storyline to return to the intensely freaky tale of Pauly Bruckner, reluctant and foul-mouthed storybook rabbit. After escaping from a children’s story set in idyllic Willowbank Wood, Pauly finds himself trapped on a surreal and deeply depressing endless staircase with a bunch of other storybook animals, all trying to climb to a possibly mythical Golden Door. Pauly eventually winds up taking over the group and leading it his own way, but is there really any way out for him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So very, very weird. I wish Pauly Bruckner had his own series — he’s just so wonderfully bizarre.

Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish

So who is Buster Oakley? He’s an awkward teenager dabbling with his friends in witchcraft and Satanism, hoping for amazing power. Hellboy is called out to his small area of Kansas after he and his friends disappear and after a bunch of cows disappear and later turn up mutilated. Hellboy is expecting to have to deal with Satanists… but he gets one heck of a surprise when he gets abducted by aliens. Of course, we can expect that Hellboy will come out of this okay, but can we say the same thing for Buster?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice, action-packed story with a giant dollop of humor on top. We don’t often — or ever, really — see Hellboy fighting bug-eyed aliens from outer space, so this is one heck of a change of pace. And Kevin Nowlan’s artwork is a ton of fun, too. If you haven’t gotten this yet, go do so as fast as you can.

Batman and Robin #22

The White Knight intends to kill off as many relatives of Arkham inmates as he can, because he believes they’re all tainted by their association with their crazy, criminal relatives. Batman and Robin save as many as possible, then follow the White Knight to Arkham Asylum itself, where he intends to drown all the inmates. We get the White Knight’s origin, including his connection to Dr. Phosphorus, and we get a furious punch-a-thon to close out the storyarc.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, very nice artwork, and a pretty good conclusion. My only quibble — we never learn exactly how Robin manages to save all the drowning inmates.

Secret Six #32

So the Secret Six have gone to Hell — this time, in a luxury elevator operated by Etrigan the Demon. And their primary foe is their former teammate Ragdoll, who has been made a Prince of Hell. And besides his army of demons backing him up, he’s also got his old deceased friend Parademon on hand. Ragdoll worries that he’s going sane, Catman goes looking for his father, Bane learns that he’s likely hellbound, despite his attempts to live an honorable life, and Ragdoll reveals a surprising ally.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, good characterization, and lots of twists and turns.

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