Archive for Section Eight

Back in the Swing


Spidey #1

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

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


The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

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

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


Prez #6

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

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


Sensation Comics #17

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

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


All Star Section Eight #6

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

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

Comments off

Dead and Crazy


All Star Section Eight #5

Probably the most absolutely impressive comic book released last week, if not all last month, if not nearly all of the year. Sixpack wakes up from a massive blackout to find the Phantom Stranger knocking out some fantastic gangsta rap. The Stranger is soon joined by Etrigan the Demon, and they both rap about how great it would be if DC would release a trade paperback of Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s “Demon” series from the mid-1990s. And he meets up with Jean de Baton, Flemgem, the Defenestrator, Friendly Fire, and Shakes — the dead members of Section Eight.

They throw him back into the waking world — in fact, they might have thrown him a little too hard, because he finds himself looking at himself from the first issue of this series — an alcoholic art critic, just fallen off the wagon, freezing to death in the snow. We briefly ponder the mystery of Dogwelder — and Sixpack gets one more visitor. Is this the guy who’ll join Section Eight at last?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A comic manages to go from gross-out humor, rap parody, an in-comic advertisement for a trade paperback that namechecks DC editor Scott Nybakken as well as Marvel editor Jen Grunwald, and closes with a deeply touching moment where Sixpack tries to save himself from freezing to death in an alley. It’s not just something that’s fun to read — it’s something that must be read, and if you’re not waiting desperately to see what Ennis and McCrea manage to do in this miniseries final issue, you just ain’t paying attention.


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

As the cover jokes, it’s a brand new #1 issue for this series less than a year after the first one debuted. The fanaticism for #1 issues at Marvel is something that really should be put under control.

Once we get some people rescued from a burning building and Doreen and Nancy moved into their new apartment, the bulk of this issue focuses on a visit to NYC by Squirrel Girl’s mom, which Nancy is utterly delighted about, because Maureen Green has the very best stories about Doreen’s squirrelly childhood. And on top of that, there’s an attack by Brain Drain, an old-school supervillain who’s basically a brain and a couple eyeballs inside a robot body. Can our heroes stop Brain Drain? Even more important — can they reform him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still, pound-for-pound, the talkiest comic on the stands. But it’s a lot of good talking, a lot of great jokes, a lot of clever storytelling, and a lot of awesomeness spread all over the page.


The New Avengers #2

The Maker — slightly better known as the evil Ultimate Universe version of Reed Richards — has unleashed a bunch of crystal-headed zombies on Paris. And even worse, he’s managed to co-opt some genetically enhanced S.H.I.E.L.D. agents — enhanced with gamma radiation, in fact, giving them powers similar to the Hulk’s! Luckily, the A.I.M. team has a couple serious heavy-hitters on their side — White Tiger, with all the power of a Tiger God, and Squirrel Girl, with all the powers of a squirrel! They make short work of the crystal-headed agents, but unfortunately, the giant scorpion-gorilla monster who accompanied the agents manages to co-opt Ava and Doreen next!

Max Brashear realizes that all the crystal-headed people are still alive, just with a higher-dimensional non-consciousness imposed over their own. Can the A.I.M. scientists, Wiccan, Songbird, and Power Man figure out a way to counteract the dimensional frequency and returning everyone to normal? And what ancient powers are working with the Maker now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still grooving on Al Ewing’s storytelling and Gerardo Sandoval’s funky fresh artwork. I enjoyed the threat escalation in the story, too. The hulked-out agents are threats because of their strength, but they get handled by the Avengers’ heavyweight contenders — and then the heavyweight contenders get turned into threats themselves. It’s wonderfully well-done.

Comments off



The Wicked + the Divine #14

An incredibly cool idea — this comic is a remix — nearly all the images are from previous issues of this series (a couple of pages have images from Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s “Sex Criminals” comic), all repurposed, often recolored, with new dialogue to tell the story. It’s especially appropriate for this issue, as we’re focusing on Woden, who’s been styled to look like one of the musicians from Daft Punk.

So what has Woden been up to during the chaos of the last few months? Well, he’s been Ananke’s servant. He knows all the rotten stuff she’s been up to — heck, she doesn’t even try to hide any of it from him. She holds him in complete contempt — and with pretty good reason, because Woden is a contemptible little worm. But he has secrets he’s keeping from Ananke — will they be enough to redeem him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A wonderfully audacious comic — you don’t see something this wonderfully experimental come along very often, especially in the middle of an ongoing story. And it just goes to show that this is one of the most amazing comics on the stands, and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie may be some of the greatest comics stylists of the last decade.


All Star Section Eight #4

Section Eight wants Wonder Woman to join their team — but as Wondy herself says, no woman in her right mind would join them. As bad luck would have it, Bator is busy making repairs to the bar and takes the exact worst possible moment to fall off a ladder and knock Diana in the head with a gigantic cartoon mallet. Freshly knocked entirely out of her right mind, Wonder Woman gleefully joins the team — despite almost everyone’s absolute horror at how completely ethically messed up this entire situation is — and helps plan the wedding for Bueno Excellente and Guts — rendered even more blasphemous than expected when the demonic Bator officiates the nuptials. Will this be able to be wrapped up with any dignity at all?

Verdict: Thumbs up. If it was anywhere other than this series, dedicated to deconstructing and making fun of superheroes and all the associated tropes — and if it didn’t include almost the entire team absolutely horrified at what was happening — we’d probably be burning DC down right now. As it is, it’s a very funny comic — and I dig the bike shorts costume John McCrea gives Diana — I always liked that costume option a lot, and it never gets used enough.

Comments off

They’re Coming to Get You


Harrow County #4

Emmy is on the run from everyone she knows — they all believe she’s a reincarnated witch who’ll destroy them all. But in fact, she is the reincarnated witch, and she made other enemies in her old life who are a lot more dangerous, including one absolutely gigantic demon who blames her for dying and leaving him alone in the wilderness. Soon, she meets up with Mr. Straightaway, the town pharmacist, who promises to help her, but actually just chloroforms her and ties her up. He reveals a lot of her old self’s story — rejected by the townspeople, she created people from mud who could go into the town and tell everyone she was worth keeping around. But they eventually turned on her and destroyed her. Is Emmy like the old witch she used to be? Or is she willing to be something different?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderful, dark, creepy, atmospheric storytelling and art. And listen, you’re reading the columns at the end of the comics, right? Because those are some of the creepiest parts of the magazine. This issue is no different, as writer Cullen Bunn tells us about the man who lived under his house when he was a boy.


All Star Section Eight #3

The Martian Manhunter has, shockingly, agreed to join Section Eight, promising to lead them to the heroic glory which is their birthright. Meanwhile, Bueno Excellente’s knightly rival for Guts’ love is finally revealed: Sir Percival Orifice, Tape of the Wyrm! Should we review who these people are? Bueno Excellente, who defeats evil with the power of perversion? Guts, a lady who is literally a bunch of internal organs? Sir Percival Orifice, a gigantic talking tapeworm? With a mustache? Who has actually been living inside Guts all this time? And what will be J’onn J’onzz’s reaction when he stumbles upon the epic duel?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Any comic that features an off-panel sex-battle between an obese pervert wearing a thong and a giant talking tapeworm with a mustache — and which includes sound effects like “Penetrate,” “Cup,” and “Inappropriately Touch” — has got to be one for the record books.


Howard the Duck #5

All the superheroes are gonna try to put the smackdown on the awesomely powerful Talos the Untamed, a loser Skrull who managed to get his hands on a moderately powerful gauntlet-type weapon called the Abundant Glove. Howard and his new friend Tara Tam beat feet, since they’re unpowered and not equipped to deal with world-ending battles — or are they? Howard has already deduced that Tara is hiding a secret, and Tara reveals that, like the fabled Skrull Kill Krew of olden times, she gained shapeshifting powers by eating a Skrull that had been shapeshifted into — to Howard’s horror — a duck! Can a shapeshifting tattoo artist and an agitated anthropomorphic duck save the day?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A clever and funny story. Nice to see the Skrull Kill Crew return, or at least get mentioned again. And it was also cool watching elements from the cover crop up throughout the rest of the issue. Unfortunately, this is another book that’s been temporarily cancelled — it’ll be back in a couple of months.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • I’m of mixed feelings on this. Yes, the earlier days of “Peanuts” were stronger, and the over-reliance on Snoopy was probably part of why the strip declined. But even in its final days, it was still better than most other strips on the comics pages, and I loved it heart and soul clear to its end.
  • The deal that gave first-run rights for Sesame Street to HBO was probably a good deal for everyone — Sesame Street got saved and PBS viewers won’t really miss out on anything.
  • Marvel’s upcoming “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” looks amazing.
  • I’m fairly jazzed about the return of Blackalicious, one of my favorite hip hop groups.

Comments off

Storm Chaser


Starfire #2

Hurricane Betty is hitting Key West hard. Sheriff Stella Gomez is working to coordinate rescue and relief efforts, her brother in the Coast Guard is going to suicidal lengths to save people, and Starfire trying to carry as many people as she can to the safety of the shelter in the school. Will she be able to save everyone before running out of power? And why is a giant monster stalking the island?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice straightforward story by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, along with clear, charismatic art from Emanuela Lupacchino.


All Star Section Eight #2

While Six Pack obsesses about getting Green Lantern to join Section Eight — and staging a battle between a bunch of Green Lanterns (most of his team) and Star Sapphire (Guts in a bikini) to attract the attention of the Guardians — we also get the origin of the new Dogwelder, as well as Bueno Excellente’s unrequited love for (ugh!) Guts.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of great stuff going on here — great writing and art plus fantastic crude and surreal humor. There are still some zingers on the superhero game, but it turns out Hal Jordan is a lot more on-the-ball than Batman was last issue.


Harrow County #3

Emmy and Bernice have stumbled into an ancient graveyard and soon find themselves surrounded by silent, flaming spirits. They escape the menacing specters, but soon find themselves facing a more tangible danger — the human townsfolk, looking to find and kill Emmy. Her pet haint leads most of them away, but her father still manages to find them. Insisting she must be the witch they’d executed 18 years before, he tries to kill her, but the haint’s physical form defends her, and Emmy resists the temptation to use her growing supernatural powers for evil. But there are much more dire creatures waiting in the woods for her.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Amazing art and writing, and a deliriously creepy atmosphere. I think this one’s going to be really, really outstanding.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Stuck in the Lockup


Revival #30

Things have gone nuts Wausau, Wisconsin. Edmund Holt, a wingnut terrorist wannabe, got the reviver wife of the town mayor to sew a bomb inside her and set it off during a press conference, killing several people, including the mayor. Now a military governor, General Louise Cale, has been assigned to the town. Meanwhile, Blaine Abel, nutbag exorcist wannabe, killed reporter May Tao because he thought she was allied with the Devil — Blaine has now joined up with a bunch of religious hipster survivalists called the Hunters of the Beast as they hide in the woods and plan various attacks. Most of the revivers are being held prisoner in a military facility. The Cypress family is trying to recover from the various traumas, while the government prepares a raid on the Hunters of the Beast.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice story, and a nice summary of the new status quo in Wausau. As always, things will get worse before they get better (if they ever get better — this is a “rural noir,” after all, and things don’t often improve in noir), and it’s very unlikely they’ll introduce the Hunters and then squash them in the next issue…


All Star Section Eight #1

Many moons ago, in the storied pages of “Hitman,” Garth Ennis and John McCrea created Section Eight, a superteam of crazy people — Sixpack, the Defenestrator, Jean de Baton, Flemgem, Bueno Excellente, Friendly Fire, Shakes, and Dogwelder. But most of them died years ago, leaving Sixpack and Bueno Excellente as the lone survivors. Sixpack has built a career as a successful art critic, but when he finally falls off the wagon, he finds himself back in Noonan’s Bar, convinced there’s a new threat on the horizon and trying to put the old team back together. He recruits a new batch of no-hopers — Powertool, the Grapplah!, Guts, a new Dogwelder, and demonic bartender Baytor. But that’s just seven — who can he get for the eighth member? Well, hey, they’re in Gotham — why not see if Batman will join up?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is pretty glorious superhero parody. Sixpack and Section Eight are plenty fun, and I’m really glad that we’ll get to see more of Baytor, who is one of my favorite gag characters ever. McCrea’s Batman-through-the-Ages poses are outstanding, and Ennis’s skewering of the Dark Knight is great, too.


Lazarus #17

The new war between the Families Carlyle and Hock isn’t going well for the Carlyles. It doesn’t help that Malcolm Carlyle has been poisoned, and his son Stephen is not entirely up to the job yet. So Forever is going to have to lead a small squad of soldiers into enemy territory to help take some of their territory back from Hock.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice combination of action and intrigue — for once, someone other than Forever getting into the action.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off