Friday, October 21, 2005


Just a note to apologize for the recent lack of daily updates --- as some of you might have surmised, I'm moving houses, and it all comes to a head this weekend. So the good news is that I'll be back on Tuesday with a goodly pile of reviews. The bad news is that I may end up borderline psychotic, because I _hate_ moving. It's just too damn hard on the family.

Anyhoo. Thanks for your patience, and I'll see y'all on Tuesday.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Chris' Reviews, 10/12 Pt. 2

Housekeeping note: I'm trying to space out the reviews and opinion pieces in the interest of giving y'all a reason to come back and read this here blog more than once a week. Just so ya know. Also, Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


Well, well, well. Brian Michael Bendis. We meet again, my old nemesis. You, Bendis, who hath milked the teat of pop culture and indie kewl until it soured into the turned cottage cheese of the familiar, the static panels, and the meta. Bendis.

In the penultimate (that word always sounds dirty to me) issue of the House of M, the heroes (such as they are) have a half-assed battle, and Wanda finally shows up. See, apparently Quicksilver was the one who convinced Wanda to remake reality so that they could be a family again and so the Avengers wouldn't kill her, which means that this whole exercise was brought on by Bendis mis-characterization in the first place.


During this exposition, Hawkeye shows up, gets pissed at Wanda, and gets re-disassembled(?) by her. For those of you counting, that's twice Hawkeye's died in a year. Magneto gets royally (har!) pissed at Quicksilver and Wanda about the whole thing. Finally, in a Very Special Episode of House of M, Wanda decides that to do right by her friends and the whole human race, that she will remake reality again---with, and I quote, "No more mutants". Fade to white.

Dear readers, you're going to hate me. I'll tell you that right now. You will hate me with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. You're not going to believe this.

I thought this comic was great.

(Pause to let that sink in for a minute.)

(Ready? OK, those of you that are still here can keep reading and send hate mail at your leisure.)

The fact of the matter is, Bendis hit the home run with the talky-talk here, and damned if it wasn't scene after scene of powerful emotion. Hawkeye's rage of betrayal? Spot on, and a voice for the reader. Magneto's righteous fury? Hell, yeah. Even the reprint (that's what it was) of the Mags-Quicksilver scene from issue #1 was perfectly placed to remind us of, well, the fact that that scene was a great one too. And Wanda's final solution was chilling and appropriate given the circumstances.

Loyal readers will know how much scorn I've heaped on this series for the last 4 issues and Bendis-speak/style in general, and all I can say is that this issue really comes close to making the payoff. I know I'm being manipulated. I know that it's hackery of the highest order. But dammit, if a tearjerker manages to jerk tears, then hasn't it been successful? I'm not saying the whole series has been worth it --- and let's face it, it could have been done in a 4 issue series instead of 8--- but damn if this didn't affect me.

And believe me, I was all set up to savage this comic like no other. I was lining up on it like a fat kid at a shrimp buffet. I was convinced that this would be the easiest review of my blogging career (next to All-Star Batman and Robin, of course. That comic was shit.)

Fuck you, Bendis. For pulling this one out.

Best Moment: "No more mutants." It reminds me of the classic moment in John Carpenter's Escape From L.A. at the end when Snake Plissken fires the EMP blast and the girl looks up at the globally darkened sky and marvels, "He shut down the world".

(By the way, Escape from L.A. is the EXACT same movie as Escape from New York, cameo for cameo, plot point for plot point. I may have to post on this separately.)

(Shut up.)

Worst Moment: Seeing Hawkeye disassembled AGAIN. Man, that really shocked me. I mean, for a second I actually thought we'd get Clint and His Purple Costume back. It was like losing him all over again. Fuck you, Wanda.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. I can't believe it either, but man. This one really got me and almost made up for the dreck in between issues 2 and 6. Not a rating for the series overall, but this issue is a must-read. It also makes me ashamed that I read comics in a weird way.


So, the final battle between damn near the entire Society and the Six takes place. Cheshire gets killed by Deathstroke, Luthor shoots Pariah, Scandal's lesbian lover turns out to be Knockout, everyone gets some nice fight scenes, and Catman and Deadshot each decide that the other one's not so bad after all. Catman gives Green Arrow a harsh talking-to (take that!), and Mockingbird is revealed.

As Lex Luthor.

No, not that one. The other one.

No, the real one.

See, the Luthor that's been running the Society all this time is actually a Multivers-----er, alternate universe Luthor. The REAL Luthor is actually Mockingbird, leading the revolt against the other Luthor, and hell, I have no idea what this means, since I always thought one poorly characterized bald supervillain with no real powers was enough for one comic company, but apparently there are multiple versions of said Kojak analogue.

Damn, that was wordy.

I haven't read Crisis on Infinite Earths in damn near 10 years, and I'm not about to go back through that mess and try and figure out which Luthor is running things here.

(Was that heresy? Because I didn't read Crisis when it first came out, and when I did at the tender age of 20 I thought it was pretty much an incomprehensible bag of plot devices. So sue me.)

Despite all the baggage, this was a fun wrap-up to what was clearly the best of the Countdown miniseries, and if there's a God in Heaven then Gail Simone will be handed a new Suicide Squad series. Don't let me down on this one, DC.

Best Moment: Catman punching Ollie and pointing out that "good guys don't mindwipe people who are already in handcuffs".

Worst Moment: The whole Luthor thing was OK, but...meh. I was hoping for the Joker. (By the way, where is that devilish little trickster here?)

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Strong ending to a strong series, and one that actually seemed to serve a purpose. New villains! New allegiances! Fight scenes! Larger story points! Good stuff.

Final reviews tomorrow. Infinite Crisis! Showcase:Green Lantern!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Disappearing Act No More

Well, at least not today. It's been a long time. I have no excuses. I just suck. At least I can admit it.
I have some reviews now though. And here they are. Sans spoilers.

Firestorm #18
The Omac Project Tie-In

Well, I guess every issue has to have one of these. I can't wait for Jonah Hex: Omac Project Tie-In. That would just be super. Fine, I'm kidding on that. The Jonah Hex part.

I like Firestorm. Its just a good little book that tells a good story each month. Granted, I did not start picking it up until issue 13-ish, but at least I have enjoyed it since then. Is it going to knock your socks off? No. Will it at least keep you entertained? Yes. This one is no different.

The only "beef" I may have is that this reminds me of a young Peter Parker, and letting Connors, et al, prod and poke him to discover who he is. Firestorm has been consistent in this, using STAR labs to do so. At least Firestorm packs a lot more punch if something were to...happen. I"ll leave it at that. So this may seem a rehash of sorts: young hero little lost, doesn't know way, seeks help, people go after him for no reason, etc. But its ok, because we really haven't seen this in years.

Also, the Pionic man is funny in this one. Yes, he makes an appearance of sorts.

The art- its low key. It is not overpowering or too weak. Once again, it just fits in with the story well. I can appreciate that.

Rating:4/5: It entertains me. Its not earth-shattering. Try a couple issues.

JLA #120
Requiem for a League

Can you say boring? I can. And that is what I received with issue 120. Wow, lets just beat this dead horse down some. They should remove "pretty shiny paper" from JLA and give it to Firestorm. Its just going to waste here. At this point, I really dont' give a damn about anyone here. Tired to death of all of them. And PlasticMan- waste of paper. Captain Marvel is on the cover prominently, but in I think one panel in the book. Yeah, bad book. No plot value. Ooo, we find out what happens to J'onn. Do we need to? No. Save it. No value.
Simply put, what a dog.

Overall rating: 0/5. I expect far more from this title. This was just terrible. I'm tempted to pull it from my buy list.

Infinite Crisis #1 of 7

For this post, if you want any of my theories or such, check out other blogs or forums. Or check back another time for that. This is only a review. And, I liked it. I loved the dark atmosphere between Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. I am interested in the Donna Troy arc of the story. Alright, alright, and the "Big 3" too. Will there be some deaths? Yup, we see some in this book. And I'm fine with that. Lets get some quality heroes finally, and enough of the "bring 'em out of the woodwork" type hero.

The art is impressive. Of course, one would expect that from Jimenez. The one big splash page of the villians was extremely well done.

Even other heroes here are discussing the impact of Wonder Woman from the Sacrifice series. Its a good continuing plot line, and its not overdone.

Overall: 4/5. It is really good. The ending left me going ok... But then I read some forums, and it makes sense to me, so really it could be 5/5, but I'm leaving it at 4. Maybe 4.5?

Fables #42
Broken English [Ch.1 of Arabian Nights (and Days)]

I took a flyer out on this one. And I enjoyed it. Is the art stunning, nope. But it tells a great story. And this is the first one that I read, and even though I was a bit lost for some of it, I had fun reading it.
The convesations between the two "cultures" was very realistic, and situations that I have run into. I think the term I am looking for is engaging.
The cover is beautifully done. I may check into some of the back issues to see if it is more of the same, as I may pick them up too.

Overall: 3/5. Worth trying. Little lost, but that's what I get for picking up a book for the first time at issue 42. At least I picked it up on a chapter 1.

Wildcats: Nemesis #2/9

I have no idea why I picked this book up. Because I could? I know nothing of the background. So, some background is built into the comic as a secondary story. OK. Do I get wanton violence? Yep. Do I get to see people kicking ass, and vice versa? Yep. Is there a story to follow? Its building.
So, I guess I"m ok with it. Once again, nothing outstanding and its not the best of reads, but I want to give it a chance, and I don't know why.
I don't care for the art all that much though. I don't do anime, and I am seeing a lot of that here. Especially facial expressions.

Overall: 2/5. Should really pick up the pace in issue 3.

And now I'm hungry. So Marvel and Indies will have to wait til next time. It will be sooner than later too.

Chris' Reviews 10/12, Pt. 1

Hey Howdy and a Great Day in the Morning to everyone! The chaos of getting kicked out of my house is only getting worse, but the comics are getting better! Which is both sad and uplifting at the same time. Anyway, as always, Massive Spoilers Ahead!


So, this is a nice bit of weirdness from Grant Morrison that I bought specifically for the script additions and annotations. For those of you who haven't ever read this, here's the story in a nutshell: Arkham Asylum has a riot, Batman is called in to quell said riot, Batman goes through about 50 pages of identifying with the inmates because he's insane too, Batman wins.

Not very compelling, is it?

You could not be more wrong. The art by Dave McKean is indistinct, creepy, and surreal, while the plot and themes by Morrison are just different enough to keep you wondering what might happen next.

Apparently, and I didn't know this until recently, this OGN is reviled by many Batman fans. I have no idea why. Yes, this is a vulnerable Batman. Yes, he's out of character as far as the past 15 years go. Yes, there's no "money" scene like you would expect out of something like this.


This book wowed me 15 years ago, and it wows me now. It's a taut, deeply psychological and symbolic look at the Batman and the Joker (and several others) that makes just enough sense to pass, while being loopy enough to stash away in that "It's OK to like it because it has nothing whatsoever to do with continuity" part of your brain.

Did I mention the script, drawings, and annotations by Grant Morrison? See, if you or I had sent in a pitch to DC, "I want to write a Batman story about madness, transvestitism, sex, fate, and death", we'd be locked up, or working in a 7-11, or both. Morrison? "Yeah, sure, sounds great!"

I read a lot of Grant Morrison, I like how weird he is, but DAMN. Just reading the annotations to the script make me wonder if dude shouldn't be locked up.

Best Moment: "I thought Joker should be wearing the Madonna outfit from the 'Open Your Heart' video. I was overruled." -- Grant Morrison, paraphrased here.

Worst Moment: McKean's art is delightfully surreal at best, frustratingly indecipherable at worst. Not once do we get a full on shot of Batman doing anything Batman-y.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. Admittedly, I'm a Morrison/Batman fan, but this book STILL creeps me out, and the script + annotations are priceless, especially since you get the whole shebang for less than 20 bucks. Love it.


Charley Parker and Carter Hall do battle. Charley explains that he's the son of Fel Andar, who


and then Hawkman meets up, apologizes to Hawkgirl, and they share a nice dinner and romance blossoms.

Best Moment: Hawkman kicks the living shit out of Charley, then sends him on a one-way trip to Thanagar.

Worst Moment: I'm still dizzy from all the retconning in this issue.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Mostly one big cathartic action scene, a nice wrap-up to this last arc that's put Carter through hell, and a sweetly romantic epilogue that hits all the right notes. Well done, though I won't even try and explain it to anyone. Don't pick this up if you aren't a regular reader, although the next issue should be a great jumping on point.

That's it for now: coming soon, House of M, Infinite Crisis, Showcase:Green Lantern, and Villains United!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Pre-Review Reviews

More to come tomorrow (I'm moving, so the full reviews will be up by Saturday at the latest) , but here are the thumbnails in case anybody cares. Here's my list and a general approximation of what I thought. Read the full reviews (again, Saturday at the latest) for insights into my opinions and psyche.
  • Infinite Crisis : Yeah. It's a damn good comic. Not great, but damn good.
  • Hawkman: Sweet ending to a tortuous arc. Damn good as well.
  • House of M: Fuck you Bendis, for pulling this one out of your ass. (Is that a compliment or a slam? Stay tuned!)
  • Villains United: in the words of the immortal Ice-T: Awwwwwwww,yeeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhh.
  • Arkham Asylum 15th Anniversary Edition:' you love it or hate it. My take on it coming soon!
  • DC Showcase: Green Lantern: Marvel Essentials-style comes to DC. You know I'll love the value (500 pages for 10 bucks), but are the stories worth it? The answer, dear readers, may surprise you!

Also, props to Devon over at Seven Hells (see sidebar for link). The dude is a WITCH! He had the whole Infinite Crisis thing figured out LAST YEAR.

Hoping you'll come back Saturday,


(P.S. Randy: post some damn reviews. You owe me an Archie comic breakdown!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bullet Points

Criminy Jim-Jams, it's been almost a week without a post? I must be insane, or busy, or both. A few quick hits before Comic Armageddon tomorrow:

  • Infinite Crisis better be pretty damn good for 4 bucks. I'm just saying.
  • House of M better be pretty damn fight-happy for being issue 7 of 8.
  • Looks like Green Lantern Corps will be an ongoing series after the Recharge mini. This makes me happy in several highly evolved organs.
  • Brian Michael Bendis, stop it.
  • Looking for input on whether I should start reading the following comics: 100 Bullets, Stray Bullets, Matador
  • Big pull list this week and next. Woo! Hoo!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Chris' Reviews Double Feature: 9/28 and 10/5

What ho, reviews are here! Warning: this is a long post. I’ve got the comics from last week plus some stuff for this week, so let’s cut to the action! As always, Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


Tony and Jim Rhodes’ prep school basement fight with the bullies comes to a gruesome end, whereupon Tony, Rhodey and Rhodes’ sister (!) are whisked off to finish school in the Baxter Building School For Really Smart Kids The Government Wants To Exploit. Here we see that Tony’s half-brother and future archrival Obadiah Stane is also enrolled here. Stane then promptly kills two other children (alright, manipulates them into offing themselves), which spurs Tony into further development of the Iron Man armor, specifically the flying jets part. At this point, Tony’s somewhere around 16 years old, methinks.

Yet another really good issue as far as I’m concerned; the way Tony’s fledgling armor assembles and disassembles (no pun intended) itself is a neat idea, and the fact that Jim Rhodes’ and Tony’s friendship is given a decent background fills in an underdeveloped part of the Iron Man canon. And boy howdy, is that Obie Stane one little psycho! Card is clearly setting him up as the main antagonist for the next two series, and I look forward to seeing Tony repulsor-ray the living shit out of him one day. (Yes, repulsor ray can be used as a verb. Shut up.)

There are a few head-scratchers here, though, such as why Howie Stark suddenly feels the need to put Rhodes and his sister in the same Genius Baxter Building School as Tony, since they’re not geniuses, and the “we have to hide them because we know that Tony can regenerate his body even after his entire lower half has been incinerated” excuse…well…just read that again and explain to me how that makes sense.

I also didn’t like the death of children (never do), but the way it was presented here was skillfully done enough to make me feel sad and vengeance-filled at the same time, which dovetails nicely with Tony and Howie’s reactions. We see the ruthlessness and sense of purpose develop in Tony, and it hits all the right beats. Warning, though: damn little of this comic will resonate if you haven’t been following it from the beginning. Recommended.

Best Moment: Watching Tony wolf down a ton of food to allow his body to regenerate the muscles and flesh that was burned off. It’s a cute sight gag that you almost miss on the page. Also, the nanites assembling the armor was a cool touch.

Worst Moment: Dear God, Stane’s getting away with the murder of two kids and his reaction just makes you want to disembowel the little turd. Or at the very least, lock him in a room with copies of All-Star Batman and Robin.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. The Andy Kubert art is wonderful as per the usual, Tony develops more into the Iron Man we know he’s going to be (in the Ultimate Universe, anyway), and wheels are set in motion for the larger story arc. I’m totally on board, even though it is the Ultimate universe which means he ends up with the GoBot armor in the end.


So, Brutha Eye has unleashed a million or so OMACs on the world. Batman, TerminatorSasha, and the rest of all the superheroes in the world try to stop it. They succeed just halfway, which is how all these damn Infinite Crisis miniseries seem to be ending. A dozen or so heroes lure all the OMACs to one location, whereupon Bats transmits an EMP blast to disable them all and kill the OMAC virus. TerminatorSasha uploads a virus to Brutha Eye, who then takes about 200,000 OMACs and its ball and goes…off somewhere, I guess, but not before broadcasting to the world video footage of Wonder Woman killing Max Lord. And I think that TerminatorSasha reforms Checkmate using all the world’s government and hypersecret agencies or something.


This series was a hell of a lot more interesting when Max Lord was involved. At least we had a villain, not an excuse for some OMAC to pop up somewhere in a comic every time someone needed a filler issue, which I guess is the point of this series. Batman’s gambit---to lure every OMAC to one spot by concentrating all the superheroes in one place---doesn’t ring true, and here’s why.

You’re telling me that a computer programmed by Batman, Mr. Contingency Plan himself, Mr. Think One Move Ahead At All Times, Mr. Always Prepared, wouldn’t think that something like this was a TRAP? Come on! And the end where Max’s murder is shown to the world---there’s obviously going to be some huge public outcry against heroes, which will be stupid, because all anyone has to do is politely explain using video and audio footage exactly what went down and why it happened, and any sane populace will realize that having the capes-and-tights crowd on their side against the next Evil Alien Menace will be better than shunning them entirely.

Maybe that’s why I don’t like this comic: it’s got me tired of plots that haven’t even been published yet!

Best Moment: The splash page of maybe 10 or so heroes facing the OMAC onslaught is pretty. (Which brings up another point: for what was supposed to be this big Hero/OMAC face off, there were damn few heroes involved shown. It’s already been proven that one OMAC can pretty much slaughter 6 heroes at a time; why does a measly dozen capes warrant sending the whole army there? Yeesh.)

Worst Moment: The ending, where the good guys and bad guys split the difference and we’re left with nothing but a few dead heroes, TerminatorSasha, and some satellite with a couple hundred plot devices roaming the galaxy.

Comic Book Goodness: 1/5. Good Lord, this series was pointless. The only worthy moments took place in other comics (I’m lookin’ at you, Sacrifice).


This issue introduces us to…RONIN! The Most Super Duper New Hero We So Didn’t Need Because There Are Plenty Of Others Out There We Could Put In The Avengers But Bendis Wants To Milk The Identity Game For Three Issues So You’re Just Going To Love RONIN! And Like It.

So, the Silver Samurai has escaped to Japan, and the Avengers need to send someone familiar with the territory over to investigate. Cap tries to talk Daredevil into it, to no seeming avail, but Matt Murdock tells Cap he “knows someone” that could help. Daredevi---er, Ronin is shown investigating by beating up a bunch of ninjas, then leads all the ninjas straight back to the New Avengers, who are holed up in Tony “I’m so broke I have a tower in Japan” Stark’s Japanese corporate HQ.

Let’s get one thing straight. Despite Randy’s opinion, Ronin is not Howard Stern. In fact, despite the ways Bendis tries to make us think otherwise, there’s absolutely nothing here to convince me that it isn’t Daredevil. In fact, at one point Cap explains to Murdock how once upon a time Steve Rogers discarded the Cap identity, and became Nomad, a man without a country, a man….zzzz…whoa! Awake now, sorry.

Look, one of three things is going to happen here:
  1. Ronin in this story really is someone Murdock just knows, but after they either die or are incapacitated (as seems to happen at the end of this issue), Murdock will pick up the black suit and fight on as…RONIN!
  2. Ronin is already Murdock, who fights anonymously to protect other heroes from being associated with him and dons the black garb of….RONIN!
  3. Ronin is Elektra, which is so staggeringly stupid on so many levels that I can’t even bring myself to believe that she would assume the identity of….RONIN!

    Either way, it looks like we’re in for three issues of ninja fighting (which is cool), although Hydra seems to be involved somehow (which is boring). Granted, the Daredevi---er, RONIN! Fight scenes are decently action-y, but the rest of the book reads like My Dinner With Captain America. Which is Bendis, and I guess I just have to get used to it.

    Remember Kree-Skrull War? Wasn’t that cool? Sigh.

    Best Moment: Daredevi---er, RONIN! Getting plunked with about 150 shuriken at once.

    Worst Moment: The pains and clumsy misdirection Bendis goes to to make us think that Murdock isn’t RONIN! Nothing here that can’t be explained in a way that will make people think that this is far more clever than it actually is. That and Spider-Man’s “Oy! With the Madame Hydra!” line, which is…how do I put this…retarded.

    Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. I’m starting to believe that Brian Michael Bendis actually hates me personally. Is this really the same guy who writes Powers? Goldfish? Daredevil?


    Dread Dormammu and Umar suck up Eternity’s power (well, Dormammu does---Umar ends up sucking something entirely different, and it’s exactly as gross as that sounds). Dormammu reshapes the universe in his image, which has fewer consequences than you might expect, we get way too many pages of Umar-Hulk foreplay, sex, and pillow talk (toldja), Dr. Strange and Namor escape and resolve to make things OK again, and Silver Surfer literally stands around and acts the idiot for four panels.

    I get that this is supposed to be a continuity-free humor piece. I get it. And the bit about Banner not being able to Hulk Out because he’s, erm, “spent”, garnered a chuckle. But please. The way I see it, this book was targeted at two audiences: 1) the people who legitimately are fans of the Defenders, and 2) the people who follow Giffen and DeMatteis hoping they’ll recreate the bwa-ha-ha magic from back in the day.

    I’m in audience 2, and I firmly believe this is a swing and a miss for these guys, no matter how much I wish it wasn’t. I sense a grand pulling of punches here --- the humor is off the mark, the snide remarks aren’t snide enough, and the plot isn’t strong enough to make up for it. At some point the decision should have been made to either make this a straight comedy book and dump the universe-conquering nonsense (which will piss off Audience #1), or stop reaching for the comedy and make this a real action-y superhero galactic romp (thereby letting down Audience #2).

    All I’m saying is that you’re in trouble when the Defenders logo on the cover is cooler than any of the pages inside. I don’t understand the generally positive reviews for this; my only explanation is that out of nostalgia and some weird kind of sympathy for the writers people are convincing themselves that this book is better than it actually is.

    There is a semi-interesting development at the end, which implies an Evil Bearded Alternate Universe Version of our heroes will make an appearance, which means (because I’m stupid) that I will read the next issue, because I’m a sucker for Evil Bearded Alternate Universe Versions.

    Best Moment: The Royal Sadist, as a character and a concept, is deserving of his own one-shot issue. I especially enjoyed seeing him refer to Namor as “fishy-pants”, because that’s how I refer to Namor…when, you know, I’m talking…to people…about comics…let’s move on.

    Worst Moment: Did I mention the Hulk-Umar Horizontal Bop that occurs here? Not only do you have to live with that image in your brain, we’re apparently supposed to believe that Banner thinks he can Hulk Out by saying magic words. Which might be funny, if it wasn’t ripping off a sequence from the first Spider-Man movie.

    Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. I can’t believe I’m going to buy another issue based on a clichéd Alternate Universe and a logo. I am such a moron.


So, the green parchment-y things the JLA members found were pieces of some Martian Death God’s resurrection spell or something, and the JLA confronts Prez Lex Luthor about it. Then, all hell breaks loose in Vegas, only it’s not the good alcohol-and-strippers kind of hell, it’s the alien robot monster kind.

Ignore the lame computer generated cover.

This is mostly Captain Exposition at work in this issue here. We get J’onn filling us in on the Martian Death God, Lex explaining that he was researching the parchment-y things for use as a weapon, et cetera. There’s also a weird trippy sequence in the middle of Oracle flashing back to the Joker shooting her that serves no purpose but is kind of eerie.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been really liking this story so far, but this issue falls a little flatter than the previous two because A) there’s no Lois Lane/Clark scenes, which usually crackle, B) there’s no grand superheroics, and C) there’s little characterization, unless you want to count Kyle calling the President a “butt-hat”. Twice.

Oh, and for some reason, Kyle’s wearing his Action Figure Battle Armor again here, even when he’s just standing around. I have no explanation for this.

I’m still on board for this series, and by all indications the pace is going to pick up again next issue.

Best Moment: “Which button sends in the girls?”

Worst Moment: There should be a rule in comics that when Martian Manhunter has to tell a story it happens off-panel. Seriously. This guy gets handed all the long-winded speeches in comics it seems like. For a moment I thought Bendis was writing, but MM didn’t reference American Idol, Burger King, or Fleetwood Mac, so I think we’re safe.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Still a solid story and nice team scenes, and for some reason I have faith in Ellis on this one. Good stuff.


My God, it’s over. I’m going to keep this one short (and a cheer goes up from the crowd). Good guys disintegrate Thanagarian Death God. Blackfire convinces Thanagar to keep up the war on Rann. Giant Space Thingy appears at the end.

What a mess.

Best Moment: It’s over! That, and the art. Reis has done superb detail work on every issue.

Worst Moment: The half-assed ending. We’re supposed to still care about this war? I’m starting to agree with others that Gibbons had a 12-issue idea squashed into 6 issues. Either way, you don’t need to read it.

Comic Book Goodness: 1/5. They killed Shayera for this?


Ah, here’s the stuff. Good superhero stuff, a few funny lines, and nice art. Was that so hard?

Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, She-Hulk, Hulk, Wolverine, Nova, and Warbird gang up on Titannus, who pretty much beats the cookies out of them all. They capture his honey, who tells him to piss off, and then Titannus decapitates himself (hee!). Quasar takes said honey back to home planet, where she decks him and flies off. Turns out the whole thing was a ruse and that Honey’s home planet are going to declare war on Earth pretty soon here; Titannus was a patsy. SHIELD un-freezes Evil Tony Stark (from the first story arc) who explains what’s going on here and why everyone’s in trouble. And Titannus starts growing his head back.

Dammit, this was just fun, which is exactly why I read this comic. Again, I could have done without seeing the innocents get blasted to smithereens, but on balance this was a good return to form for Kirkman. Spidey gets a few legitimately funny scenes, the self-decapitation was a nice bit, and generally the whole thing worked. I also enjoyed the reference to Wolverine’s overexposure, with Titannus telling him “you overextended yourself. You can’t be everywhere at once, y’know.” Heh.

A few questions, though:

  • Is Warbird always this useless? I don’t remember her being this useless in the Avengers.
  • Is it me or does Paco Medina draw everyone with big noses?
  • Why does She-Hulk wear fingerless gloves? Why does anyone wear fingerless gloves? I mean, either you want gloves or you don’t. Go all the way or go home.

Best Moment: “Nova. Shut up.”

Worst Moment: Seeing the kids blasted to smithereens. It’s a nice set up for Hulking Out, but c’mon, you can do better than that.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. Again, not much to not like here. We get a nice twist regarding the impending invasion, lotso fighting, and funny lines. It’s exactly what’s advertised: Marvel Team-Up.


The second issue in this series is just as good (if not better) than the first, as Fell investigates the murder of a pregnant woman who had her fetus cut out of her. The clues lead back to a psychopath practicing ancient rituals with dead fetii (I can’t believe I just wrote that).

Another good done-in-one mystery, with the added bonus of developing Fell and Mayko as characters. And did I mention the creepy ice-cream eating nun in the Richard Nixon mask? Gravy, my friends. The nun is just gravy.

I praised the last issue highly, and will do the same here. I love the atmosphere, the art, and the characters. The value it provides for two bucks is unbeatable.

Again, Ellis gives us a nice three page text letter at the end explaining some of the ideas behind the series and the subject matter of this particular issue, which I found interesting. Bonus.

Still, the best part about this? There’s no obviously supernatural shit going on here. Sure, there’s magic rituals (that don’t work), talismans (that don’t work), and an occult-y feel in general (but it’s just a feeling), but the whole thing is still grounded in a depressing, low-income shit-city reality, which must be what living in Detroit feels like (I kid! I kid because I love! Kind of.). It’s a crime comic, and it the noir meets supernatural feel is one that grabs me.

Best Moment: “If you retrieve that piece of tomato from where it fell [in the corpse] and then put it in your mouth, I will shoot you.”

Worst Moment: Dozens of dead babies hanging from a ceiling was stomach-turning. What’s with all the kid-killing in comics?

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. Just pick up one issue and you’ll know whether this is your cup of tea or not. I say, more tea! For two bucks you can’t beat it.


OK, here’s what got me to pick this up. Steve Niles on a Batman mini? Cool. Batman outside Gotham in the burbs? Check. Serial Killer? Alright, I’m in.

The lesson, as always: let Chris take the flyer on the 6-dollar Batman miniseries before you do.

Basically, Gordon asks Bats to investigate serial killings in the suburbs. Batman does so and tracks down the killer, who dies.

Then comes back as a zombie.

Alright, here’s the thing. Since Niles was involved, I was pretty sure zombies or vampires or werewolves were going to show up sooner or later, which is just fine. I’m just fine with a Batman Vs. A Serial Killin’ Zombie Miniseries.But.

This is going to be A Miniseries In Which Batman Re-Examines His Thoughts On Religion And The Afterlife. Which I don’t need, and neither do you, particularly if it’s going to be this ham-fisted. Take for example:

Telegraphing Faith Theme Point #1: In the midst of a fistfight with the Joker, Batman asks his enemy, “You, of all people, really believe the dead are waiting for us in another life?” In the middle of a fight, for cripes’ sake! It’s as jarring as if he just stopped fighting, and said, “You know, old boy, I’d be interested in your thoughts on Kant’s Moral Imperative Philosophy. Is free will really an illusion? Explain, old chap.”

Telegraphing Faith Theme Point #2: Bruce tries to google up “afterlife” but only wants factual information, of which Alfred informs him there is zero to be found on the Internet. Gee, do you think Bruce will try to reconcile his logical, scientific mind with something as faith-based as the supernatural? Could be! The Internet thing is hogwash, because in addition to the millions of pages out there that purport to have some factual references to world religions and maybe some afterlife experiences, there’s always crap in search results.

Other examples of mind-boggling wrongness include:

  • Batman flies into surburbia via a Rocketeer-esque jetpack. What, this was easier than the Batmobile? The Batplane? The Batcycle? I’m all for retro, but two martini shakers with flames coming out the end strapped to your back is lame, dude. You’re Batman! Show up in the car! People want to see the car!
  • At various points while “tracking down” the killer (which here means just following trails of bodies and getting bonked on the head repeatedly), Batman muses that the killer “knows I’m here” and “is setting a trap for me, predicting my every move”. No, Batman, he’s not. He’s killing people, true, but there’s nothing to indicate that this is personal or that the killer gives a rat’s ass who you are.
  • The Zombie Serial Killer at the end comes like a bolt from the blue, as he wrecks the ambulance carrying him and all the other people who were in the ambulance are suddenly zombies too. Huh?
  • This issue alone was six dollars. Not nearly enough value for six bucks. It's like the Anti-Fell.
  • The art is all over the map. Some scenes are appropriately gritty, others look like Koko the Gorilla signed an exclusive with DC.

    In short, I’m quite disappointed with this first ish, I have no interest in Batman learning a lesson about the afterlife (I’m more interested in him kicking the afterlife’s ass), there’s not much atmosphere to be had here since Bats ends up getting stabbed, shot, and bonked in the head way too much, and there are not one, but two scenes where Batman lunges to prevent someone’s death, fails, and screams “Noooooo!” Chances are I won’t get the last two issues of this.

    Best Moment: “I swear he calls more since he retired than when he was Commissioner.”

    Worst Moment: “Noooooo!”

    Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. Not nearly what I expected, and the Anvil of Deep Thoughts On The Afterlife is too heavy for me to bear.

    Whew! You made it through! Keep an eye out in the next day or two for a special feature we’re thinking about, and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tardy Excuse

Dear Comic Book Blog Reader:

Please excuse Chris' lateness of reviews for last weeks' comics, as he has been preoccupied with finding a home for his family. Chris will have a whole assload of reviews up late tomorrow night. And they're mostly positive, except for OMAC Project, which blew donkeys. Also, Chris has decided that Brian Michael Bendis is either a flawed genius or an occasionally genius hack. One of the two.

Thank you,

Chris' Mom