Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chris' Reviews 3/22 + 3/29

Holy repulsor rays, I've got 16 books to review between this week and last, with small ones for most of them because otherwise I'd be here for the next three days trying to come up with the umpteenth snarky line about Marvel's ignorance of established continuity. So you're going to get just one long review and a paragraph at best on the rest of 'em.


Hold on tight, get comfy, and Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


Despite my misgivings, I actually had high hopes for this book --- Iron Man, Doc Strange, Black Bolt, Namor, Professor X and Reed Richards all secretly pulling the strings behind the Marvel U for the last 40 years? Engaged in some kind of secret pact or shadowy cabal? Skulduggery and puppet-mastering from behind the scenes? Yeah, who wouldn't like that premise?

Brian Michael Bendis, apparently.

So, these six heroes (Black Panther tells them thanks, but no thanks early on) decide that they'll in times of really, REALLY big crises, and share information. I guess they do this over the years --- we don't know, because we immediately flash forward from the initial meeting to last month's Hulk issue --- and one by one most of the group leaves, or fights with each other, and eventually they break up.

This may have been the dumbest comic I've read all month.

Five big reasons this sucked:

1. I had a real problem going from "initial meeting" to "one month ago". Where's the fun in that? What's supposed to make me believe that the group had ever met more than twice in 40 years? This premise would have been much more believable had we been given at least snippets of the Illuminati meetings over time; seeing them convene, say, during or after the Secret Wars or ::shudder:: Heroes Return, Maximum Security, or even, heck, House of M. Give us a little history, create a convincing backstory. The lack of one cut the legs out from under the whole premise for me.

2. Really bad characterization. Reed's going to lie to Sue the rest of his life because Namor's a dick? Dr. Strange saying "Never call on me again", taking his ball and going home because Iron Man and Richards think they should go along with the Superhero Registration Act? Tony Stark shooting the Hulk into space because SHIELD Director Hill (a person Bendis has taken great pains to establish that Stark neither likes nor respects in New Avengers) poses a rhetorical question about responsibility? Namor defending Hulk? Who are these people?

3. Ignorance of current Marvel events. I thought only a few people even knew about what happened with the House of M shenanigans. (At least, that's what we were led to believe.) But apparently somebody blabbed to Namor! Another example is Tony pointing out he's never killed anyone (someone didn't read this week's Iron Man). And it doesn't jibe with his testimony in ASM last week, either.

4. The art. I am sorry, it's just...eesh. This should be sinister and ominous. This is...not. Alex Maleev's pencilling is way too rough for me and it looks more like a bunch of rushed sketches that some poor bastard got stuck coloring at the last minute with some chalk. I don't read Daredevil regularly, so I haven't gotten accustomed to Maleev's style, but I really didn't care for it here. Of course, with the exception of a silly fight between King Dick Namor and Iron Man, he's not got much to draw but talking heads. It's like the Marvel Universe version of The McLaughlin Group.

5. The seven-page story at the end, where we see the incident that sparks the Superhero Registration Act, i.e. the New Warriors fight a bunch of C-listers and a school bus blows up a bunch of kids (apparently) and the surrounding suburban neighborhood. It was bad, too, mainly because of the characters involved. (On what planet do you let Speedball lead a team?)

A disjointed, hastily put together, half-baked mess.

Best Moment: Ugh. Don't start. This is one giant (and from what I can see, completely unnecessary) plot hammer.

Worst Moment: I'm going with the way Bendis writes the voices of Strange and Namor. They sound like any other person you'd ever meet, and they're devoid of personality here.

Comic Book Goodness: 0/5. If I'm giving a comic that gives Iron Man a lot of page time a 0/5 rating, you know it's got to be bad. Really, the key missing ingredient here was my first point above --- we're supposed to take this at face value, with no kind of history or evidence, and you just can't make a huge retcon of this nature that way.

And now, start the music: the marathon begins.

BATMAN #651: Jimmy Robinson's eight-parter continues here, as Batman and Robin take out Poison Ivy and her Evil Plants with...defoliant. (Now why didn't anyone else think of that?) It's charmingly old school Batman and Robin team-up action, with both getting to show off their skills. I also think the art is fantastic; Don Kramer and Keith Champagne have found a perfect tone for this story, I think. This issue isn't anything spectacular, but it's the little things that make the issue: Batman's ever-so-slight smiles, Robin perched on Gordon's filing cabinet, the opening sequence showingthe surprisingly diverse opinions of everyday Gothamites on Batman's absence and its consequences. Oh, and someone kills C-lister Magpie at the end. CBG: 3/5

NEW AVENGERS #17: Someone must have loaned Bendis a few Essential Avenger volumes, because in this issue he comes perilously close to getting a handle on the ever-elusive "chemistry" thing. The block patrol at the beginning strikes me as exactly the sort of thing this particular lineup would excel at, and it's a nice nod to the public stature of the Avengers. Tony telling Spider-Man to put his science brain to use and get out of the way of the big boys was a moment that rang true. And we get, in true Avengers fashion, a misunderstanding in the form of Ms. Marvel screwing up plans. It's not a great issue, not even a very good one, but it's the closest we've come so far to anything remotely resembling the Avengers, even if there is a whole page dedicated to Captain America trying to get the Sentry out of bed. I so wish I was kidding about that. CBG: 3/5.

HAWKGIRL #50: OK, so I find myself agreeing with others on this one. It's underwhelming, but there's potentially a very cool setup for some occult-y supernatural Lovecraftian goings-on for St. Roch, and I'm still giving Walt Simonson at least another two issues to see if it pans out. Plus, we get thought balloons! Yay! The problem here is Howard Chaykin, who apparently cannot conceive of a human face that doesn't have its teeth clenched. Seriously, every face in this comic makes the characters look like they're passing a kidney stone. I so miss Joe Bennett. This comic also seems less concerned with overarching OYL "mysteries" like, say Aquaman, Superman, or Green Lantern, and that's OK too. CBG: 2/5.

FANTASTIC FOUR #536: See Randy's review below. There's a mention (and photocopied page) from the Illuminati comic, but otherwise it's the FF vs. Doombots until Dr. Doom himself shows up looking for Thor's hammer. So yeah, the cover pretty much tells you all you need to know about this. Decent FF fight, as far as those go, but there's nothing here you haven't seen before. I knew I should have waited another issue to pick up my first FF comic in 20 years. CBG: 2/5.

FALLEN ANGEL #4: I really liked this issue. We see what Liandra did to bring about her "Fallen" status (torched a serial killer who escaped legal justice), get Malachi's admission that he's not working for the Boss anymore, and an absolutely heartbreaking last page. Toss in some rhetoric about free will, some improving art, and I am so glad I buy this comic. Consistently one of the best reads on the stands. CBG: 4/5.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #16: Syn and Crossbones go on an interstate killing spree. Cap and Sharon go looking for Bucky and find a creepy small town that he passed through recently, and manage to find some time to do a little Star-Spangled doinkin'. Oh, and on the last page the AIM Beekeepers bust in asking for Cap's help with something. Good issue, we need some more action (not that kind of action; get your mind out of the gutters) next issue, though. CBG: 3/5. Also, if you're wondering about Cap's last-page revelation regarding Bucky kissing someone and an old woman's picture at the end, then you'll want to read...

CAPTAIN AMERICA 65th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL : It's a Golden Age Cap story telling us how Cap, Bucky, Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos foiled the Red Skull's plan to reactivate some 15th-century genius inventor's Death Robot. Apparently, this is the mission where Bucky fell in love with the girl mentioned first in Cap #16, so that clears that issue up a little. The story is entirely inconsequential on the surface, with nothing really outstanding about it. The last two pages, set in modern-day Cap, show Lukin/Skull returning to the site of that golden age adventure, trying to excavate something else. We're not told what it is, but we're shown the image of that 15-century genius, and it's the spittin' image of one Victor Von Doom (or someone in his armor, anyway). Oh, and the art sucks. I think I just saved you all 4 bucks. CBG: 2/5.

GREEN LANTERN #10: Hal's OYL story involves him not giving a damn about international law, as we learn that A) He and two other pilots had a prisoner-of-war experience (details are still sketchy) about 5 months ago, B) He's been flaunting international treaties and policies because he's a Goddamn Green Lantern, and C) Someone's been trying to kill him by putting out supervillain contracts on him. It's pleasantly intriguing, with enough action and plot to keep me interested; it also doesn't play stupid games with the reader by withholding information about what's happened in the last year. Did I mention that apparently the Sinestro Corps is forming? (I shit you not. Yellow rings and everything.) CBG: 3/5.

X-MEN: DEADLY GENESIS #5 of 6: This series continues its decline, as this issue's only purpose is to show us what happened to Professor X after House of M. Answer: apparently, he's been drinking in Wales, he's not crippled any more, and he's no longer a telepath. Oh, and we finally get the X-Men, Gabe Summers, and Professor X in the same location, no doubt to set the stage for the big finale next issue. Ultimately disappointing issue, even with Emma Frost's Secret Life As A Stripper revealed in this issue's backup story. I'm not kidding about that. CBG: 2/5.

IRON GHOST #6 of 6: Chuck Dixon did a heckuva job on this series, but it should have ended one issue earlier, as this last issue shows us the Iron Ghost's motives in flashback for two pages but the rest of it (IG's murder-suicide of his final target) is a foregone conclusion. Still, overall the series is definitely worth checking out, especially if you like WWII comics or murder mysteries. CBG: 2/5.

IRON MAN: THE INEVITABLE #4 of 6: Another series that didn't live up to its initial promise, because it's taking too damn long for anything noteworthy to happen. There's still no sign of an overall plot, why it's called the "Inevitable", or a satisfying ending in sight. And sadly, this issue it even looks like Frazer Irving has lost interest. Which is a shame, because I am really digging his art, pink-themed though it may be. CBG: 1/5.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #530: Again, I surprisingly found myself enjoying this comic, as Tony and Peter head to D.C. to testify, there are some good pro and con arguments for the Superhero Registration Act, and the Titanium Man shows up. Go read CalvinPitt's in-depth analysis on this issue for some good thoughts, and so far this is the one Civil War tie-in book that's actually been worth the cover price. CBG: 3/5.

X-FACTOR #5: Filler, but creepy and moody filler. At least there's no mention of Civil War. Siryn gets taken hostage by an ex-mutant, tortured a little, then Rictor comes and saves the day, sort of. There are far worse books out there, but this isn't the touchdown that each issue of the series has been so far. CBG: 3/5.

IRON MAN #6: I'm going to have to revisit this, but for all the bitching and moaning I've done about Ellis' run, I liked this last issue a hell of a lot more than I was expecting to. It's a beautifully done fight scene, Tony Stark kills the bad guy (which jibes perfectly with how I think Tony is one of the few Marvel heroes that would be able to rationalize having to kill someone), and even a too-little-too-late philosophical point about the duality of Stark's choices in life. Hey, I'm just as surprised as you are that I liked this issue. We're still stuck with the goddamned stupid revision of his powers, and no way in hell should this series have taken 15 months for 6 issues, but still: this last ish was, as I say, pretty neat. CBG: 3/5.

Whew. I'm exhausted. I may go lazy and just do linkblogging tomorrow. Oh, crap, I just realized I left out 4 other comics I bought. Tomorrow, perhaps.

Quick Hit Reviews

Five whole books this week. Light week. Light books. Lets get started.

No spoilers please.

And, we go from weakest book, to strongest book of the week.

Lamest Book of the Week:

This was downright a terrible book. The only redeeming quality was Namor, and even he was too much of a prick. Terribly written. Hey, BMB, thanks for saying that THE Avengers were 'lucky' to have beaten back the Kree/Skrulls from Earth way back when. Lets just demean THE Avengers a little bit more. Screw you BMB.
Notice that there are two Defenders in this "meeting"? And there is lots of Hulk talk. And you know what, I'm betting next years Event will be the Hulk beating the living hell out of everyone remotely resembling a hero.
And you know what, there was only two persons defending him (guess?), and after the whole conversation revolving around him-- Go Hulk.

Chris- you will be disappointed in the good Dr. Sorry.

Rating: 0/5. This was terrible.

Been there, seen this. Hello Black Widow. Hello Alias. What? Government hires young person, then tricks them into even doing more dastardly things. Hello La Femme Nikita. I may stop this series.
Rating: 1/5. At least she didn't ruin the name of THE Avengers.

Its a pretty book. I am getting a little more clarity behind what is happening. Its just that all the characters are plain rotten. I don't care what happens anymore. I just know that everyone is pretty much rotten. If I want that, I can read any old newspaper or online news.
Rating: 2/5. It is pretty to look at though.

It really wasn't that good of a book. We all know Doom comes back. We all know Thor is hiding somewhere and coming soon. I have a feeling I know where he comes from, and you may pick up on that too. There's a hammer on the cover, there's a hammer on the last page. Everything else is pretty much filler.
There are Doombots though. Lots and lots and lots of Doombots.
And Thing is entertaining at least.
But is that art hokey or what?
Rating: 2/5. Everything else this week was worse.

Book of the Week:


This, this book was pleasing. I get to see Doom kicking ass. And not bothering with the names. This chapter in the series marks his return to Latveria, and the rumblings of revolution. This is the Doom we all know and love. However, his sorcery goodness is still not coming out. I'm hoping that this is the Final Chapter in Book 5. For now, we get the beginnings of Doombots, and a hopeful people following a leader looking for change.

Its good. I really liked it.

Rating: 4/5. Very pleasing. Now just give me sorcery too.

Jumbo Jones

Earlier this week, Chris discussed the Essential Avengers, Volume 5. One of the topics was how funny it is to see how dated some of the dialogue can be.

Today, I picked up Showcase Presents: Superman Family and am convinced it could be the greatest book ever published. I haven't laughed out loud like this at a book since the last Onion archive. Much of it is dated--why don't more people punctuate their sentences with "see?" like mobsters? ("I'm getting hungry, see? Why don't you tell me what we're going to have for dinner, see?")--but some of it is more subtle than others. This one really made me think about how things have changed since 1954.Jumbo weighs two hundred pounds? Between the hormones in milk and meat and the chronic obesity in this country, by 2006, a guy who weighs 200 pounds is named "Slim," not "Jumbo."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mother Of God.

Jeph Loeb and Rob Liefeld are doing a 5-issue Heroes Reborn miniseries in November.

First, go read this:

Are you f#$%ing kidding me?

Just when you thought it was safe to return to comics, having suffered the 90s, they're back.

To those who managed to skip it, Heroes Reborn was the endpiece to an absolutely horrible three-ish years of Marvel Comics, where we had The Crossing, Teen Tony Stark, Dead Reed Richards, and unrecognizable versions of the Avengers, FF, etc. It was DREADFUL.

It was sort of like Marvel's Ultimate universe, where the Image guys were allowed to create new backstories, origins, looks, etc.

The best thing about Heroes Reborn was that it gave way to Heroes Return, which meant that Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, et al. came to save us all.

The worst thing about Heroes Reborn? I'd say it's a four-way tie between the art, the plotting, the lateness, and the art again.

To be fair, some sort of contribution from the proceeds (I think) is being made to the Sam Loeb Fund, named after Jeph's recently departed son.

I am telling you now: just donate to the charity itself. No good can come of this.

I get that it's going to help the Sam Loeb Fund, which is a worthy cause.

But dear sweet holy Moses, if ever there was evidence that the monkeys are running the zoo over at Marvel, this is People's Exhibit A.

Choice cuts from the article:

"I received a call following the Marvel summit last fall and the guys at Marvel asked if I was interested in participating in this,” Liefeld explained."

Liefeld 1, Common Sense 0.

"Backing up a little, as Loeb explained, Buckley got this particular ball rolling by pointing out that 2006 would be the 10th anniversary of Heroes Reborn, however, it was Liefeld who brought Onslaught into the picture."

Liefeld 2, Common Sense 0.

"For both creators, Onslaught Reborn had to be something…more. Not knocking fifth week events at all, but both Loeb and Liefeld wanted the story to have deep roots and wide ramifications. Case in point – it’s relationship to the larger Marvel Universe are related to the Scarlet Witch’s “No more mutants” line at the end of House of M, and…well, the original Heroes Reborn."

Oh God, it's even going to be in continuity.

“This is taking place right now – it’s not an ‘untold tales’ collection of stories. Onslaught is awakened here and now."

*wham* *wham* *wham*... guess I'll have to get a new keyboard, since this one's got my forehead impressions in it now.

"As Onslaught gets involved, let’s just say that there are other dimensions involved, and, as Franklin gets involved, more rifts in time and space. We’re pulling things out of different places…it gets a little complex to explain without giving it away, but it’s going to be a lot of fun."

This is no doubt Marvel-speak for "We have an idea that'll get us through three issues but we haven't figured out an ending yet."

"One final word on past history – Liefeld said that, over the past ten years, his version of Cap has been watching his carbs carefully, and has slimmed his upper body down, appreciably, referring to one of the artists’ more infamous images from the era."

Thank God. At least there aren't any TPBs of this crap still haunting us out there.

"With this event, Marvel is going to for the first time collect the original stories and release them this fall. C'mon, Jim Lee on the FF? Whilce Portacio doing Iron Man? Ian Churchill on Avengers?"


Can we make this the premise of the next season of 24, where Jack has 24 hours to prevent the release of atrocious comics on an unsuspecting public? I can see him how, pointing a gun at Joe Q, screaming "TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO KNOW! WHERE ARE THE PRINTS?!? WHERE?!? THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF COMIC READERS AT STAKE!"

Oh, and by the way, here's Whilce Portacio's Iron Man:

"Like Rob says, every time, at every show I go to, people bring those comics for us to sign."

It's called irony, Jeph. They're not laughing with you, they're laughing....oh, never mind.

So there. Not only is Marvel bringing back one of the single worst ideas/universes/characters in the last 30 years of comics, they're releasing the trades.

Stupid Marvel.

Short Week, Short Reviews

I overlooked this on Diamond's list when I was writing my buy list earlier, which made for a pleasant surprise as this is easily the book of the week. Lee's flashbacks to her days as a guardian angel just get more and more twisted, Malachi's role becomes more clearly defined, and Lee debates whether she should kill her son to save him from his destiny in Bete Noire.
Rating: 72 out of 78


A few weeks ago, when Chris was asking what would make Superman more interesting, I made the point that the book should be more about Clark Kent than about Superman. This title is the perfect example of what I'm getting at. Last issue, I was raving about the awesomeness of the ultraviolent superpowered battle. This issue deals with Mark returning to Earth and the ramifications of his being gone for two months. The sprinkling of superpowers in a book more about a guy who is the most powerful man on the planet, the responsibilities inherent in that job, and balancing the needs of the world and the needs of his psychologically fragile mother and worrysome girlfriend.
Rating: 72 out of 82


Two issues ago I was wondering who they'd find if they followed the helicopter. Finally, we meet some other survivors and things look like they're going well until (Walking Dead readers, say it with me) the last page.
Rating: 72 out of 85


If Bendis really wants to write Ultimate X-Men, why isn't he?
Rating: 72 out of 150

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Barry Windsor-Smith Appreciation!

So, Spencer Carnage declared this Barry Windsor-Smith Week, so as 2 Guys Buying Comics' contribution, I'm going to show you a few of my favorite BWS panels from Avengers #100, Essential-style.

(Come on. You didn't think I was going to let a whole week pass without mentioning the Avengers, didja?)

Anyhoo, Avengers #100 was written by Roy Thomas, and drawn by a man credited as "Barry Smith".

(Did you know that BWS originally went by Barry Smith? Due to his predilection for wearing ties around the office tied in a Windsor knot, his co-workers took to calling him 'Windsor'. He liked the name so much that he eventually had it legally changed to 'Barry Windsor-Smith'.)

(OK, not a word of that was true, but it should give the guys over at Comics Should Be Good another urban legend to chase down. Go get 'em, guys!)

Back on track now. This was drawn by Smith, and inked by Smith and Joe Sinnott, who damn well deserves his own week here on the comicsblogoweb at some point.

(Must. Focus.)

For those of you that haven't perused the greatness that is Avengers #98-100, shame on you. The gist of it is that Ares has come to Earth and is stirring up all kinds of trouble so he can conquer Olympus, Earth, and Asgard.

(Let it never be said that Ares wasn't one ambitious mutha.)

So we get that story (a gloriously fun, sprawling mess), the return of Hawkeye, the return of Hercules, Vision moping, Wanda kvetching, Thor hammering, Iron Man repulsoring, and just about every Avenger that had ever appeared at the time. I'm talking Black Knight, Hulk, those annoying Pyms, you name it. It's just fabulous.

(Side note: Once again, even though I can't recommend Essential Avengers Vol. 5 highly enough, it comes with a warning: Mopey Vision gets a lot of page time. Seriously. After two or three issues, you just want to grab him by the collar, poke him in his forehead jewel, and scream "GET OVER YOURSELF!". The Vision/Wanda/Hawkeye love triangle is a BIG part of this volume. Just fair warning.)

BWS Appreciation Panel #1:

I love this sequence. Cap's going all ninja while sneaking into the Black Knight's courtyard! And check out the shadows of the leaves on the shield. I dig that so much. Admittedly, the sweat on his face kind of makes him look more like the Sentinel of Rabies, but hey. It's cool.

BWS Appreciation Panel #2:

All due respect to Herb Trimpe, but this is one the coolest Hulk faces I've ever seen. He's a good mix of Neanderthal and Frankenstein, and just looks savage, even though he's not smashing anything (yet). I stared at that panel for like 5 minutes straight when I first saw it.

BWS Appreciation Panel #3 (click for larger version):

OK, so we've got the Avengers assembled 'neath a shady tree, whereupon I notice...back hair? Check out the manes on the back of Panther and Quicksilver! It's even migrated to Cap's chest and Thor's cape! Can someone tell me if this might just be a printing foible? Because it's simultaneously creepy AND unnerving. That said, if BWS wants to draw back hair on people,
then I'm down with that, because it's BWS.

BWS Appreciation Panel #4:

I just like this panel. I like how Iron Man's got his swerve going on with the flight lines. I like the jumping Hulk shattering the earth in leaps and bounds while remarking about how it's so quiet around here. I even can stand the Vision for a few seconds. And where in holy hell is Far Rockaway?

(Side note: One of the great joys of the Essentials line is finding panels that absolutely date the comic. These are usually panels where the villain says "Gasp! It's [insert name of hero here]", and the hero is all, "You were expecting maybe [insert name of then-popular music/movie/TV star here]". I swear, there's nothing like seeing Thor knocking down a brick wall and saying
"Thou were expecting Iron Butterfly maybe?" Comedy gold.)

BWS Appreciation Panel #5:

Best panel of the issue. You've got Hawkeye with some kind of creeping facial virus, Wanda making googly eyes at him while the trademark BWS back hair is plastered all over half of her headdress, and Black Panther just trying to fly the damn Quinjet, probably wondering where the "Eject Moron" button is.

I seriously think that some enterprising blogger (I'm lookin' at you, Jake) could take this panel and write different speech bubbles on it every day and sustain a blog with just that panel for about two months.

Anyway, here's to Barry Windsor-Smith gettin' his Avenger on! Excelsior!

Monday, March 27, 2006

*Knock Knock* "Housekeeping!"

2GBC took a long weekend, which is why you haven't seen anything new since Thursday. Some housekeeping notes:

- Stupid Bank Account Elves have blocked my comics acquisitions from last week. Which sucks, because I've got a pantload of books waiting for me. Grrr.

- For those of you who've read Hawkgirl, the DC website preview links to a PDF document that purports to be the Stonechat Museum Flood Recovery Report. I don't know what the value of it is, but it's mildly interesting.

- I was talked off the ledge re: the X-men gamebook. I wrote it, showed it to some people, and the answer universally was "too long". So it's going on the shelf indefinitely. I'll pull it out at some point.

- Apparently, there's an uproar over a depiction of Wolverine smoking a cigar, which goes against Quesada's policy of "no smoking in front of the kids". Either that or there's an uproar over the policy itself, which apparently Joey Q felt the need to defend in length over here at Newsarama. I'm not sure what the big deal is here.

- Reading through Essential Moon Knight. Loving it. I take exception with those who call it a Marvel-ized Batman, though so far I've only read the Essential issues. He actually strikes me as a Marvel-ized Green Arrow.

- Randy was kind enough to let me read a few of his comics from last week, so I'll get thoughts on those up in the near future.

More later!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wow. Lots o' Books

I just can't review them one night. Ha ha. So, I"m just going to do a few tonight. Randomly.

No spoilers. I don't like 'em.

First, and foremost:

New Avengers #17

Please Note: I did not call this the Not Avengers. Why? Because this is the closest BMB has ever come to writing a real Avengers book. So, I give him props, and will give it an appropriate name.
BMB still can't grasp a group mentality, but seems like there is an attempt in this one, as three or four heroes are given some attention, not just one or two. Shocking Behavior!!
Anywho, yes, we get Ms. Marvel in this one. So the cover even don't lie!! Iron Man- some great dialogue in this one, and it makes sense, and not just foo-foo one-liners.
Usual uselessness: Ronin who? Sentry who? Wow, doesn't Ms. Marvel seemed prime for this gig? Any day now BMB, any day now.
The art takes a downturn with no Niven. Very noticeable. Its not bad, but its missing Mr. Niven.
A couple of things:
1. Will someone please explain to me what the hell Stark-in-a-geek-room-in-his-armor is? What the hell was that nonsense?
2. Will Wolverine ever do something other than:
a.) get thrown around by Wrecker
b.) drink beer
Maybe some day?
3.) Thank you fricking Marvel for that SORRY-ASS Squadron Supreme promo that, when you turn the page expecting Avengers, you have WTF is this!!!!
However, this book did take a reasonably good turn. It surprised me.
So, for all of the lambasting that this book/writer/series has taken, this issue does NOT make up for the previous 14 issues, but its a good start.

Rating: 3/5. Paging Mr. Niven. Paging Mr. Niven.

Hawkgirl #50
The Dead of Night

I dont' get the hype. I hear people raving about this book. It wasnt' all that special people.
I have never read a Hawkman/girl book. I thought I"d give one a try.
It wasn't bad, don't get me wrong, but this book should not be selling out, or flying off the shelves as it is apparently doing so in Tucson.
Its well written, and has pretty decent art.
But, the story is sure kinda blah. Nothing grabbed me here. It seemed like sure, a first chapter, but it also seemed like filler material. I will say this- I will try another in the series. Writer and artist are well known, and pretty decent, so it is still worth another shot.
Wait. I lied. I did read a Hawkman book. Where Kendra gets the hell beat outta her by Carter. That was a good book.

Rating: 2/5. Not impressive, but I think just a slow setup.

Ares #3/5

This mini is going to have an interesting ending. Excluding the whole dad/son thing, I am interested to see what happens to Olympus and the gods once this war is done.
Cuz there shoor ain't alot of them left.
Leaving off from Book 2, I think we have all of 12 gods left. Maybe. At most. And a handful of Greek heroes.
Fending off the Japanese Pantheon horde.
Asgard was made mention. I got excited. But then the reference went away. I got unexcited.
Mikaboshi- he looks just plain ol creepy. I just looked again. Yep, real creepy. And, for anyone thinking that Ares is going to be an Avenger, I think this guy is WAY to out there to join any team. This guy would scare the bejeezus outta me if I heard he was within 100 miles of me. He is a total freak.
They need to get him away from guns though. That's kinda silly.
The art- I was slow to take onto the art. It seems much better now that they are in the halls of Olympus. It has an interesting little style which suits the book in its "otherworldly" fashion.

Rating: 3/5. The direction has improved. He and Herc will not be all brother-chummy when this is over. Good.

Catwoman #53
the replacements

Another OYL title that I did not like, that I USED to like before OYL. Screw you OYL. Leave that for the books that sucked, like Aquaman and Demon Blood of the, that no one reads. Leave the titles that were entertaining alone. Pfeiffer had a good Catwoman going. Great storylines, great arcs, great characters. Hell, even great guest appearance.
And then there is OYL. Sigh.
This seems like a Robin book suddenly- sidekick city. She's no good as Catwoman. I see no slyness, no cunning, and little thinking that makes Catwoman.
The scenes with Batman were absolutely excellent though- looks like OYL will do someone right at least. Unfortunately, not this one. I'm saddened.
Rating: 2/5. Batman appearance was the only saving grace.

Manhunter #20

OYL- and nothing has changed. That is a good thing. However, Manhunter is missing something. I am not sure what yet. It had something in earlier issues that its missing now. GOT IT. Newness.
It had an interesting ring to it when it first started. Typical person, upholding law during the day, pissed off at the system so does her own thing. But she is an "average joe". Not a sculpted, well trained athlete. A divorcee, a smoker, and kinda a nutbag.
Anyways, its just starting to wear thin. Enter DEO Bones a couple of ishes ago. That was ok. OYL, just kinda picked up at that point, where really nothing "major" happens in a year to ruin the story, but nothing to enhance the story either.
The end though, I so did love the end of this book. I wanna see what the heck is going on with it. Because that is the only MAJOR change in the Manhunter saga.
She needs some foes. I think that may help the book alot. Give her some foes to diddle with. And not, as Kate puts it, "D-List foes". You are in California. All new thinking for bad peeps.
Rating: 2/5. A yawner. The end was good, and the beginning was good. The middle was kinda...uncooked? Great internal dialogue though by Kate.

I'm tired now. My eyes hurt. My usual good reads have become average reads. That saddens me. Maybe I just need a gin and tonic.
More tomorrow- Cap, Red, Pete, Clark, Jane and 4 peeps in blue. (Yes, a couple are last week)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Jake's Timely Reviews

Since this is one of the few times I'll actually visit the store on new comic day and have my books read by Wednesday afternoon, I figured I'd finish off the trifecta and actually post reviews of said books here as well.

Whoa, they actually killed Foggy. At the end of the last issue, there was still a chance he might just be really badly injured, but, nope, he's dead.

This issue is more legal maneuvering by the gubbment against Matt Murdock in an attempt to get him killed rather than go to trial. Matt confronts some inner demons and finally agrees to go into general population, which is where things take off just in time for the book to end.

Highlight: Owl walks into Matt Murdock's cell "and there are no cameras or guards around."
Lowlight: The crime boss who tries to recruit Matt to work for him after paying a guard to let him meet Matt in solitary. Didn't we have this scene last issue? How lax can security get around there?
Rating: Four outta five.


Still a great title and probably the best thing Marvel is putting out, but this was kind of a filler issue about a psycho ex-mutant who kidnaps and tortures Siryn while he complains about losing his powers. Dennis Calero's art is decent, but I really liked the famous art references... which I'd scan and link if Blogger would let me...

There was one part of this story I didn't like. Siryn's perfectly timed, perfectly aimed scream to save Rictor.

First off, the story was about a former mutant who is upset by losing his powers and decides to take it out on someone who still has hers. Rictor, another mutant who lost his powers, comes to the rescue. The theme seemed to be a perfect set up to show how two men in the same rotten situation could follow very different paths. Instead, it hinged on the sudden mutant scream to save the day.

Second, can Siryn really aim that precisely? How about when she's injured like this? It seems she would have taken out Rictor and Dr. Leery in one shot instead of just the doctor.

Highlight: Death by sandbag noose.
Lowlight: The scream.
Rating: Five out of seven.


It's unclear what's happened since the end of Supreme Power when Hyperion made it clear to the government he could pretty much single-handedly destroy the planet if they didn't leave him alone. Now, he's joined their superpowered team. (It just occurred to me, if I'd read Supreme Power: Hyperion, would my questions be answered? I know Nighthawk didn't address any of them.)

The issue deals almost entirely with the military guys sitting around discussing the team members and listing their powers like this:

"Arcanna Jones, with her ability to bend quantum possibilities, Emil Burbank, supra-genius IQ, and Raleigh Lund, the proverbial immovable object... they've all had little to no public exposure."


Highlight: Finally getting Gary Frank's art back on the shelves. It's been too long without it.
Lowlight: The Blob and Zatanna ripoffs and the really smart guy. I'm rooting for at least one of them to be killed on the first mission.
Rating: Fifteen out of fourty-one.


This was a pretty straight forward "Batman dodges the bad guy's defenses, confronts said bad guy, seems to be in trouble, but has a trick up his sleeve the whole time" story. Nothing really special, but indicative of Batman get more back to old school basics instead of being a prick to everyone in the DCU.

Also, there was lots of set up for the next six issues. Were this story arc a meal, judging at this point would be like writing a restaurant review based on the bread basket.

On the plus side, the meat of the story is in the killing of lameass Batman villains. KGBeast in Detective Comics, Magpie here. Clean the pool, James Robinson, clean the pool.

Highlight: Batman and Robin's side by side panel layout as they both ventured through Poison Ivy's herbal defenses.
Lowlight: The whole thing just was too quick. If you're fighting Poison Ivy, apparently just pack an herbicide and you can be home in time for dinner.
Rating: Thirty-six out of seventy-three.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Chris' Reviews 3/8 + 3/15

Howdy all, got two weeks worth of reviews (but still only 6 comics, because THAT's how slow the last 2 weeks have been for my pull list). In this batch of reviews, we see the good, the mediocre and the bad sides of Grant Morrison, and overall it's a little disappointing, but there was one huge "Oh my God, I can't believe I waited so long to try this one" moment. Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


In this issue, Shilo see, hell, I have no idea. There's some flashbacks to alternate timelines in a bunch of what-coulda-been scenarios? I guess? Maybe? I literally have no idea what's going on in this comic.

Hoping to shed some light, I went back and reread the first three issues. Nope. It's all got something to do with the New Gods, the black hole that Mr. Miracle escaped from in the first ish, or something, or...I just don't know. Maybe I'm stupid.

Sweet Lord, what the hell happened here? Is anyone else as confused as I am by this series? I'm open to explanations.

I wish I could say more, but to me it's Morrisonian gibberish, striving to be lofty and ending up just a trainwreck. (And I usually like Morrisonian gibberish.)

Best Moment: Well, at least it's over.

Worst Moment: This comic made me feel like a hog staring at a wristwatch, which I can do just fine without your help, Mr. Morrison, thank you very much.

Comic Book Goodness: 1/5. It's not actively offensive, it's just impenetrable. I give it a 1 because the art was rather nice.


Alix Harrower and Sally Sonic duke it out in a big smashy-smash, we learn Sally's sordid history and see her as she goes from innocent superpowered teen with eternal youth to bitter, quasi-evil skeevy vengeful superpowered old woman in the body with eternal youth.

So yeah, it's a big fight intercut with backstory about the villain of the piece, followed by a visit from the Spirit of Vigilante What Got Et By The Big Spiders In The 7S #0 Issue. He explains that Alix Harrower is a direct descendant of the world's first superhero, and that she's needed to save the world, blahbity-blah-blah-blah, at which point our heroine tells him to go stuff himself and walks off.

In direct contrast to the Mr. Miracle series, this last issue of Bulleteer actually improved the series as a whole for me. I'm a sucker for "watching good people turn evil" stories, and Sally's transformation was truly sad to watch. It also manages to subtly make the points about female superheroes that Morrison had been banging us over the head with in earlier issues. Nice work.

I still don't find Alix a particularly compelling character, but her refusal to play her part in the coming world-ending Sheeda invasion took me by surprise and garnered more interest in the overall plot, (the same plot that's been MIA in the last few issues of these series, by the way).

Best Moment: The panel where Alix has finally had enough and just dumps a car engine (or whatever that thing is) right on Sally's noggin. That made me laugh out loud, because I was rooting for Alix at that point.

Worst Moment: I...don't really have one, which surprises me. Decent, interesting work all around.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Morrison pulled this one out nicely, I thought.


Booyeah! Now this...THIS is the stuff, man! Our Man Frankie gets an assist whilst slaughtering killer cows (yup) from none other than the Bride, who recruits him into S.H.A.D.E. (think paranormal SHIELD) for a mission to retrieve a gubmint experiment gone horribly wrong. Seems that water (yes, water) has empathic properties, the gubmint thought they could create a weapon from it, and things went teats up in no time flat.

So Frankenstein and the four-armed Bride set off on a kill-a-palooza to retrieve the Sentient Water Creature. After the big confrontation, SHADE offers Frank a job but he just walks off into the sunset.

I goddamn loved this comic.

It's got horror. It's got violent splodey action. It's got Frankenstein, sentient water, creepy narration, and bloodthirsty cows.

It's got bloodthirsty other animals, too, but the God, the cows.

I would pay damn near 5 bucks an issue for a Morrison/Mahnke Frankenstein ongoing series. As bad as Mr. Miracle was, this one is its opposite in almost every way --- done in one, straightforward horror actioner with a just-crazy-enough-to-make-you-smile premise and brilliant execution.

Best Moment: It's so hard to pick one. I'm going with the cows.

Worst Moment: The only complaint I have with this comic is that it doesn't really advance the still-MIA 7S overall plot. But that's a minor, minor quibble.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. Buy this comic. It is, as the kids say, the bomb.


This comic was 6 bucks.

Give credit to Marv Wolfman for writing some interesting internal narration stuff.

But it's certainly not 6 bucks worth of stuff.

If you want to read about how Alex Luthor, Superboy Prime, and Superman-2 all got tired of living in their little prison, then go right ahead and pick this up.

If you want to read about how Superboy punching the walls of the prison kept shattering multiple continuities, then buy this.

If you want to see Alex Luthor getting naked to give Superboy a power boost (ye gods, did THAT sound creepy) then purchase this.

If, on the other hand, you're just fine with knowing that Alex goaded Superman and Superboy into thinking that they had to escape for the sake of their loved ones, and that Superboy's punching is what screwed up the timestream, then you know pretty much all you need to know about this comic, and you can go buy Frankenstein instead. Twice.

Best Moment: Can't think of one. It's all very blah and sort of telling us what we'd all assumed from reading Infinite Crisis anyway.

Worst Moment: 6 bucks. I didn't even realize it until after I'd paid for it.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. Unnecessary, but not offensive. (Except for that whole Alex Luthor birthday suit thing I mentioned.)


I kept hearing about this comic from many online reviewers, but couldn't bring myself to pick it up, mainly because A) I have no particular love for DC-era Kirby originals or homages and B) I thought the art was a turn-off.

Holy crap, was I ever wrong.

For all the ballyhooed overblown talk from Bendis, Brad Meltzer, and every other writer who pays it lip service, THIS is truly the spirit of the Silver Age of comics.

You know what it is? It's a superhero comic for people who really miss the old superhero comics. It's straightforward superhero action mixed with just a dash of cosmic pretension and a smattering of modern-day sensibilities, and DAMN does it work well.

Joe Casey and Tom Scioli craft a tale with a thousand generic elements --- astronaut granted amazing powers, supervillains bent on just being eeeeeevil, soap-opera drama amongst the hero's team, and a shady alien syndicate with murky purposes pulling the strings --- and yet it comes off as totally fresh and comfortably familiar at just the right time.

Just the character design for Basil Cronus made me laugh out loud.

I swear, this is pitch-perfect antidote to DC's depressing Crisis and Marvel's overhyped war. Casey has a knack for quickly establishing characterizations and keeping the plot moving, and if he tries a little too hard with the modern day pop culture references occasionally, well, all is
forgiven when you realize that this is just a crazy bit of fun.

The art even grew on me after just a couple of pages.

Seriously, seek this out if you haven't already, and just enjoy the ride.

Best Moment: Basil Cronus' splash page introduction. That's when I knew this was a comic for me.

Worst Moment: Some of the modern-day references feel a little obvious, but this is a totally minor issue.

Comic Book Goodness: 5/5. This is rarefied air, but I'm giving it an extra bump because it went from being a book I was sure wouldn't hold any interest for me to being one that I can't wait to catch up on. Well played, Casey. Well played.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Big Arse Pile of Buy This Week

Food. Mooch off others for a couple of weeks.
Gas. Two cars. Full gas. Should keep me for a couple weeks.
Drink. Have enough cash for that. Always!!
Comics. Go broke the next two weeks buying them.

Mei gei goo foo....13 books this week!!!

Geez, its about time to hit up the 401k for a loan. Sheesh!!

Now this, this has the possibilities of a great week.

BATMAN #651. I borrowed Detective from Chris last week. That was pretty good. So good in fact that I may have to pick it up AND this Batman comic. I don't buy many Batman comics. I will try this series kicking off OYL for Batman though.

CATWOMAN #53. I"m leery. Loved the series so far. Hoping OYL doesn't kill it. Its Pfeiffer, so I am going to give it a go.

HAWKGIRL #50. The blurbs on OYL are the only thing that got me hooked into this one. Ultra-violent? For mainstream DC? OK, I"ll try one.

MANHUNTER #20. OYL: Please don't kill it. OYL: Please don't kill it. Fun book. Hoping it doesn't go too far astray, or I will go astray of it.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #530. #529 was great. I'm thinking this one will be too.

ARES #3 (OF 5). Bought the first 2. Its a decent story. Japanese gods storming Olympus? That's just weird enough to read about.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #16. I uber enjoyed the last ish. This good be a good tale in the making.

DAREDEVIL #83. Time to put the hurt on. You go Brubaker.

NEW AVENGERS #17. It all changes after Civil War. It all changes after Civil War. Click/Click. Why aren't these damn ruby slippers working? I just wanna go home. Take me home where the real Avengers are. Maybe sometime soon. Til then, I will still throw good money at it, in the hopes of a good change soon.

SQUADRON SUPREME #1. I like JMS. I don't know much about Sq. Sup. And its an alternate universe. Sigh. I'll still take a gander. Hell, I tried Warlord #1. GAKK!!

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #28. I just like this book.

X-FACTOR #5. I blame Chris and Jake on this. Did I thank you?

AND Of course:
RED SONJA #8. Because I can. New arc starts too. Excellent.

Question: Anyone know what this is about?
STARSHIP TROOPERS #1 (OF 4)--- I have seen nothing on this. Lame looking? Decent?

And Chris- I see your Iron Ghost is a-coming this week.

Thanks gang.

WWLA: Snark Edition

The best-laid plans go awry, which is why you don't see the gamebook post up yet. I'm working on it, you'll see it this week, and it's taught me a valuable lesson; don't ever pre-announce anything on a blog, because God knows what might go belly up.

Anyhoo, I thought I'd share some thoughts on announcements from WizardWorld LA, courtesy of Newsarama:

"One of the new projects announced at the panel was Beyond!, a six issue miniseries written by Dwayne McDuffie, with art by Scot Kolins. The miniseries will take a diverse group of Marvel’s B-list characters (and lower), and place them in a cosmic situation, off world."

I'm all for McDuffie doing comics work again, but Kolins is hit-or-miss for me; he's one of those artists that I really have to be "in the mood" to appreciate, otherwise it comes off as fugly. The premise sounds warmed over, but I'll probably give it a shot.

"Asked if there will be any new team books, Quesada said that there will be, after Civil War, noting that Brian Bendis and Frank Cho are working together on a project."

My condolensces to all you Champions fans out there.

"The new title is called Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters. The new series is a creator-owned property, that features characters and concepts created by the late Jack Kirby, as expanded on by his daughter Lisa Kirby and Mike Thibodeaux. According to Quesada, it's a very personal story for Lisa, metaphorically dealing with her relationship with her father against a cosmic backdrop of fantastic characters and wild vistas. It also features appearances by other Kirby-owned characters such as Captain Victory."

Um. This...I, er...well, then. Why do I fear that no good can come of this?

"Quesada described the MAX Punisher series as taking place in its own “neighborhood”, and that it won’t have a lot of touches to the main Marvel Universe continuity."

You know, this is probably a good thing. I think the Punisher is one of those characters that you just can't do justice to in the regular Marvel U; you need graphic violence and mature themes, because the character's origin and personality demand it.

"Brian Bendis, audience member when the panel began and panelist toward the end, reiterated that no series “gets more screwed up” by the events of Civil War than New Avengers"'s...just...a...comic book...
(Whew. OK, I'm gonna be alright. I've convinced myself that in the Bendis-verse getting "screwed up" might actually mean "becoming a decent comic".)

"Finally, Lowe named late 2006 or early 2007 as when readers can expect to see Orson Scott Card’s Ultimate Iron Man 2 limited series."

OK, cool. At least they're not abandoning it like I had feared.

"What’s a big, world-shattering event without the X-Men?"


"the new Robert Kirkman/Phil Hester Ant-Man ongoing series was referred to the “Irredeemable Ant-Man”, in reference to one-half of the series’ lead characters Kirkman told Newsarama about. Quesada joked this new character was the most dislikable superhero in comics."

I want to be interested in this, but it's Ant-Man, for cryin' out loud.

"Though acknowledging there is always a body count in a war, Quesada pointed out they will be bringing back as many characters in Civil War as may die."

Well, thank goodness---we wouldn't want to be depicting war as having consequences, now would we?

"Tom Brevoort added, 'We’ll be doing worse things to some characters than killing them.'"

Like making them New Avengers! (Sorry. I couldnt' resist. I promise, no more NA snark.)

"Part of the reason why the New Avengers will be so different after the war (as has been promised by Brian Bendis) is there will be a clear loser in the conflict."

(I'm trying my best here, OK?)

"Asked if Iron Man will fall off the wagon again, Brevoort responded saying Tony Stark’s addictive personality will be a central part of Civil War."

*stunned that Marvel remembers this aspect of the character*

Other notes:

--- Phantom Stranger is getting his own Showcase volume! I am giddy with anticipation! For those of you who are new around here, the Phantom Stranger is sweeeeeeeeeet.

--- Matt Fraction's relaunching Punisher: War Journal to get Frank Castle back into the Marvel U...see my comments above on the Punisher. Sigh.

--- Hawkman's not dead OYL, just gone. Or something. It's Hawkman, so God knows what he ends up like when he returns.

Most of the other DC news was either vague non-news (more questions/hype about 52 and OYL that we've had answered a million times) or boring (Damage will not be the new Human Bomb, but there are plans for Damage in the near future...zzzzzzzz).

Reviews, thoughts on the Iron Man press conference, and the X-men post this week, barring some giant meteor hitting the earth.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

No post of any real substance today, since A) I'll be watching college basketball for like 15 hours straight, and B) I'm lazy, which you probably gathered from point A.

I was toying with the idea of putting up some kind of witty message from my favorite Irish Marvel Comics heroes, but according to current continuity Banshee's dead, Siryn's lying in an alley with crowbar dents in her forehead, and Black Tom's...well, he's just Black Tom.

Anyhoo, back this weekend with my thoughts on Marvel's Iron Man conference call (and hoo boy do I have some thoughts on that) and, of course, "An X-Cellent Death".

Till then, have a good weekend!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dear Sweet Lord

OK, so my schedule this week just got totally f'ed up beyond all belief, so sorry True Believers, I've gotta drop this on ya now.

I just had to do this. I did.

But I can't just drop the Feared Friday (Now Sunday) Post on y'all without some sort of heads up. It would be cruel on so many levels. So without further ado, I now bundle up all the credibility and goodwill I've ever had on the comicsblogoweb (shaddup!), tie it up in a basket, and dangle it by a single thread over a pit of alligator ninja pirate robots.

In a word: gulp.


Before City of Heroes, City of Villains, HeroClix, Vs., or all that, way back in the halcyon days of 1986, outside of a few (mostly crappy) video games your choices for comics-related gaming were limited.

Unless, of course, you were able to grab a few of your close comic friends and sit down for a good old fashioned dice-rollin' stat-keepin' game of Marvel Super Heroes, the official Role-Playing Game of the Marvel Universe.

I was not "cool" enough to have friends that would play this game. The jury's still out on whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

"DAMN YOU, MARVEL!" I shouted at the heavens time and again. "How on Earth can I enjoy comic-related gaming goodness on those frequent occasions when I find myself wishing I had a few comic geek friends conveniently around in a gaming mood?"

(I was quite the verbose 11 year old.)

And yea, verily, Marvel heard my prayers and shouts and delivered unto us:


Marvel Super Heroes Gamebooks.

Finally! An opportunity to star in the comic adventures of my favorite heroes! In convenient paperback book format!

Oh man, did I love these things.

The idea was simple: it's a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but with more math.

Each one of these dandies (there were 8 published, I believe) took you through the adventure of a certain hero; Spider-Man, Captain America, The Thing, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Wolverine, etc. You got a "character bookmark" included with each one that was absolutely indispensable, for reasons that will become apparent.

For example, check out the bookmark from Daredevil: Guilt By Association.

I love how after all the "standard" hero stats (Fighting, Agility, etc.) they always threw in some "hero-specific" stats that absolutely no other hero would even think of getting rated in. Like on Daredevil's character you've got "Agility With Baton". Captain America had "Shield". You think Spider-Man sat around worrying about his "Shield" rating? Hell, no. He was too busy pumping up "Webbing" or "Angst".

(Side note: not having ever played the full-on MSH roleplaying game, I never knew what kind of scale these numbers were on. All I knew was that higher was better, and if Daredevil rates a "15" on "Agility With Baton", then most of us normal folk probably rate a "-23".)

(Additional side note: I'd like to think that if I had a MSH Character Bookmark of Myself, that I'd have skills like "Eating Tacos: 14" or "Napping: 11".)


The mechanics were simple: Read a passage in the book, roll a die, fudge the numbers according to what the book told you, turn to the next passage. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Another neat feature was Karma points, that were basically a form of sanctioned cheating with moral repercussions. You had a set number of Karma points that you could use to affect die rolls, add health points, etc. Being smart and helping people meant this:

Doing un-Presidential things like this:

Usually ended up like this:

It's a neat little device to keep you in the "Hero" mood, assuming that you were still actually playing by the rules by halfway through the book.

Oh, did I mention the damn die-rolling and statkeeping and erasing got incredibly tedious after a while?

See, let's say you rolled a 4, added your "Psyche" stat which made it 8. But the passage would say something like, "Make a Psyche Check. If it's 9 or less, turn to 123. Otherwise, turn to 456."

Higher is always better, right? So you just knew that if you kept that 8 you rolled then the next passage would say "Your head has exploded. You are dead", or something like that. And then you'd get pissed, because you totally forgot to keep a finger on the original passage so you could just go back and roll again and pretend that everything was copacetic, but dammit now you've lost your place and HAVE to start the damn book all over again! ARGH!

And who wants that?

This is where the bookmark became truly indispensable: cheating death. You could just go back, pretend that friggin' lying die roll never happened, and continue on your merry way, because you are sure as shit NOT spending another 45 minutes flipping back and forth through passages you've already read just to get here again, nosiree.

The really neat thing about these books is that every now and then it really did feel like the comic. Check this shit out:

Holy shit! Viper's hypnotized Captain America! I am so screwed!

Reading them nowadays is like being transported back into Marvel Comics circa 1987 or so; for example, in the Cap book the Avengers making guest appearances are Wasp, Namor, and Captain Marvel. Peter Parker isn't married. Wolverine's not a complete dick. And by and large it's all straightforward superhero storytelling, part novel, part geekazoid dice rolling.

The really strange thing? I set out to dig these up to make fun of them (and me) in sort of a 'ha ha, look at what I thought was the shee-ot back in the day' kind of way. But take away the admittedly silly die rolls and stats and just read it through as a Choose-Yer-Own-Adventure, and...they're surprisingly decent. It's like finding two or three old-school Marvel comics in a quarter box; the purple prose is kept to a minimum (mostly), and the stories typically keep everyone in character (by 1987 standards)! (They're kind of like Anti-Bendis Serums.)

I wish I could say more good things about the art. But I can't. It's...OK, but by and large it was clearly an afterthought. Every now and then you had some cool half-page black and white panels describing a passage (and often spoiling ones you hadn't read yet...argh....), but mostly it was repeated images to break up blocks of text, like this:

No, I don't know what the significance of the gun is either, unless it's the author exhorting us to keep reading the book or die.

Peter David actually wrote one of these things, a Spider-Man one called "As the World Burns". Computer game designer Warren Spector wrote The Thing: One Thing After Another. I am actively hunting for these books, like a mongoose stalking its prey. But all the authors generally did a pretty good job with these.

The real innovation in MSH gamebook design came with the X-Men book, where you got to play as FOUR DIFFERENT X-MEN! It was shit-hot when I was reading these as a kid, and on Sunday I'll lead you all through the wonder that is "An X-Cellent Death", where we'll play as Not-A-Dick Wolverine, Mohawked Storm, Plot-Device Nightcrawler, and Punk-Rock-Hair Rogue! It's such an odd book. You'll have to see for yourself. It's probably the best example of the coolness and the geekiness and the just plain weirdness that these books offered.

(No, I won't actually be blogging the whole book. That would be torture on levels you can't even do on the Internet. But I'll hit the, erm, high points.)

So stop by Sunday; I'll bring the bookmark, kay? Hey, where's everybody going? Guys? Guys?!?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fear The Post What Comes This Friday!

....oh yes, my friends, fear the post coming this Friday. It will take us back into long-forgotten realms of geekiness and shame.

Fear the post.

I can't say more. But I will leave you with part of an image:

Oh yes. Karma points shall be lost. Will. Be. Lost.

20 Things I Believe

Let's talk about me!

And so, in a ridiculously lengthy post, I now present 20 Things I Believe.

1. I believe that I loves the superheroes. I'm not ashamed of it. I may be singlehandedly killing comics, but dammit, the conversation about why I love comics begins and ends with superheroes.

2. I believe that I likes the mysteries, too. I'm a huge fan of detective fiction in general, and when I find a good, atmospheric mystery comic it's like chocolate and peanut butter to me. This explains my irrational love for Fell, and my completely rational love for X-Factor.

3. I believe that Marvel and DC are not evil monsters preying on the memories of our childhood in an effort to make a quick buck and reach out to an increasingly unrecognizable audience. Well, DC is. (HAR!) No, seriously, they're just companies doing what they've always done, sell funnybooks.

4. I believe that Gene Colan is the single greatest comic artist who ever lived.

5. I believe that Kurt Busiek, if he hasn't already, should go down in history as one of the greatest modern comic writers ever. (Note: This is NOT shameless pandering to get Kurt Busiek to check out the blog. Although I'm certainly not above having "Kurt Busiek Month" here at 2GBC, if you know what I'm saying. Hi, Kurt!)

6. I believe that writing a good 12-issue run on a comic is ten times harder than writing a novel, a play, a screenplay, or biography.

7. I believe that the comicsblogoweb is a catered buffet for comics fans, with something for everyone. And that's the beauty of it. Plus, it's free! Who doesn't like free?

8. I believe that not having a scanner makes me a lame, retarded stepson in the world of comics blogging. I so need a scanner.

9. I believe that my wife has the patience of Job for not just tolerating, but understanding this particular hobby of mine.

10. I believe that I want no part of webcomics from the Big Two; I want flimsy 32-page floppies with a few garish ads and letters pages so that when I look at them 10 years from now I can be transported back to the halcyon days of 2005, when --- gasp! --- a movie about the Fantastic Four was about to hit the big screen!

11. I believe that one day I'll publish second editions of all the features on the blog I so arrogantly subtitled, "Vol. 1".

12. I believe that the June issue of Solo featuring Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier will be excellent.

13. I believe that X3, V for Vendetta, and Superman Returns will all be better than expected.

14. I believe that in retrospect the Spider-Man movies are a tad overrated and quite frankly, depressing. They need a bit of joy and a few smiles here and there to make them more enjoyable. I don't remember the comic being that wall-to-wall mopey ALL the time, the way the movies are. Then again, maybe this is why I've never been a huge Spider-Fan.

15. I believe that everyone has a Guilty Pleasure Comic that they love strictly for nostalgic or other purposes, and that mine is ROM:Spaceknight. I've been buying all the back issues I can find in the hopes of assembling the collected series. (And yes, they're usually in the quarter box.)

16. I believe that Batman, Sue Richards, Green Lantern, Dr. Strange, Hawkman, Thor, Wonder Woman, and Iron Man are just ridiculously kewl characters. (Again, I'm well aware that I'm singlehandedly killing comics. I don't care.)

17. I believe that I'll enjoy attending my first ever con this summer.

18. I believe that reading comics doesn't necessarily make me smarter, but it does make me happier.

19. I believe that I will never like manga, and that doesn't make me a bad person. I just can't stand the big eyes. And the reading right-to-left. But mostly it's the big eyes. If someone can nominate a manga I might like given what you know about my tastes, I MIGHT be willing to MAYBE think about TRYING it. But chances aren't good.

20. I don't care for Paul Pope's art one bit. This is considered heresy, from what I understand. And I'm OK with that.

Monday, March 13, 2006

An Open Letter Anyone Not Reading Invincible

Dear anyone not reading Invincible,

What is wrong with you? Why are you filled with such self-loathing that you won't afford yourself such a simple pleasure? You are a good person and should not deny yourself the joy of reading the best pure superhero book on the stands.

The latest issue couldn't have been timed better, coming out on the heels of Superman fighting Superman in Infinite Crisis. As Fin Fang Doom pointed out, this latest issue is Mark and his dad fighting three other Viltrumites, which is the equivalent of Superman and Superboy versus Superman, Superman, and Superman. How does it go? Do they knock each other around a little and yell at one another about how upset they are with each other?Hell no, they bust each other up in one of the most brutal fights in comic history. This is what it would look like if Superman fought Superman. Mountains would shake with every blow. Hell, I'd even forgive someone who used the phrase "no quarter asked and none given."

Ryan Ottley's art is brilliant and gruesome (one of the best parts is the Viltrumite who continues fighting while holding his intestines in with the waistband of his pants). Robert Kirkman's pacing is perfect and--as evidenced by his inclusion of the "Be sure to check out Invincible #33" blurb in Marvel Team-Up #14, around the same time Invincible #26 came out--he has this storyline plotted out tightly for the foreseeable future.

If you are not reading Invincible, buy this issue and worry about picking up the trades later.

Rating: 4.5/5

Other books I read this week:
Fables #47

I didn't see that twist coming at all. Last issue was the beginning of an obvious fill-in arc which I largely dismissed as a trgic romance. In #46, two wooden soldiers (or technically one soldier and one medic) fall in love, but love doesn't work when you're made of wood. They want to be turned to flesh, but that prompts accusations of treason. I expected #47 to be about them running away, trying to find someone to turn them to flesh, getting caught, and being chopped up into firewood. Instead, Bill Willingham--as he always seems to do when I question the direction he's going with a story--slapped me around for my lack of faith.
Rating: 3/5

The Pulse #14

If Bendis had been writing like this since the beginning, the readership from Alias wouldn't have dropped out, driving this book to cancelation. Bendis is at his best when he's writing about people with superpowers instead of superpowered people. I'm not sure if that made sense, but the point I was trying to make is whether the person or the superpower comes first. Plus, Jessica Jones is finally portrayed like she was in Alias instead of a shrewish crybaby, making her likeable again. This issue made me weep for the waste the previous thirteen had been.
Rating: 3.5/5

Ultimate Spider-Man #91

I like the Peter/Kitty Pride chemistry. If you don't, you won't like this issue. Following the Spider-Man/Spider-Shadowcat team up at the beginning, however, it feels like an Ultimate X-Men issue, which, again, will affect your opinion of this issue depending on whether you like Ultimate X-Men or not.
Rating: 3/5

Friday, March 10, 2006

Random Friday Thoughts

Its Friday. I"m tired. Damn cable modems. Every time I have to unhook it to rearrange crap, it stops working for like a day.
Lesson: I need to be lazier and stop moving crap.

So, I have some random thoughts just to toss about out there, in honour of a two hour chunk of time that I have to spare at work.

1. Moon Knight is my all time favorite toon. Probably because this is the first ever book I started getting consistently. Dark tales. Fun art. Now, I was perusing Newsarama, as filler for another hour at work I think Wednesday, and found a forum about Batman vs. Moon Knight, er, rather, how MK is a copy of Batman. Apparently many persons who use the forums at Newsarama are belligerent children who are just hiding there innermost demons by acting like dumbasses. Most of them. Not all. I will not delve into that topic. Because its silly talk.

I am highly looking foward to the new series. I was out of comics for about 12 years. I missed the entire Marc Spector:Moon Knight series. I picked up a few. They were not too bad, but stop making him a super hero. Let him play in his realm. Doom armor. Silly. Stain Glass Scarlet- excellent.
I have never read Huston. He seems real excited about it. And, I like Finch's art. I hear complaints how its cardboard, how everyone looks the same. Maybe, but damn, everyone sure as hell does look good. Just about everyone (note- not everyone) is drawing women way overboard- must be that whole male hormone/testosterone thing- so anyone ever using that as a complaint about him- tell them to piss off. Wait, Amanda Conner did the same thing in JSA Classified with Power Girl. Hmmm....maybe just deciding what their major demographic wants? Sigh.

2. I saw the previews of the Illuminati book. You know what- I thought this to be a decent idea. I was going to give it a chance. AND then, I saw that they were having the super B-LEAGUER Black Panther hosting their big meeting. Including a -quite honestly- bit player in this type of setting is just plain fucking silly. Farmhouse in Nebraska? A decrepid gold mine in Eastern Alberta? Some screwed up N-Zone space that Richards could put them in? Or Strange for that matter. I would think those places would draw far less attention, and not require a minor little bit player in the grand scheme of things. Highly disappointed. This alone may dissuade me from purchasing this book. I can be petty. I'll admit to it.

97. I am very much looking forward to the return of Thor. Prediction: He ends the upcoming Civil War. Once and for all. Cuz that's what he does.

74. X-men III trailer- I'm excited.

5. And with great anticipation, Ronin is coming back to the Not Avengers. Yay. They still suck.

108. I have no desire to get some book called Mouse Guard. Save me the hype please.

544. Would the movie Elektra have been good with Milla and an R-rating? Yep. Had to go there, sorry. I like Elektra as a character- second behind Moon Knight.

64. IC has just dragged on to long. I find myself bored with it, even though the series is pretty dang good. I"m just not caring what actually happens anymore. Especially with the OYL books already rolling out.

8.54 I picked out some of my early Avengers to read last night. That was very pleasant. Unlike the Not Avengers. Busiek got it. Hell, even Austen got it. Sigh...BMB. Please go away to SpiderWoman.

4. I would love to see the original Battlestar Galactica come back to the comicfold- not the new one. I need me some glowie red eyes.

3.1415926535897932384626433832795 All motivation has left me. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I Could Have Saved Fifteen Bucks

But instead, I went and bought five comics. And, after reading them, I now wonder why? Must be my addiction to comics. Could be worse I guess.

Jake- this was my sorry-ass week for books apparently, and looking ahead, I don't have too much hope for next week.
Book Reviews ahoy, and no spoilers. Because that's no fun. Wait, neither were these books. Still, no spoilers.

Worst of the worst:

Seven Soldiers
Mister Miracle #4/4
Forever Flavored Man

Let me start out by saying, and I quote: "This was a heaping pile of bat guano." End quote.
This was an absolute horrid mini. Terrible. I kept hoping that something would improve, as I really don't mind the character.
No improvement. This mini continued to spiral into a morass confusion, nonsensical scenes and an overall story arc that did absolutely nothing. Nothing.
Perhaps I just dont' get Grant Morrison's style. That may very well be. If so, well, I know what not to buy going forward. May he never write a toon that I really like lest I beg calvinpitt to borrow his badger horde to scare Morrison away from the titles I like.
Also, I have no love for Shilo Norman. He is an ass. There is no need for him to be an ass. He hasn't done squat to be an ass.
Overall Rating: 0/5. Seven Soldiers just may not be my bag.

Wildcats:Nemesis #7/9
Hell Is For Heroes

Its a cool looking cover. Too bad the book is just kinda boring. Hey, maybe I should just keep away from the name Morrison. Robbie Morrison writes this one. At least this series is keeping my interest, albeit it is fading with each issue.
I will admit-- the hostages at the end of the book is a sweet ass idea.
Actually, almost all of the covers for this series have been impressive.
This is just a filler issue of the mini/maxi series--- Hey, what is a nine-parter called? Like a mixi series? Or just dumb to have a nine-parter?
So, overall, not much happens. Couple of cheesy one-liners. Some not so detailed or fascinating fighting, lots of snarling and smiling people and well, that's about it.
Overall Rating: 1/5. Really kinda boring. Even the flashback sequence didn't do much for me.

Seven Soldiers
The Water

My third Morrison book in a row. However, I will say this, this is Frankenstein. That alone is cool points. Frankenstein is totally airwolf. So, that is point one for this book. I don't care too much about plot or storyline in this series- its Frankenstein, and that is cool enough.
Point two for this one book--- here is THE EXAMPLE of an animal horde. Keep your polar bears and racoons, the bunnies and squirrels in this book may well scare us all away from furry rodents and mammals forever. They made me laugh my ass off.
And Frankenstein finds an old friend in this one. So more gory, gruesome, silly fighting.
Now this is good old fashioned monster fun. Too bad the Howling Commando's couldn't learn from this one.
However, in the overall arc of Seven Soldies, I have no idea how this book fits in. Then again, I don't care.
Overall Rating: 3/5. I am now scarred, and somewhat disturbed, by small furry rodents and mammals.

Firestorm #23

And that's nice. Ish before, he finds and merges with Stein. And now, not anymore. But quite honestly, that is ok. I love his new partner, and that could turn out to be quite an interesting little matchup.
I am allowed to say it is Firehawk- its in the previews. It looks as though Gehenna plays some part now too. She is not in the book, but mentioned a bit.
His new powers are displayed a bit. Apparently Mr. Terrific is a sponsor of his in some part. And we get to learn a very bad thing about his new partnership, which is actually a nice little tweak, and could provide a few....sparks to say the least.
I liked how it jumped in and what he was doing. Firestorm will be a bit player in this whole 52/OYL gimmick, and I think that is why I may like this book going forward. Very little guessing.
Overall Rating: 3/5. Nice new little touches.

Son of M #4/6
The Gathering Storm

Me saying that this was my best book of the week is like saying your lucky numbers on the chinese fortune cookie will win you a lottery.
I have no book of the week this week. There was nothing outstanding. It was blah.
Pietro has been bad. He has taken sacred stuff to fix mutants. A little too well. And I'm thinking the Inhumans are going to come down and hurt some folk. And it shouldn't be pretty. And, we finally get to see M. And not the James Bond M either. He looks very pissed.
I like Luna. She is actually kinda cool. She dont' know daddy been bad...yet. Did I mention the Inhumans are going to come and hurt some folk. Well, maybe A Folk.
The storyline I will say is going along quite smooth, and was been progressing consistently. Even though slow, this one is not about action. Well, not until the Inhumans come down and hurt some folk.
Overall Rating: 3/5. I am glad I picked this series up. I like the Inhumans, and I really can't tell you why. Perhaps because very few others do?

Marvel Previews...In Hell!

What happens when 2 Guys Buying Comics' Chris and Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge's Jake combine their powers of snark and Photoshop?

Read on, True Believers!

(Click the images for larger versions of the covers provided by Jake at Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge)

Pencils & Cover by OLIVIER COIPEL
When the Sentry realizes he needs professional help, he enlists Dr. Phil McGraw to help him sort out his true feelings! In a groundbreaking 24-issue trimonthly maxi-series set entirely in McGraw's office, you'll meet a Sentry no one --- including himself --- knew existed! But can Robert Reynolds get his insurance to cover the costs? Don't miss the start of the first 6-issue arc, "The Receptionist"!

Written by GARTH ENNIS
The newest addition to Marvel's MAX lineup shows one of comicdom's most beloved characters in a whole new light! Garth Ennis reveals the early days of May Parker, as the wet-behind-the-ears undercover OSS femme fatale ravishes her way across wartime Europe, dealing baccarat by day...and dealing death by night! Think you know Aunt May? As she might say, "Think again, bitchbag!"
32 PGS./Explicit Content ...$2.99

Pencils & Cover by SALVADOR LARROCA
The trials of the Superlative X-Men continue, as the Presidential Fitness Test keeps making life hard for everybody! Fresh off a disappointing body fat measurement, Longshot enlists the aid of Stacy X in hopes of learning the finer points of doing sit-ups! But will a surprise visit from that one dude who was in a couple of background panels a while back derail the mutants' chances of passing with flying colors? Guest-starring Mojo!

Pencils & Cover by JIM LEE
James Howlett has been many things --- samurai, secret agent, X-Man, software reseller, administrative assistant, driving instructor, plot device. But his job as a one-hour-photo developer proves to be his most challenging yet, when Daily Bugle shutterbug Peter Parker "swings" by for help with a tricky roll of film! Petey's no slouch with a negative, but Logan's the Best At What He Does --- something's gotta give! The most overprinted miniseries of the year rolls along!

Art & Cover by ADI GRANOV
This item will be resolicited at the next solar eclipse.

Written by ?
This fantastic first volume collects random panels from the FF's 40 year history! And thanks to our newest line, MAKE MARVEL MINE, YOU control what happens! We're leaving the dialogue and thought balloons empty, so you can fill in whatever YOU want to happen! Ben Grimm making romantic overtures to Mole Man? Go for it! Alicia Masters cussing like a sailor to Reed Richards? You can make it happen! Let the Johnny Storm "flame" jokes commence!
320 PGS./Rated T+ SUGGESTED FOR TEENS AND UP ...$29.99
ISBN: 0-7851-1733-4
Trim size: Oversize

(Apologies to the people mentioned above, most of whom put out work I genuinely enjoy.)