Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Things Have Gone Entirely Off The Rails Round These Parts

Continued apologies for the lack of bloggery round here, but damn if real life doesn't keep getting in the way.

Stupid real life.

God willing and the creek don't rise, I'll have reviews and be back on full time next week.

Stupid, stupid real life.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Would Don Baylor Buy New Avengers?

Apparently the latest issue of New Avengers sucks. I also have it on good authority that the sun will rise tomorrow over the eastern horizon and that water is wet. Not surprisingly, the bloggosphere has taken to bitching and moaning. Why, just look below this very post:

"When will the public stop putting their noses (sic) up BMB's arse and figure out that this is just not a good book[?]"
I haven't heard anyone say this is a good book since the second issue. Not one single person. More on this in a moment.

Further down, Chris can't even work up the enthusiasm to complain. He just asks:
"Are we done yet?"

The better question might be when will people stop buying this book and complaining about how bad it is? Unless Brian Michael Bendis has your daughter tied up in a warehouse somewhere and has vowed to start cutting off fingers and mailing them to you every month you don't buy New Avengers, you are "the public" that is "putting [its nose] up BMB's arse" by spending $3 for a literary kick in the balls on a monthly basis.

I once asked my father, "Why did Don Baylor get hit by so many pitches?" I thought maybe he could impart some observatory wisdom about the slugger's stance that led him to become baseball's modern leader in getting hit by pitches (he's since been surpassed by Craig Biggio).

"Because he liked it," came my father's deadpan reply.

"What?" I gasped. "You think he liked it? How could anyone like getting hit by pitches?"

"If you do anything that many times," he nodded, "you must like it."

On that note, I say anyone who insists on calling New Avengers "Not Avengers," complains about the book every month on his blog, and points an accusing finger at "the public" for the horrible quality of the comic, yet has bought nineteen issues of the garbage in question must be reading crap because he likes crap and has no one to complain to but himself.

If you went to a restaurant for lunch and found a dead roach in the spot where your hamburger was supposed to be, complained, and were told "No, that is the burger!", would you go back the next day?

Maybe you want to give the restaurant the benfit of the doubt because you've had good food there in the past or because you've enjoyed eating other locations of the same franchise. But what if the next day you had the same situation occur? After a week, say they replaced the roachburger's bun with a pile of dog crap. How long would you keep going? Somehow, I doubt after nineteen visits you would still be eating there.

Randy, Chris, bloggers everywhere, either accept that you love being shit on every month or stop paying for it to happen, but shut up about it either way.

Edited to add: I posted this over at Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge too (because I am lazy). If you want to see the comments readers are making there, clickity click click.

Reviews, Lotsa Books

Randy has psuedo returned. Been ill for over a month now, I don't recommend this to anyone. I don't care if I have lost over 25 pounds, this is NOT the way to do it. Way Sucky!

But I did get lots of books this week. Ten to be exact. So, five bullet reviews, five "pretty picture" reviews.

First, the not so hot books. Well, to be honest, some of these were good too, but just not "pretty picture" worthy.

10. Fantastic Four- A Death In The Family One Shot
I got suckered. I bought into the hype. F You Joe Q. This book was lame. The only redeeming quality was that it had a Franklin Richards backup story. Still not worth $4. Snooze. Nothing really redeeming to read here. Wait for the trade on the Franklin Richards stories. You know F'ing Joe Q (F U Joe Q) will probably put one out.
Overall Rating: 0/5. Even the Franklin Richards story could not conquer this trash.

9. Annihilation Ronan #2/4
This was a far cry from ish 1. I was a little sad, as I was really looking forward to this being better than it was. It wasn't horrible, it was just kinda...filler. Still waiting for the Wave to be in here somewhere too, but this must just be the hokey buildup.
Overall Rating: 1/5. Disappointing. However, Annihilation has still been worth reading overall.

8. 52 #3/52
Let me begin by saying that I will not be buying this after issue 4. I have not been happy with this series to date. I find it quite boring and droll. Big snooze fest. This week however did give me lots of Black Adam. He's a prick like Namor, and I kinda like him that way. He is one of my favorite characters at DC. But, I"m still not going to keep dishing out $2.50 a week for this not-so-good series, when I can add an additional 50 cents and get something just as bad on accident. Maybe I can pick up Robin once.
Overall Rating: 1/5.

7. Not Avengers The Collective #19
When will the public stop putting their noses up BMB's arse and figure out that this is just not a good book. And PLEASE, PLEASE STOP USING THE YOUNG AVENGERS IN EVERY FUCKING BOOK YOU PUBLISH MARVEL. Its like a Batman appearance in a DC title, but Batman doesn't suck ass. Anyways, not much happens here, again. The Spider Twins, Wolverine and Sentry just need to go away and get some "group" heroes in there.
Overall Rating: 2/5. I"m being generous. NO. I'm not going to be generous. Screw it. 1/5.

6. Buckaroo Banzai Return of the Screw #1/3
Now this was at least a nice setup book, and a neat little story. Having some history of Buckaroo Banzai will help you immensely if you wish to read this book though. Its quirky, can be hard to follow otherwise. It was fun. It had some good spirit to it, if not a little on the depressing side. Even when things are down, these boys know how to keep it positive, but in the book they just aren't doing that. Jersey was pretty much dead on though.
Overall Rating: 2/5. Nice start. Art was ok. But a nice setup issue. Recommended.

5. Daredevil
The Devil in Cell Block-D, Part Four
An excellent book. Not much action, so if you are looking for the past few issues, stay away. However, Punisher and Kingpin start Murdock thinking again, and that was way interesting to see, that these two guys start getting Murdock on the right track. "What it looks like when you turn into me" was a fantastic line in this book. You go Frank. Frank Castle, welcome back to the regular Marvel U. Its nice to have you back. Things will be coming to a head in the next issue. Not really caring about the outside prison stuff though. Its kinda blah and not very interesting. There's another DD out there. So. Just wait for Murdock to get there, then it'll be interesting. Pretty sure it ain't Peter either. My $ is on PowerFist or Clint Barton.
Overall Rating: 3/5. Didn't have some of the bang that the other issues have had, but it moves the plot very well and sets up the next couple of issues very well. Fine dalogue though, fine dialogue.

4. Secret Six
Six Degrees of Devastation
Part 1: Exposed

Ah, Gail Simone. So pleased that you are writing this. Because it focuses on the six themselves, and the story of Villians United vs. the Secret Six coming front and center. About fricking time too. I do so enjoy the bantering amongst the six though, with all recognizing their unofficial leader being Catman.
They start in North Korea. I liked how that went down.
They end starting to be devastated. What would you expect when the Villians United are gunning for you though? That's a whole lotta badness coming right down on ya. Was actually a little saddened to see some of them taken apart so...easily. I"m starting to like "Doll". Talking to the stuffed parademon is just creepy enough for me to laugh and take to the character.
Overall Rating: 3/5. Seemed too easy. Way too many odds really for this group to continue.

3. X-Factor
Two Meetings, One in Person, One Not

Another fine outing from PAD and the XFactor gang. Very little Rictor, which makes me extremely happy. Prick. I'm a little disturbed over Siryn. She's just bonker denial girl. The meeting between Madrox and Singularity went very well, just as expected. Otherwise, not a lot going on in this issue. Was nice to see PAD focus on the story, on what is at hand, and NOT on the entirety of the Marvel U. Although Civil War comes next. Sigh. Not expecting too much, since I am expecting a "forced story" from PAD, which just won't flow well, so I won't hold him accountable. It will have Quicksilver though. Maybe he and Rictor can't get into a bitch slap fight and slap each other into oblivion? Please? Request made.
Overall Rating: 3/5. Good story. Not spectacular. But good. Good plot mover again. Siryn- come out of denial. Please. I see that as a boring storyline coming.

2. Catwoman
The Replacements

My patience with this book and OYL is starting to pay dividends. Finally, finally Selina comes back into the fold. And its about frigging time too! No um, offense to Holly of course.
And, and I get a guest appearance by Wildcat of the JSA. Its nice to see other members of the DCU getting some air time. It doesn't all have to be about Batman or a Green Lantern making a guest appearance. Oh, did I mention that Bruce Wayne makes a guest appearance too? K, well he does too.
But Holly and Wildcat was a scene to appreciate. Good stuff Will. I get a little wrap story with Slam and Selina. Fine, fine.
But then, and finally, I get my Selina back as Catwoman. Same costume and all...sorta. I laughed my ass off when I read that scene.
And, it still has that creepy late nite tv show host who films weird stuff and hypes it. He has a name, I just can't think of it right now. Interesting ending. I bet they use that to their advantage at some point.
Oh PS: that is not the Catwoman cover. We get some odd, eclectic Adam Hughes Cover. Its not bad at all, but its not that lame thing you see here as the cover.
Overall Rating: 4/5. Finally, my Will and Catwoman are back, and I"m pleased.

And now, drum roll please, Randy's book of the week, and it may surprise you is:

Birds of Prey #94

Progeny Part Three: Stolen Inferno

This book came out of nowhere and knocked my socks off. Literally. Well ok, I took them off to get more comfortable, but Lots of great dialogue. Lots of good old fashioned ass-kicking. Now I am understanding what is going on in this book, as it offers a heap of back story. Thank you Gail, that helped a whole helluva lot and is allowing me to enjoy this book again. Dinah. Wow. I love the Shiva trade w/ Dinah. I find that very interesting, and I want to see how this affects the future. Very interesting. Also, Prometheus vs. Shiva. LOL, didn't quite live up to the hype. Oh, the cover, not happening in this issue. I'm thinking, and hoping, its the next one. And that is going to be a great ish. Back to Dinah- now that I understand what is going on, her side story is now much more interesting to read. This was just a fine overall book. Well done Gail, well done.

Overall Rating: I"m doing it. 5/5. I loved this book. The car scenes made me laugh too. Shiva is a great addition, but who knows for how long.

Chris' Reviews 5/24

Definitely not one for the books this week, as most everything was shockingly mediocre or predictably bad. Massive Spoilers and all that.

IRON MAN #8 --- Tony continues to go off the rails, as we see him grab Cap by the throat, challenge Wolverine to a fight, nearly kill Graviton, and apparently assassinate a drug lord. There's a fair amount of hint-dropping that perhaps Stark really has gone insane and decided to just kill people whenever he sees fit. Decent action, nice art, and I'm still interested. Also, Spider-Woman gets a scene here that's actually pretty neat and is 150 times better than anything Bendis ever wrote for her, althought the fact that the fight scene that occurs is yet another breakout from Arkham Asylum the Raft is a litte tiring. CBG: 3/5.

X-FACTOR #7 --- Pretty good (and creepily sad) moments that deal with Cyclops showing up to tell Siryn that her dad Banshee ate the X-Jet over in X-Men: Deadly Genesis, and my goodness, she's either absolutely right in her reaction or in a ton of denial, and either way it's fascinating. The other stuff with Jamie confronting Singularity Investigations? Less so. Still a quality read, although the Ariel Olivetti art is a jarring departure. CBG: 3/5.

BATMAN #653 --- Harvey Dent gets to monologue to himself and his alter ego in a motel room, as we learn via flashback how and why Batman left him in charge of Gotham, and no it's not very convincing. At the end, Welcome Back Two-Face! The first misstep in the story arc so far, as it's a tad dull and we all saw the return of Two-Face coming anyway, but still worthy of your time if you've read this far. CBG: 2/5.

HAWKGIRL #52 --- It is with sadness that I bid adieu to my beloved Hawks for awhile, as this issue convinces me to drop Hawkgirl at least until Chaykin leaves, and possible until after Simonson leaves. Another meandering, directionless issue with too many vague hints, incomprehensible dream sequences, and generally boring exposition (and one guest appearance from Bruce Wayne). I am so disappointed. Oh, and the art sucks with a capital "suck". CBG: 1/5.

GREEN LANTERN #11 --- Hal and Guy defy Oa's orders and go off to sector 3601 (that's Manhunter territory) because Hal's feeling guilty over the GLs he killed as Parallax, and now evidence indicates they might be alive. Their rescue mission ends with the appearance of... (sigh)... Cyborg Superman. Listen, I'm a fan of what Johns has done with Hal so far, but at some point he needs to quit wallowing in continuity and get on with the new stuff. CBG: 3/5.

CHECKMATE #2 --- Nice surprise here, as a very dense issue filled with dialogue and scheming sets things up nicely despite the lack of actual action. Rucka does a good job setting up the pieces (heh), and there's less of the silly chess lingo being bandied about and more personality. Wasn't sure at all I'd be sticking with this one, but I may have changed my mind now. Although I continue to hate the way Jesus Saiz makes every single character look pouty. P.S. Rucka, if you're reading this, please put Cameron Chase in this book ASAP. CBG: 3/5.

SECRET SIX #1 --- Beginning of a new mission (sort of), as the Six scramble to get their affairs in order as Dr. Psycho enacts his strange vendetta. Mad Hatter shows up at the end too, because, you know, we didn't have ENOUGH crazy people in this cast. Not the most exciting issue to start things off, but Simone has lifetime credit with me when writing these folks, so I'm still on board. Plus, the character moments are absolutely priceless. CBG: 3/5.

52 #3 --- I think I've realized why I can't wait to drop this comic. After the last two years of Infinite Crisis-ing and having most all of DC's comics read like Kafka on downers, I need a little light in the DCU, and I need to leave that dark, grim, serious tone behind. It's just too much. Give me something with a sense of humor, just a little bit! Oh, and the "History of the DCU" backup is worthless. Anyway, in this issue, more timestream follies, more Black Adam gore, and Lex Luthor shows up to do something with a body. Snore. CBG: 1/5.

ANNIHILATION: RONAN #2 --- Ronan fights some people, Gamora fights Ronan, and some dude who shapes worlds watches from the shadows going "mwah hah hah". Not as good as I'd hoped, but not terrible, and I still have no clue who most of these people are. So far I'd rank this below Nova and Super-Skrull. CBG: 2/5.

NEW AVENGERS #19 --- While Iron Man and The Sentry keep the Collective busy in space, SHIELD interrogates Spidey, who lets slip about the whole House of M incident, then the Collective lands in Genosha. Passing references are made to the events of Civil War. Are we done yet? CBG: 2/5.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Something Weird's Going On

I'd just like to point out that DC villain(s) Double Dare showed up in not one, but TWO books this week.

I have no idea why this is important, but I feel that it is.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Upcoming Schedule

OK, loyal readers, I've had time to break down the schedule for the next couple of weeks, and here's what's going on:

I have exactly enough time this week to do reviews, and that's about it.


I am devoting all of next week to Trailer Week! That's right, it's hubris at its best.

Inspired by Harvey Jerkwater and brought to fruition by the admittedly half-assed job I did with Iron Man's Frisson of Woo, I promise you the guaranteed-can't-miss 5 best scripts for trailers for superhero movies ever. And here's the gimmick.

I'll take on the ones that get the most votes. That's right, you post the Marvel or DC heroes you want to genuinely see a kickass trailer for, and I'll deliver the scripts for 'em. And I'll cast 'em and everything.

5 days, next week, 5 trailer scripts. I'm taking the top 5 vote getters, so vote early and vote often! You can email me at or post comments on this post right here and I'll tabulate the votes on Sunday. It's gimmickry, it's hubris, it's's comics.

Serious inquiries only, the first fantard that votes for a Youngblood trailer gets the full snark cannon of mockery that 2GBC specializes in. You have been warned.

So those of you interested in what I come up with, vote and stay tuned! Those of you who couldn't care less about what yet another blogger fanboy envisions a trailer as, skip next week.

Agreed? Agreed.

And if any enterprising filmmaker wants to film one of the undoubtedly kickass trailers I write, let me know. Because I'm all about the giving.

In addition to being an arrogant jackass.

Reviews later this week.

OK, So I Lied

See the trailer for the Ghost Rider movie at

Oddly, it doesn't look nearly as bad as I had feared when I first heard "Ghost Rider + Nicolas Cage + February Superhero Movie".

Still, the odds aren't good.

Now that REALLY is all for today.

Of Limited Interest

You can see Keith Giffen's breakdowns of 52 at .

That is all for today.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Iron Man's Frisson of Woo

In response to Harvey Jerkwater's call for the "Frisson of Woo" for our favorite characters, here's mine.

Iron Man:

Tony Stark dons armor. IM takes to the air like a firework. Rescues a plane from crashing by carrying it. Repulsor rays Crimson Dynamo right in the ol' noggin. Uni-beams a swath of destruction through an assload of androids. Cue the logo.

That's all for today. This will likely be a light week for me, since there are things in real life that require my attention more than comics.

(I know. I was shocked too.)

Friday, May 19, 2006

2006 2GBC Awards: Best Individual Issue

I hate putting things off to the last minute, because half the time they never get done (I'm not pointing any fingers, though I am looking in the general direction of my fellow Ye Olde contributors who still haven't named their "Best of 2005" Award winners). With that in mind I see no need to put off the inevitable, so let's just get it over with and crown Fallen Angel #5 the best individual issue of 2006.

Granted, there are still seven months worth of comic goodness to come, but this I can't imagine what it will take to put another single issue in the same zip codes as this one (please feel free to see that as a open challenge to Fables #50, Mr. Willingham). I can't think of a better single issue that I've read in the last five years.

This issue was originally supposed to be the end of a five part miniseries that would wrap up the story Peter David began at DC. While the series is no longer mini and will continue, this still reads as a finale with resolutions and comeuppances all around. Issue #6 also promises to serve as a perfect jumping on point for anyone foolish enough not to be already be reading this title.

The highlight of the book is David's brilliant theological explanation of why God lets bad things happen to good people and why we are here. It's facinating and while it draws upon or has similarities to some other religious or anti-religious themes and ideas (such as Garth Ennis's disinterested God from Preacher or the concepts of Deism), it presents a completely different viewpoint than I'd ever come across.

While singing the book's praises, I should also mention the vastly improved art, which got away from the overly rigid, posed style that's been the one downside of this book since it moved to IDW.

Comic Book Goodness: 9 out of 5

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Chris' Reviews 5/17

Holy Cats! 11 books, and not an out-and-out stinker in the bunch! Granted, most were just passably mediocre, but that's not bad in my book. Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


This 3 issue MAX miniseries caught my eye when first solicited, as I'm a fan of both Poe and black and white horror comics. This first issue deals specifically with three Poe-ms (HAR! Yeah, like I'm not the bazillionth guy to make THAT joke in the last 200 years), with twists on them that the reader may or may not see coming...sort of.

It works to varying degrees depending on the twist (and, I suspect, depending on your familiarity with the source material). The first story, The Raven, is a pretty standard retelling of the poem that fills in what REALLY happened to Lenore...sort of. (We see her decayed corpse and are led to assume that the narrator killed her, but it's not entirely clear.)

The second, The Sleeper, deals with vampires and a priest who fights them...sort of. (This one suffers most from having to read snippets of poem matched with panels that don't quite have anything to do with the poem, and feels like work to figure out what's going on.)

The last, The Conqueror Worm, is set in the future after an alien invasion and has a typical Twilight Zone-ish ending that you'll probably see coming a mile away but is fun to see depicted anyway...sort of. (In fact, I'm almost positive this was a TZ or Outer Limits episode at one point.)

(Sensing a theme here?)

I thoroughly enjoyed the artwork throughout (especially in The Raven), and the comic helpfully reprints the poems in text after each illustrated story.

The problem here is that it only sort of (see?) works as a comic. Part of the problem is that Poe's tales work best when you fill in the blanks with your imagination; here we see Corben and Rich Margopolous filling in the blanks, and in no case is it as horrifying as something you or I could come up with given 30 minutes to think about it.

I'm also puzzled as to why this is a MAX title, as there's not a whole lot of MAX-ness depicted throughout, and there were far bloodier comics from Marvel this week.

That said, I was still very much entertained, and look forward to the next two issues.

Best Moment: Not really a series of moments as much as the mood created through the art and tone. Very well done.

Worst Moment: The Sleeper had too many times where I had to stop, refer to the text, figure out what the hell was going on, then try and match the illustrated action to the words.

Comic Book Goodness: 2.5/5. Splitting it right down the middle here, as it's entertaining but requires effort to really enjoy. Still onboard with the series, though.


In this episode, Aquaman gets rolled by undesirables in a seedy underwater bar, then he and King Shark respond to voices seeking Aquaman's help and find the Sea Devils (yep), a team of...mixed-organism heroes/scientists who protect the sea/world, and show Arthur that they've got Vulko of Atlantis staying with them.

It doesn't sound very compelling does it?

The first half of this issue deals with Arthur questioning his identity, his role, and others' perceptions of him, and it's good character stuff.

The second half is almost entirely Sea Devils exposition, and it's an evil necessity that's quasi-dull for me.

Guice's art is still outstanding (although Aquaman still looks 35), and a major draw for me.

The problem I had is that not having been an Aquaman follower, I have no freaking idea who Vulko is, why he's important, or what in happy hell any of this means. And I fear that by tying past Aquaman history into this new guy that the series is losing some of its "jumping-on point for Aquaman" appeal that drew me to it in the first place.

Busiek (Hi, Kurt!) seems to know where he's going with this; the question is will the path there become too convoluted for new readers.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still a fan of the series, but we need to get to the "handing off the legacy" part of this PDQ, I think.

Best Moment: "They can get someone else to get their Aqua-cat out of their Aqua-tree, or whatever."

Worst Moment: Arthur speaks with a weird affected dialect that I'm assuming is supposed to mimic New Englander-speak, but that combined with references to "afterschool specials" seems jarring in context.

Comic Book Goodness: 2.5/5. Again, right down the middle. Still enough to keep me interested, but not much plot advancement and I'm starting to wonder what's going on here.


Here it's mainly a flashback (Told ya!) to how Marc Spector became the crippled ingrate that he currently is --- a battle royale with Bushman --- and a visit from Crawley, Spector's friend/bum/informant from the old days of the comic who mentions that Frenchie, Spector's old pilot has requested his aid.

Spector decides to get up off his ass and do something worthwhile for the first time in God knows how long, and then we see that someone villain-y somewhere is tracking his movements.

THIS is the comic that should have had a MAX label slapped on it, because Sweet Christmas, is it gory. The fight between MK and Bushman just keeps ratcheting up the levels of carnage, going from Spectors' fall from a rooftop to his torn-open knees, to Bushman biting a chunk out of Spector's face, to Spector cutting off Bushman's face and holding the skin aloft, to showing us Bushman's newly-skinned face.


You know what? I loved every minute of it.

Writer Charlie Huston does everything right here, Finch absolutely nails the brutality of the fight scene, and man did I grin from ear to ear when Crawley showed up, flies buzzing around his head and holding an old teabag to boot. Great stuff, and in that one scene Huston evokes the perfect memories of the old series while making the character compelling for newbies.

(Side note: If you haven't picked up Essential Moon Knight yet, you're missing out. Really.)

Better yet, we see why Marc Spector is the way he is now: physically damaged, and emotionally wrecked because he crossed the line in that final fight. It makes sense, it connects the past with the present, and it sets us on the Hero's Journey of Redemption. Well played, Huston. Well played.

Best Moment: Crawley, man! And the fight scene was just thrilling, brutal, and cathartic.

Worst Moment: If I never see another panel showing a hero carving the skin off someone's face again, it'll be too soon. This stuff makes The Pantha's Head Incident look like a love tap.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. Visceral, respectful of what came before, and compelling. I can't ask for much more than that.


The team of magical heroes gets their own ongoing courtesy of Bill Willingham, as we see that just prior to the Infinite Crisis they assembled to investigate a magical barrier of blood that surrounded an entire town; upon investigating, we see that a team of Evil Magic Villains has taken the town hostage in order to sacrifice the townsfolk for some sort of ritual.

But that's not important.

There are a few changes since the last time we've seen them --- Detective Chimp has a superhero costume and is battling his drinking problem, Nightmaster is about 30 years younger because of his sword's powers, and Nightshade is now wearing a poodle skirt.

That's not important, either.

Also, we don't learn in this issue what happens; it's all setup to get the team in and start investigating.

No, still not important.

The important thing?

The Freakin' Phantom Stranger, baby! THAT'S what's important! (Why no, I'm not particularly biased towards PS, why do you ask?)

Phantom Stranger acts as "The Chief" here, gathering the team and facilitating their mission, and if he gets to play that role in future issues then I will buy this comic until it gets cancelled.

Which, unfortunately, due to the crappy, crappy art, may be next month.

Best Moment: Phantom Stranger. Phantom Stranger.

Worst Moment: Crappy art. Willingham's clearly more interested in drawing the Shadowpact team than anything else, and it shows since the art improves once they show up.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. Setup issue, bad art, but it's nice to see the gang back together and this could be the magical counterpart to Checkmate, which I would pay money for monthly. Your mileage will probably vary.


Lukin/Red Skull go about recruiting neo-Nazi henchmen, Cap goes to London hoping he can track down Lukin (and Bucky, before he kills Lukin). Cap hooks up with Union Jack and Spitfire (think British Captain America and ex-girlfriend speedster) to track down a shipment of Lukin's, only to find the new henchmen. Syn and Crossbones gun down an oil exec and they head for Lukin as well.

Oddly disappointing issue, though there's enough good character moments with Cap and Union Jack to define the friendship. It also serves as a handy bit of exposition to those jumping on the title with this arc, as it nicely sums up what's been going on.

Also nice: moments between Lukin and the Red Skull, and dialogue between Syn and Crossbones.

But not a whole lot of action, excepting the last few pages where Cap's shield does its patented Ricocheting-Off-Baddie-Noggins thing that I love so dearly.

(Side note: How great is it to have a shtick where you RICOCHET A FRIGGIN' SHIELD OFF PEOPLE'S HEADS? Answer: very great.)

Another quiet setup issue, but all the necessary irons are now in the fire for an explosive next couple of issues.

Best Moment: Upon reflection, I appreciated the fact that Brubaker doesn't go out of his way to make sure we all know that the British characters are British by tossing in "Crikey!" or "Oi, mate!" like other writers do in every other sentence. (I'm lookin' at you, Claremont.)

Worst Moment: There's an odd "Look, Bucky is really a good person" scene where Bucky takes down a punk who snatches a purse, and it really interrupts the flow. Seemed like editorial mandate to me.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. Decent setup, now we need to turn up the heat next ish.

52 #2


I will try to be as brief and to the point of this as possible, since there are already a dozen websites doing weekly in-depth analysis on this comic.

Plot 1: Someone's kidnapping mad scientists, as we find out when Dr. Magnus (creator of the Metal Men) visits Dr. T.O. Morrow (creator of the now-deceased Red Tornado).

Plot 2: Wonder Girl, who's apparently running the First Internet Church Of Connor Kent (I'm not even kidding about that), sprays an upside-down Superman symbol on Sue Dibney's grave to get Ralph to come and see her.

Plot 3: Something's wrong with either the timestream (here we go again) or Skeets, as Booster Gold narrowly averts disaster while saving a plane and getting bad info from Skeets.

Plot 4: The Question busts in on Renee Montoya and her girlfriend and hires Renee to be his operative for...something. We're not sure what.

Plot 5: Dan Jurgens writes a backup story that will tell us the History of The New DC Universe As Told To Donna Troy By Some Glowing Orb an excruciating pace, if the first installment is any indication.

Now then.

Plot 1 is vaguely interesting, although newer readers might wonder who the hell these people are.

Plot 2 is silly beyond belief at this point. Cassie couldn't think of a way to find Ralph like, say, trace his cell calls? Credit card purchases? Get a Green Lantern to ask his ring to locate him? Call Checkmate? OR THE MORTUARY? No no, desecrating his dead wife's grave on the off chance that the guy who discovered it would feel strongly enough to contact him was the only humane way to do it. This is stupid on a variety of levels, as is the religion thing.

UPDATED: A commenter has pointed out that Cassie doesn't seem to know what's going on either, and that the Webcast was a memorial service, so this may not end up being as stupid as it seemed upon the first read.

Plot 3 is already giving me headaches because I'm sick of the Goddamn timestream being messed with (where's Rip Hunter when you need him?), so I'm praying that the problem turns out to be Skeets.

Plot 4 is genuinely interesting, because we get to see lesbians in lingerie sleeping with each other Renee and the Question forming an interesting alliance with mysterious purpose.

Plot 5 feels like it's going to be interesting to see but also will probably make my head hurt when it's all said and done.

Best Moment: The hint of Red Tornado's "brother", called --- wait for it --- "Red Inferno".

Worst Moment: See above mention about Plot 2. Ye Gods.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. Less dull overall than the last issue, but equal parts silly and intriguing. As I've said, I'm giving this two more issues to convince me to give a damn on a weekly basis.


Nova meets up with Drax the Destroyer and his human sidekick Cammi, and most of the issue revolves around Drax and the Worldmind that Richard is holding in his helmet (see last issue's review) trying to convince Richard to use the Nova force.

They do, he does, and they escape Xandar, but just when it seems all is lost and their ship is about to blow up, they're rescued by Quasar.

Yes, that Quasar.

This issue is mostly dialogue, and damn if it isn't funny, in character, and expositive as well. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have a nicely realized Nova here, and this is shaping up as one of the best Marvel books on the shelf right now.

We get action, humor, plot, and third helpings of each. Very, very well done.

Best Moment: Richard gets sick of talking to Worldmind, so gives the Nova helmet to Drax, who we then see on-panel and in the backgrounds obviously trying to argue with a superintelligent computer. You have to see it to appreciate how funny this is. Great stuff.

Worst Moment: Not a lot of the overall Annihilation plot per se, but I don't think the goal of these minis is necessarily to address that --- it's to get us invested in these characters for the Annihilation series proper, and on that front, the Nova series has already done its job.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. It's got that old-school Marvel vibe, and it's one hell of a lot of fun.


FALLEN ANGEL #5 --- Continues to be a top 5 book, and Peter David drops a LOT of major plot development in this one, as Jude accepts Juris' offer to become magistrate, Juris finally gets to leave town but meets a nifty end, and oh yeah...we learn that God is sick of all this "being God" business. I can't praise this series enough and again thank Jake for turning me on to it. CBG: 4/5.

FELL #5 --- Another nifty done-in-one that takes place entirely between Fell and a prisoner in an interrogation scene, though it hinges on the fact that a prisoner was able to smuggle a gun into the interrogation cell. Ellis attempts to make this quasi-believable, but the meat of this is in the dialogue, and I loved it. CBG: 3/5.

X-MEN: DEADLY GENESIS #6 (of 6) --- This wraps up with Captain X-Position, with Charles X-Plaining that what anyone with an Internet connection already knew, namely that the team he assembled got they asses kicked fighting Krakoa. Nice to see Darwin, The Evolving Man survive, though, and also a weird twist with Cyclops telling Charlie that since he's no longer a mutant he can't stay at the Institute anymore. (Which would seem to me to be a three-second lawsuit in Xavier's favor, seeing as how, you know, IT'S HIS HOUSE.) Expected wrap-up to a series that ultimately wasn't as good as I thought it would be. CBG: 2/5.

CONAN #28 --- Busiek's swan song for the time being on Conan is a lovely little done-in-one that also manages to provide an assload of metacommentary on Robert E. Howard and writers (or tellers of tales) in general. Also, Eric Powell draws this issue, and it looks a gazillion times better than Cary Nord's last ten issues or so. CBG: 3/5.

That's it! Whew, I'm tired!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Things My Wife Says Because She Likes Seeing Me Squirm

ME: Wow, I'm not sure about the new costume for Nightshade in Shadowpact.

WIFE: What's the matter with it?

ME: Well, I didn't think she'd go from catsuit to poodle skirt. It's just odd-looking seeing her without the suit she had in Day of Vengeance.

WIFE: Men. You aren't happy unless your heroines are all sexed up in leather suits catering to your adolescent fantasies.

ME: Whaa? No, I mean, skirts are fine and all, I dig skirts---

WIFE: Pah! Just so you can see a little more skin, right? Have 'em show a little more leg? Pig.

ME: ...

ME: There's no good way out of this conversation, is there?


ME: ...

ME: ...

ME: Are you losing weight?

WIFE: Nice try.


Just a quick note to let everyone know that we can all relax now; I did in fact get my copies of Fell, Fallen Angel, and Haunt of Horror today, along with 8 (!) other comics that, surprisingly, ranged from very good to passably mediocre.

In other words, I bought 11 comics, and I can't say that any of them sucked.

I'm just as shocked as you are.

This, of course, means that I'll be up till 3 AM writing reviews, which you'll see posted at some point tomorrow.

See? I told you this was a teaser.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sherman Hemsley, Spider-Man

In the words of legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy, "I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back."

You ever have one of those moments where you put two and two together and suddenly something that previously made no sense whatsoever clicks into place with horrifying clarity?


Well we're movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

Fish don't fry in the kitchen;
Beans don't burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin'
Just to get up that hill.
Now we're up in the big leagues
Gettin' our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it's you and me baby
There ain't nothin wrong with that.

Well we're movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie

I think we need to consider something.

I think we need to consider the possibility that moving Peter Parker, MJ, and Aunt May into Stark Tower and making him an Avenger was done because someone at Marvel really, REALLY likes the 70s sitcom "The Jeffersons".

Side Note: This may in fact be the greatest theme song to an American TV show ever.

Additional Side Note: If you want something that's guaranteed to make people around you say, "What the hell are YOU smiling about?", listen to the theme song.

While it's playing, picture Peter and MJ staring wide-eyed as they ride the elevator up to the top floor of Stark Tower, then intercut your favorite stock sitcom scenes (doorman tripping over luggage, MJ and Pete chasing each other around the living room, Peter falling over the couch, Jarvis shrinking the Spider-Man costume down in the laundry, whatever) whilst a beleaguered Tony Stark looks on and rolls his eyes at their shenanigans, and we see "And Tom Selleck As Tony Stark" listed on the credits. When the song ends, picture Peter, MJ, and Tony giving each other a group hug.

I may have to pay someone actual cash money to film this.

What I'm Getting This Week

I once heard that pull lists are like vacation photos; nobody really wants to see them, they just want to know whether you enjoyed the results.

Likewise, it never fails to amuse me that forum posters across the comics sites invariably attach their pull list as a 20-line paragraph signature, as if someone reading their message is going to say, "Hey! komix_dood77 is reading Catwoman --- I should too!"

I'm not saying that it's not interesting to see what people are reading, but just mentioning Blood Of The Demon out of context to tell me that you're buying it does nothing for me. Why are you buying it? Do you like the story? The art? Did you lose a bet? I need to know!

That said, here's what I'm getting this week, and why.

52 Week 2 --- Because as dull as I found the first issue, it's meant to be weekly, and so in the interest of fair play I'm giving this 4 issues to hook me. Last week was strike one.

AQUAMAN #42 --- Because Busiek's (Hi, Kurt!) AquaConan and Guice's art make a fine, fine comic.

SHADOWPACT #1 --- Yep, I liked the team in the mini, I like Willingham, and I love Detective Chimp. Plus, I figure there's at least a 30% chance of the Phantom Stranger showing up in any given issue.

FELL #5 --- Good art. Good characters. Great value. 'Nuff said.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #18 --- Captain America, Union Jack, AND the Red Skull? Oh, it is on.

HAUNT OF HORROR: EDGAR ALLAN POE #1 --- Because I like horror comics, Richard Corben, and Marvel taking chances like this.

MOON KNIGHT #2 --- Because Finch draws pretty and MK intrigues me.

FALLEN ANGEL #5 --- Because it just might be the most multilayered, engrossing ongoing being published nowadays. I know it's early, but I wonder if in 10 years we'll look back on FA as Peter David's magnum opus, rather than his Hulk run.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Warning: Contains Irony

So I'm bitter, because I just got finished with One Of Those Conversations.

You know, the one where a misguided co-worker/friend/relative/passerby walks up and makes some vaguely condescending remark about how you read comics. And I had to remind myself to be patient, everything will be OK, because they Just. Don't. Get. It.

And now, as a public service, I present to you, comicsblogoweb, a useful paragraph to refute the next person who dares deride, chide, or generally make fun of you for reading comics.

"You know what, Mr./Mrs. 'Comics Are Stupid' Person? You're absolutely right."

"I mean, it's all stories about people running around in their underwear, fer cryin' out loud! Comics used to be for kids, but now they're all way too adult and violent. And the ones that aren't violent are childish and boring. "

"Besides, nowadays you can't get comics like they used to be. You just don't get the fun, cheesy escapist pleasure in them anymore---and besides, they're too expensive! At those prices, I want something a little more thought-provoking or educational. Or at least grown-up. And is it asking too much for something different than superheroes?"

"And who wants to wait a whole month between issues? Besides, I'd need to catch up on 40 years of backstory to even understand what's going on. I'm not even sure where I'd go to find that stuff out. Heck, for that matter, I have no idea where you even buy comics these days. "

"Man, forget comics. I'll just watch some TV or go see a movie instead."

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Random Thoughts and Mini-Reviews

Thanks to the dumbtards that dropped a shipment under a truck on the way to my local comic shop, I did not in fact get to purchase the final issue of X-Men: Deadly Genesis, because the ones my LCS got were all damaged. Flarg!


52 #1: Well, that was...underwhelming. I know, I know, it's a setup issue. But man, there wasn't a single exciting moment in here, and I'm wondering if after all the pains DC took to "wipe away the gloom" from the DCU with their OYL titles, if a weekly dose of this melancholy is the right thing to do.

Anyway, I was bored throughout this, mostly. The one bright spot was that I immediately took to liking Steel, a character I've never much thought about or read about before. Him I am definitely interested in reading more about.

But the Booster Gold shtick is already tiresome to me, Ralph Dibny's story looks to be a continued reminder of the Depressing DC, and Black Adam is still a hyperviolent jerk. The Question and Renee Montoya could be an interesting team-up, so we'll see on that.

So, yeah. Steel was good, there's some promise, but there's a lot I don't care about in here, which means that I probably won't be getting this every week. Your mileage may vary.

Oh, and it scares the hell out of me that this whole thing is written by committee.

Battle for Bludhaven #3: Um. OK, I thought I knew what was going on, but it turns out I didn't, and now I'm just confused, and unfortunately I won't be getting the rest of this series. There are just Too. Damn. Many. People. Which leaves zero time for characterization, which I just can't get behind. Oh, and the Teen Titans show up in this one, and in what may be comic blogging hari-kari, I will now state that I do not care one bit for the Teen Titans. No, not even Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans.

Jonah Hex #7: I'm gonna come right out and say it, this is one of the top 5 ongoing series being published right now. This may have been my favorite issue yet, as it also includes a nod to the DCU proper in the form of a shout-out to St. Roch. Just buy this comic, people, OK? It won't kill you. And it's a hell of a lot of fun.

Random Thoughts:

Also, thanks to the comicsblogoweb I have officially reversed my positions on two of comicdom's sillier sticking points:

1) I no longer feel that Spider-Man's marriage is a hindrance to the character. Upon reading about this topic for what seems like forever last week, I have come to realize that marriage/non-marriage has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you can tell great Spider-Man stories. A good writer should be able to do either, and I think that's the point.

Who gives a damn whether he's got a wedding album or not; just tell me a good story about Spider-Man!

So, while I no longer think that his marriage is a bad thing, I don't think it's a good thing either; it just is, kinda like gravity, and people like my former self (and Joe Quesada) who complain that his marriage/singleness are hindering the character are missing the larger point, I think.

2) I also am now totally on board with the idea that Joe Chill, murderer of Thomas and Martha Wayne, was caught, tried, and arrested, instead of Batman having this faceless man behind his quest for vengeance. Having had it explained to me by a number of comicsblogoweb commenters, I have been swayed!

Yeah, it does lighten the load for him in a lot of ways, and allows for a better-adjusted Bruce Wayne (as well-adjusted as he's ever going to be, anyway). I'm down with that.

Thank you, comicsblogoweb, for showing me the error of my ways!

Oh, and when do we get another issue of Fell?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Yo Mama

It's a Mama-Thon, courtesy of Ragnell, who asks for posts about positive portrayals of mothers. I don't have a lot of time between now and Sunday, so I wanted to get this in while I could. I could write a six page essay on the multilayered story here, but I'll try and keep it short.

I'm going with a comic mama that may or may not turn out to be "positive" in the classic sense of the word, but who is a fascinating portrayal of motherhood nonetheless.

Liandra---"Lee"---from Peter David's excellent Fallen Angel.

For those of you unfamiliar, Lee is a fallen angel who is the protector of a shadowy city called Bete Noire, where absolutes don't exist and everyone is written in three dimensions.

The story thus far --- and mind you, I've only read the 4 issues from the IDW series, and none of the DC incarnation --- seems to revolve around the fact that Lee, who used to be an angel, used to regularly hook up with the guy running the city called the Dr. Juris, who ostensibly is her archnemesis and a descendant of Cain.

Turns out she bore him a son that she's kept hidden from him for, oh, about 20 years or so. The son, named Jude, had his wings torn off when he was a baby. Jude is a priest now.

(I believe that's what the literati refer to as irony.)

Well, recently, Jude came back to Bete Noire, and Dad is trying to get him to take over the position of Magistrate for him. Lee shows up, introduces herself as Mom, and tries to talk him out of it.

The usual questions about motives, abandonment, and free will follow. Next thing you know, they're both drowning.

Well, then.

So, is Lee a good mom or a bad mom?

GOOD: She stands up in order to keep her son from throwing away his life as Magistrate and becoming trapped in the city. ('Cause, um, that's what happens when you're Magistrate.)...

BAD: ...She tells Jude to leave, or she'll kill him. Which, you know, doesn't leave much room for compromise. And isn't entirely "motherly".

GOOD: She's a superhero, more or less, who watches over the inhabitants of Bete Noire...

BAD: ...which is nothing compared to being an angel, which she most certainly ain't no more, because God kicked her out of heaven...

GOOD: ...because she set a child molester/axe murderer on fire after he'd been found "not guilty" in a court of law, even though we all knew he was scum...

BAD: ...which means that in between her drinking binges, Lee gets in bar fights, generally hates her life, and doesn't really seem to want to be a hero or a mother, from what I can tell.

So, from the whopping 4 issues that I've read, to me Lee appears to be a conflicted, tortured person with self-doubt and an almost overwhelming sense of responsibility, along with a huge amount of power that could be used for good or evil. And despite her weaknesses as a person, she does the best that she can.

Yep, sounds like a pretty real description of a parent to me.

That's the beauty of the book: nothing is black and white, and everyone---I mean, EVERYONE has shades of gray to their character. No one is completely "good" or completely "evil" in the traditional senses, and it's fascinating to watch a very human drama played out in a very surreal setting.

And while Lee won't win any Mother Of The Year awards, it's clear that her son's reappearance has reignited her will, and she'll stop at nothing to make sure that he doesn't choose the wrong path. And the end of issue 4 is a powerful, powerful scene that shows us just how much Lee really does love her child.

Lee may not be getting her wings back for Mother's Day, but she'll certainly be getting a thumbs-up from me as one of the more nuanced, complex portrayals of a mother in comics today.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Fly On The Wall, Vol. 3: One Week Later

SETTING: Big Al's Brew N' Stew, a dive bar in Gotham, one week after Infinite Crisis.

PLAYERS: Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, Clark Kent, A Bartender

BRUCE: Hi Clark! Glad you could make it, man.

CLARK: (sitting) Me, too. Good to see you.

BARTENDER: Can I get you something sir?

CLARK: What are you having, Bruce?

BRUCE: Bourbon.

CLARK: Let's see...I'll have ... mmm... a lemon water with dry vermouth and just a splash of cranberry juice---ooh!---and a LOT of cherries.

BRUCE: (looks at Clark)

CLARK: What?

BRUCE: Nothing.

CLARK: I'm, uh, getting over a cold.

BRUCE: Right. (pause) So, it's been quite a couple of days around here, hasn't it?

CLARK: You're telling me. Between that "Earth-2 me" and SuperBrat Prime, I feel like a tenderized pork roast.

BARTENDER: (handing Clark his drink) Your drink, sir.

BRUCE: I bet. So, big plans for the next few days?

CLARK: Well, I'm thinking of going and doing things I've never done before.

BRUCE: Like buying a plane ticket?

CLARK: Har! No. But that's a good one. I was thinking of maybe redoing the kitchen. I found some great cabinets online for a good price.

BRUCE: Nice. Oak?

CLARK: Totally.

BRUCE: Nice.

CLARK: Yeah.

BRUCE: So, any idea when your powers are coming back? I mean, that was about 9 gazillion tons of kryptonite you wallowed in out there.

CLARK: No idea. Right now I've got nothin'. No heat vision, no freeze's weird, you know?

BRUCE: I bet Lois is happy to have the X-Ray vision gone.

CLARK: (stares)

BRUCE: Because, you know... you won't be able...

CLARK: (stares)

BRUCE: To see... through... the... (sighs) ...bartender, another please?

DIANA: (enters) Hey, guys!


DIANA: How's it going?

CLARK: Good to see you.

DIANA: You too. Barkeep, white wine please. (looks at Clark's drink with the umbrella)

CLARK: What? I'm getting over a cold!


CLARK: Well. Glad that Crisis thing's all over with, huh?

DIANA: (laughs) Friggin' Luthors, man, I swear. Someone needs to genetically castrate that whole bloodline.

BRUCE: I'm working on it.

DIANA+ CLARK: (stares)


ALL: (laughs)

BRUCE: Oh, man, I had you there, huh? I really did.

CLARK: (laughing, shaking head) Totally, Bruce. That was pretty good.

BRUCE: Anyhoo.

DIANA: So Bruce, you haven't told us what you're going to be doing the next few days.

BRUCE: Well, it's time to really put things in perspective, you know? Work out some of my paranoia issues, get a little sanity and common sense back into the ol' melon, you know?


BRUCE: So, I'm going to travel incognito as the older rich patron to a twenty-something young man and a teenage boy on a tramp steamer bound for Nepal and I'm leaving Two-Face in charge of Gotham.

ALL: (pause)

CLARK: Serious?


DIANA: Bruce, I don't---

BRUCE: I know, I know, Harvey's nuttier than a Waldorf salad. But hey, how much damage could he possibly do? I'm only gonna be gone a month or two.

DIANA: Is that entirely legal?

BRUCE: Who cares? I'm rich!

ALL: (laughs)

BRUCE: Anyway. Get back to my roots and all, you know.

CLARK: Yeah.

DIANA: Sounds good. And more than a little weird.

BRUCE: Diana? Your plans?

DIANA: Well, I'm not sure. I mean, at this point there aren't a lot of options for a wanted criminal, disgraced ambassador with no homeland, and ineffectual hero who arguably contributed the least in the time of Earth's greatest need.

BRUCE: Hey, don't get down on yourself. If you hadn't come in and dropped your sword right when I was about to ventilate the Luthor kid, then... um...

ALL: (silence)

DIANA: The building would have fallen on him anyway?

BRUCE: Er, yeah, I guess.


ALL: (sip their drinks in silence)

CLARK: You've still got the jet, right?

DIANA: Yeah. (furrows brow) I think so. It's parked over at Ferris, but I didn't tell anyone. I'm hoping nobody thinks that's an EMPTY runway!

ALL: (laughs)

CLARK: Maybe you could take it for a spin. It flies in space, yeah?

DIANA: God knows, at this point. I don't even remember owning it until about a week ago.

BRUCE: You could ask Hal to---

DIANA: I am NOT asking Hal for anything, especially if it involves us sharing a cockpit. He'd just sit there saying "cockpit" over and over again and then giggle.

BRUCE: Good point.

CLARK: So, where's Arthur?

DIANA: Don't know. Last I saw of him they were fighting a bunch of people in Metropolis with some hazy red cloud obscuring the background. Weird.

CLARK: Hawkman?

BRUCE: You know, I'm not sure. Wasn't he out in space with um... (snaps fingers) what's her name... you know... black suit with stars, dark hair... oh, jeez... was dead till about about a year ago...

DIANA: Donna Troy?

BRUCE: Yeah! Her! Wasn't he out there with her and Kyle?

CLARK: I think so. I couldn't really tell you what happened out there, except that Kyle had his face shot off and there were these hands or something.

DIANA: Hands?

CLARK: Ask Firestorm, I heard it from him.


BRUCE: Speaking of which, I hear that Firestorm has a new girlfriend. Firehawk, is it?

DIANA: I think it's a little more complicated than that.

BRUCE: All I know is that Firestorm said Kyle's face got changed, and then he became Ion again or something.

DIANA: Poor kid.

CLARK: Man, that's gotta be tough. I mean, one minute you're the only Green Lantern left, the next minute you can't walk two feet without tripping over some desk lamp with a power ring who says he's the Green Lantern of 5th and Broadway or whatever.

BRUCE: (laughs) I know what you mean.

DIANA: C'mon guys, help me out. Any ideas here?

CLARK: Isn't J'onn going to try and get the JLA fired back up? Maybe you could help him do that.

DIANA: I thought about that, but since now I apparently founded the JLA, I'm kinda tired of that. Plus, he's got this dorky new outfit, and I'm not sure that I can keep a straight face anymore the next time he asks, "Are you sure it looks OK, Diana?"

ALL: (laughs)

BRUCE: You do a killer J'onn impression.

DIANA: Thanks. I just wish I could get that no-pupils look down, you know?

BRUCE: Yeah.

CLARK: Maybe you could go help Ollie run Star City. I hear he's running for mayor.

BRUCE: Are you serious?

CLARK: That's what Dinah says.

DIANA: Ollie couldn't manage a 7-11! The man has millions of dollars, and still his phone gets turned off every other month! How the hell is he going to run a city?

CLARK: I know, I know. Still. (shrugs)

DIANA: No, I think I'll just... I dunno. Go somewhere quiet.

BRUCE: Yeah, we could all use a breather. (raises a glass) Well, friends, here's to the memory of some of our best friends.

DIANA: To Wally!

BRUCE: To Connor!

CLARK: To Pantha!



BRUCE: What? OK, OK, I'm sorry.

CLARK: Well, I gotta run. Lois is making goulash and Fever Pitch came from Netflix today.

DIANA: Seeya, Clark. (hugs Clark)

BRUCE: Bye, Clark. (shakes hands with Clark)

CLARK: Bye! Good luck, guys! (leaves)

BRUCE: Well, I should go too. Gotta make sure I get ahold of Dick before we leave.

DIANA: (giggles)

BRUCE: Oh, jeez, Diana, are we back to that?

DIANA: You gotta admit, it's a little bit funny.

ALL: (pause)

BRUCE: OK, yeah, it's a little funny.

DIANA: (stands up) Well, I'll see you around.

BRUCE: Bye, Diana. Good luck hiding from justice and the millions of people who will inevitably blame all the destruction and death of the last two days on you.

DIANA: Thanks. (leaves)

BARTENDER: Your check, sir.

BRUCE: Those--grrrr. Why does the billionaire always get stuck with the tab? I guess some things never change. (drops money on the table and leaves)

(fade to black)

Linkbloggin' on a Monday

In no particular order, some things that I've noticed this morning:

Have you seen these banners Marvel is offering (scroll to the bottom of the page)? Jon over at Hypnoray has taken it upon himself to, um, expand our choices. Brilliant!

Hey, I won something! Thanks, Mark!

Ragnell has been on bloggin' fire since she came back to us. Here's an especially smart piece about two gals talkin' food and fashion.

DC's 52 website (courtesy of the Daily Planet, natch) is actually a clever bit of webbiness, especially with the banner ads from luminaries like Ferris Aircraft and such. Worth poking around for commitment to a theme. (I also like the DEO banner ad: "Your Right to Saftey (sic); Our Right To Know") Now if we can get Booster Gold blogging, that'll be something else.

CalvinPitt has a post that makes my heart ache, because like him, I so want it to be true and yet know that there's not a Speedball's chance in Hell that Marvel has that kind of foresight. Also a nice overview of the current state of Marvel.

Legion of Doom correctly points out that the so-called "Decimation" isn't all that Marvel's led us to believe, with a case-by-case breakdown of the five Mutants That Lost Their Powers Whom We Actually Care About, and how all of a sudden they're not so de-powered now. Hey!

As if Scipio needs me to refer links to him, but this piece on the Archie FCBD issue is friggin' hi-larious!

Fly On The Wall, Vol. III tomorrow; till then.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Chris Reviews Civil War #1

Warning: this post is long and not all that humorous, but I wanted to get all this down before it slipped out of my head.

CIVIL WAR #1 (of 7)

Well, it's here. It's not the worst comic ever made, nor is it particularly great. It is, however, better than it had any right to be.

By now, you all know the particulars: New Warriors fight a bunch of C-List villains and there's a big explosion that kills like 600 people. In the wake of this, the U.S. gubmint proposes that superheroes be registered, trained, and made federal employees and held accountable by the people.

Sides are sort of chosen, and bumper-sticker philosophies serve as character motivations more often than not. And there's absolutely nothing that happens in this issue that hasn't been already given away by Marvel or solicits. Just so ya know.

Marvel has made it perfectly clear that this is a Big Deal. The interviews, the mainstream news press releases, all of that contributes to the atmosphere that Marvel is trying to shoot for, which is: There Are Relevant Philosophical Ideas In This Comic That Our Superheroes Will Wrestle With.

And that, I fear, is what will turn out to be the underlying problem I have with this series. Civil liberties and government responsibility is absolutely a question worth thinking about, because it's a serious matter with ramifications for all of us. But it's a hell of a lot harder to take it seriously when Mr. Fantastic, Spider-Man, and Goliath are waxing philosophical.

Because of all that surrounding "please take this comic seriously" hoo-ha, I'm inclined to do exactly that, to think about it in real-world terms. And that's where the wheels start to come off.

For example, Captain America is asked by SHIELD to, uh, work for them against any of the heroes who might not go along with the new law. He SHIELD tries to capture him? Whaaaa?

And OK, the scene where Cap surfs a fighter jet is kinda neat, but not two pages later the White House is laughing about how he landed the plane, bought the pilot a burger, and is apparently at large.

So what's the deal? Is he a criminal now, even though the law hasn't been passed yet? Why did SHIELD act so moronically? And why aren't the public worried about SHIELD?

(I'd be a hell of a lot more concerned about a paramilitary spy organization with a huge helicarrier floating over New York run by a creepy old guy with an eyepatch, than I would about, say, the Fantastic Four.)

And it's exactly those kind of 'hey, wait a minute' moments that just throw me out of the story.

Don't get me wrong: there are actually some really good moments in this courtesy of Millar, like the woman whose son was killed confronting Tony Stark outside the funeral, the attack on Johnny Storm at the nightclub, and the scene of the assembled heroes doing cleanup at the accident site.

But for every time I thought, 'Hey, that was really well done', it was almost immediately followed by a head-slapping 'Jeezus, Marvel!'.

Like the Falcon's anti-registration argument about secret identities being "tradition".

Like Daredevil showing up out of jail.

Like The Watcher (oh, Lord) showing up.

And it's goofy shit like that that makes me unable to take this very seriously. But the subject matter and plot points are too dark and serious to be able to read this in a goofy turn-your-brain-off kind of way. So it doesn't quite know what it wants to be, I think.

I will give Millar a ton of credit for dialing down his usual hamfistedness (although there are traces of it) when dealing with the "establishment" side of things, and Steve McNiven, whom I'm on record as not liking as much as others do, really brings his A-game here, as I liked his art quite a bit more than I usually do.

And credit, even (I can't believe I'm saying this), to Marvel. This comic---and make no mistake, this is a big pitch to try and get new readers in---really presents itself well.

Case in point: it's got excellent production values, and a Cup O' Joe aimed at new readers, giving them trades and series that they can pick up if this is the first comic they've bought in a while (or ever). It's a good idea. And the Civic ad, while intrusive, shows a skewing towards the adult reader more than the bubblegum ads, or that hideous one where Wolverine is wearing underwear with his face on it. (That's just creepy.)

And yes, "A Marvel Comics Event In Seven Parts" is silly and pretentious, as is the trade dress, but it's another sign (along with the fact that you could come into this issue cold and figure out what was going on) that this series isn't necessarily meant for those of us that have been reading comics regularly anyway. And I don't have a problem with that.

So, is it any good? Yes and no. It's better than I thought it would be, but it has all the ingredients to become an absolute greasefire in no time flat, I don't see the whole cognitive dissonance between the subject matter and the setting going away any time soon. We shall see.

Best Moment: I may be reading too much into things, but I get the feeling that My Man Tony Stark isn't so much pro-registration as just trying to get control of the situation by allying himself with the gubmint. And that's supercool and in character. Or the splash page of Cap surfing the jet.

Worst Moment: That SHIELD thing. How was that legal? How was that not stupid? What was the motivation? That whole SHIELD thing was dumb with a capital Maria Hill.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Lowered expectations resulted in mostly a nice surprise, and McNiven's art really stepped it up a notch. Especially the last page, where finally he draws a clean, simple Iron Man without trying to muddy it up with his customary "kewl armor" lines everywhere, and it looks fantastic.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Chris' Reviews 5/3

The Infinite Crisis review took a lot out of me --- thankfully, I only have two other non-event books to review this week. As always true believers, Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


So, we turn the corner in this 8 part story and we get Batman and Robin continuing to put the pieces together; the evidence is starting to suggest that the Penguin of all people may have something to do with this, and the Dynamic Duo get in a tussle with Killer Croc before discovering that someone has sent Orca to the great Water-Themed Amusement Park In The Sky.

That's all well and good, but the Jason Bard backup story is really where the plot starts to come together, as he interviews Orca's husband and learns of key pieces to the puzzle that is "Face the Face". (Namely, that all the villains killed thus far were working for Penguin but secretly turning against him to work for a mysterious shadowy new person.)

At the end, Mr. Orca is shot by The Tally Man.

(Must... repress... Azrael ...memories bad....AAAARGH!)

That's right, the Tally Man. Who appears to shoot Bard, but it's one of those typical "panel with a gun barrel firing without any context whatsoever", so it's up in the air.

(Side Note: they could have made the last panel so much cooler if instead of pointing the gun at Bard and saying "I'm the Tally Man" he had said "I'm the Tally Man. And I'm going to tally your bananas!")

Oh, I almost forgot, we get a scene of Harvey What Blew Up His Own Apartment Last Issue in a cheap motel...talking to his alter-ego Two Face in the mirror. Oh, it is on.

Solid fight scene, nice plot development, more detecting, and that familar warm blanket feeling of a classic Batman story in the making. Plus, those covers are outstanding.

Best Moment: "Messed around with genes from killer whales---who the hell does that?!?" --- Jason Bard, quickly on his way to becoming my favorite member of the Bat-family.

Worst Moment: Day-O!

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. It's Batman comfort food, and it's a darn good comic. If you've been wondering for the past few years when Batman would stop being such a self-involved asswipe, this series is it.



I'm sorry, there must have been some sort of mix-up at the printers. See, they put a Marvel Team-Up cover on 22 pages of unfiltered manure.

They have a "fight" between Captain America and MODOC agents, in which he acts like a 3rd Degree Moron and loses the Ring of Cosmic Cube-ness. But it's an important fight, because it's the last time you'll see a superhero in this issue.

That's because all the pages that come next detail the life of a twenty something loser and his loser friends who find the ring made out of Cosmic Cube shards.

They do "funny" things like make food, money, and wading pools appear like magic in their apartment using the ring.

They also have an entire page worth of panels devoted to a conversation about how Main Loser Guy brings his own syrup to the diner because it's better than the diner's syrup.

They also have a "subplot" that involves Main Loser Guy getting hit on by the waiter at the diner, and "dramatic tension" over whether or not they'll go on a date. "Spoiler" alert: they do.

They also have a scene on the cover that doesn't appear in the "comic".

Kirkman, enough. If you're tired of writing this comic, then fine. Leave. You gave us 15 or so great issues, and if there's nothing left in the tank, then that's OK---just tell us. But do NOT shit out a comic like this again.

You do not have the luxury, when I'm paying 3 bucks a comic, to use up a whole issue with oblique uninteresting setup. Bendis has that luxury, but that's because nobody expects anything good from him anymore, and most people are buying his stuff out of habit or the law of averages at this point anyway.

Best Moment: Oh, fuck off.

Worst Moment: Pages 1 through 22 are all equally to blame.

Comic Book Goodness: 0/5. Compared to this issue, the New Avengers is Shakespeare. C'mon, Kirkman! We know you can do better!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Chris Reviews Infinite Crisis #7

Right, then. So different review format this week, because both Infinite Crisis and Civil War deserve their own posts. Plus, the other comics I got (all 2 of them) deserve their own post as well. So here's what you're getting:

---today -- Infinite Crisis
---Thursday -- Miscellaneous Comics
---Friday -- Civil War

Got it? Good. So get ready: here comes the Infinite Crisis. Dun-dun-DUUNNNNNNN!


Alright, the finish line is here! With extra pages! Woo! Hoo! Never have I read a conclusion to a huge event that was so dedicated to resolving discrete plot points, to the extent that the whole comic reads like a bulleted list of threads that had to be wrapped up in one page or less.

And so, I will now break down the much-hyped, Dan Didio-loved, final issue of Infinite Crisis. Those with weak hearts or high IQs will want to immediately leave. Sigh.

THE COVER: I cannot believe that the Jim Lee "Every Green Lantern In The World" cover is outselling the Perez cover. The Perez cover kicks so much ass it's not even funny. OW! Did you hear that? That's my ass being kicked by the Perez cover. Moving on.

Page 1: Big 3 + Old Man Supers wring hands over Connor's death.

Page 2 and 3: Splash page of battle royale in Metropolis, oddly colored so that the artist could get the pages in on time and wouldn't have to waste time on "background".

Page 4: Miscellaneous fight panels. Someone mentions how the Spectre's an ass.

Page 5: Meaningless banter between A-Lex and SuperPrime about Earth Prime and so on.

Page 6 and 7: Admittedly cool splash of the two Supermen attacking Doomsday.

Page 8: Less-cool-than-they-thought-it-would-be panel of Superman leading the heroes into battle. More skinny fight panels.

Page 9: Old Man Supes confronting A-Lex about...stuff. 'Are You Kidding Me?' Moment #1: SuperPrime heat-visions A-Lex's computer thingy, which leads to the following speech bubble: "My World View! It was calculating the Society's war plans." He named his computer World View.

(Sign that this was tacked on after the fact as plot point: the 'war plans' line ends with a period. If you were writing that sequence naturally, wouldn't you use an exclamation point?)

Page 10 and 11: Bart Allen returns as The Flash, punches SuperPrime. SuperPrime decides that he's going to fly through Oa to create a new big bang. Heroes follow him. Martian Manhunter's pirate boots are at maximum flare.

Page 12: Breach dies, because his series was cancelled. Captain Atom reappears. I yawn.

Page 13: Batman slams Deathstroke's head into the ground, which is the first fun moment of the comic. A-Lex fires... um... A-Lex power or something, which Nightwing jumps in front of.

Page 14: SuperPrime in transition, flying to Oa.

Page 15 and 16: "F@#$ yeah!" moment: Guy Gardner and every friggin' Green Lantern in the world are there to greet SuperPrime. "The thin green line" comment is fantastic. When does GL Corps start again?

Page 16 and 17: Inexplicably, SuperPrime's freeze breath in deep space starts killing Lanterns left and right. Guy Gardner sums up my feelings precisely with the line, "Excessive force has been approved! And encouraged for this crybaby."

Page 18: 'Are You Kidding Me?' Moment #2: Batman and A-Lex confrontation under some rubble. Nightwing is depicted as a lifeless bloody corpse. Batman pulls a gun (WTF?!?) on A-Lex. Points it at his head. And no, we don't know where the gun came from.

Page 19: Hey, I knew Wonder Woman was still in comics! She walks up, drops her sword on the ground, which makes Batman drop the gun on the ground, and then a building falls on A-Lex. I am not making this up.

Page 20, 21, 22: The Supermen fly SuperPrime through Krypton's red sun, which shreds his armor, then they crash land into Mogo, the Green Lantern Planet. I can feel my IQ dropping as I type this.

Page 23, 24, 25, 26: Fight between Supermen and SuperPrime. B-action movie chatter during the fight, Supes-2 gets mashed to a bloody pulp, then SuperPrime loses. The rest of the heroes show up. Superman collapses from all the Kryptonite around him.

Page 27: Old Man Superman dies making the trite "I'll always be with you" point to Power Girl, who quite frankly I'm now inexplicably inclined to be pissed at for this whole mess in the first place. Power Girl, go away. There. I said it. Oh, and OMS pulls a "Lion King" and we see a shot of him and Lois reflected in the stars. Cheap and unaffecting at this point.

Page 28: Cut to: days later. A bunch of miscellaneous scenes intended to tease the upcoming series and plot points in DC, plus the admission by Bart "I Was A Teenage Flash" Allen to Jay Garrick that he no longer has the Speed Force, and he hands over the Flash costume, saying to Jay "---You're the Fastest Man Alive Again". Wally, Linda and the twins? Second. Shittiest. Send-Off. Ever ("they just disappeared"). As a Flash fan, I'm underwhelmed.

Page 29: A-Lex is wandering the streets of Gotham(?!?). He gets accosted in the alley by acid to the face from...

Page 30: The Joker! BOO-YEAH! Joker hits him with some more acid, some joy buzzer electricity, then we get the following exchange, which is super-cool:

LEX LUTHOR (stepping out of the shadows): "You made a lot of mistakes [Alex]. ...But the biggest one?"

A-LEX: "N-no...p-please..."

LEX LUTHOR: "You didn't let the Joker play."

JOKER: (shoots A-Lex in the head and laughs)

Oh, man, was that sweet.

Page 31 and 32: Diana, Clark, and Bruce are talking. Apparently, having been given this wake-up call and having fought a time-spanning battle royale, the plans of the Big 3 during the 52 weeks gone are to...

wait for it...

wait for it...

take a vacation.

Well, that's just a big pile of meh.

Diana decides she's going to fly off in her invisible jet to "find out who Diana is". Superman is just going to hang out with Lois until his powers come back (they're gone from taking a Kryptonite bath on Mogo, remember?), and Bruce decides he's going to retrace his steps he first took when setting out to become Batman, only this time he's taking Dick Grayson and Tim Drake with him on the voyage. (That was kind of neat, I'll admit.)

Page 33 and 34: Splash page of most of the present day DC heroes.

(Side Note: Carter Hall is in the middle, which reminds me----Hawkman! They didn't fucking explain where Hawkman went, or what happened to him! Those fuckers! They don't know, do they? They just decided to shake up Hawkman with the new creative team and figured 'we'll explain it later', didn't they? Goddammit, DC, quit giving Hawkman the shaft! I am so pissed about this.)

(Additional Side Note: Sign this was tacked on afterward as plot point: Alan Scott is in costume, and his eye that we've seen patched in Checkmate has what looks like a green smudge over it, so it could be an inking error, or it could be deliberate. Way to hedge the ol' bets there, DC.)

Page 35: Cheap shock value horror movie ending: SuperPrime is encased within a red sun (allegedly provided by Donna Troy---hey! Geoff Johns remembered she existed!), guarded by 50 Green Lanterns ... we focus in and see that he's alive, he's burnt an "S" onto his chest, and he vows to get out someday. Dun-dun-DUUNNNNNN!

Best Moment: The Joker finally shows up and blows A-Lex's head off while laughing.

Worst Moment: If I was a Wonder Woman fan, I would be all kinds of pissed at this. She's MIA most of the series, Rucka's well-received , thoughtful run was interrupted for this nonsense, and she just flies off in an invisible jet at the end, having made no contribution to the effort. Nice work, DC. Worst. Send-Off. Ever.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. And I'm being generous because it's the end. I'll have more thoughts on the series as a whole next week. But this was an oddly emotionless conclusion of pure unadulterated plot hammering.