Friday, June 30, 2006

Books, Books, Books

Its that time of the week, where I finally read all the books, and now I get to punch up some thoughts on each of them.

I will rank them from #10 to #1, with a smattering of pretty pictures too. OK, no pictures. Blogger ain't working right. Pictures ain't uploading.

As usual, hopefully no spoilers for you all, because well, that's no fun. But um, some I dont' think I can hold back from. Especially one book in particular.

Now, I am watching the match between Germany and Argentina, so bear with me if these are "slackier" than usual.

Actually, Brave New World gets its own "review", and not included in the rankings.

Brave New World
Overall, this was at least entertaining.
Martian Manhunter: Ha ha, that new outfit looks silly. And, quite honestly, I have never really cared all that much about Martian Manhunter. Not a story or book I"m going to buy into. Just seems kinda boring.
OMAC: Aaaaaaahhhhh....haven't we had enough of these? Didn't they kill them all off? Waste of paper for printing. Blah. Not a chance.
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters: Man, long title. Seems kinda Ultimatish, even though I know that these guys were around far longer...but they seem so wimpy in comparison. I read one of the mini, it didnt' grab me, so this won't grab me either.
Creeper: I wanted this when I first heard it was coming out. Just seems like a fun book. Can Creeper hang out more with Batman? Now that, THAT would be entertainment. I"m in for this mini.
Atom: I'll give it a try. Gail has done overall well with BoP, and love Villians. So, what the heck, gimme a couple issues.
Trials of Shazam: I like the concept of Captain Marvel. But he's always been such Guy puts it "Capt Whitebread". He needs some cajones, even if he was a kid at heart. Seemed kinda silly. BUT, as a 12 issue maxi? No. No way.

9. Necromancer #6/6 Lithium
Man, did this go out with a whimper. It had as much bang as Wraithborn did. It needed something bigger. It was way too goody-two-shoes. Was it pretty? Yes. Is anything from Top Cow not pretty? And, it wasn't all breasty, as Top Cow is um, prone to do. They could do far more with this character and book, but they seemed to keep it way too bubbly.
Rating: 1/5. Series Rating: 2/5

8. Action Comics #840 Up, Up, And Away Finale
Ho hum. Was a nice little sappy ending here too. Too sappy. Man, he is a good samaritan, isn't he? Hopefully with this reboot, no more robots, no more extras taking care of "Crystal Palace" or whatever we call his crystal fortress getaway. Going back to old school Supes too, the Jimmy Olsen touch was very nicely done, a nice throwback. Lois takes a real backseat in this one. Kinda odd.
Rating: 2/5. 8 Part Series Rating: 2/5.

7. Catwoman #56
Just not enough happening. Wildcat making constant appearances is nice, but kinda getting old. The midnite film guy is kinda freaky, and I like him. A lot. Tell me that the ending of this wasn't done waaaaay too soon. I just hope that Will does not keep using this plotline, as its going to get old real damn fast. I do like how it was drawn though. Seemed kinda old school.
Rating: 2/5

6. X-Factor: Civil War 1
I think Peter Parker should just publish a damn book on House of M, since he seems to tell the damn story to anyone who asks. Sheesh. Anyone else thinks Siryn looks a lot like Neve Campbell? It wasn't bad, it had lots of Layla talk in it, so that was a lot of fun. Nothing else really flashed for me. Wasnt' a bad book. Seemed like a filler book for me, but a big arse buildup for the next one.
Rating: 2/5

5. Amazing SpiderMan #533 The Night the War Came Home
And so it begins. The Spiderman haters are out in force. Where are the Spiderman fans? You'd think that would make for some interesting clashes and a book or two for a story right there. Spidey has to break up a fight about himself. Someone else may be doing that soon. Parker is now hunted by paparazzi. Looks like they will be prisoners in "Avengers Tower." And, J Jonah is all back to himself now. In his own special way. Interesting take, but no chance in hell. That last page- no. No way. I'm pretty confident that two of the most prominent members in that room are NOT on that team. You'll know who I mean here soon enough.
Rating: 2/5 Its not really that bad of a read, just a couple scenes are hard to take.

4. Annihilation Ronan #3/4
I was very impressed with the fight with Gamora. It was long, and not overly drawn out as both sides looked for advantages, busted out "secret" weapons, but ended kinda blah. Everything else in the book was fluff for me. The knock-down drag out fight was so well done though. It looks like Ronan is not going to be the big player in the Wave, like the other books will be. The Wave and Ronan have finally met though.
Rating: 3/5. I loved that fight.

3. Moon Knight #3 The Bottom Ch. 3
I think if Finch could just tone down the musculature, this would a such a far better book. Although, I have seen far worse, so I"m not going to complain a ton. Its great to see who Huston is using at MK's first "foe", or should I say Marc's first foe? The group was the first to hire him, and was one of his first foes in MK V.1. Its a great setup. And I love Contigency T. Very much looking forward to this. I saw appearances I wanted to see. And the panels where Finch is telling the story is incredible. No words are needed. Its freaking bee-you-tee-full.
Rating: 4/5 This was even better the second reading.

I couldn't make up my mind. Both were totally incredible.
I"ll go alphabetical.
Daredevil #86 Devil in Cell Block D Part 5
First of all, that is a nice Finch cover. And the inside of the book is just spectacular. The first "guest" appearance really learns us on the danger of the situation. I enjoyed the setup. And then, as we all know, all hell breaks loose. And so is Bullseye. Murdock reverts to his somewhat law-abiding self and offers warnings to those who should have it. Never been a Bullseys fan, but man is he fun in this one. Loving me some big knock-down-drag-out fight in this ish. And Frank? He's sitting this one out. He has four dead peeps in front of his cell. But it was purely "defensive". Heh. And then the end. I LOVE the ending to this ish. All I'm going to say, once again, is "Welcome Back to the Marvel U Frank, Welcome Back."
Rating: 5/5. Damn fine impressive. This ish gets a F*&# YEAH!!
Fantastic Four #538 Street Fighting
I'm premising this with a F%&* YEAH!! I get me the initials DB. Do we need anything else from this issue? Hell no!!! DB!!! The tension is in the air between Sue and Reed already. I"m with Sue dammit! And then we get a very entertaining section of Thing on Yancy Street, which also will lead to some great team tension and some great next issues, especially since we will now only see Thing in FF, and not his regular series. I was impressed. This issue has some great storytelling, some great story buildup and some great characterization. And the end!!! Holy M'F'ing sheeot...its about damn time!!!
Rating: 5/5.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

It's A Brave New World

Right then, full reviews tomorrow, but I thought DC's Brave New World deserved an entry of its own, seeing as how it was six previews for a buck. Was it good enough to make me want to buy the new series it advertised? Read on, with massive spoilers ahoy!

MARTIAN MANHUNTER --- OK, that was a neat trick with the cardboard cutouts. But the new design for Marty is God-awful; it's got me missing the pirate boots already. That said, a pissed-off vengeful MM who might actually, you know, be doing some manhunting is a decent enough hook for me. A.J. Lieberman's work is unfamiliar to me, though what I've read about it hasn't been glowing.

The only other thing that worries me is that it's an 8-issue mini, which seems a little long to me for this particular concept. I see myself buying at least the first two issues. Interest Level: 6/10

OMAC --- The "preview" consists entirely of a Gotham druggie's dream sequence in which he is chased by and subsequently turned into an OMAC. The art by Renato Guedes is shockingly detailed and quite good, I thought. Unfortunately, my desire to read anything with OMACs in, around, or on it is roughly equivalent to my desire to shove a flaming yardstick through my eye.

Factor in Bruce Jones on the title and 8 issues of The Sensational Plot Device Find of 2005, and I don't see any reason to even give this one a shot, despite the pretty, pretty art. Interest Level: 2/10

UNCLE SAM AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS --- I'm nostalgia-free on this one, having no particular love for the Freedom Fighters in previous incarnations, and having been mystified enough with Battle for Bludhaven to not finish that series. However, the last page of this preview --- an Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeve saying "We got work ta do", gave me a few goosebumps. There's something charmingly old school about the character, and the new Ray and Human Bomb seem likeable enough.

Plus, it's Gray and Palmiotti writing it, which pretty much means that I'm in for at least the first couple of issues no matter what. Such is the power of Jonah Hex. Could be heavy-handed, could be fun superheroing. Interest Level: 5/10

THE CREEPER --- The Creeper is one of those characters I've always admired from afar, never having read much of or about him. Judging from this preview though, I very much want to. Jack Ryder, lefty blowhard TV commentator by day, scary-as-hell vigilante by night? I'm in. Justiniano's art looks appropriately, erm, creepy, and this too has an old-school comics feel to it.

Steve Niles, having absolutely blown it with Gotham County Line, gets another shot from me on this one, at least an issue's worth. Also, points for keeping it to 6 issues instead of 8. Interest level: 7/10

THE ALL-NEW ATOM --- Ryan Choi apparently gets the legacy of the Atom handed to him by Ray Palmer, if this preview is any indication. And it's a testament to Gail Simone's talent that in the space of a few pages we get a smart introduction to the supporting cast, a good handle on the new guy's personality, AND a rollicking superhero story with a twist to boot.

Yeah, between this and Simone's outstanding track record, I can't see not giving this one at least three issues to hook me, and I'm guessing that it won't even take that many. Interest Level: 9/10

TRIALS OF SHAZAM --- Confession time. I have never, ever understood the appeal of Shazam, the Marvel family, or that damn wizard. Ergo, for me to want to read a 12-issue series by Judd Winick about the aforementioned elements, you've gotta have a pretty good hook. This wasn't it.

I just... nope. Can't do it. There's nothing here to make me think that this will be anything but generic superheroing about someone I don't have any interest in, with the customary supply of heavy handed Winick "shocking" "plotting". Someone be sure to let me know if this turns out well. Interest Level: 0/10

Oh, and by the way, the framing device used for Brave New World? The Earth is being watched to see what happens... watched by a whole passel of Monitors.

Yes, those Monitors. What's that saying about going to the well once too often?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rare 2GBC Movie Review!

I come to celebrate a movie today. A movie about a hero who fights to uphold truth and justice. A movie that shows us the consequences of withdrawing into one's own world, leaving those who care about us on the outside. A movie based on a comic, yes, but one that has many lessons to teach us about our own lives.

That movie is, of course, Judge Dredd.

The 1995 adaptation of everyone's favorite fascist law enforcer from the 2000AD comic starred Sylvester Stallone as Our Man Dredd, Armand Assante as his eeeeeeeevil genetic twin Judge Rico, Diane Lane as Judge Hershey, and Max Von Sydow as Chief Justice Fargo.

Oh, and it's got Rob Schneider as, um, pretty much every character you've ever seen him play, which is to say that you've got Rob Schneider playing Rob Schneider.

This movie was absolutely savaged when it was released, and some cite it as the worst wide release comic-to-movie adaptation ever. (Apparently these people haven't seen Superman IV.)

Judge Dredd is actually pretty darn good.

Not Oscar-caliber, mind you, but it's a fun bit of sci-fi comic bookery, with lots of 'splodey action, conspiracy, robots, cannibals, and clones.

I mean, it's got a fundamentalist hillbilly cyborg cannibal, for God's sake! The only way that could be cooler is if he was half-dinosaur, and I'm not entirely sure that in the first drafts of the script that wasn't the case!

Judge Dredd manages to stay relatively true to the spirit of the comic, which is equal parts dystopian future, action-packed law enforcing, and a dash of the odd sci-fi horror trope. It also manages to pack a LOT of 2000AD stuff in there, from the blockwar to the ABC Warrior, the Cursed Earth and whatnot. Kudos for paying attention to the source material, not just the title character.

Don't get me wrong; the comic is FAR superior to the film, and you're missing out if you haven't read any Dredd.

Yes, the Versace-designed Judge suit looks ridiculous once you get below the shoulders.

Yes, the acting takes camp to levels undreamed of in Adam West's wildest dreams.

Yes, Rob Schneider should probably stop making movies.

But there's a lot to like here, and I think it holds up pretty well as far as a 10 year old Stallone action blockbuster summer popcorn movie.

(And it's loads better than Superman IV or whatever the hell this is.)

Give it a shot, if you haven't seen it---or watch it again if it's been awhile. It's better than you've been led to believe.

Oh, and pick up this. It's good for ya!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Catching Up On Miniseries

I recently got a chance to read 2 miniseries of Randy's that I hadn't picked up myself; Son of M and Books of Doom. Here, then, is what I thought. Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


Have you ever wondered just how much of a jerk Quicksilver would be if he suddenly had his powers taken away by his sister in a big Marvel Summer Event?


Well, me neither, which is why I originally passed on this series by David Hine. And it's a good thing, too --- not because it's terrible, but because the first issue and the last issue are the only ones I could comprehend. The first ish actually is a great Spider-Man comic, as we see him deal with the conflicted, tortured feelings he had coming out of House of M.

And it's done really, really well.

Well enough to make me think, "Why exactly are they giving Quicksilver a miniseries about this when I'd rather read about Spider-Man?"

(Side Note: Did they ever get around to exploring this potentially status quo-changing event in any of the Spider-Man comics? No? Nice job, Marvel. Sigh.)

Anyhoo, Pietro tries to kill himself, then is saved by Crystal from the Inhumans, and then it's 4 issues of Pietro in the Inhumans' land, as he attempts to steal the Terrigen Mists to give mutants back their powers and reconnect with his daughter.

He does, they do, and there's a big confrontation at the end between Magneto (who's still pissed because of the whole House of M thing), the Inhumans (who're pissed because Pietro stole the Mists and his daughter), SHIELD (who are pissed because he's powering up mutants again), and Pietro (who's pissed because, well, he's Quicksilver, and he's sort of perpetually pissed).

At the end, Black Bolt gets a F#$% Yeah! moment that would bode poorly for the Marvel Universe if, you know, they had any intention of following up on interesting story lines.

But the middle 4 issues were a largely confusing, jumbled mess, made even more incomprehensible when Quicksilver gets the ability to jump forward in time, so we've got multiple copies running at different times, and it only gets worse from there.

But the first and last issues were pretty good. Recommended only for diehard Inhumans fans or Quicksilver groupies.


This one by Ed Brubaker is a retelling of Doctor Doom's origin as told by Doom himself to a person that we're not shown until the final pages of the last issue.

This pissed me off at the end, because Brubaker got cutesy.

Anyhoo, it follows Victor Von Doom from boyhood as a gypsy, to his patronage and schooling courtesy of the U.S. military, to his return to Latveria and his eventual conquering of that kingdom. Along the way, it does a great job of showing Doom's fixation on getting his Mom out of Hell, and touches ever so briefly on his rivalry with The Accursed Richards.

It also shows his relationship with Valeria, and portrays his intelligence and ego extremely well. The best part was when we see why he's called 'Doctor' Doom.

(OK, I'll spoil it; he hears The Accursed Richards referred to on TV as 'Doctor Richards', and gets so jealously mad at it that he makes everyone refer to him as 'Doctor Doom'. That is pure Silver Age Marvel Villainy in action right there, people.)

I was stoked to see what I thought was a definitive story of the origin of one of comicdom's greatest --- if not THE greatest --- villain, and I was digging the slower pacing through the series.

Then we turn the last pages, and see that Doom has been narrating this tale to a reporter who was granted exclusive access; she even gets Doom to unmask and we see the horrifying visage...

...of a DoomBot.

Yes, the entire story has been a yarn spun by a DoomBot, so it may or may not be true, which makes the whole thing a bit of a cheat.

In a very cool twist, however,the reporter ends up being locked up forever in Doom's dungeon, so the world will never know what she was told. Or something.

I understand now why Marvel did such a piss-poor job of promoting this series; it ultimately doesn't matter in the context of the rest of the Marvel U because of that cheat.

That said, I rather enjoyed it. Recommended for darn near anybody who has even a passing interest in origin stories or Doctor Doom, though beware if you like your comics fast-paced.

Monday, June 26, 2006

So Many Goodies Again This Week

I gots sooo many goodies coming this week:

A preview:

ACTION COMICS #840: Part 8 of 8. Finally.
CATWOMAN #56: Starting to roll along again Will.
DCU BRAVE NEW WORLD #1: For a buck, I'll take a teaser. Want to see Atom and Creeper.
NECROMANCER #6: I think this one concludes too. Not sure though.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #533: Borderline on this one. Seems what happens here is in CW too. But, its the first one after "disrobing"....ewww.....
ANNIHILATION RONAN #3: I like it. Talk all the smack ya want, this is just a good old fashioned fun series, and I'm very glad I bought this Annihilation goodness.
DAREDEVIL #86: Go Frank! Go Frank! Gimme some killing, and Welcome Home!!
FANTASTIC FOUR #538: This one I will get- this looks to be the most intriguing of the CW's. MARVEL MILESTONES RAWHIDE KID & TWO GUN KID: Pondering this one too....
MOON KNIGHT #3: Need you even ask?
NEW AVENGERS #21: Its a good jumping off point, but since I was the only one in the universe that apparently liked the other one, he roped me in. Hoping he turned a corner, round 2.
X-FACTOR #8: One of the best books out there.

NO! No, I won't do it. Scratch off the New Avengers. I"m not doing it I tell ya, not doing it. I'll go off with a sigh and say I liked the last issue I bought. I'm making the Leap of Faith. Of Future Suckiness.

Dear Tom Cruise, someone hold me please. I think I just lost a blood vessel.

Talk at ya all later, once my brain stops hurting.

On Continuity

This may or may not end up making sense. Proceed with caution.

The way I see it, continuity is icing on the cake.

I have two meanings behind that sentence.

First, that continuity is more or less great to have when it's there, but take it away and you'll still have a reasonably good cake.

Second, who the hell wants to eat a cake without icing?

And therein lies the dilemma for DC and Marvel.

See, it's occurred to me while reading various posts around the comicsblogoweb that continuity is at the same time both less important and more important than we generally think it is.

I still haven't made a point, have I? Oh, dear.

Here's the thing; if I want to read a story about Batman, there are certain elements I expect. I expect Bruce Wayne to have had his parents murdered, I expect that he's a smart-as-hell detective, and I expect that he's in Gotham City dressed as a bat righting wrongs.
Those are my core expectations.

The other stuff --- whether or not Alfred was a combat medic, whether this Robin is a delinquent, or an orphan, whether Harvey Bullock is a member of the GCPD --- doesn't matter to the character as a whole. I mean, it would be nice if things didn't change issue to issue, but if I start a new story arc or fill-in issue and The Penguin isn't walking with a limp like he was three issues ago, or suddenly the Joker's walking the streets a free man again, then who the hell cares?

To varying extents, Marvel and DC care, because we make them care. We (myself included) bitch and moan when something doesn't make sense, many times not because it's actually a detriment to a story, but because the writer/company has committed the unpardonable sin of being --- gasp! --- Unfaithful To That Which Came Before.

When it's really not that big a deal, it's just either forgotten or intentionally ignored, one would hope, for the sake of a better story. And I would argue that the times we get worked up over continuity is when it's a bad story we're reading anyway.

DC will go to extraordinary lengths --- I mean, ridiculous lengths --- to try and make sure that any given story they're telling has the right connections to past events, to the point that sometimes they get so wrapped up in making sure that all the pieces fit together in a quasi-logical way that the story becomes utter crap. And then they get so tangled up in this intricate web of stories that 20 years later they throw up their hands and say, "Superboy punched the walls of reality", which is just damned silly even if they did lay the groundwork for it for a year.

But on the upside, you get a sense that nothing happens in a vacuum, and that everything's happening in some coherent order which makes the sense of a shared universe that much more enriching and adds a sense of relevance to something that would otherwise be just bunch of heroes running around oblivious to what's going on around them and making no sense (I'm lookin' at you, X-Men and New Avengers).

Marvel, on the other hand, will absolutely throw continuity out the window in a New York minute if it suits their author/EIC/story of the month. Nick Fury, underground and in disgrace? Hell, no! We need him in Iron Man this month! JMS has a story arc that requires Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn to have had kids? Sure! Six of our characters have secretly been pulling strings in the Marvel U for the last 30 years? We'll rationalize it when we have to! That kind of stuff. And while it's frustrating because entire periods of "history" (which is in quotes because after all, these are only comic books) can be rendered null and void, completely unrational, or otherwise dismissed for the sake of a 6-issue arc that nobody will remember in two years anyway.

The upside of this approach is that you don't necessarily have to be familar with 10 years of the Fantastic Four to understand what's going on in any given issue. (I'm lookin' at you, Green Lantern and Flash).

Do we really want to put comic creators in a deep hole (deeper than the one they're already in) to begin with, having to worry about the last howevermany years of everything that happened in a particular character's milieu?

Of course not, because outside of hypersensitive fanclods, what we really want to read about are the characters in good stories. And if you've got good characterization and a good plot, then why bitch about the fact that Tony Stark is now Tony Stark, Jr.?

(I know, I know: physician, heal thyself.)

Continuity can either be a wonderful layer to a story, or it can be a plot-killing anchor. But I think that when it comes right down to it, it's best not to worry too much about it, unless we're explicitly told to do so a la DC's One Year Later.

(Which is why I'm avoiding 52. Its very purpose seems to be to explain continuity that hasn't even happened yet, instead of just following through and fast-forwarding ALL the characters OYL. At the very least, 52 should have been put off a year or so, I think, particularly in light of the fact that I think for the most part the OYL launches have been really good stuff.)

And as I made the point elsewhere, DC continuity reboots tend to be universal, whereas Marvel reboots tend to be character-by-character (with the notable exception of the Ultimate universe, which is a third solution).

I'm not sure that one is necessarily better than the other; it seems to me a case of either paying in installments or paying the whole bill at once.

The one place where I think continuity is more important than is typically worried about is in origin stories, because your origins are typically what define a character's core qualities. Batman's not the same guy if his parents aren't killed; Spider-Man's not the same guy if he's a popular high-school jock. The Punisher isn't the same if his family isn't murdered, and Superman's not the same if he's not from Krypton.

And if you screw with continuity too much there, you've got yourself a boatload of angry ex-comic readers and characters no longer recognizable to those who made them popular in the first place. That's fine for Hollywood, (which is where all the money is now anyway, I know)but not the comics.

Each and every one of us is getting older by the minute, and the older one gets I think the past becomes more important, which is why I think the current comic-reading demographic --- 25 and older --- cares so much about continuity. As we get older I think we strive to make some sense out of our past, to put some order to the events of our lives, to better take a measure of what's happened. I think it's human nature.

(Even for comic writers. :-) )

And that's why I think there's so much hand-wringing over continuity. We want things to make sense in the grand scheme of things. We want a history to rely on in decoding current events. We want something solid --- something we can point to and say definitively, "I know that happened" --- to use in comparison to ideas, events, and characters in our lives. Even the make-believe ones.

That's what makes Alzheimer's disease so terrifying to me. What would it be like to lose your own continuity? I saw a close family member pass away recently with almost zero memory of her family or friends or even surroundings. It's disturbing to watch. We need our past on a very basic level.

So there. Take it for what you will; continuity's a double-edged sword, but when it comes right down to it, the only times I can remember being in an real uproar over mishandled continuity is when the story/characters weren't good enough to keep me from overlooking it. And it's one of those things that's purely there at the discretion of the folks making the damn things, so I'm going to just treat it as icing; if it's there, great --- but if it's not, don't think too hard about it.

Just remember that at the end of the day, everything we read in comics is an Elseworlds story anyway.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Getting Ahead of Ourselves

Welcome to a dual post of 2 Guys Buying Comics.

The cover to JLA #2 was released with DC's September solicitations. Pictured on the cover are the new members of the JLA (well, 3 of them anyway). The rest are silhouettes designed to get the comicsblogoweb in a frenzy of speculation.

Consider 2 Guys Buying Comics officially frenzied. Let us begin.

(Click to enlarge please.)

Obviously we have Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. But, the mystery deepens. Who are....the shadows?!?

1. Winged Figure at 12:00

Chris Take: The presence of wings and a mace would seem to indicate Thor. (Har!) Actually, I"m going with Hawkgirl because it seems too slender to be Hawkman and he's probably destined for the JSA anyway because DC hates me.

Randy Take: Its Hawkman, because Hawkgirl stole his damn book and he now has nothing to do but hang with the JLA, because well, it gives him something to do, and DC hates Chris.

2. Caped Collared Figure at 11:00

Chris Take: Looks like Red Tornado to me, despite the fact that we've seen him dismembered in three different series. Actually, you know what? I'm going with Red Inferno, the Tornado's brother, who got a mention in 52. I don't think that was an accident. I'm calling my shot.

Randy Take: I'm going with the mainstay of Martian Manhunter, because Meltzer isn't that fricking dumb to use the new design, that apparently no one likes but the dude drawing the new outfit in the new series. And well, its just not a JLA without Martian Manhunter.

3. Shadow Behind Batman's Cape at 9:00

Chris Take: I say it's an arc from Red Inferno's, erm, vapor trails.

Randy Take: What shadow?

4. Green Ringed Figure at 6:00

Chris Take: Gotta be Hal. Guy is off in GLC. John Stewart doesn't have hair that messy. And they didn't spend all that time bringing Hal back just to put Kyle back in the JLA.

Randy Take: Insert any random Green Lantern here, because, quite honestly, aren't they all the same with shiny alien jewelry? Well, except for G'nort, and that big Kilowog guy? And it ain't them.

5. Large Chested Shadow with Things Coming Out of the Top of Her Head at 4:00

Chris Take: Large Chested Woman with Things Coming Out of the Top of Her Head. I got nothing, although knowing Michael Turner's work it could be Robin for all we know.

Randy Take: Big Barda. But she doesn't look quite big enough, but then again, it is Turner. You see his SuperGirl? I thought Creeper for a minute, but then I took another sip of beer, realized I was being dumb, and went back to Big Barda.

6. Figure with Green Bow at 3:00

Chris Take: Someone is graduating from the Titans and my guess is Connor Hawke taking up the mantle of Green Arrow because poppa is too busy being Mitchell Hundred Mayor of Star City.

Randy Take: OK. Sign me up. Who's Mitchell Hundred?

7. Leaping Gloved Figure With Size 2 Waist at 2:00

Chris Take: I'm going with Manhunter because Randy is holding a gun to my head as we speak chanting, "Make it Happen You Bastards!" Um, yeah, Manhunter. Plus, in a league dedicated to justice, the presence of a lawyer would be ironic. Heh.

Randy Take: Read some various posts on this, everyone seems to think it's a gal with a ponytail. Black Canary? Nay, she is busy in Birds of Prey, and I don't see her leaving anytime soon. I am voting for Manhunter. Always has ponytail, and is a typical pose for her. Only catch- West Coast dweller, and no staff. But its Turner, he probably forgot the staff while his hand was in his pocket. Or holding the pencil. (Heh)

8. Generic Flying Dude Below Hawk Thing In The Relative Middle Of The Picture (No O'Clock)

Chris Take: I think it's Firestorm because what appear to be large gloves are in actuality his puffy pirate sleeves. Figure the head is drawn at a weird angle and something about Firestorm in this new JLA just seems right in keeping with the vibe. (No, not Vibe. Apologies to Scipio.)

Randy Take: If it wasn't for the uber smooth looking head, I'd vote for Captain Atom. Firestorm is a good pick, but looks awfully....smooth to be Firestorm. Cap Atom has them big red gloves, so I'm sticking with him.

Thoughts, comments, haiku, epic poetry? No Bob Dylan wanna-be's, please. There is only one.

Twelve Books for Review

Greetings to the world. I neglected to put up reviews last week due to "busywork," but not so this week. They will all be mini reviews, all non spoiler. They will be in worst to fave order, and there may be some surprises in there even.

12. Rising Stars Untouchable. #5/5
I should have just dropped this series much like I did the Ghost Rider mini in midstream, but I didn't, and I'm all the dumber for it. This was a dog. It ended pathetically. The last 3 issues were just plain kinda silly and thoughtless.
Overall: 0/5. Series Rating: 1/5. Just....bad.

11. Superman/Batman. #27
I do so like the Huntress. One of my favorite characters. This was just kinda a silly little issue. I now regret buying it. It had lots of the Huntress (and Power Girl)...sorta. That's all I say on that topic. It did lead into the current SuperGirl series, where PowerGirl is currently existing. I actually just kinda skimmed through this because it just wasn't catching my eye. Actually, it was kinda dumb. And now, I don't have to buy it anymore. The art was kinda funky too. Didn't seem right.
Overall: 1/5. It did still have the Huntress. Sort of.

10. The Flash. #1
I too will not call it by its "official" title. Thats silly. I am not a big Flash guy. Never really have been. But what the heck, its a reboot. After reading it, I'm still not a Flash fan. Just didn't really win me over. I'll read Chris' next couple of issues and see if it improves, but I'm not adding anymore cash to the title. Unless it makes a drastic improvement somewhere along the way. I did however like the art in it. The story was just blah.
Overall: 1/5. It just didn't do too much for me.

9. Shadowpact. #2
I liked the mini. I liked the one shot. I haven't like the regular series, and at this rate, I don't see it lasting too long in my buy pile. If its a choice between keeping this or Manhunter at DC, there is NO decision. I was rooting for the "bad team", because, well, Shadowpact is doing nothing for me, and the bad guys seem to be more fun anyways. Except that big blobby guy. Loved the White Rabbit- he was pretty cool. This book just isn't clicking with me, and I think I may have to end it.
Overall: 1/5. And I still hate the chimp.

8. Ultimates 2. #11
Was it worth the wait? long as the next one comes out sooner, maybe. The cover is way misleading. Maybe should have saved that for the next ish? The ending was kinda cool. Lets see them handle that!! Also liked the Clint, that was a great entry. Not used to Wasper using a gun though. It was a very pretty book. Very well drawn. Its still much more Avengerish than the regular title has been, and that's a great big bonus too. I like the characters and the fight in this one. Kinda wimpy with Thor though.
Overall: 2/5. Make the cover a reality. Do it. Just do it.

7. Red Sonja. #11
I got the Queen cover. Just a tidbit there. Had the sharpest looking cover. Now, its Red Sonja. Do I have to go into great detail here? No. She meets uber foe. They fight. They tell stories. They fight more. More people come fight. A nasty little surprise was there though (it kinda pissed me off too.) And a great big ass wooly mastodon to end this chapter in the arc. And, it was, as usual, pretty art.
Overall: 2/5. Was not happy with the nasty little surprise.

6. Birds of Prey. #95
I have become a regular reader of BoP. Overall, its a fun read. I was a little disappointed in this issue. It just seemed to end in a blah kinda way. No real bang there. Interesting, yes, but not for Years down the road. I did so like the Gypsy though- now that was impressive. And the art was also very well done in this one- I was very pleased to see that. I like that Prometheus guy. He seemed like such a silly little bad guy, but he's actually entertaining. And of course, Huntress.
Overall: 2/5. Just seemed to fall flat as an arc ender.

5. Captain America. #19
Guest Stars Galore!!! Union Jack, Spitfire, SHIELD Agent, Red S, Winter Soldier, MI5. Does it get any better than MI5? NO! Lots of duking it out, massive setup for the coming arcs. I like the SHIELD Agent. Hope she sticks around. Nice to see a non-filler in an arc. This is continued great storytelling, improvement over the previous ish. Also, another very well drawn book.
Overall: 3/5. MI-5. Excellent.

4. New Avengers. #20.
What you say? #4 on the list. Even though I have no idea what Xorn is, and I really don't care, at least I saw more Avengers doing more in this book than almost all in the previous past, even though it was just zombies. Still, I'm seeing improvement in this one. Just like I did um, a few issues back in one issue somewhere along the way. BMB is trying. I saw more involvement finally. I don't like Bob. Sentry. Whatever the hell you want to call him. He will not be around after Disassembled though I'm betting, as I will be expecting a lineup overhaul.
Overall: 3/5. Ending was rushed, but that's ok, its headed for changes, so good I say. Rush it.

3. Manhunter. #23
SAVED!!!!!! For at least five more issues. Dump the crap called Shadowpact and keep this book around. I mean, is it the greatest thing written in comics. Hell no. However, its a nice crisp story, that continues from book to book, without the need to know what happened in issue 14 to understand #23. It has an interesting history of Kate going on right now, with Golden Age ties, which is kind of interesting to read about. It does need to have a little drop down action more often, but its getting there. I still say this book never needed the OYL reboot, but oh well.
Overall: 3/5. Keep up the decent storyline, although the Psycho storyline is full front in the next one. Sigh.

#2. Annihilation Nova. #3/4
Why so high. Because I had fun reading this book. More quipping from Drax and even Quasar got into it a little bit with Nova. I loved the bad guy appearance- that was impressive looking. The art suits the book, even though it is a bit...umm....liney? Is that even a word? This book also made me really want to read the last ish in this series- promises to be a big drag down uber fight..which enthralls me. Although Quasar as the wise man in this one? That one doesn't jive very well, but I'll buy into it for now.
Overall: 3/5. Gimme big ass drag down knockout fight in space- everyone loves a space fight, don't they?

AND, the #1 book of the week:

Eternals #1/6
I loved the art. Very old school. Works wonders in this book. I enjoyed the Sersi sequence a lot, more of a flake than I remember, but its a new take on her, as compared to her Queen Bitch days in the Avengers. I also got a great little nutshell history of the Eternals, which was a little convoluted for me, but not all of it is important, anyways. It has a Stark appearance. It has some great little sequences about hero registration, which made me chuckle that it was included in a mini that had been planned for awhile and not really mainstream Marvel. Did I mention yet that it is very well written? No? Well, I enjoyed this book heartily, and it is very very wordy. No action. I'm interested to just learn more about the Eternals, so I"m still intrigued to read these.
Overall: 4/5. Excellent story. VERY glad that put that damn UPC label on the back too. FINALLY!!!

That's it gang. Have a lovely week.

Chris' Reviews 6/21

Big batch of books this week, so mini-reviews are in order, I think. The good news is that most of them weren't terrible. Massive Spoilers Ahoy!

CASANOVA #1 --- Matt Fraction's story of... um... well, to be honest I'm still not quite sure what it's about after reading it 3 times, other than the fact that the lead character is an agent (sort of) who does lots of wacky explosive things (sort of) in an alternate universe (sort of). It's got a very 60's/Steranko-ish feel to it, and there are lots of good crazy ideas thrown around, but it may be a victim of Nextwave, in that it reminds me a LOT of Ellis' book, right down to the SHIELD-type organizations. Still, the Gabriel Ba art is nifty and the premise has a lot of potential. And it's only 2 bucks, which will hook me every time. Give it a shot, and see if it's for you. CBG: 3/5.

IRON MAN #9 --- The people being executed are the ones responsible for Ho Yinsen's death (he would be the scientist from the origin story who helped Tony make the Iron Man armor), Tone locks himself up to prove to Nick Fury that he's not the one doing it, then another person is killed and apparently it IS Tony in the armor doing the killin'. I was doing just fine ignoring the head-slappers (Anthony Stark, Jr.? Where's Howard?) until at the end Fury decides to bring in Tony using --- dear God --- The Sentry. I hate you, Marvel. CBG: 2/5.

ANNIHILATION: NOVA #3 (of 4) --- Sort of running in place here, as Nova, Drax, and Cammi get enlisted by Quasar to help evacuate a planet, and then Annihilus shows up. Some good lines ("I had a conversation with his hat.") and it's nice to see Quasar back in action, but this felt like a filler issue, and when you have a filler in a 4-issue series, that's typically not a good thing. CBG: 2/5.

HAUNT OF HORROR #2 (of 3) --- Disappointing in that we get a standard retelling of the "Tell-Tale Heart", a zombie Civil War soldier vignette, a serial killer who drowns in bed, and a guy with a blow-up doll who dies having sex with it. No, I'm not kidding. Rich Corben's art is still excellent, but this series overall has been less than what I thought it would be, and I can't say it's a good value for the 4 dollar price tag. CBG: 1/5.

SHADOWPACT #2 --- The Pentacle (think of them as an evil Shadowpact, with opposites having similar powers) prepare for their sacrifice, and the whole issue basically serves to introduce them one at a time as they fight their opposite numbers. The 'Pact gets their collective ass handed to them. A few good lines, some inventive fight scenes, but the art was downright painful in places, and I'm with Detective Chimp: get him the hell out of that silly suit. CBG: 3/5.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #19 --- Cap, Union Jack, and Spitfire investigate exactly what the hell Lukin/Red Skull is trying to do in London, Bucky is preparing for a crusade of his own, and Sharon Carter shows back up. Yeah, this was a very good issue, with Brubaker using equal amounts of action, dialogue, and plot movement to raise the stakes in every way. Highly recommended, and I can't wait for the next ish. (And no, I can't quite believe that I'm actually looking forward to buying Captain America comics for the first time in like, ever.) CBG: 4/5.

FALLEN ANGEL #6 --- A recounting of Lee's first "adventure" when she fell to Earth in some Middle Eastern country, a nice little done-in-one (maybe) as a break from the continued soap opera in Bete Noire. The art in this issue is radically different from the previous ones though, and I find myself missing the surreal painted qualities more than I thought I would. OK, but since it's a flashback there's nothing at stake, so it's not as compelling as usual. CBG: 3/5.

THE FLASH #1 --- No, I'm not calling it "Flash: The Fastest Man Alive", no matter how much DC wants us to. Anyway, Bart Allen wrestles with being a 20-year old all of a sudden, there's some confusing narration from Jay, Barry, and company, and at the end the Speed Force is (kind of) back... or something. Honestly, after the 3rd read I sort of gave up trying to figure out exactly what was going on, because this is quite frankly a terrible jumping on point for new readers. Which is, you know, not good for a #1 issue, I think. Hey, I loves me some Flash, but I'm not sure I want to read more issues of DC's labor-intensive restart. (Aquaman and Wonder Woman interested me from the first issue. This just makes my head hurt.) I think I may sit this one out until things clear up. CBG: 2/5.

JUSTICE #6 --- I know, I know, I'm the only one left buying the individual issues. I don't care --- this issue is fantastic, as the Atom gets some good time, the plot advances, and there is an absolutely PERFECT moment with Hawkman and Hawkgirl that pretty much sums up what I think their relationship should be. Plus, the pretty. pretty art. The JLA is beginning to regroup to fight the Legion of Doom's plan to rid the world of heroes, there's a great moment between Batman and Wonder Woman, and Giganta's new design is just great. Well done, sirs. CBG: 4/5.

ULTIMATES #11 --- Yeah, yeah, completist won't let me quit this close to the end, blahbity-blah-blah-blah. Count me as vastly underwhelmed by this issue (with a kickass cover), in which Cap, Wasp, Hawkeye and Tony mount a resistance, Thor's coming back next issue, and the Hulk shows up at the end to lay down a gamma-powered ass-whoopin'. (Yawn. I know, it's wrong on many levels, but I don't care about Ultimate Hulk showing up.) This will probably end up being the most overpraised book this week. CBG: 2/5.

Working on some thoughts on continuity inspired by Mark Fossen and Harvey Jerkwater, so maybe you'll see those tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Goddammit, Marvel!





(Why yes, I did buy the latest Iron Man. Why do you ask?)

Reviews tomorrow.

Quick Update

Quick update to say three things:

1) I am buying 11 comics today. Ye Gods.

2) Checkmate #3 and Green Lantern Corps #1 were just all kinds of awesome, although the art in GLC could have been a tad bit clearer.

3) This makes the third consecutive month that Iron Man has been on schedule, which counts for something, I guess.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Spidey's Revealing Outfit

I have a problem with Spider-Man revealing his true identity.

Why isn't he wearing the lame ass new costume? Why would he switch out of the Iron Spider look just for this press conference? Because Marvel wants mainstream coverage of this "event" and knows that if CNN airs a still of these pages, people will be more curious about why the hell Spider-Man is wearing a stupid red and gold outfit instead of his Spidey clothes.

These three pages tell me Joe Quesada knows the Spider Armor duds are stupid, but what are the odds they're going away?

For that matter, should Peter Parker wear any kind of a costume now? Once the world knows your true identity, what's the point of wearing a mask? Granted, I suppose if the Iron Spider outfit is like Tony Stark's armor and has bonus features like repulsor rays, he should wear it. But unless the mask has some kind of heads up display or a targeting system, it seems pointless. And if he goes back to the red and blue tights, why bother at all?

Regardless, I'll second the rest of the residents of comicblogavenue who have said it really doesn't matter what's done with Spidey since A) we know this will all be reversed by this time next year and B) this isn't even really Spidey any more. This penthouse-livin', supermodel-lovin', armor-wearin', butler-havin' idol of millions no longer resembles the character I enjoyed reading about ten to fifteen years ago.

Friday, June 16, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: Rape is Bad for You

I, for one, think J. Michael Straczynski deserves a big pat on the back for being so brave. If you haven't read the latest issue of Squadron Supreme--and for shame if you haven't... unless you just hate feminism and are threatened by strong, empowered, self-reliant female characters--the story takes place during and after the team fights an army of a hostile Middle Eastern country. After the battle is over, we learn a little of the background story of Inertia, a woman capable of redirecting kinetic energy.

Her story is a sad one, but one that must be told!

Inertia is unlike any other character in comics. First, she is a woman, but she doesn't rely on men to take care of her and protect her. No, sir (or ma'am as the case may be)! Instead, she takes care of herself and is just as capable of kicking butt as any of the big boys.

Second, she wears skimpy outfits and has a lean, muscular body. She is beautiful and isn't afraid to show it. I will, however, draw attention to the fact Gary Frank's rendering of her makes her seem a little flat-chested. She appears to be no larger than a B-cup, though she wears a sportsbra, so she may be larger. Either way, I would encourage Frank to be bolder and give her large mammaries. Do not try to hide her femininity! If anything, fanboys who are afraid of strong feminist icons like Inertia should be visually assaulted by their feminine virtues.

Third, she grew up with a father who was unloving and who cheated on her mother. He is very mean to her and suspects that her powers are a result of her sinfulness. At one point, when he realizes he cannot harm her by hitting her, he opts instead to hit her mother. This abusive background helps to shape her worldview.

Fourth, she is a lesbian. The plight of homosexuals may be taboo dinner conversation in this country, but Squadron Supreme is pushing it to the forefront of the national consciousness by confronting the homophobes out there in a way no other comic is daring enough to do: with images of sexy girls kissing each other! Take that, Ma and Pa Kettle!

But last, and most important, she is the victim of rape. If you thought lesbianism was verboten, just while Middle America is reeling from that revelation, we're hit with this hot button issue. Straczynski is one of the few writers, comic or otherwise, willing to take on the subject of sexual assault. What's really interesting is the way he frames it and the fact that it took place early in Inertia's life to have it truly become a motivating factor behind what she does and who she is.

Rape, it seems, can be a traumatic experience for some women and Inertia is one of them. In fact, it is still something she thinks about even though it happened years ago. This powerful juxtaposition of a strong woman, who has taken charge of her life and become a hero with the intention of helping others, with the scenes of her helpless against sexual assault, makes you think about how rape is a really bad thing and how normal "non-superpowered" women might have an even harder time putting the pieces back together.

I know when most of us read stories about Psylocke or Black Cat or Wonder Woman, we only see the strong, daring women within, but this is a grim reminder that some people are more likely to see them as nothing but sex objects.

It's a shame more writers haven't the guts to explore pressing issues like these or to create characters as deep, unique, and multifaceted as Inertia. Industry pundits who are always complaining about the lack of female comic book readers need look no further than Mr. Straczynski and Inertia to see exactly what it's going to take to pull in that all-important demographic: strong, foul-mouthed, sexy, scantily-dressed lesbians who have daddy issues and recount their sexual assaults in graphic detail. Why can't we have more characters like this?

I know a lot of the men out there won't like it, but that's why they publish Archie.

Does Whatever A Spider Can

Right then, so the world knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.

You know what? I kind of like it.

(Cue the sound of readers clicking on to another blog.)

Those of you who are still with me, let me explain.

For those of us like myself who have never been that invested in Spider-Man as a character, it's the first time in a LONG time that Marvel's given us a reason to care about him. He's exposed, he's famous, he's in a very dangerous position. It's a new twist on Spider-Man that hasn't (to my recollection) been done before.

I understand why fans are crying foul at the move, though. Many see Peter's anonymity as central to the character. I never understood that, either. I know that he wants to protect his family from the likes of Doc Ock and Venom or whoever; but I don't think taking his mask off for a while (and make no mistake, it's only for awhile --- a couple of years at most) makes him unable to do that.

And it doesn't remove the power/responsibility burden from his shoulders, which to me is what REALLY makes him Spider-Man.

Look, Marvel made it clear that the classic Peter Parker was done for the second they moved him into Avengers Tower. Now, with him revealing his identity to the public, he's essentially an Elseworlds-y version of Spider-Man anyway.

(That stupid Iron Spider suit was the first tip-off.)

But if you're going to have Spider-Man be an Avenger, suck up to Tony Stark, wear a different costume, and have whatever the hell happened with The Other happen, then why not go whole hog off the reservation and see what happens when he reveals his identity? Since we're playing with make-believe Spider-Man anyway, let's explore this while we can.

So I'm OK with it. What I'm not OK with is the fact that in order for the decision to make any kind of sense whatsoever you had to read the last issue of Amazing Spider-Man, where Aunt May and MJ essentially talk it through with him and we see him come to the decision. That's just stupid, and I think putting that conversation somewhere --- anywhere --- in Civil War would have made this event seem more believable.

Stupid Marvel.

Reviews on Monday!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Purchases for June 14

Chris dragged me kicking and screaming to the LCBS today. OK, I lied. It was better than work, and it was better than lunch. And he offered me a cookie.

Here's what I purchased, and to be reviewed tomorrow and Friday:

Superman #653. Part 7. Too long.
Grimm Fairy Tales #6. Its a pretty book. Stop laughing.
Civil War #2. Suckered in.
Annihilation Super Skrull #3. This is a great event.
Thor #1. Just kidding. Seeing if you were paying attention.
Firestorm #26. Weird people.
Mighty Marvel Western Two Gun Kid #1. Enjoyable.
Warbird #4. Pretty book.

Bullet and full reviews upcoming, plus bonus tidbits on Wonder Woman and The Hex.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Very Cool News

Steve Purcell, creator of the Sam and Max comic, is, um, making new Sam and Max webcomics!

Right here.


For those of you who aren't aware, Sam and Max are a dog and a rabbit who call themselves "Freelance Police", and generally go on adventures whilst wreaking all sorts of havoc with property damage and personal injury AND delivering snarky lines.

LucasArts put out a damn fine adventure game for the PC in the early 90's based around these little guys, and that is also well worth the eBay auction to play it.

But the comic? It's a hoot.

Also in the Very Cool News Department: Redhead Fangirl has her one-year blogoversary! Nice work! Check out her timeline of events --- she does more in one year than I do in 30. Or something like that.

Random Thoughts

---I take a 2 week break, and come back to find everyone gone corporate! Cronin, Burgas and the rest of 'em are now shacked up with CBR and The Great Curve is under the Newsarama umbrella. Congratulations to both, as both are truly excellent blogs that deserve a wider audience!

(I will take this opportunity to announce that 2 Guys Buying Comics will maintain the independent spirit of bloggery! Until someone knocks on our door offering big piles of cash, free swag, or loads more hits.)

---Did Casanova #1 by Matt Fraction come out last week and my LCS just missed it?

---IGN Power Rankings may in fact be the absolute dumbest piece of comics webbiness I have ever witnessed. Power rankings to see who's having more success...for fictional characters? Um, what? I just may have to unleash my hatchet job I wrote on that whole site. I swear, it's the comics equivalent of the drunk uncle at the wedding reception who slurs his way through a toast in which he lets slip that he once had relations with a donkey. (Hi, Googlers!) That's it. I'm doing it. I can no longer stand the dumbtardosity of that site. Watch for it on Friday.

---X-Men: The Last Stand. Saw it with Randy, and enjoyed it quite a bit, actually. I have no innate love for the X-Men, but I thought this movie had good action, a much better (and loads more filmable) rationale of the Phoenix than I expected, and they got Beast perfect. It also had the good manners to not overstay its welcome, clocking in at well under two hours. There's something to be said for that.

---Can we all officially agree that the Sentry is a character that doesn't ever need to be in another comic again ever? (Paul Jenkins, you get a vote too. It's OK, I won't tell anyone.)

---Team-Up Comics I Want To See Just For The Titles:

Green Lantern/Aquaman: Green Around The Gills
Shazam/Captain Marvel: Copyright Protection
Conan/Colossus: Axes and Alloys
Cyclops/Havok/Vulcan: Summers, You Moron!
Namor/Scarlet Witch: A Fish Called Wanda

---I'd like to remind everyone that JLA Classified: New Maps of Hell, by Warren Ellis, comes out in trade this week. I strongly urge anyone who even remotely likes the concept of the JLA to go buy this; it's the best JLA story I've read in years.

---Light week for me otherwise: I'm going to stick with Checkmate, since the last issue was much better than the first, and (sigh) Civil War. The real prize here though is the first issue of the ongoing Green Lantern Corps series.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Chris' Reviews 6/7

Howdy, all! This week we get a couple of new series, continued greatness from a favorite, and a Batman we can all love. Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


Allan Heinberg of Young Avengers fame turns his attention to the most famous heroine of all, and relaunches the Amazing Amazon.

Here's the idea: Donna Troy is now Wonder Woman, she's summoned to a hostage situation where Steve Trevor (!) is being held captive by Cheetah, Giganta, and Dr. Psycho. Fighty-fight-fight, Donna gets captured, and we learn that Steve is actually Nemesis in disguise, and that he and --- wait for it --- Diana Prince are working for Nick Fury Sarge Steel and SHIELD the Department of Metahuman Affairs.

Well, it certainly was readable, the art was pretty good, and I'm intrigued enough to want to read the next issue.

But can we stop with the Government Agencies That Are Assigned To Investigate Superhero/villains already? Between the DMA, DEO, Checkmate and God knows what else, I've had it up to my ears in paramilitary gubmint organizations. Can any moron form one? At this point, I half expect to see a leather-clad guy in a bunkhouse in Idaho with a rifle calling himself the Office Of Investigating Kid Devil's Ebay Auctions.

Anyhoo: nothing really wrong here, just a few fears that I have:

1) Heinberg's first few issues of Young Avengers were good too, but once the "Who are these people?" questions were answered, I didn't really care for it.

2) I think the Donna/Diana question needs to answered fairly quickly. If you're going to make Donna the new Wonder Woman, then for God's sake don't have Diana's shadow looming over her. And vice versa.

3) This book had a very Geoff Johns-ish feel to it that I can't quite place...

4) ...which makes me fear that I'm going to have to sort out Donna Troy's backstory to understand her ongoing role. Not that I have any interest in doing that. I just finished my Hawkmanology final exams, and my brain hurts.

Like I said, though: those are just me worrying ahead of time. This is definitely worth a read.

Best Moment: Dr. Psycho's entrance and kewl new bald look.

Worst Moment: Diana's reveal on the last page, where she's wearing a 70's outfit in which she resembles nothing so much as a lava lamp wearing Skechers.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Good beginning, but please Lord, don't let this become Diana Prince: Agent of SHIELD.


The first part of the issue is stock-standard Batman v. Scarecrow fight, with the added (delightful) twist that Batman's on the phone talking to Commissioner Gordon the whole time during the fight.

Batman figures out that someone's been framing Harvey, alludes to his mysterious plans for Tim Drake, and Jason Bard fights the Tally Man.

It's the next to last issue in the "Face the Face" arc, and while I'm looking forward to Morrison's take on Batman, I must say that this story has reset Batman perfectly in my opinion.

He's respectful of the work that other people do, he realizes that allies are necessary, and he's a little more trusting of the people around him. Which doesn't mean he's about to be handed the award for Mr. Congeniality, but he's a hell of a lot more likeable, and that counts for a lot.

Also, I am really digging Leonard Kirk and Andy Clarke's art.

Best Moment: Scarecrow: "Next time, Batman."
Batman: "What? You'll come up with a better gas?"

Worst Moment: The Jason Bard backup story was a hard-to-follow fight scene that I expected more from, but the phone call at the end was priceless.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. James Robinson can write Batman (and for that matter, Robin) any time he wants to, as far as I'm concerned. And the art is underrated. In fact, I think this characterization and story is what many of us were hoping for from All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder, instead of the flaming hospital waste we got.


There are three "stories" going on here. I shall endeavor to do my best to explain them all.

Story the First: Ben Urich reports for the right-wing Daily Bugle, Sally Floyd reports for the left-wing Alternative. They both kvetch over the Superhuman Registration Act, then Spider-Man shows up at Sally's apartment to explain to her why unmasking is a bad thing. The end of the story takes us to the big Iron Man press conference, where Iron Man unmasks in front of the public and says --- I shit you not --- "My name is Tony Stark, and I am an alcoholic. And it's time to come clean."

Story the Second: Speedball's alive, depowered, and under arrest.

Story the Third: Spider-Man swings around New York while a vignette from the Japanese-American internment camps is shown narrated to a poem written by someone who actually was in those camps.

There are many problems with this comic.

First of all, for all their hoo-ha about how "We're not going to take sides in this debate, we'll present a fair and balanced viewpoint", it seems to me that Marvel's with Captain America on this thing. Ben Urich is portrayed I think as someone who grudgingly carries out his newspaper's agenda, and Sally Floyd gives Spidey the opportunity to say why the SRA is bad.

Second, the whole Iron Man thing doesn't make any sense to the five of us who actually follow the character. Since Marvel botched Tony's identity question so badly over the last three years, his unmasking is not the big deal it was meant to be. And the fact that they have him announce his alcoholism at the same time is stupid, inappropriate, and jarring.

(Side note: the splash page of him at the podium is really, really bad. He looks like a cauliflower-eared dockworker.)

Third, the Japanese-American internment juxtaposition... wow. I think I understand what Jenkins what shooting for --- a prominent example of civil liberties trampled on in the name of the greater good --- but man, was this tacky. I think the point could have been made with just Spidey swinging around some Washington landmarks and ruminating on his power/responsibility thing. All this sequence did was remind me that there are a whole hell of a lot bigger things to worry about than comics.

Fourth, Speedball. Raise your hand if you care. No one? Yeah, that's what I thought too.

Fifth, the central conceit --- that you don't have to tell the public that you're a hero, just the government --- exposes its illogic front and center. If that's the case, then what's all the bitching about? Doesn't SHIELD know all this anyway?

To be fair, I enjoyed the first pages as a look at the business of being a reporter and the banter between Urich and Sally. I hope that the next issue keeps the focus on that stuff.

Best Moment: Robbie Robertson makes a solid appearance and appears to be the only one in the comic without their head up their ass.

Worst Moment: Story the Third. Yeesh. Bad taste.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. Enough of a hook to make me try one more, but if there isn't marked improvement then I think this book becomes irrelevant.


JONAH HEX #8 --- Ho hum, another finely done tale of betrayal, vengeance, and frontier justice with a heartbreaking ending. The art transition halfway through is jarring, but this is still --- I repeat, STILL --- one of the five best books out right now. Great stuff.

ACTION PHILOSOPHERS --- I'll have more to say about why this is such a great value and great comic period later this week. Trust me on this one.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sneak Preview Of Reviews

I'll be reviewing Detective Comics, Civil War: Front Line, Jonah Hex, and Wonder Woman on Monday.

I'll also be spending most of the weekend contemplating how truly awesome Action Philosophers is and how it was the best 8 bucks I've spent in a month.

Action Philosophers = Sweeeeeeeeeeet.

I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Random Thoughts

1. Haven't gotten this week's books yet, but should be soon. Also, I've kicked several titles to the curb. Goodbye Hawkgirl, New Avengers, Marvel Team-Up, and 52!

2. I have mixed feelings on 52. On the one hand, I feel like I should support the Grand Experiment. On the other hand, I've paid $10 now for $2 worth of story. Also, I really think that the OYL titles I've been reading --- Batman, Superman, Shadowpact, Green Lantern, etc. --- have done such a good job at making me interested in the "new" DCU that I have no desire to go back to the Ominous Dark Pantha-Havin' DCU, particularly if my guides through the missing year are a bunch of relatively minor characters and crappy backup histories told by Dan Jurgens.

(I'm sorry. That "Donna Troy/Orb Dialogue of History" is awful. Really.)

3. I know the "minor characters" line is bound to hack some people off, but it's true. Just because a character is seldom seen over the years doesn't necessarily mean they're interesting when they do pop up. It's just how I feel.

4. Maybe I'll be wrong. I hope I am. But if ever there was something made to wait for the trade, it's a weekly series in "real time" told by four different writers.

5. No, I wouldn't feel any different if it was Marvel.

6. Catching up on late reviews, I only got 3 books last week: 52, which was loads of meh, the last issue of Iron Man: The Inevitable, which was the most non-conclusion-y conclusion I've ever read to a miniseries, and Godland, which was as usual all kinds of awesome.

7. Speaking of which, I saw that Godland is going on hiatus for a few months. No worries, Joe Casey --- just promise you'll come back!

8. Speaking of which, that Iron Man: The Inevitable miniseries upon rereading smells like it got editorially hijacked in a way that I can't put my finger on. I'm guessing that Casey had some kind of slam-bang status quo-changing ending in mind, then the Big Marvel Plans for Iron Man took precedence.

9. Did they ever tell us what happened to Hawkman? And if you say, "You have to buy 52 to find out", I'm gonna slap you right in the mouth.

10. Anyone check Manifest Eternity out? It looks like my kind of space opera, but it's Scott Lobdell, know. Doesn't always turn out well.

11. This is turning out to be a longer post than I expected.

12. Kate Kane: Batwoman, huh? What's all this, then? I thought they were shrinking the Bat-family again, not expanding it. Anyway, I do dig the red and black color scheme.

13. Speaking of which, I guess I'm glad that Manhunter got saved, but I still don't buy it. I read the first 4 issues and it just didn't grab me. I'm glad for the fans, though.

14. I reread Watchmen again. This too will hack some folks off, but I think it's getting less relevant as time goes by. Either that or I'm getting less philosophical about things. Of course, now that Alan Moore is in the porn know what? I don't even have a joke for that. That is just so.... bizarre.

15. Books tomorrow, with reviews this weekend or Monday!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Level Setting

OK, then.

Re-entering the comicsblogoweb has been something of a trial, so much that I've defined the 5 phases of "taking a break from comics blogging".

PHASE 1: Anxiety. Will I be welcomed back with open arms, or will I have become an afterthought in the ever-shifting sands of the Internet? Am I "hip" enough to even offer commentary anymore? Have I lost my touch or whatever that strange, indefinable quality of writing that I may have once possessed was? Will anyone give a damn?

PHASE 2: Fatalism. It doesn't matter anyway. No one outside of my regular 500 readers were paying attention anyway, and half of those people were probably me checking my site statistics. Besides, it's not like I'm making a difference by celebrating and bitching about comics anyway. Who needs another middle-class white guy sharing his opinions anyway?

PHASE 3: Curiosity. So, incidentally, what's everyone talking about these days anyway? Say, it's been awhile since I chuckled over the Absorbascon, Seven Hells, or Dave's Long Box, maybe they have something to offer. What's Ragnell thinking about? Is there a meme I can contribute some unique opinion to? Maybe I'll check in just to see what's going on.

PHASE 4: Indignation. Oh, HELL no, [insert random comics event/scene/announcement] that did NOT just happen. I have to talk about this. Dammit, people NEED to know about this. Without at least a tiny voice somewhere, how can I live with letting this pass? Goddammit, people. Do I have to do EVERYTHING around here? Come on!

PHASE 5: Remembrance. Oh, yeah, I'm feeling it now. I just typed something up in Notepad, and I should post it. As a comment on someone else's blog? Naw. This is it. THIS is the return. My juices are flowing, I've got a new spark. And damn if I don't have an urge---nay, a RESPONSIBILITY---to speak out about the good and the bad. Internet, here I come!

So that's what I've been through over the last couple of weeks. I also went back and read the very first post here at 2 Guys Buying Comics, and realized that I've deviated from the mission statement a bit.

"We don't pretend to be "the single best blog in the whole wide universe". We're just hoping you'll make us a regular stop on your daily Internet Comics Surfing Site Tour. Because on some level, no matter how wrapped up we get in the Writer of the Month, Whether Wizard is Evil, or Company X Outsold Company Y This Month, at the core, we're really all the same.

We're all people who buy comics. And Randy and I really think that means something. It's something to be proud of, something to share with others, and something that we have a passion for. So let's chat about it."

Yes, by all means let's chat. That doesn't mean that I'm toning down the snark, but it does mean that I'll try to speak more about the positives in the comics world, because if all we do is spend time tearing down comics, then we're part of the problem, not part of the solution. So I'm going to try and focus on more of the good as well as calling people on the carpet when they deserve it. (You know who you are. Fear me.)

In short, I'm back. I'm energized. And I'm still just a Guy Buying Comics.

Rock on.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Wow, What A Light Week

Hello all

I just checked Diamond. I have one book. One book only. Sigh, that's almost disappointing.
No, it is disappointing.

Jonah Hex #8. That's it. At least its Jonah Hex, so I should like it.

Any word on WonderWoman #1? Anyone, anyone? Good, bad, indecisive?


Have a lovely day.

WWPhilly Notes

So, I was going to do the usual post-convention rundown of the latest blather out of Messrs. Quesada and DiDio, but I'm feeling in a rather good mood finally, so I'll direct you all to the wonderfully fun and inclusive Redhead Fangirl's con report, located (so far) here and here.

More later.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

To The Person Who Hacked My AIM Account

...and has apparently been going around having some very sick and twisted conversations with those on my "Buddy List" under the pretense of being me:

I sincerely hope you burn in Hell.

You are one sick fuck.

To those whom I haven't gotten repeated messages from asking about the state of my children, they're fine, thank you very much. And apologies for any distress this psycho fuckwad may have caused via IM.

That is all.

For now.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Many Books

Hello all from Dizzy World. My own private constant buzzed-type feel, without the use of any acohol. I don't recommend it.

Anyways, I got a bundle of books this week. Only one really stood out for me. And none were actually bad. Most just a "ah yes, that was interesting" or "that was ok."

All bullet reviews forthcoming, no pretty pictures:

Ultimate Fantastic Four #30: I am a sucker for Doom. I don't know if I"m a sucker for Ultimate Doom yet. This was a pretty book, as it usually is, and the story was actually not to bad. A little tired of the zombies though. Hoping that arc ends soon. Looking forward to seeing Ultimate Doom for the first time. (I know its not his first appearance, but it is for me.)
Overall Rating: 2/5.

Red Sonja #10: I"m starting to keen up to the flashbacks of Young Sonja. Gives me a bit of history that way. This is the last of this arc. The next ish looks like a filler that started out in ish 9/10. Still, some weird foe stalking her is interesting. Decent story, could have used more...oomph I guess.
Overall Rating: 2/5.

Books of Doom #6 of 6: We all knew how this ends up. But was still some good storytelling. Loved the page of the first official "Von Doom". As I mentioned before, I"m a sucker for Doom, so this was a nice little mini, well written.
Overall Rating: 3/5. Overall Mini Rating: 4/5.

Red Sonja Vs. Thulsa Doom #4 of 4: Another of my minis comes to an end, and I"m glad this one did. It kind of went out with a whimper, in regards to the main antagonist. However, it set up a nice little ending for her status in her homeland, which I did really like. I hope that the writers of Red Sonja pick up on that some and continue it.
Overall Rating: 2/5. Overall Mini Rating: 2/5

Action Comics #839: Not impressive. The whole Luthor story/background is kinda crap. But I so did like the Superman inner dialogues and discussions with Lois. Now that was some good Clark/Supes stuff. The stuff with Luthor is just not good.
Overall Rating: 2/5.

BattleStar Galactica #0: I don't watch the new series. So I was a little lost. It kind of just jumps into the story during the trek. I would have liked to have had more history, but eh, I guess that’s what the old 70’s-80’s books are for. I did like the end though. Nice little surprise. I had a hard time recognizing Adama throughout the book though-- art was a little scruffy for my tastes.
Overall Rating: 2/5.

Rising Stars Untouchable #4 of 5: I keep buying this. I shouldn't. Its not really that good. Probably because I was dumb enough to have my LCBS order it for me, and I'd feel guilty not buying it then. It has gov't spies, it has some foreign country spies, it has CIA. But its kind of a morass of non-gelled gelatin? There's just no real story here.
Overall Rating: 1/5.

Wraithborn #6 of 6: This didn't end as bad as I thought it would. The story has kind of been haphazard, and this doesn't tie up alot of loose ends. But its pretty to look at. I like the art alot. It has some potential if they want to follow up with this series. I just got tired of the protagonist as a big wuss throughout the entire series, when you know she gets to be a bad ass at some point later in life.
Overall Rating: 3/5. Overall Mini Rating: 2/5

52 Week 4: This was a step up for me. I actually liked this issue. The Steel portion is doing nothing for me at all, and so far a waste of space. I"m liking the Montoya portions, even though I didnt' think I would. I liked the ending. That was very interesting. And the Booster Gold piece is boring me to tears too. But I really liked the Montoya portions, and that is actually overcoming the other mess for me in this book.
Overall Rating: 2/5.

Amazing SpiderMan #532: I liked this issue alot. He's not going to do it. I know he's going to be the switch-hitter. Great dialogue in this book, excellent dilemma. This is the one hero who is going to have the biggest issue with the whole "regisration/unmask thing." That is why I am onboard for all the SpiderMan Civil War. And, we get a pleasant surprise at the end, clothing-wise. yaay! You go Aunt May girl!! Strong issue, except for the blatant failure of continuity- yes Chris, even I would have noticed that. Secretary of State my arse!
Overall Rating: 3/5

Son of M #6/6: Randy's Book of Week. Why? Inhumans. And, even to be spoilerish-- someone says one word. Someone who should never ever speak, and never ever does. He even says that on the cover. Man, that one word just sooo made me creep out. I got all giddy. Then I realized something sad. Its Marvel, so they'll probably just let it drop. They better ass not!!! That is a great setup, and they better follow it through. Come on Inhuman Mini/Maxi. Or even a mini-event. I was excited at the end of the book, and I didn't even care that it had Pietro in it anymore. I got lots of Inhuman goodness, we get to see a civil Eric, and Luna scares the bejeezus out of me. I was fascinated. This ish held my attention thoroughly.
Overall Rating: 4/5. Overall Mini Rating: 3/5.