Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Assload O' Reviews Week: DC Edition

Alright, so I'm pretty sure by now that everyone who reads regularly knows there are only 5 or 6 DC books that I read with regularity, because after DC decided that 52 and Countdown were the tails that were going to wag the dog in the DCverse, I completely lost interest in most of the mainstream DC stuff.

That said, I'm willing to take a chance on Salvation Run, and maybe one or two other limited series coming down the pike, but I'm not really feeling DC these days, you know?

(Side Note: Judging by the bombardment of ads, I'm assuming this Lord Havok and the Extremists 8-issue mini by Frank Tieri isn't a joke. Seriously? Who asked for this? 8 issues? What the...?)

Oh, and can we get Hawkman back his own comic? Or has Hawkgirl morphed into something readable while I've been away?


CHECKMATE #18-19 ---
OK, I'm starting to feel like I'm shouting in an empty room here, but to me Checkmate is the most consistently engaging title DC's got going right now (not including my blind crush on anything Gail Simone's putting out these days), and now I hear whispers of cancellation or consolidation.

Which would be sad, because these two issues are the start of the story arc "Fall of the Wall", and I can't wait to see what Checkmate looks like after this. Dirty tricks, the Secret Six, Suicide Squad, Martian Manhunter, Shadowpact and even a couple of those Chinese folks that Grant Morrison dreamed up for 52 all play their part here, and it's the usual delicious brand of Ruckian backstabbing and counterplotting. Also: where the hell else are you going to get your King Faraday fix, huh? CBG: 4/5.

BIRDS OF PREY #110-111 --- I was admittedly unsure about whether to continue buying this after Gail Simone left, but darned if Tony Bedard hasn't done a heckuva job keeping the title light, fun, and personable with these two stand-alone issues. Issue #110 is a Huntress v. Atomic Skull Fan Club mission (I'm not even kidding about that), and #111 is Oracle v. Calculator at a software convention (wacky hijinx ensue). So yeah, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm glad I didn't stop buying BoP. Also: Bonus points for the line "Kid, your 'A-Skull' is an A-hole". CBG: 3/5.

JONAH HEX #24 --- As advertised, it's the Halloween issue, and it's a fun idea --- El Diablo possesses Jonah Hex while Bat Lash cracks wise --- but it's a tad confusing in the execution from an art perspective. Put it this way: if you're supposed to be fighting a town full of zombie ghosts and you can't tell which are the zombie ghosts and which are the normal people, that's not a good sign. Still, a fun idea and a nice bit of haunted Old West actioneering. CBG: 3/5.

(Side Note: I've bought every Hex issue since the relaunch, and I've learned this much over the last 24 issues --- Hex is a hundred times more interesting when he's got someone like Bat Lash or El Diablo to play off of. I'm not about to tell Palmiotti and Gray how to do their jobs, but let's just say that an Old West group title featuring these folks would be something I'd buy. Kind of like a DC Heroes version of the Wild Bunch.)

(Additional Side Note: Fanboy that I am, I'm now demanding this become a reality. Make it happen, DC.)

(Son of Additional Side Note: Yes, I realize this would sell all of 7 copies nationwide. I don't care.)

DETECTIVE COMICS #837 --- While I can't say I was really looking forward to my monthly Batman fix being replaced with a Riddler/Harley Quinn team-up issue, I guess in all fairness the title is "Detective Comics", and that's what we got here, with Eddie and Harley detecting their way into a fight with a new villain and a funny bit about the Amazons' Women Shelters/Self-Help Spa. Still, not what I was looking for and kind of a fill-in despite Dini's attempts to make the Riddler interesting. CBG: 2/5.

WONDER WOMAN #13 --- J. Torres sets the table for Gail Simone's upcoming run, and speaking as someone who abandoned the relaunch after Heinberg's ridiculous delays rendered the title irrelevant, I must say that I'm back into being interested in Wonder Woman again. This is a nice tie-up that establishes Diana's relationships with the world in general, and even manages to make Wonder Girl interesting for a few pages, no easy trick there. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the terrific art by Julian Lopez. Plus: WW punches a Hydra in the neck! Also: the more I read references to Amazons Attack, the more glad I am that I ignored that completely. CBG: 4/5.

ALL-NEW ATOM #16 --- Ivy Town becomes converted into a 60's hippie paradise thanks to an evil alien and his reality-changing music machine, and it's up to the Atom to put a stop to the fiend! But can Atom stop the diabolical music-making robots that have Ivy Town under their spell? Guest-starring Ryak of the Linear Men! And now you know why I keep referring to this comic as "Silver-Agey". CBG: 3/5.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #16-17 --- It's all about the Sinestro Corps War at this point, and once again I'm kind of shocked that I'm enjoying the story as well as I am even though I'm not reading the core GL title or any of the one-shots; that's a testament to both Dave Gibbons and Eddie Berganza. Either way, the story here progresses in ways I thought it would --- the Corps destroy Ranx and everyone heads to earth for the final showdown --- but the big development here is that the Guardians have authorized the use of lethal force from the rings, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Smartly, Gibbons has the Corpsmen voice both sides of the issue, and while I sure hope it's not a lasting change in the GLC ethos, it's a dramatic turn of events that really raises the stakes in the closing issues of the arc. Action-packed, crazy battles, money moments, and ohbytheway... Ion's back and he's going to smack the living shit out of Superboy Prime. Hee. CBG: 4/5

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Monday, October 29, 2007

The Only Essential Moon Knight Vol. 2 Review You'll Ever Need

So, to kickoff the Assload O' Reviews week, we'll start with the only TPB I bought, to wit: Essential Moon Knight Vol.2 .

Er--- wow.

Maybe it's the craftsmanship of the comics inside, maybe it's the goddamned wonderful Bill Sienkiewicz art, maybe it's the fun inclusion of extras like the editor notes that were in the original comics, or maybe it's the bonus Bill S. portraits at the end, but damn --- this is qua-la-tee material for 18 bucks.

So much to like here, including appearances by Thing and Daredevil, a great introduction to the ludicrously-named Stained Glass Scarlet, and the quasi-famous Moon Knight #26, the one where Sienkiewicz decided he'd gone as high as he could with this character and decided to move on.

(All credit in the world to Doug Moench for that ish as well. If you've never read it, it's an affecting and powerful look at the cycle of abuse that doesn't feel maudlin or contrived --- you really do have to read it.)

And two things that I can't overstate enough:

1) It's easy to forget in today's world of "reaction panels" and "cinematic storytelling" just how freakin' dense comics used to be, how much actual storytelling you got for 75 cents. This is a great reminder of how comics used to be, you know, actual value for your entertainment less-than-a-dollar.

2) If you've ever wondered what the big deal is about Sienkiewicz, look no further. MK is really my favorite monthly example of his style, and especially in black-and-white the intricate linework and surreal detail in every wrinkle, cigarette, and hubcap is just phenomenal.

In short, this is one of the few Essentials I'd recommend to people who aren't necessarily fans of the core title, and definitely the one I'd use to convince people that the Essentials are worth their time.

Tomorrow: Pamphlets! Floppies! Monthlies! Whatever you call 'em, we've got 'em! Reviewed!

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Friday, October 26, 2007

It's Really Not My Fault

So, some shitheel sets fire to California and all of a sudden my workload triples, because that's where Frobozz Software, Inc. has its data center/server farms, and the engineers are too busy "evacuating" to complete the tasks I've assigned them.

Hope you're OK, guys, and you know who you are.

Meanwhile, astute reader Gary Smith points out that our little blog got a mention (and a mistype) from legendary comics writer Keith "SpaceKnights Ho!" Giffen over at Wizard's website.

First off: we buy all the comics we review here at 2GBC, otherwise we'd be just another "I work at a comics store so I can review everything published this week because I get them for free" blog, and those guys are generally assholes with no concept of value-for-comics-dollar.

So yeah? Fuck you, people with free time who work at comics stores who can review everything within 30 seconds of the issues hitting the shelves. Just sayin'.

Also: We are TOTALLY jealous of you.

Anyhoo: in re: the Giffen review:

Positives: Keith Giffen acknowledges and misspells our existence.

Negatives: We're compared to a convention encounter. Plus, I still haven't posted reviews. Note that this will not keep 2GBC from posting a pull quote from Giffen:

"They read, they blog, they seem to be having fun. This blog is, to me, the Internet equivalent of a convention encounter: 'I read the book, here’s what I think.' Can’t fault that."

We are officially counting that, friends, as a ringing endorsement. Keith Giffen cannot fault our blog, and how many of you can say that, hmmmm?

P.S. Keith: I will pay a large amount of dollars for you to convince Joe Quesada to get the ROM:SpaceKnight licence back and let you write the first 12 issues. This needs to be done. Let's talk. Marlowespade1@aol.com is the e-mail address.

Coming on Monday: So many reviews you, dear reader, will shit your pants. So bring fresh underwear. I mean it.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Yes, Yes, But First...

Writing the reviews as we speak, but had to let you know --- saw this over at the 'Rama:

900 pages of Hembeckery for just south of 17 bucks?

I'm in.

More info here.

Go, pre-order.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Holy Jesus, Comics Are Coming

Today. As God is my witness. And if it turns out there's no God, then there's a spider on my desk staring at me as I write this and he'll be my witness.

(Yes, I'm a little off today.)


Friday, October 12, 2007

It's Been A Bad Year For Cap

...and if the new Alex Ross-designed look is any indication, things aren't getting better any time soon. To wit:

Look, the "classic" Cap costume we're all familiar with is patently ridiculous, over-the-top, and totally awesome.

This thing makes Captain America look like... well frankly it makes him look like U.S. Agent (which, for the uninitiated, is not a good thing).

I'm struggling with the point of all this, since it's been confirmed that this isn't Steve Rogers anyway. (Which pushes this even farther into U.S. Agent territory.)

The whole thing has a very Iron Spider-like smell to it, and that smell makes me vomit.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Commerce 2.0

Apparently, Newsarama got bought by the dudes what run Space.com and LiveScience.

I have no idea what this means, but I cannot tell you how excited I am for the possibility that we can now either A) Shoot Joe Quesada into space, or B) Cryogenically freeze DC continuity for awhile.

Sadly, it just means we're now more likely to get video Quesada interviews and hard-to-navigate "portals" with links to softball interviews...


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Off-Topic: The Greatest Game Of All

I know this might scare a few comic fans, but stay with me: if you don't believe that sports is every bit as filled with irrational love, hate, fear, and desire as comic fandom, then you've never been a sports fan.

That said, I dearly love the NFL --- football is a great cathartic analytical sport, and no one cheers as loudly for my beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers (yes, I even own the tangerine replica jersey with my name on it, as well as a helmet with the old-school Gay Winking Pirate) as I do.

But baseball is my first love, and always will be.

Steroids? Don't much care. Labor strikes? I'll always come back, even if you did cancel the 1994 World Series. Cancelling the greatest All-Star game of all time? Eh, it was exhibition anyway.

My point is that nothing --- nothing --- can keep me from relishing the renewal of spring training, dogging out the hot days of summer, and devotedly following the crunch time in September. Baseball is awesome.

And I just watched the second-greatest game of my lifetime. But first, numbers (1) and (3) on that particular list.

1) This will always be the Mike Scott no-hitter on Sept. 25. 1986. I was 10 years old, and it was my first professional baseball game. I lived in Houston, and the Astros faced the San Francisco Giants in the Astrodome. I remember being awed by the size of the place --- and to see my team, my team --- win, and to see Mike refusing to give up a hit in that game --- well, you could say that was when I really started to love baseball. Because I swear my heart has never beat faster than waiting on that final out, after 9 2/3 innings, and to see Will Clark (Will Clark!) , Giants mainstay ground out to Glenn Davis to give my team the division title in a no hitter, nearly gave me a heart attack at age 10. That's when I knew I loved this game.

3) Fast-forward to 2005. My Astros are playing the Braves in Game 4 of the NLDS, and it lasts 18 friggin' innings. Roger Clemens (Roger Clemens!) comes into the game in the 15th as a relief pitcher (a relief pitcher!) to try and seal the deal and send us to the NLCS. Finally in the dying throes of the 18th (18th!) inning, just as I turn to my wife and say, "That's it, I don't think our guys have anything left in the tank", 25-year-old Chris Burke, a no-name brought in as a pinch runner in the 10th, smacks a home run that must have landed somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. After nearly 6 (6!) hours, we had won.

And now, this.

The San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies played a 1-game playoff to determine the winner of the NL wild card this year.

13 innings.

The all-time best closer in all of baseball.

A come-from-behind victory.

The winning run scored on that most noblest of hits, the sacrifice.

The Padres had scored taken a 2 run lead in the top of the 13th inning to surely salt away the victory --- things didn't just look bleak, they looked over for the Rockies.

And then?

And then Matt Holliday hits a triple, driving in a man to tie the game.

All-time saves record holder Trevor Hoffman blowing the save in the biggest game of his career? Does. Not. Happen.

But tonight it did. Who-dat Jamey Carroll hits a short fly ball to right field and Holliday scores the winning run, digging the Rockies out of an impossible hole. And just like that, the Padres season is over, and the Rockies' season has just begun.

Watching the players from both teams during and afterwards the game, I was reminded why I love baseball. It's the only game where you can see the players thinking, fearing, hoping, sweating, building the unbearable tension from the minute the pitcher throws the ball to the minute the play is over, and the sheer release of joy and despair is evident on every players' face, and I think: they won. Or they lost. And I feel drained from having just been a witness.

So, yeah. I love baseball, and nothing --- nothing --- is ever going to change that.

And here's to you, Rockies. Thanks for an evening I'll never forget.