Movie News

AICN COMICS: The TalkBack League Of @$$HOLES Premieres!!

Published at: May 3, 2002, 4:57 a.m. CST

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

These guys have taken matters into their own hands.

God have mercy on your souls.

Hello friends, we are THE TALKBACK LEAGUE OF @$$HOLES (also know in some circles as The Screaming Retinas). We’ve come to give you the kind of thought provoking, prolific reviews comic book reviews you’d expect at AICN. Reviews that poignantly and passionately express our feelings about the medium we all love, COMIC BOOKS. Ah, who am I kidding, we’re really just a bunch of four color junkies who love the shoot the shit in the Talkbacks. You all know me as The Comedian. My associates Cormorant, Buzz Maverik, and Ambush Bug along with myself have written these reviews for your consumption. Cormorant has also put together some news snippets for you as well. So I’ll pass it off to him and then onto the reviews.

Cormorant here with some quick snippets of no-nonsense comic book news, culled largely from the fine reporting at Newsarama and other online sites:

*On June 24th, Kevin Smith will appear on The Tonight Show exclusively to promote his upcoming SPIDER-MAN/BLACK CAT miniseries for Marvel.

*The new TRANSFORMERS comic book was the number one selling comic for the month of April, beating out the likes of X-Men, Batman, and every other major title. A second printing is in the works.

*Fans of the lighthearted, satirical 80’s hit, JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL, will be pleased to know that the entire creative team will be reuniting for a six-issue miniseries called FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE. The series will hit sometime later this year.

*A second G.I. JOE title will be launching from Image under the title, G.I. JOE: FRONT LINE. It’ll feature rotating creative teams as each story concludes, and original G.I. JOE scribe Larry Hama is slated to participate.

*Jim Lee will be teaming with Jeff Loeb as the new creative team on BATMAN when current writer Ed Brubaker makes the move to DETECTIVE.

*Controversial creator and former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter was slated to return to the company to write an AVENGERS miniseries, but that players didn’t get along and the deal has fallen through.

*DC’s latest attempt to revive the SUICIDE SQUAD has been cancelled as of issue twelve.

*The Sci-Fi Channel has signed on to help promote the nationwide Free Comic Book Day that’s occurring on May 4th, marking one of the rare instances of comics receiving televised promotion.

Now here go some reviews.

Startling Stories; The Megalomaniacal Spider-Man

Written & Drawn by Peter Bagge

Published By Marvel Comics

Reviewed by The Comedian

One of the more popular movements in the Comic Book industry of late has been the mainstream’s willingness to experiment with Icons and the new love affair with indie creators that has flourished in the wake of this trend. Image Comics virtually reinvented and reinvigorated itself with a shot in the arm of edgy indie talent. DC has done projects like last years Real Worlds, World’s Funniest and best of all last year’s the sleeper hit Bizzaro Comics (BIZZARO COMICS AM STOOPID!) The “New” Marvel has jumped on the bandwagon with their love it or hate it, big tittied, three headed monster, X-Force. And now it seems, the gang over at the hit or miss, foot-in-mouth disease clinic that currently moonlights as the House of Ideas these days must have taken a peek at Bizzaro Comics and attempted to trump their “distinguished competition” by getting a well known indie creator to do an irreverent comedic take on one of their Icons. Of course I’m talking about Peter Bagge’s THE MEGALOMONIACAL SPIDER-MAN. Which turns out to be a funny and nearly successful one-shot that delivers laughs but doesn’t quite hit it’s mark. Especially if you’re not familiar with Bagge’s brand of humor and his Cult Classic, HATE. I was into Buddy & Lisa when I was 19 so it was like visiting an old friend.

In Bagge’s take on the webhead we are first introduced to the classic Lee/Ditko angst ridden every man-worry wart and his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy circa 1968. Peter comes to her in distress (as always) because he’s just found out the awful truth about his Uncle Ben’s death. Turn’s out Uncle Ben was actually a shady gambler who was killed by a bookie looking to collect on a debt. Realizing that the image of his uncle he’s always held up is a fraud. He questions his reasons for being a “selfless hero” and Gwen tells him that he should reconsider his “Black & White” view of the world and recommends that he should read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. Then we are treated to a montage of Spidey against various silver age villains doing his trademark wise-ass quips but secretly contemplating how ridiculous the whole superhero life is. {While fighting Craven, the Hunter} “This guys got Leopards with him! I don’t get paid enough for this crap! In fact I don’t get paid at all!” He eventually decides to quit the superhero life altogether and “look out for #1”. As we flash forward to the 80’s Peter has become a belligerent, egomaniacal jerk whose Spider-Man Inc. corporation had bought out the Daily Bugle. He despises Aunt May, who he’s set up with a condo in Florida. He treats his secretary Betty Brant like shit. Gwen Stacy, having never died at the hands of the Green Goblin is his 5th Ave shop-aholic fiancée and funniest of all; he’s turned J.Jonah Jameson into his personal whipping boy. After a comical twist of fate involving an assassination attempt on President Reagan, Spider-Man is put out of commission for good. We then flash forward to 1999 and find Peter, a bald recluse living in a slummy Apt. somewhere in Queens with Gwen. A young reporter from The Bugle.com (Robbie Robertson’s grandson) comes to interview him about the 15th anniversary of the death of Spider-Man. Peter reflects on his life and his mistakes and hands Robbie’s grandson a his 100 page manifesto to read. The younger Robinson leaves the Apt and throws out the manifesto saying, “This doesn’t make a stitch of sense! And it goes on forever!” The book ends with Peter and Gwen broke but happy to be with each other. “Just imagine if you continued down that road, we probably wouldn’t be together right now”.

Now like I said, this story has a lot of funny moment but ultimately it doesn’t quite hit its target. Is it suppose to be a straight up parody, an inside joke on Steve Ditko or merely a marvelized Buddy Bradley yarn? It’s kind of a mix of the three but I just feel if Bagge had maybe given his script another once over he could have done something even better. Comedy wise he scores best with the parody of the late sixties era spider-angst. The nods to Ditko’s objectivism work too but Peter Parker isn’t consistent with it. In the 80’s he’s supposed to be this jerk who turned into the man he most hated (JJJ) but the way it’s characterized just comes off as half baked. The funniest character by far is Gwen Stacy because for most of the story she still doesn’t know that Peter is Spiderman so she thinks he’s gay. “Hmm, I wonder if Peter and Spider-Man are lovers.”Comedic gold. Overall, I’d say if you’re a fan of Hate than you’ll love this book because he has more or less turn Peter & Gwen into Buddy & Lisa. The rest may just laugh at other things like the shaky Reagan or JJJ spraying webbing in Peter’s face. Of course there will also be those of you complaining that Marvel shouldn’t waste their time tarnishing the image of your precious Spidey. And you guys really need to get laid.

SWAMP THING: EARTH TO EARTH

Written by Alan Moore.

Art by Rick Veitch, John Totleben and Alfredo Alcala.

Reviewed by Buzz Maverik

Before THE WATCHMEN, before THE KILLING JOKE, before FROM HELL, Alan Moore was the writer of DCs THE SWAMP THING. This is the book that really made Moore's rep in the States (the rep having already been established in the U.K. with MARVELMAN and CAPTAIN BRITAIN). Vertigo/DC has finally seen fit to republish these stories in a series of TPBs. This is the fourth in the series, and I would advise you to pick up the others: THE SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING; LOVE & DEATH; and A MURDER OF CROWS.

Swamp Thing's origin is essentially the same as all other comic book swamp creatures, like Marvel's MAN-THING, which was created almost simultaneously with Swampie, and which are all inspired by a character from the 40s and 50s, THE HEAP. Scientist Alec Holland is conducting experiments in a swamp. There's your standard accident, and Alec's formulas combine with mystic forces to turn our hero into a human compost pile. That's where Alan Moore came in. He revealed that the Swamp Thing was a plant elemental, essentially a god in a long series of swamp gods, and gave our hero new and ever greater powers. S.T. is no mute, mindless monster. He is elequoent, sensitive and even has a romantic relationship with a human woman. That relationship is the cause of the trouble in this volume.

A tabloid photographer has snapped a pic of Abbie Cable frolicking with her monster lover. The photo is published while S.T. is on a mission for John Constantine (in one of his earliest appearances)in the netherworld to save all of existence. Abbie is arrested for immoral acts, jumps bail and heads to Gotham City where she is apprehended again. S.T. returns to Earth and heads to her rescue. During the course of his visit to Gotham, he visits Arkham Asylum and of course runs up against the Batman, all before ending up on a distant world.

This is some of Moore's best writing. All his humor, maturity and depth are here. The characters talk like real people (and not the Stan Lee talking like real people, which means not like any people you've ever met).

The trio of artists -- Rick Veitch, Alfredo Alcala and John Totleben – grace us with beautiful, clear, detailed work. They are true master storytellers. The art is realistic, yet dynamic and whimsical at times.

My rating: BUY THIS IF YOU'RE NOT STUPID & CAN AFFORD IT. IF YOU'RE BROKE, BUY IT WHEN YOU GET MONEY. IF YOU'RE STUPID, THERE'S LOTS OF OTHER COMICS OUT THERE MADE JUST FOR YOU.

Buzz "Ho Chi" Maverik

Title: Rising Stars #18

Publisher: Joe’s Comics, Top Cow, Image

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski

Artist: Brent Anderson

Reviewer: Ambush Bug

I consider myself a DC/Marvel collector. Sure there are various other titles that I pick up that are not published by the big two, but I have found that, for the most part, collecting independent comics is just plain frustrating. Either the title in question mysteriously stops publishing in the middle of the run or the creators quickly get bored with the series at hand and move on to other half assed projects. The biggest reason I collect so few independent comics is the fact that time schedules are often thrown out the window and you never know when the next issue will appear. Monthly books turn into bi-monthly books, which evolve into quarterly books. By the time I get the next issue, I have totally forgotten the premise, the characters, and why the hell I gave a fig about the book in the first place. Say what you will about Marvel and DC, but aside from a few exceptions (*ahem*DK2*ahem*), you can follow a title and not have to wait until your next dental appointment to read the next one.

Which brings me to the dental appointment book called Rising Stars. This series was the stuff that coolness is made of when it first hit the stands. Babylon 5’s writer J. Michael Straczynski has been weaving an intricate and engaging tale of real world super heroes. The premise was simple (and not all too original since it is basically a rip off of Marvel’s failed New Universe endeavor from the mid-eighties): A meteor strikes the town of Peterson, IL in the late sixties and gave all 113 of the unborn children of the town super powers. Since then, the children have grown up, fought and killed each other, whittled their number down to under 60, and banded together to use their powers to help change the world and make it a better place.

So how do I know this? I read it from the Previously… blurb on the inside cover of issue #18. I honestly do not remember when the last issue of Rising Stars came out, but I believe it was sometime late last year. Well, it’s April now and I have read a lot of comics since then. I appreciate the blurb on the inside cover explaining the basic premise, but when I saw this comic on the racks at my local comic establishment, I debated whether I should buy it or not. I can’t recite one character’s name from this title and I have collected it from the beginning. Sure I know that one character’s name is Poet and another’s is Ravenshadow, but the characters in this book call each other by their real names and don’t wear costumes, so this knowledge is usually useless.

Rising Stars is released as a Trade Paperback about every four or five issues. This is a good way, for those of us who may have missed an issue, to catch up with what is going on and enjoy an entire story. That’s great. That’s hunky dorey. I am glad that the stories are available, but why not just cut out the middle man and publish a yearly Trade Paperback size graphic novel depicting an entire story arc of the regular series? The damn book comes out tri-annually any way. Those of us who have been collecting what was supposed to be a two year series have been left hanging for over three years now.

I wouldn’t be ranting about this if Rising Stars was a crap comic. It is not. I love the way JMS can tell an intricate and personal tale and still tie it into the flow of the larger storyline. Each issue is building upon itself and revealing just enough to snag the reader for the next installment. JMS is doing the same thing over in his other dental appointment book, Midnight Nation. Both of these books are building to an explosive climax and I can’t wait to read them. I just hope I am still alive and kicking when the final issues hit the stands.

This issue deals with Jerry Montrose, AKA Pyre. He basically has the powers of the Human Torch, but none of the confidence. Fulfilling his duty to change the world with his powers, Jerry destroys all of the drug fields in South America and returns to his job at a Vegas casino. After meeting with his boss, Jerry finds out that he has missed a rival mob boss’ drug field and is sent back to South America on a clean up mission.

The dialog is right on. Not clichéd or over the top. At one point in the story, Jerry tries his hand at witty banter, but it just doesn’t work for him and that reveals a lot about the evolution this character has gone through. Jerry’s lack of confidence has been prominent throughout the series, but his recent success in destroying the drug trade has given him a little backbone. The result is an ominous look at things to come. Bad things are on the horizon and I can’t wait to see it unfold.

Brent Anderson scratches out some wonderful images for this issue. His style might be described as the bastard son of Barry Windsor Smith and Gil Kane with a little DNA from Klaus Janson thrown in for good measure. The images are powerful and fitting for the real world type of storyline that is unfolding.

If you don’t regularly collect this series, wait for the trade paperback. If you are impatient like me and do get this series, pick this issue up. Rising Stars #18 tells an extremely strong, yet simple story and cleverly expands an already fleshed out world that these heroes are trying to survive in. I hope JMS gets this series back out on a regular basis and tries to make it at least bi-monthly again. The extended spaces between issues really hamper one’s ability to appreciate the clever intricacies and delicate threads JMS takes the time to add to this series. My teeth are thanking Mr. Straczynski for keeping them sparkly fresh because every issue reminds me of my next cleaning, but at the same time they are chomping at the bit in anticipation for a regularly distributed next issue.

Titans # 40

DC Comics

Writer: Jay Faerber

Artist: Barry Kitson

Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Whatever happened to the Titans? There was a time when the adventures of DC’s grown up sidekicks were interesting and exciting. Sure, it’s been quite a while since Marv Wolfman and George Perez dazzled us with the stories of Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Aqualad, Speedy, Changeling, Raven, and Cyborg, but one would think some of that magic would carry over into the current series. Well, that ain’t happening folks.

The Titans are basically the second tier of DC’s stable of heroes formerly known as the Teen Titans. All one needs to know is that the team is lead by Nightwing (the grown up Robin) and its membership includes Troia (Donna Troy AKA the former Wonder Girl), Tempest (the grown up Aqualad), Arsenal (the grown up Speedy, Green Arrow’s sidekick), Jesse Quick (filling the shoes of Kid Flash), and Argent (the team’s youngest member and leftover from the last failed Titans series).

Since the beginning of this newest incarnation of the Titans, we have been beaten about the head and neck with the Titans tome of “We’re not like the other super teams, we are fam-i-leee!” Okay we get it. These guys have grown up together and since their mentors were the type of dysfunctional wrecks that liked to drag pre-teens into battle, they needed each other to survive. Great. Dandy. Quit holding hands and singing koom-bay-ah and start super-heroing for crying out loud.

Devin Grayson’s attempt to revamp the Titans was hit and miss. Some of the early issues had many nice quiet moments, but very little major comic book conflicts that make the nice quiet moments welcome. Here we are, forty issue into the new series, Grayson is gone, Jay Faerber is in as writer, and not very much else has happened.

One of the main problems with the title is that it hasn’t been about the Titans for a very long time. In Faerber’s first story arc, we were introduced to a set of super powered kids who broke into the Titans tower in search of refuge. This “oh so clever” plot device was first seen on TV’s Brady Bunch with that annoying miniature-Bob Denver-look-a-like kid and perfected on Diff’rent Strokes when they brought on that creepy red-haired kid when Gary Coleman got too old to be cute. When the series is in trouble, bring in a new cute kid and that will make the crowd happy. Nope. Sorry, I hated that red-haired kid and I hate those uninteresting super powered brats even more. At the end of issue #39, the kids were sent off to a government sponsored super powered orphanage, and I said “Good riddance. Maybe now we can focus on some of the Titans.” Well, I didn’t really say that, but I thought it.

So here comes issue #40 and is it about the Titans? Not really. We are introduced to a new group of heroes called the Favored who are even less interesting than those annoying kids. This issue sets the stage for a new story arc concerning a rich fanatic building himself a cult of super heroes. I am sure we will get to know some of these Favored throughout this arc, but it looks like Faerber is making the same mistake that he did with those damn kids. Faerber doesn’t really seem interested in the Titans themselves and that’s too bad. These are some interesting characters.

Nightwing is one of the most popular characters in the DCU, but he is in about ten total panels of this issue, and does nothing interesting in any of them. What a waste. Each of these heroes has a rich history of their own to work with, but those behind the series would rather churn out a new super team to focus on each month than delve into any of that history.

The team lacks conflict. If this team is supposed to be any type of family, why are they all getting along so well? Why isn’t Tempest pissed that no one is helping him find his missing foster father (Aquaman)? Sure, Arsenal is portrayed as cocky, but the seeds are there for some really juicy sibling rivalry between him and Nightwing, the only two non-powered members of the team. A hint of conflict was hinted at between Donna Troy and Jesse Quick in this issue, so maybe some interesting grudges will soon appear.

There are some good moments in this issue. Arsenal’s interrogation scene was pretty funny, but Faerber throws this little nugget of joy in between lackluster action sequences. A mistake held over from Grayson’s run. And just when you thought things may be going in the right direction, those damn super powered kids are back towards the end of the issue.

The one good thing going for the title is Barry Kitson’s art. He is one of the best classic-type super hero artists around today. His art is clean and crisp, focusing on facial expressions and little details that one might overlook in a quick read.

The title definitely needs to be refocused. We now have two teams of heroes running around in this issue and that isn’t even including the Titans. Kill the kids, pass on the Favored, and concentrate on the team whose name is on the cover of the book, please. I can’t really recommend this issue. It isn’t a good jumping on point for those who don’t know about the team. If you’ve been following the title, you know it has seen better days. If you are not getting this title, you aren’t missing much besides Kitson’s art. A new creative team is coming on board with issue #42. Hopefully, this new team will remember the Titans and give them something interesting to do in between those nice quiet human moments.

BLACK WIDOW: PALE LITTLE SPIDER #1

Published by Marvel Comics

Written by Greg Rucka

Illustrated by Igor Kordey

Reviewed by Cormorant

We must surely be living in some kind of whacked-out, mixed-up, topsy-turvy world, because I just realized that BLACK WIDOW -- with its tale of a beautiful Russian super-spy investigating the seamy Moscow bondage scene -- stands as the most mature title of Marvel’s entire MAX line. How effin’ scary is that, kids? It’s god’s truth, though, and anyone who’s followed Greg Rucka’s previous comics really shouldn’t be surprised to hear it. He may be dabbling in some lurid material, but this is a guy who knows how to handle “adult” without lapsing into “gratuitous.”

Ironically, I had no plans to try out BLACK WIDOW originally. I’ve got much respect for Rucka, but here’s the curveball: this isn’t a story about the original Black Widow. This ain’t the red-headed beauty I know -- Natasha Romanov -- sometime agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., occasional lover for Daredevil and Hawkeye, and, yes, former member of the ultra-lame superhero team, The Champions. This is basically “some other chick that I don’t know who just happens to be called Black Widow, and why would I want a cut-rate version of an already minor character?” Or so I mentally characterized her when I dismissed the previous two Black Widow miniseries that Rucka wrote.

Stupid me.

I didn’t know who Rucka even was back then, or I might’ve given those miniseries the benefit of the doubt. Turns out the “new” Black Widow is one Yelena Belova, a Russian operative specifically groomed to take the place of the original Black Widow after her allegiances shifted to the West lo those many years ago. There’s more to her backstory from Rucka’s previous minis, but all you really need to know is that she’s the original Black Widow’s replacement, she’s actually loyal to Mother Russia, and her only clear weakness is that she’s constantly struggling to live up to her predecessor’s amazing rep. It’s simple, it’s logical, and it has nothing to do with ousting the “old school” Black Widow from the Marvel Universe as I’d once guessed. Join me, then, in throwing foolish preconceptions out the window and let’s see what this little story has to offer.

The hook is straightforward and seamily compelling: one of Yelena’s instructors, a Russian Colonel she describes as being “like a father” to her, has been found in the dungeon of an upscale bondage club -- with a bullet in his head. That’s one shock to her system. The second is that he was apparently a regular patron of the club, shattering the clean, paternal image he projected. The third, that he may have been selling information on *her* activities in particular. Black Widow is assigned to investigate and discover precisely how much information on her has been leaked, and to borrow a cheap cop-movie phrase, “This time it’s personal.”

What I like about my first exposure to this new Black Widow is that she’s so far from perfect. In her opening scene, she’s berating herself for scoring lower on a stress test than the original Black Widow. She’s also an emotional creature, and she nearly comes unglued when she’s forced to take charge during the autopsy of her former mentor. She’s no hapless little girl, though, this Black Widow. When the senior detective conducting the autopsy challenges her authority, he gets a vicious kick to the pelvis for his efforts. Sounds like one of those generic crowd-pleaser scenes, right, in the tradition of Bonnie Bedelia clocking the smarmy reporter at the end of DIE HARD? Not quite. This is just some poor schmuck of a detective who had the misfortune to question an emotionally unstable lady who could probably go a few rounds with Batman.

The latter half of the book is where things get a little more titillating, as Yelena takes her investigation to the otherworldly locale of the bondage club itself, lovingly rendered by the talented Igor Kordey (amusing side note: Yelena infiltrates the club while actually wearing her Black Widow costume – after all, who’s gonna question a black bodysuit in the land of tight corsets and zipper-masks?) . Kordey’s no newcomer to the industry, but this is definitely the year he’s become a breakout talent with his work on NEW X-MEN, the revamped CABLE, and even Marvel’s 9-11 tribute, HEROES. HEROES is where I first took note of him, as he drew what I considered the most emotionally affecting image in the entire magazine: an imagining of the passenger uprising on the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Kordey is one of those artists who seems to be able to draw just about anything with authority. He leans towards a gritty style, but what could be better for portraying the harshness of Russia and the enticing sleaze of a bondage club?

All things considered, this is a pretty ideal first issue. It’s no barnburner, but it’s got a strong lead, terrific art, and some enjoyably sleazy sequences that strike just the right balance between restraint and titillation. There’s no nudity, no graphic violence, and the “swear count” clocks in at only two or three, avoiding the excesses of other MAX titles. It’s also got a snazzy little cliffhanger of an ending. If I have one complaint, it’s that the almost-cheesecake painted cover by Greg Horn sends a misleading message about the interior contents. It might end up tricking a few horny kids into stumbling across a comic that’s genuinely good, but I’d rather see something classier, maybe along the lines of the sophisticated Dave Johnson covers for 100 BULLETS. It’s a minor gripe for an otherwise very noteworthy debut.

Score: 4 out of 5

G.I. JOE VOL.1 TPB

Published by Marvel Comics

Written by Larry Hama (with two weaker issues by Herb Trimpe and Steven Grant)

Illustrated by Herb Trimpe with Don Perlin and Mike Vosburg

Reviewed by Cormorant

I’m a little embarrassed to admit my enthusiasm for the original G.I. JOE comics of the 80’s, which, along with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and UNCANNY X-MEN, marked my earliest enthusiasm for the medium of sequential art. And yet…as I re-read these stories written almost exclusively by Larry Hama (for over *ten* years, no less!), I’m reminded that the 80’s were actually a time when creativity and marketing weren’t mutually exclusive in the funnybook world. Yeah, I know, we’re not talking about bold strides on the order of Miller’s DAREDEVIL or Moore’s SWAMP THING, but titles like MICRONAUTS, ROM, and G.I. JOE were actually written with some enthusiasm and craft, and dammit, they deserve their due.

The hook of the series is that it managed to combine the over-the-top military action of a Steranko S.H.I.E.L.D. comic with the more realistic tone of SGT. ROCK comics and EC’s classic war comics. This is military adventure, make no mistake, but lest the series become too silly, Hama grounded it with real military tactics, missions staged in real-world hotspots, and the occasional look at the moral ambiguity of being a soldier for a living. He also staged some kick-ass action scenes and brought into play the kind of cutting-edge technology that Michael Crichton was probably writing about at the same time. Above all else, though, Hama was simply a solid, professional storyteller whose work was informed by his broad life experiences. It’s a stark contrast to Image’s disappointing G.I. JOE relaunch, which smacks of amateurish writing and only the most superficial understanding of plotting, pacing, and characterization. Hama, perhaps because he *wasn’t* so intimately attached to the material, actually shaped it with far greater craftsmanship. The current series is selling nostalgia, but the original series actually had some stories to tell. Let’s look at a few of the highlights:

Issue #1 was is “Operation: Lady Doomsday” – a hilariously pulpy title if ever there was one. The “lady” in question is Dr. Adhele Burkhart, a nuclear physicist whose outspoken criticisms of how her work has been applied to amping the U.S./Soviet arms race has made her a political liability. When she’s captured by the terrorist organization, Cobra, it’s up to the Joes to free her from their fortified island before they can learn her secrets. Of course, it’s also an excuse to showcase all the major vehicles and characters of the initial wave of G.I. Joe toys, but it still makes for a good introductory action story, and Burkhart herself is something of a complex character for this type of comic. Hama portrays her pacifism as somewhat naïve, yet also hints that she’s to be admired for having the courage of her convictions. It’s a level of characterization that will become surprisingly common for this title that too many might dismiss as jingoistic escapism.

This first story is also the nicest-looking of those reprinted. The artist is the series’ semi-regular penciller, Herb Trimpe, a workmanlike storyteller perhaps best known for 1970’s work on THE HULK, SHOGUN WARRIORS, and GODZILLA. He rarely draws more than the script requires, but his basics are admirable and this first story stands out for the more detailed look that Bob McLeod’s inking adds to his pencils.

Issue #2, “Panic at the North Pole”, is one of my favorites of the series. It involves the Joes investigating the mysterious destruction of an Arctic research base and going toe-to-toe with a charismatic Eskimo mercenary named Kwinn (just like the song, no joke). What’s interesting is that Kwinn is made out to be the superior of the Joes at almost every turn, constantly outwitting them, yet always being portrayed as a man of honor. Hama must have known he was onto a good thing, because Kwinn would became a semi-recurring character in the book for the next two years or so. The ending of the issue is particularly memorable, reminding me of the kind of warrior-bonding that’s seen in testosterone-drenched Schwarzenegger flicks like CONAN and PREDATOR. It’s over the top, but if you’re a manly man, you damn well better recognize its coolness!

The second best story of the bunch is a two-parter staged in Afghanistan, in which the Joes are in a race to retrieve a downed, experimental Russian plane before their Soviet counterparts, the October Guard, can get it back. Coming as no surprise considering the era this was written in, the Afghan rebels are actual allies with the G.I. Joe team, and there are some well-staged scenes between the Joes’ mission leader, Stalker, and Ahmed, the tribal chief of the rebels. At one point, Stalker promises to try and hook Ahmed up with some anti-tank guns and ground-to-air missiles when he returns to the States. The Joes’ CIA liaison provides the cynical counterpoint, leading to this exchange:

CIA man: Stalker’s just a two-bit line infantryman…he can’t promise you anything!”

Ahmed: He is a fighting man!

CIA man: So?

Ahmed: I knew you wouldn’t understand!

Is Hama over-glorifying the supposed code of the soldier? Absolutely. But as the series progressed, it became clear that if any member of the team was meant to exemplify the ideal soldier -- disciplined but compassionate -- it was Stalker. The enigmatic and mute Snake-Eyes got the popular vote among kids, which was understandable because he combined the fighting skill of Batman and the cool look and mysterious past of Boba Fett, but looking back as an adult, Stalker is the character to beat. In general the characterizations are fairly flat, with characters tending to be defined by their military specialty and maybe, just maybe, a personality quirk or two. Breaker’s the communications expert who chews gum constantly; Clutch is the driver who combines a tough-guy Jersey attitude with comic relief pining for Scarlett, the lone woman on the team; and Scarlett herself is little more than the smart, red-headed chick who totes around a cool crossbow and seems to have a past with Snake-Eyes. The shallow characterizations aren’t a complaint, really. That kind of short-cutting can work really well for ensemble military stories (think ALIENS, for instance), and so it does here.

The remaining stories have a few misses, as the series veers once or twice a little too close to sci-fi/Nick Fury territory, but the trade wraps on a high note as the memorable villain, Dr. Venom, is introduced, and we get our first glimpse of the town of Springfield, a seemingly quaint slice of suburbia that just happens to have been completely subsumed by Cobra terrorists. The Springfield storyline provides the first hints of how the Cobra terrorist organization rose to power, and sets the stage for its importance in later stories.

Lest this review come across as a paid endorsement for the series, I should mention that Hama’s dialogue can be corny at times, that the art is mostly just passable and sometimes outright ugly, and that the trade is overpriced at $25 for a mere ten issues. I was also disappointed that the cover artist was DANGER GIRL’s J. Scott Campbell, after Marvel had promoted the book as having a new Michael Golden cover. Campbell’s alright, but Golden drew some amazing covers for the original series and I was really looking forward to some new work from him. Lastly, I’m annoyed at Marvel for excluding the back-up feature from the original first issue of G.I. JOE, a gritty little story of three Joes trying to smuggle a tape out of the Middle East with a horde of Muslim extremists on their tail. Granted, it’s maybe not the most sensitive story to break out in these skittish times, but dammit, it had some great moments. Jemas and Quesada should be ashamed for excluding it, especially after taking DC to task for some of their restraint in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. So, yes, this is a no-frills trade, and it even excludes no-brainers like the bonus pin-ups that also ran in that first issue, and the cutaway schematic of the Joes’ underground base, The Pit. Not too cool, Marvel, not too cool.

Missed opportunities aside, I still recommend this collection to anyone with nostalgia for those old G.I. Joe stories, but also broadly to anyone who’s ever enjoyed a war comic or an issue of NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Hama’s stories are brimming with clever ideas, good action, and fun character interplay, and my only real regret is that the series didn’t acquire any really slick artists until its third or fourth year. If you can’t handle non-flashy art (think Don Heck or Sal Buscema), then you’re going to have a problem with the series, but if you can appreciate good storytelling even when it’s stripped of style, give this stuff a try. It’s better than you think, and it’s also about the only place where you can find good military adventure these days.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Hey, wait a minute... that wasn’t so bad. In fact, that was pretty damn good. I hope the League becomes a frequent contributor to AICN COMICS. I certainly dug this first go-round.

Can’t find a comic store in your area?

Call the Comic Shop Locator Service: 888-266-4226

And Don’t Forget TOMORROW, May 4th, 2002, is Free Comic Book Day

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback

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  • May 3, 2002, 7:09 a.m. CST

    I wish I had money. And time.

    by Rain_Dog

    I wanna be a comic book geek, I really do. I used to be when I was a young fella, and I tried again earlier in the year by starting to collect Marvel's Ultimate line, but they left a bad taste in my mouth, particularly Ultimate X-Men (although Ult. Spidey and Ultimates are pretty fricking good. I grew up on Mark Bagley's run on ASM, so it always gives me a little kick to see him drawing the web-slinger). I occasionally buy a good graphic novel or TPB, but goddamnit, I want it all. All the Swamp Thing trades. All the Hellblazer trades. Preacher, the Invisibles, everything written by Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Kevin Smith (especially the new Spidey limited series), Mike Mignola, Grant Morrisson. But I don't have the money!!! Or the time to earn the money. Goddamn university degree. If I could just win the frickin' lottery I'd be set. Set, I tells ya. On a less extremely boring and rambly note, good to see my favourite TB sons of bitches puttin' something back into AICN. And their shit's a helluva lot better written than, say, that of a certain red-headed webmaster.

  • May 3, 2002, 7:10 a.m. CST

    now you will be mine Buzz...

    by BurlIvesLeftNut

    I didn't have time to read the review this morning, Mr. Maverik. But rest assured, I will, and when I do, believe me, I will let you know EXACTLY what I think. I will spell it out for you clearly, in terms even a redneck monkey could understand. As you read it, your face will flush hot with anger, but you will have NO recourse. Pain, Mr. Maverik, yours is a world of pain. Um, later.

  • May 3, 2002, 8:24 a.m. CST

    Rising Stars

    by dastinson

    Several things: Rising Stars #17 was out late February, not last year. The Trade paeprbacks are released in 8 issue segments (which matches the story structure of the comic - the first 8 issues were the beginning, telling what happens before a big change, the next 8 were the middle with the results of that change and a big decision on the part of the characters, and the third volume will be released after issue 24, which ends the series). It was designed to run 24 issues in this layout by JMS.

  • May 3, 2002, 8:46 a.m. CST

    Nice job guys :)

    by Elliot_Kane

    Looking forward to reading more of your reviews.

  • May 3, 2002, 9:02 a.m. CST

    I'm so proud of you guys.

    by vroom socko

    Exellent work gentlemen, exellent work.

  • May 3, 2002, 9:13 a.m. CST

    Tom Peyer is the new writer of Titans

    by holidill

    Whereas Barry Kitson will remain as artist. Of course I hope to see Kitson and I believe Mark Waid's Empire again. There was talk that the series was going to move to DC. It has a great premise. I'd also like to see what happened to all the other Gorilla projects, I liked all of them. Oh yeah, Amazing Spider man is going to be written by Kevin Smith soon, and Stracyzinski is moving to a brand new Spider title with Romita JR. Smith hopes to get The Dodson's as the art team. For those who want to work in a comic field of some kind, you oughta move to Baltimore, the headquarters for Diamond Comics Distributors is there and I happen to be one of the lackeys there!

  • May 3, 2002, 9:23 a.m. CST

    soon, Buzz, soon

    by BurlIvesLeftNut

    I am busy at work, Buzz, but soon I will read your review - if I can even get through it. Then I will post my comments. I will let you know EXACTLY what I think of it. Oh man, you will not believe the things I will say. Disturbed and dismayed, that's what you will be. Soon.

  • May 3, 2002, 9:36 a.m. CST

    spawn

    by quamb

    The movie sucked (how annoying that was, as it could have been truely spectacular), and I became lazy- hence quit reading the comic a few years back. There seems to be a strong anti-mcfarlane mentality amongst you comic geeks, why? I occasionally pick up an issue of Spawn and the artwork still looks amazing, perhaps the story has become a bore? anyone?

  • May 3, 2002, 9:45 a.m. CST

    It's all about Ditko, and other comic junk

    by rev_skarekroe

    "The Megalomaniacal Spider-Man" is an inside joke about Steve Ditko. Even the cover is a parody of Ditko's famous "asleep at the draing board" self-portrait. Of course, I may be a little biased, since I've got a mild fascination with Ditko's crackpot Objectivism. And speaking of crackpots, did anyone read the last issue of "Cerebus"? What the hell is going on in that man's head? In the issue, Cerebus, disguised as Spawn, goes from town to town and has the community men vote on whether or not to murder the community women for being unpleasant. Yeah, really. And it's supposed to be funny. I tellya, if I hadn't been buying that book since I was eleven I'd drop it right now. I've got some other stuff I could say, but I've wasted enough time for now. sk

  • May 3, 2002, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Welcome @$$holes!!!!!

    by Psynapse

    Yes! Finally some comic reviews that aren't stuck in Indie publishing hell. Go, Buzz, Go! BurlIvesleftnut is a pal of mine but I think I'll have to make like Switzerland because when you two go at it I'm gonna be laughing my skinny ass off.

  • May 3, 2002, 9:50 a.m. CST

    You call that news?

    by eschoene

    Where did you get your "news", last four issues of Wizard? Here's a news flash. Hitler has shot himself, man has landed on the moon, and Mariah Carey is a horrible actress. A**clowns! Bring back Andrew from GHM!

  • May 3, 2002, 9:51 a.m. CST

    You call that news?

    by eschoene

    Where did you get your "news", last four issues of Wizard? Here's a news flash. Hitler has shot himself, man has landed on the moon, and Mariah Carey is a horrible actress. A**clowns! Bring back Andrew from GHM!

  • May 3, 2002, 9:53 a.m. CST

    But Evil Reader, I am cooler than you

    by thecomedian

    But seriously, you seem like a smart enough kid. I will admit that I am totally in love with the sound of my own voice but I would never let that get in the way of reviewing a book honestly and constructively. If there's a book out there that I totally hate I will just flip through it on the rack and not even bother wasting my time or my money buying it let alone reviewing it. ***Vanisher, my old 9-11 dualing buddy. One of us will indeed do a wrap up on DK2. In good time once someone can make sense of the damned thing. What burns me is that Post 9-11 DC was giving Frank Miller crap for the obvious G.W. Metaphor with the holographic President. Personally I really dig Miller's take on the Silver Age JLA in their Twilight Years. The tragedy is that neither of The World's Finest are being portrayed that interestingly and it's supposed to be their book.

  • May 3, 2002, 9:58 a.m. CST

    eschoene..

    by thecomedian

    I know the news is stail. We sent these reviews to Moriarty two weeks ago. From here on in the news will be fresher. And don't worry, Grayhaven isn't going anywhere. Feel free to go down two articles and you can get all the "Sugar Plums and Lollipops" goodness your little heart desires. Mmmkay, shoog.

  • May 3, 2002, 9:59 a.m. CST

    You fucking ROCK, Ambush Bug!

    by Squashua

    Not only did you pick the greatest super-name alias, that was some damn fine accurate reviewing of that shit-hole comic "Titans". They're keeping this diarhhea and getting rid of Giffen's "Suicide Squad"? I call bullshit. Rock on, Ambush Bug, rock on.

  • May 3, 2002, 10:10 a.m. CST

    Psynapse

    by BurlIvesLeftNut

    I think your post is RIGHT on target. Your analogy is apt also. Because once I have actually had the chance to read Buzz's review, this board is going to be like Europe circa 1944. There will be that much bloodshed. There will be that much pain. Because once I do read Buzz's review, I will let him know EXACTLY what I think. My words will brand his psyche. My themes will be harrowing, but only one will emerge unscathed from this battle. So once I have had a chance to read the review, stand back. Because I am going to launch a shrapnel bomb of words and menace toward Buzz the likes of which this board has never seen. I can feel you shudder, Mr. Maverik. I can feel it from here.

  • May 3, 2002, 10:16 a.m. CST

    ROM

    by Voice O. Reason

    I actually think many people didn't even know ROM was a toy first! That was a good series, damn it, with the Wraith War spilling over into the likes of Marvel's precious X-Men (back when X-Men was just one really popular comic, and not a franchise that couldn't be bothered with the rest of the Marvel Universe). And of course it had sidekick Rick Jones. I know Marvel tried to revive it not too long ago with "Spaceknights," but I'd sure like to see them take another chance and release a TPB.

  • May 3, 2002, 10:23 a.m. CST

    ROM was awesome.

    by BurlIvesLeftNut

    I loved every issue of that series. The art towards the end kind of sucked, but I was totally engrossed. I remember one villain, he looked like ROM but you could see his scarred face behind the mask. Always thought that was cool. Oh and ROM's mitten like hands. Haha, the memories.

  • May 3, 2002, 10:41 a.m. CST

    DK2

    by Psynapse

    See, that's just it, Miller's *take* on the Silver Age heroes in the ONLY thing that piece of crap has going for it. Supes and Bats are about as interesting as cow shit. And the ART (I use this term VERY LOOSELY-I'm not even sure this book deserves to called art) is Miller developing Parkinson's or what? He never was that spectacular to begin with but shit man,this is BAD. What the fuck is up with Flash in biker shorts? Brainiac is a GIANT FROG??Then there is the coloring. If you want to see what Lynn Varley can do whe she's not too high to know the difference between dropping acid and coloring a book, take a look at the "Elektra lives again" graphic novel. Frank and his wife did this book for the MONEY not the art and baby, IT SHOWS. Okay, must breathe slower, rant over.....FOR NOW. *Maniacal laughter fading out*

  • May 3, 2002, 10:48 a.m. CST

    I'd just like to say...

    by Juggernaut125

    Fellas, I found your reviews to be kick-ass. Nicely opinionated without being nasty. Also, I think a review of comics that were released more than a month ago is a better idea than for previews critiques because, I can read your review and actually be familiar with the issue you are referring to. Also, if the review seems promising, I can run out to the "Silver Snail" and look for it, rather than wait a few days, or a week or two (by which time, I may have lost interest). Any ways... Great job guys. Keep it up.

  • May 3, 2002, 12:11 p.m. CST

    OK, so how do I become a reserve member? I want in dammit!

    by superhero

    Do I have to try out Legion of Superheroes-Style or will I have to form a Legion of Substitute @$$holes! I want in! I can write comic reviews too! I even have my own ratings system! C'mon! I wanna play!

  • May 3, 2002, 12:26 p.m. CST

    Columns are held to higher standards of grammar and spelling?

    by Triumph the Dog

    Could have fooled me.

  • May 3, 2002, 12:58 p.m. CST

    Good job on the reviews, guys.

    by Sod Off Baldric

    Very enjoyable to see someone talk about books that they DIDN'T like. At least I know that I'm not missing anything after having dropped Titans a little over a year ago. That book started off with so much promise, too. Anyway, should you guys ever need someone to review JSA or Black Panther, I'd be more than happy to do so. Also, has the last issue of DK2 been released yet?

  • May 3, 2002, 1:28 p.m. CST

    Yep, good job on the reviews.

    by Chilli Kramer

    And good job on not actually posting on the talkback, except to answer other posters. I'm glad this column didn't become too self congratulatory. The review of 'The Megalomaniacal Spider-Man' was spot on, but I only single it out since it's the only one of these I've read. The other reviews seem fair, and retro reviews are a great idea. Well done all!

  • May 3, 2002, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Bravo, @$$holes!!

    by TheGr81SLASH

    This review certainly was a breath of fresh air. This is done by fanboys, for fanboys and not some register jockey with his nose up his arse. You've got a supporter right here, keep it up!!

  • May 3, 2002, 2:10 p.m. CST

    Congratulations from a once and honorary @$$hole.

    by Village Idiot

    It's nice to see the promise of the Sceaming Retinas fulfilled. I'd single each of you out and congratulate you individually, but there's so many of you this time around. How long before you guys get your own chariacture? And lemme know if you ever need a submission.

  • May 3, 2002, 2:28 p.m. CST

    There's My Buddy Burl! That Is Some Good Super Villain Dialo

    by Buzz Maverik

    See, now why can't super-villains in comic books speak like that any more? No, they have to be all complex and realistic. And I keep telling you, Burl, while I would LOVE to be a redneck I can't because I've seen NIGHT OF THE HUNTER and I would know that tattooing "love" and "hate" on my knuckles wasn't my own idea.

  • May 3, 2002, 2:28 p.m. CST

    Badassunclefucka you forgot CRYSTAR!

    by superhero

    Man, issues two through four had some great art and interesting concepts but just went down the toilet...but dammit when I was 11 years old I loved that book! As I did U.S. 1! Hoo-Boy did I have shitty taste when I was a wee one....! :O)

  • May 3, 2002, 2:38 p.m. CST

    However, Although I Respect Your Lifestyle Orientation, Burl, I

    by Buzz Maverik

    I'm just not that way. It's fine if you are, I applaud you. My good friend Rog was like that. I'd set you up but he's dead and you're kind of a dick. But there's bound to be lots of other guys out there, rednecks even. Did you see DELIVERANCE? Now, I doubt if real gay rednecks would make you squeel like a pig, but maybe if you paid 'em...

  • May 3, 2002, 2:41 p.m. CST

    Jeez Burl, give it a rest

    by TimBenzedrine

    I 'm sure I'm not the only one who's quite frankly a little disturbed by this Buzz fixation of yours.Nothing wrong with a little friendly chitchat, but you seem to be bordering on cyberstalking.

  • May 3, 2002, 2:55 p.m. CST

    What's Really Embarrassing Here Is That Me & Burl Have This

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...that he doesn't understand what he's reading. Comprehension, Burl. You've mastered fluency, now you must work on comprehension. I still think we could make money debating like G.Gordon Liddy and Timothy Leary did (G.Gordon must have busted Tim for acid a half dozen times in '60s), but you took it as another opportunity to come on to me. I might still go on the circuit, holding auditions for someone to portray you. Let's see, the part calls for an actor able to play someone deeply insecure but bolstering himself by repeating how much he's bugged me ad nauseum (okay, you pissed me off when you thought you could tell me what to post and what not to post but we cleared that up, so knock yerself out; also you pissed me off when you said that the good people who were defending me "sucked shit out of (my) ass"-- way out line) but who will resort to name calling when "beaten" (beaten being in quotes because beating someone at this garbage is pretty meaningless)and whose only identity on these talkbacks (another worthwile achievement, let's all face that fact)is connected with me. Damn! I thought I sort of half liked Burl, but now I see that I don't.

  • May 3, 2002, 3:12 p.m. CST

    Psynapse, I couldn't agree with you more about DK2

    by BrashHulk

    When I finished reading the second installment, I just kept repeating to myself, "Huh?" I have a MFA in English/Creative Writing, so I like to think of myself as a pretty sharp dude when it comes to prose, but at this point, I'm at a loss to explain what Miller is trying to say. As with his vastly degraded "Sin City" quasi-series, he now seems to just be throwing out non-sequitor threads and imagery for simple shock value. He'd better pull his scheisse out of the fire with issue #3, because at this point DK2 is one of the biggest disappointments I've ever experienced in comics. And oh yes, the artwork. Interesting that you mentioned "Elektra Lives Again," as it is one of my favorite comics of all time. Both the artwork and the writing were astounding, and wow, do I miss that from Frankie & Lynn.

  • May 3, 2002, 3:20 p.m. CST

    BUZZ!

    by BurlIvesLeftNut

    Yes, I drew you out, and I have got to say for someone so funny, you have no sense of humor. I mean jesus, if I was really going to write some scathing critique of your work, wouldn't I have just done that rather than post my punk-ass nonsense three separate times? DOY! And for the love of God, why would an insecure person give themselves the moniker BURLIVESLEFTNUT?!? I mean isn't that in fact just opening me up for criticism and insult? Dude, I make fun because I figured you could take it. Guess I was wrong. Wipe the tears from your eyes, honey chile. The pain will be gone soon 'nough. Oh, and these critiques were great! Almost makes me want to pic up a comic again after 15 years.

  • May 3, 2002, 3:21 p.m. CST

    TimBenzedrine

    by BurlIvesLeftNut

    Was I talking to you, or something? Until I address you, stay the F out of my way, pretty boy.

  • May 3, 2002, 3:47 p.m. CST

    Keep me the fuck out this

    by TimBenzedrine

    My Goodness! Hell hath no fury like a BurlIvesLeftNut scorned. Forgive me for getting between a dog and his meat. (And don't call me pretty boy, sonny, I may be a damned handsome man but don't get any ideas, I 'm a happily married man with a family.) So go on, keep calling on Buzz all you want. It's only resulted in making you look very silly. And Buzz: Two words: Restraining Order.

  • May 3, 2002, 3:48 p.m. CST

    The League of @$$holes: my 2 cents.......

    by Psynapse

    Kids, I've been reading comics for 30 out of my 34 years. (Yes, I DID learn to read at 3 so piss off). Every other review column on comics that I have read on this site are PAINFULLY obvious *shop talkers*. These reviews are the first that are TRULY by the fanboys FOR the fanboys and baby, I'm ready for the 2nd helping! Oh yeah one more thing, Buzz, Burl really is just making funny here. Lighten up, eh? Either that or make like Towley and reeeeelaxxx......Just keep the reviews coming dammit!

  • May 3, 2002, 3:53 p.m. CST

    TimBenzedrine.....

    by Psynapse

    Two words: MAJOR ASS. Find a mirror if you don't believe me. Also, will you be serving dinner after that lovely helping of cheese and whine? (ah screw it, you've shown you have no sense of humor by your reactions to Burl)

  • May 3, 2002, 4:15 p.m. CST

    What bugs me about the Leftnut guy/ & Some constructive comment

    by Chilli Kramer

    Leftnut, as Buzz said, uses Buzz to affirm his own identity on talkbacks. But also that he's spent so much time writing about Buzz, but still hasn't had time to read the review. It's a comics talkback not a Buzz talkback! I propose to ignore Leftnut from now on, until he posts with something interesting. Everybody deserves a 2nd chance. I had a comix point to make... ah yeah, if you're reviewing G.I. Joe, any chance of looking at Transformers? I just wanna know what critics/ fanboys think about it. Or could you club together and review comics on a particular theme, e.g Commercial Tie - Ins, or the work of Alan Moore. Of course, its each reviewer's individual choice what they review, but you could get together to cover the same territory. This has been my longest post ever. Ah well.

  • May 3, 2002, 5:12 p.m. CST

    BurlIvesleftnut: The Final Word

    by Psynapse

    Chilli: hasn't had time to read the review? Dude, that was the point! Anyone here who has allowed themselves to get riled up over Burl's posts MISSED THE POINT. It's called sarcasm, kids, and sometimes it really is just for comedic value WITHOUT any other sincerity than that. If you didn't find it funny ( although I sure as hell did, re-read my first post, you'll see I knew what was really happening) then just ignore it. Jumping all over Burl just smacks of personal ego stroking.

  • May 3, 2002, 5:20 p.m. CST

    for chilli - about the transformers

    by rev_skarekroe

    I don't know if you're talking about the new Transformer's series, or reprints of the old. Now I'm no Screaming Rectum (zing!)so this is going to be less a review and more an incoherent statement of opinion, but I thought the new Transformers book, to use the parlance of young hipsters of today, sucked. The artwork was fantastic, obviously intended to look like painted anime cells. However, the plot and dialogue also read like badly translated anime. It's actually difficult to read the book without imagining the characters talking as though they have to hurry to fit their dialogue in with their lip movements. But it's pretty! sk

  • May 3, 2002, 6:50 p.m. CST

    Lemme Get This Straight: We Didn't Get BURL'S Joke?

    by Buzz Maverik

    Poor Burl. Burl, son, I can sympathize. Once, I made a joke on these talkbacks and some guy didn't get it. He took a cheap shot and I took one back. My cheap shot evidently got under his skin soooo badly, that he spent the next two weeks taking one cheap shot after another. I just hope that the people bothering you are cooler than the guy who was on my case. This guy would come on, act like an ass and then when he got it back, he'd suddenly say it was all in good fun and that I couldn't take it. When anybody else said anything to him, he'd ask them who was talking to them in the first place. Can you believe that? I mean, who was talking to HIM in the first place. He even said I had no sense of humor, but we know I'm a very fun guy. I wouldn't say this guy didn't have a sense of humor. I'd just say his sense of humor was only aimed one way. So, your stuff was all in good fun? Mine, too, the only difference being that mine really was. Here's what I did, and maybe this will help you, you tell the guy: "If you can't handle it, don't start it and don't ask people to be thicker skinned just because you can't handle it when they come back at you. Yes, it would be easier for put down artists if nobody responded to them, but who's here to make it easier on them." Try saying that, Burl, I'm sure it will work for you.

  • May 3, 2002, 7:03 p.m. CST

    And The Weird Thing Is That I've Always Been This Mellow Sor

    by Buzz Maverik

    Man, any time I had any trouble with anybody, I'd joke my way out of it and often get them to laugh too and make a new friend. Didn't work here. Damned shame in a way.

  • If only Shakespeare was alive today, what fun he would have had with chat rooms. Seriously, it's so hard to pull off the joke while communicating the level of sarcasm it needs to be delived with. If you shoot too high and try to play it straight, such as, "Your mother's a whore, I have proof", without the wink, the raised eyebrow, or neccessary changes in voice intonation, it will be taken as an ACTUAL insult, and not as the jovial comedic gold it should be recognized as. Then the offended party spends weeks crashing your computer and attempting to upload various viruses of alternating insidiousness.....ahh, for example. Simple tragedy is all.

  • May 3, 2002, 8:27 p.m. CST

    Did someone mention me? I hope to settle your arguments with a p

    by Will Shakespeare

    As the sun sets on another day, / Then the talkbacker's dance will begin./ The Screaming Retinas come to play/ Looking at books- with colouring in./ Some talkbackers have nothing top say/ But start a 'flame war' to see who'll win./ An attacked man wins, with nimble phrase- / Buzz Maverik! He deserves your praise. If anyone can do better, mail me.

  • It's been like 6 months!

  • May 3, 2002, 9:46 p.m. CST

    Psynapse II

    by BurlIvesLeftNut

    Man, Psynapse... Chilli ALMOST got it, but Buzz never did. I guess I will be leaving him alone from now on. But I have to say, fella, I appreciate your sympathy. All of this just cracks me up to no end though. Maybe I should start giving YOU a hard time. Hehehe.

  • May 3, 2002, 11:26 p.m. CST

    Hey, TLA: I hate you guys.

    by SleazyG.

    I'm now officially the Hawkeye of the group. You boys got your own column in the last two weeks. No what I got? Booted forcibly from the site by somebody (I'm guessing Poppa Geek; Hercules said it wasn't him, and it was in a TV TB) for calling them out on some practices that bugged me. That's right: even here, on the Interweb, speaking out against The Man gets you curb-stomped. No hard feelings though, and I'm back (though not officially) to say "congratulations, you bastards". Maybe, in my new role as rabble rouser and antiauthoritarian bilespitter, I oughtta form "Talkback League Midwest", or maybe "Thunderdolts". Meantime, y'all kids have fun, and let me know if you ever need any support. I may be jealous, but I'll still rally round the freak flag when necessary.

  • May 4, 2002, 1:30 a.m. CST

    But Sleazy, It Ain't The TLA Without You!

    by Buzz Maverik

    Ya gotta have Sleazy G. and Superninja and Jon Quixote and Sundown and Elliot Kane. You know, I'm reminded of THE SWAMP THING here. The Parliment Of Trees (which includes Marvel's pornographically named Man-Thing) told Swampy to avoid power. But when Swampy attacked Gotham, he was pure power. And what happened? Some of his old enemies hired Lex Luthor as a consultant and Swampy ended up banned from Earth. I can't wait until the next volume when we see him on Hawkworld.

  • May 4, 2002, 1:33 a.m. CST

    But Sleazy, It Ain't The TLA Without You!

    by Buzz Maverik

    Ya gotta have Sleazy G. and Superninja and Jon Quixote and Sundown and Elliot Kane. You know, I'm reminded of THE SWAMP THING here. The Parliment Of Trees (which includes Marvel's pornographically named Man-Thing) told Swampy to avoid power. But when Swampy attacked Gotham, he was pure power. And what happened? Some of his old enemies hired Lex Luthor as a consultant and Swampy ended up banned from Earth. I can't wait until the next volume when we see him on Hawkworld.

  • May 4, 2002, 4:36 a.m. CST

    BurlIvesleftnut, Once more unto the breach, eh?

    by Psynapse

    See, The fact that as I read your posts and was laughing must have given me a wrong idea if you listen to some of these folks. That said, if you can handle the challenge, then bring it my friend. Maybe we should always try to insert a pithy or wise comment about the subject matter of the talkback (or work it into our material, heh!) just to make the whiners shut it. Hmm, the possibilities....

  • May 4, 2002, 4:58 a.m. CST

    Evil Reader...

    by Dave_F

    Having seen some of our next batch of reviews, I can tell you that we've got at least one negative review a'comin' (oh the anticipation!), and at least one decidedly mixed review. You can be the judge of whether these reviews serve a purpose or are just masturbatory, but I'm pretty certain it's the former. And personally I enjoy a decent rant every now and then, as long as the writer's making valid points and not just hurling insults. I don't think you'll see that from us, but you can expect us to call a bad story when we see it. I think that learning what a critic *dislikes* is as important as knowing what they like, when it comes to assessing their value to the reader. Learning the scale by which they judge a story to be good or bad helps you learn to "read" a reviewer over time, so you can gauge how closely their overall tastes reflect your own. If you only learn what they like, it takes that much longer to gauge them. I like plenty of GrayHaven's reviews, but their focus on exclusively positive reviews makes it hard for me to know who to trust. I just need more info, and that's what I'm hoping to deliver over the course of my reviews. If that sounds a little snobby, feel free to remember that I just wrote a 1500 word review of G.I. JOE. Always a humbling thought =)

  • Jesus H. Jiminy! Any child of the 80's can reel off cheesy comic titles like U.S.1 and TEAM AMERICA at the drop of a hat, but it takes a special kind of geek to remember the likes of QUESTPROBE! I salute you -- in a sad sort of way! For those not in the know, QUESTPROBE was a comic based on one of those all-text adventure games that prospered in the early 80's. Infocom was the king of the genre, with the ZORK series as their flagship, but I've still got embarrassingly fond memories of the more simple adventures designed by Scott Adams, of which QUESTPROBE was one. It seemed like such a cool idea to work superheroes into the text-adventure genre, because theoretically the abstraction of the format meant that you'd have very few of the limits as to what they could do. Alas, I don't think I ever saw a single one of the QUESTPROBE adventures at the local video game stores, so I never got to give 'em a try. All's not lost, though. A quick Google search reveals that all three of the QUESTPROBE games are available online now (http://www.wurb.com/if/series/15), and I think I'm gonna have to try them out. I have this sneaking suspicion they'll be antiquated beyond belief, but...I MUST KNOW! ****** Incidentally, UncleFucka, the QUESTPROBE comic would *not* be an example of a merchandising-based comic deserving of recognition! Even as a kid I knew it stunk, though it did do its job of making me want the games. Now ROM...ROM was the shit, baby. With Bill Mantlo writing and Rick Jones guest-starring as Rom's pal, it was a pretty obvious extension of the tragic-hero themes Mantlo had been doing in HULK for some time, so it makes sense that it had some solid craftsmanship behind it. Whenever I chance across any old Mantlo material, I'm always impressed with his penchant for gloomy stories, and HULK and ROM both had that in spades. By the by, ever read the issue where Rom flipped out and just started killing Wraiths instead of banishing them to limbo? I'll tell you, it was quite the page-turner for my young eyes when Rom actually SMASHED TOGETHER THE HEADS OF TWO WRAITHS, BLASTING THEM APART LIKE ROTTING PUMPKINS! Shee, and people think THE AUTHORITY is violent.

  • May 4, 2002, 4:24 p.m. CST

    Burl, You Guess You'll Be Leaving Me Alone Now? What Makes Y

    by Buzz Maverik

    Psynapse is a comic book fan so he'll tell you the source of this quote: "I'm not in here with you. You're in here with me." Try it a third time if you want to, I beat you twice, I can do it again. And before you start that "Buzz thinks he's a talkback badass" shit, you're the one who tried prison talk with Tim Benzadrine "You only talk to me when I address you". I might yearn for the mellow days here, but I'm like Ahnuld in TWINS, you know where he hates violence but just happens to be really good at it. I might hate this stuff, but I'm really good at it. I'm not going to fall all over myself telling you how I knew what you were doing, that's your bag, explaining stuff like why you call yourself BurlIvesLeftNut, yada, yada. You guys cooked up a little gag, did some decent tension building, and if you were a different kind of guy would have culminated with "Great review, Buzz" but being the kind of guy you are (and I don't have to actually know you to know what kind of guy you are, we've all known too many guys like you) it would have ended "What kind of weird ass redneck are you?" The sad thing is that you're too lame to even pull it off without the willing participation of your victim. Did you really think I was going to be the butt of your joke? I took control and that really upset you. The fact that you and Psynapse got together and worked this out is pretty high school guys. To go further with the high school analogy, Burl, when you weren't able to carry it off, you came across as the bully who cries when he gets hit back. Be glad it isn't high school, you'd end up with an atomic wedgie, stuffed soaking wet into a locker in the girls shower room. And Psynapse, as they say in the comic books, "I have no quarrel with you" but you are dangerously close to being this guy's toadie. But you guys just struck up this friendship here in the talkbacks, right? It's not like Burl had to bring in a friend from the real world for moral support (not that he'd say that. It'd be more like:"Hey, guy in the next cubicle, watch me give it to this schlub on AICN"). Burl would never be that needy or pathetic. Like I said, Psynapse, I really don't want to get into anything with you too, but I'll say what I want to here: I admire you for sticking up for your friend. It's what I would do and it's a decent thing. But you should know how Burl feels about friends who stick up for friends. When my friends stuck up for me, he said they were "sucking shit" out of my ass. They weren't, and I sincerely know that you are not, but I just want you to know how where Burl is at. Also, I wouldn't talk too much about whiners because, fella, the closest thing I've seen to whining here was when you were practically begging for mercy on Burl's behalf when he let his alligator mouth overload his candyass. I think it's a good idea if you two team up, because Burl needs the help. Burl, in reading your posts, I find it interesting that your writing becomes more vivid when you talk about "your face reddening with anger" and "the pain won't last long, wipe away the tears". I think this is for two reasons. A) You're telling us what you're really after here and 2) you're intimately acquainted with those feelings, aren't you. This stuff doesn't actually make you laugh. Finally, while I'm up, the Walrus tipped me that there was some guy who calls himself Barrelbelly who did a real asshole post on the stupid Spider-Man talkback where Burl and I got acquainted. I checked it, natch, and I recommend that everyone do the same. Barrelbelly, who was not connected with any of this stupidity, evidently spent a lot of time thinking about me and wrote a fucking novel of a post. Barrel, how sad are you? I mean, me and Burl and Bezman (Godluvhim), probably posted all this nonsense in between phone calls and meetings and reviews and real life, but you took time out of your day! I caught a couple of Barrelbelly's posts later in which he flamed some of the firsters (he calls it "lamed" not flamed) and talked about how "firsting" was an uncool talkback thing to do, talkbacking being something very important to him that he wants to tell everyone how to do. I kept waiting for the follow up post where he talked about another lame talkback thing to do, namely waiting around several days after all the parties involved have left a talkback, and at the very end posting his flames ('scuse me, I mean "lames", God he's a stitch!"). Because whatever differences I might have with Burl or Bezman, at least we all had the balls to go at each other in the open. Why that's just...well, I won't use the word, but it's a synonym for cat and a semi-derogatory slang term for a female reproductive organ.

  • May 4, 2002, 11:13 p.m. CST

    Man, this is one inbred hillbilly family of a talkback

    by St Buggering

    The self-referential nature of this whole thing just keeps doubling back on itself like a snake-eating-its-tail image of bloody vengeance. Who needs comics when we have this? It's like WWF without all that homoerotic subtext. And just to justify my presence here, I really dug both ROM and Micronauts. It takes talent to shape a marketing gimmick into an actual story. To the talkbacker who mentioned Cerebus: I've only been reading the "phone book" collections the last few years, as the monthly comic was moving too slowly for me, but I hear ya. What was once my favorite comic has been taking bizarre turns; Mr. Sim's mental state is in serious question.

  • I dunno, man. From what I've seen the last couple years, I'm just not so sure that's really the case. Some of the guys who come in here to beat their chests and hurl insults seem like they might be closet cases and not head cases. Far be it from me to make assumptions, but that's why I'm not gonna assume the subtext ain't there, either.

  • May 5, 2002, 3:54 p.m. CST

    So you fuckers were just waiting for me to toddle off to Vegas b

    by JonQuixote

    What sort of Hunter S. Thompson shit did I take when I was down there? I come back and suddenly the TLA has their own column, the talkbacks are dotted with Watchmen quotes, and nobody even dropped me a line. Sniff. Why do I feel like Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon? Murtaugh and Riggs running around where all the action is, and every once in a while, I&#39;m written into a scene so I can rant "They FUCK ya, They FUCK ya, They FUCK ya in the talkbacks!" If Sleazy G is Hawkeye, I guess that means I&#39;m The Vision. The character that nobody wants to write anymore but they can&#39;t seem to get rid of, either. A holographic Jarvis who pops up every now and then to pontificate on synthezodial lonliness and to cockblock Wonder Man. Jeez, why don&#39;t you just call it The Talback League of NoQuixotes! <choke>

  • May 5, 2002, 4:02 p.m. CST

    Sleazy, I&#39;m with you!

    by JonQuixote

    I&#39;m all for a Great Lakes TLA (I&#39;d write TL@ but Shift-2 looks too much like a C and I&#39;m still in mourning over Left Eye). I mean, sure the only time I&#39;ve ever been near the Great Lakes was when I wound up running for my life after taking a wrong turn looking for a liquor store in downtown Buffalo, but I can telecommute! *** But I guess I can be a big man here, for now, and grudgingly admit that you guys did a pretty good job here. For a bunch of @ssholes!

  • May 5, 2002, 6:14 p.m. CST

    Now that&#39;s just not fair, Sleazy G...

    by St Buggering

    They can be both closet cases AND head cases. I&#39;m sure some of them are also basket cases to boot. Let&#39;s not pigeonhole the poor bastards.

  • May 5, 2002, 7:22 p.m. CST

    Howsabout we set up a Talkback League of @$$holes Europe?

    by Dave_F

    Or will that reference only work for the JLI geeks here? S&#39;alright, I know that&#39;s about half of ya. Anyway, Sleazy, Quixote, Village Idiot, and any other @$$holes from the past I&#39;m forgetting...y&#39;all weren&#39;t excluded, you just weren&#39;t there when Comedian posted his non-GrayHaven review in the Talkbacks a few weeks ago. Comedian&#39;s review seemed to go over well with Talkbackers tired of GrayHaven&#39;s "you can&#39;t say the word &#39;FUCK&#39;" policy, and so the @$$holes present (me, Bug, Buzz, and the Comedian) threw together an impromptu plan to try to keep the momentum going. Seems like fun so far, but we&#39;re not excluding you lot just &#39;cause you weren&#39;t there to help us all fight Loki when we first teamed. Shit, I see all these Avengers analogies where you&#39;re comparing yourselves to Hawkeye and the Vision, but who knows, one of you guys could end up being Cap, not joining till the fourth issue but becoming a beloved member! And...and...damn, what if I&#39;m the Hulk, a founding member destined to get drummed out for going on rampages and shit? Not for me, thanks! I&#39;d much rather be Ant-Man, occasionally changing identities to Goliath or Yellowjacket, and only waaaaay down the line inadvertently creating Ultron and ultimately betraying the team. Oh, I&#39;ll bide my time, you bastards, but one day you&#39;ll pay for not recognizing me greatness. In the meantime, though, fellow @$$holes/Retinas, just drop me a line if you want in. Or better yet, drop me a review. Same goes to Vroom and, if she&#39;s out there, our own little Wasp...Superninja. Or would she be the Scarlet Witch? Wait, wait...She-Hulk. Definitely She-Hulk.

  • May 5, 2002, 7:23 p.m. CST

    Wait a minute...

    by JonQuixote

    In the movie Basket Case, wasn&#39;t there a head in the basket. So St. Buggering is right!

  • May 5, 2002, 7:57 p.m. CST

    Answer for Quamb re: Anti-McFarlane sentiment

    by Dave_F

    First off, I know plenty of folks who still like McFarlane&#39;s art. I consider them to be "damaged", but I know &#39;em. My deal is, I used to like McFarlane&#39;s art, and I still think he&#39;s got a decent bit of talent for a largely untrained artist. Mostly, though, I think that back when I was digging his Spider-Man stuff, it was a total case of style winning out over substance. He had lots of "neat bits" going on -- a Spider-Man that was super-skinny but looked powerful, cool funky poses, hot-lookin&#39; babes, lotsa detail (though sometimes it was just lotsa lines...), and a good flair for movement. My artistic tastes have changed over the years though -- hopefully, even matured -- and looking back I see that McFarlane&#39;s anatomy was screwed up more than I can accept, his faces hideously blobby, and his style just doesn&#39;t appeal to me anymore. He doesn&#39;t come close to touching classic Spidey artists like Ditko, Romita Jr. and Sr., Gil Kane, or even Ross Andru. There stuff holds up when you revisit it -- McFarlane&#39;s doesn&#39;t. As for his SPAWN work...bought the first dozen or so issues, and if my growing distaste for his art wasn&#39;t enough, the writing was meandering, self-indulgent, and often just plain bad. McFarlane also loses points for bowing out of comics to become a mogul and for being a total asshole with beloved creator Neil Gaiman regarding the MIRACLE MAN property. All in all, he&#39;s lost his credibility as an artist, as a writer, and as a decent guy. I&#39;m pretty sure that&#39;s where the anti-McFarlane sentiment comes from.

  • Just seemed to me that Bagge wasn&#39;t working a particularly sharp angle in his satire of Spider-Man. As Comedian acknowledges, the story felt unfocused when it came to picking a target, and I&#39;ve just never been fond of Bagge&#39;s stuff anyway. Okay, I&#39;ve never really read any of it, but the occasional *skimming* of HATE hasn&#39;t done much for me. When it comes to superhero parodies, I think the old MAD MAGAZINE stuff was better(and I&#39;m talking the 50&#39;s stuff, like "Superduperman"), and I&#39;d even place Marvel&#39;s own WHAT THE--?! comics on a higher level. I was too young to read NOT BRAND ECHH, but I gather it was pretty close to what they did on WHAT THE--?! No, I&#39;m afraid Pete Bagge&#39;s stuff just fell totally flat for me, and didn&#39;t inspire a single yuk-yuk. Now, G.I. JOE...that&#39;s a comic, baby!

  • May 5, 2002, 8:46 p.m. CST

    Chilli Kramer, about that there TRANSFORMERS comic...

    by Dave_F

    I read it. Not too shabby, and it certainly seemed more promising in its pacing than the squeeze-in-everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach that&#39;s going on in the new G.I.JOE comic from Image. On the down side, the text piece at the end was apparently written by a high-schooler taking remedial English, but nobody&#39;s perfect. If I&#39;d been doing reviews at the time, I&#39;d have called it at 3 or 3.5 stars out of 5. At this point, it might stumble or it might end up being a solid comic that rises above the nostalgia-factor. I&#39;ll see about reviewing the second issue when it hits. As for other commercial tie-ins, I did review the first issue of the relaunched TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES for GrayHaven a few months back (fun if overly reliant on nostalgia, but it&#39;s faltering a bit), and I expect I&#39;ll take a shot at MICRONAUTS when it comes out. By the way, I like the idea of running occasional themed reviews. We might be a little too informal for it at this point, but maybe sometime soon. I&#39;d also get a kick out of having everyone review the same comic one week, maybe something a little controversial, like BLACK PANTHER or DK2, just to see how widely opinions varied. Also, expect to see one week of nothing but coverage of pornographic Japanese manga. Nothin&#39; but tentacle-porn, man. We go where others fear to tread!

  • May 6, 2002, 12:15 p.m. CST

    Buzz Maverik..........

    by Psynapse

    Unless I&#39;m mistaken the quote is by The Punisher.( I forget at the moment which volume/ series ) It&#39;s Monday morning so thinking any further than the next cup of coffee is strictly verboten. Now, as for Burl, thanks for declaring me *almost his toady*. Nice to know that when someone makes up their own mind regarding a situation that a glib classification will do in a pinch. For the record, we hadn&#39;t *worked* anything out. I got the humor of his posts and didn&#39;t read anything else into it. It really is that simple. The only reason I weighed in with my *last word* post was because I noticed quite a few people jumping on your bandwagon and taking cheap shots at Burl (I know, since you&#39;ve already decided he&#39;s an asshole then you don&#39;t care how many people flame him) and I don&#39;t like that *gang* mentality. I DO enjoy your reviews and have laughed at your posts as well. The truth in my opinion is that this thing has been blown WAY out of proportion.

  • May 6, 2002, 12:26 p.m. CST

    Waitaminute Buzz, "pussy" is a semi-DEROGATORY term for the fema

    by JonQuixote

    Uh, &#39;scuse me, I think I have a Mother&#39;s Day card to go intercept!

  • May 6, 2002, 5:11 p.m. CST

    Fair Enough, Psynapse.

    by Buzz Maverik

    I appreciate your post and your thoughtfulness. I also appreciate you standing up for Burl, believe it or not.

  • May 6, 2002, 6:08 p.m. CST

    Right on, Buzz!

    by Psynapse

    *bows respectfully* See, until given concrete reasoning otherwise, you BOTH have my respect. More importantly to me, you BOTH keep me laughing. I can&#39;t speak for anybody else but it seems we can never have too much of that. Now, when&#39;s that next review? (*_^)