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

As always, it’s nice to get a stack of comics reviews in to sort through, and you’re in luck since both of our sets of regular reviewers weighed in today. First up, we’ve got the TalkBack League of A$$Holes, all decked out for the holidays. I particularly like how Buzz Maverick looks wrapped in tinsel...

Cormorant here, and it’s another slightly small week for @$$hole reviews, but what we lack in quantity, we make up for in quality, or more accurately, in quality swearin’! To fill things out a bit, resident “Idea Man”, Vroom Socko (played to perfection by Michael Keaton in the comedy classic, NIGHT SHIFT), had the bright idea of throwing together an @$$hole Holiday Gift List at the end! To hell with clothes and PS2 games and sex toys as gifts for your loved ones this season – if you actually give a damn about comics, give the gift of funnybooks! I’m not saying that the industry will actually dry up and die if you don’t, but…okay, yeah it will. Buy comics!!!


Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning – Writers

Olivier Coipel – Pencils

Andy Lanning – Inks

Published by DC Comics

Reviewed by Village Idiot

In the end of the movie STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, the dad from SEVENTH HEAVEN gets it on with the bald chick in a cosmic gesture that lifts “Veger” the sentient satellite to the next evolutionary level. We never find out what happens to them, although I always thought it would be a perfect irony if this marriage of man and machine ended up as the source of the Borg. Of course, that idea would never really fly: I don’t think that anyone is in much of a hurry to kill the “up” message of the movie, regardless of how much Stephen Collin’s enthusiasm in the situation may have creeped me out as a kid. (“I want this, Jim. As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this.” Really? Ew.)

Of course, not everybody is so up about the prospect of machine ascendancy. Sci-Fi writer/mathematician Vernor Vinge writes about a potential phenomenon he calls “The Singularity,” a sort of Malthusian technology theory that he and others feel is not just possible but imminent. The READER’S DIGEST version of the idea is that soon, quite soon, science will create a computer that is actually smarter than we are. This smarter computer will be able to create another computer that is smarter than it is. In turn, this computer will be able to create an even smarter computer. And these developments will continue, with machines of increasing intelligence being developed with no end in sight. What is more, this will occur at such a blinding and ever-increasing speed, the human race will be left behind, and a new post-human era will be ushered in. The consciousness of these machines will be inconceivable given the limits of human thought. As Vinge put it, the relationship of our consciousness to theirs will be analogous to the one between ours and the goldfish (with us as the goldfish).

Of course, there’s more to Vinge’s theory than that. But the point is we’re screwed. I bring all this up because the evolution of machines is also the central idea to THE LEGION #14. The collective machine menace known as Robotica is looking to evolve, and they’ve taken over Earth in order to do it. Thankfully, the Legion will stop them. Or will they? The super-smart Legionnaire named Brainiac 5, after being held prisoner by the leader of Robotica, a robot he created named Computo, decides that letting Computo evolve would be the best course of action. His reasoning is that once the machines evolve, they will achieve moral enlightenment and stop being bad guys. Well, we can hope that that would be the case; but judging by the way the humanity sometimes treats other less advanced species here on this planet, I don’t know. And I’m not just talking about malevolence; there’s the goldfish relationship I mentioned before: danger to the human race would not be born of the same lack of regard one might feel towards the goldfish you just flushed down the toilet.

So there were some interesting ideas in THE LEGION #14; ideas that they tried to tell a story around. Unfortunately, this surrounding story had some problems. A few months back I reviewed THE LEGION #8, wistfully claiming that I would enjoy the book more as I got to know the characters. Well, it’s six issues later and I still don’t know the characters -- and subsequently I’m not enjoying the book more. To me, it’s still a story about a bunch of anonymous strangers.

(Well, okay, for some of the characters, I do have more of an inkling as to who they are. Timber Wolf is the Wolverine guy. Kid Quantum is the standard New Leader Trying to Cope with the Responsibility of Her Position. Saturn Girl is the blonde one. And, well, that’s about all I know at this point, or at least all I can remember.)

The point is that you can have the best story ideas in the world, but if you can’t build coherent story around it with characters you recognize, the comic won’t work. How long does one have to feel like a newbie with this book? Whatever nice moments the book may have had did not compensate for this frustration.

And the art didn’t do much to ease this frustration. It wasn’t horrible, but I thought there were still some problems that took me out of the story. The climax, where one character exclaimed that he felt as though he was “touching the face of God” didn’t look nearly as spectacular as it should have. An even bigger annoyance was the fact that some of the action was indistinct. I hate that. Was that wall flying out of the way? Falling? What?? The rest of the book was drawn in a scratchy but colorful style that I thought had a bit of a manga feel to it; not a bad style when it works, but not my favorite.

So in other words, this is a negative review. THE LEGION #14 just wasn’t a very reader friendly comic book. Whatever good ideas it had couldn’t overcome the fact that the story didn’t connect. Although all the LEGION issues I’ve read have had some nice moments along the way, this inability to connect has been my overriding problem with the title. And yet despite this, I’m giving the sucker one more chance with the next issue. Think I’m crazy? Crazy like a fox: THE LEGION #14 was the end of a story arc, and I’m hoping that in the breather in between, Abnett and Lanning will give me an opportunity to know some of these people. One more chance for THE LEGION, one more chance for Abnett and Lanning to let my enjoyment evolve to the next level. And yes, I just said that.


Written by Mark Millar

Drawn by Chris Bachalo

Published by Marvel Comics

Reviewed by The Comedian

“The Ultimate Fill In Issue” is more like it. This issue felt more like Ultimates #8 with Bachalo as fill in artist while Hitch ices his tired wrist. Not much to say about it. Millar does his patented shock value, post-9/11 grave robbing, this time having Magneto blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, killing everybody on it. And it’s supposed to be soooo sad because he introduces us to some of the people sitting in traffic beforehand. Cap goes after Rogue and the hapless Brotherhood, who are sitting around a TV on the couch in a cramped apartment like it’s a fucking Friends episode. Rogue seemingly escapes until Hawkeye takes her down with one of his trick arrows. Cap briefs the team and Wanda & Pietro show up with their own reservations about joining up. Cut to Tony Stark in an empty X-Mansion. NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS.

What really bugged me about this issue was Millar falling back again on the cheap trick of using “realistic” devastation for shock value. It’s condescending and not just the least bit exploitive of current real-world situations. The same goes for the bit about the government profiling Mutants the way our real government profiles Arabs. Like the Hulk storyline in Ultimates it doesn’t seem that there’s any relevant commentary on real world events going on here. Millar’s just riffing on them to get a cheap rise out of readers. He really needs to learn a new trick.

A more minor disjointing flaw was that this issue apparently takes place after the next Ultimates, which probably won’t be out for another month. So this is our first real intro to the “black ops” team. And since they take a back seat to all this crossover brouhaha (though technically it’s not a crossover since Soul Patch & The Gang never even fucking show up) it’s a weak intro at that.

Truth of the matter is that good over bad I actually like the Ultimates most of the time because it’s such a blatant bastardization of the original and that makes it all the more easy for me to distance the two and just enjoy it. Most of the characterizations, for all their ugliness, are still pretty solid. What sucks is when Millar goes on shock value, hipster autopilot.

I hope this story picks up. I have a creeping suspicion next issue will be mostly X-Men with The Aven-Jerks springing up to throw down with them in the last few panels.

Wake me up for Cap Vs. Soul Patch.


Writer: Scott Ciencin

Artist: Ron Wagner

Publisher: CG Entertainment (a division of CrossGen)

Reviewed by Cormorant

That title’s quite a mouthful, eh? That’s what happens when creators’ names are tagged onto series they’re not actually involved in (see also, TOM CLANCY’S NET FORCE and STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS ‘TAKEN’). Don’t let it scare you too badly, though. This five-part fantasy miniseries produced through CrossGen’s non-continuity subdivision, CGE, actually struck me as being noticeably more enjoyable than any of their in-continuity schlock fantasy. The setting is taken from the DEMONWARS novel series by R.A. Salvatore, the populist fantasy author who’s sold bajillions of Dungeons & Dragons books about the adventures of a dark elf who defies his evil heritage and whups up on bad guys like there’s no tomorrow. I read the first trilogy staring the character when I was in junior high (these fantasy novels always come in trilogies), and it was a pretty entertaining, if shallow, bit of pulp adventure. Since then Salvatore’s apparently written several more trilogies staring the character, maintained a very loyal following, and finally gone off and done his own non-D&D-licensed story with the recent DEMONWARS novels.

Now Salvatore is no Tolkein – in fact, he’s closer to fantasy’s answer to Dean Koontz or Jackie Collins – but he’s an adroit storyteller who knows how to push readers’ buttons, so I’m not really surprised that a comic featuring his characters is instantly more appealing than all the other swords-and-sorcery books from CrossGen. It’s not that the setting is especially innovative, with its gemstone magic, evil dwarven raiders, and warrior heroes, but the battles are staged with some verve, the dialogue’s got some snap, and the story gets going with a pace that highlights the utterly glacial pacing of everything else at CrossGen simply by contrast. Salvatore, of course, isn’t actually writing the book, but writer Scott Ciencin has a similar background in licensed fantasy novels, and does a solid job of recreating what I remember as Salvatore’s fast-paced style, charismatic style.

As the story opens, we’re hip deep in combat as axe-wielding dwarves threaten to overrun a Viking longboat-style ship of barbarians, only to be dispatched by a beefy Thor look-alike who swims aboard from a nearby shore. Thor-boy is named Andacanavar and he fights with a deadly sword style apparently learned from hangin’ with the elves of his world. He saves the crew, but his association with magic they don’t understand makes them extremely distrustful of him. Like Mel Gibson’s William “Braveheart” Wallace, however, he’s a sly talker and ladies’ man in addition to being a world-class asskicker, and it’s not long before the barbarian chieftain’s daughter is taking a liking to him and his worldly ways. Surprise, surprise, the chieftain is pissed, though the deadly giants and dwarves of the DEMONWARS world end up presenting a more tangible threat before long. Against this central story we have subplots involving clerical magic users who only heal those who convert to their faith, internal bickering and dissent among the dwarves, and one or two mysteries which I presume stem from the novels.

All told, it’s a fun opener of an issue. There’s a fairly mainstream, even Hollywood feel to the proceedings, but considering how long the comics world has gone without a solid, populist fantasy comic, it actually feels welcome. I like the warrior-poet lead, even if he’s somewhat typical of Salvatore’s heroes; I like the moral ambiguity of the clerics who only heal their followers; I like the banter of the dwarves, and their viciousness in contrast to Tolkein’s heroic tradition; I like that no one is talking about epic quests or saving the world just yet; and I like the art. Ron Wagner is the man behind the pencils, and if his art is a little more jagged and unrefined than the typical CrossGen title, it’s also more energetic and bold. I think about 90% of the appeal of CrossGen’s books comes from their art, and as a result, I expect Wagner’s workmanlike approach to be a non-draw, or perhaps even a turn-off for CrossGen readers. Their loss, I say, because the art is actually quite elaborate, and the story’s more instantly appealing than anything I’ve read in SOJOURN, MERIDIAN, or SCION.

Final judgment: When I recommend fantasy comics to folks, I usually go with the small-press titles that are, in fact, the best of the bunch: BONE, CASTLE WAITING, and THIEVES & KINGS. All are hard sells because of the black and white art, so I’m happy to finally see a color fantasy comic on the stands that I can recommend to the mainstream crowd. DEMONWARS is slick and commercial and everything they’re not, and how can you not like a story that has a pack of dwarves smashed into paste by a giant’s club? Plus, it’s a limited series, so I can look forward to an actual conclusion to the story, conclusions being one of those oh-so-traditional literary device I’ve found to be sorely lacking in CrossGen’s other fare. I like endings.


Written by Peter David

Art by ChrisCross & Chris Sotomayor

Published by Marvel Comics

A Jon Quixote review

I get the impression that Peter David is the type of guy who brings nuclear weapons to a gunfight.

At the half-way point of this whole U-DECIDE event, David is laying a licking on his competitors so severe the LAPD would cringe at the sight. From a quality perspective, the only way Jemas or Zimmerman could claim victory would be if they imported a French judge. From a sales perspective, if you’re buying either of the other “comics” in this faux-competition and not CAPTAIN MARVEL, you’re probably the same sort of idiot who changes the channel to SURVIVOR when SCRUBS is on (and stop that, by the way).

I hate to buy into the whole fabricated contest orchestrated by Jemas’s business degree and give it even more publicity, but the fact of the matter is that U-DECIDE has officially become a good thing. Even though there should be a 4-Color Geneva convention in the wake of the crime against humanity that has been MARVILLE, anything that causes David to raise his writing to this level has to be praised and commended.

CAPTAIN MARVEL is an amazing superhero comic in that I’ve never read it before. It doesn’t play by the rules. It’s new. Not “let’s make Kraven a T.V. star new,” but an actual original concept and story, the likes of which I thought was extinct from modern comics. Combined with a page-turning follow-through, the result is dynamite. It’s fresh, it’s intriguing, it’s fun, and the art and character design might just do for comics what TERMINATOR 2 did for special effects and film. It’s awesome and an official must-read.

Or would be, if it didn’t get so damned cute sometimes.

For the most part, CAPTAIN MARVEL is very adult. There is a moral ambiguity that you don’t usually see in the didactic parade that usually marches through hero comics, and David’s goal appears to be to ask more questions than he answers. Violence and consequence are closely tied, and the hard images are dealt with unflinchingly. But then, occasionally, David will lapse into something so cutesy that it makes the average episode of FULL HOUSE look like the masturbation episode of SEINFELD.

There is a reason scenes where somebody gets conked on the head and goes cross-eyed before passing out have been relegated to direct-to-video comedies. They’re not funny, and reek of desperation. And when bookended by two scenes of grisly death? It’s a weird and borderline inappropriate pastiche, and does nothing to “lighten” an admittedly heavy book.

The heaviness is a good thing. It makes this comic distinct, and it’s a very engrossing read. But every so often, a bad joke or cutesy name (admittedly, I’m not familiar enough with Captain Marvel to know whether or not Captain En-Vad is a creation of David’s or not, but the effect is still there) will pop up and break the spell the book is casting. An unfortunate result, because it’s a good spell.

Still, compared to the highs the book hits, the cuteness is a minor low. It may keep the book from achieving true greatness, but there’s more than enough goodness in the pages to keep me happy. More than happy. Impressed. Very, very impressed.

Superman #189

Written by Geoff Johns

Drawn by Pascual Ferry

Published by DC Comics

Reviewed by The Comedian

Who is Superman? Really? How can his picket fence jingoism and apple pie values be made relevant in these troubled gray times? Is he “more than a bird, more than a plane, more than some pretty face beside a train”? Is he “only a man in a silly red sheet”? If I hear that goddamn Five For Fighting song one more time I’m going to put on a “silly red sheet” and jump out of a fucking window!

Most readers KNOW who Superman is, those who read his monthly books especially. Unfortunately, a year and a half after one of the greatest Superman stories EVER (Action Comic #775) most of the writers handling him still feel the need to reiterate his relevance over and over again with each storyline. They’re probably doing it more for themselves since they apparently have no clue how to write him.

It-boy Geoff Johns takes a crack at the Big Blue enigma with Superman #189, which kicks off the “Lost Hearts” storyline running in the Superman titles. He falls into the aforementioned trap and even squeezes in the now apparently obligatory ethical confrontation with Batman, another crutch that many Superman writers have lately fallen back on.

“Lost Hearts” begins with some streak-haired hipster and her Gila monster fighting off three creepy hobos who look like they’re about to flash her. From that disjointed opener we go to Lana Lang and her husband, Vice President … Pete Ross. (I’m sorry, but thanks to this retarded President Luthor storyline they’ve been dragging along for the past two years, I now find the comic book Lana & Pete even more skittishly out of place than their P.C., global village, WB counter parts.) They’re discussing the rash of disappearances in “Hells Heart”, apparently the worst neighborhood in Washington D.C. (I though Washington D.C. was the worst neighborhood in Washington D.C.). Lana treats him like a stooge and even makes a slight comment about how she settled for him over you-know-who.

Then we go to the tired “gee look how bland Clark Kent is” scene with him in a diner eating corn flakes. That’s till some generic elemental guy named Mr. 104 shows up reeking havoc. He almost has Supes nailed when he turns into Kryptonite. Then Power Girl makes a gratuitous booby-shot-free cameo saving the day. Later, Pete calls Clark up for help because now Lana’s gone missing into “Hell’s Heart” as well. Clark’s about to go the Matches Malone route till that tactless creep Batman show up. Then finally we get the heavy handed “You’re not like me, Clark” scene that we’ve read only about a billion times in the last 5 or so years OUTSIDE of JLA. Meanwhile poor Lana has apparently been turned into a pale zombie hobo or hobo-ette or whatever.

The problem with most recent takes on Superman is that they’ve wasted so much time trying to rationalize him. They should really just chill out with the deconstruction and just tell some original kick-ass stories instead. Maybe wrap up this shitty President Luthor storyline already. I’m not saying that this whole “Lana kidnapped by zombie crack heads” story isn’t somewhat interesting. I just hope they don’t waste the whole storyline showing Clark goofing up as a detective and learning more about his limitations. It’s been done before, TO DEATH. And the only thing worse than writers constantly redefining and rationalizing Superman is them constantly comparing and contrasting him with Batman. Batman has had more adventures with Superman in the past 5 years than he’s had with Robin for Christ’s sake. Hopefully when Loeb & McGuiness do the ongoing series next year that will be the only place for all of that. After all the shit DC gave Wildstorm about Apollo and The Midnighter you’d think they’d put a little distance between the World’s Finest. But the way they’re going they’re actually starting to seem to have more “issues” than their lowest common denominator counterparts.

Who is Superman? John Byrne got it. Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve got it. George Reeves got it. Shit, even fucking Keanu Reeves could get it. It’s so simple. Superman is a cool, confident guy who swaggers around like he could punch a hole straight through Mt. Everest. That’s because he can punch a hole straight through Mt. Everest. He also happens to be an idealist with high ethics. That’s it. That’s all. Throw in a great story, with action, plot, characterization, rinse and repeat. It’s not quantum physics.


Writer/Artist: Shinji Saijyo

Publisher: ComicsOne

Reviewed by Cormorant

A cooking comic?! Oh, I gotta be shittin’ you guys, right?!! No, my friends, I am most certainly not shitting you. IRON WOK JAN! is one of those nutty, cuckoo Japanese comics, and if you know anything about Japanese comics at all, you should know that they cover a much broader spectrum of topics in comparison to most American comics - from sports to politics to pachinko gaming to the zillions of samurai and giant robot epics that we mostly remember them for. The track record for quality is as hit-and-miss as you’d find in any country, but I’m definitely drawn to the sheer novelty of the concepts, and after having luck with basketball manga (HARLEM BEAT), cat-humor manga (WHAT’S MICHAEL?), and political manga (EAGLE), how could I resist the sheer oddity of a cooking manga?

And the experiment paid off. IRON WOK JAN! isn’t brilliant, but the novelty value is insanely high, and I challenge anyone to read this tale of a cocky young chef taking a position at a prestigious Chinese restaurant in Tokyo and not come away smiling. Take the opening chapter, which introduces us to Mutsuju Gobancho, the wizened founder of the restaurant, who’s treated with all the reverence and awe of a martial arts sensei. Just as his restaurant is closing in the evening, our teen hero, Jan Akiyama, steps in, looking for all the world like some no-account hoodlum with his leather jacket and piercing gaze. He demands food, but when the staff hurries a meal to him, he actually insults their cooking and dumps the food into the trash! Suddenly honor is at stake! Who is this young punk to walk in late and insult one of the finest restaurants in all of Tokyo?! Suddenly, in a burst of melodrama that I’d liken to Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” walking into a bar, Jan flips his leather jacket off, revealing a white chef’s shirt underneath! Holy shit, this runt is a chef, himself, and he actually wants to show them how it’s done! When he picks up a wok and starts cooking in his wildly frenetic style, the room is cowed by his arrogance and talent! Gasp! Choke! Just then, the head chef suddenly realizes that this is the grandson of the restaurant’s chief rival, a legendary chef who died just recently! Could he possibly be the new hire he’d heard about?! AND WHAT WILL THIS MEAN FOR THE RESTAURANT?!!!

Did I go overboard with the exclamation points there? Trust me, they’re warranted. The melodrama in IRON WOK JAN! is actually cranked up to that degree for most of the book, and it’s a huge part of the charm. Cooking is treated with all the seriousness of the samurai code of Bushido, rival chefs are practically rival warriors, and that sleazy food critic who shows up in a later chapter is a villain of the highest order! Jan himself is an arrogant prodigy, driven, we see, by memories of his abusive but brilliant grandfather. The aforementioned scene where Jan humiliates the chefs of the Gobancho restaurant is actually my favorite display of his talents, as he sets out to make the deceptively simple house specialty of fried rice, but with the bold addition of…tofu! The other chefs are shocked. How can he fry the tofu without it crumbling? And won’t it lose its water if it crumbles? Everyone thinks he’s crazy, but in an inspired and hilarious moment, there’s a deep pause from the manager, who then acknowledges with the deepest import, “No, it’s possible.” And so it is, as Jan suddenly breaks out a second wok for his crazed-but-brilliant cooking technique! The resulting dish is delicious, and narrative captions even give the reader specifics as to why it worked – too cool!

At this point, you should either be rolling your eyes at how ridiculous this all sounds, or grinning at how deranged and amusing it is. If it’s the latter, you should definitely give this book a go. Beyond the wild cooking showdowns, it appears the backdrop will be Jan’s slow maturation from being a brilliant loose cannon to a team player. He’s good, but inexperienced too, and a crushing failure halfway through the first volume reveals that he’s got a long way to go before achieving his dreams of becoming the greatest chef in Japan. Of course, he’s also got a rivalry going on with a pretty girl chef who just happens to be Gobancho’s granddaughter. A blossoming romance seems so obvious that I’m a little afraid it’ll be ridiculous, but the basketball manga, HARLEM BEAT, had a similar friendship between a guy and a girl basketball player that impressively never went beyond a strong professional friendship. I’m hoping for a similar avoidance of the dreaded MOONLIGHTING love/hate syndrome in IRON WOK JAN.

Visually, IRON WOK JAN!, is a solid example of the manga tradition of cartoony characters and realistic backdrops. Images of food are drawn and shaded with near photorealism, but when Jan is cooking, out come the frenzied motion lines and cartooniness as his already-dark eyes become pupil-less and outright demonic to indicate his nearly transcendental state. It’s an odd mix to those familiar only with American or Euro comics, which usually find a single style and stick with it, but I think it’s very effective for a comic as over-the-top as IRON WOK JAN!. I did have trouble interpreting a few panels, especially during the more kinetic cooking sequences, but hopefully the storytelling will become more streamlined as the series progresses. Incidentally, the book is read right-to-left in the Japanese tradition, a growing trend among American translations of manga.

Final judgment: My knowledge of cooking ends somewhere between Pop Tarts and scrambled eggs, but the innovative and outrageous IRON WOK JAN! has definitely hooked me. The dishes prepared within are pretty twisted, and I can’t say they did much to whet my appetite, but my god man, the drama behind their preparation – the sheer, ridiculous DRAMA!!! I am greatly amused.


by Brian Michael Bendis

published by Image

reviewed by Buzz Maverik

Going through the ol' @$$hole mailbag, I often come across letters like this one from Wyle Peyote of Yamuddah, NY: "Dear Buzz, What do you do for a living? Anything?"

Or this one by X-Ray Ted of Zucchini, FL: "Dear Buzz, Are you on welfare or something?"

The truth is, guys, I am the middle manager of the remote viewing unit of a "nonexistent" CIA blackbag operation called "The Tank". The money is good, the coffee is free, we get discounts at Disneyland, etc. Yer probably saying, "Buzz, if you were really a psychic spy for the Company, you wouldn't be writing about it on AICN." I say, "Au contraire. Like, who'd believe me anyway?" Then, you'd say, "Well, aren't you afraid somebody is going to kill you?" I say, "Hey, I'm a remote viewer. I'd see it coming and be ready." Which reminds me, I gotta go clean the skeletons out of the pit in the backyard.

The other day, I was making my rounds at work, checking out what my posse (as they call themselves despite the fact that I've ordered them to knock it off!) was doing.

"Uh, Buzz, I've got Bin Laden dead to rights. I can give the exact coordinates."

"Don't even bother, Ronster! We keep telling the Pentagon and they keep sending us cash. What do you have, Lucy?...More aliens? I don't want to hear alien stuff, Lucy. You know that. What about you, Waco Fred?"

I could tell Fred was upset about whatever he viewed. I took him into my office and poured him a tumbler of tequila.

"Should we be drinking on government time, Buzz? Won't that cloud our viewing?"

"That's cute. Now why the long face?"

"I saw something. I watched it take place over a number of years. It involved a young spy named Ben, being tortured by Agency people. All the images were stark, black and white, but powerful and realistic at the same time. This Ben was a college student in the early '80s. He spots this really sharp looking babe in a museum. She's recruiting him into the Company because he's an orphan and a poly-sci major."

"Well, seduction is a common recruitment tool. I often regret that I wasn't recruited for this job but just took a stupid civil service test."

"He goes to work this other woman, I'll swear she looked just like Candace Bergen."

"CARNAL KNOWLEDGE Candace Bergen, or late MURPHY BROWN Candace Bergen?"



"Anyway, this Ben gets involved in the usual dirty dealings but it turns out that there's a larger, yet more intimate conspiracy going on."

"Okay, Fred. You have nothing to worry about. All of this takes place in Brian Michael Bendis' incredible graphic novel FIRE. I was just reading it the other day. You probably viewed my copy."

"Bendis? The guy who writes DAREDEVIL and ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN?"

"I try not to judge others, Fred. Besides, he also writes ALIAS and POWERS. Those other two books are probably just for money."

"This is a relief, Buzz. All the while I was seeing this spy stuff, I was thinking that it would make a great graphic novel. And I couldn't figure out why everyone was two dimensional and in black 'n' white."

"Okay. Get back to work. Try to see if you can dig up anything on the new SUPERMAN movie so I can let Moriarty at AICN know."


Christmas time is here,

happiness and cheer,

fun for all that children

call their favorite time of year.

--A Charlie Brown Christmas

Hey gang, Vroom Socko here. With Sunday’s airing of Sparky Schultz’s classic, the holiday season is officially underway. The showing sure was a blast here at @$$hole HQ. Unfortunately, we ended up drinking our collective weight in Egg Nog, and the night went straight to hell. It was during this madness that we wrote up the following list of potential Christmas gifts. Or Hanukkah gifts - we’re not holiday biased. Except by the time you read this Hanukkah will be over…

So, our Christmas lists. If you’re shopping for a comic book geek, or you yourself want to ask for some four-color goodness, you’re sure to find something on this list. Since we were all drunk on Nog, (and can never agree on a format when we’re sober anyway,) the following lists are transcribed as written, or in my case, gouged into the table with a Ka Bar. What can I say; I’m a mean drunk, and I take my Egg Nog without sugar. Or eggs. Or milk…

Jon Quixote:

For the really smart kid with the really overprotective parents: The Adventures of Barry Ween: Boy Genius. He'll laugh his head off; his parents will think a comic based on that Nickelodeon TV show would have to be masturbation-joke-free.

For the literary snob who turns up his nose at comics: Sandman, Volume 6 Fables & Reflections. Shakespeare, Ancient Rome, Mark Twain. This trade is a masturbation joke away from actually having it all.

For the family that hates Stupid, Stupid rat creatures together: Jeff Smith's BONE trade paperbacks. It's like Disney for grown-ups: An amazing mix of whimsical comedy, high-adventure and real drama, but without any pandering and treacle.

For the guy tired of solid bowel-movements: A big box of Christmas oranges. Ugh, why did I eat the whole damn thing?


THIEVES & KINGS VOL.1 - Introduce yourself to the smartest, wittiest, most imaginative fantasy comic being published with this volume. Dialogue to match Bendis, concepts to match Morrison, and world-building on the order of Tolkein (except…it’s completely different).

SCENE OF THE CRIME: A LITTLE PIECE OF GOODNIGHT - Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark tell a straight-up crime story in this little-known gem from Vertigo, filled with heartfelt characters and great twists and turns. For fans of Chandler novels and/or CHINATOWN.

THE SNOWMAN - Raymond Briggs' classic children's picture book is definitely sequential art, and one of the best silent stories the medium has ever seen. Plus it's all holiday-like! If the Grinch were to read this book, his heart would grow five sizes instead of the normal three and he would die of a massive coronary.

NAUSICAA VOL. 1-4 - *The* best sci-fi/fantasy epic in comicdom, and manga or not, it's got universal appeal. Profoundly moving and bursting with imagination, it’s the closest comics have ever come to literary fantasy epics like DUNE and LORD OF THE RINGS.

Vroom Socko:

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Hardcover: Sure, the comic fan on your list may already have it, but this new edition us just too purty.

Comics & Sequential Art: Because Will Eisner is God damnit!

Little Nemo 1905-1914: Magic and wonder personified. The comic fan who's never read Winsor McCay's amazing creation is someone I'd have trouble trusting.

The Ring of the Nibelung Hardcover: This is the best comic of this year, last year, and possibly the year before. Calling it a beautiful, epic masterpiece doesn’t do the work justice. This one belongs on everyone’s bookshelf.


300 - Frank Miller and Lynn Varley team up once again, to astonishing effect, in this historical bloodbath chronicling the last stand of the Spartans at the Hot Gates of Thermopylae. It's a great story, concisely and confidently told, and beautifully illustrated. I love my single issues, but that expanded hardcover edition is a whole other animal, one that I'm dying to get my hands on. History buffs, and comics fans wanting to remember why they should like Frank Miller in the first place, will treasure this book.


Frequent Neil Gaiman collaborator Dave McKean's extremely ambitious 500 page graphic novel has been in and out of print, but is currently available online and is taunting me at my local comics store. McKean's surrealistic mixed-media artwork can be intimidating, particularly in large doses, but the introspective storyline, pondering the origins and limits of creativity, is right up my alley. I'm gonna sit down with this book after I see ADAPTATION, and see if my head explodes.

NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF WIND, PERFECT COLLECTION: all the volumes of Miyazaki's Manga masterpiece, in one uberspiffy box set. Know someone who's watched and enjoyed Princess Mononoke, or any of Miyazaki's other wonderful films? Love them yourself? You must read this. Epic fantasy goodness, regarded by some as Miyazaki's most powerful work in any medium.

Buzz Maverik:

1)THE SQUADRON SUPREME -- It's the KINGDOM COME that came first and without any pretense, written by the late Mark Gruenwald, a talent who should be revered. With a new SQUADRON series coming up in 2003, this might help new readers.

2)FORTUNE & GLORY by Brian Michael Bendis -- I just read this so it's fresh in my mind. Since AICN is primarily a movie site, this blends the worlds of comic and film creation and it genuinely made me laugh.

Sleazy G:

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE, VOL. 1: SHAMAN’S RAIN, by James Robinson and Paul Smith. This is the perfect book to stick under the nose of kids who still like books with pictures and who watch cartoons and Disney movies. It's just scary enough to keep them hooked, and it's got action and adventure. It's got a little girl protagonist, which is unusual in comics, and is a classic all-ages story with a clean art style that reminds the older reader of Tintin, Annie and Dondi.

JIMMY CORRIGAN, WORLD'S SMARTEST BOY by Chris Ware, published by Pantheon Books. This one has received massive critical acclaim and won all kinds of awards because it damned well deserves it. It's a haunting, melancholy story of a sad, lonely man who never gets the chance to be anything else, but his life is echoed through glimpses of his father and grandfather's childhoods as well. The art incorporates a draftsman's precision and a unique palate. Even more proof that comics really is a legitimate art form, as if any more were needed. Amazing.

SWAMP THING: SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING by Alan Moore with art by John Totleben, Steve Bissette and Shawn McManus. Published by DC Comics. Brother Buzz loves him some swamp monster comics, but who doesn't? Moore redefined both the character and the concept of what a horror comic could be here in a defining storyline that laid the groundwork not only for the balance of his run but for the Vertigo Universe. Any horror comic fans or Vertigo fans will appreciate the historical importance of this one right along with the fantastic story.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN VOL.1: POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY written by Brian Michael Bendis and art by Mark Bagley. The Ultimate line has sparked much heated debate, and there are those who'll tell you Bendis takes too long to get the stories moving. That said, there's no question this book has been hot for three years now, and it does a great job of telling familiar stories with a new twist in a contemporary setting. Besides, you won't know where you stand on the controversy if you don't read it, will you?


Top Ten Volume 1, by Alan Moore, Zander Cannon and Gene Ha. Published by Americas Best Comics. Hill Street Blues, superhero style. The Top Ten Precinct polices the city of Neopolis, created by the science heroes of WII, and inhabited by a superpowered populace. A great read with extremely detailed art (lots of Easter Eggs, kids!) to go along with Moore's hilarious and often satirical look at superheroes. And it has a talking dog! More on the mature readers side, but great for a life-long comic book fan.

The Infinity Gauntlet, by Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, George Perez. Published by Marvel Comics. The battle to save the universe has begun! Ahem. Yeah, it's sort of cheezy. But it's a great piece of nostalgia for any Marvel fan, featuring a huge cast of heroes and villains fighting over a reality-altering glove (and the rise to power of one of the coolest Marvel villains ever - Thanos).

Ambush Bug:

JLA/JSA: VIRTUE AND VICE Hardcover - Do you want to see just about every super hero in the DCU done right? Do you want to see how a writer can capture the heart and soul of over forty characters in a single story? Do you want to see epic battles, unusual pairings of heroes, and major bad guys? Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer have put together a ginormous story that pits both the JLA and the JSA against the Seven Deadly Sins and two (count 'em...TWO!) major villains from both team's past. The pair of writers not only keep the action running, but fill the book with one cool moment after another. Best line from the book: After Hawkman whacks the mystery villain in the face with his mace, the baddie blasts the winged warrior and screams, "On to your next life, warrior!" Cool stuff for those who have followed Johns writing throughout the last few years. And if you haven't, it's a good chance to see what all the hype is all about.

KINGDOM COME Deluxe Hardcover Set - Man, Cormorant isn't going to like this, but I can't help but recommend Mark Waid's epic tale set in the near future of the DC Universe. It's Alex Ross art at its best. It's heroes battling heroes battling villains battling heroes. All for the fate of the universe. The battle between Superman and Captain Marvel at the end is one of the most memorable fights in comic book history. Corm be damned. This book is worth it. The HC comes with a nifty leatherbound sketchbook and a new epilogue. Good stuff.

THE CROW First Series Trade Paperback - My copy of this book is frayed and marred because I have loaned it out to so many friends to read. This tale of love, murder, and vengeance can't be beat. The pages drip with emotion. James O'Barr really taps the vein in this story, brings tears to one's eyes with his beautiful black and white art, and deals with his own personal demons while entertaining us all with a touching and beautiful story of loss. Forget the horrible movies that followed. This story is comic gold.

OINK: HEAVEN'S BUTCHER Trade Paperback - That's right. Oink! The genetically enhanced swine who takes devilish glee in slicing and blasting anything that comes into his path. John Meuller created a bizarre mix of Mad Max and Animal Farm a while back and this was the series that started it all. Oink fights back against the genetic engineers that created him in an attempt to free his piggly wiggly brothers. It's Conan with a little curly tail, folks. Don't miss it!

Village Idiot:

SPIDER-MAN: THE DEATH OF GWEN STACY - ** Spoiler alert! **: Gwen Stacy dies in this, one of the classic comic storylines of all time. A little dated in terms of narrative style, but fun nonetheless. This is a must-read for anyone on your gift list with a novice, but serious, interest in comic lore. (Yes, I just said "comic lore." If you want to make something of it, I'll meet you out in the parking lot later.)

SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS - After giving one of my more backhandedly complimentary reviews to writer Jeph Loeb's BATMAN recently, let me turn around and give him a rave: SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS is a beautiful book; a simple, sweet, but well-felt and even a bit melancholy retelling of Superman's early years. This time out, Tim Sale's eccentric art isn't just big, it's panoramic. Know a comic fan with a sentimental streak? This one is sure to get 'em.

SUPERMAN IN THE SIXTIES - Speaking of Superman, let's take a trip back to those days of yesteryear when every line of comic dialog ended with an exclamation point (!). When the circumference of Superman's torso was, oh, about a mile or so. When Jimmy Olsen could put on a Beatles wig and travel back in time to meet Samson. Really. Silver Age comics are not for everyone, but for the comic fan in the right nostalgic/funky mindset, the kitsch in SUPERMAN IN THE SIXTIES, probably the best of all the pre-CRISIS Superman anthologies, is more fun than it has any right to be.

And of course, if you know a comic fan who hasn't already read it, get them Alan Moore's WATCHMEN. A real no-brainer. It's the CITIZEN KANE of comic books, and I feel like a hack for even suggesting it.

The Comedian:

Green Lantern/Green Arrow: The Collection by Neal Adams & Denny O'Neal: It all begins here. Real stories, real problems, real heroes. A whole 16 years before Watchmen & Dark Knight. Sure it's a little preachy at times and it feels like "Easy Rider" and "Five Easy Pieces" done with superheroes. Your collection of "classics" will never be complete without. Plus Black Canary gets kidnapped and Brainwashed by the Manson Family. How kinky is that?

David Boring by Daniel Clowes: Millennial Angst, Alienation, Murder and Ass Fetishism never seemed more prolific.

Batman:Son of The Demon (if you can still find it anywhere): Batman knocks Talia up. Wish DC had the balls to keep this in regular continuity like it was before.

Wolverine & Nick Fury:The Scorpio Connection (Good luck tracking down this one too, suckas): So-so art. Great Shield yarn with a groovy pay-off at the end. Like Bats in my previous pick, Nick Fury becomes a poppa too and Marvel had the balls to KEEP this in regular continuity.

Just about everything on this list is guaranteed to please any comic fan on your shopping list. Especially if one of the people you’re shopping for is The Village Idiot; he’s real easy to please.

On behalf of the rest of the @$$holes, we wish you a happy holidaze. Where’s the rest of my Egg Nog?

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 12, 2002, 7:47 a.m. CST

    With the exception of New X-men

    by Qwerty Uiop

    The Ultimate line is putting out better comics, hands down, then their regular continuity counterparts.

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 8:15 a.m. CST

    ULTIMATE line superior to mainstream? Gee, I dunno...

    by Dave_F

    Right now, mainstream Marvel's got the following notable "buzz" comics (even if I personally don't love 'em all): AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, AVENGERS (Geoff Johns!), X-STATIX, NEW X-MEN, INCREDIBLE HULK, AGENT X, and FANTASTIC FOUR. Plus you can find some more controversial titles that nevertheless seem to have acquired some solid buzz: CAPTAIN AMERICA, THOR, DAREDEVIL, EXILES, and CAPTAIN MARVEL. And what do we have at the ULTIMATE line? Bendis' ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and THE ULTIMATES seem to be the only two books getting serious fan love (and I'll admit, they get some SERIOUS FUCKIN' FAN LOVE). Meanwhile, ULTIMATE X-MEN seems to continue to fall in esteem even in the eyes of Millar fans, ULTIMATE DAREDEVIL & ELEKTRA looks to be pretty muddled and not likely to be remembered after the DAREDEVIL movie buzz dies down, ULTIMATE TEAM-UP was a mixed effort that got cancelled, and then, of course, you've got Ron Zimmerman's ULTIMATE ADVENTURES. Is that really such a sterling track record? Sorry, I think mainstream wins this round, and the decline of ULTIMATE X-MEN, failure of ULTIMATE TEAM-UP, and excesses of ULTIMATE ADVENTURES and ULTIMATE DD & ELEKTRA just highlight how silly it would be to consider "ultimizing" the Marvel Universe. Sheeee, the ULTIMATE line has barely been on its feet for two years and it's already got serious problems; having flagship titles as strong as ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and THE ULTIMATES can't negate that fact. Personally, I still like the *idea* of the Ultimate line, and by no means believe that such experiments shouldn't be pursued, but I think it's a little on the nutso side to claim the experiment is so strong that it's outdoing its mainstream counterpart right now. And, y'know, I still think THE ULTIMATES is overrated poop.

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 10:56 a.m. CST

    As long as Zimmerman is writing an Ultimate title, let alone 20%

    by JonQuixote

    Besides, there are far too many great mainstream Marvel comics out there for the regular stuff to be considered inferior to the "same old storyline, twice the number of issues" approach the Ultimate line often takes. *** THAT said, I actually liked ULTIMATE WAR #1 and felt that, despite awful storytelling and horrible pacing, enough happened between the pages that I didn't feel ripped off. And I've sort of come around to liking Millar's takes on the characters, even though I still shake my head at how anybody can consider him to be a "good" writer. I think he's a good idea man, but has poor execution, relying too much on shock value. And he can't write good dialogue to save his life.

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 11:04 a.m. CST

    Comedian: You F-ing nailed it

    by bizarromark

    Great beatin' you gave to the Superman books. I'm green with envy! I've been fumbling for words to describe the hard-boiled "noir-gasm" they've inflicted upon Superman...but you nailed it.

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 12:27 p.m. CST

    At the off chance that anyone actually read the LEGION review...

    by Village Idiot

    I made a fairly serious editing mistake: In the end of the third paragraph, the sentence should read "[The] danger to the human race would be born of the same lack of regard one might feel towards the goldfish you just flushed down the toilet." In other words, the "not" that appears in the sentence in the review should be stricken, and my real point is the opposite of how it appears. The Village Idiot staff regrets the error, and blames a poor upbringing.

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 3:45 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    When I said, "mainstream counterparts" I meant title-to-title. X-Static is an incredible book and I wasn't including it because it has no Ultimate line twin. Same with Daredevil. I think Ultimate Spiderman is better than any regular Spider title out there. I can

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 6:09 p.m. CST

    Speaking of egg nog...

    by SleazyG.

    ...bourbon maker Evan Williams produced a damned fine prepackaged one this year. Only cost me $5.99 at a Binny's in Chicago, and it's 30 proof. That means it's got just enough bourbony goodness to make it go down smooth, but not so much it overpowers. Let it chill for a couple hours and it's damned tasty. I have some friends who had a big Guy Fawkes party and bonfire, and we stood there with the egg nog bottle. No cups, we just passed the bottle around the fire. It was so tasty we killed a 750 ml bottle in under 10 minutes. Then we pitched the bottle into the fire and watched it melt. The Evan Williams is damned tasty at a steal of a price--I recommend it highly if you run across it at your liquor store. And if you're old enough to drink booze, of course. I don't support underage drinking unless the Bush twins are involved. Barbara's the girl for me, yessirree.

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 6:10 p.m. CST

    Worst Graphic Novel of the Year: SERVER MAINTENANCE.

    by SleazyG.

    Only 9 posts in, and the order's already bollocksed. "This year, terror gets a downgrade!"

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 9:29 p.m. CST

    You know what I hate in comics?

    by KONG33

    I hate how Frank Miller wrote that one DD storyline, not because it's bad, mind you, but because every idiot (Kevin Smith for instance) thinks that they can rehash it and have it be half-way interesting. Well, it's not, it's the dullest, most used storyline in comic books of all-time. Get a new act. Someone write a fun comic book, an imaginative, interesting, unique book. Well, that's my say. I'd like to hear the @$$es ideas for the top team-up books and what would happen in them...

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 9:34 p.m. CST

    anyone remember the Anti-Gravity Room on YTV?

    by KONG33

    That show ruled! or somethin'.

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 11:10 p.m. CST

    Actually Uncle Badass

    by Qwerty Uiop

    The X-men and Avengers had a battle Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back, if I remember right. I think I only got to read the first part of it, but I remember the Avengers finding the X mansion all trashed, the Angel beat up and watching a video of Prof X all terrified and beaten and some how Magneto was involved. I don't the Avengers and X-men actually fought and that always disappointed me. I read this when I was very young and it may have been in pieces from my Uncle's old collection. My point being, maybe Miller read this one, as well, and wanted to re-do it.

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 11:18 p.m. CST

    best way to read crossgen?

    by nny777

    I tried all the crossgen comics when they put them up for free on their website. I liked all of them, but the only one that really stuck out for me was Sojourn. I figured I'd get the trades or monthlies of Sojourn, but compendia and comics on the web seem like too good of deals to pass up. I was undecided and then I saw a bunch of crossgen comics cheap at a store. I was going to buy some, but as I looked through them, the coloring didn't look nearly as good as I remembered it looking on comics on the web. Is it that the coloring just looks better on a monitor or is it all in my head? Also, is the color reproduction any worse or any better between the compendia, monthlies, and tpb's? If I decide to do the comics on the web, I want to do it before the supposed price increase in January. The only problem I have with the comics on the web is I'd rather have a print copy as long as the production quality was the same.

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 11:30 p.m. CST

    The best way to read Crossgen...

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Is not too.

  • Dec. 12, 2002, 11:56 p.m. CST

    qwerty uiop

    by nny777

    Pretty clever, I never expected that reply. Are you really Ron Zimmerman's pseudonym?

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 12:19 a.m. CST

    Um... sure.

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Does that make you happy? DOES IT?

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 12:24 a.m. CST

    Righty-o, man.

    by Qwerty Uiop


  • Dec. 13, 2002, 1:35 a.m. CST

    Trust Millar

    by Judge Mental

    I can't believe how cynical some of you dorks are. Millar's fuckin' brilliant. He's bringing the superhero genre to a new and relevant degree of social conscience. I have high hopes for the next two years of Ultimates, which I predict will be looked back on as a milestone in Marvel storytelling. I wish a helluva lot more writers paid close attention to politics and world history. I'd also like to say that as a progressive activist, witnessing Thor become the icon of modern idealism is inspiring. Millar gives more recognition to the significance of issues such as world trade, human rights, and international aid than your dear "objective" TV news ever have. In Ult. War, The U.S.-govt-led Avengers are pursuing outlaw Mutants. In the context of the War on Terrorism, I think that's great use of the characters and creating thought-provoking commentary that's almost satire. ---If you Simpsons-Comic-Guy-esque losers insist on dismissing what Millar's writing represents, then you just continue to have fun beating off in front of your action figures and giggling to the whimsical pointless jizzrags that you probably read. ---- Dig deeper, amigos.

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 3:20 a.m. CST

    Ultimate Line vs. Mainstream, Round 2! FIGHT!!!

    by Dave_F

    Qwerty, have you ever tried Straczynski's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN? It's a little hit-and-miss at times, but when it's on, brutha, IT IS ON. Like Geoff Johns' FLASH, it's a perfect example of taking the classic superhero mixture of characterization and adventure and updating the idiom such that the book doesn't feel like retro-obsession. I like ULTIMATE SPIDEY too, but honestly, I think it's as uneven as AMAZING can be, with its overly long story arcs, occasional misfire endings, and some iffy plot points (what was it, five issues of building up Kraven just for a one panel gag?!). Still, I acknowledge that it's often great, and I think an objective look at AMAZING SPIDER-MAN would turn up the same conclusion. As for ULTIMATE X-MEN versus its mainstream counterparts...well, I was big into ULT. X-MEN originally, but Millar's shock value tactics wore thin early on, and the near total lack of characterization drove me from the book eventually. I think these stories will be forgotten in ten years, and it really does seem that even Millar's fans are drifting away from ULTIMATE X-MEN (which I attribute to Hitch's appeal over Kubert's as much as anything). NEW X-MEN, meanwhile, continues to fascinate, and while you may find UNCANNY boring, I think Aaron Weisbrod did a decent job over in his column of summing up how Chuck Austen's been turning the book around. As for ULTIMATES versus THE AVENGERS - they're actually such monumentally different creatures that it's almost ridiculous to compare them. I think Geoff Johns is still finding his way on AVENGERS, but if you're looking for good, old-school heroics, the book delivers. You call the ULTIMATES approach "better," but the best I can give it is "different." It's clearly targeting a teens-to-adult audience whereas AVENGERS continues that book's tradition of an all-ages approach. If you don't like that approach in the first place, well, no shit ULTIMATES will appeal to you more, but can you actually say that it's inherently superior? Is BLADE RUNNER inherently superior to STAR WARS just because someone decides that STAR WARS isn't "realistic" enough? Or that it's too kiddie? I say, hell naw. It "bugs" you that the Avengers all lounge around the mansion in their costumes? They're superheroes, goddammit, and like cops on duty, they show up at headquarters in uniform! The mansion *is* their HQ! The notion that that's somehow "weird" ignores two things: 1) That superheroes are inherently weird, and 2) That there's only something like a SEVENTY FUCKING YEAR TRADITION OF SUPERHEROES WEARING COSTUMES WHEN THEY FIGHT CRIME AND MAKE PLANS TO FIGHT CRIME. You know what's weird? Thinking that superheroes in costume is weird. Suspend some disbelief, man! In their world, weird is the norm! If you don't buy into that, then frankly, you shouldn't buy into superheroes, period. ****** With that rant done for the moment, let me tangent and note that EXILES, which I enjoyed for a time for its "What If?" premises, has officially lost me. I liked its quasi-nostalgia for Claremont's 80's heyday and the quasi-Byrne art of Mike McKone, but the nostalgia can only take me so far, and the good artist is gone. Consequently, so am I. ****** As far as inflammatory statements go...well, ya got me riled up - ain't that good enough for ya? I've got something like three more ULTIMATE rants in storage, too, so if it's "Ultimate War" you want, I'm more'n happy to deliver!

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 3:32 a.m. CST

    Tell you one thing, though, Qwerty...

    by Dave_F

    I almost agree with your "no tolerance" approach to CrossGen, a company whose product is so middle-of-the-road that I can't see how anyone gets a rise out of reading their books. Two exceptions for me personally: WAY OF THE RAT, a solid little kung-fu book, and the DEMONWARS thingee I reviewed this week, which is honestly a pretty entertaining little book (and also not part of the CrossGen "universe"). And I still like CrossGen's progressive business practices and their attempts to appeal to women. Too bad most of their stories blow. What a waste of good artists and shiny paper, y'know?

  • Did you catch Betty Ross's uber-bitch assessment of the funeral for all the folks the Hulk killed? Or Tony Stark yammering on like a kid on Christmas about how exhilerating the Hulk battle was, seemingly oblivious to the human cost? Or the whole notion that DVD's of the massacre would be best-sellers? Kee-rist, if those story elements and characterizations don't suggest cynicism of the highest order, I don't know what does! But what the hell, if you want to look to superheroes to motivate social activism, more power to you - I just wish those superheroes weren't wearing the names and general visuals of a classic set of superheroes that were most certainly *not* the product of such overt cynicism and shock value storytelling.

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 4:25 a.m. CST

    The Ultimates are ready!

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I haven

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 4:27 a.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    Yeah, it is too bad their books mostly suck, but really what do you expect when you hire shit for talent?

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 4:35 a.m. CST

    I just wish those superheroes weren't wearing the names and gene

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I think thats the core of your problem with Ultimates. You can't except the fact that they are two different versions. One does not reflect on the other, and one does not affect the other. And honestly man, honestly, if the Hulk battle happened in real life, and they put out DVDs of it, do you honestly believe that it would NOT sell out? I bet that they couldn't keep it on the shelves. I know I would watch it, at least once. Alright, I'd buy it.

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 5:03 a.m. CST

    Uh, Qwerty?

    by vroom socko

    Not to get on your back about The Ultimates or anything, but you can't have it both ways. You said "And getting back to the no baggage plus of the Ultimate line, I think the lesser amount of characterization is due to the fact that we already know the characters and the Ultimate versions simply add some updates." then when talking about the Avengers say "You can't except the fact that they are two different versions. One does not reflect on the other, and one does not affect the other." Now, what about the people reading The Ultimates who've never bothered to read Avengers? Or how about the (theoretical, I'll admit,) new readers who've never even heard of The Avengers? As for me, I don't read Ultimates, or anything else by Millar. Hey, if Millar ever writes a character who's a decent, upstanding individual, please don't tell me; I might die of shock.

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 5:25 a.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    I suppose there are people out there who could of possibly never heard of the Avengers and think the Ultimates are the only version. Anything is possible, there are Dark Angel fans out there, after all. Then I guess those people could get the "wrong" idea about the characters, and it truly breaks my heart to think of the young child disillusioned by this, but I think in most cases readers know the difference. As for the affect part of the comment, I meant continuity-wise. ** I think Cap is a pretty upstanding character, hes a hero, he was willing to take on the Hulk to save a city of people he doesn't know in a time he wasn't meant to be in. And in the last issue looks to be going to defend Jan's honor. Cap is completely untethered in the world and yet he keeps up his duty without complaint, because he believes in duty, honor, and self-sacrifice. Isn't that upstanding and decent? Sure he has a little bit of an out of date attitude, but he is a product of his generation.

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 6 a.m. CST

    It might just be me...

    by vroom socko

    but I don't consider someone who'd kick a man in the face when he's down to be upstanding and decent. I'd also have to say that with Hawkeye, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Black Widow joining the team that in at least some ways one DOES effect the other.

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 6:52 a.m. CST

    "I have high hopes for the next two years of Ultimates, which I

    by vroom socko

    You really think the next three issues will be that good? Well, SOMEBODY had to say it!

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 11:39 a.m. CST

    Say, Cormorant...

    by rev_skarekroe

    Why do even read "Ultimates"? Seriously. If I don't like a book, I don't read it (with the exception of "Cerebus" which I've been reading since 1986 and just HAVE to see through to the end). I'm not trying to be antagonistic, I just want to know why you keep subjecting yourself to something you obviously don't enjoy. sk

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 2:38 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    I like the kick in the face is a reflection of the era he grew up in and a human response to Banner rampaging through the city and killing and injuring thousands to impress his girlfriend. In Cap's mind, he deserved it. Cap's a soldier and a warrior. If Bruce can dish it, he can take it. And when I me continuity, I mean that none of the actions of the Ultimates will ever appear in a biography of the current continuity characters. The book is obviously following the same path, its just rewriting the details, but that doesn't change anything the regular characters are doing or have done.

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 2:40 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    I think both the Avengers and the X-men have their own laundry service. Now Spiderman, that is a mystery. Although I do remember one issue of him in a laundrymat.

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 3:37 p.m. CST

    Yes, Qwerty

    by rev_skarekroe

    When Spidey went to the laundromat he had to wear a bag on his head to conceal his identity when he washed the costume! Interestingly, I wear a bag on my had at the laundromat too, but for very different reasons. sk

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 5:43 p.m. CST

    That's not me without any pants on, Badass

    by rev_skarekroe

    Must be someone left over from the Mad Max talkback. No, the reason I wear a bag is so no one will recognize me while I swipe OTHER people's pants. It's a hobby. sk

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 7:25 p.m. CST

    Editorial Mistake #2.

    by draub

    Actually, you have another editorial mistake in your Legion review. "Timber Wolf is the Wolverine guy." should technically read "Wolverine is the Timber Wolf guy." :) Timber Wolf predates Wolverine and actually served as a "template" of sorts for him in X-men. Hang in there on Legion...the next year looks to be focused on small groups / individuals.

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 8:41 p.m. CST

    Okay, I admit it: I'm the one without the pants.

    by SleazyG.

    Truth is, I hate the things, and they're off the minute I get into the apartment. I'm not ashamed to admit it, either--I prefer minimal clothing when in my castle. Hell, what's the point of living by myself if I gotta dress up all the time?

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 11:46 p.m. CST

    You Suck Cromornat! Millar Rules!

    by thecomedian

    "Cause he's like deep and stuff. His take on the Avengers is about the real live world I see everyday on Fox News & CNN. I've never actually been to New York but I saw all those all those 9/11 specials they ran 2 months ago and the Ultimates is just like that and Nick Fury looks just like Sam Jackson which makes it even more realistic. Millar's just like so like so deep and stuff. 20 years from now people will be like writing college papers on the Hulk story because that issue with the funeral had a memorial with pictures of people just like I saw on CNN. That scene when Nick Fury is talking about how The Hulk drank all that beer and stopped up 20 toilets is just such a moving social commentary on our time. You dorks need to stop jerking off to those crusty old 'Kree-Skull War' issues under your matresses." ***Judge Mental*** Like the Cake song says, "Excess is not rebellion. Your drinkin' what they're sellin'?" Believe me, I like the Ultimates for the most part. Like I said in my review, BECAUSE IT'S SUCH A BASTARDIZATION OF THE AVENGERS THAT IT'S IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME NOT TO SEPARATE THE TWO. The only thing that pisses me off and makes me want to knock that pencil-moustached-punk's teeth out is when he goes on shock value autopilot and hides behind realism. Look, I lived through 9/11. It happened 15 blocks from my old apartment. I saw the second tower collapse from my roof and spent the rest of that week volunteering down there at a Hospital. I saw sights you'd never want to see in your worst fucking nightmares, EVER. So the last thing I want to see when I open up a comic book is some egotistical creep trivializing and even to some extent mocking what happened there and then hiding behind realism. Millar even said in an interview that the funeral issue was suppose to be his commentary on how the media blew things way out of proportion during 9/11. What a fucking knob. ***Querty*** On the other side of it. I hear where you're coming from. What was always goofy for me were those East Coast Avengers vs.West Coast Avengers softball games they'd always do in the annuals back in the eighties. It would always be some cheeseball shit with Hawkeye pitching to Iron Man and the Vision is stooped behind the plate with a catcher's mask on and everything. Then the Masters of Evil or Ultron would show up. That Barbeque you described with Iron Man drinking a beer through the helmet was fucking hilarious. BTW, you've been doing that fat joke on the Angel talkbacks all wrong. The bloodtype one. It's not "Fill-In-The-Blank is so fat, his/her blood type is gravy". It's "Fill-In-The-Blank is so fat, his/her blood type is RAGU." Hope that helps.

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 12:17 a.m. CST

    Mr. Funny guy

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I've seen both versions, but the Ragu one only when it comes to Italians, and I figured Angel was Irish, so... Besides, to me, he looks much more gravy fat then pasta fat, don't you think? Its a fleshy quality to his face.

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 1:58 a.m. CST

    Millar has this to say about the upcoming Rawhide Kid series

    by superninja

    on his official website: "Read Rawhide Kid 1-3 on the plane home from USA...and it's fucking BRILLIANT! Zimmerman rocks. Now I know what the fuss was about after that shaky, shaky start. He's found his book at last. MM PS Getting John S to draw this was also inspired. This is definitely my pick for Feb."

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 2:58 a.m. CST

    So about those holiday graphic novel picks...

    by Dave_F

    The fact that the ONLY bit of overlap among all our lists is NAUSICAA (courtesy of me and Liz) clearly establishes it as head-and-shoulders above the rest. If you fail to buy it, you're sure to be karmically punished! Not that there weren't some other good choices, too. Buzz, good call with FORTUNE & GLORY, which is my all-time fave Bendis book. Quixote, even though you were late to find BONE, it was and is one of the all-time great indie success stories, and for those who've yet to sample it...there's still time! RING OF THE NIBELUNG hardcover, Vroom? Man, I loved that series and even *I* didn't buy the hardcover! Are you rich? Will you be my sugar daddy? I'll treat you right. In the meantime, I point out to readers that RING OF THE NIBELUNG is also available through the purchase of two inexpensive softcovers. It's an option to consider if you're scraping mold off your bread like me. What else, what else... "300"? Love that book. Folks who think Frank Miller is all washed up need only read this work of a few years back to disabuse them of that notion. Truly amazing stuff, with enough violent testosterone within to counter a thousand Sally Fields! SWAMP THING and TOP TEN? Hell, you *can't* go wrong with Alan Moore. I'm embarrassed that it took me so long to read that series. It was low-key, but the buzz was worth it. Good list fellow @$$holes, especially if you put NAUSICAA on it.

  • while that series might not really be geared for a new generation of readers (as Marvel originally promoted it), I do credit it for winning over a good chunk of non-Spidey fans. And while AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is damn good at what it does, I wouldn't guess it would necessarily appeal to ULTIMATE SPIDEY fans; the titles *are* fairly different. Continuity's not as big a bitch as you think it is, though, at least at the moment. If one were to come in on JMS's run out of nowhere, all you'd need to know is that Peter Parker is in his mid-to-late 20's these days and that he's separated from his wife. That's it. Try it some time if you want to see a more action-oriented Spidey. ****** About the Avengers wearing their costumes at barbecues an' stuff...hey man, don't make me defend the *excesses* of a few writers! But speaking of Iron Man's identity in the old days of the West Coast Avengers (when it was Jim Rhodes in the suit, but nobody knew it), I am reminded of a memorable character bit from SECRET WARS (I think). Iron Man is in Reed Richards' lab and has taken off his metal glove for Reed to analyze it or repair it or something, and he asks Reed if he's surprised that it's a black man under the armor. Reed tells him, "I knew there was a *man* in there," and leaves it at that. Heavy-handed? Sure, but a nice moment nevertheless.

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 3:36 a.m. CST


    by Dave_F

    Here's my deal with reading THE ULTIMATES: Tried the first issue and didn't like it. Read the second issue and *did* like it, and continued to generally enjoy the series (with reservations) up until events surrounding the Hulk brouhaha made it clear that I wasn't gonna like the mean-spirited direction of the book in the long run. Given the book's slow release schedule (look for the next one in January), it's only been TWO issues since then. Didn't buy 'em -- just read a friend's copies to see if my feelings toward the series would change at any point. Hasn't happened. But I like to keep up on the industry, and ULTIMATES is pretty enough to look at, so I'll probably keep reading friends' copies for a few more issues. Plus, reading Millar's latest bastardizations is a little like rubbing your tongue against the cold sore in your mouth - you know it's wrong, but you do it anyway. I'll never *pay* for the ULTIMATES anymore though; I don't want my twisted masochism contributing to the book's success.

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 3:47 a.m. CST

    So, the mighty Millar is sportin' a woody for Zimmerman?

    by Dave_F

    Not surprising. Millar's got a passion for shock value, and RAWHIDE KIDE sounds like it's nothing *but* shock value. This'll be an interesting test of his influence. Will his groupies follow his advice and seek it out, despite all common sense to the contrary? C'mon, he's "fuckin' brilliant" right? I mean, this *is* the guy who gave us classic lines like, "Hulk smash Freddie Prinz Jr.!"

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 3:56 a.m. CST

    Well gee wiz Corm.

    by vroom socko

    I never said that I owned THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG hardcover. I just said that it'd make a great Christmas gift. Especially if it's a Christmas gift someone's getting for me.

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 4:02 a.m. CST

    Ok, ok...

    by Qwerty Uiop

    So the Freddie Prinze Jr. stuff was a little heavy handed, but I really like the build up to threats. I do wish the book would come out faster, that bugs the shit out of me. DAMN YOU PLANETARY! DAMN YOU TO HELL! But even if you don't like it and don't buy it, there must be something in it to keep bringing you back. I hate Joe Casey, but I don't peruse his books in the store each week. ** Anyway, in truth, yes Iron Man didn't take off his helmet at the BBQ in West Coast Avengers because he was Jim Rhodes and no one knew it, but it was an easy example of other times that it has happened. Like when Jarvis has the big tea cup for Giant man in Kurt's relaunch, (which I let slide, after all, he is Giant Man) but he's grinking with his mask on. You'd think it would be a little uncomfortable. Imagine the helmet head they all must have. ** As for Continuity, it doesn't bother me too much. I've read comics my whole life and I'm pretty familiar with their basic types of stories, so I can keep up, but I think the major problem is that new writers have to shoulder the weight of the old writers and it seems to bind them creatively somewhat. Not that I advicate throwing all the old stories out or anything. It just seems to me that the best stories seem to happen in the maxi series where theres a beginning and an end. Like with Batman. If they switched to 12 issue arcs, with a basic biography to the character and allowed each team to take along what baggage they choose, you'd get complete stories, with tighter, more concise story telling and friendly to new readers. I mean shit, picking up issue #278 is daunting to anyone, right?

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 4:26 a.m. CST

    Well if that's the case, Vroom, you get no sweet lovin'...

    by Dave_F

    However, I *also* will accept the RING OF THE NIBELUNG hardcover as a Christmas gift, and if any comic professionals are out there reading this, I promise you glowing reviews in return! If I can turn around on a book like NEW X-MEN I can turn around on a book like THE ULTIMATES! Millar, you reading this?!!

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 7:36 a.m. CST

    By the way Comedian...

    by Dave_F

    ...that was a beautiful little ULTIMATES rant there. Sarcasm can be a wonderful thing in the right hands. By the way, because I recognize that I'm a little extreme in my distaste for Millar's opus, and you've got a good moderate stance as a fun who recognizes the book for what it is, I hereby nominate you as the @$$hole party spokesman regarding all things ULTIMATES.

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 1:12 p.m. CST

    You know what we need more of?

    by Qwerty Uiop

    More Winona Ryders, shes so hot. I'm a fan of the boobs. And the girl-thief thing she has going on is always sexy. Its like Catwoman, minus the leather.

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 3:47 p.m. CST

    I KNEW if I held out long enough, I'd catch Corm praising SECRET

    by JonQuixote

    That Reed-Rhodey vignette is just one of the many wunnerful & classic moments found in that kick-ass fun limited series. Remember, remember when comics actually used to be fun? And artists rarely devoted more than 4 pages to drawings of bridges? *** My main problem with ULTIMATES: Millar's a fuckin' awful writer. Don't get me wrong, he's a really good idea man, and, after overcoming initial resistance, I'm really liking his takes on the characters, especially the big 3. But the man writes some of the worst dialogue I've ever read in a comic book. Take his version of Nicholas L. Fury...a GENERAL in charge of the biggest defense task-force in history - who prances around like Puff Daddy and calls Tony Stark "Daddy-o." Can you imagine Colin Powell talking like a Quentin Tarantio character? Unintentionally hilarious and belies the "realism" Millar purpots to strive for. Or that god-awful "casting couch" session. Painful. Not funny. Plus all the lapses into sick, John Waters territory are just bewildering. Millar came up with some really solid ideas, but THE ULTIMATES right now seems to be compelling and enjoyable *in spite* of his writing, not because of it.

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 3:49 p.m. CST

    Hey Corm,

    by JonQuixote

    Does ULTIMATE SPIDEY get the credit for all these "new" Spidey fans, or can we give a little nod in the direction of the mainstream Spider-Man books being awful for the 10 years previous?

  • Dec. 14, 2002, 5:12 p.m. CST

    Millar ain't so bad...

    by SleazyG. long as Editorial keeps him in check. He closed out SWAMP THING pretty well, and got to bring a lot of old, unused DC characters into the mix. Not quite as well as Gaiman, of course, but at some point we gotta quit using him as the yardstick. Also, if I remember correctly Millar wrote the all-ages SUPERMAN ADVENTURES based on the animated series for quite a while. So we know he's capable when editorial doesn't just let him run apeshit for no good reason.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 1:29 a.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    Fantastic post! Funny and serious by turns, and made your point exactly. I agre with you entirely.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 1:32 a.m. CST

    Jon Q...

    by Elliot_Kane

    More 'Synthetic Reviews' please :) The last was the funniest thing I've read all year, and I keep waiting for the next. More!

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 1:36 a.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    Secret Wars just generally rules. I love that series :) You're right that USM fans are not always fans of MU Spidey too - I'm one of them. I never really liked Spidey beyond the odd special here and there, but I love USM. Strange, but there you go... :)

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 1:39 a.m. CST

    On Millar...

    by Elliot_Kane

    He can write good stuff, but it's rare these days. I don't think Millar really likes conventional superheroes, but he does enjoy shocking his audience. That's a very bad combo on a superhero series...

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 1:46 a.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    Superninja has the best taste there by a long way. Alan Moore and Jim Starlin at their best :)

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 2:38 a.m. CST

    Comic artist/writer Darwyn Cooke regarding THE ULTIMATES...

    by Dave_F

    ...but I'll get to that in a minute or two. First off, if y'all don't know who Darwyn Cooke is, shame on you. Put simply, he's one of those artists who works in the "animated series" style, which makes sense, because he was actually a storyboard artist for the Batman and Superman cartoons. Notably, he designed the opening sequence for BATMAN BEYOND, which may be the best opening sequence to a cartoon ever. He was also the artist for the first four issues of CATWOMAN and CATWOMAN: SELINAS BIG SCORE, as well as the original graphic novel, BATMAN: EGO. Oh, and he sometimes fills in for the art on X-STATIX. The dude rocks, and can give Bruce Timm a himself a run for his money in the Kirby/Toth school of art. So...he's got an interesting project coming up for DC called NEW FRONTIER, which is a six-issue series looking at DC's Silver Age icons in the time before the Justice League formed. It's both a period piece (Buzz and Superninja take note) and a specific response to the deconstruction of the characters that Cooke is not a fan of. If that sounds too "old school", keep in mind that Cooke, like Geoff Johns, just plain knows how to spin a good yarn, and keep in mind that he also wrote the excellent SELINAS BIG SCORE, which was hardly some slavish devotion to nostalgia. Personally, I'm hoping it'll be a return to the heroism of DC's icons that I'd *hoped* DK2 would be. Anyway, there's a great article on it that everyone should read at COMIC BOOK RESOURCES (lots of pre-production art) and it's right here: *********** More importantly, though, he are his relevant quotes regarding THE ULTIMATES, featuring thoughts that very much mirror my own: "I think that the tone, the approach and the characterizations that 'Ultimates' takes are perfect for right now, the sales reflect that too. But that should be a cast of new characters for a new time. The problem I have is the way they're taking iconic characters and destroying parts of what they are while amplifying other aspects, just to generate sales. I think it's a shame and I really don't know that it's the thing to do with Giant Man and Wasp [referencing the events in issue #6 that saw the couple in a brutal fight with each other]. Bruce Banner has always been characterized as a man with a certain moral compass and a certain responsibility for what the Hulk has been, but the 'Ultimates' portrays him as a sex crazed monster running down the street destroying innocent lives because his ex is dating a movie star. Then there's Captain America's reaction, which is kicking Bruce Banner in the teeth while he is lying on the ground- these are all relevant situations and reactions, but I think that they should involve new characters. Everyone these days will say, 'oh, but that's another interpretation' and that really makes me question why we want to see these icons like this- what is it about us as people that want to bring these icons down to this level? Is it because we can't even believe in the notion of people better than us who aren't so weak and will make the right decisions when push comes to shove? That seems to be the message and that's the part I have the problem with in the end. I think you also have to show some respect for the original creators and what they were trying to put across in their original work with these characters. I think 'Authority' is more valid than 'Ultimates' because it's a brand new group of characters. Hey, bombs away! I think that Millar and Hitch are talented men- if they were just doing new characters, I'd be so much more into what they're doing right now. In terms of that good old kind of comic book heroism, I would have to go with the first arc of the JMS/JRJr 'Amazing Spider-Man' stories- I thought that was fucking A-one comics! I wasn't reading that saying 'oh this is blowing my mind,' I was thinking that if I were 14, I would totally be grooving on this. I think that is a really good example of good old-fashioned heroism in modern superhero comics." Later, asked why he thought the idea of heroism is becoming a lost concept, he replied, "I think it's like a weird paradox because the market's continuing to age and contract, sales may jump now and then because the same guys buy more stuff, but it's funny that the people fell in love with the same heroic ideal that they're trying to get rid of in order to keep things interesting. That's the market now- it's more adult and it's more introspective, because ironically they grew up loving superheroes for what they were and now they're changing them into something else in order to keep loving them. So I'm wondering if maybe everybody needs a blazing story with some decent people wielding the power and if maybe that won't be seen as refreshing after all this time. The superhero genre *is* tired and it's been asked to fulfill a need it shouldn't have to- it should be a much smaller part of the overall market and give you the good, evil, secret identity, blah blah blah. But they're having to carry this other segment of thought that should be in other genres- there should be more books like 'Love & Rockets' for all the soap opera stuff in super hero comics. It's a shame there aren't more genre books like that to help fill out the market because now the story you want to tell has to be force fed into the superhero genre in order to guarantee any sales." ****** Darwyn Cooke, will you marry me? You're dreamy. No, seriously, I think he hit on a very relevant point about how immature it is to need to see sophisticated ideas filtered through a genre so inherently juvenile as superhero comics, when there are all kinds of *OTHER* genres specifically created to explore such depth. Judge Mental, if you're still out there...don't you feel just a little bit silly that you're aching for relevance regarding "world trade, human rights, and international aid"...from a slick, action-movie-style SUPERHERO COMIC?! Isn't that a little like searching for in-depth social commentary in DIE HARD? I guess it just seems silly to me that our indie-specialist, Lizzybeth, is always covering these small press projects that are *legitimately* progressive, and yet the discussions we have here of progressive comics never seem to go behind "ULTIMATES" versus fucking "mainstream superheroes"!!! Nothin' against guys know I love 'em...but honestly, I don't think they're the best genre for deep introspection, for subversive thinking, and for progressiveness. Let's not start thinking we're too fucking hip just because Mark Millar lays out some anarchist propaganda in a book about men in tights.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 2:56 a.m. CST

    Wassup, Kane!

    by Dave_F

    What are you reading these days, you ol' git? Still on about SOJOURN and LUCIFER? I meant what cool and *NEW* books have you found, dammit?! **** As for ULTIMATE SPIDEY versus all the other Spidey books...while you most certainly *are* a strange guy, there's nothing strange at all about liking ULT. SPIDEY and not caring for regular Spidey. They truly are two different beasts, and while they may share a premise and angsty-but-upbeat tone, Bendis' specific approach is very, very different from the approach of Stan Lee and all those who followed in his tradition. Bendis came from talky, ultra-character-oriented crime books, and it *shows*. It's his feel for character, more than anything else, that draws people to the series. JMS writes a pretty good Spidey/Peter Parker too, but he simply isn't shooting for the kind of emotional realism that Bendis does, and that emotional realism is the central attraction for most ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN readers. Which brings up the question...have you tried any of Bendis's non-Spidey stuff? It's a mixed bag sometimes, but if you like his characters and character interaction, you should definitely try JINX, and possibly GOLDFISH, which preceded it. ALIAS ain't bad either.

  • Not when sales numbers today are still a pale shadow of the numbers of the 70's or 80's, and not when many of the "new" Spidey fans are either lapsed fans coming back (like me) or a small number of pre-existing comic readers trying Spidey's adventures for the first time (like Kane). The fabled mainstream audience (that is, people who don't regularly read comics) continues to remain elusive. ****** On a separate note, don't be thinkin' you all that just 'cause you got me to say something good about SECRET WARS! Man, I could go off on a full blown Cormo-Rant about all the *ridiculous* stuff in that book, from Spidey beating up the entire X-Men to Molecule Man and his simpering girlfriend to Klaw and his goddamn rhyming-iming-iming. Okay, but I did like seeing Ben Grimm play patty-cake with the Lizard (if ya know what I mean).

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 4:16 a.m. CST

    some thoughts on Indies

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I have read and still read many smaller press, non-superhero, "indie" comics, but I don't look for them actively. Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. For all the types of stories "indie" comics usually focus on there is a big ol' heap of other types of media that quite simply do it better. Whether its because of more space to get into characters, or the subtlety of the human face when it comes to projecting emotions, TV, movies, Novels, music, etc. all do it better. But if you want good superhero shit, you have to go to comics. Whether it is classic, iconic good vs. evil you want or adventures in lands that are more shades of gray, there is nowhere else where you can find really good Superhero tales. Whether they wear a costume or not and I think that

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 4:56 a.m. CST

    I just keep disagreeing with you, Qwerty.

    by vroom socko

    I don't think any one medium is better or worse than another. There are strengths in comics that aren't present in movies, novels, or TV. I know they're not strictly "indie," but can you imagine either Sandman or Preacher in any other format? Sure, the movie version of Akira is amazing, but the comic is twenty times better. Stuff like Bone, or Johnny the Homicidal Maniac might make it as animation, but I doubt it. Cerebus would never make it as a novel. And I've never seen a movie or TV show that's had characters as real as the ones in Box Office Poison. As for the sales figures of these books; how do they relate to their quality? Is Armageddon a better movie than, say, Dark City? After all which made more money? Remember, DK2 was a big seller, and I wouldn't even use it for kindling; the fumes might be just as vile and nauseous.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 5:15 a.m. CST


    by Dave_F

    You're right that comics do superheroes like nobody's business, but I challenge the notion that other mediums are inherently superior to comics when it comes to non-superhero genres. Prose and theater have a few *millennia* on comics when it comes to exploring the sophistication of their mediums, and film was never pigeonholed with the self-fulfilling prophecy of being a children's medium, but these advantages aside, do you really think that comics just plain can't match these other mediums when it comes to drama, history, romance, or whatever? I say that the medium is only now beginning to break free of the shackles of being a kiddie ghetto to discover just *what* it can do, but even now there are many non-superhero comics I'd happily stack up against their counterparts in other mediums. I'd put NAUSICAA up against DUNE. I'd put FROM HELL up against anything from Stephen King. I'd put SCENE OF THE CRIME up against any Hollywood crime movie, the various CONCRETE short stories up against any prose writer's short stories, and SANDMAN up against...well, it doesn't really *have* an obvious peer in any other mediums (long-form serial fantasy/horror/mythology/literature?). I think it's much, much *harder* to find comics that match the best in prose or film in non-superhero genres, but it's also a rapidly growing area, and if comic fans aren't a little bit experimental, they're helping to stagnate that artistic growth. But I'm not so much trying to make a pitch for diversity today as I am wondering if we twenty and thirty-something readers aren't asking our superhero comics to be something they shouldn't - that is, grown-up, sophisticated entertainment. Don't get me wrong, I'm reading plenty of superhero stuff myself that's not strictly all-ages, from CATWOMAN to ALIAS to NEW X-MEN, but even though the direct market is as responsible for kids leaving the medium as anything else, I can't help but feel guilty that there's not a lot for kids to grab onto out there in the superhero world. It's really less than you'd think. Even a mainstream book like AMAZING SPIDER-MAN still gave an issue over to Spidey and Aunt May gabbing it up for 22-pages, and few kids would want to see that. Likewise, few kids could give a hoot about DAREDEVIL being lawyerly for 6 months on end, for GREEN LANTERN striking blows for tolerance, for SUPERMAN appearing in yet another self-congratulatory story attempting to define him, for an INCREDIBLE HULK that reads an awful lot like comicdom's answer to THE FUGITIVE, for a NEW X-MEN that's all about a bunch of malcontent students (just read the preview of next week's issue - all student protest stuff), and a Wolverine ORIGIN story that's a half-assed Jack London period-piece. Unless you're thirteen-and-up, well past the traditional peak age for discovering superheroes, there's really *not* that much in the way of straight-up superhero adventure. What's more, when you take classic concepts like THE AVENGERS and erode them, even *outside* the main book (talkin' bout ULTIMATES, don't ya know), I think you're contributing to a slow degradation of the iconic, heroic status of those characters. Look how the non-continuity DARK KNIGHT has impacted all mainstream Batman stories since, turning Batman from a hero into an obsessed asshole, and how the success of realism in the ULTIMATE line-up has led Joey Q and Jemas to make "realism" the keynote for their entire regime. Is it worth pleasing a small number of aging fans with a gloomy-as-fuck four-part story of CAPTAIN AMERICA killing a terrorist and taking off his mask, if it's going to strip him of his iconic heroism and action/adventure kid appeal? I say "no". Even with a book like NEW X-MEN, which I'm currently enjoying, I can't in good faith say it's an ideal evolution for these once all-ages characters - because no kid in his right mind would want to read Morrison's fascinating but freaky shit, and I'd *never* have become an X-Men fan if the book had been like that when I was a kid in the early 80's. (Sidebar: Sales on NEW X-MEN spiked when Morrison signed on, but they've now dropped to *below* pre-Morrison sales.) Hey, we like what we like, but would you agree that there's a strong degree of selfishness in the desire of many adult superhero fans to see the genre mature with them even as it becomes more and more inaccessible to the group that was once its core audience? Like Cooke, I don't mind a book like THE AUTHORITY existing, even if it's not my cup of tea, but degrading the name of longstanding superheroes gets my goat. ******* Oh, and just for the record, Qwerty, we might not agree on *this* issue, but you and I are square on account of you're a big FIREFLY supporter too. Noticed you giving the haters some payback over in the FIREFLY TalkBack, and I heartily approve. Truly a fun show, and now, alas, it is cancelled. What a pisser.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 5:43 a.m. CST

    That's SCION and Lucifer, oh Featherbrain!

    by Elliot_Kane

    Hi Cormorant, if you want new, I quite like Legends from Draxhall Jump Entertainment (1 issue so far), I got Demonwars (which you guys are reviewing, so I beat nobody there) and GAAK - Groovy Ass Alien Kreatures - looks pretty entertaining. Ennis is writing more War Stories too, which can't be a bad thing. *** "while you most certainly *are* a strange guy" - aw, thanks! Flatterer! *** You're totally right about USM, but I'll also add that Bendis puts in just enough realism to his world to get it to work without trying for shock value or pushing it so far that superheroes seem out of place. It's a fine line to walk, and he does it well. I am not a general Bendis fan, but for me USM is the best superhero series currently on the market. *** On the subject of attracting new fans to comics, I think only CrossGen can really be said to making any leeway there, and as there sales figures show, they're not doing that good a job, at least in America. Europe and Britain love them, though :)

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 6 a.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    I very strongly disagree with your assertion that comics are, in some way, an inferior form of storytelling technique to many others. You are doing the equivalent of judging all television by soap operas or judging all novels by 'bonkbusters' or all films by Battlefield Earth. I suppose you judge all music by listening to boy bands, too? It's certainly the aural equivalent...

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 11:09 a.m. CST

    Spider-Man beating up the X-Men was the BEST part in SECRET WARS

    by JonQuixote

    He jumped in on them, knocked them silly for a few seconds, and then took off running. It *totally* worked - he "made them look like amateurs," which is, with apologies to Logan, what Spider-Man does best. *** And it was Owen Reese who was simpering, not his big'ol galpal Volcana. And the scene where, with the love of a good (well, sorta) woman behind him, Owen finally stands up to his bullies and kicks the shit out of SECRET WARS whipping boy Piledriver. That was the BEST part! *** Klaw going insane? Easily the best part. And the patty-cake stuff? Da best! The Hulk lifting up the mountain? Tell me that's not the best part, 'cause it sure is mine! Captain America breaking his shield? Well, of course that's the very best part. The Wasp playing tonsil-hockey with Magneto - the best part about SECRET WARS was when it had characters who rarely interact (like Iron Man & Mr. Fantastic or Human Torch & Colossus), come together in cool and interesting ways. And let's not forget the fights - Spider-Man vs. Titania, She-Hulk vs. Doc Ock, Hawkeye Vs. the Wrecking Crew, Human Torch & Captain America vs. Ultron... it's a fanboy's wet dream, and it totally delivers, and THAT's the best part.

  • I'm sure we all assumed that the "other guy" had sent you an appropriately tasteless card, but rest assured, we were all thinking @$$hole thoughts at you. By the way, nice musical analogy there. As for giving total primacy to the concept that "the story's the thing,

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 12:24 p.m. CST

    "'s a fanboy's wet dream."

    by Dave_F

    That should really be the cover blurb on a new SECRET WARS trade, JQ.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 1:24 p.m. CST


    by JonQuixote

    I didn't buy the second issue, but based on the first I'd have to say that Ultimate DD/ELEKTRA is more like that Lilo & Stitch A-Teens cover of Elvis.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 1:25 p.m. CST

    wet dreams

    by JonQuixote

    I give Marvel my blessing.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 2:48 p.m. CST

    VI speaks: Darwyn Cooke fine, but what did *Tony Isabella* say a

    by Village Idiot

    Hey everybody, Village Idiot here, the guy creeped out by Stephen Collin's willingness to do God-knows-what with a bald robot with a thingee on her neck. What also creeps me out it the fact that Tony "Black Lightning" Isabella's comments regarding ULTIMATES echoed mine so closely, I'm considering legal action. See the careful criticism he gave it here: <>.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 6:49 p.m. CST

    Elliot Kane and Vroom

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Elliot Kane: Don't misunderstand me, I don't think comics are inferior storytellers at all and I support several non-superhero titles that tell really good stories. BUT, I don't find it to be a comic industry strong point. I'm not saying this is true across the board. Just generally true. There are exceptions for every rule. Thanks for going off the deep end though. ** Vroom: Sandman and Preacher ARE superhero comics, they aren't traditional at all, but they are still superhero comics. Akira is one as well. We all know this. They support my point more than yours. Akira the movie obviously lacked some of the power of the book. And Sandman and Preacher would get butchered anywhere else but comics. But how about Sopranos as a comic? Would it be as good as the TV show? No. What about Ma Vie En Rose? Would that make a good comic? No. How about Amelie? Would it be as quirky and magical? No. Would the Songs of Fire and Ice series be as engrossing as a comic? No. The point isn't that comics are incapable of telling good stories, its just that they have strentghs that lend more to one kind, while other mediums have strengths that lend more to another. I don't see anything wrong with that fact. Its just the way it is. "And I've never seen a movie or TV show that's had characters as real as the ones in Box Office Poison." I don't know what to tell you there, my man. Perhaps you should check out some other movies. I wasn't equating sales to quality. Thats not anywhere in my post. My point was that people piss and moan about how much they want more diverse types of comics and less of a Superhero dominated genre, and yet when those books come out, they don't support them. So I think the sales show that most buyers are lying when they profess this desire for more diversity. Because they sure as shit are not buying Indies as much as Superheros. Does Optic Nerve ever crack the top ten? What about Love and Rockets? Whats that? No? Maybe its because when most people say they want more "Indie" comics, its the same as the dumbasses who go to "saving grace" or "billy elliot" and then talk about how they like independant film. My point is: most of those fuckers are posers (not to mean that you or any of the others are, it was more of a rant about people in general, so don't take that personally). So just to re-inerate, I don't think sales equate quality. I'm also able to tie my shoes on my own.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 7:24 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 7:27 p.m. CST

    Cross Gen

    by Qwerty Uiop

    yeah, its too bad their good business sense doesn't include good taste in comics.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 7:58 p.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    I meant no offence, but the number of times I've seen comic readers basically insulting their own hobby is quite amazing. I wanted you to fully realise how wrong you were in what you were saying, and taking your argument to the ultimate degree was the easiest way to do that. That's not 'the deep end' by any means. As for artists being incapable of capturing the full range of human expression, check out Jim Cheung on Scion. He certainly can, although I admit it is a rare talent. Bagley and others get pretty close though. Production values of LOTR? Roughly half CrossGen's titles, plus a whole chunk of ABC, anything drawn by Jay Anacleto or Alex Ross... Comic art can have detailed backgrounds. Many are thoroughly researched historically to a level that should have Hollywood blushing with shame - if it had any. Compare the ludicrous pseudo-history of films like Braveheart or Gladiator with Alan Moore's FROM HELL, or Pat Mills' SLAINE. There is no comparison. Mark Waid's dialogue for RUSE was almost entirely correct for the period, and the characters in Way Of The Rat actually look like the nationality they are supposed to be - a concept virtually unheard of in film or television. I honestly believe that any type of story can be told in any medium, given the talent to make it happen. Judging by the number of film makers, novelists and TV people who are currently writing comics, the medium cannot be as restrictive as you think. I doubt that any of those people consider that they are slumming it...

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 8:06 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    Most of your examples have to do with Cross Gen, so you must read them. Why don't we just admit that we'll never understand each other now and be done with it.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 8:18 p.m. CST

    I'll admit...

    by Elliot_Kane

    ... that we are never likely to AGREE, Qwerty. All opinions being equally valid, I am prepared to abandon the debate if that is what you wish.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 9:35 p.m. CST

    Thats true, but...

    by Qwerty Uiop

    as much as I love comics, I get a little nervous about lumping them in with literature. I know, I know, you're all flipping out right now, I know, I love comics too, but as true Literature? Battlechasers? Seriously, I just think of them as a seperate field. One I love. But seperate.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 10:24 p.m. CST

    I can't be bothered to read all of your massive posts, but I fee

    by JonQuixote

    Qwerty: You've obviously never read Maus, which won the Pulitzer Prize. *** Comics are just a fusion of prose and film. They share strengths and limitations, as well as offering some unique ones of their own. There are some things the written word does better than film. There are some things film does better than the written word. And there are some things that comics do better than both. But it cannot be argued that one medium is inherently superior than the other - they all have strengths and weaknesses, depending on what the artist is trying to acheived. Comics unfortunately have been stigmatized, mostly due to the fact that the vast majority are superhero works, and the vast majority of those are aimed at young men with little critical discretion who want to see flashy action and enjoy escapist fantasy. But the medium is not inherently flawed - it may not attract the best or truest artists and craftsmen, but it's just a medium.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 11:03 p.m. CST

    Alright, one more time...

    by Qwerty Uiop

    There are exceptions to every rule. I meant in general, as in the industry as a whole, which is what you'd have to include if you were to include "comics" as a part of literature. Yes, Maus is good, I have read it, once for pleasure and once for an assignment. Its obvious, though, you haven't read the posts since you're just repeating everyone else. Comics have been stigmatized? WHAT? Call the fucking newspapers. I wasn't aware, thanks for pointing it out. How does gravity work?

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 11:09 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    I never said comics were inherantly flawed, nor did I claim that there weren't any artists or writers of merit in the industry. I think that there are many. I think they are underappreciated for what they do and how creative they are. But I still wouldn't put them on the shelf next to Hemingway or Keroauc or Salinger. I'm just saying that they should have their own section.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 12:35 a.m. CST

    I'm not going to get back into this.. Ah, fuck it.

    by vroom socko

    "Sandman and Preacher ARE superhero comics, they aren't traditional at all, but they are still superhero comics. Akira is one as well." Seriously, are you insane? How the hell could someone consider Akira or Sandman a superhero book? Just because supernatural powers and mental abilities are involved? They're about as superhero as Being John Malkovich or The Sixth Sense. Now, as for your comments about stuff like The Sopranos and Amelie, well, I don't get HBO, so I can't comment on Tony and co. but I agree about Amelie, mainly because it's a story that plays to the strengths of it's medium. Just one more thing, have you read Box Office Poison? Seriously, the characters ARE moe real than ones from any movie or TV show. This is not only because of what they go through, and why and how they go through it, but because no matter how good an actor is, he or she is still a person PRETENDING to feel something. PRETENDING to be in love. In BOP these people don't have that handicap. They have more to them then that. I'm not saying I hate movies, I love them with a passion. But to say that any one medium is only capable of telling one type of story well is just plain foolish.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 1 a.m. CST

    Man, I was just cruising by and wasn't going to reply yet, but

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Let me set the record straight. Again. You guys are starting to sound like my ex-girlfriends, half listening and assuming shit. Anyway, goes like this. I didn't say that any one medium is only capable of telling one type of story well. I only said that Comics tell Superhero tales best and with a few exceptions, that are indeed really well done, they generally seem to fall short when compared to other mediums when it comes to telling different kind of tales. There

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 1:04 a.m. CST

    Are there exceptions to every rule?

    by JonQuixote

    What about the laws of Thermodynamics? That's really the only part of your post I read - so many words from everybody - but BOO-YAH! Argument Terminated. But why make rules if you're just gonna break them? Why not just say that most comics are inferior when compared to most literature, but you recognize that it has nothing to do with the medium, but rather conventional usage of the medium?

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 1:14 a.m. CST

    Comics don't tell superhero stories best.

    by JonQuixote

    Honestly, if one could say comics does one genre story better than anything else, it would be noir. Sequential art, more than any other medium is able to combine action sequences with an internal monologue, two essential components of good noir. Plus, with comics, lighting can be explored and experimented with cheaper, easier, and with a more receptive audience than film, and that's another noir essential. *** Or how about soap operas? The serial nature of the comic book allows for slow, intricate character development that a novel can't afford to take years to explore, and without the budgetary or time constraints of television or film. Sure, most of this has been devoted to superheroes, but really it's an extension of character and not spandex. *** What comics do, however, is SELL superheroes better than anything else. But don't confuse what the medium is capable of with what it primarily does. You wouldn't know what televison could do with The Sopranos if all you watched was NBC in the 80's. You'd think, sitcoms and self-contained episodic dramas. But with the evolution of the medium AND the audience... Badda Bing.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 1:38 a.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    Good points, but I'm not confusing what the medium is capable of with what it primarily does. I'm going on history. And so far Movies, TV, Books, what have you have all tried the Superhero genre and, for the most part, have failed or at least paled when compared to what the comic industry has built itself out of. So, I do think Comics do Superheroes best, although Noir is a close second.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 1:40 a.m. CST

    Another thing you're right about

    by Qwerty Uiop

    There aren't exceptions to every rule. Like Thermodynamics, for instance or say, that theres never a shortage of smartass bitches on these Talkbacks...

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 3:28 a.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    Long talkback this week, people will think this is a Two Towers thread or something.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 3:32 a.m. CST

    I love a good debate.

    by vroom socko

    I don't think anyone disagrees with the idea that comics do superheroes best, (even though a case could be made for animation.) I think that when you say "with a few exceptions, that are indeed really well done, they generally seem to fall short when compared to other mediums when it comes to telling different kind of tales." it should probably be qualified with "in my experience." Especially given the diversity of "exceptions" people have brought up. That's not including the non-superhero stuff in our Christm@$$ list, or the stuff I'm mentioning now, like Goodbye, Chunky Rice or Blood Song or Berlin or Lone Wolf & Cub or... you get the idea. As for Preacher and Akira; I agree that they're heroic epics, but I still say they're not superhero books. There is a difference. As for Sandman, it's it's own animal, and to call it superhero, even to make a point, is selling it way short. Oh, and just to set the record straight, I'm not a smartass bitch, I'm a Talkback @$$hole, and I don't consider this kind of back and forth hateful or venemous. In fact, I think it's FUN!

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 3:45 a.m. CST

    Smartass bitch is a term of endearment to me.

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Anyway, I think half the industry's problem is the refusal of its fans to call any of the accepted "quality" books superhero books. Even though they obviously are. Sandman took place in the DC universe. And yet its not a superhero book. Morpheus is a hero of legend. In plain speak: A super hero. They say "have you read this one, its really good. Its not about Superheroes. Its about a Preacher looking for God so he can kick his ass and is taking his vampire drinking buddy and assasin girlfriend along for the ride." Sounds like Superheroes to me. Doesn't a Preacher wear a costume? Its like you're embarassed by it or something. And that very act lends credence to the theory that we shouldn't be enjoying comics as a viable medium with the ability to tell quality stories. Embrace the geek within Vroom, don't be afraid.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 3:55 a.m. CST

    In that case, you are one major smartass bitch.

    by vroom socko

    And I did embrace the geek within, but he accused me of molestation.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 6:47 a.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    Michael Moorcock has written comics, and is actually in the process of writing a new Elric series now. He's one of the best and most influential SF/Fantasy writers in the world, and would hardly waste his time with a medium he felt he could only tell 'lesser' stories in. *** Qwerty, you are confusing an inability by other media to do Superheroes well with an inherent superiority in comics that does not exist. *** Lucifer is set in the DCU, as is Hunter: The Age Of Magic, and Hellblazer for that matter. Trying to argue that they are superheroes would be a little difficult, but I'm really looking forward to hearing you try. *** "Morpheus is a hero of legend" - well, yes, but I don't think you are REALLY trying to classify the Greek and Roman myths as superhero stories, are you? Or are you? *** "taking his vampire drinking buddy and assasin girlfriend along" - couldn't that just as easily be classified as a horror comic then? Or a thriller? Vampires are automatically horror in literature, and assassins are a staple of the thriller novel. You are making your case very poorly, I fear... *** "Doesn't a Preacher wear a costume?" - Oh my God! The Pope and all his Cardinals are superheroes! All these years and I didn't realise! Or maybe there is a difference between a costume and a uniform. Just a thought... *** Honestly, Qwerty, you are grasping at straws in this. You have yet to substantiate a single point in your whole case. If you won't read CrossGen, for whatever reason, there are plenty of other 'indie' companies out there producing very good quality stories - and that's just in American comics. You do realise that Europe and Japan also create comics, very few of which have anything to do with superheroes, right? And that those industries are actually stronger than the American industry is right now? *** Back to superheroes, though: Stories like 'God Loves, Man Kills' and 'Dark Knight Returns' are examples of the best the medium has to offer - thought provoking commentary on the nature of humanity and (in the latter case) the state of politics in the US at the time. Most superhero stories are not like that, any more than most novels are Lord Of The Rings level, but to ignore or discount the best in an industry - ANY industry - is a mistake.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 9:30 a.m. CST

    I for one am a smartass bitch

    by JonQuixote

    And I'm so happy that *somebody* finally noticed.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 2:50 p.m. CST

    Elliot... phone.... home...

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Maybe Michael Moorcock felt like slumming a little. Anyway, wouldn

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 2:53 p.m. CST

    Ok, creepshow was cool

    by Qwerty Uiop

    and so was the Stand and It and some of the gunslinger stuff, but what about his last dozen books. He even wrote another haunted car one. hack.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 3:16 p.m. CST

    Bag of Bones was probably King's best ever.

    by JonQuixote

    King is actually a really talented writer (or, I guess I should say "storyteller"), but his problem is that he turns all his novels into Stephen King books. Take GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON. Potentially, a powerful intelligent story about the power of imagination in a contemporary setting...but what was with all the magic monster crap? It marred what should have been a simple, classic story.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 3:37 p.m. CST

    Where's my dictionary

    by vroom socko

    As far as I'm concerned, a superhero is a person with certain powers or abilities who uses these talents to better the lives of those around him, usually anonymously. Sandman is about an entity that is superhuman, yes, but he's hardly a superhero. Also, saying that he's a superhero because the story is set in the DCU is laughable. Gotham Central is set in the DCU, is that a superhero book? As for Watchmen, are you saying that it is like the usual superhero stuff? It isn't. There's no other superhero book out there that's anything like Watchmen. That doesn't mean it's not about superheroes. There are plenty of phenominal comics out there that are superhero, books that are among the best: Alex Toth's Zorro comics, Squadron Supreme, Avengers Forever, V for Vendetta (now if you want to argue that V is a super hero...) Kirby's New Gods stuff, The Pheonix Saga... All superhero. All phenominal stuff. But the line has to be drawn somewhere, or else you'll get people calling Jesus a superhero. Oh hell, you probably DO think Jesus was a superhero!

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 3:45 p.m. CST

    I don't think comics do superheroes better than film...

    by JonQuixote

    They do them better than prose, that's for sure, but color and visual action are an important part of the genre. The problem with superheroes and film is that the movies adapt comic heroes. Take SPIDER-MAN, which has an 40 year history that has established very clear notions of the character and his world in the minds of his fans...and then has that distilled into 120 minutes. Of course it suffers in comparison to the real deal. But what about original superhero movies? I don't think anybody would argue that the MATRIX comic book was better than the movie - yet that was clearly about superheroes (at least as much so, if not more than, PREACHER) - visual iconography, fantastic settings, superhuman abilities, etc. Yet because it didn't carry the burden of backstory and preconceived notions AND because it was designed and constructed with film in mind, it did many things far better than a static medium like comics could. We might see something similar with the new X-MEN movie. While the first was really an extended trailer for the sequel, the filmmakers seem to be establishing their own well-constructed universe out of the X-MEN mythos, one designed specifically for film.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 3:51 p.m. CST

    by JonQuixote

    A figure, especially in a comic strip or cartoon, endowed with superhuman powers and usually portrayed as fighting evil or crime. *** I've got to go with Qwerty on this one. PREACHER is technically a superhero comic. An atypical one, but superhero nonetheless. SANDMAN might be stretching it, but there certainly is an element - at least in the early story arcs. But while comics are the ideal medium for those stories, it isn't because they are ideally suited to superheroes. Comics were ideal for PREACHER because of the soap opera element of that story - a long, drawn out multi-character multi-arc exagerrated drama is best told serially without time constraints. SANDMAN because the mosaic of influences cries out for literary frames of reference, but needs the visual component of the comic book in order to keep the pace lively and maintain a broader base of reader interest.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 5:28 p.m. CST

    Qwerty... Learn... Logic

    by Elliot_Kane

    DC do superheroes, so everything set in the DCU - without exception - is a superhero story?!? I think not. DC have told many stories over the years that are not about superheroes. Currently, Lucifer is the best example, IMO, as it features absolutely no caped or cowled figures fighting crime, and the only humans thus far portrayed are quite ordinary. The only characters with supra-human powers are Angels, Demons and the like. There is no way it can possibly be categorised as a superhero comic. The DCU, like the MU, is broad, and capable of hosting many different genres of story. *** Use of magic does not mean a character is NOT a superhero, no. There are many magic-wielding superheroes. It does not mean he IS a superhero either, though. Other factors are what decides the issue. Elric has magical powers, and Stormbringer to boot, but he could never be described as a superhero. Ditto Gandalf, and many other wizards of fantasy fiction. *** Mythology is basically old and now defunct religion. As such, it could never be accurately described as involving superheroes. So far as I know, no-one has ever worshipped them (in real life, anyway) or thought that they were factual accounts of the actual doings of great heroes. Mythology may be the progenitor of superheroes, but it is itself a different thing entirely. *** Watchmen is clearly and absolutely a superhero story. People in costumes fighting crime and/or trying to make the world a better place is what superheroes are all about. I tell people it is one of the best superhero stories ever written, but I have never tried to pretend it was anything else. Same with Top Ten and all the other superhero stuff I enjoy. There have been some fantastic superhero stories written over the years, and I see no point in pretending otherwise. *** Superhero stories, to me, are about people who wear costumes and who have powers and abilities beyond those of normal people which they use to try to make the world a better place, usually by fighting people who also wear costumes and have amazing powers and abilities. Batman is a superhero because he wears a costume and fights The Joker; James Bond is NOT a superhero because he does NOT wear a costume and only fights ordinary people. *** "I don

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 5:51 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    But didn't Sandman try to affect people's lives, fight crime and injustice? What about the guy that had the muse caliope held captive so he could write stories? I say he's a superhero because he interacts on the same level as other superheros, Daniel was in a couple issues of JLA, not a BBQ, or nothing, but doing Superhero stuff. Gotham Central? Don't read it, couldn't tell you. "As for Watchmen, are you saying that it is like the usual superhero stuff?" No, I'm not, I'm saying that by prefacing handing someone, who doesn't read comics, a copy with saying that, you are inferring that other superhero stuff is a waste of time. It isn't. I'm saying that this adds to the public's perception that comics are not a viable media capable of telling good stories. Remember when that shitty Road to Perdetion movie came out and every news story was like: "comics aren't just for kids anymore!" And all of us were like: "No shit, sherlock." Well, I think that perception is due in part to people being embarassed to label "quality" books as Superhero books. That and the Bad girl trend. "But the line has to be drawn somewhere, or else you'll get people calling Jesus a superhero. Oh hell, you probably DO think Jesus was a superhero!" No, I think Jesus is a tool of an evil capitalistic, right wing religious conspiracy promising other worldly punishment if you don't stay in line and buy things you don't need.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 6:03 p.m. CST

    Good points Jon

    by Qwerty Uiop

    But what about the Captain America movie? You know, the one with the Italian Red Skull. How about Superman 3 with Richard Pryor? Lets talk about Batman and Robin or how about Batman Forever? What about the Justice League pilot with Winchester from MASH as the Martian Manhunter? Or the infamous Birds of Prey TV show? How about the Fantastic Four movie, rumored to be so God awful Marvel has a secret special unit created to actively hunt down any existing copies. How about the Wonder Woman TV show? Sure, sure, gay men everywhere love it, but comic fans? Oh and lets not forget the Incredible Hulk TV movies. What about the Daredevil one? Remember the one with Thor? Remember, he kept wanting to play with Dr. Banner's troll? What about the old Spiderman TV show? Or the old Batman TV show featuring the Battusi and a Joker with a moustache painted white. Or Dolph Lundgren as the Punisher (shudder)? How about David Hasselhof as Nick Fury? Whats that? Crying Uncle? I can go on! Thats what I thought....

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 6:17 p.m. CST

    Elliot schmelliot

    by Qwerty Uiop

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 7:28 p.m. CST

    Qwerty - I don't understand

    by JonQuixote

    That list of bad superhero movies. What that says is there have been a lot of bad superhero movies. Not to be belligerent in quotation but "I wasn't aware, thanks for pointing it out. How does gravity work?" *** But what that list doesn't do is craft a compelling argument that movies can't do superheroes well (or as well as comics). It just says that there are lots of examples where they haven't. But while that's an obvious point, it doesn't address or make any attempt to disprove my earlier points - which is that film does struggle to translate the history and serial nature of superhero comics, but would be just as proficient as comics (if not moreso) when presented with an original superhero idea. *** I understand a lot of what you're saying, or trying to say, but I think you'd avoid a lot of discussion and dissent and criticism if you replace your "can'ts" with "don'ts" or "haven'ts".

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 7:32 p.m. CST

    "but I think you'd avoid a lot of discussion and dissent and cri

    by Qwerty Uiop


  • Dec. 16, 2002, 7:39 p.m. CST

    As for the list...

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I thought it was funny, and I was saying how since there's so many bad ones and so few good ones(all though it seems to be changing lately) that the good ones seem to be the exception to the rule, not the norm.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 7:59 p.m. CST

    "I wasn't aware, thanks for pointing it out. How does gravity wo

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Heh, I kill me.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:18 p.m. CST

    Sorry Qwerty, but no.

    by vroom socko

    Morpheus was more about vengence than justice. The bit with Maddoc was vengence. His treatment of Nada was based first on vengence, then on guilt, never justice. Hell, you don't need to look any farther than his treatment of Jed Walker to see he's no superhero. As for Daniel and the JLA; first, fuck that. Second, It was explicitly stated that Dream's involvment was part of a debt he needed to repay. For fucks sake, he's the personification of a universal force, the embodiment of imagination and the unconcious. Dream a superhero? Sorry, but no.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:20 p.m. CST

    Well Qwerty...

    by Elliot_Kane

    ... I fear we ARE misunderstanding each other. You were the one who stated: "Sandman IS a superhero comic. Accept it, his universe interacts with the regular DC universe. As does Lucifer

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:33 p.m. CST

    Daniel and the JLA = Best Pals

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Just because you don't approve doesn't make it any less true. Sandman IS a superhero book.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:37 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    "The Greeks and Romans worshipped the Greek and Roman deities, NOT modern day superheroes." But what about that big statue of Superman and Zues and Julius Ceasar shaking hands and smiling in downtown Rome? As for Gandalf, well "A figure, especially in a comic strip or cartoon, endowed with superhuman powers and usually portrayed as fighting evil or crime." seems to fit him, don't you think?

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:38 p.m. CST

    Qwerty, Qwerty, Qwerty.

    by vroom socko

    "Daniel and the JLA = Best friends?" Now you're just messing with me.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:40 p.m. CST

    Elliot 2

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Its not just that they take place in the DCU, but that they share similiar attributes and goals. Plus they all fit the definition of superhero.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:42 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    It was "Daniel and the JLA = Best Pals" Jeez...

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:45 p.m. CST


    by vroom socko

    Pals, not friends? That makes all the difference. [/sarcasm] Jeez...

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:46 p.m. CST

    How about this?

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Daniel and the JLA are Super Friends.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:50 p.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:55 p.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    is not human, nor are his powers 'super' compared with other members of his race. LOTR is also a book, not a comic strip or cartoon. By the vaguest possible definition it could be argued that ANY hero in ANY story who is in any way more capable than a normal human is a 'Superhero' - though few would ever accept that definition. I certainly would not.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:59 p.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    certainly has superhuman powers, but he NEVER uses them for any ends except his own. He certainly does not fight evil, or crime, or anyone else if he doesn't have to. His concerns are so far above those of humanity that you couldn't really call him a villain, either. His methods and goals are utterly alien to the whole concept of Superheroes. I reiterate; there is no plausible argument that would ever make Lucifer a superhero.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 8:59 p.m. CST

    Actually Qwerty...

    by vroom socko

    If you go to you'll see that it's Space Ghost and the Super Friends = Best Pals.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 9:01 p.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    ""The Greeks and Romans worshipped the Greek and Roman deities, NOT modern day superheroes." But what about that big statue of Superman and Zues and Julius Ceasar shaking hands and smiling in downtown Rome?" From which I gather that i have won that particular part of the debate.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 9:22 p.m. CST

    No, Elliot

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I was making fun of you for assuming that I, in any way, inferred that Ancient Greece worshipped Superman. I meant they worshipped the heroes of legend and their gods. As for Gandalf as a superhero, you're adding words of your own to the definition. "A figure, especially in a comic strip or cartoon, endowed with superhuman powers and usually portrayed as fighting evil or crime." Its says a figure and says nothing about them having to be human. If that was the case then Superman wouldn't fit the description. It says ESPECIALLY in a comic strip or cartoon, as in NOT ALWAYS, so a book could count. Otherwise those Batman, X-Men, and Hellboy novels wouldn't be about superheroes. And Gandalf's race may have powers too, but so do all mutants, does that make Cyclops not a superhero? And he does fight Evil for the betterment of the world, after all. ** And I admitted Lucifer wasn't a superhero, I amended it saying he was a superVILLIAN.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 9:23 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    I hope Gleek gets one in the ribs. Damn dirty apes...

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 10:09 p.m. CST

    My four haypennies

    by chickenmonkey

    I love dropping into the @$$holes TB every once in a while. You guys are actually eerily civil in here. And magniloquent! You've all really got me thinking about the nature of comic books, but I think you need a semi-outsider's view. I say that there is a big difference between "hero" and "Superhero," which is that the latter is a subset of the Campbell-defined former. A subset that originated in comic books, and is what the average non-geek would describe as a Superhero: i.e. spandex costume, secret identity, fights crime, super-powered/has gadgets. I think that simplistic generalizations can work here for this arguement. So 1) Sandman is a tale of a tragic "hero," but not of a "Superhero." 2) I say that Superhero stories ARE done best in comic medium, but mostly I say this because 90% of crossovers from one medium to another are crap. Buffy (movie to TV) being a notable exception, along with Goldeneye (movie to game). That's actually ALL I can think of where one medium has told a story better than the one that originated it. So. For the arguement that "no other media does superheroes better than comics," I agree, because no other media has originated a superhero that didn't come directly from comic books to begin with. The Matrix being the exception that proves that rule. Unless there are any more? Thank you for your indulgence.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 10:26 p.m. CST

    Guys, the argument is easily resolved.

    by SleazyG.

    Chickenmonkey just said exactly what I came here to say: drop the word "super" and you have a point, Qwerty. You are debating what it means to be a hero, as well as what it means to be an antihero. Neither of these, however, is the same as the term "superhero". Heroes are a part of human mythology and storytelling that go back as far as we do. I do not for one moment accept that it is appropriate to call the likes of Gilgamesh and Hercules "superheroes". They may be heroes, yes. But superheroes? Look, man, you're referring to characters, concepts, tales that have existed for thousands of years using a phrase coined in the last century. Not only that, it was coined to refer to a very specific type of character. I assure you, that phrase did not exist prior to the coming of Superman, Shazam, Wonder Woman, the JSA, etc. To use this term to refer to both Blue Beetle and the cast of the Bhagavad Gita is just silly. I don't recall Joseph Campbell ever suggesting this was the case. If you wish to view what Morpheus went through as a hero's quest, that may be valid. John Constantine is as antihero as it gets. It's all about the definitions of the terms you bandy about. It's not that everything you said was wrong; it's just that some of your terms were misused and led to some confusion.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 10:29 p.m. CST

    There are lots of other superheroes created outside of the world

    by SleazyG.

    For example, "Ka-Zaam!" and "Blankman" and "M.A.N.T.I.S." and "SuperChicken" and "ElectroWoman and DynaGirl". Or, to go and lend the reek of respectability to the list, let's not forget Michael Chabon's "The Adventures of Cavalier and Clay", in which the main characters create comic books.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 10:31 p.m. CST

    "I assure you, that phrase did not exist prior to the coming of

    by Qwerty Uiop


  • Dec. 16, 2002, 10:33 p.m. CST

    I think

    by Qwerty Uiop

    the main difference between superhero and hero is posessing abilities beyond that of normal men. Which includes many mythological figures.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 10:39 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    I don't mean to put words in Chickenmonkey's mouth, but I think he meant heroes that have been accepted as Icons in society and while cavalier and clay have won a pulitzer, they aren't really icons.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 11:07 p.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    I think you meant: "the keen HAIRCUT of Guy Gardner"

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 11:12 p.m. CST

    Uh, Qwerty, your "duh" said it all.

    by SleazyG.

    Look, man, if you know the term "superhero" didn't exist, but the characters and stories did, you've just proved yourself wrong. The heroes which have been mentioned usually had "special" or "super" or "wondrous" or "magical" or "godlike" powers. It came with the territory. Not all the heroes, mind you, but most of them certainly. Achilles? Nigh-invulnerable. Heel=Kryptonite. David may not have been superpowered when he slew Goliath, but he was a fuckin' deadeye, that's for damned sure, making him the Biblical Green Arrow. I say these things not to back up your argument that ancient history is full of superheroes but to make the point that they were HEROES. Superheroes are nothing more than a very recent variation on a tune as old as Man. To try and reclassify archetypes using so modern a term is a mistake. The old heroes are what they are, and the newer superheroes are just a derivation of the originals. Maybe, if they're still talking about Superman and Spider-Man in three thousand years, maybe it'll turn out that you're right and the way that heroes are viewed will have been changed by them, but right now it's a little to early to call.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 11:32 p.m. CST

    "it'll turn out that you're right "

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I couldn't have said it better myself. You know what song really fucking rocks? "Turbo Lover" by Judas Priest

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 11:36 p.m. CST

    And before 1990 at the Versace fashion show in Paris...

    by chickenmonkey

    ...there were no supermodels. Until, while George Michael's "Freedom 90" was playing in the background, Cindy, Naomi, Christy and Linda held hands and walked together down the runway.... Oh my god I am so gay.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 11:55 p.m. CST

    I DID say "maybe" TWICE in the same sentence, Qwerty.

    by SleazyG.

    That's cuz I was expressing extreme doubt in the possibility I proposed. And you know what song rocks even harder? "Black Betty" by Ram Jam. And the Mountain song "Mississippi Queen". Still think you're right on the superhero thing, sonny? Like Rob says, "you got another thing comin'..."

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 11:57 p.m. CST

    You're right, Chickenmonkey...

    by SleazyG. are the gayest chicken ever to have his head bitten off by a freakshow geek and then replaced with the head of a monkey. Hey, I may not post on the "Buffy" TB's as much as I did a couple years back, but I still keep an eye on things...

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 11:58 p.m. CST

    "I DID say "maybe" TWICE in the same sentence, Qwerty."

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I assumed those were typos.

  • Dec. 16, 2002, 11:59 p.m. CST

    wait, wait, wait

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I thought he was a chicken head on a monkey body...

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 1:45 a.m. CST

    Guy Gardner's haircut

    by Qwerty Uiop

    makes him look like a penis

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 7:18 a.m. CST

    You didn't Qwerty...

    by Elliot_Kane

    You did not infer anyone worshipped superman, nor did i ever claim that you did. I DID say that there is a vast difference between religious icons and superheroes, a point which you appear to have no answer to. *** Lucifer is not a supervillain any more than he is a superhero. He's not interested in ruling worlds or conquering them, and he certainly isn't interested in theft of any kind. *** Again, by the definition that makes Gandalf a superhero, virtually any fictional character whose powers in any way exceed those of a normal human could be defined as a superhero. Is this what you are saying? The other problem with that definition is that it discounts most of the 'street' level heroes, such as Robin, or Nightwing or Huntress who have no superhuman abilities whatsoever. Are they NOT superheroes by your definition? And if they are not, what are they?'s description is wholly inadequate, as I'm sure you are aware.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 7:21 a.m. CST

    Sleazy & Chickenmonkey......

    by Elliot_Kane

    Totally agreed :)

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 10:09 a.m. CST

    Towelie - reasoned debates are the type I prefer..

    by Elliot_Kane

    Everyone screaming insults and failing to back up their points in any way soon bores me. I will agree with what you are saying, except in regard to 'wicked' which is actually in a state of transition and the actual meaning of which must be judged from both speaker and context.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 10:23 a.m. CST

    Towelie - the purpose of the stories...

    by Elliot_Kane

    ... in all religions is to give an example of what the religion regards as 'correct' behaviour. Whether anyone believes they actually, literally, happened is, in a sense irrelevant. It's the lesson that counts.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 11:25 a.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    I always mix up 'infer' and 'imply' I'm afraid. It's annoying, I know, but it seems to be a blind spot of mine. Sorry.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 12:22 p.m. CST

    Some of the discussions, pre-@$$hole...

    by Elliot_Kane

    were a lot longer than this, believe me :) 'Casting Captain America' was a particular favourite that I recall, with ideas bounced backwards and forwards long after the page had vanished off the main boards. Sigh! Great discussion...

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 3:12 p.m. CST

    Captain America

    by superninja

    Aaron Eckhart. :)

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 3:26 p.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    How ya doin'? I think we finally went with Oliver Stone directing and Denise Richards as Diamondback (despite some serious reservations on your part) didn't we? Diamondback's casting being nearly as important as Cap's after all...

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 3:29 p.m. CST

    I think my first choice for Cap...

    by Elliot_Kane

    was Caspar Van Dien, but Superninja definitely put a better case for Eckhart.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 3:40 p.m. CST

    It's Matthew McConaughey or bust!

    by JonQuixote

    You're all fucking idiots! (and with those words, the talkback armistace of '02 collapsed, the sky rained fire and the rivers ran red with blood.)

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 4:13 p.m. CST

    Don't think we bothered with Bucky...

    by Elliot_Kane

    We didn't really want another WW2 film, so much as a Cap in the present day thing. More interesting - to us at least! Diamondback is far and away the best 'sidekick' Cap has ever had - and the best love interest too. I forget who first suggested Oliver Stone as director, but his status as commentator on the state of America made us all agree he'd turn out a pretty good Cap film.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 4:16 p.m. CST

    Oh, yeah...

    by Elliot_Kane

    ...Bruce Campbell always gets mentioned somewhere by someone. If we were casting for Elektra, someone would point out that Bruce was fit and had black hair...

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 4:21 p.m. CST

    Actually, we didn't all agree about Stone.

    by SleazyG.

    I think the guy is a dick, and he'd almost without question take advantage of Captain America to critique those things he dislikes about the government. I think there's a pretty good chance he'd misunderstand or abuse the character in ways I'm not interested in seeing. I'm not saying Cap shouldn't be used to criticize those who manipulate government to their own ends--I'm just saying I think Stone would do it in his usual didactic, heavy-handed 60's hippie-slanted way, and it would end up sucking. The director I wanna see do it? tough call, but how about Paul Anderson? Zing!

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 6:34 p.m. CST

    You're right, Sleazy...

    by Elliot_Kane

    ...But that discussion happened a long time ago now. I'll amend it to MOST of us considered that Stone could do a good job, IF he was seriously inclined to do so. Is that closer?

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 6:40 p.m. CST

    Lynch & Leone...

    by Elliot_Kane

    I'm not sure Lynch is all that suited to superheroes - well, maybe the Punisher... Leone's best films were 'one man against the world' stuff - errr, also the Punisher... I don't see either really being suited to Cap. I think Gilliam or Shyamalan would have interesting takes on the character, but right now Peter Jackson seems like the best director at faithfully adapting source material to the big screen. Hmmm.... Yeah. Nowadays, i think my vote would go to Jackson.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 7:21 p.m. CST

    You're all STILL fucking idiots.

    by JonQuixote

    Oliver Stone? Yeah, I'm DYING to see a Captain America movie where, as Cap makes his triumphant speech to the Red Skull about the importance of a free democratic system and the will of the American people, Nixon's famous Watergate speech plays in the background on the sky. Shouldn't a conversation about a Captain America movie director- accepting that Spielberg wouldn't (or, these days, probably shouldn't) do it - at least begin with Tony Scott?

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 7:26 p.m. CST

    Er... Who?

    by Elliot_Kane

    Spielberg descends more and more into pointless sentimentality every year, so he's definitely out. Who is Tony Scott? What's he done?

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 8:54 p.m. CST

    Tony Scott

    by superninja

    Has directed Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Crimson Tide. He wouldn't be a bad choice.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 8:57 p.m. CST

    Elliot, I am 99.99% sure I didn't agree on Denise Richards

    by superninja

    as Diamondback. I think I said something like she looks like a blow-up doll and can't act, which I hold to. Btw, I saw the Daredevil trailer twice, and I'm starting to wish I was the blind one.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 9:33 p.m. CST

    Oh, only a little movie called WHITE SQUALL!!

    by JonQuixote

    Oh, wait, that was his brother. He'd be okay too, but Tony has done SPY GAME and ENEMY OF THE STATE and TOP GUN, all of which deal with Americana in a neither jingoistic nor personal agenda sort of way. The best thing about Scott is that he's very solid - and probably has the highest 3out of 4 star Movies/Total Movies Directed ratio than any other filmmaker in history. Honestly, he might not be the "fanboy" choice ('cept for the ones who love TRUE ROMANCE and LAST BOY SCOUT the way I do), but he'd be the choice of the smart production executive. *** And, yeah, Denise Richards would make an AWFUL Diamondback. She makes an AWFUL anything except Porn Star ('cause she's got the delivery), or Bra Model ('cause she's got the...well, y'know). *** I really enjoyed Diamondback in the comics, but, really, a first Captain America movie needs either Sharon Carter - the wilful agent to challenge Steve's old fashioned ways, or the student-activist Bernie Rosenthal who is probably the best match for him, though has rarely been written properly. Personally, I see the latter in the movie, the one who fishes him out of the Arctic Ocean while serving on a GreenPeace boat. Or something like that.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 10 p.m. CST

    Tony Scott, David Lynch, Sergio Leone.

    by SleazyG.

    Tony Scott is Ridley Scott's even more dickheaded kid brother. Just in case y'all don't know, guys, those two are all about the casting couches and the coke, and I'm kinda not in favor of that cuz I think it's ultrashitty to talented (and untalented, for that matter) actresses. Plus it means by the time I have a crack they're totally defiled and I have to triple-wrap. As for Lynch, you're getting it all wrong: he's not wired for Cappy or Green Lantern. David Lynch is the perfect guy, though, for Shade The Changing Man or Kid Eternity. The material is right up his alley, y'know? As for Leone, I gotta go with Jonah Hex or Jeff Marriotte's DESPERADOES series. Again, hard to imagine material better suited to the director's oevre.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 10:01 p.m. CST


    by SleazyG.

    This sucks.

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 10:46 p.m. CST

    Bernie fishes him out of the drink while on a

    by superninja

    GREENPEACE mission?! Heh..heheh...That's a good one, man. Why would you hook up Cap with an activist lawyer when you can hook him up with a sexy femme fatale/secret agent? What about a first movie to be set mostly in WWII with Cap ending up in the ocean at the end? But it would be told in flashbacks. The film opens with Eskimos finding him frozen in ice. The rumor starts to trickle through the conspiracy community and a Mulder-type character starts researching him, thus the flashback narrative (which has it's own story with the Skull, Agent Carter (or some facimile of), etc.). By the end, the project is taken out of they guy's hands Indiana Jones-style, and Cap is carted off by the government and the denoumont has him awakening in the 60s. Then, the second movie picks up right where the first left off with the Red Skull's return and Cap fighting against the Serpent Society!

  • Dec. 17, 2002, 11:21 p.m. CST

    Street level superheroes

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Well since Robin, or Nightwing or Huntress are already considered superheroes, its kind of a moot point, but one could say that they're determination and training is somewhat "superhuman", or that since they dress up in a costume and use codenames they are superheroes. But like I said: Since they already are superheroe;s, then its a moot point.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 1:19 a.m. CST

    Thanks, Superninja...

    by Elliot_Kane

    For explaining Tony Scott. Doesn't sound like a terrible choice, but not a good one, either. As for Denise as Rachel, it was more a lack of alternatives that got a kind of grudging agreement from you than anything else, IIRC. You made it plain you weren't at all happy with the idea, but there is no other actress any of us could think of that would work at all in the part. I'm not sure that's changed since, either... *** Daredevil: I always think that any film where the cast is totally wrong for the parts they are supposedly playing will stink. It shows a total disrespect for the subject matter that tends to be reflected in script and direction alike. I haven't been wrong so far, and don't expect to be with DD...

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 1:20 a.m. CST

    Thanks, Superninja...

    by Elliot_Kane

    For explaining Tony Scott. Doesn't sound like a terrible choice, but not a good one, either. As for Denise as Rachel, it was more a lack of alternatives that got a kind of grudging agreement from you than anything else, IIRC. You made it plain you weren't at all happy with the idea, but there is no other actress any of us could think of that would work at all in the part. I'm not sure that's changed since, either... *** Daredevil: I always think that any film where the cast is totally wrong for the parts they are supposedly playing will stink. It shows a total disrespect for the subject matter that tends to be reflected in script and direction alike. I haven't been wrong so far, and don't expect to be with DD...

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 1:26 a.m. CST

    Thanks, Superninja...

    by Elliot_Kane

    For explaining Tony Scott. Doesn't sound like a terrible choice, but not a good one, either. As for Denise as Rachel, it was more a lack of alternatives that got a kind of grudging agreement from you than anything else, IIRC. You made it plain you weren't at all happy with the idea, but there is no other actress any of us could think of that would work at all in the part. I'm not sure that's changed since, either... *** Daredevil: I always think that any film where the cast is totally wrong for the parts they are supposedly playing will stink. It shows a total disrespect for the subject matter that tends to be reflected in script and direction alike. I haven't been wrong so far, and don't expect to be with DD...

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 1:33 a.m. CST

    Bernie is totally insipid...

    by Elliot_Kane

    ...And I really don't like Sharon in either of her incarnations - she's a very one-note character. Rachel is easily the best of Cap's love interests, both for herself and for all the sides of Cap she brings out.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 1:37 a.m. CST

    Thanks to everyone...

    by Elliot_Kane

    ...Who explained Tony Scott. I found Superninja's post first, and I'm still discovering new posts hidden away in the depths. Ah! the joys of talkbacking, eh? From all the descriptions, Scott doesn't sound like more than a middle of the road director - he makes watchable films rather than GREAT films. Not right for Cap at all.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 1:45 a.m. CST

    Casting Rachel Leighton...

    by Elliot_Kane

    Given that Rachel/Diamondback is an important supporting character, she certainly needs to be played by an actress who not only looks the part but who could convey her personality well too - the whole bad-girl-trying-to-be-good thing. Denise has the body shape, the looks, and the ability to play the good girl/bad girl dichotomy, having played both types in the past. She isn't perfect, but may well represent the 'least worst' option...

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 1:55 a.m. CST

    Well, Qwerty...

    by Elliot_Kane

    You do realise that all your attempts to reclassify heroes as superheroes are rendered invalid by "Well since Robin, or Nightwing or Huntress are already considered superheroes, its kind of a moot point" don't you? If you are accepting precedence as the ultimate argument, you destroy your own case completely. Also, by the definition of superhero you are claiming to be using, "since they dress up in a costume and use codenames" is totally irrelevant. makes no mention of either costumes or codenames. They are part of the definition I am using, acceptance of which ALSO utterly destroys your whole argument. It has been an interesting debate, though. Thanks :)

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 2:03 a.m. CST

    Jon Q, Rachel DOES challenge Cap...

    by Elliot_Kane

    Given the dichotomy between her criminal past and who she is trying to be, she challenges Cap on many levels. She highlights exactly what Cap is all about, on a personal as well as professional level. It's Pygmalion for superheroes, in a way...

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 2:05 a.m. CST

    I hope you're not this premature in bed

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Or that'll be one disappointed young lady. How does the fact that I acknowledge that they're already considered superheroes invalidate my arguement? Did you really think I would claim that they aren't? Unlike you, Elliot my boy, I allow for a certain bit of flexibility. They are superheroes, everyone knows it. The debate was over who else could be considered a superhero. Good try, though.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 2:38 a.m. CST

    Can't have it both ways, Qwerty...

    by Elliot_Kane

    By acknowledging that common perception defines who IS a superhero, you are also accepting that common perception defines who is NOT a superhero. The two are logically inextricable. You have caught yourself in a double bind. Either you must concede that common perception is wrong - and thus, by YOUR definition Nightwing and the others are NOT superheroes - a blatant absurdity - or accept that it is common perception that defines the superhero, and therefore that your whole original argument is based on a false premise.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 2:44 a.m. CST


    by Qwerty Uiop

    A) I can have it both ways, common perception can determine who is and who isn't a superhero. Why not? B) your refusal to accept Sandman as a superhero comic book has nothing to do with common perception. It has to do with your own preconcieved notions and embarassment over the term "superhero"

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 3:16 a.m. CST

    Yeah, yeah, it was me shoutin about Ollie Stone as the director

    by Ambush Bug

    And I still stand by my decision that he would be the only one that could do Cap some justice. It would be on a super large scale and deal with what's wrong with America today and how it used to be. There's no better time than now for a Cap flick. Maybe a Casting Couch is in order for this one.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 3:27 a.m. CST

    Raiders of the Lost Post

    by superninja

    I feel all nostalgic waxing Captain America with you Elliot. Reminds me of the good 'ol days. As for Diamondback NOW, the blow-up doll still isn't going to cut it. Rachel was Captain America's Catwoman at first. It ended up sort of like Pretty Woman wrapped in a superhero story. A woman with a hard life meets her white knight and falls in love. Their different standings in society causes conflict. She sees a chance for a better life and goes for it. The man who is all business and disconnected from his personal life decides to let her in, etc. Not surprising that she ended up in the comic book girlfriend dumpster. I keep hoping they'll bring her back, bigger and badder and use her more as a playful villain, a la Catwoman.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 3:30 a.m. CST

    Bug, I support your casting couch

    by superninja

    But only if you go with Aaron Eckhart as your nomination for Cap.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 4:27 a.m. CST

    Yeah, Superninja...

    by Elliot_Kane

    We had some great discussions, back then :) I spend a lot of time at Hero Realm these days - you and the guys should drop by :) Some of the best comic discussions on the web, and a troll-free environment too :) *** I think you're right about Rachel and how it all turned out. It should have been Pygmalion and just ended so wrongly for Cap and Rachel both. Sigh! Very, very bad editorial decision there. Cap's never going to find anyone better suited to him than Rachel from either a personal or storytelling perspective. I wouldn't want to see her go back to being a villain though - not after all that character development. In a way, she's Gru's greatest creation - and sadly wasted by Marvel.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 4:32 a.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    I still think you were right about Stone. I've not seen anyone named who I think would be a better director for Cap, and only one or two who might be equal. Stone seems to love the potential in America, even as he hates a lot of what it has become. Sounds about right to me...

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 4:34 a.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

    I admire your tenacity I must confess.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 5:31 a.m. CST

    It's late, late, late in the TB so, here's a blast from the past

    by Ambush Bug

    It's from waaaay back on '00 when Corm and Elliot and Supes and I were just lil' whipper snappers in the TB game. And now for a Cormoran...I mean Bug Classic***I think Cap's story can be told in one film. Set up Cap as the icon he is during WWII. The idealism and the symbolism of the character can be highlighted during this section of the film by showing him rallying the troops and boosting morale in desperate times. In the final days of the fall of the Third Reich, Cap and the Skull have it out. Resulting in the foiling of the Skull's plans and Cap's disappearance in the ice. Years pass and in Cap's absence, the ideals of the country have gone the way of the dodo. Mom and apple pie has been replaced by Monica and Columbine and American Pie. The us vs. them (black and white) mentality has blurred and now it is us vs. us vs. them vs themselves. The war isn't simple anymore and the enemy is less defined. Cap is found and revived. At first he is used by the government to work for them, which Cap willingly accepts since he is used to following orders in the war. But as his adventures in the modern time progress he has trouble differentiating between who the enemy is and who are his allies. The Red Skull, kept alive and revived earlier, is rounding up Neo-Nazis and Militia groups throughout America. The Skull could be the immediate threat, but the greater conflict is between Cap and his realization that the government that he once bled for has changed in his absence. Cap could uncover that the Skull is being funded by a branch of the government. The real challenge in the story would be Cap's crusade to bring the pride and glory back to the American people. Cap can be used as a symbol of what it means to be an American and how that has changed over the years. The film ends with Cap coming to terms with what the role of Captain America means. That the role is bigger than the government. He realizes that he is more than a foot soldier, but a symbol for everyone to look up to and strive to become. The film should end on an up note with Cap accepting the role as a symbol of hope and make you feel proud to be American. I know this concept is a little starry-eyed, but when was the last time you saw a movie, other than an old WWII film, that made you proud in that way? Certainly not Saving Private Ryan. I felt respect for the people who gave their lives in WWII after seeing that film, but not pride. These are bleak times and patriotism is practically dead. I know optimism is a filthy word in these talkbacks, but this is a fantasy film and I would love to see them try to make this into a patriotic epic with a good conflict rather than a Cap thwarting the Red Skull's big plan typical super hero film scenario***Wasn't that a swell post by me? Here's the URL to the rest of the TB. It's all good. Supes, Corm, Kane, and the Bug kickin' it in the TB's. 'Member those days, guys? Good times. Good times.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Great times Bug, great times...

    by Elliot_Kane

    We haven't had that kind of discussion in FAR too long, now... *** As for V for Vendetta though, it has Terry Gilliam written all over it, director-wise. It would totally suit his style.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 5:43 p.m. CST

    Casting V for Vendetta......

    by Elliot_Kane

    Towelie: don't forget that Gilliam also did the utterly superb Twelve Monkeys. It's that I think makes him a perfect fit for V. For V himself, I don't think a cockney accent would work. He needs to sound more like Alan Rickman - who would be perfect for doing the voice, IMO. Who they put in the costume would have to be a great 'physical' actor, and I'm thinking Ray Park here (think Headless Horseman from Sleepy Hollow).

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Casting V for Vendetta......

    by Elliot_Kane

    Towelie: don't forget that Gilliam also did the utterly superb Twelve Monkeys. It's that I think makes him a perfect fit for V. For V himself, I don't think a cockney accent would work. He needs to sound more like Alan Rickman - who would be perfect for doing the voice, IMO. Who they put in the costume would have to be a great 'physical' actor, and I'm thinking Ray Park here (think Headless Horseman from Sleepy Hollow).

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Casting V for Vendetta......

    by Elliot_Kane

    Towelie: don't forget that Gilliam also did the utterly superb Twelve Monkeys. It's that I think makes him a perfect fit for V. For V himself, I don't think a cockney accent would work. He needs to sound more like Alan Rickman - who would be perfect for doing the voice, IMO. Who they put in the costume would have to be a great 'physical' actor, and I'm thinking Ray Park here (think Headless Horseman from Sleepy Hollow).

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 5:50 p.m. CST


    by Elliot_Kane

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 7:59 p.m. CST

    Johnny Depp.........

    by Elliot_Kane

    ...Is a darn fine actor. His turn-of-the-century English accent in Sleepy Hollow is absolutely perfect. V needs the kind of power that only a great Shakespearean actor has though, and any of them could do a good job. I just think of Rickman because he is so good at the kind of nuances that V really requires in order to work. You're right that his mask should never be removed, though. It's vital that nothing about him is known, because he is more a symbol than a man.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 8 p.m. CST

    Johnny Depp.........

    by Elliot_Kane

    ...Is a darn fine actor. His turn-of-the-century English accent in Sleepy Hollow is absolutely perfect. V needs the kind of power that only a great Shakespearean actor has though, and any of them could do a good job. I just think of Rickman because he is so good at the kind of nuances that V really requires in order to work. You're right that his mask should never be removed, though. It's vital that nothing about him is known, because he is more a symbol than a man.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 8:01 p.m. CST

    Johnny Depp.........

    by Elliot_Kane

    ...Is a darn fine actor. His turn-of-the-century English accent in Sleepy Hollow is absolutely perfect. V needs the kind of power that only a great Shakespearean actor has though, and any of them could do a good job. I just think of Rickman because he is so good at the kind of nuances that V really requires in order to work. You're right that his mask should never be removed, though. It's vital that nothing about him is known, because he is more a symbol than a man.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 8:15 p.m. CST


    by JonQuixote

    Scott's an awesome director - but he's first and foremost a movie maker, not a "filmmaker" and not an "agenda-ist". In looking for someone to helm CAPTAIN AMERICA, he's the Raimi-equivalent. Basically, he'll make an action-adventure movie: he won't gum up the works with too many special effects or fancy camera shots, he'll stay true to the characters and the script (oh yeah, but you'll need a good script). He's one of the best Hollywood directors working today - he has a distinct visual style that would be excellent for Captain America (very theatrical, notable set pieces, slightly gritty texture), and usually sneaks a few cerebral elements into even the most mundane action movies (particularly the hilarious LAST BOY SCOUT, one of my top 5 action movies of all time). And SPY GAME was wunnerful! *** Another good choice would be Gregory Hoblit, another incredibly talented working man's director. Sure he did the BLECH Hart's War, but before that he went an amazing 3-for-3 on 3 movies that should have been completely average and forgettable.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 8:37 p.m. CST

    OVER HERE Jon Q.........

    by Elliot_Kane

    Talking of Raimi, is there any reason to think HE couldn't do a good take on Cap? Same for Bryan Singer, of course. Both have a very good idea of what actually works with superhero films and what doesn't. I'd prefer not to have too much politics mixed up in the whole thing, but Cap IS a living symbol of all that is best in America, and it's a bit hard to ignore that and still create a good film. Gru's greatest achievement was showing Cap as both a man AND a legend, and I'd like a director who could capture that.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 8:38 p.m. CST

    OVER HERE Jon Q.........

    by Elliot_Kane

    Talking of Raimi, is there any reason to think HE couldn't do a good take on Cap? Same for Bryan Singer, of course. Both have a very good idea of what actually works with superhero films and what doesn't. I'd prefer not to have too much politics mixed up in the whole thing, but Cap IS a living symbol of all that is best in America, and it's a bit hard to ignore that and still create a good film. Gru's greatest achievement was showing Cap as both a man AND a legend, and I'd like a director who could capture that.

  • Dec. 18, 2002, 11:22 p.m. CST

    Over Here Kane, Over Here!! The good, the bad, the Raimi

    by JonQuixote

    The good thing about Raimi is that he's great with the characters and treating the source material as literature. He went straight to the heart of Spider-Man, and that launched the movie past its many flaws. The bad thing about Raimi is that his movies have so many flaws - forgiveable when he does a tongue-in-cheek flick like EVIL DEAD or QUICK & THE DEAD, but painful in a movie meant to be taken seriously. The climax of A SIMPLE PLAN, the dialogue in SPIDER-MAN, the complete lack of understanding of both Baseball and Romantic Drama evidenced in FOR LOVE OF THE GAME. The little gaffs and badnesses tend to pile up in his movies. The good and bad about Singer - the best thing about him in X-MEN is that he seems to be crafting its own cinematic universe while staying faithful to the comic (though not slavishly so). The worst thing about Singer is...well, I've only seen his 3 movies. One had a great script and was a minor classic, the second was about as bad a movie as I've ever seen, and the 3rd was pretty impressive considering the budgetary constraints and franchise-oriented studio. I'll have to wait to see X2 before passing judgement on Singer.

  • Dec. 19, 2002, 1:16 a.m. CST

    Is the Talkback fixed yet?

    by Qwerty Uiop

  • Dec. 19, 2002, 1:17 a.m. CST

    I guess not

    by Qwerty Uiop

    oh well.

  • Dec. 19, 2002, 5:07 a.m. CST

    It probably goes without saying, but this has been the best @$$h

    by vroom socko

    Goddamn was this fun. and the fucked up TB order only added to the joyful insanity. Oh, if Qwerty is reading this, I got something for you. ** "People such as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Kurt Busiek can write super heroes beautifully, but I'm just no good at it. On the other hand, I CAN write science fiction, fantasy, and horror. So I decided to find a way to cheat my way through-that is, to come up with characters who look enough like super heroes to entice a comics reader into giving them a try, but who REALLY AREN'T SUPER HEROES AT ALL." Neil Gaiman "The Sandman Companion" pg. 233. I rest my case.