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AICN COMICS! TalkBack League Of @$$Holes Reviews!!

Published at: Jan. 6, 2003, 7:31 a.m. CST by staff

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

Man, these guys are going to fly to LA, find the Labs, and kick my ass one of these days. They had this column ready days ago, and I’ve just been delinquent in putting it up. Happy New Year, boys, and I’m sorry I’m so f’ing slow. Also, before you comics fans dig into this, I’d like to invite any of you out there who are interested in illustration, lettering, inking, or layout to get in touch with me at the e-mail address above. I’d love to talk to you about something big that’s brewing this year. Now... bring on the @$$holes in the New Year!!

Happy New Year, ya bums! Cormorant here, and while you might think we’d be too hung over from New Year’s Eve imbibery to work, we actually have a full-bodied column with more reviews than you can shake a stick at! John Quixote and Village Idiot take third looks at CAPTAIN AMERICA and SUPERGIRL, respectively; Vroom Socko rightfully salutes the greatness of the latest G.I.JOE reprint from Marvel; Buzz transcribes another “Li’l @$$holes” clubhouse meeting as they look at SWAMP THING: DARK GENESIS; Ambush Bug ponders the pending conclusion of RISING STARS; Village Idiot wonders if the weaknesses of JLA might also be its strengths; Quixote dramatizes the loss of Gail Simone from AGENT X; I make with the goods on GOTHAM CENTRAL and the latest AVENGERS; and Liz keeps us all honest with the latest installment of “Indie Jones,” zeroing in on the macabre coolness of a self-published comic called SHUCK.

And need I remind you that it’s all a free service to you, our beloved supporters (and even our hated detractors)? A big thanks goes out to all you glorious bastards for making our first half year of uninterrupted weekly columns a blast and a half, and we look forward to your insightful, challenging, and poop-related comments in the TalkBacks.

Now let ‘em have it, Jonny Q…


CAPTAIN AMERICA #7

Written by John Ney Rieber

Pencils by Trevor Hairsine; Inks by Danny Miki

Published by Marvel Comics

A Jon Quixote Oration

So fight, soldier. Fight harder. Death’s no excuse for surrender – When it’s freedom you’re fighting for.”

- CAPTAIN AMERICA #7, “The Extremists, Part 1 of 4”

The muffled cackling you’re hearing is the sound of Patrick Henry’s hysterical laughter being filtered through six feet of dirt and rotting pine. I can’t wait for the issue where we learn that Cap does more by 7 AM than most people do all day, or reminds us that there is nothing to fear but…

In light of the recent Quesada vs. Rieber disagreement worming its way through the internet gossip channels, I was inspired to revisit the pages of Captain America. The press pieces following the announcement of Rieber’s departure were shielded by the generic Kevlar called ‘creative differences.” Specific issues the two butted heads on, and their respective positions, were left purposely ambiguous. But it occurred to me that my problems with the book may have been editorially mandated, rather than the result of a blatantly incompetent writer. That Rieber may have been forced by the powers that be, post-9/11, to give Cap a propagandist facial, splattering those temple-wings with clichés and using the burning wreckage of the Twin Towers as a money shot. Perhaps this new arc – the one earmarked to open Rieber’s run before September 11th changed the plans – would unveil a different Rieber, eliminate my criticisms, and force me to dine on Heckyl and Jeckyl cacciatore.

Of course, the moment I invoked one of America’s greatest orators in order to mock this month’s issue, was the moment you figured out that I wasn’t going to be picking feathers out of my teeth this week.

Captain America #7 just delivers more of the same – A standard Cap versus Terrorists story that doesn’t get rolling until the final panel, and is cloaked in a patriotic monologue so banal that it makes “The Battle of New Orleans” look like “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” But there is noticeable improvement over the last arc; buried under the propaganda and the ham-fisted gravity and idiotic thought-box monologue, there might actually be a good comic book here.

Rieber apparently fancies himself a character-oriented writer, and here, he has a little bit of success. Steve Rogers’s new inner city home, and his interaction with his neighbors, is an interesting development, and his efforts to rid the streets of gunfire and gang violence provide at least two memorable moments. Of course, in praising these moments, I’m choosing to ignore some of the most horribly hackneyed dialogue I’ve ever read. Take the following exchange between Steve Rogers and a neighborhood child.

ROGERS: Learn anything good in school today?

BOY: Nah. Just about the sun. How you can’t go there, ‘cause it’s so hot.

ROGERS: Well…Too hot to ride (your) bike, that’s for sure.

I can’t even come up with a witty put-down for that conversation; it would be like pantsing a special needs kid. And, yeah, I got the Cap riding his motorcycle through the forest fire foreshadowing, but that makes the discourse even worse – Rieber was trying to write important and ominous dialogue, as opposed to a simple everyday exchange, but that was the best he could come up with.

But awful dialogue aside, Rieber does give Cap some humanity and, more to the point, some much needed personality. His attempt to rid his neighborhood of guns, and the respect afforded him by the gang members, is a high-point, and actually makes use of this “real world” approach he’s going for. It’s unfortunate that these well-intentioned character-oriented moments are weighed down by Rieber’s pretensions and the absolutely appalling speech-writing. The Chuck Norris-quality monologue would be forgivable if it wasn’t so incessant and if it didn’t seem like the only purpose for the book would be to serve it up to the readers on a platter of self-importance.

About half-way through the book, the “Extremists” plot begins, and there is no surprise that it looks like a standard 80’s superhero story all dirtied up and spandexed down to become a 21st Century “real world” story. And by the time it starts to get going, the comic ends because they devoted so many pages to a nothing dream sequence that delivered one decent visual and a monologue with about as much depth as a WWII V.D. educational film. Credit has to be given to penciler Hairsine; following Cassaday is not an enviable task for any artist, and, a few What The…?? moments aside, he acquits himself nicely under those difficult circumstances. But, overall, Captain America #7 produced little more than yawns, a handful of those being of the Technicolor variety.

When does Chuck Austen start again? I don’t know if his approach will result in a better comic, but it’s obvious that change, any change, is needed because it will be hard for this book to get worse. I only hope that the Powers-that-be don’t judge Austen by the sales of his conclusion-work on Rieber’s last two arcs – because based on this issue, I wouldn’t buy the rest of “The Extremists” if Alan Moore came aboard.

G.I. JOE Vol. 5

Larry Hama: Writer

Rod Whighan: Artist

Marvel Comics: Publisher

Vroom Socko: Real American Reviewer

There are certain comics that stay with you no matter what. I remember the first comic I ever read, my neighbor’s copy of X-Men #29, featuring the Super Adaptoid vs. Mimic. I remember the first comic I owned - the Tintin book The Red Sea Sharks - a gift for my sixth birthday. Then there’s the first comic I bought with my own money; after pushing an honest to God MANUAL push-mower for a buck a lawn, I bought me a copy of G.I. Joe number 45. I remember it mainly for its showdown between Zartan and Rip-Cord, an intense exchange for me as a ten year old @$$hole. Now, thanks to the 80’s boom and Marvel’s TPB’s, I can reread this childhood fave. And you know what? It still kicks ass.

The rest of volume 5, issues 42 through 50, contains several of my favorite Joe moments, but that issue, Rip-Cord and Zartan one on one, is just phenomenal. What makes it so great is that the two combatants don’t just try to outfight each other; they try to outthink each other. To see this happen, on the part of both the hero and the villain, is rare even today. To see it in 1986, not only that, but to see the bad guy win, was unthinkable. Writer Larry Hama may have been telling stories about a bunch of toys, but damn if he wasn’t giving it the best effort possible.

For evidence of this, look no further than Serpentor. In the cartoon, this snake-faced simulacrum was a manic freak, an egotistical sociopath. Here, he’s shown as an intelligent, strong leader who’s not afraid to risk his own life for his troops. Serpentor is inspirational, determined, and just plain brilliant. If it weren’t for the whole terrorism bit, he’d make as strong a hero as Captain America.

Then you have the town of Springfield. In every cartoon, and I mean EVERY cartoon, Cobra had a different HQ, complete with gigantic snake statuary, and every episode had it destroyed while Cobra troops ran around in a panic. In this volume, when the Joes invade the Cobra controlled town, every Cobra soldier, along with their dependents, is evacuated swiftly and efficiently. No trace of their presence remains, everything from documents to official Cobra diapers are destroyed. That’s one of the things that really blew me away when I first read these stories fifteen years ago; not only did the Cobra officers have children, but they were just as devoted to the organization as their parents.

One of the best scenes in the book deals with this; in fact it’s my favorite moment in G.I. Joe comic history. One of the Joes in Springfield is forced to hijack a car, only to find an eight-year-old girl in the passenger seat. He pulls over to let the girl out, only to have her take out a .357 Magnum and hold it on him until his pursuers arrive. I’ve been reading comics for over twenty years, and that is still one of the coolest moments I’ve seen in print. If I could own any original comic art, it’d be those pages.

Marvel has my eternal thanks for reprinting these stories. Not only do they hold up after fifteen years, they’re better than over a third of the books the Big Two put out today. I’m hoping that Marvel keeps putting these out, at least for two more volumes. Vol. 6 should have the return to Sierra Gordo, and vol. 7 will have an amazing Stalker POW story. This is G.I. Joe at its best. Everyone should be picking up these books.

Oh, if anybody out there knows where I can find a good price on X-Men #29, let me know.

AVENGERS #62

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Gary Frank

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Reviewed by Cormorant

Look, I’m ultimately gonna give this latest AVENGERS a good review, so indulge me a moment as I go off on a pet peeve that will eventually relate to it. A few years back, I started noticing an annoying trend in comics that stemmed from the total takeover of computers in the field of typography. It was bad enough seeing Thor’s speech rendered in an unreadable, vaguely-Nordic font by over-indulgent letterers (what, all the thee’s and thou’s didn’t make him sound foreign enough already?), but we actually began seeing little bits of clip art incorporated into caption boxes. Spider-Man’s speech might be bordered by cheesy webbing designs, and at its worst, in a book like SOJOURN, the trend led to captions surrounded by elaborate Celtic patterns, as if the captions were actual three dimensional signs just hovering beside the characters! Arrgghhh! Letterers of the world, there is some room for artistic interpretation in your craft, but first and foremost, words, captions, and speech balloons are about communicating the bare bones of what someone has said or thought – please try not to fuck it up with needless flourishes!

Which brings me to AVENGERS #62, in which a good issue is nearly fucked up with needless flourishes. On page one.

The problem is the interior monologue captions of Jack of Hearts, the team’s resident hothead and the subject of a much-needed spotlight this issue. Presumably to insure that readers wouldn’t confuse his captions with anyone else’s (although he’s the only one who thinks in captions during the entire issue), someone felt the need to actually overlay them with…I can barely say it…little heart icons. You know, ‘cause he’s called Jack of Hearts. So here’s this tragic, hotheaded character, consumed by bitterness over grueling treatments to control his dangerous powers…and his internal monologue is dotted with hearts like some teeny-bopper girl’s diary. I was genuinely impressed with how writer Geoff Johns made Jack’s treatments a sort of grim superhero analog to chemotherapy, but half expected the character to wonder giddily over who was cuter, Justin Timberlake or Leonardo DiCaprio? Since I’m pretty sure that’s not what was intended, I’d like to make a call here to never see those ridiculous goddamn heart icons again!

Rant over.

And the only reason I had to rant in the first place was because such a silly little thing nearly hamstrung an otherwise very dramatic character issue. In the wake of Geoff Johns’ first arc on the book, the Avengers have been recognized by the U.N. as their own world power. Avengers Mansion has become Avengers Embassy, and beyond the political turmoil that’s creating, the team members have been bickering more than the Breakfast Club. The in-fighting is a grand Avengers tradition, but had been feeling a wee bit by-the-numbers until this latest issue got personal with Jack of Hearts and the second Ant-Man (Scott Lang). Continuing the Breakfast Club analogy, Jack would be Judd Nelson, Ant-Man would be Emilio Estevez, and this issue would be the part of the movie where the characters all break down and reveal the dark secrets that made them what they are. Except…even with all the amped-up superhero melodrama, I still think Geoff Johns is less overwrought than John Hughes.

Ant-Man’s problem is that, after struggling for years to overcome a criminal record by being both a superhero and a good single parent to his daughter, he loses her to his ex-wife in a surprise custody hearing. I’ve always liked Lang, a sort of everyman superhero, much the same way I like wannabe-actor-turned-superhero, Wonder Man. And while superhero dialogue can sound corny when taken out of context, I challenge readers not to be moved when a broken Scott Lang returns to the Avengers Embassy from the custody hearing and asks, almost embarrassedly, if the Avengers, “still have room for another insect?” It’s almost ridiculous, but in context and wed with Gary Frank’s visuals, it’s a surprisingly touching scene.

Jack’s story runs parallel with Lang’s, with an eye towards revealing how these two heroes, who’ve taken an instant dislike to one another, are suffering from surprisingly similar problems with isolation. In Jack’s case, of course, the isolation is physical. The explosive nature of his powers requires him to spend ten hours a day in a completely empty chamber surrounded by seven-foot-thick concrete walls. Even so, he still experiences pain as a result of the radiation that fuels him, and when Hank “Original Ant-Man” Pym reveals that Jack’s condition is worsening, readers may be reminded of their own frustrations with the limits of medicine. Jack’s scenes with Pym also recap his history in a very concise manner, which is handy for folks like me who always thought Jack looked insanely cool, but didn’t know squat about his story. Word on the street is that an Avenger might die in the coming year, and it’s a testament to Johns’ handling of the irascible Jack that I really hope he’s not the character who “gets it.” Actually, I hope none of ‘em get it, because offing longstanding characters is even more of a pet peeve for me than silly heart icons, but that’s another rant for another day…

The art on the book comes courtesy of Gary Frank, now on the second issue of his three issue guest stint. Frank’s style combines traditional superhero cinematics with detail reminiscent of George Perez, and it’s quite good, though his heroes look just a little skinny and awkward every once in a while. My guess is that Frank’s time spent on the horror comic, MIDNIGHT NATION, means he needs a little time to transition back to the hyperbolic world of superheroes. His detailed, emotive faces are just what the doctor ordered for an issue like this, however, so I’m happy to have him aboard.

Final judgment: Except for the Lucky Charms hearts and a bit of puzzlement over how Hank Pym got hold of the diary of Jack’s father when Jack himself apparently hadn’t seen it (was that set up previously?), I have nothing but compliments for this issue. It’s got strong dialogue, emotional punch, and it even works as a stand-alone story for those looking for an entry point. In an impressive bit of irony, Johns’ has actually become his own fiercest competition as AVENGERS vies for “best team book” with JSA.

SUPERGIRL #77

Peter David – Writer

Ed Benes – Pencils

Alex Lei – Inks

Published by DC Comics

Reviewed by Village Idiot

(Note: This review was originally intended for last week’s column, but I just didn’t have enough time to finish it before the deadline. Rather than let such brilliance as the word “ass-erific” go unseen, however, I have completed the review and provided it here for your reading enjoyment. Abondanza!)

SUPERGIRL is a neat comic. It’s a fun comic. At times, it’s a beautiful comic. And now, unfortunately, it’s a canceled comic.

As I’m sure many of you who keep up with comic news already know, DC canceled SUPERGIRL a couple of weeks ago. Peter David describes on his website that due to low sales, SUPERGIRL had been heading for the chopping block for a few months. In response, David tried to throw a “Hail Kara” pass, bringing the original Supergirl Kara Zor-El into the story. The buzz was high, but preorders were low, and the book was canceled. Meanwhile, copies of SUPERGIRL #76 are being sold on eBay for $9.95, and there’s the usual lost-cause internet petition trying to save the title.

So is it worth all the fuss? I’ve reviewed both SUPERGIRL #75 and #76, and each time, I’ve said the same thing: despite their definite flaws, the issues were surprisingly likable comic books. And now, for an unprecedented THIRD review in as many months, I’m here to say that despite its flaws, SUPERGIRL #77 was a surprisingly likable comic book.

Let’s talk about some of the trouble spots. David has the newly arrived Kara attending the high school where art teacher/post-CRISIS Supergirl Linda Danvers can keep an eye on her. Wacky super-powered hijinks ensue. Peter David has been accused of lifting plays from the Joss Whedon playbook before, and the Dawn/Buffy parallel here is unmistakable; although admittedly, Kara is MUCH different than Dawn: Kara is much more naively earnest, an earnestness that is beginning to border on flat-out stupidity. And some of the dialog, like a moment during a nighttime chat about being “heroes,” just lays an egg.

And then there’s the art. Quite simply, the art in SUPERGIRL #77 was ass-errific. It was ass-tastic. It was ass-tacular. (In case you don’t catch my drift, THERE WERE A LOT OF CONSCIOUSLY DRAWN ASSES IN THE ISSUE.) Ed Benes draws beautiful women, sexy women, and there are a lot of them and their asses in the issue. But the problem isn’t simply a matter of overkill. The problem is that the women Ed Benes is drawing are high school girls. There’s a fairly titillating shower room scene with the most strategic towels placement since SPIDER-MAN AND BLACK CAT: THE EVIL THAT MEN DO #1. A high school shower room scene. What has me worried is that this time around the icky-ness of the situation didn’t hit me until a bit later, after I had read the issue. Benes and his nubile Lolitas must be desensitizing me. Plus, in addition to the ass-stravaganza, there was a villain introduced in the book that resembled some kind of DRAGONBALL Z-looking character. I hate that.

And yet, even with these problems, I still enjoyed SUPERGIRL #77. It still worked.

Why? I hate to hearken back to analysis tools from past reviews, but there’s no way around it: it’s The Neat Factor. I’ve already expanded at length on the difference between “cool” and “neat” the past, with neat being the nerdy little brother of cool, entertaining but with less self-conscious dignity. SUPERGIRL #77 and its two predecessors are pretty neat. Sure, much of this neatness comes from the novelty value of having the original Supergirl back in the DCU (and depending on your appreciation for nostalgia, this novelty value may vary). But most of the neatness comes from how David is able to blend the old Supergirl into the current continuity. She seems to fit.

There’s a montage in the story where Kara Zor-El and Linda Danvers, both Supergirls, are shooting the breeze in the midst of doing various bits of super-heroics. This was an easy relationship: the older, more seasoned Linda schooling the younger, inexperienced Kara; each taking the wing of a troubled jetliner, lifting a sinking ship out of the ocean, or scooping away a native villager from a stampede of wild animals. The relationship felt as real as sisters talking while doing household chores. Although we’ve all seen the postmodern casualness-amidst-the-fantastic routine before, it’s nice to see it done well. David managed to simply and successfully create a sense of sibling relationship between two Supergirls that was, well, neat.

And that’s what you walk away from the issue with. Supergirl is a neat, entertaining, likeable read that you should check out before the opportunity is gone. It’s too bad that Peter David won’t be getting a chance to iron out the rougher spots before the title’s last issue with #80. If allowed to grow, I have the feeling that this title could have not only tapped into the gee-whiz superhero market enjoyed by JSA, but also the girl adventure audience of BUFFY. But no, it’s a goner.

Again, try it out while you still have a chance.

SWAMP THING: DARK GENESIS (TPB)

Written by Len Wein

Art by Berni Wrightson

Published by Vertigo/DC

Reviewed by Buzzy M. & The Li'l @$$holes

WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! "This meeting of the Li'l @$$holes Comic Book Club and Support Group For Unpopular Kids will come to order. For you new members, I'm Buzzy M. and this is my treehouse, so if you narc to your parents about any of the Playboys or cigarettes I have hidden up here, I'll kick your butts. First order of business, I'd like to thank Ambush B's Mom for the yummy butterscotch Rice Krispy bears she supplied for this meeting and also Jonny Q's dad for forgetting to lock his liquor cabinet.

"This week's comics were the first eleven SWAMP THING stories. Does anybody have anything to say about 'em?"

"Yeah. This butterscotch Rice Krispy bear looks more like the Swamp Thing than a bear."

"The art is awesome! Man, this Bernie guy has a real style of his own! He is like the horror artist. I'll bet whenever other guys try to draw horror stuff in the future, they'll be trying to draw like Berni Wrightson."

"And the Len Wein guy is a good writer. He does have people calling each other friend a lot when they don't really mean it, but he's really good at putting Swampy in horror situations and he knows how much to use the supporting cast."

"Do you guys think he pronounces his name Wynn like ‘winner’ or Ween like ‘wiener’?"

"Hey, shut up. He writes comic books. He's cooler than you, okay?"

"Yeah. I like the characters. That Matt Cable guy, the secret agent obsessed with destroying the Swamp Thing because he thinks that the Swamp Thing killed his pal Alec Holland. What he doesn't know is that Swamp Thing used to be Alec Holland."

"That confused me. I thought Swamp Thing used to be Ted Sallis."

"No, dipshit. Man Thing used to be Ted Sallis."

"I wonder if Swamp Thing could beat up Man Thing."

"Of course he could. Swamp Thing is smart. Man Thing is just a walking pile of crap."

"Swamp Thing's brains could work against him in that fight, though. He might get scared. And whatever knows fear burns at Man Thing's touch."

"Why is that?"

"So they can write it in that cool, fiery lettering every issue."

"Here's what I didn't like about it. It's 1971, '72, '73, right? Fonzarelli is in the White House and David Cassidy is singing lead with Led Zepp, right? So how come when Swamp Thing's plane crashes at that werewolf's manor in Scotland, they don't have a truck, a car, electric lights, a phone, an 8-track tape player or any of that shit? They just have a horse and wagon like it's the 1800s but this isn't a time travel story.

"And in the very next story, Swamp Thing washes up on the coast of Maine at that village where they want to burn the witch and everybody looks and acts like it's the 1600’s instead of the 1970’s, which will one day be known as the coolest of all decades."

"Interesting that story happened in Maine. I predict that a few years from now a young horror writer in Maine will take the horror story and bring it into the 20th century. Horror won't be something taking place in the past. It'll take place in the schools, the cars, the factories."

"Way to step out of character as semiliterate preteens and create anachronisms of our own, guys. Before we get back into character, Swamp Thing's encounter with the Lovecraftian M'Nagalah was some good work."

"Wonder who'd win in a fight...Swamp Thing's enemy M'Nagalah or Dr. Strange's enemy Shuma Gorath?"

"Okay, that sounds like us. Anyway, the whole damned book was cool!"

"Comic book talk over. So, what'd you swipe from your old man's liquor cabinet, Jonny? Twenty year old scotch? What's the matter, yer Dad too cheap to spring for some fresh booze?"

Title: RISING STARS #21

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski

Art: Brent Anderson

Publisher: Top Cow/ Joe's Comics/ Image

Reviewer: Ambush Bug

A few more issues to go. I keep reminding myself of this fact. Just a few more issues to go. It's not like I’m anticipating the day when there will no longer be a RISING STARS comic for me to enjoy. This book has proven to be one of the most consistently strong comics that I currently read, and deserves to be lumped into the same category as THE WATCHMEN, DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, MARVELS, and Gruenwald's SQUADRON SUPREME miniseries. No, that's not why I keep reminding myself that there are only a handful of issues to go before the Specials ride off into the sunset. I do this because not much has happened in the last few issues of this series, but if all of the ominous buildup pays off, I know that these final upcoming issues are going to be a damn good conclusion to a damn good series.

Since this comic comes out about three times a year, I think one of my ever-popular re-caps is in order. A while back, a fireball landed in the little town of Pederson, Illinois. Every child in utero at the time was born with special powers. Dubbed ‘Specials,’ these 113 children had the power of the gods, but as they grew older, thanks to personal conflicts among themselves and those pesky government types, their number has shrunk to fewer than 58. For the last few issues, the Specials have come to the realization that they may have been born for a purpose; that there may be some kind of grand design behind the acquisition of these powers. While some Specials chose to go into hiding; a select few chose to use their powers to change the world. From making the deserts fertile again to stockpiling and deactivating every nuclear weapon on the planet to crippling every drug cartel in North and South America, these Specials have taken it upon themselves to make the planet a better place. Unfortunately, the governments of the planet don't seem to want this and have developed a weapon that can destroy the Specials. Everything has been building up to these last few issues of this series, which ends with issue #24.

The last few issues have been small, self-contained stories featuring a single Special on his or her quest to make the world a better place. These have been incredibly strong tales that build upon the grand mythos that JMS has been developing over the last three years with this series. The major plot has been chugging along at a snail’s pace. Normally, this would frustrate me. I'd call for the writer's head and tell him to quit dilly-dallying around with the small stuff and to kick it in gear already. But JMS makes these tiny stories so interesting that you almost forget about the big picture if not for the fact that by the end of the tale you are reminded that it is all related. It all has something to do with everything that has been developing from issue #1.

And maybe that is the point JMS is trying to make with this series and his other phenomenal 12-part series, MIDNIGHT NATION. Maybe it IS about the small stuff; these little personal stories that go on during the major events. Each JMS story has a particular path it is going down and along this path lies equally interesting adventures that reveal another puzzle piece that, when put together, make up a wonderfully interesting mosaic of creative fiction that takes place in a fully realized world not far from the one outside our own window.

Issue #21 is another small RISING STARS story. It introduces us to Lionel, a Special with the power to talk with dead people. This issue also stars the urban vigilante, Ravenshadow, who has come up with a plan to help the Specials, and Poet, the most powerful Special on the planet, who knows of Lionel's location and has a pretty big plan of his own that he is keeping under tight wraps. The rest of the issue deals with Ravenshadow's plan to run for president and how Lionel can help him accomplish this task. Now, I know the concept of a super-hero running for office sounds a little stupid. Everyone Ravenshadow chooses to tell about his plan thinks the same way, until he starts to explain it and his motivations behind it. And somehow it all makes sense and fits into the grand scheme of it all like every other side step on the road to the end of this series.

This issue is filled with stuff that is just plain cool. Sure, Lionel's power is lifted from THE SIXTH SENSE, but it is what JMS does with this power that makes the story interesting. Lionel can't take constantly hearing the voices of the dead, so he has Poet find a high mountain peak where no one has ever died before, and goes there to live. In a flashback sequence, a teacher asks the class of Special children to draw the first thing they ever remember and the results are unsettling and fascinating.

To top it all off, the dialog in this issue is some of the best I’ve read in a long time. "Why is it that lies take more energy, but they're always easier than the truth?" Lines like these that are bigger than the story itself, prove that JMS is not just a comic book writer. He's a powerful writer with enough insight to handle a story of this scope.

At least that's what I think. I think JMS is trying to actually convey some type of message with this vast epic that is coming to an end soon. He has Poet ask questions about the Specials’ existence and creation. Everyone comes to a point in his or her life where this question is asked. Poet is trying to find a meaning behind it all. It has to have a connection. It has to make sense and come to a conclusion that is both dramatic and poignant. Right?

Maybe not. Maybe when this series comes to an end, it won't go out with a bang. Maybe the hope for a big finale will not come to pass. Maybe this won't be the series that makes everyone say "THE WATCHMEN who?" Maybe after the series is all over, we'll find out that along the path to find the answers to the big questions, sometimes we simply find other stories that are no less important or interesting and answer those questions in their own way. JMS seems to know what he is doing. So far, this series has deconstructed what it means to be a super hero and somehow made it stand out among so many other comics that are trying to do the same thing. There are only a few more issues to go. JMS has taken a long time to get to the end. His foreshadowing and buildup has been torturous. I can't wait to see if these big questions are answered in the end or if this anticipation has been a metaphor for the questions we all ask as we go through our own lives. Big finish or not, this series is a winner and RISING STARS #21 is another issue to attest to this.

JLA #76

Joe Kelly – Writer

Lewis La Rosa – Penciler

Al Milgrom – Inker

Published by DC Comics

Reviewed by Village Idiot

How about a no-frills review of JLA?

Coming on the heels of the massive “Obsidian Age” storyline, JLA #76 is one of those interlude issues where attention is given almost exclusively to characters and relationships. Along these lines, the most notable moment in this book is a brief, subtle scene between Wonder Woman and Batman. I won’t spend too much time on this aspect of the story since it’s already been discussed in this forum ad nauseam. Suffice to say, their “situation” has not been resolved; it is still there, definitely there, perhaps more there than it’s ever been.

Besides, there are plenty of other situations to be explored too. How is Flash adjusting to having his legs back? Will Green Lantern still be in the JLA after his much publicized departure from Earth? What is Martian Manhunter doing with all those matches? Now that both the original JLA team and the substitutes are all together in the same time period, who stays on the roster and who goes? What’s going on with Aquaman? And what happened to Plastic Man?

In one way or another, Joe Kelly answers all these questions and more in JLA #76, a surprisingly satisfying issue about the World’s Greatest Superheroes picking up the pieces after a major ordeal.

I’ve been reading a steady stream of Joe Kelly comic books over the past year or so, and I feel I have a good sense of where his strengths and weaknesses lie. Essentially, his weaknesses are his strengths, separated by degree. Kelly can write stories of epic grandeur -- that can sometimes be overblown. He can write moments of emotional reality – that can sometimes be overwrought. He can witty dialog – that sometimes feels hammy and takes you out of the moment. And he can write structurally complex narratives – that are nearly incoherent, at least on the first pass.

After reading so much of his excesses lately in this month’s SUPERMAN comics, it was a pleasant surprise to find that Kelly was able to reign himself with JLA. Kelly still writes big. Whereas with Geoff John’s AVENGERS, you feel you have the comfortable intimacy and quick pace of a television show; Kelly writes a movie, with a little more distance, and more ambiguous beats and a bit more sophisticated emotional terrain. The pacing and drama felt true, not overblown, with only one or two false moments. (Kelly had to play the hand he was dealt with Kyle Rayner’s departure. He tried to spin it the best he could, but it was still a tough hand to play). The dialog was repeatedly cute, but it never crossed the line (well, okay, Green Arrow’s moon/ass reference was a little much). And although there were the occasional flights of fancy, the wheels stayed on the track. I liked it.

I’ve read some online comments that quibble with Kelly’s overall characterization (e.g., “That’s NOT Batman!!”), and his choices for the new members of the JLA. By and large, I’ve found his characterization to be consistent with what I’ve come to expect from these characters. As far as his choices for the JLA roster are concerned, he appears to have given in to the time-honored conceit of creators creating their own, new characters and sticking them on the team. This time around, it’s a character named Faith. I can’t help but wonder if there could have been another established character in the DCU that would have fit the bill just as well, but I’m willing to forgive in light of the fact that Kelly has managed to resurrect Apache Chief (from the SUPERFRIENDS) as a viable character in the DCU.

The cover to the issue is pretty amazing, with Doug Manhke’s striking image of Batman pouring out a beaker full of Plastic Man. But rather than Mahnke doing his usual duties on the inside, this month featured fill-in Lewis Larosa. Here is another aspect of the issue that has taken a fair amount of internet flack, I found the art to be at least as competent as Leonard Kirk’s work on JSA, albeit perhaps a bit looser. Still though, on page 14, Superman’s response to Aquaman’s news looks downright constipated. Super-constipated.

All in all, JLA #76 was an interesting book comic book that wove a transition in the team’s history nicely, with some unexpected and emotionally well-rendered vignettes. I enjoyed it. If you’re an indie snob looking to finally investigate big brand-name superheroes in the midst of big brand name superhero melodramatics, you may want to check this one out. And if you’re just a flat out sucker for superhero melodramatics, you should definitely check it out.

Meanwhile, rather than exploring the psychological sadomasochistic overtones of a Batman/Wonder Woman pairing in the talkbacks (again), what are the mythic overtones to this relationship, and what might it mean in terms of the mythic resonance of the entire DC Universe? Could this be THE tragic romance of the DCU?

AGENT X #6

Written by Gail Simone

Art by UDON

Published by Marvel Comics

A Jon Quixote production.

I don’t have time to do two reviews this week. It’s Molson’s fault. They now have mini-kegs that come dressed in Oilers jerseys. Oilers jerseys!! Do you have any idea how many of those I got for Christmas? Oh man. Well, until my sponsor comes back from vacation, I can’t be expected to write my regular reviews. Instead, I’m just gonna have to run an excerpt from a major screenplay I’m working on, about an unorthodox and irreverent comic book writer who shakes things up when assigned to a Marvel Comics base in Saigon. It’s got everything – drama, comedy, Bruno Kirby, and, once again, AICN has the scoop:

GOOOOOOD MORNING GAIL SIMONE

A Screenplay by Jon Quixote

FADE IN

INT. EDITOR’S OFFICE – DAY

An average military office. Decorations and personal effects are kept to a minimum, with the exception of a few framed pictures of Jerry Lewis on a shelf. SGT. MAJOR EDITOR sits at his desk, struggling valiantly with a Mad fold-in. He’s a Caucasian man in his late 30’s, and resembles the corpse of J.T. Walsh, only less animated.

GAIL SIMONE enters the office. She’s blonde, bespectacled, and played by Robin Williams, waxed to the point where it violates the Geneva Convention.

GAIL: You wanted to see me, sir?

EDITOR: Sit down, Simone. We need to talk about just what’s going on in your book. Now, this issue opens up with the hero mooning a bunch of mercenaries trying to kill him. What exactly are you trying to do here?

GAIL: I was just having some fun. You know, add a little humor to the story.

EDITOR: Humor. Yes. I am aware of this. Humor is good. Funny is good. But this, this is not humor. What are our readers going to do when they buy the comic expecting the serious action, multiple universes, and unresolved storylines the “X” on the cover suggests, only to find some character’s…(whispers) behind, staring out at them?

GAIL: They’ll laugh, sir?

Sgt. Maj. Editor leaps up from his chair, his face distorted with fury.

EDITOR: Laugh? Laugh? What is so funny about a grown man pressing ham against the windshield of a Recreational Vehicle while a team of soldiers-for-hire peppers him with ammunition? Or the constant reference to “gentlemen parts?” There’s no such thing. I even looked it up in my dictionary.

Sgt. Maj. Editor throws a book down in front of Gail.

GAIL: Uh, that’s a copy of “Maxim” sir.

EDITOR: Stars and Stripes! Just what are you trying to say?

GAIL: That you’ve been jerking off to your Websters?

EDITOR: That’s just sick. Although he was pretty cute when he’d say, “Whatchoo talkin’ about Willy.” Heh Heh. See, now why doesn’t your comic have stuff like that? Catch phrases. Comic gold, people eat that stuff up. We could put it on T-Shirts. Agent X holding a pose, saying his catch phrase.

GAIL (sarcastically): Leggo my Gentleman parts.

EDITOR: Dammit, we just can’t get through to you. I knew this would happen, Simone. That’s why I called in the big guns. One of the premier joke writers in the business today is going to give you some humor lessons. The man responsible for some of our biggest and most original hits: Freaky Deaky Kraven; Kraven Out of Sight; Pagan Kravens; and, his upcoming smash, “NewUntitled Elmore Leonard NovelKraven…plot to be determined.

Sgt. Maj. Editor picks up his phone. Gail shudders.

EDITOR: Send in Lieutenant Zim.

LIEUTENANT ZIM walks into the office. He’s played by an unwashed Bruno Kirby.

ZIM: Hey everybody. Boy, Hasselhoff sure does suck. Hee Hee…get it?

EDITOR (laughing): Gold, Zim, Gold. Okay, you read the latest issue. Why don’t you tell Simone where she went wrong.

ZIM: Glad to. Okay, the part where Taskmaster says he’s surprised that Batroc was heterosexual. That’s not funny. Heterosexuals aren’t funny. Most people are heterosexual. My parents were heterosexual.

GAIL (rubbing her eyes): Unfortunately.

ZIM (ignoring her): Gay people, now they’re funny. What you should do is take a character like that and turn him gay. Then he can be walking around and stuff saying, “oh, I like your SHOES.” Hee Hee…get it?

EDITOR: Plus, we could probably get on CNN, because gay people haven’t been mocked this progressively since that Billy Crystal TV show. You can’t buy that sort of publicity, Simone. And, frankly, we need the coverage. We’ve done everything we can to promote this book – we gave the character a generic name, changed the title, and put out a new issue #1 in the same month we put out 34 other similarly titled issue #1s, and yet it still hasn’t caught on. It’s obviously because you just aren’t that funny.

ZIM: You know what else I noticed? No celebrities. There isn’t a single name dropped in the entire issue. How can you expect to be funny and not even mention a celebrity. No Cruises. No Schwarzeneggers. Not even a Weinstein. C’mon, are you telling me you couldn’t find a way to work Joan Cusack’s name into the candy apple scene? Hey, Eddy, did I ever tell you about the time I called her Joan C**tsack in my online column? Hee hee…get it?

Sgt. Major Editor breaks out laughing. Zim joins him.

EDITOR: Oh ho ho, Lieutenant Zim.

ZIM: Oh ho ho, Eddy.

EDITOR: Oh ho ho, Lieutenant Zim.

ZIM: Oh ho ho, Eddy.

GAIL: Oh ho ho, I’m out of here.

Gail gets up and leaves Sgt. Major Editor and Lt. Zim convulsing with laughter. The Sgt. Major makes a motion to stop her, but Zim calls out “Carrot Top!...get it?” and the two fall to the floor hysterically. As she leaves, she passes Quixote Garlick – a heavyset African-American with a lazy eye - in the hallway.

GARLICK: Don’t listen to them, Gail. I think Agent X is hilarious, and one of the best books on the stands.

GAIL: Thanks, but next time I better be played by Meg Ryan.

FADE TO BLACK

GOTHAM CENTRAL #2

Writer: Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka

Artist: Michael Lark

Publisher: DC Comics

Reviewed by Cormorant

Didn’t care so much for the first issue of GOTHAM CENTRAL, DC’s new cop drama set in Batman’s home territory. Michael Lark’s art was terrific, but the grim tone of the thing – exemplified by Mr. Freeze snapping off the ear of a frozen cop, then shattering him completely – left me (no pun intended) cold. Of course, the realistic approach to super-crime is the entire hook of the series, and I like my Batman/Gotham in the more escapist mold of Steve Englehart’s 70’s run or the 90’s animated series, so maybe it’s just not for me.

Except…I ended up liking the second issue, so where does that leave me?

Well, curious about the third issue mostly. After two issues I’m more acclimated to the series’ tone, and while it’s not one I’d like to see in the regular Batman comics, I’m willing to be more open-minded when it comes to the periphery of his world. I’m reminded of ALIAS, Marvel’s excellent R-rated private eye comic; it’s set within continuity, but tends not to overtly affect it. As long as the grimmer aspects of GOTHAM CENTRAL likewise keep their distance from DC’s mainstream books, I think I can enjoy the series on its own merits.

And its merits are considerable. The first issue had a strong opening scene in which two unlucky cops, following a lead on a kidnapping case, chanced across a hotel where serious bad-ass, Mr. Freeze, was hiding out. One of ‘em got flash-frozen and shattered, and one of them was curiously left alive. Was it some kind of message? Part of Freeze’s modus operandi of trying to share his own tragedy by emotionally scarring others? Whatever the case, the death happened early in the morning, and a collectively enraged precinct decided that they damn well wanted to resolve the case before sunset, when it would unofficially become the province of the Dark Knight Detective. That’s the story, and the backdrop of anger and resentment over Batman’s potential involvement is a powerful one. These cops have already taken an emotional beating over the loss of one of their own, and the notion that Batman might step in, cutting off their need for a more personal justice, is simply unbearable. As the story progresses, the police are forced to weigh their egos against the lives of the innocents who might die if Batman isn’t involved. And if he must be brought in, how do they live with their failure?

In addition to revealing the psychological realism of being a Gotham cop, writers Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker also showcase the grim routine of police procedurals in the freak-infested city. A second death – this time one of Freeze’s associates – opens the second issue. The victim has been frozen in his car, the chunk of ice sticking out of his mouth suggesting that Freeze actually put the gun in his mouth and froze him from the inside out. Adding to the grisly atmosphere, one of the officers has to use a crowbar to pry the victim’s frozen hands from the steering wheel, leading to a loud offscreen “KRAK!” moments later. Later, the widow of the dead cop comes to the morgue to see his body and gain some closure. The attendant warns her that it’s a grisly sight, all the more so because the freezing process has actually converted his body to ice on a cellular level. “We tried to thaw him out,” he explains, “but he started…melting.” Of course, formerly silly villain, Mr. Freeze, already regained his credibility thanks to Paul Dini’s amazing revitalization of him on the 90’s cartoon, but moments like these make him outright terrifying.

The cast of GOTHAM CENTRAL is of the ensemble variety, as seen in its inspiration, cop shows like HILL STREET BLUES and NYBD BLUE. The cop who survived Freeze’s attack gets a good chunk of spotlight, but GCPD regulars like Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen – featured heavily in Rucka’s DETECTIVE run – also figure prominently. I’m especially interested to see the development of Captain Maggie Sawyer, a recent transfer who’ll be familiar to Superman fans as the former head of the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit. Since the search for Freeze becomes the top priority for the entire precinct, all these faces as well as a few others are featured throughout the second issue investigation. In the tradition of military movies, we don’t get to know anyone intimately right off the bat, but everyone gets a few minutes spotlight to make you care about ‘em. It works.

The art, by Michael Lark, is pretty much beyond reproach, mixing an appropriate element of photorealism with the noir expressionism of comics master Alex Toth. It’s a more pared-down style than I saw in the brilliant graphic novel, SCENE OF THE CRIME (also written by Ed Brubaker), but Lark can reveal so much with just a single line that I have zero complaints about the evolution. See for yourself here.

Final judgment: Except for the fact that Batman himself seemed more moody and terse than he should’ve following recent events in his own titles (the “Murderer” and “Fugitive” storylines), I’m pretty damn satisfied with this first story. The look at “supervillainy” from a cop’s standpoint fascinates, the rotating cast has good potential, and the grim subtext to the story has stayed with me since reading it. The ending is a bit abrupt and might could’ve used a stronger denouement, but then again, a denouement might’ve weakened the weight of the final pages, so perhaps it’s just as well. GOTHAM CENTRAL is worth a look for crime buffs, Batman fans, and anyone who’s enjoyed Brian Bendis’ POWERS.

INDIE JONES by Lizzybeth

I’ve looked at some different types of comics since we put out the call for self-published projects, from humor comics (some of which I reviewed here), to science fiction adventures, to kung fu epics. But I haven’t seen anything quite like SHUCK COMICS. This unique, whimsical title follows a goat-headed retired pagan god as he pursues a quieter life among humans. Carrying an appropriately seasonal theme, each issue of SHUCK features a tale of fall, of spring, of All Hallow’s Eve, and of Midwinter’s night. It’s an interesting, memorable, and often enchanting find for anyone open to its unusual charms.

SHUCK COMICS is on the slightly more well-known end of the indie comics spectrum than the comics I reviewed for the last Indie Jones installment. SHUCK #1 was “Certified Cool” in the March 2002 Previews, and creators Rick Smith and Tania Menesse received an Ignatz award nomination this year for “Most Promising New Talent.” The first four issues of SHUCK are a particularly impressive effort for novice creators like Smith and Menesse, and the title is quickly attracting attention from major comics magazines, websites, and industry veterans such as Eddie Campbell. Still, for many AICN readers the comic is no more accessible for it, fighting the same battles for recognition and distribution as any self-published comic faces today. Looking at the talent and imagination brought to each issue of SHUCK, I’m hoping that this title will be one to break out and find a sustainable audience for itself.

Like BONE, SHUCK is a good-natured fantasy comic that makes me smile, with a clean simplicity in its design to make its odd characters more endearing. SHUCK lacks BONE’s sense of slapstick adventure, but tells a nicely self-contained and gently humorous tale in each issue. Shuck, once a collector of souls and a bearer of Spring, now wears a human mask to live in a not-quite-ordinary neighborhood, educating inquisitive neighbor girl, Thursday Friday, in his traditions. Strange encounters interrupt most of these lessons: a dinner party for the dead; a recipe for home-brew interrupted by a horde of escaped souls from purgatory; an elderly cupid reuniting Shuck with the soul of his former wife, now enclosed in a fir tree. These stories could be played for zany humor, but the comic has a gravity at its core that keeps it from flying off into complete inconsequence.

Even more unusual than the pagan backdrop is the wordplay. The characters speak in a strange dialect somewhere between William Faulkner, Aleister Crowley, and Hooked on Phonics, and it requires some effort initially to translate their speech into understandable conversation. (An easier example: “My heart ropes arnt beint partikurly pulled in that direkshun yit this yer, Jamara. I have awfool heaviness on my mind…”) I was at first a little bothered by the unusual style of the writing, which seemed silly and effortful, but it won me over in time as the book found its voice, or maybe just as I got used to it. Either way, it is a refreshing change of pace to find a comic willing to set itself apart in this way.

SHUCK COMICS is well worth seeking out for fans of fantasy comics, or anyone looking for an unusual read. Ask your comics shop to order you a copy of SHUCK COMICS, or visit the Shuck Comics Homepage to purchase copies online. SHUCK can also be found in online form at Modern Tales, along with a host of indie comics projects worth looking into.

If you’d like to see your self-published comic featured in Indie Jones, email to indie_comics@yahoo.com for more information.

Readers Talkback

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  • Jan. 6, 2003, 8:31 a.m. CST

    hmmm

    by mr. smith

    i like the reviews that aren't written to be comedy skits.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 8:32 a.m. CST

    Lionel in Rising Stars..

    by JeffPA007

    I don't believe this is his introduction. He was in an earlier issue or I might be mistaken and it was some other special who could see the dead. I believe it was how they found out who was murdering the specials cause the dead ones told him.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Thoughts on Capt. America

    by the G-man

    Right or wrong, Cap, in many ways was created to be jingoistic pro-USA propaganda. It's also a little disturbing that so many fans (and reviewers at this site), people who would normally scream from the rooftops about "creators rights" and "Free speech," get so incredibly PO'd at the idea of there being a character out there who might--might--espouse anything even remotely pro-USA or conservative. That being said, the real flaw with the writing on this book has been how, Cassaday's art aside, pedestrian the stories are. The first story arc, when all was said and done, was just another "Cap fights secret society of terrorists with high tech weaponry" story, like millions of others, with a dash of the oft-seen "Cap gets mad at SHIELD and the US government" story thrown in. Even the villains' "you made me" speech was not new. Namor, Dr. Doom and Magneto have all made similar speeches in the past. But normally, it didn't take six issues to tell meandering story. In short, it was like a regular Lee/Kirby/Steranko/Grunwald Cap story, only in slow motion.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 10:21 a.m. CST

    Cap, Supes and the Unsolveable Problems

    by bizarromark

    While I stopped subjecting myself to Rieber's Captain America months ago, Jon Quixote's review updated me on some key developments that parallel a recent storyline over in the Superman books.***Both Cap and Superman have spent the holiday season wandering through the slums of America...wringing their hands, emoting the appropriate guilt, and wondering how to kiss it and make it all better....all the while spouting the most comical and threadbare cliches imaginable.****It's obvious to anyone with a heartbeat and even a single molecule of morality that helping our fellow man is a noble pursuit and should always been encouraged. However, this principal has been taken to a new and subtley condescending level of late in the pages of our two favorite American Apple Pie icons. Implicit in both storylines is the conceit that the people populating American slums are helpless cattle who simply cannot find their way without the benevolent guidance of the sensitive and enlightened Outsider like Cap or Supes. It's the implication of "Now that I am here, things will change", and you see it in the faces of freshly-minted teachers, lawyers, social workers and every other career enveloped in the perfumed cloud of idealism. Of course, the spirit of such idealism can hardly be condemned, and I'm certainly not going to label it "WRONG"...but at some point one has to identify, and even question, the underlying narcissism-tinged condescention that exists at its core.***You're familiar with the standard snetiments: "Things will never get better unless we CARE."....."This fate could happen to ANYONE."......."There but for the grace of God go I."...."If I show them how much I CARE, my hope and spirit will somehow rub off on these noble downtrodden people." These kind of stories make comic book writers feel important as they channel the spirit of Charles Dickens, imploring us all to look to the Noble Poor, flip them a shilling or two, tossle Tiny Tim's hair and, Lo and Behold, their lives are magically restored. But something seldom (if ever) addressed in these stories is the question: "Are some problems unsolveable?" It's a much tougher, thornier question to ponder than "Can I CARE enough?". Will some people fail and destroy their lives DESPITE the number and intensity of people caring for them? Will some people PREFER (for whatever reason) a life of crime and desperation no matter how many people reach out and hug them? What proportion of a life is ruined as a result of lousy choices and willful rebellion versus malevolent "outside forces" or people "just not caring enough"? Yes, of course...many people are trapped and find themselves in a wretched life due to factors beyond their control. But others....many, many others are living exactly the lives they've chosen with a shocking lack of regret or reflection. The most recent Captain America, along with the "Lost Hearts" storyline in Superman, ignores this troubling reality and, instead, demonstrates that the myth of "The Great White Hope", the belief that the Caring Outsider *alone* can make flowers bloom within the Urban Blight...is alive and well. It's a thought that comforts the guilt-addled suburban college youth, their ivory tower mentors, and the Sensitive Bards populating all branches of the arts...including comic books. But in actuality, it's cheap, emotional candy that only children can enjoy.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 10:45 a.m. CST

    Strazcynski & Rushdie (The Satanic Verses)

    by Judge Mental

    Yesterday I was helping my girlfriend write a paper on Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children,": which is about 1001 kids born on the same day, all with various "superpowers." Reminded me of the Rising Stars premise. Then I looked at the picture of Rushdie and he looks like JMS too! Just some observations. I tried a few random issues of Rising Stars last year and it didn't hold me, nor did JMS' run on Amazing Spidey. But now that I see it on another level, I may give him another chance. ---

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 11:31 a.m. CST

    Rieber's off Cap? Thank Christ!

    by Veidt

    I stuck with it through the first storyline for Cassady's artwork but Reiber's approach to Cap is atrocious. It's not applying the character to real-world situations that's the problem, it's the laughably grim dialouge that reaches for every cliche in the book. It does a disservice to the character and the subject matter. Hopefully Austen will do better with the book than Rieber has.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 11:36 a.m. CST

    Super-ASS-afragil-ASS-tic-ASS-pialidoti-ASS

    by bizarromark

    Sorry. Just getting into the ass-word thing Village Idiot got rolling on the Supergirl review.***I'm also enjoying the final months of Supergirl, as we witness the continuing puzzling phenomena of "things really getting interesting when a comic book is going to be canceled". Whenever a comic book is canceled, or is threatened with cancelation, that seems to be the point at which "the gloves are off" and "we're REALLY going to entertain you NOW!" comes into play. As entertaining as much of this attention-getting razzmatazz can be, my question is: why can't we get this kind of "go for broke" storytelling in ALL of our comic books? Why does a title have to be sent to the chopping block for creative teams to suddenly get inspired to blow our collective doors off?****Perhaps our Event Obsessed culture...where people constantly stampede from one "happening" to another...has made even the failure of a comic book an official EVENT worthy of breathless promotion and "HIT THE GAS!" border-crashing storytelling. Anyone catch the last issue of "Superman: Man of Steel"? The words "LAST ISSUE!" are hysterically shouted at us from within a prominent exploding burst shape on the cover.....corroberating my "Failure is now an EVENT" theory.*****Regarding the story itself, I also disliked the "Earnest = Stupid" behavior of Kara...probably because we've seen soooo much of it 10,000 times before, whether it's Star Trek's Data, Daryl Hanna in "Splash" or even Supergirl (Helen Slater) herself in the 1984 movie. I was also a bit disappointed with the villain and the ripped-off M.O. from the "Gog" and "The Kingdom" stories a few years back (villain killing multiple-universe versions of Superman). My veteran comic book fan E.S.P. is already setting a course for how this story will play out, and I'm hoping that Peter David still has enough of his trademark snarkyness to turn the expected cliche on its ear.....despite every DC title he's working on getting axed left and right.***One other thing: Village Idiot: Despite a typically excellent review, you failed to properly lambaste the horrendous cover artwork. One simply can't badmouth stuff like this too much. Perhaps you can offer some words of scorn and derision for the cover here in the Talkbacks.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 11:45 a.m. CST

    "Know that I am GOLOBULUS!!!"

    by Dave_F

    Surely Burgess Meredeth's *finest* hour in the classic G.I.JOE movie! Hmmm, it occurs to me that he didn't live much longer after that role. I think that means something. ***** Oh, and I gotta agree with Vroom about the Ripcord vs. Zartan issue, too. I had the Ripcord action figure when I was a kid, but thought it was ultra-lame up until I read that issue. Afterwards I grafted an ultra-badass persona onto the toy that made my imaginary adventures far, FAR more entertaining. And I'm talking as recently as yesterday. And y'know what else was cool about that issue? The way pragmatic Joe leader, Hawk, manipulated Ripcord into going AWOL on Cobra Island in the first place. I haven't read my copy of the trade yet, but if memory serves, Hawk sends Ripcord up on the G.I.Joe plane to participate in some aerial reconnaissance of Cobra island, gambling that Ripcord's knowledge that his girlfriend is on the island will lead him to stage an emergency eject from the place to bust her out. See, he's all with the psychological manipulation 'n' stuff! The plan is that the presence of an unauthorized American soldier on Cobra's now-sovereign territory will provide a justification to send in a legally-sanctioned extraction team...loaded for bear with spy cameras and surveillance equipment. In short, Hawk's completely willing to throw away the life of one of his own to get some up-close pics of Cobra's new island fortress. How cold-blooded is that? And eerily realistic? I love it.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Explain this to me, Bizarromark...

    by Lizzybeth

    Exactly why is it more "narcissistic" and "childish" to read about Captain America/Superman fighting poverty than Captain America/Superman fighting giant radioactive ants or armies of robots or the like? It's the same "one man saves the world" fantasy, isn't it? And isn't the battle against evil megalomaniac villians equally hopeless in the long run, since there will always be more of them and they just don't seem to die anyway, by the laws of comic-book physics? Not that I don't disagree with pretty much every premise you operate from anyway, but I'd like to know how you rationalize this for yourself.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 12:37 p.m. CST

    Walrus- It wasn't Agoglia that got Norm removed from Update

    by RenoNevada2000

    It was Don Ohlmeyer (Spelling?) who was friends with OJ (The Murderer) and forced Lorne Michels to remove Norm. Check out Tom Shales great new book "Live From New York" for more detail.

  • And would it be so terrible, B-Mark, if children enjoyed an issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA or SUPERMAN every once in a while? Kidding...sorta...but the irony of criticizing superhero books for being potentially enjoyable to children certainly caught my attention! Nowadays, pretty much *all* comics must shoot for a teens-and-up audience, simply because that's the only age group hitting comic shops on a regular basis, but the Superman books still have an air of all-ages approachability to them, so frankly I'm not overly concerned if they extoll a message that's upbeat but trite. When I read UNCANNY X-MEN as a kid, it extolled some messages that were upbeat and trite too, but Claremont's extension of Stan Lee's brand or moralizing still cast a powerful thrall on me, and I'd like to think it actually helped me to be a better person. As I grew up, sure, I saw that the simple solutions of the comics weren't particularly pragmatic, but y'know what? I wasn't looking for angst-inducing depth. I think the idealism of X-MEN was a real draw to me, and certainly fit the generally escapist tone of the genre. The occasional story like GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS kept me from imagining that everyone would one day be holding hands and singing "Kumbaya," but I happen to be in favor of idealism as a concept for the youth. It certainly turns murky, though, when writers start trying to play up those same shmaltzy concepts in a comic they know is largely for adults, but I almost blame that more on the trends of the direct market that created the greying comics audience. SUPERMAN *should* be an all-ages book! Now CAPTAIN AMERICA, on the other hand, seems to be overtly targetting adults, and so its brand of heavy-handedness strikes me as the worse of the two. Honestly, though, I think both CAPTAIN AMERICA and SUPERMAN could *stand* to be more childish - in the sense that both books really should move back to a tradition of good, solid action/adventure storytelling, with any moralizing occuring on the periphery.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 1:50 p.m. CST

    Judge Mental

    by Lizzybeth

    Hey, I hadn't thought of that, but there are a few similarities. Midnight's Children (who were the babies born at the stroke of midnight on the day of India's independence) also had powers of various strengths and types that tied them together, and they each used their powers to different purposes. We'll have to see if Straczynski has the same sad fate in store for the Specials as the characters of Rushdie's book ended up with. (co?)Incidentally, I still think last year's Midnight Nation is Strac's best comics work so far, and I recommend checking that out too.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 2:47 p.m. CST

    I just stood in the grocery store thumbing through a copy of "Wo

    by rev_skarekroe

    Did he actually spend four pages lecturing some guy about smoking? WTF? sk

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 3:17 p.m. CST

    Corm: Ya missed my point.

    by bizarromark

    Corm wrote: "And would it be so terrible, B-Mark, if children enjoyed an issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA or SUPERMAN every once in a while?" When I wrote about "cheap, emotional candy that only children can enjoy", I wasn't talking about *literal*, chronological children. I was talking about the *philosophical* childishness of adults who adhere to the kind of simplistic bumper-sticker solutions found in "Captain America" and "Lost Hearts" over in Superman. At first blush, it appears to have a ring of philosophical honesty to it: "Do what you can to help." Great. Got it. But this is twice in one month we've seen two Iconic Giants take it to that much more condescending level I spoke about earlier. It's as if Cap and Supes are saying "Now that I'm here among you helpless cattle, absorb my Enlightened Goodness to rise above your misery." In fact, that's almost *literally* what Superman said in the last chapter of "Lost Hearts" (page 16 to be exact. Read it. It's hilarious). In my opinion, this sentiment, while sounding good and noble, actually seems to rob the downtrodden of their own inner strength. Rather than recognizing and escaping from their troubled lives, the myth of "the Great White Hope" dictates that the downtrodden are powerless to improve themselves, their neighorhoods and their futures unless the Enlightened White Man steps down from Mount Olympus, picks them up, dusts them off, and give them a hug, thereby healing their broken lives. It's the stuff fairy tales are made of, and I suppose there is no better place for fairy tales than comic books, right? Well...sometimes I'm not so sure. Do I want comic books to always show the death of idealism? No. Of course not. What I * am* asking is simply this: Instead of showing the Enlightened Hero show up at a soup kitchen for three hours and "Bring Light to the Dark" for the 5,678th time, might we....MIGHT we occasionally show the hero realize that no matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he cares....some problems will never be solved and some lives can never be healed. That's a long ways from ray guns and space monsters....and maybe that's why I prefer comic books to stay in that realm and leave the hard questions for the adults in the world.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 3:38 p.m. CST

    Cap

    by Bizzo

    My only problem with Captain America was that it took all abouta minute and a half to read the damn thing. It just felt, to me at least, that there was no emotion there. Even the climatic fight at the end of the first arc seemed like he was going through the motions. And don't even get me started on Simone being taken off Deadpool(I'll never refer to it as what ever they are calling it now) I stoped reading it when I heard she was being taken off.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 3:48 p.m. CST

    Are you guys nuts? Criticizing Bizarromark? Have you seen the

    by JonQuixote

    Kidding...sorta. But I've got to come down on his side. Lizzy's question: why is it more "narcissistic" and "childish" to read about... fighting poverty than... fighting giant radioactive ants. And the reason, I would hypothesize, is because the moment a book is written with an adult audience firmly in mind is the moment it becomes held to a higher standard. Superman vs. Giant Ants? Hell, that's not something the rest of us have to deal with - we don't live in a world that is occasionally threatened by Giant Ants, though if we did, I suppose we might need a Superman. It even can fall into the realm of analogy: Heightened characters dealing with heightened circumstances...hey kids, take the lessons learned (nobility, responsibility, self-sacrifice, etc.) and apply them to the real world. *** Ah, but place those heightened characters in "real" circumstances, acknowledge the book is written for an adult audience and that's when I start to expect more than just cliches and moralizing. Adults don't want didacticism - we're adults, preach to us and it comes across as condescending. And the mix of these fairy tale characters and real-world "hard-hitting" issues becomes grating when it's the norm, ESPECIALLY when they're not dealt with in a manner any deeper or less didactic than the kid-oriented comics. *** DD is a great example of this from a story perspective. Obviously no longer a 9year old friendly book, Bendis decided to write two issues that consisted, almost entirely, of trial proceedings. Great! Super! A mature take on DD is going to pay some well-deserved attention to the legal proceedings that would envelop a good portion of Matt Murdock's life. What did we get? A trial laden with cliches, ripped from too many viewings of A FEW GOOD MEN. A tempermental defendant who screws his case by exploding angrily on the stand. A DA so motivated by his own career that he ignores blindingly obvious physical evidence in choosing to prosecute. And trial mechanics that had all the depth, intricacy, and reality of the last 15 minutes of BIG DADDY. Now, if this particular DD-trial was a supplement to a story that mostly revolved around DD kicking the tar out of Stilt-Man, then you forgive the cliches and superficiality. The trial isn't really important, it's just a tool in which to advance the plot. And, actually, the cliches become an asset, an important point of reference for the reader to be able to follow what's going on without the author dwelling on the mechanics. BUT, when the trial is the entire purpose of the story, rather than just a plot point, and the comic is intended for an adult audience (who else would be interested in 44 pages of courtrom dialogue), then you expect something a little more than what you got. You expect an adult-story designed to engage an adult-brain...not a sloppy, juvenile cliche that dresses up in Daddy's clothes and tries to buy beer at the bar. *** The new run on Cap is held to the same standard. If they want to tell an adult story, then QUIT falling back on the cliches and moralizing that mark youth-oriented comics. DON'T pass off idealistic soldier-babble as characterization or dialogue. And, above all else, RESPECT the adult audience enough to realize that they'll know when he's phoning it in. Adult oriented stories that have barely enough intellectual substance or emotional depth to impress a child will ultimately wind up satisfying no one.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 3:52 p.m. CST

    Altering the Mythic Resonance

    by bizarromark

    Village Idiot won the alleged Batman-Wonder Woman "thing": "......what are the mythic overtones to this relationship, and what might it mean in terms of the mythic resonance of the entire DC Universe?" While I'm no supporter of a Batman-Wonder Woman romance (for a variety of reasons), I'll take the bait. The events that have altered the "mythic resonance" (a.k.a. "status quo") of the DC universe in the past have primarily been *deaths*. Think back over the defining moments of DC Comics and most of those Resonance-Altering events have been someone dying. With that in mind, I think the concept of LOVE between two major charcters would alter the status quo in a more positive way than the standard "Death of a Major Character" snooze-fest. Not that I'm advocating a Batman-Wonder Woman romance, mind you. Such would be sheer, unadulterated madness.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 4:08 p.m. CST

    cap america comic has so much potential but that writer rieber s

    by juxtapoze

    um, can we have a normal 'story' for one issue? actually ,jeez, i dont know if they (marvel) are making him write like that orrrr that is how he wants cap to come off. lets get some other characterrs involved with the story and have some everyday things happen in his life. i mean jeezus, they already wasted 6 issues of fantastic art. I DONT EVEN remember wat the first 6 were about fer gods sake i just remember the art was cool.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 4:39 p.m. CST

    Cap America should shut up and kick ass

    by KONG33

    What is with all these pretentious writers putting him in a church pew or giving speeches on war and crap? Interacting with the common man. Does this get anyone off? 4 dollars for this in Canada!

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 4:48 p.m. CST

    thats what I'm talkin bout, REV

    by KONG33

    4 pages wasted for Wolverine to lecture on smoking! Comics are too often these expensive little moral mini-mags, get back to the DEATH! Cap America should beat up Osama Bin Laden in a cool what-if War! Be Relevant! Superman used to throw balls at WW2 villains! The sad part? I'm being entirely serious. Comics should be magazine-sized, about EWeekly's size. Then they could sell in mag stores in a mall or something. That's a necessary change.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 6:01 p.m. CST

    You call me mad, eh? They called me mad back at the university.

    by Village Idiot

    One of these days, the DC Universe is going to reboot again. It's going to happen, there's no use denying it. So when the story of the DCU is retold, *what* will be retold? Will it be issue #647 of ACTION Comics where Superman takes on Rainbow Raider? Of course not. What WILL carry over? How about Dick Grayson ascending to the mantle of Nightwing. Jason Todd's death. Superman's death. Maybe Barry Allen's death. Hal Jordan going off his nut and the subsequent death of Oliver Queen. Superman and Lois Lane getting married. And, perhaps now, the love between Batman and Wonder Woman._____Why? In his proposal for TWILIGHT OF THE SUPERHEROES, Alan Moore talked about how one of the features that comics lack that keep it from the realm of "real myth" is the fact that it lacks an ending. That may or may not be true, however, I think there are other aspects to storytelling that seem endemic to mythology: the Epic Conflict, the Unexpected Betrayal, the Transformation, the Resurrection, and the Tragic Romance. Instances include Lancelot and Guienevere, Heathcliff and Kathy, and older ones that are escaping my memory right now.____So if the DCU is to have a big mamma-jamma romance, why Wonder Woman and Bats? Well, obviously Batman and Wonder Woman are two of the "big three"; the Mt. Rushmore of the DCU. And, of course, there's the fact that it would be inevitably frustrated; i.e., the potential of the love that lasts all ages but can never be satisfied. Perhaps this would translate to deeper consequences for Batman's aestheticism. I'm not sure how Wonder Woman would process the situation; perhaps the fallout would give her unexpected dimension. But it would also undoubtedly have other reprecussions throughout the DCU, and flavor all the stories of the future (and after the supposed rebbot, perhaps even the past). Meanwhile, Superman and Lois Lane, who in another world might have fit this bill, seem to have the arguably less resonant "happy and successful love affair" category filled nicely, perhaps almost as a counterpoint._____Of course, perhaps the whole idea may fizzle. Or Kelly may blow the execution: rush it, cheapen it, what have you. I hope not. I see the potential in a romance between a man in a bat suit and a Amazon warrior literally made from dirt as something truly great. (And I know I've talked about this whole thing before. Apologies for any redundancies.)

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 6:22 p.m. CST

    Stan Gable: Why I (the fuck) read Supergirl.

    by Village Idiot

    The short answer is because I heard some buzz about SUPERGIRL, checked it out, and found that it was worth talking about._____But for a longer answer, let me just say that my job is not to review what everybody else is reading. Sure, I've reviewed ULTIMATES, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. Last week I got Y-YHE LAST MAN. Heck, this week I got JLA. But often I'll also pick out stuff that I don't think anybody is reading and give it a shot, like ROBIN, THE AMAZING SCREW-ON HEAD, even ARCHIE. Why? Because there may be something going on there that you don't know about; there might be something good that you're taking for granted; and it's my job to investigate it so you don't have to. SUPERGIRL is a good example: there IS something going on there; it's a better comic than you think, at least if you have a sensibility that appreciates the fundamentals Superhero aesthetics. And so I'm doing my job as the intrepid reviewer to tell you about it.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 6:36 p.m. CST

    And yes, by God, the cover sucked.

    by Village Idiot

    If Peter David were the star of his own Adam Sandler vehicle, and the central conflict of the story was whether or not he could get the SUPERGIRL title alive and running and save the franchise, his evil arch-enemy played by Christopher McDonald would be trying to ensure his failure by putting those covers on the SUPERGIRL books.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 7:14 p.m. CST

    Walrus and Cormorant

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Not to nitpick, well actually with the sole intention to nitpick, its GLOBulous and LT. Falcon. Hows that for completely useless knowledge?

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 7:35 p.m. CST

    That Should Hold Off The Giant Ants Long Enough For Me To Talkba

    by Buzz Maverik

    Praise Gawd for creating napalm! Damn giant ants! I wish to hell people would be more careful with their radiation! Well, off to finish the boric acid bomb. Luckily, I somehow managed to get ahold of smart bomb technology and should be able to guide the sumbitch right into the giant anthole and up the queen's butt. Now, if they'd just publish some comics I can relate to. Also, I too dislike reviews that are like comedy skits. Don't these @$$holes know that comic book fans dislike humor, imagination and only go in for literal statements that tell them how to feel about the books they already read? Apparently not! Ooops. Here come the ants....

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 7:45 p.m. CST

    Theres people out there who haven't read the Amazing Screw On He

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Scary. Anyway, my main problem with Captain America is the lack of any depth to Steve Rodgers. I loved the old Captain America/Falcon series (like I said: 50's Cap? That rat bastard!) Where was I? Ah, Steve Rodgers. Who is he? He was a freelance graphic illustrator for awhile, which I think meant he worked at McDonalds, but other than that, who is he? Steve Rodgers always seemed more like the mask he wore when he needed toilet paper or groceries. "THE ADVENTURES OF STEVE RODGERSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! In today's amazing adventure, Steve must brave the mall on a desperate quest for CHRISTMAS GIFTS!" So, in summation, I've always felt Captain America was best used on the Avengers. It seems like he stumbles as a character when theres too much focus on him. And just to toss this out there, but isn't Superman just a tad boring? Theres nothing he can't handle and as a result, zero tension.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 7:47 p.m. CST

    Theres people out there who haven't read the Amazing Screw On He

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Scary. Anyway, my main problem with Captain America is the lack of any depth to Steve Rodgers. I loved the old Captain America/Falcon series (like I said: 50's Cap? That rat bastard!) Where was I? Ah, Steve Rodgers. Who is he? He was a freelance graphic illustrator for awhile, which I think meant he worked at McDonalds, but other than that, who is he? Steve Rodgers always seemed more like the mask he wore when he needed toilet paper or groceries. "THE ADVENTURES OF STEVE RODGERSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! In today's amazing adventure, Steve must brave the mall on a desperate quest for CHRISTMAS GIFTS!" So, in summation, I've always felt Captain America was best used on the Avengers. It seems like he stumbles as a character when theres too much focus on him. And just to toss this out there, but isn't Superman just a tad boring? Theres nothing he can't handle and as a result, zero tension.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 7:49 p.m. CST

    Superman, Motivational Speaker

    by Village Idiot

    At the conclusion of the "Lost Hearts" storyline in the SUPERMAN comics last month, Superman, dressed in civilian clothes (well, a civilian from THE MATRIX at least), slowly rises off the ground amidst a crowd of homeless, inspiring them all with a message of hope that frees them from the invisible parasites on their chests that are at the root of their homeless problem. Frankly I object more to Joe Kelly and Geoff Johns misguided sci-fi metaphor (Did it really need a metaphor?) than I did to Superman's speech at the end. But, I object to Superman's speech too; possibly because the well was already spoiled by story up to that point, but also because the speech had the treacly quality that Mark observed._____But rather than view this phenomenon through the prism of the Ideals of Neo-Liberalism Romantically Over-Expressed, I see it more as a phenomenon of the Big Motivation Speech in general; that is, the phenomenon is not contingent on context. Many of Kelly's Superman stories end with a big speech, part mission statement, part "What have we learned this week." And sometimes it works (ACTION #775, and for my money, ACTION #796) and sometimes it doesn't, like in the story under discussion. Like I discussed in my review of JLA, for Kelly, it's a matter of degree, and in "Lost Heart," I thought he went a little overboard. A postive ending to the story could have been realized; one that stressed the values that he was trying to convey. But alas, it wasn't.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 7:49 p.m. CST

    oops

    by Qwerty Uiop

    sorry about that

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 7:52 p.m. CST

    Thats funny

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I thought ALL online reviews, by definition, were comedy skits.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 7:53 p.m. CST

    ... they're doing WHAT with Batman and Wonder Woman ?

    by SpacePhil

    ... er... well, it's an interesting angle, I suppose...

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 7:55 p.m. CST

    Ouch! Qwerty with the zinger!

    by Dave_F

    Just know that I'm laughing on the outside but crying on the inside. Sad Clown Syndrome.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 7:59 p.m. CST

    Question.

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Charlie hows your Angels get down like that? Girl I didn't know you could down like that, Charlie hows your angels get down like that? And secondly, whats the name of these G.I. Joe trades are they all just G.I. Joe Vol. 1? I may want to pick me up a few. Also I picked up Rex Mundi, not bad, promising, we'll see how it goes.

  • Sources include the IMDB: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0093066 ...and this lovely scan of the file card for the ill-conceived action figure of the same name: http://www.yojoe.com/filecard/87/golobulus.shtml Shit, did you think I own the DVD of that so-called movie for *nothing*? Barroom bets, baby - that's what it's all about. Recognize, my friend. "Cobra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!!!"

  • Yep, the collections are just called "G.I. JOE Vol. 1", "G.I. JOE Vol.2", etc. Here's what they look like: http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=list&title=35593431469&snumber=1 Downsides include overpricedness, slick paper that doesn't suit the often mediocre art, and a total lack of extras, but the stories hold up surprisingly well, and I wholeheartedly endorse the reprint endeavor. As a bonus, you can look for some of Larry Hama's right wing philosophy to sneak into the comic! Consider, for instance, the scene in which the Soft Master - a Mr. Miyagi-type who's *clearly* the voice of reason - comments to Snake-Eyes on the silliness of attempting to outlaw handguns. He supports his assessment with this anecdote: "Did you know that when the Japanese conquered Okinawa they banned all knives? It simply spurred the Okinawans to invent some of the deadliest forms of unarmed combat known to man!" Score one for the gun nuts! But more to the point, I'm actually *impressed* at how Hama slipped elements of his own philosophy into what could've been a totally PC endeavor ala the cartoon, and his broad knowledge of military history really grounds the book when it threatens to get soap operatic. I'll recount a favorite incident of Hama sneaking in some history later in the TalkBack if I'm feeling particularly geeky (yeah, I know, that line was already crossed with the Golobulous reference...).

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 8:48 p.m. CST

    Motherfucker, I have been shamed.

    by Qwerty Uiop

    You're right, it is golobulus. And that is one kick ass site you listed. Ah, memories. I think I stopped getting them around '87 or so. Which volume would have the origin of Snake eyes in it? That was my favorite story arc. That and the one where Zartan tells his story of becoming the sword makers apprentice in order to infiltrate the Ninja order and kill the Hard Master. Hey, didn't Zartan assasinate Serpentor, as well. I remember him jumping on a HISS tank with a bow and arrow and getting off a kick ass shot into Serpentor's eye. I'm interested in this Zartan/Ripcord story, cause I never liked Ripcord and I don't think anyone else did. he was always the character you'd get for christmas that you didn't want. A possibility of a third good Zartan story? He was cooler than I remember. I never remember them explaining his chameleon skin, though. What was the story with that?

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 8:57 p.m. CST

    so?

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Are they reprints in order or just selected arcs? And is that J. Scott Campbell cover art? God, I hate that 80s pop culture whore, the lazy fuck. His love for G.I. Joe foisted Danger Girl on us. He's not as bad as Joe Mad, but he's up there. Anyone catch his Danger Girl sketchbook? Its major selling feature is topless sketches of the Danger Girls and I don't know about you all, but I think that Otaku fan service bullshit is creepy as hell.

  • Answers: The reprints are chronological in nature, beginning with issue one in volume one, and concluding with issue #50 in volume five. I'm guessing volume five may be the last reprint, as the nostalgia trend is beginning to cool, and volume six hasn't been solicited yet. A shame, really, as there are still some great issues after #50. Issue #100 would be a better place to stop, as that's when things got reaaaaallly cheesy. **** The origin of Snake-Eyes occurs in volume three, but don't underestimate volumes one and two. The stuff in Sierra Gordo rocks, and those volumes are where my main man, Kwinn, struts his stuff. ****** Zartan's assassination of Serpentor occurs during the Cobra Island Civil War sometime past issue #50 - in the 70's I think - so it's unlikely to be reprinted. Kick ass scene, though, no doubt. ***** Never read the story you mention about Zartan making a sword, which means it probably occurs sometimes after issue #80, which is roughly my cut-off point for the series. ***** I don't think Hama's run on G.I. Joe ever explained Zartan's powers, or at least not in the issues I read. I think the current relaunch has it as some kind of crazy skin disorder, but I thought in Hama's day it was all hi-tech holography. Hmm. Vroom? Little help here?

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 9:46 p.m. CST

    Good to hear you've been seduced by THE FLASH, Unc.

    by Dave_F

    And yes, Kolins' art is most definitely a major part of why that book is Geoff Johns' best at the moment. At first glance, I thought the earth-toned, quasi-Euro art was the ugliest match for the character imagineable, but does it work in practice or what?! And dig this - if you can actually get your hands on any of Kolins' 90's art, you'll be horrified to see that he once trafficked in the "Image" style (i.e. he was a Jim Lee clone)! Now he's evolved so much it ain't even funny. He's *THE* breakout artist of the year in this man's opinion.

  • That stuff cracks me up. Friends, TalkBackers, Countrymen...if you're reading even *one* goddamn superhero book, please do us all a favor and refrain from bashing any other superhero book for being what it is. We're *all* of us indulging in a genre that was initially created as children's entertainment, and however it might've evolved, the roots will always, ALWAYS be whimsical and silly. In other words, if you throw a stone too hard at SUPERGIRL, you'll just bring down the glass house on your own fool self. "But...but...DAREDEVIL is *sophisticated*!" you say. "It's men-in-tights for the intellectual elite! I smoke a fucking pipe while I'm reading it in my study!!!" Sorry, my friend, but he's still the guy who fights Stilt-Man and the Owl.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 10:11 p.m. CST

    Cormorant

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I think its easier to rip on certain characters like Supergirl, because shes always been a loser and that loser stink never comes off.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 10:12 p.m. CST

    suh-prise, suh-prise, suh-prise

    by Qwerty Uiop

    The Talkback is fucked up again.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 10:13 p.m. CST

    That last one landed right in the middle.

    by Qwerty Uiop

    what the hell?

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 10:44 p.m. CST

    "Loser stink?" Dammit man, you're talking about the woman I lov

    by Village Idiot

    Well, okay, so Supergirl has never had a *wildly* successful title of her own, but then again, a 6 2/3 years run with one writer (Peter David) is nothing to sneeze at. My understanding is that the book had cult appeal for quite a while, but then lost readers with an overarching storyline that seemed milked beyond reason. Well, I guess that storyline has been resolved, and now, like Mark said, David's cutting loose reckless abandon. In vain._____Anyway, I can still see how SUPERGIRL may be *percieved* as a loser, but then again, how many has Batgirl really won?

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 10:57 p.m. CST

    Batgirl cool, Supergirl loser roller disco queen

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Batgirl is better than Supergirl for a myriad of reasons. Mostly due to the Killing Joke and the fact that shes got that whole Oracle thing going on now. She's also an interesting person and I would rate her as better then Supergirl based on her and Nightwing's relationship alone. I read the first issue of Batgirl Year One and it wasn't bad. Batgirl has potential to be reworked into something more than what she was and cult following or not, Supergirl was always the one Superpet who somehow avoided being drug out behind the barn and put down, like she always deserved to be.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 11:40 p.m. CST

    I see. So what you're saying is you're crazy.

    by Village Idiot

    Yes, how silly of me, you're absolutely right. Batgirl got shot and became tech support. She's clearly better. Of course, forget the fact that Supergirl has apparently been having farily mindblowing religio-scientific adventures for the past six years that might actually be entertaining and fun. Batgirl can talk to Batman while he's getting his ass kicked.

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 11:52 p.m. CST

    At least she gets to talk to Batman....

    by Qwerty Uiop

    No one talks to Supergirl. Why? She stinks of loser...

  • Jan. 6, 2003, 11:58 p.m. CST

    "Batgirl got shot and became tech support." is the winner of th

    by JonQuixote

    Okay, let's do a talkback mudwrestle, and see who wins. Character: Batgirl, especially regarding consistancy. You can relate to Batgirl a lot more than you can Kara/Lara/Pseudo-Angel/Shapeshifer Supergirl. Direction: Batgirl. Again, at least DC seems to know what to do with her. Sexual Fantasy: Supergirl. While I like redheads, I vote for the chick where, if I want to put her ankles behind her head, I won't need a pulley system. Supporting cast: Batgirl has the rest of the Batman family, as well as Black Canary. Supergirl has, apparently, herself. Arch-nemesis: Batgirl again. No matter how you slice it, Joker is cooler than Marv Wolfman and the Hall Monitor. So Batgirl wins by a count of 4 to 1, but Supergirl wins the category that really coutns. I call it a tie.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 12:02 a.m. CST

    And so its laid out

    by Qwerty Uiop

    If you want a character with multi-faceted potential, go to Batgirl. If you want to rub one off thinking about comic book characters, then Supergirl is the one for you. Can't we all, we who are so different, just get along?

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 12:05 a.m. CST

    Ah Dazzler, we hardly knew ye?

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Where's she been? Anyone catch her honorable mention in Alias? Apparently she's left Longshot and is fucking some small time Russian drug dealer. Low, how the mighty have fallen.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 12:08 a.m. CST

    Jon- not that there's much point in continuing, but

    by Lizzybeth

    that's not really what I was getting at. You already know I don't really care about the relative childishness of Captain America, and I'm sure the actual execution of the idea was clumsy and hamhanded. But that was not BM's complaint - instead, he makes an amusing value judgement on the audience he imagines these scenes are intended for, one that he does not seem to make on the presumed other, "correct" portion of it. I'm genuinely curious about his reasoning here. Restated: if it's "emotional candy" to read about solving social problems in a superhero context, what is it in general to read escapist fantasy about benevolent all-powerful beings saving the world from evildoers? (I don't personally think there's anything wrong with either, just to be clear.)

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 12:42 a.m. CST

    Lizzybeth: reread BM's post

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Its exactly as he says, one is an escapist fantasy; the other is masturbatory pontification to alleviate the guilt of the writer/artist/whomever. Escapist fantasies belong in comics, its one of the reasons fictional literature exists, but I fail to see any value, whatsoever, in a comic about Superman working at a soup kitchen or Captain America raising up the poor with stirring words. It doesn't contribute to the social problems in any positive way and is plain, old insulting to towards the seriousness of the problem. Leave the real world problems to the real world.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 12:46 a.m. CST

    There's always point in continuing, Liz...

    by JonQuixote

    Maybe my comprehension is lost in the pea-soup thickness of some of these posts (AICN's talkback format doesn't really lend itself to arguments of BM's nature...or, sometimes, mine), but I thought that what was questioned by BM wasn't audience the writers were aiming for, but rather the writers doing the aiming. *** I'm not speaking for him, but, really, someone could question my own position in a manner that you question his. I feel that if you take the exact same story and only swap the adversary, the one with the giant ants gets a pass that the one with the social violence does not. Or, more to the point, an adult-oriented real-world story is held to a different standard than an all-ages escapist fantasy, so much so that the exact same dialogue or moralizing so forgivable in the latter, becomes insulting, inane, and even offensive in the former. It's not that it's "emotional candy" to read about Superheroes and social problems in principle, but rather in the facile and ham-fisted execution that is not only becoming more and more prevalent, but, in many titles (such as CAP), now appears to be the norm. It's not that the principle is inherently flawed, but when the moralizing is so incessant and the content so superficial you can't help but lash out critically. Or maybe I'm still misunderstanding your critique of BM's critique? Possible. I...can't read!!

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 12:50 a.m. CST

    B. Zarro Mark:

    by Dave_F

    I think I actually agree with most of your points, but I couldn't resist the urge to rail about one of my pet peeves: adults judging all-ages comics harshly rather than recognizing that perhaps not all comics should grow up to suit them. I know that's not in fact the case with you, which is why I said I was partially kidding...but the rant had to come out, and so it did. If I can stomach reading the last few issues of this Superman story, I'll see if I can comment on some specifics, but I'm thinking I lack the intestinal fortitude. As for heroes coming to terms with the limits of their value as social workers...I've certainly seen it before, though I'm having a tough time remembering specific storylines. I suppose Paul Dini touched on it most recently with the oversized graphic albums he produced with Alex Ross. Superman's efforts to end hunger, for instance, were met with tyrannical opposition in fervently anti-American countries willing to starve their own people rather than let Superman feed them and engender their goodwill. Personally, I still found the Dini/Ross collaborations to be trite, but I believe they all acknowledged the frustrating limitations of trying to do good in a complex, morally ambiguous world. What else, what else... Hmm, Morrison has been *continually* showing Xorn to be a hopeless idealist, failing to save the mutant kid in that one Xorn-centric issue, and lately, failing to connect with sly, cynical kids he's trying to teach. Ooh, ooh, and I remember this great CONCRETE short story where he tried to motivate kids to get into recycling with a touch of monetary incentive and his own infectious enthusiasm, only to find most of them cheating and turning against one another during the course of events. Not quite a superhero story, but it's among the better comic allegories about idealism versus reality. In any case, yes please, more stories with giant ants and robots and fewer stories about unsolvable social concerns. I mean, *surely* the Ultrahumanite is off scheming somewhere...

  • What's the scoop out there? Have you tried it? Interested? Not interested? Bored to tears? I was pretty lukewarm on the concept until I read the first two issues in concert, and then I was quite impressed. I'm getting the sense that it'll be a sleeper hit if it becomes a hit at all, and I'm wondering if you Batman fans have even tried it. What's the scoop, wussies? You man enough to ride alongside Gotham's Finest?

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 1:32 a.m. CST

    Hello...

    by BruceJones

    Hey, everybody! I'm a stupid moron with an ugly face and a big butt and my butt smells, and I like to kiss my own butt.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 1:33 a.m. CST

    jamieney@aol.com is on to something.

    by JonQuixote

    That *is* fun!

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 2:32 a.m. CST

    Speaking of Batgirl

    by superninja

    I remember reading this one issue as a kid with a panel of Batgirl doing the "oh, I'll just adjust my boot provacatively" thing while some thugs were advancing on her. It was one of those girly ruses, of course (as I remember she kicked their asses), but for some reason, that's my earliest memory of Batgirl. Any of you pervs remember the issue?

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 2:35 a.m. CST

    Gotham Central

    by Ambush Bug

    I really do like this series. So far, the creators have crossed LAW & ORDER/NYPD BLUE with the Bat and they've got me hooked for a while. The problem is, with all of those plain clothes cops running around, the only ones I remember from issue to issue is Montoya and Crispus. The rest all blend together to me. If any comic needs a floating head icon intro page to ID everyone, this comic is the one that needs it. Lark's art is impressive too. I wasn't as put off by the violence, Corm, and the ending made a lot of sense to me, since the presence of Batman is going to be one of the main frustrations for the cops in the series. One thing that stood out in this second issue for me was the appearance by Jim Gordon. Finally, an amazing team tackles to GCPD and Gordon is out of the picture. If this book ever wants to get on my must read list, they need to bring Gordon out of retirement. His presence would make this book shine. Likin' it, not lovin' it, but likin' Gotham Central all the same.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 2:43 a.m. CST

    Tech support

    by superninja

    It's sort of disturbing to me that a well-known female character becomes wheelchair bound, and suddenly she's interesting again. But Batman has his back broken and finds a way to walk again. I do like Oracle, and she's become a great character. I'd even say that Oracle has helped to make Nightwing a more interesting character. But would everyone be so enthusiastic if Dick Grayson had ended up in the wheelchair? I know it would never happen, but just think about if it did. How different would the fan's reaction have been? The Killing Joke was a great Batman story, but it's very grotesque. Moore's written some disturbing things, to say the least, but the events in the Killing Joke have never set well with me, and I'd rather it have been an Elseworlds story.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 3:41 a.m. CST

    I really liked the first issue of Gotham Central

    by superninja

    I was thoroughly creeped out by Freeze as such a bloodthirsty villian, but that's what made it interesting (just imagine when/if the Joker shows up? Or even Poison Ivy or Scarecrow?). Gotham Central #1 gave me chills. GPD doesn't have Batman's superhero resources - they're just civil servants on a budget and no one is afraid of them. They're used to gang wars and the mafia, but Mr. Freeze? Cormorant is right, that pure superhero element *is* missing. Mr. Freeze definitely comes across as more malevolent. But, I like it. And I'm a junkie for police-precinct banter, and Brubaker and Rucka do it so very well. There are some cliches, but when it's written like this, with Lark drawing, you really don't care.****With that last issue, Loeb/Lee's Batman came together for me and is starting to give me a vague vibe of some of the romantic pre-Crisis stuff (too bad Lee is pencilling). Just read Loeb's writing and imagine someone else with the art chores - say, an artist from the '70s. I think Loeb is going retro.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 3:44 a.m. CST

    Superninja

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I think Batgirl has always been interesting, if somewhat flawed in her execution. The fact that she was the daughter of Gotham's number 1 cop and spent her nights as Batgirl and yet Jimbo had no idea? Number 1 cop, my ass... Anyway, the reason Killing Joke was a good story was due to its lasting consequences. It would have had no power in an Elseworlds format. Anyone remember the Flash Elseworlds where he had a degenerative disease and ended up in the wheelchair and was filming a Flash Movie? No? That

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 3:45 a.m. CST

    Cormorant

    by Qwerty Uiop

    GCPD doesn't interest me at all.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 4:42 a.m. CST

    I take it back.

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I read the review completely and it might be interesting. Maybe I'll pick it up.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 5:01 a.m. CST

    Whatever happened to Superboy moving in with Ma and Pa in Smallv

    by Zod_Is_Back

    Finally they had a good story. With the popularity of WB's Smallville and the crappiness of Superboy stories since Hypertime, Superboy moving to Smallville could have provided good stuff. S-Boy could attend Smallville High. Develop a secret identity like his mentor. He could bag the chicks. Then maybe they could throw in Supergirl, having Linda transfer to Smallville High as a new teacher. Call it Superboy and Supergirl Adventures or some such thing. Sure it would only last like 12 issues tops, but it could be promissing.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 5:21 a.m. CST

    You want me to EXPLAIN Zartan's powers?

    by vroom socko

    Well, in issue #35 it's implied that he has holographic projectors implanted in that funky armor of his, but then in #48 the Joes run a blood test on him, and he's got chameleon DNA in his system. My opinion, he uses hardware to supplement mutant powers. (What? This was a Marvel book from the 80's. They had to have a mutant, it was the law.)

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 7:47 a.m. CST

    Corm: All-Age Comics and Barney the Dinosaur

    by bizarromark

    Corm wrote: "I think I actually agree with most of your points, but I couldn't resist the urge to rail about one of my pet peeves: adults judging all-ages comics harshly rather than recognizing that perhaps not all comics should grow up to suit them."******Corm, I know exactly what you are talking about, and that trend also annoys me to no end. It reminds me of when I was a new daddy Bizarro and the big kid show back then was "Barney and Friends".....you know....the purple dinosaur. Well, *really* young children adored the show, while most fellow parents would boast about how much they "hate Barney" and think it was the worst show they'd ever seen. The absurdity of these comments would usually prompt me to say "Uh....newsflash..."Barney" really isn't *for* you. It's made to appeal to people wearing Pull-Ups

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 10:41 a.m. CST

    G.I. Joe #45 marked the downfall of the series for me

    by durhay

    Ripcord gets totally messed up, arrow through head, buried alive - survives. C'mon! Issue upon issue before that had cobra footsoldiers instantly dying from a shot to the kneecap. Plus every issue = 5 new Joe members at that point. I finally quit after #50 - Serpentor was just too much. I remember picking up a later ish where the Joes had a space shuttle. A SPACE SHUTTLE! WTF? But it had a nice two page spread of the Baroness so I bought it. Yeah I'm lame.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 11 a.m. CST

    You know, there is something regarding that Superman "Lost Heart

    by Village Idiot

    I didn't like "Lost Hearts," Mark didn't like "Lost Hearts," but the story seems suprisingly popular with Superman fans, at least the ones at the Superman message board at dccomics.com. So for all the talk about how "Superman, Casual Neo-Liberal Idealogue/Motivational Speaker" laid an egg, maybe it struck the chord it needed to.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 11:27 a.m. CST

    Superninja...

    by Elliot_Kane

    Killing Joke is meant to be deeply disturbing, and is made worse because it was done to a woman rather than a man (in this man's view anyway). Barbara's transforming herself into Oracle - building a new life for herself when it would have been so easy to give in to despair - is truly the stuff of heroism though, and is more inspirational than anything Nightwing has ever done. I don't know if fans would have accepted a crippled Nightwing so easily, but then he couldn't have reinvented himself so fully either - and he is/was a more popular character than Batgirl, which makes a difference. Fans will accept a lot if it's done to a character they don't amazingly like anyway, regardless of sex. And Killing Joke IS a very powerful story...

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 11:57 a.m. CST

    Striking a chord?

    by bizarromark

    Regarding the Superman "Lost Hearts" story, Village wrote: "So for all the talk about how "Superman, Casual Neo-Liberal Idealogue/Motivational Speaker" laid an egg, maybe it struck the chord it needed to." ******"Struck the chord it needed to" in what sense? For the good of the character or the entertainment of that particular segment of the readership? As far as readership having their "needs" met, the segment of the Superman Message Board readership that responded well to this story have had more needs met than Bill Clinton in the White House over the last few years of Superman books. I think we can safely assume that the people who had an epiphany over this story are enthusiastic fans of the "Casual Neo-Liberal Idealogue/Motivational Speaker" Superman, and for this crowd in particular, the last several years of Superman stories have been a Halleluia Chorus mountain-top experience. If Lost Hearts "struck a chord", then add it to the virtual Eddie VanHalen guitar solo of chords that have been struck for these fans ad nauseum, ad infinitum.***This kinda crap ALWAYS strikes a chord with this crowd. It's like flinging of handful of candy into a crowd of children (AGAIN with the candy-children analogy!). It's just so damn EASY. How about a story that REALLY makes the reader think instead of more pre-chewed pap from the Campus Care Corps?

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 1:57 p.m. CST

    Qwerty

    by superninja

    Don't be a dickhead. I'm not afraid come out and say that I find violence against female characters disturbing. Don't most people? I just find the way Barbara was crippled disturbing, (as it was meant to be) and noted that Batman had a similar circumstance and was able to recover. The Killing Joke is just a little too dark for my tastes. Like Cormorant, I prefer the more superhero Batman of the '70s.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 3:29 p.m. CST

    I didn't have a problem with Killing Joke's darkness...

    by JonQuixote

    I had a problem with the ending. "Alright Joker, this is it. You crippled and molested my partner. You stripped my best Friend down and tried to make him insane by torturing his daughter. And you've killed hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent victims before this. IT ends now, and you're going...what's that? Oh. ha ha ha. That's pretty funny. Hey, didja ever hear the one about the rabbi and the parrot. Okay, so a rabbi..."

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 4:01 p.m. CST

    Dickheads and Dark Knights

    by Qwerty Uiop

    But being a dickhead is second nature to me.... Seriously though, the implication I received from your post is one that always pisses me off, when some knee jerk, lip service feminist will complain if a woman is used in a storyline in any way than a completely positive one and claim that if you like the story then you hate women. Its a facet of the PC thought nazi problem America has and well, I'm a dickhead and will always come out swinging over things like that. ** As for the ending sucking, well, you know how it is, they can never kill off the Joker, not unless you're never going to see Batman again as well.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 4:25 p.m. CST

    And technically

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Batman's back was broken, which can be healed through care and physical therapy. Batgirl's spine was shattered by Joker's bullet. Add to that the fact that Batman stars in a gazillion other titles and Batgirl starred in zilch at the time and it makes sense that, of course, Batman walks again.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 4:29 p.m. CST

    Barney and Bizzaromark

    by Qwerty Uiop

    I don't think Barney is the worst show ever. I don't even think Barney himself is that bad. It

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 5:29 p.m. CST

    Qwerty...

    by Elliot_Kane

    Personally I would like to see political correctness utterly and completely destroyed. I believe it is the greatest evil facing the world today. That being said, I fail to see any reason for your attacks on Superninja, who was only stating her opinion and in no way expressing any rabid feminist views. IMO you are attacking her for something she is not gulty of, which is not only ungentlemanly but also a waste of time. Kindly desist.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 6:04 p.m. CST

    Ungentlemanly

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Jesus Elliot, I swear, you and I are from completely different planets. I have never met anyone of such a completely opposite nature from me. I'm amazed. "Kindly desist." man... In real life we'd be forced to kill each other in a knife fight, destined to kill each other like matter and antimatter. Anyway, I'm not attacking Superninja, just stating my opposite opinion from hers and explaining where I'm coming from on it. I'm sure she appreciates your white horse, though, Sir Galahad.

  • Jan. 7, 2003, 6:07 p.m. CST

    You're right, Qwerty...

    by Elliot_Kane

    No gentleman would ever use a knife. It would have to be swords or pistols :D

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 1:26 a.m. CST

    I prefer tanks

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Its much more dramatic.

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 11:15 a.m. CST

    Thanks, Towelie...

    by Elliot_Kane

    As a Brit myself, I'm even entitled to accept :D

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 12:49 p.m. CST

    Arise, Sir Elliot?

    by SleazyG.

    Is that what you call yours? Mine's named Stuart, personally. My college roommate called his Ambercrombie, for reasons I was terrified to inquire after.

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 12:57 p.m. CST

    The Trouble With Barney

    by SleazyG.

    The real reason I hate him is that they took well-known, beloved childrens' songs and rhymes and altered them all. They pulled out the original lyrics and replaced them all with insipid, syrupy lyrics about being nice to others. There's no goddamn reason they should have taken "This Old Man" and changed the words to "I love you, you love me". You wanna have the little buggers sing those words? Fine. Do what SESAME STREET and MR. ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD and CAPTAIN KANGAROO and every other goddamn childrens' show ever did: WRITE YOUR OWN FUCKING SONGS. Time and again, Barney's writers have bastardized old gems because they're too goddamned stupid to come up with a simple, hummable tune. It's just fucking lazy and stupid, and now when adults sing the songs these little kids all think their parents or grandparents are stupid and don't know the words. Either write your own songs, or use the original songs WITH THEIR OWN LYRICS in between non-singing segments designed to indoctrinate our children with a bizarre neo-socialist message that always leads to the children being completely and utterly crushed and confused when they find out the truth: people don't share, people don't play nice, people don't look out for others, people aren't all the same deep down, people don't care about you as much as you care about them. Goddamn, people suck.

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 1:26 p.m. CST

    Harmless Nursury Rhyme or an Ode to Pedophilia? You be the judg

    by bizarromark

    Sleazy: Great rant. Not sure if you're if you're on the level....since I'm still relatively new around here....but, just for fun, I'll assume you are.******.."Bastardizing" the old lyrics? Yeah, I also hate the New World Order spending every waking moment brainwashing toddlers with their Orwellian pap.....but ya gotta admit....those old lyrics weren't much to brag about either. Take your example of "This Old Man". How much do we REALLY like a song about an old man using a child's body parts to play a tune on. And what was he using to play the tune with? Drumsticks? His....hands? Something ELSE? Gaaarrrrgghhhh!!!! Creepy. So....as much as the new lyrics produce blank-eyed, U.N. approved docile children, I just can't get too worked up about the "Ode to Pedophilia" (aka: "This Old Man") fading into the obscurity it so richly deserves.

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 1:35 p.m. CST

    Eliot, I Am A Well Known Fan Of The British (You Guys Make The B

    by Buzz Maverik

    See, it had to be an American ... a Texan, but we won't hold that against him... who actually killed off the Count with a Bowie knife! Yes, the ungentlemanly weapon the knife! Also, a woking American who supports his family by backalley knife-fighting, your anti-knife statement could put me out of work. It's bad enough with it being illegal and the cops busting us for just trying to stab each other in the eyes or the throat (btw, I hope you'll all turn out for my big grudge match against Solomon Pain on Friday night behind the Wal-Mart). Now, I admire Qwerty's choice of tanks but that's a good way to get blown up (has tank armor ever kept anybody alive?). Probably the best test of gentlemanly strength, skill, intelligence and killer instinct is...you guessed it: fighter planes! I say we put you boys in a couple of F117As and let you have at it! And just so I won't be accused of off topic bullshit (like I've ever been on topic) who do ya think would win in a dogfight: Hal Jordan (before he was dead) or Ben Grimm?

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 1:38 p.m. CST

    Eliot, I Am A Well Known Fan Of The British (You Guys Make The B

    by Buzz Maverik

    See, it had to be an American ... a Texan, but we won't hold that against him... who actually killed off the Count with a Bowie knife! Yes, the ungentlemanly weapon the knife! Also, a woking American who supports his family by backalley knife-fighting, your anti-knife statement could put me out of work. It's bad enough with it being illegal and the cops busting us for just trying to stab each other in the eyes or the throat (btw, I hope you'll all turn out for my big grudge match against Solomon Pain on Friday night behind the Wal-Mart). Now, I admire Qwerty's choice of tanks but that's a good way to get blown up (has tank armor ever kept anybody alive?). Probably the best test of gentlemanly strength, skill, intelligence and killer instinct is...you guessed it: fighter planes! I say we put you boys in a couple of F117As and let you have at it! And just so I won't be accused of off topic bullshit (like I've ever been on topic) who do ya think would win in a dogfight: Hal Jordan (before he was dead) or Ben Grimm?

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 2:01 p.m. CST

    Sleazy...

    by Elliot_Kane

    Thanks for sharing that with us. I for one could not have lived a full and happy life without knowing your pet name for 'little Sleazy'. :D

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 2:09 p.m. CST

    Buzz...

    by Elliot_Kane

    It is, alas true that we Brits are not famed for our vampire slaying capabilities. Much as we talk up our achievements in other areas, it is mainly to hide from the knowledge that in this one, essential, area of human endeavour we are sadly lacking. It is, alas, a hole in our hearts that can never be filled... (sniff, sniff).

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 2:58 p.m. CST

    Towelie! How could you forget.....

    by bizarromark

    Re: Sesame Street songs: By Odin's Beard, how could you forget "Which Came First, The Chicken or the Egg?", "The Ladybug Picnic" , and "One of These Things is Not Like the Other"?*****Hmmm. So THAT'S what if feels like to finish off a Talkback. (crickets chirping sound effect)

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 3:30 p.m. CST

    Tanks and Sesame Street

    by Qwerty Uiop

    A good tank battle is always better than a dog fight. All the flashing lights and night vision sights, trust me, duels need drama and a tank is always the way to go. ** As for my favorite Sesame Street song, its the Count's theme. A-B-C-D-E, C-D-E-F and G, H-I-J-K, L-M-N-O-P, Q-R-S-T-U, R-S-T-U-V, W-X, W-X-Y-Z and A-B-CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC.

  • Jan. 8, 2003, 5:01 p.m. CST

    Oh, I was serious, BizarroMark. Deadly serious.

    by SleazyG.

    Well, as deadly serious as a guy who's never actually killed anybody and is never taken seriously can be. Point is, I did mean what I said. I'll grant you I don't know exactly what goes into playing "knick-knack", and what this old man is doing playing it on my body parts. It becomes even more disturbing when we realize that playing knick-knack on my shoe gave a dog a bone, so to speak. But what about any of the other children's songs and rhymes? Should Humpty-Dumpty, The Wheels On The Bus, etc. really be changed to suit the "writers" hired for a childrens' show who apparently never graduate high school? I really do believe they should have written their own material and left well enough alone instead of burying something of historical and cultural significance under a crushing wave of bland mediocrity. Great, so you managed to sell ugly purple and yellow dinosaur toys to creepy old plushies the world over under the auspices they were for somebody's imaginary "niece". But at what COST, man?

  • Jan. 9, 2003, 12:17 a.m. CST

    Well, you won't have to worry about buying Agent X for too much

    by JonQuixote

    I love the Mah num Mah Nah song from the muppets too. I once had sang a two minute version of it on my answering machine. Got some fun messages out of that, though I think it cost me a job interview. One of the radio stations up here in the Great White North got ahold of a hard-rock version of it by some Aussie garage-band and were playing it illegally for a while; I don't know if it made its way beyond my city walls, but that's gotta be a high-point in music history.

  • Jan. 9, 2003, 3:13 a.m. CST

    Village Idiot Close-out.

    by Village Idiot

    "Not bad"? BAUF, you deserve better than "not bad." I'm pleased as punch that Corm was able to turn you on to FLASH (despite the fact that I've been singing its praises for months now), but let's not overdo it. Only get HAWAIIAN D if you're really feeling it._____In response to my suggestion that perhaps the "lost Hearts" storyline from Superman struck a chord with the readership represented at the DC Superman Message boards, BIZARROMARK claimed that the representation there is skewed in favor of Kelly and namby-pamby, hollow liberal Superman. I disagree. These guys never agree on anything, but when they do, it's usually against Superman showing emotional weakness or excessive compassion, and with few exceptions, there really doesn't seem to be any love for Joe Kelly. Case in point, ACTION #796, the end of "Ending Battle" and an issue that fulfils both categories under discussion. Many of them hated it. Meanwhile, most of them loved "Lost Hearts," even the ones I wouldn't expect. The point is that for some reason I think this issue did seem to hit the right notes with a disparate group of fans, despite the fact that I found those same notes sour._____Finally, why is Jon Quixote talking to WIZARD OF OZ author L. Frank Baum. Baum has been dead for quite some time now.

  • Jan. 9, 2003, 3:47 a.m. CST

    Qwerty uiop close out

    by Qwerty Uiop

    Smurfette, the choice is clear. The smurf of your dreams is here! Forget about Hefty and all the rest! Handy is still the best!

  • Jan. 9, 2003, 6:39 p.m. CST

    Towlie-

    by RenoNevada2000

    Are you freakin' serious about "Mahna mahna"? So hard to tell around here anymore. And am I the only who digs the song "I Love Trash"? (Hmmmm, maybe that would explain the last couple of girlfriends.)

  • Jan. 9, 2003, 6:57 p.m. CST

    Cormorant- re: DAREDEVIL

    by RenoNevada2000

    Read this week's 25 cent issue. Best depictions of StiltMan and Owl I've ever read.

  • Jan. 9, 2003, 8:40 p.m. CST

    I read it, Reno...

    by Dave_F

    "Best depictions"? Dunno if I'd go that far, but I was very enthused for the issue. Review to come early next week. Wish Alex Maleev was a more exciting artist, though...