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AICN COMICS! SUPERMAN! THE COLLECTED PALEO! JLA-Z! CHEAP SHOTS and TALES FROM THE CREVICE!!

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

It’s Tuesday. Must be some @$$Holes around here somewhere...

Cormorant here, and to celebrate the fact that the TalkBacks have actually shown a semblance of chronological order lately (am I jinxing it here?), we @$$holes are breaking out a new section – "Cheap Shots" – where we'll run capsule reviews an' such to give you guys more stuff to talk about! Yippee-ki-yay, mofos!

Now, in the immortal words of Marvin Gaye, "Let's get it on…"


SUPERMAN #197

Written by Steven T. Seagle

Pencils by Scott McDaniel

Inks by Andy Owens

Published by DC Comics

Reviewed by Village Idiot

Reviewing Superman is a thankless job.

Superman titles, deservedly or not, have developed such a reputation for mediocrity over the past couple of years that no matter how hard you try to convince someone that you’ve come across a good one, there’s not only a reluctance to believe you, it’s difficult to get their attention in the first place. In fact, I’m surprised you’ve made it this far into the review.

Another thankless job is reviewing a comic during the lame-duck period prior to the arrival of a new creative team. It’s not as bad as reviewing a comic that’s already been canceled, but it is tough to try to counteract that lack of momentum, and the subtle sense that time is merely being marked until the new sheriff arrives.

So SUPERMAN #197 gets hit with a double whammy: It’s a Superman comic created by the soon-to-be-departing team of Seagle, McDaniel and Owen. I have my work cut out for me with this review, which is unfortunate because SUPERMAN #197 is actually a very good comic.

First of all, I brought pictures. Check out this cover. Tell me that’s not pretty cool. This has to be one of the best covers I’ve seen all year.

And the story inside is pretty good too. Superman’s powers are mysteriously (and embarrassingly) malfunctioning. While trying to lift a plane on the verge of crashing, he pushes himself right through the fuselage. Later, while Clark Kent, he uses his X-Ray vision – and can’t turn it off! At the same time, Superman’s time displaced daughter, the dark-haired Supergirl, is introduced to the Fortress of Solitude by the “Time Lords,” creepy trans-reality guys who seem to have been pulling strings around the edges of the story for the past year now. Once inside the Fortress, Supergirl and Krypto manage to knock over the wrong thing. Problems ensue. Meanwhile, back in Metropolis, whatever is wrong with Superman goes from bad, to worse, to much worse (see cover illustration). By the ending cliffhanger, he’s in pretty bad shape.

I think one of the reasons why I liked this issue so much is because it reminded me of the Bronze Age Superman stories. Back then, it seemed like something weird was happening to Superman and his powers every week; and despite whatever “God-level” abilities he supposedly had in those days, he’d often find himself in some really serious trouble. SUPERMAN #197 has a lot of that flavor. A little goofy, yes, but fun. Moreover, the stories in those days were unashamedly plot-driven, and that’s where #197 seems to be coming from. Yay plot!

My only real problem with SUPERMAN #197 has to do with the art. Scott McDaniel, God love him, seems to be trying to bring a lot of expressionism and elasticity to his work on Superman. Although not as loosey-goosey as former ACTION artist Duncan Rouleau, the art is still warped enough to lose a bit of attractiveness for me, as with what feels like an abundance of oddly misshapen noses. It’s just not pretty. On the other hand, just look at that cover!

Like I said before, SUPERMAN is slated to turn a corner with #200, marking the last issue before the much ballyhooed arrival of Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee. And also like I said before, it’s easy to see how the issues in the interim might get overlooked. But sometimes, you can find a little gem in these circumstances, even a 2003 Superman title. So let my voice in the wilderness ring clear: I enjoyed SUPERMAN #197 a lot! You might too!


THE COLLECTED PALEO: TALES OF THE LATE CRETACEOUS (TPB)

Writer/Artist: Jim Lawson

Publisher: Zeromayo Studios

Reviewed by Cormorant

"PALEO is an honest-to-god 'dinosaur comic,' and an impeccable one at that…"

So says comic artist and writer Steve Bissette in his introduction to THE COLLECTED PALEO. It's a trade reprinting the six-part PALEO miniseries that slipped past most folks' radars last year, and Bissette, of course, was one of the artists whose pens brought SWAMP THING to new levels of horror during Alan Moore's groundbreaking run. He also wowed me with his own regrettably short-lived dinosaur comic, TYRANT, a fantastic self-published comic that fell victim to the comic market collapse of the early 90's. More to the point, Bissette knows what he's talking about when it comes to dinosaurs, and when he says PALEO is an "honest-to-God dinosaur comic," what he means is that this isn't a Disneyfied tale of talking dinosaurs nor a tale of a lost island of dinosaurs in contemporary times – nope, these dinosaurs are the real deal, utterly animalistic and no more or less sympathetic than any animal profiled on the DISCOVERY CHANNEL.

And man do they look cool!

The writer/artist of PALEO is Jim Lawson, best known to most folks for working several years on the Ninja Turtles comics. I've seen his work on some of those comics and its good, but this…this you can tell he's poured his heart and soul into. It reads something like Art Adams' style, with some of the most detailed hatching and cross-hatching I've seen all year. These dinosaurs are tactile; you can feel every mottled patch of skin, the peaks and valleys of skin stretched over giant bones, and every razor-sharp claw. I look at a superstar artist like Jim Lee, and while he's solid and getting better, his use of cross-hatching seems more a stylistic affectation than the mature use of the process to simulate three-dimensionality in a 2-D image. Lawson's better than Lee. Like a Joe Kubert or a Barry Windsor-Smith, he uses crosshatching to reveal the contours of his characters with lines that seem to wrap around them. He's also got a wonderful command of spotted blacks (the heavily inked areas that lend visual balance to a comic page) and a flair for storytelling that combines cinematic techniques with minimal-panel-count pages that give over lots of space to the visual grandeur that is…big-ass dinosaurs!

I mention the art before the story, a rarity for me, because when the subjects are as visually arresting as dinosaurs, well, how the hell do you ignore it? But that's not to say that Lawson's writing isn't memorable as well. Each of the six stories in PALEO profiles a single dinosaur, and Lawson's omniscient narrator describes their harsh, survival-driven lives with an appropriate economy of words. I'd even say it's reminiscent of Frank Miller's SIN CITY writing style – spare and harsh - though of course, PALEO's got no first-person narrators. No, Lawson doesn't anthropomorphize his subject matter, but he does evoke sympathy for them as he takes you along on their daily journeys, inevitably through some pulse-pounding bout with danger; often into tragedy.

One of my favorite stories is about an aging Albertosaurus (a close relative of the T-Rex). It's getting clumsier in its old age, the narrator informs us, and we see it for ourselves when an awkward attack lands it a grisly leg wound from one of those dinosaurs that looks like a Triceratops, but with spikes all over its neck frill. Where two issues prior, an Albertosaur had been an antagonist, here the narration gives us sympathy for its plight:

"He regards the wound on his leg. It's bad. The Ceratopsid's horns had ripped open several large gashes in his lower leg, right down to his fibula. There is a lot of blood."

The narrator follows with an anecdote typical of Lawson's ability to bring these animals' histories to life:

"He has been hurt before. Once, in a fight with another Albertosaur, he had damaged his jaw so badly he couldn't eat for nearly three weeks."

Are you on its side yet? I know I was. And there's a really wonderful image of the Albertosaur on the next page, waking up on its side, having slept through a night that layered it in snow. We see the old dinosaur lick its mostly coagulated wound clean, before rising on its painfully stiff leg to investigate the strange quiet in the area. You see…there's another Albertosaurus in the area. It's young, and while usually a scavenger at that age, it's not above bringing down one of its own were it weak or injured…

Exactly how that tale plays out, I'll leave to you to discover. I will say, however, that nearly all of the stories in PALEO are unflinchingly dark, and I had to wonder if that reflected something of its author's worldview. Which fascinates me. Not every moment of every dinosaur's life was harsh, I'm sure, but if a creator chooses to focus on those moments that were, well…that's actually pretty interesting. Gives these tales bite! And I'm willing to bet that readers will get caught up in these stories if they give them a chance. There's a primal desperation to survive throughout PALEO that everyone can identify with, and Lawson brings it to the fore with teeth gnashing and bones cracking.

Which isn't to say you shouldn't share this book with the audience who'd perhaps delight in it the most – kids. You will have to remind them of the whole "Circle of Life" thing, possibly on every fifth page, but they will dig the hell out of Lawson's fantastic dinosaurs. That much I guarantee, and hell, the same goes for any adult who still loves the ol' "terrible lizards." PALEO's a clean, straightforward, and beautifully crafted little trade. It won't change your life, but I won't be surprised at all if readers find these tales as surprisingly moving as I did.


EPICURUS THE SAGE (GN)

William Messner-Loebs, Sam Keith

Cliffhanger / DC Comics

reviewed by: Lizzybeth

Argument: After being out of print for years, the two EPICURUS graphic novels have been pulled together into a single trade, plus one rare short story from the FAST FORWARD anthology, with a full-color brand new tale. This romp through the imagination of ancient Greece first appeared almost fifteen years ago and has aged surprisingly well.

Summation: A mixed bag, tending towards the positive, particularly if you were ever forced to pretend to have read Plato’s Republic.

The good: Alexander the Great as a brutish toddler, student to the prim Aristotle. The Sophists, who were really that annoying. A shepherd’s philosophy of the obvious, although in all fairness every era needs a few like that for those who wouldn’t believe the sky was blue unless an authority figure told them so. Messner-Loebs’ witty dialogue and his hilarious portrayals of a host of ancient figures of note. Watching Sam Keith, in the progression of the stories collected here, developing a winning stylistic identity.

The not as good: The first story was the best of the lot, effectively satirizing the sacred cows of Greek philosophy. Less good was when the collection turned to the myths and tragedians, which have been parodied, ripped off, and generally stomped on often enough that it’s actually more refreshing to see them played straight (as the Image series AGE OF BRONZE does). Also, none of the stories really convinced me why Epicurus the hedonist should qualify as the voice of reason in the crowd of Plato, Aristotle and Sophocles, even as a comedy. The stories, though entertaining, don’t quite connect up or go anywhere besides the punch line, and if the last two paragraphs have you totally lost, you probably won’t get much out of this volume.

Conclusion: Clever writing, very nice artwork (especially in the newest story, and the truly inspired final sequence). Somewhat pointless on balance, but those with interest in Messner-Loebs, Keith, or ancient Greece will enjoy it.


THE FLASH #202

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Alberto Dose

Publisher: DC Comics

Reviewed by Cormorant

Et tu, Geoff Johns?

I thought he was the holdout, the last bastion against the creeping rot of Nu-Marvel influence on old-school superhero titles – that rot that strips superheroes of their swashbuckler costumes so we can "better relate" to them, that dims the fantasy elements of their worlds lest we accidentally see something we don't in our own daily lives, that only features superpowers during showpiece action scenes, and that drags out stories for the trade, robbing individual issues of their punch.

But it looks like Johns is infected, too. I think it must've happened when Marvel asked him to take a single issue script for the current AVENGERS arc and stretch it into two issues (not gossip – it really happened). Guess he got some Nu-Marvel in an open cut or something. It's why I had to amputate AVENGERS from my weekly purchases. It's why I'm sharpening a scalpel as THE FLASH turns a gangrenous green in the wake of its post-issue-200 new direction.

Let's take a closer look at the symptoms.

Issue #200 wrapped with the Specter erasing from the minds of everyone on Earth the once publicly-known identity of The Flash. It's the kind of sweeping change you can actually get away with when you're writing a superhero comic, which on one level is cool, but on another level, left me annoyed as hell that all the characters and relationships that I'd watch grow in the book over the last few years…were gone. Even Wally West himself is unaware that he was once the Flash, and while destiny seems to be inching him back into the role, I can't help but feel that my patronage of the book has been betrayed. Now, instead of the giving us a fast-paced world of rip-roaring heroes and rogues whose deadliness belied their outrageous visuals, Johns reveals Wally West the car mechanic. Wally West, whose once unique hometown of Keystone City (read: DC's Detroit) now seems to be under a constant pall of darkness as drawn in the 100 BULLETS-esque style of Alberto Dose. Wally West, who's still mourning the shocking death of his twins in issue #200. Wally West, whose discovery of his powers over the course of the last two issues has reminded me of nothing so much as Bruce Jones' "make it an occasion" limits on the Hulk's appearances in his own book.

Are we having fun yet?

I'm not. Johns is writing a workmanlike look at an ordinary man suddenly discovering he has superpowers – think UNBREAKABLE – but "workmanlike" isn't exactly a compliment, is it? Meanwhile, someone's killing cops using Captain Cold's M.O., though it doesn't look like Cold's actually behind it, and the cops have a new supervillain profiler. Oh, and Wally's wife, Linda (who, thankfully, is looking a tad more Asian than she has in some time), has bad memories of The Flash for not saving her kids (a somewhat valid interpretation of the events of issue #200, minus the knowledge that her husband actually was The Flash).

So…what we're getting is hints of an Elseworlds story in that old events we've seen are now reinterpreted to exclude any knowledge of the Flash's identity, a somewhat bland drama as we anticipate Linda's eventually discovery that her significant other used to be The Flash, and too many scenes of Wally the blue collar mechanic. What we're not getting is a compelling mystery, the pleasantly rare working husband-and-wife relationship that characterized Wally and Linda up until recently, or any of the drag-you-by-your-collar insane action sequences that've been among the best in the biz for the last few years. The book's big action sequence – Wally's powers triggering as he's getting his ass kicked by some street punks – isn't so much exhilarating as it is grim (the sudden manifestation of the powers somehow causes an entire building to topple onto all of them). It struck me as a larger scale version of what M. Night Shyamalan did during the grisly "domestic invasion" sequence in UNBREAKABLE, and left me similarly underwhelmed. I can't really fault Johns for trying a new direction. He redlined the book on a loving mixture of classical superheroes and brilliantly edgy action scenes over the last few years, but the book's always been more a critical success than a commercial one. Meanwhile, Nu-Marvel's scored consistent Top Twenty ratings with sluggishly-paced retrofits on DAREDEVIL, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, and CAPTAIN AMERICA. It's got to be galling. I know I'd be pissed. Still, when you've got a title about a guy whose only power is that he can run fast, you'll forgive me if I ask that this book be exhilarating.

And so even as DC has stolen Marvel's thunder this Summer by swapping up more exclusive creator contracts than you can shake a stick at, I begin to fear that these creators are bringing with them the infection…the contamination…of Nu-Marvel. I see it in Mark Waid's lackadaisical, Kent-centric retelling of Superman's origin in SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT, in Greg Rucka's politicized, action-lite approach to WONDER WOMAN, and now in the pages of THE FLASH. Call me a hypochondriac, but that's enough of a pattern to have me eyeing the indies amidst this latest Nu-Marvel outbreak.

Is it too early to start calling this strain "Nu-DC"?


BATMAN #619

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Pencils: Jim Lee

Inks: Scott Williams

Publisher: DC Comics

Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Batman has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. One of my fondest memories of my childhood was that of 4:00 afternoon TV zone-out fests on my belly in the living room of my grandma’s house. That was when the old Adam West Batman reruns were on TBS. I didn’t know that the show’s campy aspects were miles apart from the way the actual Batman was characterized in the 70’s Denny O’Neil version of the character. I just loved to sit and watch Batman fight a different, darkly-colorful foe every day. I loved to watch my pointy eared hero try to solve mysteries by gathering clues that led to resolutions that no one could figure out, not because the mystery was so tough, but because the TV audience wasn’t privy to the fact that there was an abandoned Gotham Feather Factory or a circus performing on the corner of Laughing Street and Harlequin Avenue. But since Batman and Robin would discuss those details in the cave or Batman would provide a deductive discourse at the end of the episode, I was sure that he had it figured out all along and therefore convinced that he was, in fact, the world’s greatest detective. In that show, I found a hero that I follow to this day.

“Hush” was to be Jeph Loeb’s large scale, modern day Batman tale. He’d written successful, nostalgic Gotham tales in the past, but this was Loeb’s shot at current continuity and he promised a goodie. To make it even more large scale, art titan, Jim Lee, wiped the dust from his pencils and actually drew something for the first time in ages. “Hush” was an event; a highly publicized push to pique the attention of the fickle comic book community who had recently grown weary of the adventures of the Dark Knight Detective.

The story, at its heart, was a mystery. A friend from the past resurfaced in Bruce’s life. A romance blossomed between a detective and a femme fatale. Things were changing in Bruce Wayne’s life. For once, he was forming relationships as Bruce Wayne and moving towards some semblance of normal life. But were these events occurring coincidentally, or was there something more evil at work here? One after another, Gotham’s villains showed up. Their motivations were sketchy and their behavior more erratic than usual. A mysterious, bandaged villain watched Batman from the shadows. He knew Bruce’s secrets and wanted revenge. The who’s and the why’s behind it all were not revealed throughout the year-long mystery. Red herrings were thrown, but the real answers were yet to come. Issue #619 was supposed to have all of these answers.

So what did we get with this issue? Well, BATMAN #619 was your typical, explanation-filled parlor scene issue. It was an extended discourse where all of the clues came together and the mystery was solved. And my feelings are mixed about it all.

Loeb tried to make this story a mystery, but for it to be a true mystery, it had to make sense in the end. This is important. All of the clues have to lead to the solution. The strength of the “ah-ha” factor is what makes it a successful whodunit or not. Loeb does do a good job of tying all of the clues together in the end, but this isn’t because he cleverly laid all of them out for us to understand and pull together. No. Loeb merely left out all of the information. He made the story so vague and filled with fluff that this issue had to be discourse-heavy in order for it all to balance out. There is no “ah-ha” moment because the reader wasn’t given all of the information in the first place.

Loeb lost me along the way in this mystery. He filled every issue with one “villain of the month” parade after another. This was the highlight of the book, not the mystery behind it all. The mystery was pushed aside in favor of the latest villain re-imagining by a former Image artist. Had the mystery been at the forefront in this arc, the payoff in this issue would have been much more effective.

But Loeb really tries to be effective. As I read this issue, I needed a blackboard to map out all of the twists and turns that were explained by various characters. Loeb was intense with the details and pulled all of the appearances together to make some type of sense out of the plot, but this seemed to be done after the fact; as if a bunch of random facts and events were spit-pasted together in some college freshman all-nighter type act. Sure it all makes sense, but the ties between Killer Croc’s metamorphosis, the Huntress’ new threads, and the trip to Ra’s Al Ghul’s palace are thinner than a homeless guy in a soup line with Harry Knowles serving. As a mystery, this story failed. It failed to supply the reader with enough info to keep invested throughout and the info that was provided before and after the mystery was solved was random and nonsensical at best.

So why am I split about my feelings about Loeb and Lee’s BATMAN opus? I mean, I just said it was a parade of “villains of the month” book-ended with a paper thin mystery and a nonsensical, over-discoursed resolution. Well, is this starting to sound familiar? It is to me. And it is the reason I still kind of liked this story. If you said it’s starting to remind you of those old Batman TV shows, then you’d win…well…nothing, but you’d be onto my train of thought. “Hush” was a modern day version of that show, and I have to give Loeb and Lee props for making it work on a pure, nostalgic level. Reading this book made me think of those old days when you didn’t need to pay attention to the mystery. We knew Batman was going to put together the clues, beat up the “villain of the month,” and save the day the right after the commercial break. Or at least you knew that it would be taken care of in the next exciting episode, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel. And we didn’t question or criticize it, because it was just too damn cool to see Batman do all of these things.

Loeb has a fondness for nostalgia. Just look at his previous successes in DAREDEVIL: YELLOW, SPIDER-MAN: BLUE, and both THE LONG HALLOWEEN and DARK VICTORY. All of these books take the characters back to a time before all of the hype and hoopla that has tarnished today’s incarnations. Loeb does this well and he did it again with “Hush.” The only problem is that, by today’s standards, those old TV shows aren’t your standard models for great comic book writing. As a straight-forward mystery, “Hush” failed to please me, but I can appreciate Loeb’s efforts to modernize the concepts made famous by the TV series.

I’m not going to rip on Jim Lee. I know it is hip to rip on the Image First Year Alum, but I have to admit that I’ve always been a fan. Do I hate his version of Killer Croc? Yup. Do I think his characters look stiff and strangely similar at times? Yup. Do I think he draws weird lookin’ trench coats? Yup again. But the guy has the type of talent I like. He knows how to draw a pretty lass and a muscular dude. He makes them look cool with all of the pocket packs and sketch lines. Sure he’s a pin-up artist, but this is an over-hyped book, so it fits. There are other artists I prefer, but I have to admit that I was excited to whip through the pages every issue to see his take on the new “villain of the month.”

So on a technical level, this book fell short. But that’s the difference between reviewing comics the straightforward way and the @$$hole way. Here at @-hole HQ, we like to talk a lot about how the book made us feel, not just how it was constructed. And on a pure, nostalgic, sittin’ on my grandma’s carpet on a weekday afternoon in front of the TV eatin’ Spaggetti-O’s and Meatballs level, “Hush” was okay by me.


FORLORN FUNNIES #4

Paul Hornschemeier

Absence of Ink Publishers

reviewed by: Lizzybeth

The first time I heard of this series, and most times afterwards as well, was in comparison to Chris Ware’s ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY. Now, I am not the authority on Chris Ware, so I couldn’t tell you how accurate this comparison actually is. Paul Hornschemeier strikes me as more directly influenced by McSweeny’s magazine than by any one comic in particular, although I suppose there is some similarity in tone to Ware’s work, and both are very well-written. What I can tell you is, while I always found that ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY held me at an emotional distance (probably a good thing considering how depressing the issues I read were), I also find that FORLORN FUNNIES has the intimacy and humanity to draw you in despite the bleak subject matter.

FORLORN FUNNIES, as you have guessed by now, is not exactly a laugh riot. Relentlessly sad is more like it. But I find it gripping in a way that other woe-is-me slice of life comics can’t seem to manage, partly because FORLORN FUNNIES isn’t slice-of-life at all. Instead of setting up a situation and sitting back in a bemused third person to record the action like some second-rate reality TV show, Hornschemeier tells his story in two equally distinct voices: that of a seven-year-old child, and that of the man he grows up to be. Several pages of each issue are presented as little Thomas perceives them at the time, while other pages explain things in more detail from Thomas’s recollections many years down the road. Neither version is correct, and neither is complete without the other. The story that both narrations relate concerns the death of the boy’s mother, and the institutionalization soon after of his father. In Issue #4, Thomas goes to “rescue” his father from the mental hospital, is surprisingly successful, and then loses him again. The child’s rendition of the story should prepare you somewhat for the way the “real” story is going to come out, but I don’t think a giant flashing neon sign on the cover could have prepared me for the awfulness of the ending. It could have been unbearable without the personality and the innocence of Thomas, who makes this series so beautifully sad. I’ve read this issue over and over now, and it loses no power with this repetition. I don’t know why I haven’t heard of Paul Hornschemeier before now, but I expect to hear a great deal about him in the future.

I only wish it came out more often; at the moment FORLORN FUNNIES seems to be released bi-annually. However, it looks like time well spent, as it is a very well-made full color comic, and seems to include more pages in every issue. Each issue stands alone quite well, and a person could easily pick up the new issue without prior knowledge of the series. Still, if you want to catch up, the individual issues can be ordered and sampled at Paul Hornschemeier’s website. Or, you could pick up the collected edition from Dark Horse comics next month. If you’re looking to catch the next indie comics darling while he’s still up-and-coming, this is where to look.


JLA-Z #1 (of 3)

Writer: Mike McAvennie

Artists: Too numerous to list, but the biggies include the likes of Mike Wieringo, Scott Kolins, and Jim Lee

Publisher: DC Comics

Reviewed by Cormorant

Can anyone deny that the 1980's were the golden age of superhero infotainment? Yesiree, I'm talking about THE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE and DC's WHO's WHO, two maxi-series that collectively featured more superhero history, trivia, minutiae, and cut-away diagrams than you could shake a Wand of Watoomb at! I mean, these things were juicy. Marvel's entry was particularly information-dense – maybe too dense at times – while DC came up with a solid model for superhero biographies that left powers a little more open to interpretation. I liked both formats, and in retrospect, I think both miniseries were works of marketing genius. They were inexpensive, readily available at both comic shops and newsstands, and played up the whole "shared universe" aspect of each company such that reading up on all those characters just made one want to buy more comics!

Clever as hell. So why can't anyone do these superhero encyclopedia things right nowadays?

At Marvel, I figure it's because they don't give a shit about continuity and the shared-universe hook anymore – they want self-contained arcs ripe for film adaptations. This was readily apparent when I reviewed the muddled and heinously overpriced MARVEL ENCYCLOPEDIA hardcover earlier this year. Gentlemen of Marvel, a thirty dollar hardcover is not how you introduce fans to your pantheon of heroes! DC, on the other hand, has stuck with the old WHO'S WHO format, but you only get four or five entries at a time in their SECRET FILES specials, and even the most hardcore DC fan will tell you: every SECRET FILES special ever produced has been awful. No exceptions. You buy them if you're already reading a title and buying everything associated with it, but as new reader enticements, they're spectacularly lame.

Which brings us to DC's latest infotainment miniseries: JLA-Z. I presume it's timed to coincide with the epic JLA/AVENGERS miniseries, and considering that it took twenty years for that book to get produced, you'd think JLA-Z wouldn't feel like a rush job, right? Wrong-o! Basically, this is a pin-up book covering the various members of the League and their foes, each given only a single paragraph(!) to accompany their pin-up. I guess with an approach that's that bare bones, you almost have to assume this is aimed at entry-level readers…except that comics don't even reach entry-level readers anymore, so I say pony up with the goddamn stats, DC! Give me detailed, multi-page histories, gorgeous cut-away diagrams of the Watchtower, Blue Beetle's Bug, and Fire's thong collection, and back up the pin-up shots with the best interior art to ever feature these characters!

And speaking of pin-up shots, I'd be a lot more forgiving of JLA-Z's low-content approach if the pin-ups weren't so "blah." They're not terrible, but they don't represent the best work of any of the artists involved. You just know something's wrong when the coolest pic is of Aquaman. He does look kinda badass, though. He's holding a big anchor and he looks like he could slap ya with it.

So I'm suggesting that you save your hard-earned shekels for when Marvel and/or DC finally produce a superhero encyclopedia worthy of their 80's efforts. I'd like to see a lavishly produced CD-Rom as the format, maybe at a $30 retail price point, upgradeable each year for a $5 online payment. Imagine how they could build it up over the years, adding in more and more art of your favorite superheroes, complete lists of their appearances, and creating bitchin' search engines to track down the obscure heroes whose histories you only remember bits and pieces of!

It'd be geek nirvana, my friends, which is exactly what such a thing should be.


CHEAP SHOTS:

CATWOMAN #23: Catwoman's road trip continues, this time taking her to the eclectic streets of Starman's Opal City. Pervs will enjoy watching Holly and Selina shopping for new outfits, Slam Bradley fans will be amused as Selina meets Slam's kindred spirit in Starman-pal, Bobo Bennetti, and we'll all lament just a bit that she doesn't meet up with Jack Knight. Features the week's best line of dialogue, growled as Bobo clocks the hell out of a ninja: "All right, let's hear some chin music." A worthy chapter in the series' most consistently entertaining arc. -Cormorant

STRANGERS IN PARADISE #60: Remember how I said I was quitting this book? Okay, I'm weak. I keep going back because I keep hoping for an issue like this one to come along. A milestone for the series, and effectively the end of the arc begun with SIP 3.1. Better late than never. -Lizzybeth

FANTASTIC FOUR #504: I'm bracing myself for disappointment if Waid's tale of the FF taking over Latveria becomes an overt critique of U.S. actions in Iraq, but interestingly enough, the FF have found their weapons of mass destruction (and some other nasty surprises as well). The next issue or two will make or break the arc, but so far, I'm still enjoying. Hey, and the FF do one of those "all for one, one for all" bits where they pile hands as a show of unity – gotta love that. -Cormorant

PROMETHEA #27: Can't review. World ending. Hiding under bed. -Lizzybeth

JLA #87: Kelly really put himself in the doghouse with me with the work he's been doing for the past year, so it's been tough to warm up to this latest story arc. But this month, he managed to turn out an interesting and blessedly coherent issue. And, as usual, Mahnke's work is a crowd-pleaser. Kelly is adding some serious baggage onto Martian history here. (i.e., It turns out that Martians are really psychotic monsters genetically re-engineered by the Guardians of the Universe). Is he authorized to do that? -Village Idiot

THE INCREDIBLE HULK #61: 22 pages and not one single panel with the Hulk...again. See last week's review, and simply add three more goddammits and twelve fucking muther fuckers. -Ambush Bug

FLASH #202: Strangely, decompressed storytelling has also decompressed my interest. Well, not completely. I guess it's nice to see Wally rebuilt as a character from the ground up. But does it have to be so murky? And slow? Maybe I just miss Scott Kolins. -Village Idiot

FABLES: THE LAST CASTLE: If, like me, you're following FABLES in trades, don't let this one-shot pass you by. It's one of those things that might or might not get reprinted, and you'll be kicking yourself if you miss it. It's a flashback dating back several hundred years, revealing the heroic last stand of the Fables before the Adversary drove them from their lands. While light on the series' trademark irony, it makes up for it with a moving tale of war and loss. -Cormorant

LEGION #24: Legion I almost buy out of habit. I'm rarely all that eager to read it, but when I do, I'm glad I did. This month was a nice little one-shot about a character I barely know, Umbra, getting her powers back. I suppose it helps that she's a barely dressed sexy babe, but the story was nice, if low key. And she's a barely dressed sexy babe. -Village Idiot

CAPTAIN AMERICA #18: I'm starting to get Superman: Red Son flashbacks. In fact, this story seems to be incorporating many of the things I liked about Red Son: cleverness, excitement, shiny pages. And I think the art is even better than Red Son's too. -Village Idiot

LOSERS #4: Vertigo's answer to the Hollywood actioneer continues to amuse, but do ya think it's maybe getting a little too Hollywood when you have a chick slit a guy's throat…and then lick the blade? I do. -Cormorant


TALES FROM THE CREVICE: BOOKS THAT FELL THROUGH THE CRACK

By Vroom Socko

This is going to sound strange, but Sam Kieth draws the sexiest women in comics.

No, seriously. Amy from Zero Girl, Julie from The Maxx, these are women with such wonderfully complex personalities, and they’re just so curvaceous! These are some lovely, lovely ladies. And yet, the one story of his that I’ve read the most is the least sexy of his stories, at least in terms of tone. It’s a story about terror, guilt, and inner strengths and weakness. It’s also, naturally, this week’s Tale: Four Women.

The story starts out as a road trip, with four friends on their way to a wedding. First is Donna, the story’s narrator. Then there’s Bev, a hard-nosed lawyer who’s full of determination. Cindy is a young ball of exuberance that’s actually tougher than she lets on. Finally, there’s Marion, the matron of the group. These ladies spend much of the first chapter doing the standard Lifetime-esque gabbing, complete with a back seat full of junk food. But then the car stalls out on an out of the way road. And a pick-up stops next to them, with two men inside whose intentions are far from noble.

What follows is one part horror story, and two parts character study. As the shadowy forms of the two predators circle the car, the women inside find themselves stripped down mentally and emotionally until they’re riding purely on survival mode. Without spoiling anything, I will say that survival, as well as how best to survive, are seen in different ways by each of the car’s occupants.

While I love just about anything drawn by Sam Kieth, his work here is some of his best. There’s a scene at the halfway point where Marion makes a decision, I’m not saying what. That decision has benefits, but it also has ramifications. When they come, Marion gets this look in her eyes, this sad, accepting look in her eyes. It’s both the literal and emotional center of the book, and one chilling sequence.

But my favorite image from the book, hell my favorite Sam Kieth drawing ever, is the final splash page of the TPB. It’s a simple image of two of the women just holding each other, that’s all. Such a simple thing, yet it conveys so much to the reader. It’s a beautiful image of two beautiful women, in a story that, while quite dark, has a beauty of its own to be found by those of you who go pick it up.

And you know what? That splash page is just a little bit sexy, too.

Question For Discussion

What DVD-

Wait! Wait! Sorry about that. Moriarty’s been borrowing the QFD for his DVD column, and I forgot to reset it. Let’s try that again.

Question For Discussion

Who is you favorite female in comics? This can be a character or a creator.

Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 30, 2003, 8:44 a.m. CST

    LAST!!!

    by beggar13

    Booyahhh!!!

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 8:49 a.m. CST

    My Favorite Female in Comics is....

    by bizarromark

    Bizarro Lois. Her ratty hair, chalk-white skin, and poor grammar give me the warmies.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 9:06 a.m. CST

    Jean Grey

    by Phimseto

    'nuff said.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 9:31 a.m. CST

    Faves: Storm, Wonder Woman, Jill Thompson...

    by Raja-Man

    Storm is great when written well, as is Wonder Woman, although I think she harder to write for. Always loved Storm's goddess-like calm demeanor. Wonder Woman should be a little more hard-ass, kicking butt with a toughness that would scare off some bad guys. As for creators, LOVE Devin Grayson's writing, which does the opposite of Nu-Marvel: she takes ordinary people and places them in fantastic situations (a la Spider-Man), allowing us to realte to the characters and making the adventures even greater. Also, Jill Thompson is not only a very talented artist, but quite nice to talk to in person.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 9:33 a.m. CST

    Elektra is a hottie!!!

    by beggar13

    Movie version, comic version, it doesn't matter. After seeing that pic of Hallie Berry, I can most definitely tell you whose at the bottom of my list!!

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 9:48 a.m. CST

    Dear God, sitting on Your throne in Heaven

    by sithkhan

    Dear God - Please end my life now. I have finished the story arc known as 'Hush', and I want you to take it all away from me. Everything. My memories of a time when a writer for Batman actually had a plot to write, and when the stories were actually insightful. I don't want to spoil this for you, O omniscient one, but if you have read the previous issues of this story arc, then you can guess where this ends. I was highly impressed when the 'plot twist' which allows 'Hush' to be 'Hush' was revealed! Who knew that Batman couldn't tell clay from blood? I mean, it's not like he is the WORLD'S GREATEST DETECTIVE or anything! This story arc has disgusted me in a way that I haven't felt since the whole Spider-Clone saga. Yes, I mentioned the damnable Spider-Clone saga. The death of Harold, the forced relationship with Catwoman and the subsequent 'break-up', the revelation of the identy of 'Hush', the completely atypical decision making by Batman ... All of it, God ... Take all of it away from me now ... I am ill now ... If this is any indication as to how Batman is going to be written, then I am finished buying comic books. Forever. Sincerely- sithkhan PS- Please don't let me buy any more Flash or Hulk comics. Thank you for your infinite grace, love, and wisdom. Amen.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Magik!

    by chrth

    I don't care how many times they kill her or change her name, she's still the sexiest goddess in Limbo!

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 10:13 a.m. CST

    Favorite female: Cloud Runner from Silent Devils

    by sexyfanboy

    Cloud Runner survived her entire nation being destroyed, a naked dual with her form sparring partner Lon, and an all out battle with the Trio of Silence. She is not your typical "bad girl" and has a lot of depth. Love the Silent Devils graphic novel and hope I see more of her one day...

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 10:23 a.m. CST

    fav female

    by dougmac

    Gail Simone

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 10:36 a.m. CST

    original Spider-Woman

    by cncoyle

    That sexy strange raven-haired beauty--Jessica Drew! Best Costume Ever.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 10:37 a.m. CST

    favorite female

    by SuperTooth

    as a child i was in love with psylocke, but as an adult my favorite is: AMY RACECAR of stray bullets.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 10:56 a.m. CST

    favorite female : Alias'

    by dwam0

    Jessica Jones. I'm sorry that this tough as nails ex-superhero with the heartbreaking history is having her solo book turned into a group book. Favorite author is Gail Simone, who brought Deadpool back to life with the snappy patter that other writers thought they were providing for the Merc with a mouth. Sorry to see her go again.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:13 a.m. CST

    We all know that Gail Simone is the patron saint of all @$$holes

    by Dog Of Mystery

    So my favorite comic book chick would have to be Rob Liefeld. He's so pretty.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:24 a.m. CST

    "FLASH! Ahhh-Ahhhh!"--Queen

    by bizarromark

    CORM: You absolutely NAILED what's ailing the Flash since the big issue #200 hoo-hah. Perhaps Geoff Johns' constantly being hailed as one of the "Masters of Old-School Superheroics" gave him a bit of a spook and, to avoid being pigeonholed, "Got his Indy On"...as it to say "I can do this stuff, too!" While I admire Johns' willingness to try something new for the Flash title, I stumbled over many of the same elements you did, Corm....especially the cliched "noble loser" blue-collar atmoshere Johns was straining to convey. Anyone interested in Wally's world-weary boss? Or his stunningly beautiful expert-mechanic daughter? Or any of the other hard-luck schmoes populating Johns' Ode to Reg'ler Guys? I didn't think so. Hey, I've read (and enjoyed) "100 Bulltets", but I don't like mixing that kind of stuff with the world of superheroes. It only ends up canceling out the strengths each genre possesses on their own, and watering it down into a mealy hash.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:28 a.m. CST

    JLA-Z - Where the hell was Aztek?

    by Squashua

    He's on the front cover goddamnit! A full page on Chronos? They REPLACED that old fraud!

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:36 a.m. CST

    about that superman story.......

    by odiethis

    dude, i hate to be a typical comic book geek, but that superman story was done on John Burne's revamped superman run. he melts his glasses, sees Perry naked(ugh), and almost destroys all of Metropolis. so, it's not that original, and i'm sure that Burne ripped that off of someone else. but still, kudos to them for a good issue all the same. Just don't call someone original when they are not. a good league all the same. peace out.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:40 a.m. CST

    Fave Girl: Tulip O'Hare

    by Mickey J

    C'mon, she was shot in the head and resurrected by God! Plus she could probably drink you under the table.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:46 a.m. CST

    Re: Batman 619: Loeb blew it

    by bizarromark

    Ambush Bug: You did a great job of capturing the strengths and weaknesses of "Hush", though my final verdict for "Hush" is a bit more harsh than yours. Though I haven't read any of the Loeb-Sale Batman stories (I'm just not a fan of Sale's work), I *have* read all of Loeb's previous work on the "Superman" title, and found a similarity between his bobbled storytelling there and the conclusion to "Hush". Granted, Loeb's run on Superman was a "team effort" , with most of his storylines being a part of a larger whole, but there were enough self-contained Superman stories to reveal that Loeb has some trouble on the resolutions to his stories. He's great at conjuring up "neat stuff" like shock endings, bold guest stars or tantalizing clues...but the "neat stuff" is seldom developed into anything coherent. It just kinda hangs iin the air like the smoke after a fireworks display. Loeb's stories don't so much *end* as they just *stop*, with the loose ends and logic gaps trailing behind it like Jacob Marley's chains. To sum up my impression of the concluding chapter to "Hush", I first need to take you back in time to the conclusion of DC's 'Our Worlds At War" fustercluck, and its resulting fan confusion. During the story, Luthor's infant daughter Lena Luthor was apparently rapidly aged into a grown woman by Brainiac-13, a character with thoughts, emotions and interactions with other characters. Following Brainiac-13's defeat, Lena appeared once again as a baby girl. How did this happen? Well, according to Jeph Loeb, the baby was a baby all along, and the adult Lena was a "hard light projection"....whatever that was. Needless to say, many fans were not satisfied with this unlikely, illogical and disingenous answer....and I see the same disingenous spirit at work in the conclusion to "Hush": It's a hard light projection.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:47 a.m. CST

    Always loved that lady in red

    by mikehammer

    The Scarlet Witch has always been one of my favs! The Black Widow is also quite the hottie! And how about that Power Girl!!

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:51 a.m. CST

    @-hole innovation

    by bizarromark

    Hey 'holes....I love the new "Cheap Shots" feature. Keep it! In addition to the longer reviews, these "thumbnail sketches" of your impressions are entertaining and Bite-Sized Fun

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:57 a.m. CST

    easy answer...

    by TenDeuChen

    Fujiko...smart, sexy, beautiful, and a cool thief too...what's not to like? Oh yeah...where are the supreme power reviews? All I've seen is issue 1 on this site, even though 2 is already out and 3 comes out tomorrow!

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:59 a.m. CST

    VI responds: Did I say "original"?

    by Village Idiot

    In fact, I tried to make a point of the fact that the issue was reminicent of the typical Bronze Age "powers-go-haywire story." Considering the pacing and tone, I feel the issue shares more in common with that era than with Superman #10, the story you're referring to. But you're right, the similarities between Seagle's story and Byrne's are there, and good eye for pointing them out.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 12:31 p.m. CST

    Flash in the Pan

    by Village Idiot

    Geoff Johns' Flash was my introduction to the character. Prior to that, I hadn't read much other Flash material, including Mark Waid's noted run; and, in fact, I still haven't. Nevertheless, for me, Johns' Flash was a great ride, and there's now question that it'll go down as one of my favorite comic runs of all time.__________BUT there's no getting around the fact that under Johns, Wally's characterization was pretty vague. I can't recall my ever feeling like I knew Wally beyond just a couple of dimensions (the dimensions being "working class guy" and "red-haired guy." And this was okay: there was so much else going on at the time, it didn't really seem to matter. However, I still felt that this would be a situation that Johns would have to address eventually.__________And it appears as if he's decided to address it, and how. It's my understanding that Johns' approach is to answer the the dearth of characterization for Wally that I described above. Now we're supposed to be really getting to know him.__________My question is why would is require such a dramatic shift in tone? Surely we could have gone down this road without the noir. And as I noted in my Cheap Shot, the pacing seems a little too stretched as well.__________As for Corm's comments about the costume, we know by the end of the book that the time for the Flash is nigh. I haven't had too much of a problem anticipating it. And now that the Flash is here, hopefully, beginning with the next issue, the "Ignition" will turn the issue's motor over and we can really start to get somewhere.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 12:39 p.m. CST

    I just realized....

    by bizarromark

    ...I don't really HAVE a favorite comics female, real OR imagined! Bizarro Lois was only a brave front. Yeah, there's comic book females I like, but I guess I never narrowed it down to a single FAVORITE. I feel compelled to say "Wonder Woman", but when I thought about it, I realized I really didn't *like* the character all that much, despite her iconic status. The virtual ocean of female supporting characters yielded few stand-outs, none of which qualified as bona-fied *FAVORITES*. So....what the hell's wrong with me? Could it be that comics are such a "boys' club" that I've subconsciously been posting a "NO GIRLZ ALLOWD" sign when it comes to classifying my favorite female characters?

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 1:06 p.m. CST

    My favorite comic chick...

    by JonQuixote

    Mockingbird. One of the first comics I remember reading was the HAWKEYE limited series in the early 80's. Even to my almost-fetal brain, there was something about Mockingbird that just radiated sex(or maybe sens)uality. The closing scene of the two sharing a bathtub after being married DHARMA & GREG style probably went a long way towards that. But it might have also been the fact that sweet & just Bobbi Morse got turned into a frothing, violent animal during the climax, and maybe I somehow picked up on a (probably unintentional, but Gruenwald wasn't adverse to suggestive hints) metaphor. In any event, in Gruenwald's hands, Mockingbird was one of the most interesting, multi-dimensional female characters in comics, and one half of perhaps the most reasistic & well-drawn marriage. And then she got stupid and later dead. *** Hon. Mention goes to Gail Simone, who is doing wonderful things with Black Canary and making me see what I used to love about the Mockingbird. *** Hon. Hon. Mention goes to Shanna The She-Devil, but only when she wears the fur bikini, and not the one piece.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 1:07 p.m. CST

    Superman is BORING!

    by KAWS

    Ypu know this to be true. Why, I wouldn't be surprised if he's sleeping with Perry White.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 1:13 p.m. CST

    Black Widow.

    by Buzz Maverik

    A cool character almost every way she's portrayed. That beautiful blonde Black Widow with the Greg Horn covers doesn't exist, never happened! It's Natasha Romanova. I like the original Cold War spy thing, but that HAD to be revamped. And I like Ultimate Black Widow, too. I love the way the men in the Black Widow's life may not actually be killed, but they get screwed up. The original Red Guardian. Iron Man. Hawkeye. Daredevil. This chick gets around.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Why is Loeb naked? Ewwww!

    by superninja

    The Emperor Has No Clothes comes to mind with the closing of Hush. But we all had that vague sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that it was going to end like this, right? I propose that we beat Loeb...with a RED HERRING! At least until he cries. Only fitting if you ask me.***BM, it's too bad you don't read any of the Loeb/Sale stuff - because that's all of Loeb's best work. Oh well.***Fav comic chicks of times past - She-Hulk, Diamondback, Storm, Scarlett Witch. These days, I've got to go with Brubaker's Catwoman, Fables Snow White, Robyn from Top Ten, Emma from Ruse.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 1:45 p.m. CST

    Janeane Garofalo as the Bowler in "Mystery Men"

    by rev_skarekroe

    She looks damn good in heavy eyeliner! sk

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 1:59 p.m. CST

    The golden age of superhero infotainment

    by bizarromark

    You're right, Corm....the 80's were great times for information-hungry fanboys like me on a constant quest for more trivial information to add to my vast stores of (ultimately useless) comic book information. First, a little background. Through the 70's, my pals and I used to keep "files" on our favorite comic book characters, which usually included a crude drawing or tracing of said hero with all of the important "facts" associated with him (never her), such as: secret identity, a brief recap of the origin, a short list of his arch-foes, and any other pertinent information such as "He's really strong". Though I'd long given up this practice by the time the DC & Marvel Universe mini-series were published (being a "busy" teenager), these lavish character bios revived my boyish enthusiasm for hero fact-sheets. Of the two approaches, I think I preferred Marvel's more detailed approach. Sure, the science-speak got a little thick, but that's what really gave it a "Marvel" feel, since the Marvel characters had always seemed a bit more "reality based" than the more fanciful DC characters. Seeing the precise amount of how much weight the heavy-hitters could "press" was a fanboy's dream come true by helping to answer those nagging "Who's stronger than who?" questions. True, the concrete information took some of the fun out of *debating* those questions, but it was still fun to finally *know* what kind of strength levels were in play (not that finding out a character could press 100 tons was anything you could really get your head around anyway....but hey, it was a "fact", so there it was). I also thought the Marvel Universe books did a much better job on the building and equipment diagrams than DC. DC did a few technical drawings, but even those were half-hearted and not very informative. But Marvel....Marvel showed us how web-shooters worked, how Fantasti-Car's floated and how Daredevil's billyclub was designed. Sure, most of the "science-speak" was pure hokum, but it didn't matter. It had the *veneer* of authenticity, and that was enough for me. I also liked how the covers of the Marvel series eventually formed one gigantic picture of every Marvel character, though I preferred the (mostly) Perez artwork of the DC "Who's Who" series over the competent, yet somewhat bland, work of Marvel's Ed Hannigan. Another advantage of "Who's Who" was the higher grade paper it was printed on, which brightened the colors considerably compared to the somewhat dingy printing of the Marvel series. However, a serious liability of Who's Who was the fact that DC's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" occured *during* its publication, so the resulting altered continuity lent an incoherence and irrelevance to much of the project. All in all, two great series that I still occasionally refer back to for information, especially the handy "first appearance" information. But, if anyone still doubts whether "Marvel Universe" project was *really* the better of the two, I must remind you that it was the Marvel Universe series that included a *DEAD CHARACTERS* issue and an ALL-EQUIPMENT issue. DC never topped such audacity.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 2:19 p.m. CST

    CORRECTION!!!

    by Village Idiot

    Dadblammit!! The @$$hole factchecker is on vacation this week, so wouldn't you know it, I made a big fat mistake: The bad guys in SUPERMAN #197 is NOT the "Time Lords" but the "FUTURESMITHS." The Futuresmiths - not Johnny Marr's new band, but weird guys in robes messing with time. Village Idiot regrets the error. Regrets it so much in fact that as punishment, he'd even be willing to take a long car trip with KAWS.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 2:20 p.m. CST

    Okay, maybe not that long of a car trip.

    by Village Idiot

    I mean, come on.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 2:21 p.m. CST

    Let me get this straight...

    by bizarromark

    ....Batman pushed Catwoman away because she whispered the word "Hush"? Did I miss something? What triggered Batman to flip out when she said it? Sure, you can never really trust Catwoman, but he had clearly trusted her enough to reveal his identity to her, despite her criminal past. Why would there be more distrust *now* than there was previously? Loeb did not do a good job establishing the *why* behind Batman's hasty rejection of Selina....beyond the simple, cynical fact that it will bring an element of emotional closure to the (being printed as we speak) Trade Paperback. Another thing: Why did Loeb feel the need to justify why Bruce Wayne requested that Tommy be contacted? The preposterous scheme of the hunchback flashing subliminal pictures of Tommy on the Batcave computer screen answered a question I wasn't even asking about a situation that didn't trouble me at the time ("What? WHY would Batman ask for a boyhood friend to operate on him? WHYYYYYY????!!!!!) That wasn't the hole Loeb needed to plug. It's this kind of "tone-deaf" management of his stories that earns Loeb such low marks in the "satisfactory ending" department. He's good at tossing up brightly colored juggling pins, but he can't seem to figure out how to gracefully end the performance without the pins tumbling to the stage. Does DC Comics employ *editors* anymore, or are the "editors" merely there to send out and receive Fed-Ex packages with artwork and scripts?

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 2:34 p.m. CST

    Yeah....Superman IS boring

    by bizarromark

    Sad, but true. The Superman books have been in such an extended period of creative malaise, it's no wonder the books haven't garnered any attention from anyone for the last three or four years....despite Village Idiot's valiant efforts to push them under fandom's collective nose. "Birthright" has been one of the few bright spots for me lately, despite the "Kent-centric" cracks being tossed its way. (Who'd a thunk it: A biographical story of Superman that would focus so much time on the Kents. The noive!) Quite simply, Mark Waid gives a rip about the character, a feeling I don't get from any of the current writers on the core titles, who seem more focused on clever political allegories or exhibiting their whip-smart pop cultural mojo. BLEH! We've got even MORE "cool cats" slated to write Superman next year, though I feel a bit more confident that most these guys share Waid's enthusiasm for the character based on some early interviews....so who knows. The "lame duck Superman" continues to justify WHY it's earned that term. These books have nothing to say and nobody's listening, anyway.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 2:59 p.m. CST

    OHTTMU kicked WHO'S WHO?'s rear end in a most vicious manner.

    by JonQuixote

    WHO'S WHO didn't even list their non-codenamed characters last name first! Mixed the dead guys in with the live guys! Didn't offer individual capsule entries for obscure members of teams! This BURNED MY ASS as a kid. Marvel was knocking them out of the park with encyclopaedic listings that even included how many tons the characters could list, and DC's stuff looked like it was written by my mom. (Batman fights crime in Gotham City. He drives a cool car. Next!). Plus, most of the information was made immediately out of date by Crisis. Burned my ass. I hated WHO'S WHO.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 3:25 p.m. CST

    But Superman #197 ISN'T boring.

    by Village Idiot

    Say what you want about the cumulative effect of the Superman titles for the past few years, but there have been some bright spots, and Superman #197 is one of the brighter ones. Unfortunately the doldrums that seem to be the norm (or are percieved to be the norm) overpower whatever flashes of brightness that pop up. I suppose that's just "The Law of the West" when it comes to these situations, but my tendency as a fan is to hope for them, and my duty as a reviewer is to tell you about them. And in this case, I didn't think SUPERMAN #197 was boring, but actually pretty good.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 3:34 p.m. CST

    Oh, the award goes to "Official Guide...", no doubt.

    by rev_skarekroe

    Especially the Deluxe Edition. It had an air of legitimacy that "Who's Who" lacked, which is something that's very important when you're ten years old and haven't quite woken up to the absurdity of the super-hero concept. Besides, "Who's Who" had this weird, headache-inducing yellow background. sk

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 4:18 p.m. CST

    Favorite Superchick

    by thecomedian

    Bryne's She Hulk. She was funny. She was sexy(personality-wise) And she set me on a course of chasing after tall, voluptious women rediculously out of my league that marked most of my High School and College dating life. And she broke the forth wall which nowadays would seem tacky but back then was a great storytelling gag I never got tired of.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 5:01 p.m. CST

    you crazy @ssholes

    by Eat_Your_Peas

    I can't remember which on of you @sshole clowns recommended the GYO trade, but I picked it up and it was pretty good. Although the "creature" is reminiscent (derivative) of other "alien" creatures, it was still pretty damn original. And pretty freaky. I loved the absurdity of the floating garbage bag. Especially how it plays out later in the story. So thanks for a recommendation for a good read.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 5:49 p.m. CST

    As A Newly Recovering Marvel Zombie At The Time, I Was Glad To G

    by Buzz Maverik

    Yeah, Marvel's Official Handbook was something truly exceptional (Gawd, the more ya look at it, Jim Shooter's Marvel had the most awesome stuff) but I didn't know jack about the DC books I was starting to read (aside from the stuff that had appeared on SUPER FRIENDS) so even their inferior version was helpful. We won't see anything to equal The Official Handbook out of Nu Marvel because THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE DON'T KNOW ALL THAT MUCH ABOUT COMICS AND WANT TO PRETEND THAT ANYTHING THAT HAPPENED BEFORE THEY LUCKED INTO THEIR JOBS NEVER HAPPENED....BTW, did any other Marvel Zombies go to those 12 step meetings? "I'm Buzz M." "Hi, Buzz." "It's been 30 days since I praised a Marvel comic I really didn't like and made fun of a DC comic I did like for no other reason than the name of the publisher." I worked hard to earn that 90 day chip!

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 5:58 p.m. CST

    Since I don't have a favorite comic book female....

    by bizarromark

    ...how about my favorite Micronaut, the 1979's-80's series based upon the exceptional toyline of the same name?___Acroyear. Definitely Acroyear. (pronounced A-croy-er)

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Favorite Micronaut: Bug

    by JonQuixote

    He's the only one I can name. There was a "Bug", right?

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 6:06 p.m. CST

    Don't Worry If You Don't Have A Favorite Female Character, Bizar

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...the original's daughter. Swamp Thing had a daughter. There's a female Demon. The new Apache Kid is a chick. The new Dr. Strange will be female. Some say this is to attract female readers. Some (me) say that it's reflecting a new generation of guys so castrated they can't even relate to power (except when used in an extremely negative, cruel fashion like all these BADASS, IN YO FACE, VICOUSLY KILLS EVERYONE, NOT YER DADDY'S Insert Hero's Name Here Versions Of Characters).

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 6:08 p.m. CST

    Please Excuse The Hell Out Of Me For Misspelling "Viciously" In

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...I know that really twists the innards of some of you.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Ann Nocenti

    by Heffaloo

    Followed closely by Diana Schutz. These are two great editors who are also quite entertaining and versitile writers themselves.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 6:32 p.m. CST

    Okay, fine, you dragged it out of me...

    by Village Idiot

    Wonder Woman. I know, I know, it shows no imagination. But I tend to like well-adjusted brunettes with that va-va-va-voom thing.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 6:33 p.m. CST

    Funny funny Hulk review!

    by riskebiz

    I got a big snort and chuckle out of this week's Incredible Hulk review. Very funny, Ambush Bug. I haven't minded the missing Hulk, so much ... it seems more like an event when he does appear, but I can see your point. I wish they'd have more of the "Hulk SMASH!" stuff. _____Batman ... I still wish it really had been Jason Todd as Hush. They seemed to have left Todd's grave empty, though!! I can't wait for him to come back as a major Batman villain. To me, the Jason Todd reveal was the single biggest moment in comics this year, and everything after (with Clayface posing as Jason Todd) became anti-climatic. Though I have to wonder, they seemed to have left Batman's identity open for any of his rogue's to figure out easily. Clayface, for instance ... he poses as Jason Todd ... and it doesn't take a super genius to add 2 and 2 together knowing that someone named Jason Todd was once Robin. Tim Drake made that leap, for instance. It seems like HUSH gave most of Batman's villains ammunition to figure it all out pretty easily from this point forward (apart from the ones he blurted it out to or figured it out themselves in this story arc).

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 7:02 p.m. CST

    Born

    by Donkeybells

    Anyone else really like Born? I have never read a lot of Punisher, although this month's Punisher Marvel Knights book had the best first and last pages I've seen in a while. I really like Born however, perhaps because I am not incredibly familiar with the character. I was especially happy with the last issue, unlike the other thirty books I read a month, I will actually remember and go back to Born #4. (SPOILER?) The way that one character's death was portrayed (the everyman character we follow thoughout the four parter) was probably the best thing I've seen all year and the way the Devil's voice (at least I perceived him as the Devil, he could be some other Punisher character I don't know about cause I don't read the book on a regular basis) was written was excellent. Again, I can't remember the last series that had me wanting to re-read it a few days after the last issue came out. PS: The second greatest thing I've seen in comics in a while is the fuckin sweet two pager of Wolverine going nuts in the latest Wolverine book, another one that I like and pick up monthly. You'll know the one I'm talking about if you've read it.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 9:21 p.m. CST

    Fave girly-girl in comics?

    by Dave_F

    I used to really like Thorn from the pages of BONE, back when she seemed like a real girl. Now she acts like a stoic princess in the LORD OF THE RINGS tradition and the love is gone, gone, gone. I also like Holly from CATWOMAN a lot - Brubaker's written some killer scenes with her, so she comes across as very three-dimensional, much more so than Catwoman, really. Hmm, but these choices are starting to suggest a penchant for young girls. Let's belay that notion as I reveal once and for all that the coolest dame to ever stride the four-colored halls of comicdom is, in fact...Amanda Waller (aka "The Wall"), the ballbusting-yet-sympathetic director of THE SUICIDE SQUAD during John Ostrander's legendarily cool re-invention of that book in the late 80's. Apparently she's Secretary of Metahuman affairs in Lex Luthor's cabinet, but I have little doubt that she's a tenth of the personality now that she was when her rotund frame struck fear into the hearts of scumbags everywhere in THE SUICIDE SQUAD. Come to think of it, an "Ostrander Girl" wins the second place award, too, for the fiery, fascistic Shayera Thal in the pages of HAWKWORLD. God DAMN that was a great comic. Coming in a strong third is John Byrne's She-Hulk, who seems to be making a strong showing in this TalkBack. What's not to like? She had class, she had smarts, she could make with the ha-ha, and she had legs that went all_the_way_up. ********* Favorite Micronaut? I'm tempted to agree with B-Mark - Acroyear was one cool, fratricide-committing S.O.B. - but I'm giving the spot to my childhood favorite, the white-armored Force Commander! If memory serves, despite the fact that he had one of the best action figures - an obvious counterpart to Baron Karza - he was actually killed off in the twelfth issue of the comic, the lead role given over to Commander Rann. Still, he got one of the best scenes ever before getting slagged, forever endearing him to me as a badass. See, he was the military leader of the ragtag rebel forces opposing Karza's, *ahem*, empire, and there was this one issue where he tries to win the backing of a group of the wealthy power elite to his cause. Naturally, they're utterly self-serving, sneering at Force Commander, "Karza offers us eternal life - what can YOU give us?" Having apparently had one *bitch* of a bad day, Force Commander responds to the tune of INCINERATING THEM WITH HIS ARMOR'S BLASTERS(!), responding: "A quick death, parasites!" Hardcore, baby. Hardcore.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 9:23 p.m. CST

    Hey, Elliot Kane, you out there?

    by Dave_F

    There's a guy at the beginning of the TalkBack claiming your beloved Magik for his own! You gonna take that?!! Or are all you Illyana-lovers part of the same happy, Kool-Aid-chuggin' cult?

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 9:30 p.m. CST

    Satanna... ow.

    by Devil'sOwn

    Excellent reviews, 'specially from Corm an' da Bug. Johns has been hyped to hell these days, and the one Flash issue I read by him was pretty good, but I expected him to slip up sooner or later. I mean the guy writes an insane amount of books, and seriously needs to cut back his production, otherwise the overall quality of his work will continue to suffer. Nothing pisses us old-schoolers of more than the old "supernatural erasing of the past few years plot development" gimmick, eh? Fans rejoiced at Loeb and Lee's take on my longtime DC idol Batman, but I really just wish Jeph would try writing straight-ahead stories and stop with the film noir stuff. I know it's kinda part of the Bat's schtick, but it's really been done, y'know? Lastly, I am most grateful for your review of JLA-Z, Corm. I'd considered picking it up, but maaan, do I really need to spend my hard earned bucks on one more inferior sourcebook? I think not. I LOVED the OHTMU, and much like you, I think it's a damn shame the latest Marvel regime is too busy patting itself on the back for it's sales figures and successful movie adaptations to give these "encyclopedias" the attention Mark Gruenwald, Eliot Brown and Peter Sanderson did. Yeah, I'm a little bitter. The CD-ROM idea is brilliant, I mean if they lack attention span to commit such a thing to print. All I can say is I hope that day comes soon!

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 9:32 p.m. CST

    Good call, Squashua...

    by Dave_F

    I didn't notice the absense of Aztek from JLA-Z, but I did get a sense that at only three issues, it was going to come up woefully short of including everyone who's ever been with the team or opposed them. I even meant to make a joke about the League's former hot-headed Latino, Vibe, but I somehow forgot! Hope he makes the cut in JLA-Z, though. Why? Just...because. Because, dammit, even the kitschy stuff needs be remembered! I actually bought a comic with Vibe in it when I was a kid. The one line of dialogue I remember from it had him providing his own brand of tough-love to an angst-tormented friend. Quoth Vibe: "Chu not bad, man. Chu *sad*." True. And it was less than a year later when one of Professor Ivo's androids strangled the poor, stereotyped bastard, may he rest in peace.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 10:34 p.m. CST

    Mockingbird

    by Dave_F

    Hey, JQ, I had the mad love for Mockinbird too, once upon a time (she was like a cooler Black Canary). What I'm trying to remember is whether she'd been around prior to that HAWKEYE miniseries or was created specifically for it? I seem to remember that she told her story at some point during that mini, and I got the *sense* that it was flashing back to old issues of MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE or somesuch, but maybe that was just the effect Gruenwald wanted to create. It's a nice balance either way, giving the reader a sense of her history in the Marvel U., but not alienating him with any sort of suggestion that he *needed* to research the old stuff to "get" her. Current Marvel seems deathly afraid of the latter, but that HAWKEYE mini is a perfect example of getting it right. And I still totally dig the old Mockingbird costume with the wide sleeves that just screamed 70's. The leggier revamp was alright (a Byrne redesign?), but I still liked the original best. What really sucks about her death is that it didn't add anything to the Marvel Universe (aside from a corpse). Whereas one can fairly clearly see how marital fulfillment diminishes the likes of Peter Parker (so much for making him an identifiable sad-sack) and Superman (the job comes first, dammit!), I thought it added a nice dimension to Hawkeye. It suited him and didn't really cut into his much-loved rambler attitude. I mean, split the couple up every once in a while - makes perfect sense - but easy on the frickin' killing!

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 10:40 p.m. CST

    Who's Fujiko, TenDeuChen?

    by Dave_F

    That the dame from LUPIN anime series? If so, yeah - cool as hell. Love CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO. ******* Oh, and we'll try to hit SUPREME POWER #3 for our next set of reviews.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 10:43 p.m. CST

    re Four Women

    by arkhan77

    gotta agree that Four Women is some of Kieth's best work. i however, just can't bring myslef to even read it a second time. it's just too hard. one of those stories that just make you feel too uncomfortable, too aware of the pain. Kieth is a god, and a nice guy too.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 10:47 p.m. CST

    Buzz, you ever read the Black Widow appearance in Bendis's recen

    by Dave_F

    Very sexy scene. For my money, Gene Colan's the best guy to draw her - all sexy curves, shadows, and sophistication - but photo-reference-heavy Alex Maleev came through pretty nicely for Bendis, and it was a good issue to boot.

  • Ed Brubaker revealed that Catwoman was outright *nailing* grizzled tough guy, Slam Bradley, in her own book. Slam's one lucky old coot - it's just too bad their sex was of the guilt-laden, each-using-the-other variety. Still, it's more action than Batman's had in a long time. Guess that's why he used Slam for a punching bag last issue...

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:10 p.m. CST

    Gyo, Speed Racer, GYOOOOOOOO!!!

    by Dave_F

    Eat_Your_Peas, that was me that recommended GYO, and I am heartened to know you dug its loathsome brand of fishy horror! Junji Ito's work sometimes falls down a bit in the resolutions, but the moment-to-moment horror stuff is so imaginative that you can't help but be drawn into it. My favorite scene was the extended chase with the giant shark squeezing its massive bulk around the corners and up the stairs in the kid's house - truly like nothing I've ever seen before. I strongly suggest checking out his three-volume UZUMAKI if you haven't read it, and to anyone else interested in GYO, here's a link to the review (yes, I'm a ho'): http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=15988

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:14 p.m. CST

    Does one *really* have to worry about Hush spoilers anymore?

    by Swithin

    It should have been Hugo Strange. If this were *Detective* Comics, it would have been Hugo Strange. All the evidents, hints, clues, supported it being Hugo Strange. Without spoiling overmuch, it *SHOULD* have been someone like Hugo Strange, if not the man himself. But, I guess we all knew deep in our hearts that we'd get this cop out ending. What bothers me most of all are the loose-ends... how did the baddies know where to dig up Jason Todd? Bruce and Alfred buried him alone? Did Harold even *know* where Jason was buried? Also, without trying to spoil anything overmuch, Hush's entire motive was recently done in Iron Man - to the point where Tony Stark had the same last-minute misconception as Bruce, only to be *shocked* (SHOCKED, I SAY!) by the villain's confession that, yep, he was pretty much always villainous - as if you couldn't figure this out by the shit he's been piling on his rival's life. One other thing I had wished for the run was that Tommy Elliot wasn't real - I was expecting him to be a figment of Bruce's and Alfred's imagination, planted into their minds by the real villain. I mean, nobody's ever heard of him before, right? Ah well, you can't win 'em all.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:17 p.m. CST

    Fav Chicks

    by NZGUY

    She-Hulk, Rouge, Catlin Fairchild, Supergirl (going for the strong, musclular types). Yum!

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 11:46 p.m. CST

    Interesting observations on BORN, Donk.

    by Dave_F

    I used to like The Punisher back when he was just a cool Spider-Man villain/anti-hero, and even during his first miniseries or two, but overexposure made me hate the two-dimensional killer. Ennis's first miniseries garnered some decent laughs, but if anything, he actually *reduced* the level of characterization for the Punisher. Now, because I associate The Punisher with Ennis's hatred of superheroes, I've come to loathe the character, but I do think it's kind of interesting to consider the POV of someone who's *not* familiar with the character. I've read bits and pieces of BORN - mostly lost on me, as I've given up on the character - but I can see how it might make for a pretty good read, sui generis. Hey, Donk, just out of curiosity, what other books are you reading these days? You ever read any of Ennis's stuff on PREACHER and/or HELLBLAZER. I've got much fondness for the latter, and one of these days, need to get around to reading the former.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, midnight CST

    LEGION

    by Dave_F

    Hey, Village Idiot - I read the latest LEGION after reading your capsule review of it, and I'm somewhat pained to say...I enjoyed it. I thought I'd put that damn cult title behind me a year or two back, but Abnett and Lanning continue to have some cool tricks up their sleeve. What I really dug about this latest issue, beyond the uber-hotness of Umbra, was the atmosphere of the piece. There was a palpable weight to the darkness that enshrouded the entire planet, leaving the reader both with a sense of confinement *and* of being exposed to those things that can see in the dark. It felt legitimately alien, a true compliment for a comic that usually plies the space opera tradition of aliens that are, in fact, surprisingly human. I also liked that it focused on a single character, as the whole "legion" thing can get overwhelming at times. In the "not so good" category, the ending was way too pat. I'm easy, though. Give me a memorable atmosphere and I'm halfway won over. I think I just might do some back-issue tracking in the next few days...

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 12:10 a.m. CST

    Best female in comics? Neil Gaiman's death

    by the G-man

    C'mon. She's funny, she's cute and she's terminally (no pun intended) well adjusted for having such a screwed up family.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 12:15 a.m. CST

    Well, since you ask, Corm...

    by Donkeybells

    ... I have been enjoying Wolverine as I mentioned, again, possibly because I stopped reading X-Men titles back when they had like twelve running at once, none of them being paticularily good. I've always had a spot for the Goon, would appreciate if they put it out a little more often (get off your ass Dark Horse). I had a stint with the Hulk, I like it a lot until they concluded the Abomination arc. I like Mystique, I actually dig that first issue of the WWII GI Joe/Transformers (but I've always liked Transformers). Green Lantern was something I used to like, now its boring as sin, Arkham Asylum Living Hell is frickin sweet. Save The Ultimates, I don't really like the Ultimate line a whole lot, but I am looking forward to the new Batman arc as well as Vaughn's run on Detective Comics. Y the Last Man is okay, hot and cold in my opinion, Sentinel has a cool premise but I don't like the manga approach and finally, I really don't like 1602. It's like that last episode of Seinfeld where all the past guest stars come in and say their little line and leave. Lazy writing in my opinon on both accounts. Also American Gods, Gaiman's novel sucked, but I seem to be alone in that sentiment. PS: Regarding Born, I just found it interesting that he sold his soul and his family's lives to be able to fight a never ending way. It seems to me that his choosing that life alters the character in a way I'm not sure that Punisher fans would like. But as I said, i never got into Punisher first because his costume looks silly as a one piece unitard on a stone killer and I just couldn't think how it could be interesting every week seeing him waste mob people.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 12:30 a.m. CST

    My most favorite girl in comics...

    by Ambush Bug

    An obscure one but one that always stuck with me was Duck, from STARBRAND, the New Universe title from long ago. She was loyal to Starbrand, even though he barely paid attention to her, even when he was banging her. It was a whole Eponine scenario. Anyone remember this? Am I the only one who admits to reading the New U? John Romita JR drew it and made her hot as hell. Jessica Drew come in second with Zatanna rounding out my comic book heroine trifecta. I feel dirty.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 12:58 a.m. CST

    Fave Femmes.

    by Evil Posh

    Frank Miller's Elektra. She had the potential to be a great hero like Matt Murdock, but her life took a turn for the worse and she took a different path... There's something about someone who could be so good but is so bad that is quite attractive to me. Runners up are Black Cat, because she was the girl who made Peter Parker a man, and Black Widow, just 'cos she's a badass.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 1 a.m. CST

    Favorite Female, huh....

    by ChugeKnight

    Mary Jane gets top billing with Rogue a close second. For creator, Gail Simone wins that award. The industry could use more Gail on Deadpool and writing more books. Also it needs more of a new Bendis series, The Sleuthing Adventures of Gambit and Rogue. Perhaps make it an Ultimate series. I have to say I really want Formerly Known as Justice League as an ongoing. And any idea how long JMS can stay on Spider-man? Perhaps pair JMS with Adam Hughes on Amazing and that'll really cement Mary Jane in the top spot for favorite female.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 1:36 a.m. CST

    Surhomme

    by GoldMountain

    My favorite party of Surhomme is his equipment. The colors are fresh, I like red and blue. And the cape insipiring. I would like to see a film with the Surhomme, but I do not know that that must play the character. Maybe Bruce Campbell. But probably someone likes this idiot Alex Trebek.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 2:28 a.m. CST

    Mockingbird and favored femme

    by kisskissbangbang

    Corm:you asked about Mockingbird's past before Hawkeye. She used to show up in Ka-Zar in the early 70s as Bobbi Morse, Agent of SHIELD, chasing down, with Ka-Zar's help, the Super-Soldier serum. (This was before Bruce Jones was on the book; actually, it wasn't even Ka-Zar's own book then, but Amazing Adventures or a similar one.) Back then, she favored miniskirts and glasses; I dont know when she gave up the latter. Though I do have a bit of a thing for pretty girls in glasses, it wasn't enough to put her near the top of my list.*** Which brings me to my favored femme: Zatanna, but not in that JLA atrocity of a costume. She *must* be wearing the tophat, tails and black fishnet stockings, and preferably be drawn by Murphy Anderson. Obssessed? Just a little...

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 4:10 a.m. CST

    I like decompressed women

    by Mirrorball Man

    I just do.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 9:10 a.m. CST

    I also read the New Universe

    by holidill

    Psi-Force, Justice, Nightmask, Kickers inc., StarBrand, DP-7(My personal favorite, didn't Mark Gruenwald write this with Paul Ryan on pencils?) Then the Pitt which I loved then it got crazy with the war and another one-shot. Hush-Wish it was a dream with Bruce in a coma after his fall from getting his line cut. So now there is no Two-face, Riddler and Catwoman know he is Bruce Wayne, I don't know about this. Favorite female, I think everyone in the talk back has hit ones I like myself. Mark Waid an Mike Wieringo are still on Fantastic Four!

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 11:18 a.m. CST

    Right with you Ebonic Plague

    by RenoNevada2000

    Liberty Meadows' Brandy is the one comics gal who dances through my dreams.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 11:22 a.m. CST

    JLA-Z

    by RenoNevada2000

    While I liked the Booster Gold/Blue Beetle art, I have to say the whole thing disappointed me. Minus time to admire each art piece, I think I spent less than 5 minutes reading the whole thing. How much did the writer get to stretch this assignment out to three issues? Not bad I bet for could not have been longer than an afternoon's worth of work. I still like DC's last version of WHO'S WHO, where it was styled with the three ring binder holes so you could order the entries anyway you want and then replace them with new updates periodically. Too bad they never followed up with updtes in that format.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 12:13 p.m. CST

    Y'know WHO'S WHO & HANDBOOK might be excellent illustrations of

    by JonQuixote

    Look at an entry for, say, Green Arrow or Red Tornado. Note that he gets about as much play as Bat-Mite. Now compare it to the entry Marvel provides for Hawkeye or Vision or Thor, specifically in the "History" area. What do you notice? The Marvel characters, even though many of them were considerably younger than their DC counterparts, simply *have* more history. They took part in stories where their character evolved and their status quo would change. Therefore when you have to chronicle their adventures, you have more information to include. So for Hawkeye, you needed to include his change from villain to Avenger, his Goliath phase, his security job, the adventure where he ultimately married Mockingbird, and his evolution from supporting player to leader of his own team. With Green Arrow, the history kind of ends with the premise (well, and the loss of Speedy)...you can only talk about battles with Count Vertigo so much before you start to make it very apparent that none of them had any consequence. *** Of course, now the shoe seems to be on the other foot, with Marvel ignoring any history or character evolution in the name of courting "new" readers and DC actually progressing their characters. But back then, stuff actually happened to the Marvel guys, stuff that changed them - Spidey had different girlfriends, fell in love, watched her die, moved away from home, started shagging the Black Cat, and got engaged (& later married), while Superman was still circling the same blueball mobius strip he'd been stuck in for the past 60 years.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 1:45 p.m. CST

    Good points, Jon

    by bizarromark

    Great observations on the Marvel character histories vs. the DC histories. Though I agree the less turgid histories of DC characters may have played a part, that may not be the full explanation. To be fair to DC, the stripped down character histories may have also been a result of DC feeling like they had to "improve" upon what Marvel started with the Marvel Universe guide. As part of this "one-upmanship", DC decided to devote much more space to artwork, which often included small vignettes of origin scenes or supporting characters positioned around the character drawings. These were nice touches, and contrasted nicely with Marvel's more straightforward "police lineup" approach, but the tradeoff was reduced information. Though you can make a good case that many characters were either one-note wonders (like Green Arrow) or Tabula Rasa's (like the anonymous legions of Golden Age characters), DC characters, in fact, had rich histories that could have taken up just as much room as the Marvel entries did. True, there wouldn't have been nearly the number of breakups, unemployments, set-backs, frustrations, identity changes and deaths as the Marvel characters experienced, but alot of stuff happened nonetheless. Take the Weisinger-era Superman, for example. Do you wanna try encapsulating THAT family tree? Or the history of the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, who's resume' alone would have taken up 3 or 4 pages? So, yeah....the DC characters had less turbulent histories, but not necessarily less *eventful* histories. A subtle, but important, distiction to make.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 2:40 p.m. CST

    Magik is the best female comic character ever!

    by Elliot_Kane

    By a very long way, too :) Illyana just cannot be beat :)

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 2:47 p.m. CST

    Well, Cormorant...

    by Elliot_Kane

    I DID double check to make sure I hadn't already posted when my beloved Illyana was mentioned by someone else, but overall the more Magik fans there are in the world, the better. Not that it would make any difference to the people at Marvel, sadly, who have a complete inability to recognise a great female character when they have one...

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 2:51 p.m. CST

    The end of 'Hush'...

    by Elliot_Kane

    was utter garbage. None of it made sense, and it really looked to me as if editorial had insisted on the real ending being taken out, so that we got stuck with this implausible pile of dross instead. The one good thing that COULD have come out of it - the Bats/Cats relationship - was just thrown away too. Makes me wonder why I bothered...

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 2:57 p.m. CST

    Good reviews, gang...

    by Elliot_Kane

    I find myself particularly agreeing with Cormorant's view of Nu-Marvel. They seem to have gotten the idea from CrossGen that drawing out a story is a great idea, but they forgot the most important part - that the drawing out should be to allow for character growth and relationship progression! Bendis gets it if USM is any evidence, but most of the rest of the Nu-Marvel titles as just boring because of it...

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 4:57 p.m. CST

    To add sequel insult to HUSH injury...

    by SleazyG.

    ...they've already announced that when Loeb and Lee come back to BATMAN next year, the arc will detail "the return of Two-Face". Yippee. The one decent, interesting, lasting change that could have come about--Harvey Dent reintigrating into normal life and how he differs from Bruce and Jim--is going to be pushed aside. Great. No, really, cuz what I want is another shitty character redesign (like Killer Croc and, most egregiously, Huntress) so that Loeb can come up with his *own* origin for Two-Face. Goddammit, like the utter waste of time, effort, paper and ink that was the last year of BATMAN weren't bad enough...

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 5:35 p.m. CST

    the REAL mystery of "Hush"

    by bizarromark

    @-holes Unite! I need your piercing insights and pop cultural accumen to theorize why it is you think Jeph Loeb enjoys such a high profile within the industry. Was "Hush" driven to its success by Jim Lee's artwork, or did Loeb's writing skills also contribute to the initial appeal, and then, later on, to its sustained success? For those who are fans of his writing, what is the central appeal? What sets him apart from other writers? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Why the Darling Status with DC? Can someone explain it to me? I'm honestly trying to figure out why this guy is one of the premiere writers in the business. Outside of the runaway hit of "Hush" (arguably due more to Jim Lee's return to a regular assignment), what big barnburning hits has this guy every been responsible for? Anyone? Anyone?

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 5:40 p.m. CST

    Dame Darcy

    by BoredWorker

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 6:22 p.m. CST

    I don't know about everybody else, but my favorite movie of all

    by JonQuixote

    Loeb...I think he really came to prominence on BATMAN: LONG HALLOWEEN, and its sequel, DARK VICTORY. That's where I became aware of him. While they're not perfect (as has been mentioned, it sure would have been nice to have Batman do a little successful detecting), I consider them wonderful Batman stories, largely because of the way they're able to place Batman in his very specific, very American context: Noir. Gangsters. Comic book cinema. Having a guy like Sale, a guy so in tune with the visual element of that context, certainly goes a long way. And now that I'm talking about it, I think I referenced something similar in my SUPERMAN/BATMAN#1 review a month ago - while the dual narrative outlining the differences between the two is so tried & true as to practically be a cliche, I liked it because Loeb was able to subtly work the characters on a metatextual scale - the Superman/pastoral the Batman/hardboiled. *** As far as HUSH goes, I think there's nothing inherently or fundamentally wrong with the large scale romp through the Gotham landscape. Rather it just seems that Loeb makes sucky choices. I don't know WHY he makes these sucky choices - I know that even Loeb himself described the idea of making Tommy the dude behind the plot as "far too obvious." The suckiness of the choices become even more glaring when we can see Loeb stumbled upon the absolute best payoff for a story like this - the return of Jason Todd as a villain - and then undercut it with even more stupid'n sucky choices. *** Ultimately, based on my exposure to his work, I'd say that Loeb has an editor or a scholar's mind - he can see the characters great from far away - but absolutely awful storytelling abilities. He's a farsighted writer, and the closer he gets to the characters, the blurrier, the more distorted they become, and the works just don't hold up to scrutiny.

  • Oct. 1, 2003, 6:52 p.m. CST

    The appeal of Loeb...

    by Elliot_Kane

    for me, at least, is that he is a competent writer who is continuity-friendly without being mired in it, and who won't make sudden and complete changes to characters' personalities without reason. I wouldn't put him in with the industry giants, but he isn't exactly Chuck Asten either... The draw of Hush, for me, was the combination of a capable writer and a great artist on a character I have at least a vague interest in. And up to the last issue, I rather enjoyed the story. Good story, bad ending...

  • Oct. 2, 2003, 5:14 p.m. CST

    I thought I was the only one who considered Bizarro Lois a hotti

    by cookylamoo

    Maybe I just liked her because she was retarded and I figured she'd be easy. Anyway, you can have her Bizzaromark. Somehow, I feel like you belong together. Actually I've always had a thing for Sue Storm, but aside from the problem of finding her, how am I going to beat out a guy who has an elastic tallywacker! I can't even make my ears wiggle like Willie Lumpkin.

  • Oct. 3, 2003, 1:59 p.m. CST

    Rachel Summers...

    by mortsleam

    Whether running around in Danskins or Studded Leather and Hound Marks, that is one sexy time-traveling, mullet-wearing embodiment of the phoenix force. Especially when Art Adams drew her in Excalibur. That's right.

  • Oct. 3, 2003, 3:50 p.m. CST

    Mortsleam...

    by EntrailSoup

    That was Alan Davis who drew Rachel Summers in Excalibur, although admittedly she was damn sexy in that outfit. I think the only time Art Adams drew her was in the annual where the X-men go to Asgard to rescue Storm and the new mutants from Loki. Admittedly she was sexy there too. My favorite female character was Rogue pre-Gambit, after he came along her character was turned into a whiny little junior-high girl with a crush. Other than that I'd go with Moondragon. That bald head really turns me on. My fondest memories of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe was the drawing of the white and black queens. Another female character I liked was Firestar. Loved her in the Spider-Man cartoon and loved her in her mini-series. Didn't really care for her in the New Warriors or the Avengers though.

  • Oct. 3, 2003, 3:59 p.m. CST

    Thanks For Keeping The Talkback Going, Entrail Soup & Mortsleam.

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...I was about to start posting insults to us @$$holes under fake name just so I could make snarky comebacks to myself...not that I'd ever do anything like that. Anyway, what you're doing is much better.

  • Oct. 5, 2003, 2:56 p.m. CST

    Where'd everybody go? And didn't anybody else hate HUSH as much

    by SleazyG.

    It was disappointing on a massive, year-long level. I ccan't think of a single issue of the run that struck me as at all interesting. Nothing of quality stood out, but there were plenty of lousy moments: 1. Horrible redesigns for Huntress and Killer Croc 2. a new character we don't care about one lick 3. the pointless murder of Harold (along with completely betraying the character through his actions) 4. a mystery that provided no clues whatsoever but ended exactly the way we all knew it would within the first two months 5. a bunch of lame, pointless exposition in the closing issue because we have no idea what's going on 6. a Batman who acts out of character and is apparently an utter moron. I mean, come on: the World's Greatest Detective can't tell blood from clay? You kiddin' me? And then, to top it all off, we get the "well, it *looks* like the villain *might* be dead, but we left the door wide open for his return anyway" ending. Yeah, cuz fans everywhere are clamoring right now for boyhood friend Tommy to make his shocking return to the Batman universe...The news that the one thing to come of this, the return of Harvey Dent, is gonna be thrown out the window when Loeb returns in a "return of Two-Face" story is beyond disappointing, too. After this, BATMAN/SUPERMAN gets a couple issues to improve or I'm dumping it. I can't see myself hanging in for a year after this arc.