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AICN COMICS! IDENTITY CRISIS! Grant Morrison! Teenage Irani Immigrants! We Even Jump On The SKY CAPTAIN Bandwagon!!

Hey everybody, Greg here.

Great column this week - stuff for both you superhero Philistines and you indie whiney-crybabies alike!

Stuff like:
  • G-8 & HIS BATTLE ACES! (Not to be confused with the G-7 trade alliance.)

  • JIMBO IN PURGATORY! (Not to be confused with Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger In Paradise.")

  • ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE! (Not to be confused with my 3 years of Junior High School.)

  • And Cheap Shots! And more!
And with the traditional lip service paid to the Cheap Shots, let the column begin!

Table of Contents
(Click title to go directly to the review)

Buzz Maverik's Book Club: G-8 & HIS BATTLE ACES
Cheap Shots!


by Gary Panter
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Reviewed by Lizzybeth

It’s hard to know how to approach a project like JIMBO IN PURGATORY. Sometimes the only appropriate responses seem to be: 1) Holy shit, this is the greatest ever comic since the last greatest ever comic, it is so great that you shouldn’t tarnish it by placing it on a comic book shelf with other lesser books, so great it is. 2) This is the most pretentious piece of shit I’ve ever seen. I will attempt to avoid both responses, though both are tempting.

This hardcover is roughly 12x17 inches, bigger than a breadbox, colored bright red with gold overleaf. It’s a beautiful object. It looks like it belongs in a display case, to be handled with gloves and a tweezer, like the ancient manuscripts I love so much in museums. The pages within are durable and huge, and laden with tiny, tiny detail and itty bitty lettering. Opened, it fills my entire desk. Each page is a work in itself, with a carefully designed border, and each its own title and footnotes. It’s hard to know on any given page where to look first. The story, such as it is, is a Dante-esque journey through Purgatory with Panter’s character Jim. What he sees along the way is a string of pop-culture faces and mythological beings, trippy imagery and fantastic design. The really bewildering part is this: somehow Panter has assembled all of the dialogue from sources ranging from Chaucer to The Bible to Ovid to Ben Jonson, particularly using Dante’s Purgatory itself, forming a declarational prose stew of references sure to leave an English major orgasmic. Song lyrics, Shakespeare, Elvis, and the ancients intersect in this strange hallucination of a book. What keeps JIMBO from the unbearable pretension of Response #2 above is the sense of humor and play at work – on nearly every page there is some detail that makes me smile, such as a beatific Boy George on page 4 complete with halo and Virgin Mary pose, the appearance of Tiny Tim on page 2 (Jimbo requests a song, and Tiny obliges), an entire page of dirty limericks, the Westworld references, and much more.

Overwhelming is a good way to describe the experience of reading this book – it’s not so much a reading experience as an immersion. The plot is only faintly discernable, the dialogue not exactly conversational. You can hunt-and-peck out the unnumbered footnotes at the bottom of the page that will explain the sources for the panel text, but that will make for a more frustrating reading experience in the long run. Ignore the footnotes and read the text aloud, it’s delicious. Just look at the layers of design on each page, the amazing concentric stitching of each page with the action of each panel suspended somehow within. From the dates on each page, you can see just how long it must have taken to do this. Brilliant, insane, visually astonishing and virtually unreadable, JIMBO IN PURGATORY must be seen to be believed. Baffle your friends, warp your brain; pick up this book.


Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Trevor Hairsine
Published by Marvel
Reviewed by Buzz Maverik

ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE, by all accounts, is a pretty big book. It's a hot read. At the new LA comic shop (the one owned by that happenin' indie film director) called Pumpkin & Honey Bunny's Hidden Horde, ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE #1 sold out the day of its release. Several of us @$$holes talked about the book amongst ourselves, but no one wrote anything about it.

We dropped the ball on the debut issue of a big series.

Shaken to my very core, I will try to make amends with a review of issue #2. For those of you who haven't read a preview or who haven't picked up issue #1, ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE is written by Warren "PLANETARY" Ellis, with superlative art by Trevor Hairsine. The book is set, of course, in Marvel's Ultimate Universe and concerns a strike force of the Ultimates (is it just me or is "The Ultimates" actually a cornier name for a super-team than "The Avengers"?) and a trio of Ultimate X-Men separately investigating an unnatural catastrophe of unimaginable proportions in the Tunguska area of Russia.

It is a fact that on June 30, 1908, near the Tunguska River in the Russian wilderness, something fell from the sky and caused an explosion that could only be rivaled by an H-bomb. It has been theorized that a reactor explosion in an extraterrestrial spacecraft may have caused this disaster. My favorite theory is that scientist Nikola Tesla was testing a beam weapon and aimed it at one of the most desolate areas on Earth.

Back to modern times: In ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE, all Earthly broadcasts suddenly show scenes of alien races being destroyed. Certain @$$holes are lead to believe this is the coming of Ultimate Galactus. Psychics such as Charles Xavier and Jean Grey of the X-Men receive nightmarish mental images. All originate in Tunguska. Which brings me to:

How To Not Get A Screenwriting Job #704: "....I think the basic premise here is good, with the STAR WARS satellite going crazy and blasting away at the Earth, but why didn't the original writer have scenes at mission control? NASA, CAL TECH, ya know? Every time we get information, it's that damned family watching television. Who the hell is glued to the TV for stories about satellites? *Before* it starts blowing up things? Here's how I'd handle that: Early on, we have that family watching TV. Instead of having them enraptured by the story of a satellite going online, they're not really paying attention, they're doing other things, the TV is just white noise. Then, the story of the satellite going crazy. Suddenly, an energy beam hits the house and disintegrates it, including the family inside..."

Now, back to our regularly scheduled review. Anyway, Nick Fury and the Ultimates head to Tunguska in the SHIELD carrier and Ultimate Wolverine, Colossus and Phoenix are on their way to rescue the mutant source of the psi-images. A vast complex is discovered beneath the original blast sight.





Both teams enter the complex!

That's it. Two issues to see superheroes go through doors.

Okay, Ultimate Falcon is introduced and he's the best thing in the book aside from the art.

I'm sorry. Pacing and build up are one thing. $4.50 American to watch two teams of superheroes go through doors is something else.

One issue, ending with superheroes going through doors, I could take. But Ellis, Hairsine and Marvel couldn't get them through the doors in a single issue. They had a five page explosion last issue, which I guess is pretty standard in manga but the Japanese economy is a lot stronger than the Dubya dollar.

Have our brains slowed down? Do things really have to drag this much? The paced for trade debate has become tiresome (at least to those who are ready to accept anything Marvel flicks at them) but what am I supposed to do? Lie? Okay, to help the Zombies feel better as they roam the Earth: I did not feel cheated.

But if I'm telling the truth, I have to say: Aside from Hairsine's gorgeous art, I feel as though I was completely ripped off.


by Marjane Satrapi
Published by Pantheon Books
Reviewed by Lizzybeth

When last we saw Marjane Satrapi, in 2003’s PERSEPOLIS, she was boarding a plane for Europe, 14 years old, leaving parents and country behind. In PERSEPOLIS 2, we see her arrive in Austria and wind up in a Catholic boarding school, unable to communicate with her German-speaking classmates. Still rebellious, it isn’t long before she finds herself expelled for insulting the nuns (to be fair, they insulted Iranians first). After a series of misadventures in Vienna and elsewhere, Marjane returns to Iran a grown woman, mildly Westernized, relieved, and depressed. Here the real story begins.

Which is not to say that the first 90 pages of this 190-page graphic novel aren’t interesting. But like most adolescent experiences, these stories are deeply ambivalent, more so because of the young Satrapi’s bewilderment at her first taste of Western society. Marjane may have been radical for an Iranian, but as a European she’s fearfully conservative, unprepared for the relaxed attitudes towards sexuality, authority, drugs, and family relationships. Perhaps, as well, she feels lost without the rigid structures of a moralist society, as much as she fought against it in Iran. It’s difficult to tell - while the young Marjane in the comic falls into bad decision-making (too much weed and crummy boyfriends), the adult Marjane writing the comic doesn’t seem to have formed complete opinions on Austria and her experiences there. She is much more comfortable in her attitudes towards her native country, and once the book is on familiar ground again with her return to Iran at age 18, it regains some of the power of the first volume.

PERSEPOLIS 2 collects the second half of the four-volume memoir, originally published in France where Marjane Satrapi now makes her home. Not quite as must-read as the first volume was, readers of the first volume will want to find out what happens to little Marjane and will not be disappointed with this completion of her story. It has the same iconic, pictograph-style artwork of the first volume, with more of the full-page mosaics of figures prostrating, self-flagellating, falling before the firing squad. She is even more passionate in her politics, freer now to express adult opinions than she could from the child’s pov of the first book. It is even more satisfying to see her assert herself as a woman in her homeland, trying to come to terms with her culture and her place in it. We know from the book’s jacket that Satrapi will emigrate once again to Paris (which is indeed the end-point of the comic). But her journey to get to that point is a fascinating one – Marjane is still stubborn as an adult and tries to stick it out in Iran as long as she can, fighting against priests, police, and male chauvinism at every step of the way. Unlike her first journey, the second time Marjane leaves Iran it is her own decision, made with some acceptance for her strange position as not-quite-European, not-quite-Iranian, a woman betrayed by her country. Like any memoir, her insight into her country and its complicated history and politics is nothing more than her own experience and point of view allow her to relate. But this, for a reader hungry for news of this stranger side of the world, is insight enough.

Buzz Maverik's Book Club!


by Robert J. Hogan
Reprinted by Berkley Medallion
A Buzz Maverik's Book Club Geek Selection

You kids get offa my lawn . . . unless you're sellin' dope.

I was George Lucas' target audience when he made STAR WARS, which was what his first space movie was called before it was given a subtitle. I was a Junior High kid. With that movie, though, you didn't have to be a kid. It really was a movie for all ages. It was only called a kid's movie by snobs in that era. George and the fans only started calling them kid's movies when the third one and the prequels weren't quite as good as the first two.

STAR WARS had a purity about it. It created an excitement. Sure, it was based on old stuff we kids had never heard of, but it also had a newness. I wasn't really a science fiction fan at the time. I liked LOGAN'S RUN because it was cool and had sex and drug references, but that was about it. Hated STAR TREK at the time. Still not crazy about TREK.

For some reason, though, after I saw STAR WARS, I wanted everyone to see STAR WARS. Maybe I wanted everyone to enjoy it. Maybe I thought it was so great that everyone HAD to enjoy it. That didn't last long. Even as a kid, I soon realized that it would be of no benefit to me if everyone saw and liked STAR WARS. George was going to keep making them, I'd get to keep seeing them. I wasn't going to get any money out of the deal. Hell, the more people going to see STAR WARS, the longer I had to stand in line.

I'm still sorta this way about comics. So many people who write about comics talk about promoting the medium. I always say that the biggest growth in the medium took place when mostly kids were reading comics and a pair of guys named Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created innovative, high quality books and were nice to their fans. Comics didn't need guys on messageboards promoting them. They still don't. There will still be comics whether any of us talk up or talk down a particular book.

Then came SKY CAPTAIN & THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. At the time I'm writing this, I haven't seen the movie. I read the first few bits about it here on Harry's site maybe in late '03 or early this year, saw a clip in January and February and was hooked. What I saw seemed to have the energy and purity of STAR WARS. It made me feel like I did when I was a kid, seeing that damned Star Destroyer chase the Blockade Runner over Tatooine. That felt pretty damned good.

It also made me purposely cut myself off from any info about the movie. I don't read the bits here on AICN or on other sites. I haven't seen any more clips or previews. When I go into that theater, I will be seeing as many of those images for the first time as possible.

Why the long-ass intro to a review of G8 & HIS BATTLE ACES? Because, for some reason, I feel compelled to talk up SKY CAPTAIN like I did STAR WARS back in the seventh grade. I still won't be getting any money or even a pair of pilot's wings, but what the hell?

Short of a novelization, the pulp series G8 & HIS BATTLE ACES may be as close as you can get to SKY CAPTAIN in print. It may even be the inspiration. I picked up #1, THE BAT STAFFEL because I mistook it for a DOC SAVAGE in a used book store. G-8 evidently had his own pulp series, beginning in 1933 by a guy named Robert J. Hogan (was Col. Robert Hogan of HOGAN'S HEROES named after him?). G-8 is a W.W.I flying ace (one who is not a beagle in real life) as well as a spy.

In THE BAT STAFFEL, G-8 gains a pair of wingmen, Nippy Weston (the little guy) and Bull Martin, (the big guy). He also runs up against a mad scientist Herr Doktor. Herr Doktor has concocted a gas that reduces anyone who breathes it to a pile of dust. He also has indestructible flying machines that have been constructed to look like giant bats, which will attack from a hidden tunnel passing through Switzerland into France. Turning the French to dust may not seem like such a bad idea, but trust me, it is! Fortunately for the French, G-8 and his Battle Aces have figured out how to take down the Bat Staffel.

Anybody read PLANETARY? How's this for the Secret History of the 20th Century? Apparently, during World War I, one hundred thousand German soldiers were turned to dust in a tunnel running from Germany into France .


Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Richard Case & Doug Braithwaite
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Reviewed by Dave Farabee

“...many of my readers seem to now be unaware of storytelling structures beyond the Hollywood three-act, and the literalism is so rife that nobody seems to be able to deal with symbolic content anymore.”
-Grant Morrison responding to reader reactions of “What the -- ?!” regarding his SEAGUY miniseries

* * *
“This is way beyond me.”
-The Doom Patrol’s Robotman responding to Morrisonian weirdness from over a decade ago

So, okay, Grant’s a little upset that readers don’t always “get” him, but I’d just like to remind Grant that, hey, we’ve been not getting him for years and years now! And he knows it! As I was reading this volume of reprints from Morrison’s radical revamp of the Doom Patrol in the late ‘80s, I was struck by the fact that Cliff Steele, aka Robotman, is distinctly cast in the role of the reader’s eyes. Of all the characters, he’s the most distinctly “old school” in his attitudes, and he’s constantly inviting exposition with his general cluelessness.

Just look at ‘im on the cover. Cliff appears to be patting his head and rubbing his tummy (or doing something down there...) as if it were a “Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean!” coping mechanism for all the weirdness going on around him. And who can blame him? Let’s all remember that when Morrison took over DOOM PATROL in 1989, he was inheriting a mainstream superhero book. This was all before the Vertigo imprint, and if you can believe it, the artist just prior to Morrison’s cohort, Richard Case, was none other than Erik Larsen of SAVAGE DRAGON fame. Imagine, if you will, going from Larsen’s watered-down Kirby pastiche to Grant Morrison’s attempt to wholly-frickin’-reinvent the superhero genre, and you’ll have an idea how important average-hero Cliff Steele was to the transition.

I also like to think Cliff’s smart-ass responses represented a certain cognizance on Morrison’s part as to how “out there” the book really was at times. When Cliff’s been told a relevant plot point about the threat the team is facing – “They propose to fill the book with parasite ideas which will enter human consciousness and transform it.” – his sardonic response is, “Oh, well, that explains everything!

And speaking of explanations, let’s get down to brass tacks – just what da fug is this series about?!

At its core, Morrison’s DOOM PATROL is a superhero team book with heavy doses of the two -isms that inform much of Morrison’s work: surrealism and humanism. The Doom Patrollers are misfit heroes ala the X-Men...only more so. MUCH more so. The leads include most of the original Doom Patrol from the ‘60s:

  • Wheelchair-bound frontman, The Chief, the cold-hearted scientific genius at the heart of the team. Morrison leaves him relatively intact in this first volume, but adds a chocolate craving and the same ability to pack heat he’d later give the wheelchair-bound Professor X in NEW X-MEN.

  • Cliff Steele – Robotman – former racecar driver, mangled in a horrific accident, brain now inside a super-strong robot body. Provides opportunities for exposition, humanity, good visuals.

  • Negative Man – Ah, big changes to this guy! In the ‘60s he was an irradiated test pilot who could send out a spectral “negative” form from his own body to fight the baddies. Morrison merges his spectral form with that of a nurse who’s treating him to create “Rebis,” a new hermaphroditic incarnation that surely scared the living crap out of some readers in 1989.

In addition, we get lesser-known 70’s Doom Patroller, Josh Clay, a blaster-type who just wants to be the team’s doctor, and multiple personality sufferer, Crazy Jane, who has different powers for each of her sixty-four personalities. If you can believe it, Morrison actually showcases an in-continuity explanation for her, referencing the Gene Bomb that went off during the DC crossover mini, INVASION! He also has a guest-spot from the Metal Men’s Doc Magnus and references to Maxwell Lord of JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL. And yes, the juxtaposition of DC continuity with prelude-to-Vertigo weirdness just makes it all that much stranger.

And here’s the thing: while I don’t really feel I’ve got enough Psilocybin running through my veins to tap fully into Morrison’s mojo...I really love these stories. You really can’t have been an art major and not open your mind up to surrealism, and I have to tell you, Morrison does temper the ideas with classic story structure and very grounded character development.

It ain’t ALL madcap voodoo.

In the first story, Morrison essentially reforms the team and pits them against The Scissormen, pre-Tim Burton scissorhanders at the vanguard of another reality’s intersection with our own. The merging’s caused by a book about a group of philosophers who themselves create a book about a viral reality that consumes other realities. It’s funny – “memes” are such a buzzword concept for futurists everywhere these days, yet here was Grant Morrison in ’89 already writing a story that took the idea to fictional fruition!

Alas, I think artist Richard Case falls a little short in depicting the book’s alt reality of “Orqwith,” described by Morrison with a poet’s vibrancy but revealed through decidedly un-poetic artwork. Case is perfectly adequate in his realism-with-a-touch-o’-Kirby, but adequate doesn’t quite cut it. What this book really needed was Morrison’s modern-day collaborator, Frank Quitely, or one of those insanely great French draftsmen like Moebius or Bilal, but what’re ya gonna do? The art’s okay.

As for Morrison’s other “ism” – humanism – look for it in tough guy Robotman’s bonding with Crazy Jane, in Rebis’s emotional encounter with the man formerly engaged to its female half, and in Josh’s interaction with a young girl whose childhood trauma relating to her period begins creating dangerous hallucinations when she’s in proximity to an old JLA villain’s reality-warping device (a “Materioptikon”! Duh!).

Along the way...lots of action (honest Abe), Morrison’s trademark sly wit (“I can’t see country music bringing anyone out of a coma.”), an otherworldly Jack the Ripper fueled by millions of pinned butterflies, nods to cutting edge mathematical theory, and a winning afterward reprinted from Morrison’s welcome to new readers in ‘89. Ever prescient, Morrison talks in this piece of already being good and bored with the prevailing grittiness of the late ‘80s, eager to try and forge a new kind of comic for the ‘90s.

It might all sound tremendously artsy-fartsy to some, and I do recommend DOOM PATROL to any art-geeks and literati in the crowd, but I’ve got to emphasize that there is no pretension to the work. Morrison might grouse in interviews that fans don’t get him, but you won’t catch that mildly off-putting attitude in the works themselves. Honestly, DOOM PATROL is, in its own way, just a modernist updating of the freewheeling love of strange adventure that informed the original DOOM PATROL of the ‘60s.

And a damn fun read, ta boot, much more coherent and engaging than SEAGUY (sorry, Grant).


Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Pablo Riamondi
Inks: Drew Hennessy
Publisher: Marvel Knights (Marvel Comics)
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

A mere two weeks after I gave Marvel an @$$-reaming for their release of five number one issues in a single day, the company that knows no shame released both MADROX and STRANGE this week. Whereas the number ones from the previous week seem to be guaranteed duds from the get-go, these new releases may have a shot. MADROX, for those of you not “in the know,” focuses on a mutant named Jamie Madrox AKA The Multiple Man. Madrox can replicate himself when he either hits something hard or is hit hard. Sounds like a hokey power, but we all know that there is no such thing as a hokey power, just hokey writers writing about them.

Peter David is not a hokey writer. I’ve followed his exploits since the days when the Hulk was actually worthy of the name Incredible. Recently, David has returned to form with the truly cool FALLEN ANGEL series at DC. That series combines noir-ish elements with the super powered world of heroes and villains. It bathes the world of spandex in shadows and fog, where the heroes aren’t so heroic all of the time and everyone has an opportunity to be villainous. David has packed up those elements and brought them over to Marvel with him on MADROX and the results are just as powerful and entertaining.

The first thing that stuck me about this book was the truly unique cover and the ingenuity that went into its execution. It’s the type of cover you may see on pulp novels and the like, bathed in darks, depicting a man on the run. A trio of cars is in pursuit. Your typical mystery novel cover, but cover artists David Lloyd and Brian Weber set this scene apart by fully embracing and incorporating the world of super heroes by showing the shadows of not one pursued man, but many cast alongside the alleyway. In one cover, we know that this is going to be a dark book and those in the know about the character can recognize the nod to Madrox’s mutant powers.

Once inside the book, David’s knack for characterization is evident. He’s worked with these characters before in his days at X-FACTOR. Former New Mutant, Wolvesbane and the ever-cool Strong Guy AKA Guido Carosella, round out the cast. In a few scenes, we realize that these guys have been friends for a long time and support Madrox in this new direction of being a Marvel’s first genetically superior gumshoe. David characterizes Guido as the buddy everyone wants to have; always there to stick up for you and make you laugh when you’re feeling low. Wolvesbane is equally well fleshed out. She’s cast as the mousy (or on this case wolfy) dame who would be just right for our detective hero if not for the fact that he always gets involved with femme fatales. Wolvesbane is the Moneypenny to Madrox’s Bond in this book.

Outside of that, David has found an interesting take on Madrox’s powers. A while back, Madrox sent out a bunch of dupes to gather skills and talents that may be helpful in his endeavor to become a detective. One by one, these dupes return to Madrox with these gifts and he reabsorbs them, absorbing said talents with them. This is a new take on Madrox’s power. It’s never been explored before, but it is a logical extension of his abilities and opens the door for loads of story potential.

The art by Riamondi and Hennessey is not flashy, but easily tells David’s tale. The deep darks and glimpses of light set the perfect stage for Madrox to do his investigating. Riamondi has a good consistency from panel to panel. In a book where one character appears over and over (most of the time in the same panel), this is an important skill to have.

There are tons of Marvel number ones out there right now. If you’re like me, you may be tempted to skip the whole batch. And you’re right. Most of the number one issues Marvel has put out recently have been for shit (SHE-HULK being the only exception). But every now and then a new comic comes along with a fresh take on super-hero-dom. David has done it with MADROX. Don’t let this book get buried under the recent load of crap #1’s and be cancelled by its sixth issue. Fans of SLEEPER and CAL MCDONALD will be pleased with this book. Those of you smart enough to be enjoying FALLEN ANGEL should give it a shot too. MADROX is an X-Book worth checking out. It’s better than any of the X-MEN RELOADED books and offers something fresh and new to Marvel’s bland stable of yawns.


Written by Brad Meltzer
Pencils by Rags Morales
Inks by Mike Bair
Published by DC Comics
Reviewed by Gregory Scott

So the umbrage seems to have died down a bit from the death and immolation of Sue Dibny. And then the rape of Sue Dibny. And then the hanging of Jean Loring. (To be fair, the umbrage over Jean never rose very high. Perhaps by that point we're just numb. Then again, as a simple relative proposition, what's a hanging compared to the wringer Sue went through?)

And now that the outrage has faded into the background, the story can hog centerstage, which makes the latest issue of IDENTITY CRISIS, IDENTITY CRISIS #4, slightly easier to review. Because for those of us who found the murder/immolation/rape of Sue objectionable, or at least the presentation of the murder/immolation/rape of Sue objectionable, IDENTITY CRISIS still managed to offer a rousing mystery with interesting art. (Oh how easy it would have been to write the whole thing off as cheap exploitation. Unfortunately, it just wasn't cheap enough.) Now we can talk about the rousing mystery and interesting art, while the qualifications and reservations about the objectionable content aren't so immediate. (Don't get too comfortable though: those reservations are still lurking.)

So let's go through the story in IDENTITY CRISIS #4 and see what we've got.

  • Jean Loring, hanged at the end of IC #3 by the same attacker who got Sue (ostensibly), is saved in the nick of time by her ex-husband, The Atom.

    A nicely paced scene with a clever use of The Atom's abilities: He slips between the fibers of the rope and bursts through them in a sudden growth spurt. I thought the sequence managed to generate a fair amount of suspense, even though we internet comic fans had an inkling that a save might have been coming here.

  • The superheroes do a bit of detective work, and chase down red herrings.

    I gotta say, I like Rags Morales' version of Superman. That's a pretty powerful looking guy right there.

    And the characterization wasn't too bad either, if a little obvious. Superman uncannily identifies the knot in the attempted murder weapon for Jean - a boy scout knot, no less - and Green Arrow "loves him and hates him" for it at the same time. Again, a little obvious, but I suppose another term for "obvious" in this case would be "in character," so we're happy.

    When Green Arrow tracks down the lead, he brings along Wonder Woman and her lasso. (Ironically, the most we actually get to see of Wonder Woman, who is featured on the cover, is the left side of her pelvis.) The scene really drives home how useful something like Wonder Woman's lasso is when it comes to a mystery, and puts me in the mind of thinking that if I were Wonder Woman, I'd be working that lasso overtime at this point.

  • The supervillain community is getting a little edgy over the heat that's been coming down on them since Sue's murder and Jean's attempted murder.

    Much like Geoff Johns and his depiction of the Rogues in THE FLASH, IDENTITY CRISIS shows us that the supervillians of the DCU have created a community for themselves. They hang out. Frankly, even if I was a psycho, I'd be a little afraid to hang out with other psychos (a point that's actually addressed in an earlier issue), but then again, it's always nice to associate with people of similar interests.

  • Captain Boomerang manages to have a reunion with his long-lost son.

    You see they're supervillians, sure, but they're people too.

    Boomerang Jr. seems to show some interest in the family business. Overtones for the future: ominous.

  • Batman's also hard at work on the case, and he and Meltzer break down the list of suspects for us in terms of "Who Benefits?"

    In one of the more curious parts of the book, Batman poses the basic question of motive, followed by panels of Boomerang and son, Calculator, Elongated Man, Merlyn, and Tim and Jack Drake - all with the question "Who benefits?" echoing in a caption in the corner. Since I can't honestly believe that Batman would suspect Tim or his dad of the crimes (I mean, come on), we must have left Batman's perspective somewhere in there, and jumped onto Meltzer's. Is this the pov of the omnicient narrator? Is one of these characters the guilty party? Is Meltzer simply yanking our chain?

  • Meanwhile, Green Arrow decides to check in with a higher source: his buddy, The Hal Jordan Spectre.

    Unfortunately, The Spectre is spectacularly unhelpful to us and to Green Arrow. On the other hand, he is somewhat helpful to Geoff Johns, giving a slight plug to his upcoming REBIRTH mini-series.

    Much like Wonder Woman's Golden Lasso, catching up with the all-knowing spiritual types like The Spectre is a base that needs to be covered. Of course, for Hal to say "It's Zatanna! It's Zatanna!" would shortcircuit the story, so naturally he's not giving anything up (for the sake of the Natural Order of Things or some cosmic mumbo-jumbo cop-out like that). Still though, Meltzer was able to inject enough of a feeling of real friendship between the Hal and Ollie for the scene to have a bit of poignancy. Just a bit.

  • The issue ends with Lois Lane showing up at work to find an unfriendly memo on her desk.

    I'm telling you, those people at work can be so catty sometimes.

So as you can see, a lot of stuff happened. And nobody got killed this time.

And really, for everything that happened, the story didn't advance that far, at least not overtly; most of the content seemed focused on the characters and relationships, and whatever plot to be had was driven by them. And it was interesting. The issue may have lacked the power of the best parts of the previous issues, but Meltzer's touch was deft enough to keep me in the story. And Morales' art was top-notch as usual (see: Superman above). I liked it - despite my lingering objections to the worst parts of the previous issues; objections that I'm afraid will keep me from ever embracing the series wholeheartedly.

See, I told you those reservations were still lurking.

But IDENTITY CRISIS #4 was a respite from those objectionable elements; a bite from the apple that wasn't rotten, so to speak; and to that degree, I couldn't help enjoying it.


Written by J. Michael Straczynski & Samm Barns
Art by Brandon Peterson
Published by Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Buzz Maverik

Think about your three favorite Marvel characters. Are they currently in their own books, or in team books? Or are they floating around the acre of the Imaginaverse claimed by Marvel Comics?

My three favorites have been exiled in recent years. There's the Black Widow, who is at least guest starring in DAREDEVIL and will soon have some sort of series of her own. Next is The Incredible Hulk, and sadly Marvel has not published his magazine in several years. But my absolute favorite, Dr. Strange, is finally back!

STRANGE appears to be DR. STRANGE: YEAR ONE, which is a good thing. It is also a good thing that the series is not called DR. STRANGE: YEAR ONE. In the hands of writers J. Michael Straczynski (whom Harlan Ellison gets to call "Joe") and Samm Barnes, and artist Brandon Peterson, the good doctor will be treated with expert care. Straczynski has written the character in a few AMAZING SPIDER-MAN stories and clearly knows how to handle him.

DR. STRANGE was a creation of Stan Lee's and Steve Ditko's back in the early 1960s, and ran in a series of shorts in the pages of STRANGE TALES (which carried a second short either featuring SHIELD or THE HUMAN TORCH). As a character and a series, Dr. Strange was a big departure for Marvel. Not really a superhero at all, Doc was the Master of the Mystic Arts, Sorceror Supreme. He protected the Earth from magickal menaces, demons, other dimensional beings. If GHOSTBUSTERS would have happened in the Marvel Universe, Doc would have been on the scene.

Aside from CONAN THE BARBARIAN and a few horror titles for a while, Marvel has never fared very well when it has ventured outside the superhero genre. This is unfortunate because some of its best characters and books have been a little outside the cape and tights clichés. Dr. Strange never really fit in. They even tried to put a mystic blue mask on him to make him look more like a superhero. It didn't work. Marvel even had him leading a superhero team called THE DEFENDERS. It was a cool '70s book, but never a major hit, and finally died a crappy death in the '80s.

Personally, I was a big DEFENDERS fan. I think that Doc's appearances in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN by JMS were really DEFENDERS stories. Whenever Dr. Strange needs a superhero, or a superhero needs Doc, it's a DEFENDERS story. And my three favorites: Doc, Widow, and Hulk would make a kick-ass permanent DEFENDERS line up.

In STRANGE, as in the original Lee/Ditko stories, Stephen Strange is a snothole doctor who doesn't care about his fellow man. Eventually, he meets a master sorceror called The Ancient One in Tibet and learns the secret of magick. But first, he needs to be taken to rock bottom. That doesn't start until the last page of STRANGE, which would annoy me if I didn't already know the story.

The book is rich with characterization. Stephen isn't really a bad guy here. He's more like a real person, who makes mistakes, loses his temper, acts like a jerk but has good intentions and regrets his bad behavior. I don't think JMS and Barns are doing this to make him more likable, but rather to make him more dimensional and more like an actual human being. We all get greedy, lazy, self-absorbed. And we don't always treat others as well as we should.

We are tantalized throughout the book with glimpses of the Ancient One; a vanishing mystery woman; Wong, who will later become Doc's loyal assistant. Forces are working in Stephen Strange's life.

Midway through the book, a character suffers an untimely death. Unfortunately, it's not the character I wanted to die. If only the creative team could have killed off Stephan's friend Devon, a character who exists only to provide exposition. "...of all the bright young medical students who've come this year to learn Tibetan alternative medicine, myself included, you're the best, Stephen..." Only in a comic book. Or a bad movie. If they brought captions back, Devon would have no reason to exist.

Before we go, don't let me forget to praise Peterson's art. Doesn't it seem like comic book art has been improving lately? We're getting guys like Peterson, who like the old guys, can handle far flung yet realistic locations and a variety of situations and characters. He can do it all beautifully, in service of the story.

Maybe we can get JMS, Barnes and Peterson on THE INCREDIBLE HULK. And THE BLACK WIDOW. And THE DEFENDERS.

And maybe they can send Devon to Foggy Nelson for some counseling on how to be a comic book hero's best buddy/foil.

Cheap Shots!

OWLY: THE WAY HOME & THE BITTERSWEET SUMMER (TPB) - Without an ounce of derision, I’m going to say that this is the cutest comic I’ve ever read. Produced by Top Shelf Comics, OWLY features the wordless adventures of a puffy, good-hearted owl who looks like he could’ve leapt off the screen of a SUPER MARIO game. It’s not the standard material you Ain’t-It-Coolers are looking for, but these gentle and (as per the title) somewhat bittersweet tales of Owly helping other animals would be great to share with first-time comic readers before they get sucked into a world of video games and corporate characters. I’d liken the tone to those gentle FROG & TOAD books a lot of us imprinted on as kids, or Raymond Briggs’ THE SNOWMAN, and the art suggests a pared-down Jeff Smith. In fact, half the pleasure of this little trade is its grin-inducing, friendly artwork, not dissimilar to the merits of James Kochalka’s all-ages PEANUT BUTTER & JEREMY. Handsomely crafted and endearing enough to cure the clinically depressed, OWLY is the comic book equivalent of a hug. So hug OWLY, you mean ol’ bastards. Hug him! Preview available by clicking here. – Dave

STRANGERS IN PARADISE #68 - Okay, the shark was jumped a few dozen issues back, but this issue proves it. What happened? Was the book sent out without being completed first? Not only does the art style change up completely halfway through, it’s not even inked for the last several pages, and the plot isn’t even half-baked – more like barely thawed. Say what you want about the drawn-out saga, Terry Moore has always been impeccably professional. What’s going on? Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling me to stop complaining and finally give up on this book. - Lizzybeth

RUNAWAYS Vol. 2 - Just a reminder to all the cool cats and kittens who've discovered RUNAWAYS: the second trade is out! Nuthin' but cool in those pages, with the highlight being an inspired guest-appearance by Cloak & Dagger (as reviewed here). Highest recommendation for funseekers. - Dave

X-MEN #161 - In light of recent events regarding Chuck Austen and his writing, I am starting to see that maybe it isn’t entirely his fault that he has become so much of an industry joke. Recently, I have read a few of Austen’s JLA issues and I have to say that they aren’t excruciating. Sure they aren’t great, but they deliver action and emotional goods from time to time and have a fair amount of cool moments. Of course, Austen’s Marvel work up to this point and beyond reeks of all kinds of @$$. Take the most recent X-MEN…please (ba-dum-bum). Once again we have unneeded melodrama in the form of two (count them, TWO!) single mothers. One is thinking about leaving the X-Mansion and the other is thinking of dating the Juggernaut. Both characters are as interesting as watching John Byrne’s ego expand. We also have a lame action sequence that doesn’t make a lick of sense and the worst line-up of the Brotherhood of Mutants ever put to paper. On the other hand, we are introduced to the wonder that is MAMMOMAX, a mutant mastodon-man with acid saliva (believe me, this idiocy must be seen to be believed)! I am fully convinced that it is Marvel’s editorial department at fault here. They should recognize Austen’s use and re-use of familiar and overly-melodramatic plots. They should tell Austen to make his action scenes more coherent. And they should damn well let him know that a giant guy with an elephant head that spits acid is fucking stupid! JLA editorial doesn’t let Austen do this shit because they seem to actually do their job as editors over there at DC, and I hear his run on ACTION isn’t half bad either. It is evident from comparing Austen’s DC work to his Marvel work that an Austen unchecked by editorial is a bad, bad thing. If Marvel editorial did some actual editing instead of simply being talent scouts and ego-fluffers, maybe this guy wouldn’t be given such a hard time. On a more positive note, Salvador Larroca seems to be back in full force again. His art has been pretty bad over the last few months, but this issue looks like he may be returning to form. – Ambush Bug

MAN-THING #3 (of 3) - Swamp-shit! I knew it was too good to be true! What happened is this: I heard that this MAN-THING miniseries was gonna be written by the guy who wrote the upcoming film. Presuming the film would be schlock-crap, I only reluctantly gave it a flip-through...and it started out good! Strong atmosphere, tight horror mystery about an insurance investigator looking into sabotaged oil drilling in the bayou, and great art from Kyle Hotz, who weds Steve Bissette’s SWAMP THING sensibilities with Kelley Jones’s shadowy stylizations. For two issues...pretty good book. Surprisingly good book. It was mostly build-up, the Man-Thing monster only hinted at, but I just assumed we’d get some real payoff in the final issue. But, no. Three issues results in the shortest of encounters, a hurried ending, and a “to be continued in the upcoming film” that left me feeling like I’d just spent nine bucks for the movie’s trailer. *Sigh* I’ll say one thing, though, and this comes reluctantly: based on the moment-to-moment writing quality, the movie just might be worth checking out. - Dave

GET YOUR WAR ON II - From the man who brought us MY FIGHTING TECHNIQUE IS UNSTOPPABLE and MY FILING TECHNIQUE IS UNSTOPPABLE comes another volume of GET YOUR WAR ON, straight from the pages of Rolling Stone and David Rees’ hilarious website. Packed with more F-Bombs than Dick Cheney on the Senate floor, Rees’ clip-art office-deco people continue their bitter running commentary on the political news of the day, running from September 2002 through July of this year. Timely, scathing, and really fucking pissed-off, GET YOUR WAR ON disproves the cliché of the passive hippie peacenik with its rage, its research, and its no-sacred-cow-unslaughtered attitude. Sure, the majority of these strips now inspire grim nods rather than helpless laughter, but that’s more of a reflection on the depressing state of the nation than on David Rees’ comedic talents. GET YOUR WAR ON II is ultimately more frustrating than satisfying, as the book’s outlook is anything but optimistic. But hey, what other comic is donating all proceeds to land-mine relief in Afghanistan? - Lizzybeth

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #632 - So last week I gave a mixed review to a Superman comic (Austen's ACTION #819), struggling hard to see the glass as half full. Well, this week, I'm happy to report that the glass is a lot fuller. Series writer Greg Rucka finally gets things into gear, not only managing to bring some grip to yet another "Lois is Dead/Dying/Missing!" story, but more importantly, taking a villain that seemed all bark, and giving him some real bite. Aw Rucka, if only you could have pulled this off six issues ago. Here's hoping this is the start of a new trend, and not just a fluke. - Greg

MARY JANE #4 - It was a good series. It’s now a dead series. What a damn shame, ‘cause it was a rare mainstream romance comic that could’ve challenged manga romance if given the right promotion. I believe a digest trade is still due, though, so I’m hoping it might find its teen girl audience through that and get a second lease on life, as was the fortune of RUNAWAYS. Anyway, a tip of the hat to writer Sean McKeever for daring to try something new, and also to artist Takeshi Miyazawa who really pulled out all the stops to capture teen nuances. - Dave

SALMON DOUBTS - Do you like odd animal anthropomorphism? Try this. Salmon Doubts follows a school of fish from their birth in the riverbed downstream to the ocean, and then later back upstream to the spawning grounds. In particular, we focus on a fish named Geoff who gets tired of swimming in a group and strikes out on his own in the big, big ocean. After some exploring and thinking, and a traumatic experience with a fisherman, he returns to his brethren questioning the cycle of life that leads them back to certain death. Some of the interactions between the fish are kind of lame (Fish hit on each other! They can’t tell each other apart either! Hardy har har!) but the artwork is unimpeachable, with many very cool pages of the mass of fish traveling through the silent ocean. Cool stuff. - Lizzybeth

DEEP SLEEPER #4 (of 4) - Geez, somehow I missed covering this when it came out last week, so let me just state for the record: at this moment, I think DEEP SLEEPER is the front-runner for best miniseries of the year 2004. It’s got mystery, paranoia, horror, relatable characters, heroism, great black & white art...damn, what more ya want?! Issue one reviewed here, issue three reviewed here. Don’t let the year’s best slip past. - Dave

FLIGHT - This anthology project from Image comics was originally conceived as a collection of stories about flying, loosely inspired by the animation of Hideo Miyazaki (SPIRITED AWAY, KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE, CASTLE IN THE SKY). As the project grew, the theme became so loose as to become perhaps meaningless, but the animation influence remains. Many of the contributors to this first volume seem to be coming from an animation or video-game background, and this is a nice first look at what may be the next wave of comic-industry talent. The book has a fluid, dreamy style, with beautiful coloring and many strong contributions (particularly those by Jen Wang, Vera Brosgol, and Derek Kirk Kim). This is certainly one of the best anthologies I’ve seen this year. - Lizzybeth

THE HUMAN TARGET #14 - Been really getting into this book of late, though the last storyline ended on such a dark note that suicide may claim a big chunk of the readership! This issue’s tale is practically family-friendly by comparison, but compared to most comics it’s got plenty of edge. It seems our lead, disguise-master Christopher Chance, is being asked to impersonate a religious cult leader, of all things. Chance is happy to do it because his friend’s fallen under the cult’s sway, but the bad news is the leader’s also been targeted by mobsters for luring one of their daughters. Quite entertaining chaos ensues. This baby’s a jumping-on point, so if you’ve never read the series, consider trying this issue. I’ve got a full review of another issue here for them what wants some more details on the series. - Dave

Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 22, 2004, 3:59 a.m. CST


    by satansteve

    my first first EVER, and supes looks fat! The man of beef indeed!

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:10 a.m. CST


    by badboymason

    This is a preventative post, to stop anybody else posting a FIRST! post.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:11 a.m. CST

    And it didnt work...

    by badboymason


  • Sept. 22, 2004, 6:35 a.m. CST

    i could go for flight, owly

    by Acne Scarface

    previews for both are swell...official(?) flight site:

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 6:37 a.m. CST


    by Monkey Butler


  • Sept. 22, 2004, 7:53 a.m. CST

    Now THAT'S Superman

    by bizarromark

    Fat? Hardly. Superman's always looked best as a big, thick slab of a guy, and not as one of the "spray-painted muscle charts" crowd. Though Rags Morales falls a bit into that camp by refusing to draw even a *hint* of a fabric costume, he scores big points in the "mass" department. ******** I saw Grant Morrison's petulant quote earlier this week and was also quite amused by it. Looks like he's human after all, instead of the Pop Cultural Gonzo Messiah he believes himself to be. I appreciate his willingness to push the envelope, even when the experiments don't always pan out, he can't always expect us to praise him like a potty-training child who just made his first poopy. All of you parents will get that all the rest of you, my deepest apologies.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 9:11 a.m. CST

    It *IS* Zatanna

    by Squashua

    I've seen the artwork! Just kidding. I still think it IS Zatanna; she's just as much a victim by being used as a tool to rewrite all those minds. Everything points to a guy, so obviously it's a female and the only women we were introduced to are the victims, Black Canary, Zatanna, Firehawk, and that sado chick from the satillite. It's got to be a hero so the only logical person is Zatanna, but she's probably possessed or absorbed all the bad stuff she erased or some crap like that.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 9:35 a.m. CST

    You know what I like about @$$holes talkbacks?

    by rev_skarekroe

    They're usually a lot more civilized than some other Talkbacks I could mention. sk

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 9:55 a.m. CST

    "Obvious" does not equal "in character"

    by God's Brother

    A lot of times, such as in Identity Crisis, it equals bad writing trying to pass itself off as great writing. And it looks like it's working with many fans. I gotta say, this was the best issue yet, and that's not saying much at all. I mean it was a comic that guest-starred Wonder Woman's Lasso. Do ANY of the women in the DCU have their own voice/opinions? This series makes me so mad, but I gotta admit, i wanna see what happens next (if only so I can bitch about it).

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Grant Morrison interviews are always entertaining affairs, Bizar

    by Dave_F

    I don't care if the guy is full of himself and tries to live like a rock star - somehow, he's *actually* got what it takes to make that endearing and not annoying. Here's a canny comment, fer inst, about his upcoming SEVEN SOLDIERS series for DC: "The current vogue in superhero comics, post-

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 10:25 a.m. CST

    The "Dismembered Harry" animation is making me ill....

    by bizarromark

    ...I mean, come on. Oh, absolutely, Dave. I'm a fan of Morrison's even if I don't get 27.83% of what he writes. I avoided and resisted him for years following his esoteric "Arkham Asylum" hardcover, figuring he was just another Alan Moore poseur, but after reading his JLA work, I realized he had "the stuff" to write the kind of escapist fare I've always loved. I followed him into his X-Men gig and largely enjoyed what he did there as well. Even if some of his ideas misfired or went a little bit around the bend, I still admired his willingness to experiment and push the form into new directions. Some of his work I know is not my thing, such as "Seaguy", but at the same time I admire his willingness to go out on a limb. The Morrison quotes you chose I had never seen before, and I was a bit taken aback at his gentle rebuke of current subject matter and writing trends in comic books, especially the "Greatest Hits" hit on "Hush". It's refreshing when the curtain falls a bit on the comics biz, where so much effort goes into portraying this big gaggle of creatives as this gang of hipsters who all admire everything the other guy is doing. Morrison's appraisal of what he views as a couple of "wrong directions" in comics are honest, yet polite....which makes the critique all the more impactful. Sure, part of this can be chalked up to Morrison's ongoing PR campaign to be the resident Whizkid Genius of the comics biz, but most of it, I think, is the honest lament of a Big Fish in a very Little Pond. Working in the art field, I've met an eccentric person or two, and have grown to appreciate the true "characters" we run across in our lives. Morrison is an honest-to-goodness "character" in the best sense of the term. Like Alan Moore, he's a storyteller I could also imagine as a professor at Hogwarts Academy, unlike the majority of unremarkable shlubs that make up the rank and file of comics creators.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 11:09 a.m. CST

    Identity Crisis could pull it self together and be amazing, or c

    by Fantomex

    Of ALL the DC superheros, Batman should know that no motive is required for senseless violence. This is especially true since the killer obviously isn't trying to frame the bad guys, but just making it look like other bad guys because he's NUTS. It seems like all the characters are doing/saying exactly what meltzer needs them to do/say, sometimes contrary to that character (more to the point, contrary to common sense). In this issue, its stated that Sue was killed in a manner implying it was Dr. Light. But that wasn't true in issue 1 or 2. The only people who even remotely suspected Dr. Light are the ones who knew the big bad secret (so if the killer ends up being someone who DOESN'T know that history, there is a huge problem). And the whole Sue Dibney thing didn't overshadow the story because of the controversy. It overshadowed the story because Meltzer put the story on hold. (And we STILL don't know how Dr. Light was exonerated for Sue's death. I think at this point we just have to accept it for true because meltzer says so). I still think this could turn out to be an amazing mystery, but right now its a fragmented series of events with no logical connection between them. Maddrox was good, but honestly this title requires you to forget EVERYTHING you know about the character. ESPECIALLY that time he died, only to have it to be one of his clones that died (what doesn't make sense in and of itself, but whatever). If its safe to assume the "real" maddox is the narator, I can remain interested. There are also half a dozen things about his power that don't make sense (and thats not even taking physics into account). This title requires you to accept a lot right now.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 11:34 a.m. CST

    From the Complaint Dept.

    by Village Idiot

    1. Monkey Butler - Yes, Irani! Read the review for PERSEPOLIS 2!__________ 2. Coffee Enema - Aha, but the question is *how skillfully* the artist makes the head a half size smaller and the hands twice as big. Really, I don't know if your calculus actually applies, but I do know that Morales' Superman looks like he could grab the Lee Superman and rip him in half like Jamie Sommers ripping a phone book in half in that one episode of the Bionic Woman. In fact, *just* like that.__________ 3. Re: Fat Superman in general - So the man likes his pancakes. Leave him alone!__________ 4. God's Brother - If you read what I wrote, I said "I suppose another term for 'obvious' *in this case* would be 'in character,'" (emphasis added). Because really, sure it was obvious when you stop and think about it, but Meltzer's choice here was also totally consistent with where these characters should be at. Sometimes a cigar should be a cigar. A well-characterized cigar.__________ 5. Fantomex - The Sue Dibny thing overshadows the rest of the story, for me anyway, to the degree that it involved a nice character being killed and fricasseed and raped, not necessarily in relation to the excitement of the rest of the story's content. The point of the end of the review is that overshadowing will never completely go away for some of us, content aside. But like I said, the story didn't move forward *overtly*, but I think we'll find some sense to all these fragments by the end. My sense of that, and the quality of the framents we were given, allows me to not just cut the issue slack, but like it. So there.__________ 6. Mr. Fuck - Sometimes you can be so hurtful.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 12:06 p.m. CST

    Strange approach

    by bizarromark

    I was disappointed when I discovered that JMS was going to go all the way back to the beginning with "Strange". I've always been fond of the Dr. Strange character and have dropped in from time to time over the years to see what the good doctor's been up to. I enjoyed JMS's take on Dr. Strange in the pages of Spider-Man (a "pilot episode" pitch attempt if there ever was one), and was hoping we'd get more of the same sort of thing from JMS. I wanted to see JMS expand upon his take on Doc Strange at the height of his powers in the present day....and not take the "Chutes and Ladders" slide all the way back to the beginning. Is it just me, or are rock-star creators of JMS's calibre preferring to not only work on a character's title, but to also put their stamp upon the totality of the character itself by "starting from scratch" with the Year-One stuff and, arguably, the entire impetus behind the "Ultimate" characters? In other words, it doesn't seem to be enough to simply take the baton from the previous writer any longer, but to instead wind back the clock, put your own spin on their origin....or just "start over again" with an Ultimate title. The question then becomes: Are projects like "Ultimate (fill in the blank)" an honest effort to reach new readers unfamiliar with 40 years of continuity...or a way to massage the egos of high-profile writers by giving them the chance to, essentially, remake the characters in their own image? I don't know the answer to that...but sometimes I lean toward the latter.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 12:17 p.m. CST

    Or perhaps, Bizarromark...

    by Lizzybeth is a reflection of the fact that Marvel refuses to introduce new characters, forcing writers to revamp old ones instead. Hence, when JMS writes for Top Cow he does MIDNIGHT NATION and RISING STARS, all original characters, but when he writes for Marvel he does revamped company characters as in SUPREME POWER and STRANGE. Since it's all new to me anyway (I follow writers, not titles) I prefer to read JMS starting up brand new beginnings for these characters rather than tap-dancing around 35 years of nonsense a la ASM. Ideally, instead of regurgitating the same stuff over and over we could have new characters, and *gasp* new genres - but anyone who wants to pay their kid's college tuitions has got to do it The Marvel Way, I guess. Bleh.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 12:23 p.m. CST

    The coloring in XMen sucks sucks sucks

    by George Newman

    I haven't bought an issue since the new launch. I wanted to root for Larroca but these books are disgusting......I haven't bought any comics in 3 months--I'm sure my box at the store is bursting, and I only get about 7 books! I think I'm gonna drop at least half of them anyway.. I've sort of lost interest. Found better things to do with my time/money, but i still really care about the stories...

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 12:23 p.m. CST

    Right on, bizarromark

    by Ambush Bug

    Forget the Gold, Silver, Bronze, or even the Foil-Stamped and Polybagged Age. This is the Age of Egos. From Garth Enniz' BORIN' series, which "re-imagined" the PUNISHER to Waid's unneeded SUPERMAN: STILLBIRTH. These creators grew up reading these stories and instead of expanding on them, they just do retreads with pop culture references so the kiddies think they are hip. STRANGE is kind of different for me. As far as I know, Strange's origin is only something I read in the origin section of the MARVEL UNIVERSE series. I kind of want to read about Strange and how he came across his powers. The thing is, Strange lost his ability to perform surgery in a drunk driving accident, not a drunk skiing accident, I believe. There something more hefty about the drunk driving angle because Strange would've been putting others' lives at risk. Making him a drunk skier only puts Strange in danger. Side note: One thing that I always wondered is if Strange can make those "radical dude" hand gestures while casting spells, why don't his hands have enough dexterity to perform surgery? Back t the subject, I feel JMS missed the boat on by skipping past scenes depicting Strange actually in surgery and acting a bit egotistical and arrogant. We see Stephen as the up and coming med student then skip to his corruption. I'd have love to have seen a scene with a green Strange performing his first successful surgery and then eventually getting this god-complex. I know this would've slowed down the already slow pace, but I feel that type of exposition was needed here.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 12:30 p.m. CST

    Gregory Scott, re: "Irani???"

    by chumpmonkey

    I think Monkey Butler's point is that the term is "Iranian", not "Irani". It's even in the Persepolis review correctly: "not-quite-European, not-quite-Iranian". No one calls those from Iran "Iranis"; no one who knows how to use the English language properly, anyway. I even Googled the two words: "Irani" came up with 161,000 hits, while "Iranian" came up with 5,090,000 hits. Clearly "Iranian" wins as a preferred term with over thirty times the usage. Somebody's most likely confusing the term "Iranian" with "Iraqi". That "someone", based on our collective past experience of seeing him mangle the English language, is most likely Harry Knowles: Super-Genius.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Tap Dancing Around 35 Years: My Achin' Feet!

    by bizarromark

    "I prefer to read JMS starting up brand new beginnings for these characters rather than tap-dancing around 35 years of nonsense a la ASM."******Yeah, new beginnings are great places to jump on board, but I don't agree that NOT taking the Year-One approach automatically entails "tap-dancing around 35 years" of continuity. True, too many writers take this approach, using the "Greatest Hits" approach outlined by Grant Morrison (and passed along by Dave)....but I saw enough of JMS's Dr. Strange in the Spidey book to anticipate something fresh with the character. I think JMS could have written something equally compelling for you, Lizzy, without necessarily going back to the foundation. In light of your words, I find it ironic that so many of the "New Takes" on Marvel's characters, ala the Ultimate line, end up simply echoing and updating the storylines of four decades past, rather than striking out in a completely different direction. For example, Ultimate Spider-Man's Rougue's Gallery is IDENTICAL to that of the Classic version, with not a single, solitary villain introduced that doesn't have a Classic Counterpart. Not one. That's what makes me view the Ulimates titles more as vanity projects than anything offering a truly "new" take on an old character. Perhaps Marvel's earlier (and failed) 2099 line of titles proved that stepping too far away from the core concept would lose readers.....but the Ultimate line should be somewhere in the middle, and not just "cool updates of corny old stories".

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 12:46 p.m. CST

    Orionsangel: well, it'll get at least another $8.50 out of me be

    by mortsleam

    Identity Crisis, however, won't. How's that for bringing things squarely back on topic?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 12:47 p.m. CST

    G. Scott: Uh, I DID read what you wrote, and disagreed. Rememb

    by God's Brother

    To me, the writing feels forced and sensationalist. The "Good Characterization" you speak of is spot on in some parts, but to ME, it's really, really obvious, to use your term. I can see the strings, you know? Also, in that picture of Superman it looks like he's wearing a diaper. BOOYAH!

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 12:57 p.m. CST

    Well, I'm hardly a fan of the Ultimate universe myself...

    by Lizzybeth

    ... which appears to be yet another way for Marvel to make a buck off the exact same stories all over again. I just don't find that the writers are to blame, since anything actually original at Marvel will be quickly squashed to bring in more rehashes (see: X-Statix vs. X-Force, Alias becomes The Pulse, etc). The best of the bunch are doing what they can to produce quality work within the restrictions of Marvel's policies of enforced stupidity, since that's pretty much the only way to get your stuff on the shelves outside a few select cities. Again, than the greater mass of fanboys discovering comics not produced by the Big Two (and fat chance of that in the current distribution system) what I'd rather see is new projects, new characters, not wasting the current girth of talent on old hat.. maybe if this Icon thing pans out we can slowly phase out this trend, Marvel will have their Crisis clone in a last-ditch attempt at the old sales numbers, and somewhere in the wreckage we can get in some new stuff.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 1:12 p.m. CST

    Madrox! Madrox! Madrox! Madrox! Madrox! Madrox! Madrox! Madrox!

    by Tall_Boy

    I don't read X-Men or X-Universe books at all, but I'm a PAD fanboy so I picked this up and god-diddly damn did I ever love it! Madrox! Madrox! Madrox! Madrox! (GET IT!) Madrox! Madrox! Madrox! Madrox! etc. etc.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 1:16 p.m. CST

    PS - any self-respecting comic book geek should be annoyed as fu

    by Tall_Boy

    if only because we had to spend the entire frickin summer pulling posters out of our comics. Goddamn fuckin Sky Captain. I was sick of it before the TV ads started. SMART MOVE, PARAMOUNT, ALIENATING YOUR POSSIBLE CORE AUDIENCE BY OVER-ADVERTISING IT!! Seriously, is there one person in the whole @$$holes community / this talkback who didn't get sick of reading those ads and posters every week?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 1:20 p.m. CST

    Identity Crisis

    by bizarromark

    Although I'm not a fan of the I.D. Crisis title (having had enough after issue #2), I'm still curious to know what the "fallout" of the series is going to be. Does anyone out there with inside information have any idea what the likely outcome of I.D. Crisis is going to be? Was there supposed to be a "major" DC star as the killer...or a much wider scope for the fallout? Is it the familiar but vague "the DC Universe will never be the same again" or are they promising some specific, long-term changes?****Speaking of I.D. Crisis, what's up with the inclusion of The Calculator? It seems to me, whenever an "outsider" like Meltzer (and Kevin Smithc before him) needs to establish "Instant Cred" with the fanboys, they often drop in the token "Silly and Obscure" character to validify their geek credentials, as if to say "Heh....*I* know about The Calculator too! What a stupid character, huh?"

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 1:34 p.m. CST

    JMS & Rising Stars...

    by donde

    does anyone else think that JMS is not going to finish off Rising Stars until W leaves the White House? i just get a feeling that if Kerry wins, we can finally see the last arc of the comic. just my opinion and sorry for injecting politics into all this.... bleah!

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 1:48 p.m. CST

    whine whine Sky Captain whine whine

    by minderbinder

    If you hate movies so much, why do you bother with this site? Did you actually see sky captain or are you just bashing in yet another attempt to be cool?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 1:58 p.m. CST

    Donde, RISING STARS will wrap within the next few months.

    by Dave_F

    Seriously. JMS and Top Cow kissed and made up, so we should be just a few weeks off from a new issue. Not that I read the book - I couldn't get past that Top Cow art early on - but it is indeed a'comin'!

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:05 p.m. CST


    by sideshowbob

    Wow, great discussion here this week! I recently read Morrison's "Animal Man" books for the first time, and was surprised to see the level of heart and compassion he put into those books. I've read his recent interviews where he cries nobody gets him. Um, no, I *get* Seaguy just fine, and I liked it just fine, it's just that the emotional core is flimsy at best. Also what surprised me in Animal Man was that an intruder enters Animal Man's house and shoots his family as a result of him being Animal Man. All the superheroes come to the funeral, but stay out of his way, offering up weak "if there's anything I can do

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Tall Boy

    by Ambush Bug

    Well, I have a few SKY CAPTAIN CDs that you can have if you need a fix. You're right, I got sick of the posters and ads. I also cringed in horror when I saw all of those DC books in polybags, flashbacking to the days of foil covers and trading cards. That alone made me fearful of the flick.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:13 p.m. CST

    Sky Captain posters...

    by RenoNevada2000

    Why, then, did you waste all that time pulling the posters out? Are comics worth more with or without the promotional grimjacks like stapled in posters?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:17 p.m. CST

    Ultimate nightmare

    by sideshowbob

    You were right about the artwork, which is phenomenal. Right about the Falcon, who is shaping up to be a very cool character. And right about the pacing, which is dreadful. I think it is a problem with Ellis. We're what, 4 issues into his Ultimate FF stint, and we've established that Doom is in Copenhagen, he knows the FF are alive, sends some robo-bugs to get them, is foiled, and the FF have a fantasticar they will use to go get him? Stan & Jack would have handled that in 3 pages. Not that Stan & Jack did it right either, but there should be a happy medium between the two. Something that bothers me is when writers, like BKV did in his interview here, make it seem like there is a problem with the reader, that we can't appreciate drawn-out stories. It's far from the truth, and you hit on it in your review...I like drawn-out just fine, but it's hard on my wallet. People who defend these drawn-out stories are usually industry people who either get their titles comped to them, or they are a tax write-off, or whatever. I think BKV would feel differently if he were working a crap job and spending his hard-earned money on 8-page stories stretched out over 22, like yours truly (not to pick on Brian, he's just an example). Which is to say, I am enjoying Ultimate Nightmare & FF both quite a bit, it just sucks I essentially have to pay double for them.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:21 p.m. CST

    Removing Insert Ettiquette

    by bizarromark

    It's generally a "no no" to remove the promotional inserts, though I don't care one way or the other. I wonder if outfits like the Overstreet guide actually note and catalog things like inserts, etc. to ensure that comics are as unaltered as possible from their "pristine printed state" as delivered to stores. Heck, I've still got a few early Bronze Age comics from the Big Two that feature centerfold jewelry ads printed on fairly heavy stock. I wonder who the marketing genius was who thought 1970's kids were in the market for diamond jewelry.******Speaking of "Sky Captain", I loved it. Plenty of detractors, as usual, but they had me at "Lenscap".

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:23 p.m. CST

    Hey, whatever happened to SeeThroughThis?

    by Ambush Bug

    I'm just wonderin'.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:29 p.m. CST

    MaryJane **Only comic For Young Girls

    by kymedicineman

    I must say that I am sad to hear the MaryJane is now a dead series. My little girl (9yo) loves it and asks if it is in every time we go to the comic shop. Not only that, but it is about the only comic I believe to appropriate for her. All the other "Marvel Age" titles are to cartoonish and geared towards little boys. Its sad... Anyone know any Great titles geared toward girls. She is sick of Barbie, Veronica, etc.. She will devasted to find out that her favorite book is gone.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:37 p.m. CST

    an answer to Ambush's rant

    by sideshowbob

    Yeah, it's true Marvel can saturate the market, and sometimes it sucks, but I don't see what they are doing right now as a terribly bad thing. The thing is, they are not putting out a dozen new superhero titles. They are putting their established superheroes into new genres. Which isn't bad because this can serve as a stepping stone for young or inexperienced readers to try out new genres, based on a character they like, and then maybe see what else is out there in that genre. I'm looking around at these X-Men solo books. Nightcrawler looks like horror. Jubilee looks like high school/romance. Madrox (which has unlimited potential) is a detective story. Mystique is spy/espionage. Etc. While I don't read many of these spinoffs, they do serve the purpose of getting inexperienced readers' feet wet. We all have to start somewhere, or did you come out of the womb reading "Love and Rockets"? *** And speaking of these spy spinoffs, I picked up that Black Widow book today, and Corm, it looks like Sienkiewicz is back and looking marvelous. I wonder if his talents are best suited for this genre, but I can't wait to this book home and dig in.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:40 p.m. CST

    Animal Man

    by Ambush Bug

    I'd chalk it up to obscure character syndrome that the death of Animal Man's family was ignored. I never read the series. But I did like the TV series, MANIMAL, if that is any consolation. I was always resentful of the character because Animal Man was hyped to be a part of the JLE, but he never actually appeared as a member in the book. And about Morrison. I think it's a pretty arrogant move to rip on the readers for not getting SEAGUY. I was following it until that last issue, but then it was all over the place. I'm all about comics that make you think, but sometimes (as is the case with the last issue of SEAGUY and the final arc of NEW X-MEN) it seems Morrison is just doing loopy for loonp's sake. If that is the case, then fooey on him for trying to pose and make something out of nothing.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:41 p.m. CST

    oh, and also, Ralph Dibny was AT the Animal Man's family's funer

    by sideshowbob

    ...unless of course that was Conan O'Brien. He *was* tucked pretty far in the background there.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:53 p.m. CST

    ID Crisis Superman: Active investigator or Helpless Mannequin?

    by bizarromark

    Greg: Identity Crisis question: You reported on how Meltzer covered WW's lasso and the nigh-omniscient Spectre, but have they done anything with Superman's vaunted sensory perceptions, where he can detect whether or not people are lying? True, it's one of Superman's downplayed abilities....but I was wondering if Melter had addressed this at all, especially in light of his aforementioned reach for "Fanboy Cred".

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 2:59 p.m. CST

    My answer to sideshowbob's answer to Ambush's rant

    by Ambush Bug

    I'm all for branching out into new territories, but when I go into the store and see five new number one issues in one week, then two more a week later and then two more this week, I'm calling foul. Some of these titles might be great, but I just can't buy them all to find out. My Reebok stock just ain't providing enough funds for that. I'm just reminded of the early nineties when Marvel had over one hundred titles on the shelves every month. They did it back then to oversaturate the market with their stuff to compete with all of the new companies out there. They put out absolute shit and it worked, the fanboys ate it up and the smaller companies were swallowed in the process. That may have worked then, but I'll be damned if I'll sit back silently and let it happen now. There are too many good titles out there getting the shaft. There are even good series at Marvel that are getting shafted by all of this. Take MARY JANE for instance. Good title. Completely shafted because 1) there isn't really a market out there for girls, and 2) it didn't attract the typical Marvel reader who was busy scampering to buy the new number one of the week. I just have to scream enough is enough. It used to be that Marvel would put out a series of number ones in the spring and by the following spring the duds would be cancelled and it made way for a new crop. Now every month has a new batch of series. And from what I've seen, there really isn't much difference between any of them. Problem is that MADROX is one of those few good titles that will be swallowed up because everyone will be piling on top of the latest LOCKHEED series when it's released next month. The cream often rises to the top, but when the cup is filled, the cream will just spill over. Good titles are going to be disgarded and not given a chance because another X-character needs a series and that sucks.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 3:26 p.m. CST

    so really you're complaining about the quanity regardless of qua

    by sideshowbob

    As well as the "open big or go home" culture? I can dig it. I thought you were putting down the titles & talent involved, without having checked the books out. I'll admit that I bought Madrox #1 last week and Nightcrawler & Black Widow #1's this week, but that's pretty rare for me, and it's because I like the talent involved with those books. Hopefully "She-Hulk" won't get brushed aside to make room for them (although it seems that She-Hulk will survive a little while based almost exclusively on internet fanboyism). It's just a sad state of our current culture, you know? While this website was pimping "Sky Captain and Angelina's Boobs of Tomorrow", I went to see "Silver City", a really cool film which will get swept aside by the likes of Sky Craptain.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 3:28 p.m. CST

    I'm Prepared For The Shit Storm. One Reason I Love SKY CAPTAIN

    by Buzz Maverik

    I hated it so badly that I still haven't seen X2. To me, it was unimaginative, overly conservative filmmaking. Singer had a built in audience but so many of his choices were motivated by fear, by contempt for his material that he gave us a tame, little mouse of a movie. Singer's the kind of filmmaker who would have had no interest in USUAL SUSPECTS if RESERVOIR DOGS hadn't been a hit. He wouldn't have had clue on X-MEN as far a the look or action if THE MATRIX hadn't been number one at the box office. No, he didn't lift directly from THE MATRIX. MATRIX was a good, not great movie, but at least it was new stuff in mainstream American film. And to make matters worse, Singer's success with X-MEN changed the comics, made them less visual, more restrained when there's no reason to be bound by budgetary or production restraints in comics. Here on this site, when the subject of Sentinels came up, the fans started repeating "Giant robots won't work on the screen." And giant robots weren't considered. Human sentinels and robots that looked like those rolling droids in EPISODE 1 were considered. Mostly because Singer hadn't seen another filmmaker do giant robots. He didn't want to look silly. Or unrealistic, as if any of it was realistic. Kerry Conran gave us giant robots. And floating robots. And swimming robots. And dinosaurs. And space ships. And Storm couldn't fly (because it wasn't realistic...the weather control thing is realistic, I guess) but Angelina Jolie could not only fly, but she could eject from an aquatic craft before she became airbourne. All with less money and resources that Singer had. Because Conran wasn't afraid of his imagination. He wasn't playing it safe. Like George Lucas, George Miller and James Cameron, he took his best shot with what he had, straight from the heart and the imagination. Betcha Conran's Storm would have flown. Betcha his X-MEN would be in vivid costumes that didn't look like "yellow spandex". And if a Sentinel storyline came up, it'd be nothing but a flight of 20 foot tall purple and grey robots on a mutant hunt over Manhattan. I'm not looking forward to Singer's SUPERMAN. And I probably won't get a job doing the advertising, because I think they're going to reject the tagline I submitted: "You won't believe a man can fly ... because the director can't."

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 3:34 p.m. CST

    New comics

    by Ambush Bug

    I'm probably going to be picking up BLACK WIDOW simply because Sienkvizscluixdl is the shit (even though I can never spell his name right). But something tells me that he won't be on the title for very long. Someone at that calibre of greatness just can't seem to keep up with the monthly pace these days. I looked at the creators of the titles of these new books and was inimpressed by most of them. Most of them are no-names. Sure JUBILEE has Kirkman, who is a pretty cool writer but I never really cared for the character. BULLSEYE has art by Dillon, but I don't want to support a title that I think is completely unnecessary. If DD actually fought people, I'd love to see Bullseye again, but since Bendis is too busy finding ways to keep Matt Murdoch from breaking a single drop of sweat in every issue and the fact that he wrote Bullseye as a complete bitch when he did appear, I doubt we'll ever see that. That's right, I ripped on Bendis again. I had to go there again, didn't I? I just can't help myself sometimes. It always comes back to Bendis.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 3:43 p.m. CST

    Irani/Iranian: The terms are freaking interchangable!

    by Village Idiot

    You know, I can understand pedantry, but correcting the term on the basis of Google hits rather than its absolute validity as a definition is ridiculous. Look it up in Merriam-Webster ferchrissakes. And the term isn't even that uncommon. Sweet Christ, I've heard it in common usage frequently enough. My ex-roomate was Irani! Irani is a perfectly valid and apt term, and best of all, it fit with the space I was alloted for the headline better than "Iranian." And I can't believe we've spent this much bandwidth discussing this, when we could be talking about stuff that really matters, like how fat Superman looks.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 3:54 p.m. CST

    one last question, Ambush Bug...

    by sideshowbob

    Since when does maintaining a monthly pace have anything to do with publishing comic books these days?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 3:55 p.m. CST


    by Ambush Bug

    Has anyone heard from SeeThroughThis recently? I miss his special way of not getting my posts.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 3:55 p.m. CST

    Diaper? It's an "adult incontinence product." Get it right.

    by Village Idiot

    Well GB, it may boil down to taste, but did the obviousness of the Green Arrow-Superman Evidence Scene, i.e., Superman's boyish pluck in identifying the knot, and the cynical Green Arrow's scorn/admiration of him, really chap your hide? Come on, you liked it. Admit it. And I'll admit that the supervillains playing poker was a little cliche. Don't these guys ever play Scrabble?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 3:57 p.m. CST

    Touche, sideshowbob...

    by Ambush Bug

    I forgot the industry's tendency to ignore the monthly aspect of monthly titles. But Sinkweilsiuefli came from a time where deadlines and professionalism actually meant something, so I see him as doing four or six issues and then moving on. I hope he proves me wrong.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:01 p.m. CST

    The villains in IC weren't playing poker, Mr. Gregory Scott.

    by Ambush Bug

    They were playing Risk. A game much more fitting and educational for the villanous minset.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:13 p.m. CST

    No Mark, the Super-Lie Detecting power wasn't used to ferret out

    by Village Idiot

    But Superman didn't question any witnesses anyway. And really, if you had your choice between a magical lasso that compelled people to tell the absolute truth, and sensory powers that essentially mounted to a polygraph (which are kinda dodgy anyway), which would you use? On the other hand, Green Arrow remarked "Last time when it came to the crime scene, we brought in the Metal Men, The Ray, The Atom, Metamorpho, and Animal Man. This time we go straight to the top." "The top" in this case being Superman, and his various powers of skill and perception and the ability to identify knots.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:15 p.m. CST

    Oh that's right, it *was* Risk wasn't it. My mistake.

    by Village Idiot

    That wasn't that obvious of a choice then was it? Argh. I need to pick out another cliche.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:15 p.m. CST

    Right on about Sky Captain, Buzz

    by mortsleam

    As I was watching the giant robots stalk through Manhattan, I thought, "See? Giant robots could work in X-Men." Still liked both X-Movies though. The best thing is, if Singer is thrown off Superman (and he will be) and comes crawling back to X-Men (and he will) he'll takea look at the success of Sky Captain and get the brilliant idea of putting in...Giant Robots.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:23 p.m. CST

    Madrox the Multiple Man

    by Peter Venkman

    I'm shocked but thrilled that Maddrox got his own series. he has always been one of my favorite B-team X-Men and has one of the most interesting, underused characters and his power has unlimited potential. I loved Peter David's take on X-Factor back in the day, with X-Factor being the semi-celebrity government operatives. The coolest time Maddrox used his powers was to pick a lock. He simply placed his hand under a door, punched the floor with the other hand and presto-a multiple appeared on the other side of the door-from his hand. The multiple then opened the door and let Maddrox in! Brilliant.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:28 p.m. CST

    Identity Crisiszzzzz

    by Homer Sexual

    I am so happy that the two most interesting books last week were reviewed here. I am not one of those people bothered by Sue getting raped, I actually rather liked it from a dramatic standpoint. But now what is going on? Very little! The pace is so slow and ponderous, I am losing interest in this book. Strange was very promising, we'll see if future issues hold up. and I love the new Runaways digest, super excellent fun. But what is up with Morrison acting so holier than thou? I love my Animal Man TPs and my New X-Men, and Morrison dealt with a lot of heavy and questionably young person-appropriate stuff in those books, so why bag on IDC for violating Sue? Excellent point about the super community's reaction to AM's wife' death vs. Sue, BTW. Rock On!

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:33 p.m. CST

    Magic Lasso meets Meltzer-style

    by bizarromark

    "But Superman didn't question any witnesses anyway. And really, if you had your choice between a magical lasso that compelled people to tell the absolute truth, and sensory powers that essentially mounted to a polygraph (which are kinda dodgy anyway), which would you use?"**********Good point, though let's think about that Magic Lasso for a sec. As dodgy as polygraphs and other metabolism-monitoring methods (like super-hearing, etc) can be, how much more reliable is a glowing rope that induces people to make statements Wonder Woman calls "the truth". See where I'm going here? I'd love to see a story that opens up the whole can-o-worms regarding WW's lasso and its "truth obtaining" properties. Perhaps this month's Identity Crisis was just such a story (didn't read it), but how reliable is a "Magic Lasso" anyway? Sure, it worked fine in the NeverNeverLand of the Silver and Golden ages, but within the oh-so-serious, CSI-atmospherics of modern comics, the lasso takes on a more questionable nature. Obviously, I'm having a bit of fun with this....but really: Why should a magical artifact be any more or less reliable than the "lie detector" of Superman's Daredevil-like perceptions?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:33 p.m. CST

    Hmmm...thinking aloud here.

    by Ambush Bug

    Wouldn't it be ironic, given the way books are paced these days, if THE ELONGATED MAN got a one-shot?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:40 p.m. CST

    You question the power of Zeus, bizarromark?!?

    by Ambush Bug

    You do bring up a great point though. Wonder Woman's lasso may pull out a truth, but by whose standards does this truth stand by? I guess the answer is Zues' standards since that's where the lasso's power comes from. So the truth is based on age old Greek morals and since the womanizing Zues is such a moral icon, it brings a little doubt to the validity of the lasso's truth extracting abilities.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:48 p.m. CST

    Agreed with MAN-THING (SPOILERS)

    by Ribbons

    The first two issues were quite terrific; the last one, from its initial false alarm to its claims investigator remaining unflappable despite growing grass on his face, I have to say I feel a bit cheated. An extra issue probably would have made for a better story overal.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:56 p.m. CST

    Zeus, Shmeus...

    by bizarromark

    "You question the power of Zeus, bizarromark?!?"_____Why, yes.....yes I do.*****What if, for the sake of argument, the Magic Lasso compelled people to say *what Diana wanted them to say* as opposed to The Truth. I *do* believe there is such a thing as objective truth, so I don't want to steer off onto the rural grass path of relativism...but my point was: The lasso obviously elicits *something* from those under its power. Wonder Woman classifies it as "the truth", but what if it's something else that ties into either Wonder Woman's own subconscious or the Olympian gods' manipulations?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:57 p.m. CST

    Teen girl audience

    by BillEmic

    Why is Marvel so desperately after this supposed "teen girl" audience? I've seen these "girls" that go into the bookstore, searching the racks for the latest homoerotic manga trade...and they, more than anything, qualify as "Man-Thing"s. And, yet, still...they won't even give me the time of day.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 4:59 p.m. CST

    I know theres no astonishing xmen review...

    by Darth Kal-El

    but i just read it and im curious...cold someone give me the lowdown on what happened to colossus that they thought he was dead?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 5:06 p.m. CST

    The can't handle the truth!

    by Ambush Bug

    I doubt WW would consciously manipulate someone. She's too much of a goody goody for that. Subconsciously, I could see it happening. She wants to believe something so much that she wills the lasso to pull out her version of the truth. It is also interesting to think that Zeus (finally spelled it right) may be manipulating Diana by letting her believe that her lasso elicits the truth. He just gives her a lasso and tells her it pulls the truth out of people and she believes it. Sounds like a great story. Back to the validity of the lasso, I doubt that anything pulled from a person by the lasso would hold up in court. Man, I have too much free time at work to be discussing this in depth.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 5:09 p.m. CST

    New Comics, X-Men Vs. Sky Captain

    by Homer Sexual

    I like good new comics, and pick up many first issues but they have to be good to get me back for issue 2. For example, She-Hulk and Strange, coming back. Alpha Flight, in the trash. No way would I pick up a book called Mary Jane unless it was totally not Watson the Mary Jane refers to. Why build a teen book around such a lame, back-in-the-day character? Ok, because the Spider Man movies made so much money, I guess that's why. Same comic, but with a mutant/some sort of extra-ordinary lead, would have a much better chance of making it. I thought first X-Men movie sort of sucked for just the reasons posted, but then X2 was so much better! Singer has no feel for the material but seems to be a fast learner from his mistakes. And Sky Captain, I am gloating to say, flopped because (as I have said here before) NO ONE WANTS TO SEE A PERIOD PIECE LIKE THIS. Or at least, not very many people. I may go see this for the visuals, but the whole setting/style of characters is very unappealing and has flopped many times before (lets just use the Shadow for one, there's lots more) and don't bring up Indiana Jones because those flicks are only "period" in a loose sense, very little real "set in the past, retro" thing going on.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 5:40 p.m. CST

    Wonder Woman & The Magic Lasso

    by JonQuixote

    I think that if Wonder Woman tied me up there is no limit to the truth that would begins spilling from my lips. "Okay Quixote, now you're incapable of lying. Talk!" "I would sell you my girlfriend just to sniff your boots for two minutes!" "'re free to go."

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 5:57 p.m. CST

    Wonder Woman's lasso and "The Truth."

    by vroom socko

    Wasn't there a story in JLA abotu this very subject? That was a rhetorical question, guys. #62-64, aka Golden Perfect. Wonder Woman uses the lasso on a baddie and gets a truth she doesn't want to hear. When she tries to impose her will on it, the rope frayes and breaks. It's Joe Kelly, so the story isn't stellar, but it's not bad either.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 6:04 p.m. CST

    More IC, Morrison, Marvel Strategery, X-Men vs Sky Captain, and

    by Fantomex

    I don't even know where to start Buzz. Admitting you haven't seen X2 doesn't bode well for your creditibilty as a reviewer of comics (since you apparently ignored every review you read about the movie). The connection between Resevoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects is at best tenous (and more likely a figment of your imagination). There is a reason X-Men topped 100 million (and X2 did even better) while Sky Captain is a complete flop. Singer was trying to create a fantastic science fiction movie that people could actually relate too. Hey!!! Thats what the X-Men comics used to do. How about that. There are a ton of problems with the first movie, but lack of giant robots or stylistic shots of Halle Berry flying through the air aren't on the list. ******* I'm a huge Morrison fan (even though I hate the Invisibles) but he honestly can't help but sound like a complete hack when he opens his mouth. "Symbolism" as he understands it is the tool of a weak writer. I don't read comics to try and figure out the divine message behind the authors nonsensical ramblings. Sorry. Maybe he needs to consider the possibility that some of his stuff is just dumb (as opposed to the reader being dumb). ******* Marvel has a strategy that one of you hit spot on a few weeks back. Those guys at DC are making a Girl Robin? Lets give one of the teenage X-Men girls her own comic. Gotham Central is one of the most critically acclaimed books on the market? Bishop is kinda like a cop (and if not, we can retcon his history...) lets give him his own series. Make sure you put an "X" in the title. 100 Bullets ushers in a genre of noir comics? Lets make a private dick title with a throw away character. You get the idea. Sometimes this works, sometimes its even amazing. But its all derivative and is aimed at people who for some reason won't buy anything that isn't X. And, when Marvel finally gets their hands on something that they know is utterly amazing (like Whedon's Astonishing X-Men) they don't put put him on X-Men or Uncanny. They make a new series because they know X-Men and Uncanny sell well anyway. ******* All this talk about "how does Meltzer explain how Character Y doesn't solve the mystery using his/her magic rope/super sense/WHATEVER" is missing the point. The story (while having the problems it does, see other post) for me brings the whole DC thing a little closer to reality. The idea that someone could get away with these murders so far even with the full force of the ENTIRE DC UNIVERSE trying to catch them makes it all seem a little less hokey. Someone here mentioned a few weeks back was that one of the problems many writers have (including morrison) is that the baddies get so absurdly powerful because each one has to be worse than the last. Which is why I hope its NOT Zatanna. I'd much rather it be GL.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 6:17 p.m. CST

    RenoNevada2000 I wasted the time pulling them out because I don'

    by Tall_Boy

    I'm sure the flick is cool in a retro-sci-fi kinda way but, goddamn, those ads were in every single damn book of the summer. That and the polybagged CD wrapper that came with Fallen Angel #14. I don't really care about the value of my comics, I'm trying to read them, and those posters were an annoying eyesore that I suffered through the entire summer.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 6:30 p.m. CST

    Nobody Better Say I Have Any Credibility As A Reviewer, Fantomex

    by Buzz Maverik

    C'mon, you guys should know by now that I'm not really a reviewer and that I don't believe in reviews, especially reviews of comics. Comics should be pure. That's why it's cool that somebody like Zeekade can dig JIMBO IN PURGATORY and Ambush Bug can dig MADDOX and See Through This can dig THE PUNISHER. None of these guys needs anybody else's opinion about comics. I hope no one needs mine. I don't like to read reviews of anything. I prefer my own opinions. If I do read reviews, it's for extraneous information and not for the reviewer's opinion. Also, I don't really want to get into my movie vs. your movie (by "your" I mean anybody who isn't me, not just you) because they aren't our movies. We don't get a cent out of them and they provide us no opportunities to make movies ourselves, so all we can get is enjoyment or lose approx. 2 hours of our lives. Box office doesn't interest me for the same reason. What do I care unless I'm getting a) the dough or 2) a chance to make a movie I'd like to make or d)at least a high paying job making somebody else's movie. I've never understood why people trot out box office. I loved SKY CAPTAIN because I love the pulps and I love innovative, visual filmmaking and I like courage in an industry where courage is usually only directed toward subordinates. I'm not going to try to sell SKY CAPTAIN unless I'm getting paid. But it does seem to me that most of the criticism I've heard from friends boils down to it not being INDIANA JONES. Yes, all the INDIANA JONES movies are superior to SKY CAPTAIN. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan, the Hyucks, Jeff Boam make a difference. Harrison Ford. I will say that Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Bai Ling have it over any of Indy's girls. Okay, Karen Allen was a better actress, but none of the SKY babes are anything to sneeze at in that department and are all more classically babelicious than Ms. Allen, who was cute at best. My overall problem with X-MEN goes beyond the visuals. It is the lack of courage, the lack of care, the middle of the road instead of balls to the wall. It is playing it safe by hiding behind realism. I'll probably see X2 at least once when it is playing on FX every day forever like X-MEN does. But I certainly feel no obligation to see it, in fact more to the contrary. Especially not to review comic books. What does one have to do with the other? Of course it can't be proven that SUSPECTS was conceived to be in the genre of RES DOGS, but it sure came along after. And it's interesting that Singer bowed out of the unusal CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND for "budget reasons" while George Clooney, an experienced actor but first time director known for eceletic, uncommerical choices had no problems pulling it off.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 6:52 p.m. CST

    BizarroMark and Bug, you're on the right track with STRANGE, but

    by SleazyG.

    I'll say this: STRANGE was very well written as far as the plot and dialogue go. Sadly, JMS totally blew it with the character. He "reimagined"--which is to say fucked up--the origin story. Quesada said at Wizard World that this is the new, official, definitive origin for Dr. Strange. Sadly, JSM and "Samm" Barnes made a crucial misstep. They made Stephen Strange an essentially nice guy who was seduced by money into plastic surgery. Then they had him hurt himself, alone, while skiing. This is a huge mistake for a couple of reasons. The first problem is that Stephen Strange was supposed to be a selfish prick from the get-go, not some nice guy who helped the sick in a third-world country. JMS and Barnes made this decision in order to set up the initial, early contact with Wong and the Ancient One, and I wouldn't be surprsied if they went the legacy route next (ho-hum). A good guy who was just a little misguided for a few years, though, isn't really in need of a redemption arc. That ties directly into the second huge mistake they made. As Bug pointed out, the drunken car accident is crucial. It was shorthand to indicate that Strange was self-destructive. It also indicates a doctor who doesn't take his responsibilities seriously. He isn't really taking into account the value of human life, or how fleeting it is, until his own nearly ends. He still just wallows in self-pity, though, angry at the world. He stayed angry and selfish and snotty well past the time of his injury, and was a jerk to the Ancient One at first. The changes made by JMS and Barnes seem cosmetic at first, and wouldn't bother new readers at all. Anyone who is familiar with the original origin, though, knows that they have just weakened the character. The redemption arc is signicicantly weaker when the main character is a perfectly nice young guy who just made a couple of bad calls in college than when he's a selfish jerk with a chip on his shoulder. Going from nice guy who likes to party a little to nice guy who practices Eastern mysticism? No character arc. Rat bastard who has to undergo a massive self-transformation? Good character arc. I'll keep reading this cuz Dr. Strange has been one of my favorites since I was like six, but I'm not thrilled with the way the character has been neutered. It's too bad, because as I said, they wrote the shit out of this thing. They just happened to alter the most crucial elements of the character along the way.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 7:05 p.m. CST

    giant robots

    by sideshowbob

    They could pull off a believable giant ape in 1933, a giant walking freakin' marshmallow man in 1984, but not a giant robot in 2003? *** Ambush, the talent I was refering to on the new titles was Peter David on Madrox (obviously) and Aguire-Sacasa on Nightcrawler. And Bill Meintkewitz on Black Widow...I mean, did you *see* that "refecting in the eye" panel on the 3rd page? Are you freaking kidding me?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 7:07 p.m. CST

    Courage alone make a good movie not.

    by Fantomex

    I think its great that someone has the balls to make a movie with giant robots. And I don't think the sales figure alone should deter someone from seeing it (nor should bad reviews). But I think its clear from everyone I've talked too (and I'll see it myself to be sure) that this movie simply does not work. Where as X-Men kinda did, and X2 surely did. Singer wasn't afraid to make an outrageous comic book adaption. He didn't WANT to make that movie because he wanted something audiences could directly relate too, unlike say Batman & Robin. And thats what X-Men SHOULD be. Something people can relate too just like teenagers related to outcast mutants all those years ago. There is plenty room for outrageous comic book movies. And its no coincidence that so many comics these days are trying to put themselves in a more "real world" setting. Powers, The entire Ultimate line, etc, you can probably list several dozen titles off the top of your head. Its come over the entire industry. Why would Singer WANT to make a movie with giant robots when even todays COMICS don't go there?

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 7:09 p.m. CST


    by sideshowbob

    Yes, I know Bill Sienkiewicz is the comic book artist, and Doug Meintkewitz is the Red Sox 1st baseman. I'm watching the pregame now while reading my damn comics and drinking my wine; leave me alone.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 7:24 p.m. CST

    BizarroMark, that's not how The Calculator is being played at al

    by SleazyG.

    It's actually a very simple idea, but a really good one. Why is it that the Good Guys have Oracle--their go-to guy for all the information they need for their fight on crime--but the Bad Guys got nuthin'? It only makes sense that at some point, somebody would step into the "Oracle" slot. He's not there to organize a crime syndicate, or start an underground empire, or any of that hokey shit. He's there to serve as a source of information for anybody willing to pay him for taking all the risks. It sounds like the kind of a thing a smart criminal would do to hedge his bets. He can stay in the background, getting paid without leaving his pad. Meanwhile, Mirror Master and Dr. Sivana an whoever else can take the risks, get beat up, get thrown into the Slab, etc. Makes sense, and it's not played for yucks or obscure street cred. In fact, it's the one element of IC I'd most like to see used around the DCU for years to come.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 7:26 p.m. CST

    But Mainstream Superhero Comics Aren't In Real World Settings.

    by Buzz Maverik

    The Ultimates? Super-soldiers, giants, shrinking mutants, thunder gods and iron men ... oh my! I only saw a couple of those as I drove down the freeway today. Even their kinks aren't realistic...nor should they be. Black leather and soul patches don't make instant healing, clawed mutants realistic. These are just tactics to get people jobs writing and drawing comics. The X-MEN movie I saw wasn't realistic. It was just unimaginative. Like I said, there's no reason to try to sell SKY CAPTAIN. I know that if I were a filmmaker, I'd be happier failing with SKY CAPTAIN than succeeding with X-MEN. Okay, actually I'd be the biggest whore in Hollywood and would make stuff that made Michael Bay look subtle, but my point is still valid.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 8:28 p.m. CST

    sideshow bob

    by proper

    It was years ago so forgive me if I'm wrong but I thought the funeral of Animal Man's family didn't happen in the end as Grant Morrison gave them back to him and wiped the slate clean because he was a just God as opposed to the unjust God(in real life) who let his pet cat die.In JLE they were always quite vauge when it came to Animal Man's actions so I don't think the issue was ever directly addressed.I saw a documentary once where GM was showing people how to make their own sigil.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 9:57 p.m. CST

    Hey @$$holes!! (or specifically Ambush Bug) re. Sky Captain CDs

    by Tall_Boy

    is the Sky Captain CD ROM "game" any good? Even though I hate all the advertisements, I wouldn't turn down a free videogame. I'll go through the trouble on installing assuming its about as entertaining as a free flash online game/ sharp stick in the eye.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 10:03 p.m. CST

    I think EX MACHINA takes a realistic approach to superherodom

    by Tall_Boy

    Even though the pacing is almost as bad as a Marvel book. Nice art, the colouring seems kind of off. Vaugh's dialouge is always good. Though I'm hoping it kicks up a notch or two after this arc (even though its *supposed* to be West Wing like). I dunno, this issue was OK but I'm hoping the next compares with the flat-out coolness of issue one. And that's my review of EX MACHINA for this week. Feel free to print it in the next @$$holes column.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 10:39 p.m. CST

    Why is it not ULTIMATE Dr. Strange???!!!!

    by bizarromark

    Sleazy: Sounds like I made the right choice to avoid the "Strange" series. Why couldn't this just have been an "Ultimate" series? What's going on over there at Marvel? I thought that's what the Ultimate line was for: Reimagining the characters for a new audience without trashing the Classic version. Perhaps that was a "deal breaker" for JMS. Who knows? Whatever the case, based on your description of the reimagined Doc Strange "fall from grace", I would agree that JMS has significantly diminished the dramatic power of the original. A skiing accident? How.....yuppie! Makes me appreciate the power (and efficiency) of the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko masterpiece....despite all of JMS's vast Hollywood-insider superpowers. does it improve on the Dr. Strange story to diminish his wretched character before he met the Ancient One? Sadly, for all of the narrative sophistication that has been brought into the field over the decades, I sometimes think the current writers are a little too clever by half. To continue with the surgeon theme, Top-Guns like JMS remove elements they view as the narrative equivalent of "vestigial organs", while the fans are screaming "You took out the HEART, you idiot!"

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 11:32 p.m. CST

    It's not ULTIMATE STRANGE...

    by SleazyG.

    ...because if nobody reads Dr. Strange-related books in the mainstream universe, who's gonna buy an Ultimate Dr. Strange series? Marvel was smart enough to know that a new Dr. Strange series wouldn't work unless they brought on some really big talent. As the recent (and horrible) WITCHES series proved, Dr. Strange and his supporting cast are now second-stringers. They have their core fan base, but due to mishandling and mediocre writing in the 90's, there aren't enough fans to support a title out there. If it were X-TREMELY STRANGE or SPIDER-STRANGE it might've sold, but otherwise nobody was touching it. Since they have a relatively small base, the only way to build it up was to bring on a heavy hitter. This is a decision I wholeheartedly supported, because I love Dr. Strange and wanted him to regain some of his luster. Based on JMS' work on SUPREME POWER, I thought he could pull it off. I still think the issue was extremely well written, for the most part. He's definitely got the mechanics of how to write a good story nailed. It's just that, like many current writers, he didn't really think through the ramifications of his decisions. He's smart enough that he should have realized he was removing some of the most important aspects and motivations of the character. The thing that bugs me even more, though, is the fact that a good EDITOR would have called JMS on this. More and more, and more, and more, I'm absolutely disgusted with the editorial staff at Marvel. They have no business being editors, and they wouldn't be in any other part of the publishing industry. They're incapable of the most basic aspects of the editor job. They miss errors in spelling and grammar on a weekly basis, and there's just no excuse for that when you're in publishing. Beyond that, they also don't have the ability to think through the long-term ramifications of the stories their writers are proposing. Not that it would matter if they did, since none of them has the spine to tell their "talent" that something is a bad idea, or might not work, or would interfere with preexisting or ongoing storylines...

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 11:42 p.m. CST

    Rags' Superman Sucks

    by YankeeMan

    Jeebus, his fat legs are too short for that overbuilt torso. I have enjoyed his work on this book, but that particular frame of Superman was fucking horrid. Superman doesn't have to look like he's on the juice! He gets his power from the Sun, not from a goddamned steroid-taking WWE reject's body.

  • Sept. 22, 2004, 11:56 p.m. CST

    ... so where'd the content go?

    by SpacePhil

    ...? I'm not seeing anything above the TalkBack.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 12:45 a.m. CST

    Lizzybeth, thanks for the heads up on the GET YOUR WAR ON book.

    by SleazyG.

    I've been reading the strips periodically on line for a couple years now, but didn't know they had been putting out compilations cuz my store doesn't carry that kinda stuff. The strips are incredibly bitter, but often scathingly hilarious. Easily the best ongoing online strip out there today.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 2:48 a.m. CST

    I don't know what to make of Ex Machina

    by Fantomex

    I think the Ex Machina #4 talkback should be next week (since it just came out today). The ending was sort of shocking in that "I didn't see that coming but I should have because its been done a hundred (get it) times before" kinda way. I was totally floored with the first issue, and this is the only comic that really works with the whole "real world superhero" idea. But issues 2-4 have been lackluster. I don't find the dialouge all that stimulating (it certaintly doesn't compare to anything on the West Wing). The art muesum thread feels ripped from the headlines (because it is). There is clearly a lot of groundwork being laid (something about his mother, something about an arch-nemesis that is now deaD) that could pay off on the long term. But I don't see this really as a pacing problem so much as a story problem (in other words, I don't think the expierence would be improved if I read it in trade format, unlike say 100 bullets).

  • Blame the '78 movie if you will, but I've always preferred a Superman who's fit but not bulky. Of course I loved Frank Miller's larger-than-life depiction of Supes in DARK KNIGHT, but in that book, the only thing that *wasn't* bulky was Robin, so I'm calling it an exception. Unfortunately, the look's caught on a bit, most notably in the overrated SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS. I heap at least partial blame on that book for the Superman-as-yokel characterization we sometimes see popping up these days. Rural roots and values are fine, but I miss a Superman and Clark Kent who also project a cosmopolitan intelligence that befits the most well-travelled and experienced superhero of them all. So, yeah, Rags' version = too fat. Supes has superstrength to the Nth degree - he doesn't need to have an overwhelmingly intimidating *visual*! Makes him look brutish, which maybe would work for the Chuck Austen incarnation, but elsewhere...not so much. Oh well, thankfully it's not the default. A casual glance at the monthly Superman books reveals the prevailing look for Superman is about what I prefer, something close to the iconic Garcia-Lopez merchandising designs. And in other news...I like 90% of everything *else* Rags draws, even if IDENTITY CRISIS as a whole blows.

  • Gotta say, B-Mark, that's one of the most entertaining appraisals of Moore and Morrison as "personalities" that I've ever read. Well put! ******** To SIDESHOWBOB: I only got around to reading ANIMAL MAN recently, m'self, and like you I was struck by the depth of characterization and sincerity of empathy. I think his more recent works have the same sincerity, but I miss the character-rich grounding of that early masterpiece. His NEW X-MEN, for instance, had characterization by way of personality snapshots, and some of the humans in the recent We3 were downright cartoonish (intentional, maybe, but it still untethered the book's connection to reality a bit for me). If I had to guess, the transition of style had its roots in Morrison attempting to distance himself from Alan Moore's influence, which was plain to see in ANIMAL MAN. In fact, I've even seen Morrison say some disparaging stuff about Moore in interviews, though for the life of me I can't tell if I'm seeing the dry Brit equivalent of punching a friend's shoulder or *actual* criticism. Maybe a little of both?

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 4:48 a.m. CST

    I still wish Sienkiewicz would rein it in a touch...

    by Dave_F

    But I did think his BLACK WIDOW stuff looked pretty spectacular, Sideshow. Not convinced about the story yet, though. Hasn't grabbed me by the collar, and Widow's cruel streak...well, let's just say I'm old-school enough to not *embrace* it. I think my favorite Sienkiewicz work in recent years was his three-parter on ULTIMATE TEAM-UP with The Punisher. Still trying to decided if I should sell those issues or not, having mostly given up on the Ultimate line since those giddy days of wholehearted support. It shore is purdy art, but will I ever really want to return to the fake Spider-Man and fake Punisher?

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 5:08 a.m. CST

    Mo' Ultimate stuff (just for fun)...

    by Dave_F

    First off, Buzz is dead-right about ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE. I liked the creepy first issue and excused the five-page explosion as a result, but when that shit starts to *compound*, I start looking for the emergency exit. And doesn't this miniseries somehow lead into ULTIMATE SECRET or whatever that *upcoming* miniseries is called? Are we looking at what's, in effect, just a prologue miniseries? Gah! Anyway, I'm in the camp that assumed we were seeing the coming of Ultimate Galactus with the Tunguska stuff, but a friend had an interesting point. Somewhere in that second issue is an imaging of some space phenomena or a radio wave or something, and it looks a little like a virus under a microscope, but it *also* looks a little like...the Ultimate Nullifier. The theory, then, is that maybe the Tunguska event isn't just a warning about Galactus or the heralding of his coming, but an actual attempt to provide we Earthers with the one means to stave him off. So despite the book's pacing, I confess to a certain curiosity about how Ellis is going to reinterpret what the Nullifier is/does should this theory be borne out. ****** On a related note: not so impressed with Ult. Falcon, who Ellis seems so desperate to play as a badass that I'm reading him more as an author's construct than as a unique character. I got a kick out of the assessment of Falcon's big scene from Paul O'Brien at The X-Axis: "There's also a really awkward and unconvincing scene where Cap doesn't trust the Falcon until the Falcon unveils his bizarre long-term goal - use herbal remedies from the jungles to raise soldiers from the dead! You might have thought that the conventional response would be 'You're a nutter', but apparently we're meant to take it that this is a really incredibly ambitious and laudable project." ******* Lastly...ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR. A-yep. Ellis's interesting start is turning into a flop there, too. Turns out the sci-fi approach has the net effect of turning Lee and Kirby's bombastic wonder into something prosaic. Normally we have to turn to Hollywood for that brand of alchemy...

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 6:05 a.m. CST

    Response to Kymedicineman re: girls' comics...

    by Dave_F

    Seems manga pretty much has a lock on the young girl audience at the moment, if only because the Japanese have been smart enough to, y'know, actually *target* them. Still, there're at least a few possibilities. For starters, I happen to think Mark Crilley's AKIKO is the best kids' comic ever publsihed. Think of THE WIZARD OF OZ (plucky girl heroine, strange but charming companions, wild settings) combined with a sci-fi bent and the wit of ANIMANIACS and you're pretty close. Here's a decent overview: Be sure to click on the link to the double-page spreads at the bottom of that page. The book's black-and-white, but Crilley's computer generated halftones add astounding dimensionality as those images prove. Oh yeah, and the first three volumes were just re-released in digest sizes, so the time is ripe! ******* For a girl looking for something a bit more sophisticated, I might recommend THIEVES & KINGS: It's another black and whiter (I know, I know), but sometimes that's just where the good shit is happening. BONE's a related choice, of course, with options including the individual trades, the $40 mega edition containing all of them, or even the upcoming colorized versions to be released through scholastic. Oh yeah, and speaking of fantasy, the grandaddy of 'em all - ELFQUEST - has always been a hit for both genders. On a slightly more BUFFY-esque note, it seems most everyone here likes the teen action/adventure RUNAWAYS from Marvel, and it's got a cast that's actually slightly *dominated* by well-written and fun female characters. Might be a little dark for some nine-year-olds, but it's a definite possibility. There are two trades now, with a third coming soon and a new ongoing next year. Oh yeah, and it actually had two issues with guest art by the MARY JANE artist, so that might be the icing on the cake for your daughter. Just a few possibilities for there. I'm sure more will spring to mind, but in the meantime, the Friends of Lulu website has lots of recommendations that're worth a look: Lots of 'em are more teen-oriented, and some wholly adult, but all are girl-friendly.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 9:29 a.m. CST

    BUZZ: Give X2 a chance!

    by Squashua

    I also thought X-Men was a terrible movie, so it was with much trepidation that I saw X2. It was hella better. VERY hella better. Go see it.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 10:03 a.m. CST

    "Do these red swimtrunks make me look fat?"

    by bizarromark

    Re: "Fat Superman": Gotta say, I'm amused at what people consider "fat" in the modern fanboy age. Perhaps it's the male version of the contorted supermodel standard women routinely put up with (or wholeheartedly embrace). Listen, I'm as big a fan of the Garcia Lopez school of the sleeker Superman as anyone, but at the same time, but at the same time I don't reject out of hand the older "Charles Atlas era" standard of physical fitness. While the "walking muscle chart" superhero has been the Gold Standard for a few decades now, there's always been something about that look that evokes the vain, pampered and strangely effete world of professional bodybuilding...rather than the more rugged "meat and pototoes" no-nonsense look of the "Big Lug" standard. The Alex Ross version of Superman is a good example of what I'm talking about. He's obviously powerfully built and not "fat" in the sense that 85% of comics fandom is "fat", but at the same time doesn't look like a spray-painted bodybuilder. Indulge me a little anecdote: Back in college, one of my part-time jobs was moving furniture. The job required tremendous strength, and most of the guys who'd been doing it for awhile were just big, thick lugs who could lift a horse. Occasionally, we would get these "muscle-man types" who would assume than just because they had ultra-defined pecs and delts, they could also effortlessly lift anything. Wrong. Most of these guys would be gone within a few weeks because they simply couldn't handle the heavy lifting. So, I guess based on that experience, I've always considered the "gold standard" of strength to be embodied in the "big lugs" of the world and not the ultra-chiseled nancies standing in front of mirrors at the gym. Obviously, I see Superman as more of a guy who's long career of "heavy lifting" (literally) has made him an imposing physical presense unmarked by the shaved-legs vanity of the bodybuilding mentality.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Fantomex, if everyone you've talked to says Sky Captain sucks, w

    by mortsleam

    You'll see. When you walk of theater, change your pants, then change your User I.D. to Joe Sullivan. Okay, I'm exaggerating. But I really, really liked it, and I just don't understand everyone's animosity. Much like I can't understand why Buzz is ignoring X-2. Seriously, the two of you cannot argue about the relative strengths or weaknesses of these movies because neither of you have seen them both. I will say this, however: Giant Robots played a pretty goddamned significant role in Morrison's first X-Men arc. And any self-respecting director (say, Joss Whedon) would do well to incorporate them into the storyline of X-Men 3.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Official Bizarromark-approved Superman:

    by Dave_F =D

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 10:40 a.m. CST

    Hey Dave!

    by bizarromark

    Yeah! That's EXACTLY what I'm talkin' about!

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 10:43 a.m. CST

    Now THIS is what I'm talkin' about...

    by bizarromark

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 10:53 a.m. CST

    more morrison

    by sideshowbob

    Proper, I suspect you are right that Grant "mind-wiped" his Animal Man run. I suspected something like that happened. I knew he brought the family back, but wasn't sure how it worked within continuity. The sad thing is I just read that issue like 3 months ago--my memory is shot. And that issue, where Grant steps into his own book to sum his whole run up, was one that really blew me away and changed the way I thought about Mr. Morrison (there are a million ways that issue could have bombed, but it was actually quite touching in a sense, and in a strange way, not egotistical at all, as if he seemed rather

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 11:38 a.m. CST

    Actually, the most frustrating part about IDENTITY CRISIS, Sides

    by Dave_F that between the rape, the continuity geeking, the ridiculous overpowering of Deathstroke, and the fact that the thing seems likely to serve as a sea change for a grimmer, grittier DCU in which I have zero interest...there *are* many examples of excellent moment-to-moment writing and a compelling structure. Not for nothin' did I review its first issue positively, asking, "Why can't these characters always be written with this level of wit and intelligence?" So there ya go. And as the other 'Holes will attest, I've even been able to show a bit of interest in the whodunit hook in our internal e-mails. Yeah, I'll cop to some good stuff in there, but given that the mini is currently the best argument for me to walk away from the DCU proper, 'fraid that when push comes to shove I'll be sticking with the "blows" assessment.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 12:26 p.m. CST


    by Super Person

    When I was in college my roommate had the full run of Grant Morrison Doom Patrols, and I LOVED them... still do... and it STILL kills me that the only thing you can find in TPB form now is the first volume... I bought that YEARS ago, and I'm still waiting for volume 2, when things actually start to get cool and characters and overarching plotlines develop! Dammit, I bought the first one already! I voted with my money! Give me the REST of it!!

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 12:38 p.m. CST

    Oh, and Buzz...

    by Super Person

    I know it may not make much of a difference, as many of the elements you're talking about are still there, but I did think X-2 was WAY way better than the first one... I was a little bored by the first one... great actors for at least the front line leads (Stewart, McKellan, Jackman), but still, just not that exciting... however, I remember being impressed that, unlike every other superhero movie out at that time, they didn't kill all the bad guys... kudos to them! And I enjoyed in the second one the fact that the story was better and tighter, and the story was, overall, more violent... for perhaps the first time, you see "good guys" willfully killing the bad guys... I actually gasped when Wolverine pinned this soldier guy to a fridge with his claws, right through the gut, because they NEVER show that in other superhero movies... anyway, I'm at work, so I'm not doing a good job of explaining exactly WHAT made this one better than the first, but at least give X-2 a chance... I was unimpressed with the first one for a myriad of reasons, and the second one really blew me away...

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 12:45 p.m. CST

    Super Person! Second Morrison DOOM PATROL trade released as of *

    by Dave_F

    Skip work and nab it!

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 12:46 p.m. CST

    Gregory Scott, re: "Irani???", again

    by chumpmonkey

    Greg, relax. My point was that Monkey Butler was obviously confused by the usage of the term "Irani", and a Google search proved that "Iranian" is more common, at least on the internet, which is in fact where we are discussing this, is it not? I think five million hits for "Iranian" versus one hundred thousand hits for "Irani" constitutes a clear definition of the preferred term, and I'll eat my hat if you can prove otherwise, either on the 'net, or in "real life". As for "Irani"'s inclusion in a dictionary, I'll admit that I was unfamiliar with the existence of the term. This is most likely due to the fact that most people do not use the term at all, and house style at all the major news services (and most, if not all, of the minor ones as well) dictates that "Iranian" is the term to be used. As for Superman looking fat, cut the guy some slack. You'd be packing on a few pounds too, if you were being pencilled by a guy named "Rags".

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 1:19 p.m. CST

    Speaking of ol' Rags....

    by bizarromark

    It seems everytime Rags Morales is involved with a project lately, there's the inevitable statement of the writer and/or editor proclaiming that (project's name) will be the work that will launch Rags to his much-deserved mega comic book stardom. It happened when he was working on "Hawkman", and now with "Identity Crisis". I'm sure he's a nice guy, and his artwork is certainly competent...but I don't see the mega-stardom his writers are envisioning. Is this yet another tactic writers use to plug their book? In other words, beyond the story they've crafted, is the hype of witnessing the next star of the artistic firmament abourning just a euphamistic way of saying "My artist is average"? From my perspective, Rags' faces seldom look "right", and actually bring to mind the distorted, not-quite-right faces of classic EC artist Graham Ingels.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 1:26 p.m. CST

    Persepolis 1 & 2 collect all four French books

    by Medieval Guy

    Just a correction: the two American volumes of Persepolis collect all four French albums published to date. I assume there will be more, but we'll have to wait for a couple more French albums to appear before we can hope for an American Volume3...

  • ...but I gotta say, I think he's probably the best classicist superhero artist on the planet at the moment, subject matter be damned. "Average"? No way. He's got total command of anatomy, his action scenes are dynamic as hell, and I like his balance between down-to-earth character types and classic heroic visuals when the characters are in costume. I've had a few qualms with some of his faces that don't quite match my preferred look for characters, but the actual skill with which they're depicted is phenomenal. He *should* be a superstar, as should Steve Epting, as should Cameron Stewart, as should...well, a lot of guys! It's that Michael Turner schnook on the cover who's "overrated" gauge is redlining...

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 1:51 p.m. CST

    Relax? How dare you tell me to relax!

    by Village Idiot

    Actually, to quote a friend, I'm sitting here as calm as the Buddha. I mean, I think both of us can only get so worked up about argument over a term that's used a lot (I've heard it often, and I don't think my liguistic experience is more exotic than yours) versus a term that used more often, when both are correct. So if you've never heard the term before, we both get to walk away having learned something: For you, that the word exists, and for me, that there can acutally be an argument about using it. And Superman isn't fat; he's got a glandular problem. Oh heck, he looks great!

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Wait a second, wouldn't the funky faces be an stylistic touch?

    by Village Idiot

    I don't know about Rags not being much of a stylist. I still remember the first time I came across his work in a JSA crossover with HAWKMAN, and I was impressed by an almost R. Crumb feel to the roundedness, texture, and energy. And of course, the eyes are often a lot bigger than what you'd find in a more classic comic take, approaching the dewy-eyed largeness of Mark Bagley's stuff on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, but much more rounded and almost bulging. I think it's great stuff, definitely stuff I wouldn't mind looking at every month. In fact, I'll see your Michael Turner, Dave, and raise you a Jim Lee.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 2:12 p.m. CST

    "..but I gotta say, I think he's probably the best classicist su

    by bizarromark Dave, my friend, you have left the highway and are now driving through the headlight-illuminated cattails of the FEVER SWAMP. I'm afraid that high honor would have to go to one JOSE GARCIA LOPEZ. Why, in just a few short weeks I'll be a Gibbering & Capering Fanboy in front of Mr. Lopez at our local comic book convention here in the Twin Cities.....and I'll try not to mention your Rags Morales heresey in his Divine Presense.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 2:25 p.m. CST


    by Super Person

    You're a lifesaver! Yes indeed, and that's one of my favorite sections of that run of the Doom Patrol too! Monsieur Mallah and the Brain! WOOOOOOOO!!

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 2:33 p.m. CST

    Sorry if that was unclear, Midevil Guy...

    by Lizzybeth

    Yes, the 4 French volumes of PERSEPOLIS correspond to 2 American volumes. According to Marjane Satrapi, that's going to be it for PERSEPOLIS, although she plans to do more non-fictional comics work in the future.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 2:56 p.m. CST

    Don't know

    by IRuleAll

    if this has been discussed or not, don't really go to many comic websites, but I believe the villains behind Avengers Disassembled (out this week) are Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. You never see Pietro, and the one time you see Wanda is with her face shaded at the scene of Iron Man's pseudodrunken rampage, plus the story arc is called Chaos. Not really digging the story myself, even though I'm a big Bendis fan. Just my opinion, could be wrong.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 3:31 p.m. CST

    believe it or not...

    by sideshowbob

    This is one of only about 5 Superman comics I own. I think this is the way Superman should always be drawn.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 9:10 p.m. CST

    No way, Jose!

    by Dave_F

    Actually, B-Mark, I don't have many examples of work from Garcia-Lopez in my library o' comics (the "Venom" arc of LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT and his ROAD TO PERDITION story come to mind), but that's partially because...and you might want to sit down for this...I find his particular brand of art a little on the bland side. Fine draftsmanship, to be sure, and anatomy-work that Gil Kane might smile upon, but overall? I little boring for me. Truth be told, I feel the same about Alan Davis, same about Curt Swan. I'm not sure quite how to quantify the difference between those guys and the realists I gravitate to - Neal Adams, Brent Anderson, and ol' Rags, to name a few - but somehow those latter three *do* grab me where Lopez, Davis and Swan don't. I can respect 'em, I can see that their drafting skills are better than 90% of their peers...but they ain't never gonna be favorites. Nevertheless, throw some favorite Garcia-Lopez outings at me, Bizarromark. I'm always looking to expand my horizons.

  • Sept. 23, 2004, 10:54 p.m. CST

    Garcia Lopez stuff

    by bizarromark

    Dave-Garcia Lopez....a "little boring"? I've got some work to do then....maybe with an assist from my fellow Garcia Lopez acolyte Greg Scott. A Garcia Lopez primer: (1) The DC Elseworlds book "Kal" (1995), written by Dave Gibbons. GL does the penciling AND inking on this one, and it's simply one of the best-illustrated comic book stories I've ever seen. Pay special attention to the facial expressions. (2) Deadman(2002) #5 and #6. I received these from Greg recently, and they're amazing. (3) Hawkman #18 (2003) (4) Deadman four issue mini-series (1986) (5) A bit farther back, Superman #301 (1976). I've got an extra, lower-grade copy if you want it. (6) "Cinder and Ashe" four issue mini-series (1988). There...I think that gives you an adequate "fly-over" of Garcia Lopez's work. Check it out....if you still think his stuff is boring after that, then there's nothing I can do to help you, my friend! Greg? Any additional "essentials" I'm overlooking?

  • Sept. 24, 2004, 8:59 a.m. CST

    no love for Atari Force?

    by sideshowbob

    (actually, even as a kid who loved Atari and loved comic books, I didn't care a lot for it)

  • Sept. 24, 2004, 8:11 p.m. CST

    Grant Morrison And Suicide Squad

    by Lukecash

    Here is a fun fact for you guys. When Grant Morrison put himself in Animal Man, another writer took the ball and ran with it...toung in cheek. John Ostrander, the great writer of Suicide Squad during the 1980's-90's placed a Character called "The Writer" into his book. "The Writer" explained that once he wrote himself into countinuity, he actually exsisted. His power was anthing that he wrote would happened in "reality" He died (as many good Suicide Squad members did) when he had a writers block while he was being attacked.

  • Sept. 25, 2004, 3 a.m. CST

    Independent comics, anyone?

    by Henchman

    Is this column ever going to have a majority of books that aren't published by the big four (Image, Marvel, DC and Dark Horse)? Just once? I mean, most of these columns are just big complaints about how all the books from these sources is crap or flawed in one way or another. I just figured that AICN, which revels in small film, might occasionally spotlight the indy comic or two. There are some great ones out there ("Girl Genius," "Halo and Sprocket," "Knights of the Dinner Table," etc.).

  • Sept. 25, 2004, 4:44 a.m. CST

    You're joking, right Hench?

    by Dave_F

    Given the content of this latest column, I *have* to believe this is the case. As for HALO & SPROCKET, I've covered or mentioned it no less than three times: 1) 2) 3) You might not've noticed, but *someone* did. I'm quoted on the back of the trade.

  • Sept. 25, 2004, 4:47 a.m. CST

    Nice trip down memory lane there, Luke

    by Dave_F

    I wasn't the world's hippest comic buyer in the '80s, but I *was* hip enough to be into THE SUICIDE SQUAD, so I of course remember the scene you mention! Very cool stuff. Of course, at the time and for years afterward, I always assumed "The Writer" was Ostrander himself, only learning a few years ago it was intended to be Morrison. Damn, that was a good series...

  • Sept. 25, 2004, 5:02 a.m. CST


    by Dave_F

    I guess I was too much a Marvel guy for ATARI FORCE to even be a blip on my radar when it first came out, but I'll tell ya one thing, Sideshow: I sure did think the team *looked* cool when I saw 'em in DC's WHO'S WHO circa the mid-'80s. And that's about all I know of 'em. Personally, I think they should've travelled to alternate worlds based on the sci-fi video games of the era, bringing freedom with laser guns a'blazin'. They'd overthrow the ROBOTRON robots of the year 2084, repel the SPACE INVADERS (possiply using a stolen ship from the DEFENDER/STARGATE universe?), be stalked in the mushroom forest of the deadly CENTIPEDE, learn how to link ships for maximum firepower against the insectoid armada of GALAGA, and travel between all these various worlds via the danger-filled warpzone known as...TEMPEST! And did I mention the all-comedy issue where a warp malfuction sees the team vaulting over the deadly barrels of DONKEY KONG, hiding behind corners of a labyrinth to dodge the devouring ghosts of PAC-MAN, and inflating subterraneon dragons until they explode gorily in the caverns of DIG DUG? Dammit, man, why wasn't *I* consulted about ATARI FORCE?!

  • Sept. 25, 2004, 10:29 a.m. CST

    Unreadable X-Men

    by psipher

    I remember looking forward to hitting the newsstand each month in anticipation of great and entertaining stories inside the various X-titles. I'm afraid those days are over for me. I'm still trying to make sense out of what the last creative teams did to the books. The whole "Xorn is really Magneto in disguise only he's really a clone of some sort" storyline was the end for me. I've stopped buying comics in general now, unless something comes highly recommended by someone I trust. Maybe after a few years of damage control X-Men will be worth picking up again. In the meantime, for anyone who enjoys fan fiction I envite you take a look at where you can follow the exploits of children of modern day X-Men as they forge their own legend in the ongoing title Neo-X.

  • Sept. 25, 2004, 8:29 p.m. CST

    Ambush Bug, if you're still out there...

    by sideshowbob

    The answer to "How long can Bill Sienkewitcz keep up a monthly schedule?", apparently, is one month! Oof!