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AICN COMICS! SPIDER-MAN/HUMAN TORCH!! 7 SOLDIERS!!! SIN CITY!!! THE RETURN OF INDIE JONES!!!! AND MUCH MORE!!!!

#44 3/23/05 #3

Howdy folks. Welcome to another edition of AICN COMICS! As always (except on every other Tuesday, when I only answer to the name Judy), I’m Ambush Bug . This week, we feature the return of our INDIE JONES section focusing on the more independent aspects of the comic book industry. Look for a pair of Indie reviews from Vroom Socko and Special Guest Reviewer Matthew Wanderski towards the end of the column. Remember to contact your favorite reviewer if you have an Indie book you think is worth a look see in this here column. But first, let’s check out what’s in this week’s pull.


The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

SEVEN SOLDIERS: GUARDIAN #1
SPIDER-MAN/ HUMAN TORCH #3
SIN CITY VOLS. 3 & 4
ELFQUEST ARCHIVES Vol. 2 HC
RUNAWAYS #2
INDIE JONES presents INSULT TO INJURY
INDIE JONES presents TABLOIA WEEKLY MAGAZINE #575
CHEAP SHOTS!

SEVEN SOLDIERS : THE MANHATTAN GUARDIAN # 1

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Cameron Stewart
Published by DC
Reviewed by 7 Buzzes Of Maverik



Grant Morrison appears to be many different writers. Luckily, each version of Grant seems to be supremely talented.

So far, each installment of Morrison's 7 SOLDIERS uber-series reads like it could have come from a different writer ... if there were three different writers of equal high quality who could still tell a story with a beginning, middle and ending (even when writing an issue of a far larger story); who could include character, realism, fantasy, science fiction and horror; who could write action.

Let's say that you're one of the four remaining comic fans with some testosterone flowing through your body (and let's say it's your own testosterone and not that some guy who promised he'd never tell anyone). You still like action in your comics. If you say you like action, somebody who has spent too much time at the Bendis Board will say, "Oh, you want thirty pages of mindless fisticuffs."

That's when you pull out THE MANHATTAN GUARDIAN # 1. It opens with a WARRIORS-esque attack on a subway platform by a gang of the Homeless, who think they're pirates! We're talking cutlasses, eye patches, filed teeth, hooks for hands and a treasure map tattoo that goes where WATERWORLD wouldn't. We then see a beautifully understated scene of a marriage under strain, a compassionate father-in-law, and our hero, Jake Jordan taking his first step toward redemption. Jake steps into a DIE HARD like scenario for a moment, only to end up duking it out with a Golem. Once he becomes the new Guardian, Jake is plunging into battle on the subway platform and end up clinging to a chain attached at one end to a fleeing subway car and at the other end to a guy who is being burnt alive.

Do you like noir? Real noir, not just people talking in shadowy rooms with light coming through the blinds? Jake is an ex-cop who shot a kid that he mistook for a cop killer. He's broken down and heartbroken, in danger of losing his wife Carla and all his self-respect. Without a ton of dialogue, with real adult emotions instead of teen angst, within a few pages we are as happy as Carla is to see Jake smile.

Jake answers an ad in a newspaper called THE MANHATTAN GUARDIAN. This is a paper written by its' readers, the Newsboy Army. The paper's mysterious owner, Ed Starguard, who may be a computer program and who has golems for his bodyguards, is looking to create his own superhero. His paper won't just report crime, it will fight it. The Newsboy Army is on hand to help out, sort of like Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street Irregulars.

I'm a recovering Marvel Zombie who now slightly prefers DC and Image overall. Starguard may or may not be an old time DC character. The Guardian was created by Jack Kirby as the superhero pal of his 40s comic THE NEWSBOY LEGION. This is a welcome recreation that in many ways does not conflict with Kirby's tone.

Next up: ZATANNA # 1. Fishnets, bay-bee.


SPIDER-MAN/HUMAN TORCH #3 (of 5)

Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ty Templeton
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Dave Farabee



Alright you hipster bitches, best sit your JMS and Bendis-lovin’ asses down – the Spider-Mobile’s back on the streets…

And it’s comin’ for ya!

That’s right, SHE-HULK scribe and all-around Marvel history-lover Dan Slott returns us to the swingin’ ‘70s with this latest SPIDER-MAN/HUMAN TORCH outing, and he’s not only not embarrassed about the weird shit like the Spider-Mobile…he bloody well embraces it!

The particular genius of Dan Slott, however, is that he could take something so giddily stupid as the Spider-Mobile and work it into a story that’s actually got some heart. Keep in mind, the Spider-Mobile dates back to the same period as one of the most dramatic events in Spider-Man’s life: the death of Gwen Stacy. And it’s the loss of Gwen that actually kicks off the latest issue of this decidedly retro series. Spidey’s standing on top of the Brooklyn Bridge recounting the topsy-turvy events of his last few months – Luke Cage hired by JJJ to bring him down, his first showdown with the Punisher, Doc Ock’s attempt to marry Aunt May – and when the “camera” pulls back we see that he’s talking to his lost Gwen, trying to straighten his life out (while conveniently giving we readers some context for the era). It’s pretty much a cliché of the genre, but what hooked me was Spidey’s revelation to Gwen about how the unlikeliest of events was helping to bring him out of his depression…
“…in the end, I think the best help might’ve come from two strangers…Carter & Lombardo. They’re two ad men who approached me as Spidey. They wanted me to promote Corona Motors…by building a Spider-Mobile! Honest. I am not making this up.”
And just like that, not only does the silliness of the old Spider-Mobile drift away (even the original explanation for its existence is comic-book-plausible – eternally broke Peter Parker is hired to promote a pollution-free car – I buy that), but the notion that it helped Spidey get over Gwen’s death actually makes it…well…kinda cool. And that’s just three pages into the comic! This Slott guy is anti-decompression at its best.

The Human Torch angle dates back to the original comics, too, because he was the guy who helped Spidey trick out the Spider-Mobile and taught him to drive. What Slott brings to the table is the notion that the during the course of tuning up the Spider-Mobile, the Human Torch became the one guy Spider-Man could talk to about the death of Gwen. Of course, Torch isn’t exactly a lean-on-me kind of guy – he’s a hotrod punk! – but these are still some potent scenes from the Stan Lee school of superhero humanity. They really feel true to the era, like a lost comic from ’74, right down to Torch’s ugly red uniform.

And that’s the serious side of the issue, but Slott’s not one to linger on angst overlong, and the rest of the story is funny as hell! Hey, just ‘cause the Spider-Mobile was the catalyst for Spidey working through his worst emotional trauma ever doesn’t mean it’s not the ripest target for laughs this side of GIANT-SIZED MAN THING. Slott puts it at the center of a raucous theft by one of my fave Cold War villain teams, The Red Ghost and His Super Apes (hell yeah!), and just about every scene it appears in is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Let’s check out a snippet of dialogue from the scene where Spidey and the Torch are being flagged down by some cops:
Spidey: Um…this might not be the best time to tell you, but…
Torch: But what?
Spidey: I don’t have a license.
Torch: Great.
Spidey: And I’m wanted for murder.
Torch: Anything else.
Spidey: I’m pregnant.
Dan Slott, don’t you go anywhere, my friend – Marvel needs you. Later scenes have Spider-Man trying to parallel park, Torch and Spidey finding the Spider-Mobile on cinder blocks when they park on Yancy Street, and Spidey getting pissed when the Super Apes start changing his present radio stations. It’s bloody beautiful and I haven’t even mentioned the genius nod to the Hostess Fruit Pie ads of the ‘70s or the Spider-Mobile as an inspired tool of vengeance on J. Jonah Jameson. The latter is the comic book scene of the year as far as I’m concerned!

I’ll admit, when this series with its look at the oddball friendship of Spidey and the Human Torch first kicked off, I actually thought Slott was being a little too old-school with it. Each issue clearly occurs during specific eras of Marvel’s past, eras the current generation of readers don’t seem much interested in, and Ty Templeton’s art has a ‘70s vibe that might tickle the nostalgia-meter but is about as noncommercial as it gets. And indeed, sales on the book seem to be in the crapper.

Well the hell with all that second-guessing! Here’s the straight truth: this is the best Spider-Man comic of the last ten years, period, and the Spidey fan who fails to buy it is no fan at all. In fact, the Spidey fan who fails to buy this should be flogged, wedgied, and run over by a tricked-out Spider-Man-themed dune buggy.

Let the punishment fit the crime!


SIN CITY VOL. 3: THE BIG FAT KILL

SIN CITY VOL. 4: THAT YELLOW BASTARD

Words and Pictures: Frank Miller
Publisher: Dark Horse
Reviewer: Ambush Bug



Last week, I took a look at the first two volumes of SIN CITY. It was the first time I ventured into Frank Miller’s dark world of mystery and noir. Like the obsessive compulsive that I am, I had to run out and pick up volumes three and four. I have to say that having read these volumes, the stink that I recently associated Frank Miller with after reading THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES BACK has been washed away with the black and white rain streaks that so often decorate the panels of a SIN CITY comic book. This really is a great series, one worthy of all of the praise that has been heaped upon it.

In volume three, entitled THE BIG FAT KILL, Dwight returns for more trouble. In this sequel to A DAME TO KILL FOR, Dwight is shacking up with a waitress who used to be bumping biscuits with a cop. When her old beau pays a not-so-friendly visit, things get real ugly, real fast. Dwight and the ladies of Old Town must work together to preserve the fragile truce the cops, the mob, and the ladies of Old Town have together. The final few chapters of this story are where the action really heats up. Miller makes an interesting break in the momentum of the story, flashing back to ancient times with a tale of a Greek General and how he and his small army overcame impossible odds against a much larger army. The break seems a bit bizarre at the time, but when we return to the story, anyone can see where this break is leading and when it does come to a head in the present, the result is nothing short of beautiful. Beautiful, that is, if you think massive amounts of blood, bullets, body parts, bomb blasts, and bombshells are beautiful. Out of the four volumes, Volume Number Two, A DAME TO KILL FOR, was probably my least favorite. I found Dwight to be a little dull compared to the lovable lug Marv and the star of the fourth installment, Harrigan. But in Volume Three, Miller peppers in some truly memorable characters that make this story shine. The silent but deadly character Miho is especially fascinating and rendered with the ferocity of a tiger as she slices apart the enemy.

THAT YELLOW BASTARD, Volume Four, is my favorite of the bunch though. Harrigan is your typical “I’m getting’ too old for this shit” cop, just a few piles of paper work away from retirement and on the trail of a child molester who just happens to be the son of a crooked senator. This is by far Miller at his best in this series. This story takes place through many years as Harrigan pays for a crime he didn’t commit in order to save the life of an innocent child. Once released, Harrigan realizes that his time spent in jail means nothing because she is still in danger. That Yellow Bastard is one of the more memorable and vile creations leering around Sin City. Like Marv in THE HARD GOODBYE, Miller follows a fragile man on his last leg trying to do one last good deed. Harrigan is heart breaking in his commitment to saving a young girl from the corruption and danger that oozes from every corner in the Town Without Pity. My only complaint is that the dialog Nancy, the 11 year old victim, spouts to Harrigan in his hospital room seems a bit off, as if it were a forty year old man writing what he thinks an eleven year old would say. But since Miller was probably that age when he was writing this, I guess it is pretty much accurate, so I’m willing to give those awkward panels a pass.

There has been a lot of talk about the overuse of splash pages in recent comics. I attest to the fact that I have been one of those who say that more often than not, they are a waste of space. But Miller uses splashes to space out the reading experience. Splashes are meant to be pauses, slo mo sequences, a chance to breathe or gasp or shiver. There is a sequence of splashes in THAT YELLOW BASTARD that signifies the death of a major character. It doesn’t waste an inch of space. It intensifies the moment and envelops you in the fascinating story. This is not a hack artist stretching out a half-assed panel to fill a 22 page book. This is an artist who is a master at his craft and utilizing the shape and space of the panel to its full effect. Miller instinctually knows when to slow down the momentum of the story or make your jaw drow in awe at the sheer emotion or spectacle of the image. Like a talented director of film, Miller makes sequential art like no other.

Last week, I made a blunder in my SIN CITY review stating that A DAME TO KILL FOR was part of the storyline followed in the theatrical version of SIN CITY. The film actually follows volumes one, three, and four, but to enjoy the entire back-story of Dwight (played by Clive Owen in the film) you might want to check out volume two. After walking through the comic book versions of Sin City’s twisted streets and alleyways, I can’t wait to see them come to life on film. These digest versions look beautiful and aren’t that pricey (moderately priced between 15 and 19 samoleans). SIN CITY has been called one of the most intriguing comic book series ever written and it is truly worthy of that hype.


ELFQUEST ARCHIVES Vol. 2 (Hardcover)

Writers: Richard and Wendy Pini
Artist: Wendy Pini
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by Dave Farabee



I’ve been covering DC’s ELFQUEST reprints pretty closely since they began, so indulge me a minute with some links to past ELFQUEST reviews to save me covering old ground:

*Review of the ELFQUEST 25th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL – here’s where I went nuts reminiscing over the series in general and how my horny sixth grade class loved it because the elves looked like hot teens.

*Review of the first volume of manga-sized, black and white ELFQUEST reprints…in which they’re found slightly wanting in production, if not content.

*Review of the first ELFQUEST ARCHIVES hardcover with an emphasis on the technical stuff – the re-coloring, the re-lettering, and the new content.

Still with me? Good, because I’m going to tell you about the chapter of the Elfquest saga where things get intimate. Not in the sexual sense…well actually, there’s one sex scene late in the story that’s as steamy as I’ve ever seen in a comic…but no, I’m talking about intimacy of character as the saga takes a break from its ensemble cast to spotlight a few key characters. In that, it’s more personal than anything in the first collection, but the momentum never slows for a minute…

The “quest” of the series’ title has always been, quite literally, the quest for the Wolfrider tribe of elves to find more of their own kind, to discover who they are and where they came from in a world dominated by humans. The unique setting is seemingly an Ice Age-era Earth, the elves’ technology existing at a simple medieval level (bolstered by touches of magic) in contrast with the relative primitivism of their human enemies. Volume one saw the Wolfriders burned out of their forest home and forced into deadly trek across the desert, ultimately leading to a (relatively) happy union with a tribe of darker-skinned desert elves.

In volume two, old troubles finally catch up with our heroes. Even as some of the Wolfriders find themselves bristling under the customs of the Sun Folk, a band of outcast humans shows up near death at the edge of the village. The relative simplicity of volume one’s adventurous, romantic plot gives way to more sophisticated questions of morality this time ‘round, for these aren’t the deadly human hunters who tortured and hounded the Wolfriders in years past – these are a starving band of outcasts, a child in tow no less – and for the first time the aggressive nature of the Wolfriders casts them in a darker light than their old enemies. The tribal leader, Cutter, reluctantly spares the humans, but exiles them to near-certain death in the desert even as he comes to a hard decision: with humans so prevalent in the world, the “elfquest” must go on – the more elves united to fight them, the better.

Sound like the old cliché that humans=evil despoilers? Think again. Cutter’s cruel decision regarding the human outcasts is just the first in a series of increasingly sophisticated culture clashes to come in the volume. Joined by best friend, Skywise (that’s the pair of ‘em on the cover), he sets out for uncharted territories, promising to return within a year’s time. And it’s the Cutter/Skywise friendship which drives this collection. Like all the best buddy pairs in heroic tales – Kirk and Spock, Butch and Sundance, Huck and Jim – it quickly becomes clear that their friendship exists on a deeper level than most friendships. Cutter’s the warrior/leader, Skywise the dreamer/lover, but they’d give their lives for each other in a heartbeat and their verbal sparring is a both fun and heartfelt. Wendy Pini’s art brings their friendship to life, her nuanced array of animation-inspired expressions bringing all the facets of sophisticated adults to their Peter Pan-esque designs.

And as they travel…

There’s mystery…

First when they rediscover the troll caves of the first volume, abandoned save for a likeable rogue of a troll, his would-be bride and would-be mother-in-law (scary). This is one of my favorite interludes in the series. I love how it bucks fantasy trends when the elves end up getting drunk with the trolls – turns out they’re as slick with wine-making as they are with metal-smithing. And the scene introduces one of the series’ most visually-stunning characters, the mad troll genius, Two-Edge. He’ll play a vital role in subsequent volumes, but for this outing, he’s just an enigma to rival the coolness of Boba Fett circa 1980.

And there’s danger…

Oh, the trolls aren’t all wine and song! They’ve got some nasty plans, though it’s actually a squirrel bite that does more damage than anything in this volume. Stagnant water…open wound…it’s a recipe for disaster and it also leads Cutter and Skywise directly into the lair of a human couple.

And there’s real emotion…

Turns out these humans are yet another stripe of humanity for Cutter and Skywise to try to decipher. Cast out from their superstitious tribe over the symbol-art the woman paints, they’re a truly loving couple…and is it just possible her paintings of spirits actually depict an undiscovered tribe of elves? There’s that mystery again…

And, okay, there’s a little sex!

One of the most refreshing aspects of the entire ELFQUEST series is that it’s so friendly toward sex, presenting it tastefully but without shying away from eroticism. It’s the beauty of a series created by an artistically-inclined husband and wife. They don’t just bring the naughty – they also bring complex character interactions, highs and lows in friendships, and the joys of family…all while managing to avoid the dangers of cheap sentimentality. After all, this volume sees one character lose a thumb to a blade, sees the heartbreaking final days of one the elves’ wolf-mounts, and sees a brutal ending that remains one of the most compelling cliffhangers in comics. Have the Wolfriders discovered a new tribe of elves only to find them a gathering of sadists?

I have a tendency to save art concerns for the end of reviews and I really shouldn’t, because Wendy Pini’s lush art (she’s penciller, inker, and colorist) makes every page of this book sing. Her lines are clean like the best of Disney, but her painterly coloring creates environments rich with texture and subtle colorations. You’ll feel the cool air of her desert nights, the softness of the robes that shimmer off the hottest of elf-babes, Leetah, and even the sun-hardened skin of the proud human tribesman. I could say she’s a consummate storyteller too, but it’s the sensuality and richness of the ELFQUEST setting the most sticks with me, so for this review my particular title for her is “world-builder.” Many try, few succeed, she set the standard that’s yet to be equaled.

My one beef with the story itself comes down to “Ewok Syndrome” – the introduction of a new, highly cute race whose mannerisms border on cloying. I like the role they eventually play, but they’re just a bit insufferable at first. They’re also at the heart of a “lost chapter” integrated into the collection, a long out-of-print story that appeared in the magazine EPIC ILLUSTRATED back when Marvel had the ELFQUEST property in the ‘80s. Not a bad story, but if this were a director’s cut DVD, it’d be the scene where I’d say, “Woulda been neat as a scene to view after the movie, but I kinda wish they hadn’t integrated it.”

The big question these DC Archives will always evoke is…are they worth the fifty buck price? And the answer with ELFQUEST will always be “yes…HELL YES!” I’ve got much love for the Golden and Silver Age classics that are the meat and potatoes of the line, but if we’re being honest, even fans have to admit that many of those stories are crude works, of interest to hardcore fans and comic scholars alone. ELFQUEST isn’t like that. ELFQUEST did for comic book fantasy what Lee and Kirby did for superheroes: establish the high water mark against which all future contenders will be judged. I’d say that deserves a hardcover!

As for me, I’m already jonesin’ for the next volume. It’s the one where things get dark, daaark, daaaaaark!


RUNAWAYS #2

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Adrian Alphona
Inks: Craig Yeung
Publisher: Marvel
Reviewer: Ambush Bug



There is no such thing as a perfect comic.

There. I said it. If you sit down with a comic book, read it, say “That was a perfect comic book.”, and don’t have anything else to say supporting that statement or intelligently debating those who feel otherwise, then you, my friend, are not a comic book reviewer or critic (if you will). You are a fan, which is not to say that being a fan is a bad thing. There are millions of you out there. Comics and their creators need their fans. They need the people who can see no flaws. People who follow a comic creator’s every move and creation with utter and complete adoration. But that’s not what I am and that’s not what I do. I and the rest of my comic book reviewing cadre here at AICN COMICS look at comics and try to find the good, the bad, and something worthy to say about it all. The thing is, if you clicked on this column every week and all we did was list the comic and afterwards said, “Yup, I liked it.”, you probably wouldn’t click here again. I’m not saying that this is rocket science we do here every week, but it does take a bit of thought to churn out objective criticism on a regular basis. Sometimes it just isn’t as easy as saying “This sux.” or “That rulez!” As a comic book reviewer, it’s my job to elaborate on one of the two phrases and sometimes both.

That said, this week I am reviewing RUNAWAYS #2. I chose this book to review because, more than any other comic out there today, the @$$holes at AICN COMICS have supported this book and touted it as one of the best comics Marvel has to offer. For the most part, I agree. RUNAWAYS is always fresh. The stories are compelling. The characters are original. The cliffhangers are worthy of the name. I always walk away from reading a RUNAWAYS comic with the feeling that I did not waste my money and that can’t be said with a lot of the books I read.

Take this issue, for example. RUNAWAYS #2 features the first meeting between our team and a youngster named Victor who will one day grow up to be a powerful villain named Victorious and is the son of one of the most powerful villains in the Marvel Universe (the identity of Victor’s father is part of the mystery, much like the “Who is the traitor?” mystery from the previous series). On the trail of the Runaways is a band of former teen heroes called Excelsior who have taken it upon themselves to stop the teen heroes of today from making the same mistakes that they did. This is a tightly-packed issue, filled with ups and downs, subplots and intersecting paths. In two issues, Vaughan has not only reminded us who the Runaways are and introduced us to a new character who will be a major player in the rest of this arc, but he has introduced another team of post-teens who aren’t cast as bad guys, but as misguided (or more accurately, misinformed) heroes themselves. That’s a lot happening in two issues and a leap away from the decompressed storytelling trend that has become commonplace at Marvel.

But like I said earlier, there’s no such thing as a perfect comic. It’s my job to not only elaborate on the good stuff, I must also do my duty as a comic reviewer and delve into the soft nougat of this comic to see if there is anything to gripe about.

One of the things that stood out as particularly gripe-worthy was the multiple usage of liberal opinionings present in the first issue of this series. Now, I’m not what you’d call a political guy. I tend to cast myself as a middle-of-the-road, self-proclaimed anarchist. I try to steer away from politics when I can because all it does is call assholes to arms and force them to fart factoids orally as if they are going to change the mind of the opposing party (who never falter in retaliating with a flurry of vocal flatulence themselves). These conversations bore the living shit out of me and anyone else who is confident enough about their own beliefs to kindly shut the fuck up about them and not give a shit whether or not the other tool below you in the talkbacks or on the barstool next to you feels the same way. These amateur politicians aren’t really trying to inform you. They just like the way their bad breath smells and want to share the stank with you. When I read barbs at the Bush Administration and Fox News in issue one, I automatically had an adverse response. Not because I like those greasy bastards, but because it really had no pertinence to the story. There are comics where politics are free game to be discussed, deliberated, and debated. Show me those comics and I will stay the hell away from them. But that has never been what RUNAWAYS is about, so why pigeon-hole an awkward political statement in the dialog that screeches the story momentum to a halt? This was merely the writer letting everyone know where he stands politically and I could give a shit and a half less. I’ll take some more teen angst and super heroism and a little less political egotism, thankyewverymuch.

Whew! Rant over. Breathe, Bug, breathe. The second issue itself was politics free, thank god. Let’s hope Vaughan got that out of him in the first issue.

The art from Alphonia and Yeung continues to be amazing. The cast’s detailed styles of clothing is especially unique. The simplicity of the line is exceptionally appealing and offers a worthy alternative to the bold lines and shadings of many of today’s comics. Alphona doesn’t follow your typical cut and paste muscles and boobs formula for drawing heroes. Each character has a posture, a stance, a weight and presence all his or her own. Each person is presented uniquely. This is a truly beautiful comic.

Like I said, there is no such thing as the perfect comic. But despite the distracting presence of politics in the first issue, RUNAWAYS is pretty close to perfection for me.


INSULT TO INJURY

Ben Rosen: Creator
Vroom Socko: Injuring



Wow. Just last week, I was talking up a book where the main character was the creator of his own indie book, and here’s an indie book… about a guy creating his own indie book.

Huh.

Oh, don’t get me wrong; Ben Rosen’s book is pretty damn entertaining, if somewhat by the numbers. Teenage comic book fan Greg is heading into finals week, his father is hammering on him to study, and his after school job sucks. Naturally, this is the perfect time to enter a local mini-comic contest. That’s it, really. Only it’s actually pretty funny. Greg’s dad is hilarious in his enforced study regiment, as are the difficulties he has in taking a state standardized test.

There are some jokes however, that do fall flat, primarily a running gag where everyone who reads Greg’s book asks if the villain is supposed to be his dad. The art is also quite sparse in places. But, as the comics pro that Greg talks to says, for a first-time work it’s better than I expected, and Rosen has nowhere to go but up. I’ll definitely want to see what sort of work he’ll be doing in a few years.

But don’t take my word for it, Just click right here to take a look at some sample pages, as well as find ordering information. As for Rosen, I only have one question for him: is that comic book writer at the end supposed to be Bendis?

TABLOIA WEEKLY MAGAZINE #575 (4th issue)

Writer: Chris Wisnia
Artists: Chris Wisnia, with Dick Ayers, Damon Thompson, Ryan Sook, Steve Rude and John Severin
Publisher: Salt Peter Press
Reviewer: Matthew Wanderski



TABLOIA is a melting pot of goodies drawn from pulp and kitsch media as diverse as Raymond Chandler (or at least TV's THE NAKED CITY), old giant monster comic books, and The National Inquirer, naming only a few. Creative Mastermind Chris Wisnia packs every inch of his comic book with one or another aspect of the bizarre or sensational, the criminal or horrific, and the result is a complete and near-delirious package that moves from the serious to the silly, the truthful to the patently false (and in-between), always keeping in mind the promise of its title.

The lead serial – and heart of the anthology – is “The Lump,” a modern L.A.-style slice of noir concerning the investigation into a horribly disfigured victim of a highway traffic accident. Or is it murder? Or something even more sinister? The inexplicable condition of "the lump" serves as a springboard for some cultural commentary on modern notions of beauty and body modification, including direct dissertation that actually fits the story, since it's voiced by the hip, young, "alternative" type of characters (one of them seems a college student or recent graduate) who would expound on such concerns. They're also the most engaging characters in the feature (although Wisnia creates a promising figure in Homicide Det. Morelli, particularly in his visual characterization), and a good part of the intrigue is watching them weave in and out of the narrative. The Lump also pleases as a mystery; just when I thought I knew for sure where the story was going, this latest chapter took some unexpected turns, and I find myself guessing once again.

The back-up features are played for laughs and essentially the same ones each issue. They can't compare to the forensic puzzle of “The Lump,” but they do always bring a smile or laugh. The most consistently funny is “Dr. DeBunko: Debunker of the Supernatural!,” in which the weak-minded manage to rationalize the most outrageous – and sinful – behaviors with the help of superstition. It's in this strip that Wisnia's sense of humor really takes off, and I find myself laughing at it every time.

But not only the sequential art narratives in TABLOIA celebrate and lampoon the cannons of camp, noir, yellow journalism, etc. Almost every word and image, from front cover to back, contributes to the fun. The inside front cover contains goofball columns devoted to "fun sanitation tips" and "surprising sex science facts," while the letters pages reference issues decades old, even though TABLOIA debuted in 2004. TABLOIA creates its own engaging reality every issue, and the editorial features do a good amount of that mythologizing. It can be occasionally dizzying, trying to sort fact from fiction in these text pieces, but just as with the supermarket tabloid, it's best to err on the side of caution.

Special kudos should go to the smartly-designed covers of Damon Thompson. With a limited color scheme that alternately weights black, white, intermediate grey and striking red, and anchored by or composed entirely of one lurid subject (a severed hand on a nighttime road; a windshield bullet hole; a set of surgical instruments; a spooky, moon-lit barn), they beautifully set the tone for the lead feature. The other, goofier side of TABLOIA finds its way onto the back covers, as in this context their mock parental warnings conjure up the Fredric Wertham-led crusade against funny books of the 1950s. And each issue is rounded out by fantastical pin-ups by guest artists. This issue, Ryan Sook covers the giant monster angle; Steve Rude's entry is slyly sinister, while John Severin further broadens the series' pulpish palette with his stirring Western image.

But it's Wisnia who is the chief artist, and he varies his style effectively from feature to feature. The Lump utilizes solid, copious and highly atmospheric blacks, appropriate for the night scenes and shadowy offices and morgues that dominate the story. “Dick Hammer: Conservative Republican Private Investigator” looks much the same, but looser and rougher, befitting its manly, tongue-in-cheek tone. Dr. DeBunko's demons and sheltered hamlets are scratchily delineated, bringing to mind old, eldritch woodcuts; the contrast with the silliness of the stories makes the proceedings all the more hysterical. And old pro Dick Ayers, who inked many a Jack Kirby giant monster tale, brings perfect finishes to Wisnia's pencils in “Doris Danger Seeks... Where Giant Monsters Creep and Stomp!,” a direct homage to the kind of creature feature Kirby and Steve Ditko churned out in the 50s and 60s.

While each component of TABLOIA is at least pleasing (“The Lump” is especially worthy of notice), what makes this series really special is how they all come together as a total reading experience – and a gonzo one, at that. Meticulously, enthusiastically, and cleverly conceived and executed, TABLOIA brims with Wisnia's obvious affection for the source material and the ways in which they mix what we believe, what we want to believe, and what we simply can't. Everything wraps up in the extra-sized finale due in June, but all issues should be available via the TABLOIA website (itself a treat) if not at your local shop. Fans of other pulp-n-noir titles, from PLANETARY to HELLBOY, KANE to EVIL EYE, should find something to dig in TABLOIA.


NEW AVENGERS #4 - I've just realized why, despite being a well written and illustrated book, I'm just not enjoying NEW AVENGERS. No, it's not lingering hatred of “Avengers Disassembled,” or the stupid doughnut bit from this issue... okay, those play into it, but it's something else. It's that the whole book is little more than warmed over Morrison-style JLA. Think about it. The team is made up of the company's signature characters (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern compared to Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Iron Man and Daredevil,) along with a few of the writer's personal favorites, (Aztek, Orion, and Big Barda vs. Sentry, Luke Cage and Spider-Woman.) And these characters are being thrown up against wave after wave of crazy shit (White Martians, Angels, and crazy villains who can alter reality, or dozens of escaped super villains, the Savage Land, and crazy villains who can alter reality.) Why is this bad? Because it means two things. One, that it took doing what DC did ten years ago for Marvel to have the #1 book over SUPERMAN/BATMAN. Two, that despite any claims of narrative evolution in comics, what was the #1 book in the 90's would still be the #1 book today. Of course, I also fucking hated Morrison on JLA, so you might want to keep that in mind. – Vroom

JLA CLASSIFIED #5 - In this episode of the “Not Ready For JLA Players,” the team comes to terms with living next door to Guy Gardner’s new bar, Blue Beetle approaches Power Girl for membership, Sue Dibney continues to deny her pregnancy, and Booster Gold fucks up big time. More fun and laughs from the legendary team of Giffen, Dematteis, and McGuire. Sure, after the events of IDENTITY CRISIS, the running joke that Sue is pregnant leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but the rapid HIS GIRL FRIDAY-style dialog has a wit and charm that cannot be found in any other comic. Later in this Cheap Shots section, I will rip into Bendis for filling an entire issue with talking heads. In this series, I don’t object to the overabundance of the talkity-talk, since the word balloons bounce around with a vibrancy and energy of their own. It doesn’t hurt that McGuire’s art takes facial expressions to a completely new level. This cast of heroes are some of the most entertaining and fun aspects of the DCU. So why in the holy hell do they keep killing them off? - Bug

DAREDEVIL #71 - It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed DD. Good to see nothing has changed. You have to give the guy credit. Bendis sure knows how to stick to a formula. Never straying from his now-worn style of inaction and over-speak, this issue focuses on a group of people who have gathered together to talk and talk and talk some more about how DD has effected their lives since he assumed the mantle of Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen. With such memorable and to-the-point lines as:
“Now you said you’ve changed. You’re changing. Being there at that moment. You’ve said it changed you?”
I find it amusing that I am the one accused of being redundant in reviewing this series over and over. True, if I were simply a fan, I’d have dropped this book long ago, but since I am a reviewer of comics (good and bad, and in this case very bad), I’ll keep reading this book and pointing out how terribly dull Bendis has made the character of Daredevil and the once fascinating world of crime he used to bound about in. This issue also features the return of Ann Nocenti’s Bullet and some kind of art from Alex Maleev that looks as if it were produced by tracing photographs using a worn down pencil nub guided solely by the artist’s anus. This arc is framed around the Bible’s Ten Commandments. As if Bendis’ writing wasn’t pretentious enough. - Bug

HAWKMAN #38 - The Golden Eagle is re-introduced in this issue. And that’s a good thing, since I didn’t know who the hell he was before this issue. Hawkman and Hawkgirl attend yet another fancy, black tie soiree, only to be once again attacked by a cadre of super-villains. It would border on repetitious if not for the fact that Hawkgirl comments on how they can’t go to a party without someone getting killed. The villains are a bit too flip for me in the dialog department. In a previous issue, main baddie The Fadeaway Man comments that he “makes the Joker look like the Riddler.” In this issue, big baddie Lionmane growls, “Looks like an all-you-can-eat down there.” Ugh. That’s a bit too “Look at me, I’m so eeeevil!” for me. Other than that, though, Palmiotti and Grey have been delivering a fast paced and high-octane adventure comic for the last few months that’s worth checking out. - Bug

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #518
- Man, is JMS the wrong guy for this title. I haven’t been this bored with Spider-Man in years. The last few issues, Spidey has been wrasslin’ with an all new Molten Man-type who is after Peter Parker, and not Spidey. This would be an interesting twist…if half of Spidey’s villains didn’t already know Pete and Spidey were the same person, that is. Once again, JMS misses the mark. I’ve admired his high-concept work with SUPREME POWER, MIDNIGHT NATION, and RISING STARS, but when it comes to wall-crawling, JMS fails miserably. Although the character has potential for high-concept stories, Spidey has always worked as the Everyman hero. Here, JMS sadly doesn’t seem to be able to deliver those types of stories with the flair he does in his other work. - Bug

Readers Talkback
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  • March 30, 2005, 1:11 p.m. CST

    Daredevil needs to hop on the Spider-Moblie and go pick up the R

    by Tall_Boy

    Tell me THAT isn't the crossover you wanna see.

  • March 30, 2005, 1:23 p.m. CST

    no love for GL

    by greyspecter

    hey, the current arc in Green Lantern, with Parallax/Spectre/Hal Jordan breaking up, spectre taking off, paralax infesting that Yoda-esqe leader of the corps, and Jordan...well, i won't spoil it, but needless to say, it's been quite entertaining. yet to mention here? what's up with that?

  • March 30, 2005, 1:27 p.m. CST

    Gotta agree about the JMS Spidey...

    by superhero

    Man, it just got sooooo boooooriiinnnggg...and I really hated when it became Dr. Strange guest starring Spider-Man for a bit there. I mean, if you want to write a Dr. Strange book then go write one...oh, ooopss, he did...oh, and that wasn't so great either. Oh, well...:O)

  • March 30, 2005, 1:29 p.m. CST

    Oh, yeah, and JMS "League of Spider-Men" idea was lame too...

    by superhero

    Don't get me wrong, he's a great writer...just not a great Spidey writer...

  • March 30, 2005, 1:32 p.m. CST

    super buddies

    by a.wannabe

    good to see that i'm not the only one that isnt enjoying JLA classified as much as i should thanks to identiy crisis & countdown.

  • March 30, 2005, 1:41 p.m. CST

    "League of Spider-Men"

    by a.wannabe

    as someone that quit reading amazing a long time ago, what the hell was the league?

  • March 30, 2005, 1:45 p.m. CST

    I loved the Spider-Mobile!

    by Blanket-Man

    Too many fans seem to think it was supposed to be taken seriously, but it was clearly A JOKE from the second it appeared. Spidey's first words when he saw the thing: "Now that's what I call a fiasco!" Every Spidey-Mobile story from the 1970s was funny, too! That car really gets a bad rap...

  • March 30, 2005, 2:13 p.m. CST

    wannabe...League of the Spider-Men...

    by superhero

    No, wannabe...League of the Spider-Men didn't actually happen I was just being sarcastic. JMS did a story arc which supposed that Peter Parker was just one in a long line of Spider-Men. That he was "chosen" to become a person with the abilities of a spider. That possibly the incident when the irradiated spider bites Perer Parker may not have been an accident but other forces acting in the interest of nature or some other ridiculous explanation. Something about the spider being Peter's totem. It was a very badly done arc that had its moments but obviously JMS didn't realise that he was writing Spider-Man and not Green Lantern. Lame. the current storyline made me drop Amazing SM alltogether.

  • March 30, 2005, 2:32 p.m. CST

    Only bad review of NEW AVENGERS #4 i've seen

    by ChorleyFM

    Everywhere else has been positive, and again I am disagreeing with an Assholes review (I liked the JLA run as well), what a surprise. Runaways, Spidey/HT, and Morrison are the shit though.

  • March 30, 2005, 2:51 p.m. CST

    JMS on Spiderman

    by God's Brother

    You know, when he first came on to write spidey, I was pretty impressed, and bought every single issue, enjoying it from month to month. For some reason, I mysteriously stopped buying them at the beginning of last summer... right when JRjr left.

  • March 30, 2005, 3:03 p.m. CST

    JLA

    by AlgertMopper

    you have no dick if you didn't like morrison JLA

  • March 30, 2005, 3:09 p.m. CST

    The difference between Morrison and Bendis.

    by rev_skarekroe

    The thing is that Bendis and Morrison have polar opposite pacing styles. Morrison has a million wonderful and crazy ideas, and he throws them all in there at once, and so his books never make any sense in the end ("so there's this weird rock-thing that controls reality, and Luthor's got it, so Darkseid can take over the world, and there's this place in outer-space where gigantic heroes live and they have to change the past. Get it?"). Bendis has one really good idea, but he stretches it out over 24 issues ("There's a big prison break, and a bunch of popular heroes team-up to catch the escapees. That should take about a year to wrap up."). Somebody needs to hire Morrison to plot and Bendis to script. Then we'd have something.

  • March 30, 2005, 3:13 p.m. CST

    My Official Super-Buddies Rant (because I have no other venue, r

    by God's Brother

    The JLI-era of the Justice League was what got me into comics, hardcore. Sure, on the surface it was all "bwa-ha-ha," but after reading any of those old issues (besides being a bit dated, I'M convinced the writing still holds up today), no-one could deny that it was, quite possibly, one of the only mainstream super-hero comics that had heart, wit to spare, and strong character development. The fact that it didn't take itself too seriously was an added bonus, in my mind. And this was the late 80's/early 90's, for cryin' out loud... In any case, when the frist JLI reunion mini was announced, I was ecstatic, but upon reading it, I felt kinda "meh..." It seemed like they were trying too hard to get the humour right, and in some cases, missed the mark, character-wise. But still, it was good to see my old favourites b (did they have to be portrayed as such big losers?). Now that the second mini is underway, I feel that the writing is more on par with where it should be, but, like most other fans, I'm having trouble enjoying it becasue of the obvious reasons (Blue Beetle's ugly new costume notwithstanding). Like, for fuck's sake, can any of these guys come out on top, in the mainstream DCU?

  • March 30, 2005, 3:15 p.m. CST

    by God's Brother

    trying to edit your posts is a nightmare!

  • March 30, 2005, 3:16 p.m. CST

    If you liked That Yellow Bastard so much...

    by JackBurton

    Then you'd think you would have been able to get the lead characters damn name right at least. It's Hartigan, not Harrigan. I mean come on, with having just read this book apparently, not to mention with the film about to hit and the trailers and tv spots there's no excuse for getting that lead character name wrong, and repeatedly...still, at least you didn't call Marv Merv, or Dwight Dwayne I guess. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy... **************************************************************************** Still, it's great to see Miller's Sin City finally getting the widespread recognition and praise and readership that they have so richly deserved ever since the first Sin City tale bled out onto the pages of Dark Horse Presents. I just hope all this sudden interest and publicity that the film has generated leads to Miller finally writing some more tales from Basin City, five years since Hell & Back has been too damn long to wait for more Miller noir drenched goodness.

  • March 30, 2005, 3:27 p.m. CST

    dickless JLA comments and a response to God's Brother and the Re

    by Ambush Bug

    Well call me Dickless McKee because I didn't really like Morrison's JLA. I dug the Connor Hawke issue versus the Key, but other than that, the thing reeked of Michael Bay-itis. All flash no substance with Morrison trying to top the threat he did last month until it reached conepts so complex and ludicrous that you couldn't follow it anymore. Actually that's the same problem I had with his NEW X-MEN stint. ***** And to God's Brother. First off, tell your bro "Hey!" for me, I missed church this Easter. Secondly and more importantly, I couldn't agree with you more about Giffen's JLI. When they came back a year ago, I was just estatic to see the old team (the JLI and the creators behind them) together again, but you're right, in the end it seemed like JLI-lite. In these last two issues, Giffen, Dematteis, and McGuire seem to be getting comfortable with the characters once again. The banter between Beetle and Booster is much better. And who can argue that once Guy was added to the mix, things automatically became more interesting. Given the direction the DCU is heading though and Giffen's dissatisfaction with the way Sue Dibney was handled in IDENTITY CRISIS, I doubt the momentum will keep on going after this series. And that's too bad. There's room for the Super Buddies in the DCU. Why kill them all off in one major event after another? First Captain Atom in SUPERMAN/BATMAN. Then Sue Dibney in IC. Now *you know who* in COUNTDOWN. Why, of why? ***** And you're spot on Rev about the problems with both Bendis and Morrison. Put them in a blender, set it on frappe, and you've got a pretty good comic book writer.

  • March 30, 2005, 3:52 p.m. CST

    Spidey and the whole JMS thing

    by Heywood Jablowme

    I suppose the run on Spidey and Strange for that matter are not up to snuff with the others, especially Supreme Power, because of the audience. ASM is always going to skew towards a young demographic. Add to that the fact that he's writing about pop culture icons with a 40 year history that people don't want totally fucked with ala the Crap-tastic Clone Saga. His best work, Rising Stars & Supreme Power don't have either of these hang-ups. By the way, does anyone know where I can get a copy of Sunnyvale on DVD? Boot that motherfucker directly the fuck out of here.

  • March 30, 2005, 3:54 p.m. CST

    JLA Classified is Giffen/Dematteis/McGuire???

    by MisterE

    JLA Classified is up to issue #5, and I didn't even realize that this is Giffen, Dematteis, and McGuire?? WTF?

  • March 30, 2005, 4:12 p.m. CST

    JLA vs New Avengers and Runaways Politics

    by Squashua

    RUNAWAYS: Keep in mind Vaughan ran for president a while back (or at least, he entered that failed HBO reality show that would make someone the "next candidate" or something). NEW AVENGERS: I equate Bendis' usage of "Spider-Woman" to Morrison's usage of "Plastic Man" in that both of these characters were TV icons. I am somewhat surprised that Iceman, Firestar, and The Hulk were not included in the lineup. And also note that Daredevil is not officially an Avenger (yet). In other news, I also did not care for Morrison on the JLA if only for the unnecessary non-sounds that came out of Batman's mouth like, "Uuuuuuuuuuiiiiiiii" and "Neeeeeeeeeaaaaaaarrrrrhhhhhh" and "gmmmmmmmmmmmmfh". He did an excellent job redeeming himself with his recent JLA Classified issues that had Batman opening his totally comprehensible "Sci-Fi Closet", but his "Neb-U-Loh" character looks totally out of place showing up in "The Shining Knight".

  • March 30, 2005, 4:12 p.m. CST

    JLI Blasphemy over here

    by SleazyG.

    Wow. I never read the old Giffen/DeMatteis-era League stuff, so this JLA: CLASSIFIED arc is my first exposure, and lemme say, these guys really suck. I don't see why people loved 'em so much. They're doing exactly what everybody around here bitches about: misunderstanding/ruining the characters just so they can insert dialogue so precious and cute you can actually hear the writers saying it. I'm sorry, but Ted Kord was a far more interesting character in BIRDS OF PREY. The "he likes to fuck old women, get it?!?" jokes about Booster Golddigger just aren't funny. The writers have managed to make the Marvels (Captain and Mary) look ridiculous, completely overlooking all the great work done in their own series in the 90's and over in JSA. Ralph Dibny and Sue Dibny were treated with respect and sensitivity in STARMAN, but here Ralph is a dipshit and Sue is a shrill harpy, so why anybody complained about the superior characterization in IDENTITY CRISIS is beyond me. Don't get me wrong, I like funny, light-hearted comics. It's just these two issues didn't have me laughing at all, and seeing well-developed characters with so much potential reduced to sitcom schtick for a laff just doesn't cut it. They could actually act like who they are everywhere else in the DCU and still be funny instead of me feeling like I'm watching a stale episode of "Three's Company" in tights.

  • March 30, 2005, 4:12 p.m. CST

    JLA classified

    by AlgertMopper

    JLA Classified has rotating teams, the first arc 1-3, was Morrison, the next batch isssues if JLI crew, every arc a diffrent creative team takes over, if that makes sense

  • March 30, 2005, 4:15 p.m. CST

    Killing off all the JLI characters

    by rev_skarekroe

    I'm kind of hoping that when Crisis II hits this summer, the end result will be that all this is reversed and we get a lighter, funner DCU. But I sure as hell ain't betting on it. Also, for Mr. E, the first issues of JLA Classified were a Grant Morrison story - I think this series is an anthology title.

  • March 30, 2005, 4:17 p.m. CST

    Homeless Guys who Think They're Pirates??

    by cookylamoo

    I thought these guys WERE Pirates. I mean, what do you have to do to be a pirate beyond saying that you're a pirate? Kill someone? No problem. Hunt for treasure? Go for it. Yo Ho and a bottle of run, you're a pirate, matey.

  • March 30, 2005, 4:19 p.m. CST

    MisterE - JLA Classified

    by Squashua

    Oh, and MisterE: If you don't "get it", JLA Classified is like a JLA Showcase. Every storyline is by a different writer(s). The first arc was a Morrison wrap-up of his version of The Global Guardians. It was all over the place and introduced Neb-U-Loh, who looks ridiculous and plays some sort of part in his Seven Soldiers storyline. The second story arc is the "I can't Believe it's not the Justice League" sequel.

  • March 30, 2005, 4:20 p.m. CST

    " They could actually act like who they are everywhere else in t

    by Ambush Bug

    Yeah, but if they acted like who they were in everything else in the DCU...well...then...they'd be dead. It's sad that the only thing DC can do with these characters is kill them off. At least Giffen isn't doing that.

  • March 30, 2005, 4:30 p.m. CST

    Just went through reading almost the whole JLI run recently

    by superninja

    They'd been sitting in the garage collecting dust. You know what? They were fun. So of course the minute I get attached to you-know-who...BLAMMO!

  • March 30, 2005, 4:34 p.m. CST

    Three's Company analogy is actually pretty spot on

    by superninja

    But then, I sort of like Three's Company. It's fun to be able to open up something silly and lighthearted. I think it's them doing a hammy sitcom riff and not actually trying to be clever and funny, though. It's supposed to make you roll your eyes a bit.

  • March 30, 2005, 4:35 p.m. CST

    SleazyG:

    by God's Brother

    I can totally see how you could arrive at your conclusions, having only been exposed to the JLI-type stuff that's coming out now. It is exactly like 3's company in tights. The original series wasn't so sitcom-y... it did have its serious moments, which were expertly handled with care and subtlety. And the concept wasn't so shlocky... these heroes had credibility in the DCU at the time. They WERE the Justice league, and were respected as such. I dunno, you might read a back issue or two and still think it's retarded drivel, but if you gave the ol' JLI half a chance, you'd be in for some classic storytelling, that was consistently fun.

  • March 30, 2005, 4:35 p.m. CST

    With the next issue, Giffen & Co. seems to have gotten back in t

    by Squashua

    In the original JLI issues we'd have cool crap like the "Wayne, Bruce Wayne" issue. We'd get the wacky, but there'd also be a bunch fo subplots. The main problem with the initial revisit series was that NOTHING HAPPENED; they opened a storefront and then defended it for 5 or 6 issues. The first two issues of the Classified story have been "more of the same"; more in the storefront, yawn yawn. I think the next issue will heat up (no pun intended). Also, Giffen & co. was the FIRST to have had his hands on Captain Marvel, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, etc. POST-CRISIS. He's the one that defined them; all the other writers are playing with HIS toys. :-)

  • March 30, 2005, 4:37 p.m. CST

    superninja's got a point, too...

    by God's Brother

    never thought of it that way, but then again, I AM an idiot by trade.

  • March 30, 2005, 4:41 p.m. CST

    JLI was great

    by superninja

    I like the Big Seven stories as much as anyone, but there's something fun about a bunch of halfwits getting together to fill the Justice Leagues shoes and making something of it. It's the classic underdog story!

  • March 30, 2005, 4:43 p.m. CST

    I see where you're coming from, Squashua...

    by SleazyG.

    ...but they're not "his" toys, they're DC's. And they've been handled much better by other writers. Hell, the POWER OF SHAZAM! series (or whatever the title was) in the 90's was lighthearted and fun, but still had solid characterization and excitement without making the Billy and Mary look and sound like yokels. It's sad. I mean, why does it have to be wacky or deathly? Why not write three-dimensional characters with stories that hold your interest? And let's face it, we all know the truth here: Ted Kord had a lot of potential as a character. If they wanted to drop somebody, it shoulda been that jagoff Booster Gold. What a waste of skin.

  • March 30, 2005, 4:45 p.m. CST

    "Also, Giffen & co. was the FIRST to have had his hands on Capta

    by Ambush Bug

    You tell'im, Squashua. The only reason I know who Power Girl, Booster, Beetle, Guy, and the rest is is because of Giffen and Co. And yes, their peculiarities are amped for comic effect, but they are pretty true to form. Blue Beetle was always the bumbling, aww shucks nice guy in BOP. Booster was always out to make a quick buck in his old series. Power Girl is still portrayed as a hardass in JSA. Guy's the O@ (Original @$$hole). Captain Atom was always the rule follower. Sue was always the straight woman to Ralph's schtick. And Captain Marvel is still a boyscout. The thing is, when you put these guys together, goofy shit happens. Haven't you ever had a friend that you just act goofier around or brought out the idiot in you? That's what happens when these guys get together. I'm loving seeing these amped up personalities bounce off one another.

  • March 30, 2005, 4:46 p.m. CST

    Yep

    by superninja

    Ted Kord had a TON of potential. Such a likeable character. It's too bad. Booster is really a one-joke/one-note guy.

  • March 30, 2005, 5:08 p.m. CST

    wow...

    by God's Brother

    people still use "not"... who knew?

  • March 30, 2005, 5:17 p.m. CST

    I think the amount of silliness in JLA Classified is there to co

    by Robert_G_Durant

    There was a time when the DCU was a fun fantasy world where superheroes fought supervillains, and even found time to combat some real issues as well, all while injecting some real personality into the mix. The two series that stood out were the JLI books, for the lifelike personalities of the characters, and Green Arrow, for the ultra serious topics and dark tone that no other comic wanted to touch. Today, every book is trying to be the old Mike Grell Green Arrow run, minus the believable atmosphere and people. The current Green Arrow is about superheroes fighting supervillains with a large dose of real world issues, and old JLI heroes are left as the sole source of smiles and personality for the readers. Today's DC heroes don't have casual conversations or favorite music or inside jokes like real people, let alone a favorite brand of cookie (could anyone really imagine the current Martian Manhunter extolling the virtues of his beloved Oreos?), because those kind of conversations would detract from the seriousness of women being raped and burned. DC is killing off the fun, well-written people because they represent everything they see as unimportant. JLA Classified is the last gasp of DC Comics as a smile-inducing fun hobby. There is a time and place for serious, graphic, grim stories, but they have no bite unless those involved are fun realistic people the audience has come to know like a friend. Superhero comics are supposed to be escapist fun. It's a sad state of affairs when there are more enjoyable reads in the world events section of the paper then there are in DC's upcoming lineup.

  • March 30, 2005, 5:29 p.m. CST

    More of the Same

    by soundingbrass

    I've been re-reading the 80s JLI stuff over the past few months. When I was a kid I remember thinking it was the best book possible... but now... man, that was some pretty pathetic stuff. Manga Khan? How just plain stupid can you get. Gnort? It's like they had a little humor in the first few issues, then they saw how people liked it, so they turned it up ten notches. Kinda like how Shrek had some cute pop culture references in it, but Shrek 2 is nothing BUT pop culture references. At the time, JLI seemed top-of-the-line. In retrospect, it was about equal to that mid-80s Hawkman series that ran for about 17 issues. Art was pretty good though...

  • March 30, 2005, 5:37 p.m. CST

    I don't buy that JMS is hampered by continuity...

    by superhero

    I mean with his Strage book he pretty much threw it all out the window! And quite honestly there have been plenty of writers who have done great Spidey stories in the past despite his convoluted history. If anything the whole League of Spider-men arc was a slap in the face to any kind of continuity so if you're saying his writing was hampered by that then I'd say you were way off. Oh, and if Spidey and Strange were skewed to a younger audience you could have fooled me. Strange was the most boring first issue I'd read in ages and not because of the lack of action either. It was just tiresome. But that's just my opinion. Oh, and he really needs to get Supreme Power moving in some focused direction. That book seems like it's going nowhere. Talk about aimless. And yet, I still think he's a very talented writer...hmmmm...I mean Aunt May finding out about Peter's secret ID was great in my opinion.

  • March 30, 2005, 5:42 p.m. CST

    Spiderman/Human Torch is wonderful. I couldn't stop smiling read

    by Silver_Joo

  • March 30, 2005, 5:49 p.m. CST

    Glad to know I'm not the only one, superhero

    by superninja

    I dropped Supreme Power for many reasons, but among them was that it was putting me to sleep.

  • March 30, 2005, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Supreme Power; JLI

    by Squashua

    That's why I collect the SP trades, dude. Or you can always BitTorrent all your comic books down (that's how I read the second SP trade, but I won't do it again because my poor comic store guy brought the second TPB in for me to buy and I just couldn't justify spending the $, having read it). In other news, I wish "Spider-Man-goofy" and "Batman-serious" Blue Beetle could co-exist. I get thrown a bit when I read him as a nerdy tech-lech in Birds of Prey, and as a goofy funy guy in JLI. This is why I choose to follow WRITERS, not CHARACTERS (Thank you Judd Winnick, for RUINING Green Arrow and Green Lantern; I hear you're doing great things in Outsiders with Batman ending up being SPOILER, but I ain't picking it up). Speaking of writers, I did so LOVE the Power of Shazam series. Someone (someone who isn't a furry porn fetishist) needs to bring back Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew.

  • March 30, 2005, 6:05 p.m. CST

    The Perfect Comic

    by Fantomex

    I think Ex Machina #1 was the perfect comic. I will accept arguments to the contrary. Runaways #2 however was far from perfect. The team of used-to-be-superheros a.) is so incredibly stupid that they are easily tricked by "the voice on the other end of the phone" and b.) are so quick to put their tights back on that they completely nulify their rather cool setup in the previous issue. A huge disappointment. moviemack I think its safe to say that was the funniest post you've ever made, but I think DC has a little way to go before it surpasses marvel in the category of idiotic ressurections. Pyslocke? My god she was already the most convulted character in comcis and she hadn't even been around that long.

  • March 30, 2005, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Haven't read the latest BATMAN yet...

    by SleazyG.

    ...but I've been pissed ever since Loeb started laying the groundwork to bring him back. Stupid, stupid, STUPID. No reason for it. Even dumber than Tommy Elliott, which is saying a lot. Completely pointless and unnecessary. When you write a story that deals with events in the past, why is it so hard to accept and respect them, then move on from there, instead of rewriting things to be the way *you* would have done it? There was no respect in JMS's reworking of the death of Gwen Stacy and there's no respect here in the return of JT. The kid died, and there were a lot of repercussions, and to throw all of that out the window with a half-baked concept is just pointless.

  • March 30, 2005, 6:34 p.m. CST

    So Batman spoilers....

    by superninja

    Did JT come back via the Laz pit or what?

  • March 30, 2005, 6:34 p.m. CST

    So Batman spoilers....

    by superninja

    Did JT come back via the Laz pit or what?

  • March 30, 2005, 6:42 p.m. CST

    Blue Beetle was cool

    by Lukecash

    Blue Beetle was a really great character that DC kept messing around with. He had a great run with his first DC mag. Except they ruined it when they deccided to make Len Wien get "serious" Because of the success of Dark Knight and Watchmen. When JLI came around took overr when his series ended, they made him a complete joke. That being said, JLI was the funniest book out there, as a direct result of the backlash against "Grim and Gritty" The fact that is was "3 's company was intentional." It was based on the concept of "cheers with suerhero" Thaat being said, Super Buddies is actually a very solid hit... selling more than some of its "Banner" books. DC is trying to stir up controversey at the exense of a great character.

  • March 30, 2005, 6:52 p.m. CST

    Justin Timberlake's return

    by superninja

    Moviemack, guess I'm not totally cheezed off by the guy's return. I like him in theory as Darth Vader to Bats' Obi-Wan. Someone to help correct Batman's jerk behavior and bring him to himself. However, given the dark turn the DCU is taking, I have my doubts.

  • March 30, 2005, 7:22 p.m. CST

    Jason Todd...

    by JonQuixote

    ...has great potential for a villain. "Dark Robin"? C'mon, you'd have to be completely mired in fanboy stoicism and short-sightedness to not see how cool that could be. The problem, the big problem, was that he wasn't revealed as "Hush", but was just a red herring to mask the convoluted *real* bad guys - the obvious guy Loeb just introduced and (gasp) the Riddler. So instead of having DARK ROBIN be the knockout punch to biggest Batman storyline in a decade, it instead has been dragged out for months and mixed up with even more convoluted nonsense. Ah well.

  • March 30, 2005, 7:23 p.m. CST

    I remember when the Lazarus Pit ALMOST made sense

    by the G-man

    In the original version of the pit, it only worked on the recently dead, before tissue damage, rigor mortis, etc. Now, however it can apparently bring back people who have been dead and buried for years and, presumably rotted into worm food, bone and ebalming fluid, had their internal organs removed for the autopsy, etc.

  • March 30, 2005, 7:27 p.m. CST

    What??? Captain Carrot and the Crew were in Power of Shazam????

    by superhero

    I missed the return of Capatian Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew??? WTF???? Seriously...when did they come back??? I LOVED THAT BOOK! It's the comic that seriously got me into collecting in the first place! How has Cartoon Network NOT tapped into that????

  • March 30, 2005, 7:32 p.m. CST

    Oh, and don't even get me STARTED with what JMS did with Gwen St

    by superhero

    I take it back...maybe he isn't such a great writer...

  • March 30, 2005, 7:49 p.m. CST

    Guess it could always be

    by superninja

    Earth 2 JT or somesuch. Isn't their speculation that Identity Crisis may bring back the multiverse?

  • March 30, 2005, 8:07 p.m. CST

    I *guess* JT isn't that bad.

    by Fantomex

    I agree that if you HAVE to bring him back, it would have been much better to bring him back in Hush, I really think that could have turned a truly awful 12 issues into something damn good. As it stands the last four issues of Batman have been pretty good, and once you get past the part where the bad guy has a damn black skull for a head, he's really one of the best written villians in comics today. "Yeah, I'm going to need that back."

  • March 30, 2005, 8:15 p.m. CST

    Daredevil has been great under Bendis.

    by riskebiz

    That reviewer just has a some weird thing with Bendis on Daredevil and always has. It's been one of my top favorite reads each month since Bendis took over. You want crappy Daredevil that you can't cut your way through? Get David Mack back on the book. Reading Mack Daredevil is more labor than Hercule's ever had.

  • March 30, 2005, 8:27 p.m. CST

    Morrison's JLA

    by Mirrorball Man

    Saying "I hate Morrison on JLA" is like saying "I hate Santa Claus on Christmas".

  • March 30, 2005, 8:34 p.m. CST

    DevilCat

    by superninja

    I mean, not really. Earth 2 originally was not a reversed-Earth like the Syndicate's, correct? So a true multiverse would imply more than just an opposite but several universes running alongside one another with alternate histories.

  • March 30, 2005, 8:36 p.m. CST

    The Kingdom

    by superninja

    Also thought this story was the possible future of the current DCU (Or IS it? type thing), but not a separate universe.

  • March 30, 2005, 9:37 p.m. CST

    New Avengers SpiderWoman Jerk-Off

    by Henamonster

    I

  • March 30, 2005, 9:41 p.m. CST

    JLI = suxor, ELFQUEST = roxor

    by Dave_F

    Geez, ya spandex-fetishists, would it kill you to talk about my gay-ass ELFQUEST elves a bit? It would? Oh alright, I'll plug into the TalkBack's zeitgeist if I must. ******* So...the JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL. "Superbuddies." Take your pick of names, I can't abide 'em anymore. Sure I read 'em back in the day, but I think I must've just been assuming everything to spin off the miniseries LEGENDS was gold (after all, Byrne's SUPES was great, Perez's WONDER WOMAN was great, SUICIDE SQUAD was great...). Well, that's not exactly true. I had fun, sorta. I kinda grinned along with the endlessly repeated jokes and Beetle and Booster as Lucy and Ethyl. I thought the Oreo cookies bit was kind of cute. I appreciated the serious fight the team had with Despero. I bought JUSTICE LEAGUE ANTARCTICA and thought "this Mike McKone guy has a future." But ultimately, Sleazy G nails it: the JLI, in any incarnation, is some hack-ass, sub-par humor. I can see its appeal, especially in an era of beaten, bloodied and overanalyzed DC heroes, but I just can't give a pass to the series when the only consistantly high craftsmanship on it came from Maguire's art. And, yes, to some degree the JLI stuff undermined the characters as surely as the darkened versions of today. Everyone in that book was a two-dimensional cartoon, and especially for Beetle and Booster, that characterization stuck for at least...what, a decade? More? Dixon did some terrific work with Beetle in BIRDS OF PREY, but I guess since he didn't off the character in the same story, the more serious approach "didn't take." As for Booster Gold, I've actually never read his solo book, but I've been told it weren't half bad, that it was one of the few notable projects of Dan Jurgens' career. Gotta hurt to see his character reduced to a lowlife gigolo who ogles teenage a Mary Marvel, eh? Long story short: JLI = suxor, ELFQUEST = roxor.

  • March 30, 2005, 9:43 p.m. CST

    A word to the wise: Brubaker and Chadwick on NPR tomorrow:

    by Dave_F

    Ed Brubaker, Joshua Ortega, and Paul Chadwick to Appear on NPR **** Press Release **** Comic scribes Ed Brubaker (Sleeper, Captain America), Joshua Ortega(Spider-man Unlimited, Star Wars), and Paul Chadwick (Concrete) will be featured on NPRthis Thursday, March 31st at 10am PST. The show will be broadcast on NPR-affiliate KUOW 94.9 in Seattle, and live on the Web at www.kuow.org. The three writers will be interviewed by notedjournalist Steve Scher, host of the popular WEEKDAY program, and longtime comicfan. Brubaker and Chadwick will discuss their impressive, award-winning careers inthe comic field, while Ortega will discuss his transition from critically acclaimed author to comics writer.

  • Which should happen within a week or two, I believe. In the meantime... Preview review of GREEN LANTERN REBIRTH: http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=18620#1 **** Review of REBIRTH #1: http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=18744#6 **** Review of REBIRTH #2: http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=18921#3 And what the hell, Sleazy's retro review of Neil Gaiman's GREEN LANTERN/SUPERMAN: LEGEND OF THE GREEN FLAME: http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=19661#3 We bleed green, baby, we bleed green.

  • March 30, 2005, 10:02 p.m. CST

    Dark Robin?

    by SleazyG.

    Sure. Just do it with a living Robin. "Living" in the sense of "not blown to pieces". Like, maybe, Nightwing for example, or if Spoiler had gone worse instead of dying. But having somebody who was absolutely, completely, definitively dead come back is a horrible idea. What makes it such a stupid concept is how much of an impact his death had on Bruce and the DCU over the last 18 years. The voted-to-death thing may have been a questionable concept, but it was redeemed through good storytelling. Now all the effort people have invested for--what, 18 years?--has gone out the window for a half-baked concept. Just because you think "hey, wouldn't it be cool if this guy wasn't dead, and then some stuff happened?" doesn't actually make it cool. I mean, honestly, who would want to see Dark Bucky come back and torment Captain America because he was only *mostly* dead?

  • March 30, 2005, 10:08 p.m. CST

    SEVEN SOLDIERS is owning, by the way.

    by Dave_F

    I have to wonder if this thing will even remotely end up being "in continuity", 'cause Grant's great, but he has a remarkable ability to create all these wild ideas that only *he* could ever possibly tame. Can you imagine, say, a Chuck Dixon trying to field the subway-pirate-fightin' Guardian in Grant's wake? I kinda like Chuck, but man does he not have it in 'im! Still, outside of GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH and ADAM STRANGE, I count Morrison's SEVEN SOLDIERS as being one of the few DC superhero books worth reading these days. In continuity, out of continuity...I don't much care at this point because Grant's about the only guy writing comics that overtly fly in the face of DC's editiorial directive to MAKE EVERYTHING AS SERIOUS AS FUCKING CANCER.

  • March 30, 2005, 10:15 p.m. CST

    Hey, Blanket-Man...

    by Dave_F

    You seem to be the lore-master when it comes to the Spider-Mobile, so tell me...was it created pretty much as a merchandising vehicle (no pun intended) for Spidey toys? It's hard for me to imagine something so ridiculous being created without *some* sort of freak commercial pressures and it'd also explain why the writers seemed to be spoofing it from the get-go. "Oh we'll *give* you your precious Spider-Mobile, Hasbro..."

  • March 30, 2005, 10:20 p.m. CST

    superhero...

    by Heywood Jablowme

    You're spot-on about the Gwen Stacy fiasco. What I meant earlier about JMS's obstacles was not so much the continuity. I mean hell, show me a writer that gives two shits about continuity (refer to the above 85 posts on Batman/Jason Todd/Red Hood flap). I would like to think that he's more encumbered by the legacy. However, your post on the Gwen Stacy thing reminded me that he doesn't give a shit about that either. His last storyline, Skin-tight? was pretty decent, IMHO. I'm tied to ASM. Been reading it too long to bail now. If I can make it through Maximum Cloneage, I'll survive JMS. I'm sure he has a couple of good stories left in him. Strange, however, is totally fucked. I'm not well-versed in the Dr. Strange/Defenders mythos, but if all I knew about Doc Strange was what I was reading right now, one word-yawn.

  • March 30, 2005, 10:30 p.m. CST

    the hot 3: 3) astonishing x-men 9- it's all whedon; 2) FF 524- p

    by atomheartbrother

    or gets ready to blow itself up. and even though 2 of my hot 3 are marvel DAMN dc is kicking marvel's ass! how many times has dc succesfully blown up their universe since secret war 2? 6... 7 times? and what do you have" that damned onslaught / marvel reborn thing (shudddddder)?!? shiiiit. note to marvel: you blew it when you didn't let morrison blow the marvel universe up when you had the chance! it was inexcusable! helpful hint: before he splits let whedon have a shot. note of caution to dc: now let s not get tooo dark. i think i might live this infinite crisis thing but having one shmuck suddenly BAD off-ing another shmuck for being a shmuck gangsta style? yipes! i liked it (no Jean Grey shit here), and certainly you got my attention.. but yipes! and.... that is all.

  • March 30, 2005, 10:30 p.m. CST

    What disgusts me most about JMS's STRANGE...

    by Dave_F

    Is that it's soon to feature a redesigned Dr. Strange costume...WITHOUT THE GIANT PIMP COLLAR! Doesn't he know that you don't mess with a Ditko classic? The collar *makes* the costume, ya schmuck, and the new design just looks like Hef in one of his more flamboyant smoking jackets.

  • March 30, 2005, 10:40 p.m. CST

    Bring out your dead!

    by Heywood Jablowme

    That's one of my biggest gripes about some of the hack writers out there. Bringing back dead characters like Hal Jordan & Ollie Queen (they never should have been "retired early" in the first place) is one thing, but Jason Todd? Sleazy G., you get it. The death of Robin is part of the character, take it away, it removes a part of the character. How come Bats hasn't dug up Mom & Pop and tossed them in a Lazarus Pit while were at it? I like Batman. It always gets pulled, but this idea of rolling out Jason Todd is ri-goddamn-diculous. Using Clayface to mess with Bruce's head was a stroke of genius by Loeb. The issue sold a lot of copoies and next thing you know there's dollar signs in the eyes of the DC brass. I really hope this is not what's going on with this Red Hood story.

  • March 30, 2005, 11:24 p.m. CST

    I don't wanna sound like a dick...

    by IRuleAll

    but am I the only one who's glad moviemack doesn't go to his comic shop? Can't you see him spending three hours by the new release wall bitching about shit? Man alive, that's why I drink.

  • March 31, 2005, 12:20 a.m. CST

    Got a question for you @$$holes...

    by Latauro

    A friend got me into Sin City a few months ago. Way in. I've got the urge to pick it up for myself. Has Miller stopped writing them? Has Sin City come to a finish, or is it on hiatus, or what? If so, is there going to be one big Sin City compendium with every single comic in it? That's the one i'm jonesing for. Btw, love your work.

  • March 31, 2005, 12:29 a.m. CST

    New Avengers is NOT Morrison JLA

    by Blok Narpin

    First off Morrison JLA SUCKED. It was shit. Sorry, it was. It was coming out at the same time as Mark Waid's phenominal JLA: Year One mini series and Waid's series mopped the floor with Morrisons (too bad Waid's run on the main title wasn't nearly as good when he took over for Morrsion! Still, it was better then Morrison!!) JLA was the DC Universe's top heros. New Avengers has Spidey, Cap, Wolverine and Iron Man but that's it. Sentry? Luke Cage? SPIDER-WOMAN??? They are not Marvel's top tier characters by a longshot! And Daredevil isn't even a member!!

  • March 31, 2005, 1:16 a.m. CST

    Blok

    by Ribbons

    I don't know, I'd say that they come pretty close. Captain America, Wolverine and Spider-Man are probably the Big Three as far as Marvel goes, Iron Man is an Avengers mainstay, and The Sentry is basically Superman anyway. I wasn't so keen on this issue as I was on the last issue. I feel like the plot was perfectly outlined, but somewhere along the process of scripting it, Bendis messed himself up. I don't know. As for "Spider-Man/Human Torch," I thought I was gonna hate it when I picked up #1 at the comic store and it has actually turned out to be one of the most enjoyable comics I've read for the last few months. Definitely a bigger must for Spider-Man fans than any of his ongoing series.

  • March 31, 2005, 2:41 a.m. CST

    we should be talking about what happened in Countdown To Infinit

    by kintar0

    SPOILER ALERT!!! I FUCKING object to seeing Blue Beetle on the floor with his brains blwon out. I fucking object to the "dark and gritty" direction DC is heading in. I love DC comics for what they are, and for the fact they are from Marvel. I love Marvel comics for the same reason. Identity Crisis has fucked up DC, and we're going to have to suffer through it for at least a year. Or until Morrison and Miller's All Star books come out. Morrison said it best when talking about JLC: "Aquaman has no beard and John Stewart is Green Lantern so it's pretty much set in some kind of current continuity but I

  • March 31, 2005, 4:18 a.m. CST

    Revenge of the Sith Trade Paperbacks leaked today/wednesday.

    by George Newman

    My friend bought one. I held it a few hours ago, looked at the cover, but I couldn't bring myself to open it. I hate spoilers. I want to know as little as possible before I see the film. I just want to go into the movie without any preconceived notions or expectations..... But dang, this man has the trade of the whole comic adaptation. The movie is in his hands in paper form.

  • March 31, 2005, 9:53 a.m. CST

    My Response Even Though No one reads Talkback 24 hours after the

    by Squashua

    1) Hoppy the Marvel Bunny was in Captain Carrot, but it might have been a dream sequence. Someone in a much later issue of a different comic (JLI?) mentions the "Bunny Marvel". 2) I am so disillusioned with the DARK DARK DARK turn that the entire JLI has recently taken. I'd put money down that Giffen & Co. feel the similar. 3) Nonetheless, Countdown to Infinite Crisis was the shizzle! O.M.A.C. is a cylon, baby! 4) Spider-Woman was Bendis' answer to (a) having a hot female member and (b) Morrison's inclusion of Plastic Man instead of Elongated Man. Plastic Man had a TV show/cartoon in the early 80's, and SO DID SPIDER-WOMAN. Still waiting for Iceman, Firestar and The Incredible Hulk to join, and it'd be nice if SOMEONE added ANY member of the F4 to the New Avengers. "We call it Thursday," indeed!

  • March 31, 2005, 10:32 a.m. CST

    Bullcrap's bullcrap...

    by Dave_F

    Ah, the same ol', same ol' argument that distills the superhero comic "sides" down to "happy-go-lucky" and "grim-and-gritty-and-if-you-don't-like-it-you're-a-pussy." As if no superhero creator has ever been skilled enough to find a happy medium between reality and fantasy? Please. I also love the argument that characters who've fallen out of the spotlight are great cannon fodder - a perfect justification for readers who don't know their history and realize how many of their favorite heroes have had shitto sales slumps, sometimes for years on end, before some savvy writer figured out a way to put the shine back on 'em. I've seen this same argument used to defend Bendis's ridiculous offing of Hawkeye - "Look his solo book was a flop!" - but guess what? His solo book was a flop because they took him out of costume, turned him into a generic action hero, and lost the wisecracking fun of the character. Hawkeye's just one of scores of viable superheroes who need only a polish to become cool again. Seems the new trend, though, is to make a character cool...just in time to fuck 'em over (Beetle, Elongated Man). God forbid they just make 'em cool and roll with that, right? As for DC owning the characters - fuckin' DUH, man. Yeah, you're right, fans should never voice disapproval of a direction on any property ever...because they're all owned by someone and consumers shouldn't have a say in anything they buy. Great point!

  • March 31, 2005, 11:46 a.m. CST

    It'm amazed that after just being jerked around about JT in Hush

    by cookylamoo

    That the same fans are so eager to be jerked the exact same way by Wynick. In Hush, Jason turned out to be Clayface. Why would anyone doubt that they're going to pull the same trick twice? Don't have a bovine until you know it's for real.

  • March 31, 2005, 12:09 p.m. CST

    I have no great love for Beetle

    by the G-man

    But the whole "kill off a second string character to show how grim and gritty we are now" has been a cliche since the late 80s at this point. It's boring.

  • March 31, 2005, 12:29 p.m. CST

    BOTTOM LINE:

    by God's Brother

    I wanna see good writing in comics; not passsable writing, not good plotting, lousy execution, but good writing. Bringins someone to the forefront long enough to re-generate interest, and then killing them off IS as bad as superman "dying" or whatever. We're not idiots, so why accept writing that's geared towards idiots?

  • March 31, 2005, 1:08 p.m. CST

    Infinite Crisis...Man, this is a sad day...SPOILERS!

    by superhero

    Holy cow. I read the Infinite Crisis/Countdown thing last night and I just have to say the whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth. It's not like I particularly care about Blue Beetle at all. I mean I certainly enjoyed him in several of his appearances as well as liked the beginning of his 80's series drawn by Paris Cullins (sp?). And I'm not against killing characters at all as I know in comics, for the most part, that death is probably temporary. The thing that bugged me about the whole thing was...when did Beetle become the bastard stepchild of the JLA? This whole comic made it just seem to me like NO-ONE (save Wonder Woman) gave a crap about BB. When did he become the most loathed member of the JLA? I mean, he's been portrayed in the past as a goof-off and possibly a failure professionally but when did everyone in the JLA just start developing such a disdain for him? It seemed to come out of nowhere. I mean they always seemd to have repect for him in the past even if he was a bit goofy here and there. When did they decide he was just someone they would just treat like an afterthought? Seems to me Guy Gardner deserved that sort of treatment not BB who was always a stand-up hero who'd go the distance if you needed him. I'm more upset that about the storytelling STYLE that DC seems to be embracing not the actual stories. I don't need it to be juvenile in any way but damn if the DCU has just become a dark, dark place. I mean can't they keep that stuff for their Vertigo books and keep the DCU a mature yet hopefull place? It's not like the two are mutually exclusive you know. I mean, even The Killing Joke sort of had a weird sort of upbeat/dark ending...didn't it? Just seems like they're offing characters just because they can. Of course I also get the sense that they're setting the stage for the Blue Beetle's amulet to either resurrect Ted or just introduce some new Blue Beetle. Probably a hot chick in spandex if the revamped Hawk and Dove are any indication.

  • March 31, 2005, 1:22 p.m. CST

    someone missing the point? Big surprise!

    by kintar0

    If you re-read my post, and I realize that the "reading" part is really hard, you'll notice, Mr. Bullcrap, I objected to Blue Beetle lying on the floor with his brains blown out, not the death itself. It is the graphic, bloody content of books such as the crappy, crappy, hack job that is Identity Crisis that I object to. You'll also note my "why": DC is one thing, one FLAVOR, and Marvel is another. Sure, Marvel is poisoned right now by Bendis, but there are a lot of books, GREAT books, he doesn't write. BUT, I do object to Blue Beetle being killed, and Booster Gold turning into a Deon Sanders or a George Foreman. It's not "new" in an unfamiliar way, an exciting and intriguing way, it's "new" in a worrisome, fuck, there goes another comedy character sacrificed at the feet of the Gritty god. It's lazy and intended to sell issues and unfortunately the mental midgets are buying, so we're gonna have to sit thru a lot of lameness until the All Star titles come out. Like Morrison's work ISN'T dark?

  • March 31, 2005, 1:27 p.m. CST

    What a maroon!

    by kintar0

    Fanboy logic? You're asserting that a character is only indispensible if they "bitchslapped Darkseid" or aren't comedy relief? You honestly think it's the "doing bad things" to characters we care about is what we have a problem with? You have just revealed yourself as the problem, son.

  • March 31, 2005, 1:29 p.m. CST

    Marvel has Slott

    by Squashua

    And they better ride him like a tijuana hooker for as long as possible. He's putting out some great stuff. DC, get rid of Winnick. Remember, kids. The characters you read are ONLY as good as the writers writing them. Follow the writers, not the characters.

  • March 31, 2005, 1:33 p.m. CST

    Now, I know no one sticks to the "Batman is human and therefore

    by JonQuixote

    Yeah, probably with the immortal mastermind or the crocodile thug or the shape-changing villains or decades of JLA or Outsiders Adventures. Look, in comic books and pulp fiction, people come back from the dead all the time. In the DCU, it happens with some regularity, for better or worse. And not just Supermans. Green Arrows too. If you have a problem with that, you should have stopped reading a long, long time ago. Because the superhero genre is the province of the fantastic; this is nothing new. Even for Batman. *** And Sleaze, Jason Todd is far and away the best candidate for Dark Robin. Him being resurrected evil isn't going to temper Batman's existing remorse and guilt - in fact, it'll probably futher it - and it prevents damaging (or even mischaracterizing) Dick & Tim. Dick Grayson is Nightwing, Tim Drake is Robin, and Jason Todd is the *failed* Robin who isn't doing anything anymore. Addition, not subtraction. You think that in this age of death, destruction and deconstruction, we could appreciate that.

  • March 31, 2005, 1:37 p.m. CST

    Sure they can do whatever they want with the characters

    by superninja

    I picked up Countdown in the store, looked at the ending, put it down and didn't buy anything. Beetle's brains blown out is just not what I'm looking for in a comic book. DC was where I went when Marvel turned to supposed "realism", and now DC is following suit. So I'm pretty much left with few options these days. Which is fine, because they probably don't need my money anyway.

  • March 31, 2005, 1:41 p.m. CST

    Blue Beetle-

    by RenoNevada2000

    Some of us here, OK, me, are old enough to remember the Beetle's own series back in the 80s. It was one of the series that I always looked forward to the next issue of on my weekly bike trips to the local drug store to pick up the latest releases every Friday. The fun of reading Wein's BEETLE is a saignificant part of my personal comics history. Was the character well written in COUNTDOWN? Yes, the best he's been in the past decade, even if some of his interior monologue boarded on self-referential. Did it suck when I read the issue last week and got to the final page. Damn straight it did. But ultimately, it was a fictional character who died, while my fond memories will live on...

  • March 31, 2005, 1:46 p.m. CST

    JonQ

    by superninja

    I was actually reading Batman in the '80s last night, and they had a brief editorialization about Jason Todd inside, and how is origin was *tweaked* to differentiate him from Dick's. Needless to say, Jason Todd was no angel. Besides boosting hubcaps, it was alluded that he dropped a rapist off of a roof to his death and murdered a foreign dignitary at one point. The death of the character created a guilt-trip that Batman has carried around with him that writers use to no end. Bringing Todd back as "Dark Robin" is an opportunity to let Batman shed some of this overused, done-to-death pathos. I know that's why some people love the character, but I'm kinda sick of pessimism and jerk attitude 24/7.

  • March 31, 2005, 1:48 p.m. CST

    Bullcrap

    by superninja

    An adult story doesn't have to contain needless graphic violence and everyone turning into a paranoid amoral jerk. Did you just start reading superhero comics or something?

  • March 31, 2005, 2:15 p.m. CST

    Bringing Todd back as "Dark Robin" is an opportunity to...

    by JonQuixote

    I dunno, Supes. I suspect having a Robin gone-evil will be used not to temper Batman's guilt, but add more. "Boy not only did you let him die, but he also became your arch enemy. You really screwed up on this one, Bats." Just a guess though.

  • March 31, 2005, 2:23 p.m. CST

    Important Characters that Cannot Be Killed

    by JonQuixote

    I think the general assertation has nothing to do with the Importance(tm) to the comic industry of the Sue Dibneys of the world, but rather the fact that...well, it's getting to be a pretty tiresome technique. A marketing stunt. IN THIS ISSUE, SOMEONE DIES! Really, there's no such thing as a character that Cannot Be Killed, just different levels of fan outcry. But this sort of thing only really advances cynicism - it's officially the comic equivalent of "The Butler Did It". And it makes the whole hobby a tedious, sneering place to visit, especially if it involves a character you like. And the way it's going, eventually it will. And you'll sigh as they throw another body on the pyre and maybe even reflect on how much more fulfilling it is when the creators actually create, instead of take away. Sacrificing a Blue Beetle or a Hawkeye to kickstart your sales pitch isn't much of a trick and by this stage of the game, it's pretty boring. Turning somebody into a Blue Beetle fan... now that would be something.

  • March 31, 2005, 2:28 p.m. CST

    It's the TONE I object to...not the STORY...

    by superhero

    I am fine with bad things happening to good characters. Heck, that happens in life all the time. It just seems like some big shift has occurred in the DCU and it's something that just makes me scratch my head in wonder. They've got some really great writers over there but now it seems like they're heading in a direction which, quite frankly, made all the X-Men books (except Whedon's) unreadable to me. Yes, DC's continuity since Crisis has been shot to hell...well, I guess, did DC EVER have any REAL continuity? Do I need my comics to become some sort of pseudo-wannabe Watchmen? No, not really. Quite honestly 12 issues of Watchmen were enough. It's brilliant but do I need to see characters get raped, burned to death, mauled etc. in ALL my comics? No, not really. It seems like the high adventure element, the "awe factor", if you will is gone from so many comics. Hell, it's gone from so many movies as well. It just seems to me like the whole reason Identity Crisis existed was to see one of the characters raped and burnt to death. In the killing Joke Batgirl's paralysis is just one element of the story and isn't central to the whole story's existence. It just seems like the whole reason the story exists WAS to kill Sue and Blue Beetle. They both come off as stunts. Wasn't there another way to add doubts to the Justice League's existing without brutally raping and killing a beloved character? Or maybe there was a better way of telling the story so that it wasn't the biggest, central event to the story. I'm not saying minimilizing the rape or making it any less horrible...just not making it THE central reason for everything happening. I mean even Frank Miller supposedly pulled back from the idea of Robin being murdered and raped in The Dark Knight Returns...or he was forced to, I don't know which. Ahhhh...what do I know...?

  • March 31, 2005, 2:33 p.m. CST

    Bullcrap

    by superninja

    Problem is, the events of ID Crisis are completely out of character for the characters themselves. It's a forced situation to darken up the DCU, and it feels forced. Does it justify Batman's whole attitude since Frank Miller wrote his little ditty? Well, guess it does now, since they retconned the whole thing. See, now it's not just a progression in Batman's behavior towards dark paranoia, it was largely in part to a single event of his friends betraying him. Except, there's nothing to suggest they would ever do something so malevolent and in the past.

  • March 31, 2005, 2:37 p.m. CST

    superhero - agreed

    by superninja

    Just read JSA (one of the best books out there). Bad stuff happens to these guys constantly. However, Johns rarely resorts to shock value but rather focuses on strong characterization to make them work through their problems. They're also almost unfailingly heroic and not cynical jerks.

  • March 31, 2005, 2:57 p.m. CST

    oh god no

    by Fantomex

    its bad enough having to read batman's internal dialouge about how guilty he feels about jason todd and whoever else, lets not add onto that "and he's my archenemy".

  • March 31, 2005, 2:57 p.m. CST

    Yeah...JSA is pretty great.

    by superhero

    I would even use Batman Beyond:Return of the Joker (Unedited Version) as an instance of something awful happening to a character but being used for the greater good of the story and not the other way around. Why does all the really crappy stuff happen to Batman's crew. If I were them I'd steer clear of Bats as much as I could...:O)

  • March 31, 2005, 3:06 p.m. CST

    You know what would be cool for DC to do?

    by Squashua

    Before (or maybe after Infinite Crisis) they could put out a pre-Silver Age book that would be set before, during, and after Waid's Silver Age JLA issues. It could address the adventures of the Silver Age Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, aka Dan Garrett and Captain Comet. It's not like anyone ever did anything with them except have Captain Comet battle the Secret Society of Supervillains teamed with a JLA'er du jour and then join the L.E.G.I.O.N. Post-Crisis. Heck, Dan Garrett Blue Beetle only really appeared in the Ted Kord Blue Beetle's first issue or so. They both made brief appearances in Waid's Silver Age JLA miniseries, but I see their lack of stories as good idea for a pre-Batman/Superman Batman/Superman... Blue Beetle and Captain Comet, the original BB/BG.

  • March 31, 2005, 3:07 p.m. CST

    Add the JLA to that list

    by superninja

    Wouldn't want to get mindwiped along with the rapists!

  • March 31, 2005, 3:09 p.m. CST

    Check out newsarama where Winnick is interviewed about JT/Red H

    by superninja

    Makes JT almost sound like Zoom over in Flash. If that's the case, it would be rather redundant. Why can't he just be evil? Oh well. I still say he's from another Earth.

  • March 31, 2005, 3:13 p.m. CST

    Um ... I liked Countdown a lot

    by snicky

    Not to be completely contrarian, but I sense that a lot of big, long-time comic fans object to the idea of *any* comic character ever dying. Do I want every issue of every comic book I read to have death and murder? No, but I like it established that in a world where alien invasions are routine and people toss around cars on a regular basis, that the stakes are high in the story I'm reading. An occassional tragedy, like what occured in Countdown, sells that for me. Mind you, I'm not saying that characters should die all willy-nilly and for no good reason. The death of Hawkeye was pointless. The death of Blue Beetle, on the other hand, was a great story. DC Countdown gave us a character who had virtually no friends and little respect in the DC Universe proving that he could have been an equal to Batman, only to die at the hands of someone he thought was a friend. It was tragic, full of pathos and surprise -- everything you want in a good adventure story. Had Beetle simply been taken prisoner or not died, the story would have lost its power. The bottom line is that after a long break from comics, stuff like this is pulling me back in. The last Big Event story that's hooked me in such a way was the original Crisis, which I read when I was 9.

  • March 31, 2005, 3:14 p.m. CST

    I seem to have all my privates, and now... off to read Little Lu

    by Homer Sexual

    I didn't like Morrison's JLA despite being a huge Morrison fan. His Seven Soldiers books are the bomb, so far. (Although Guardian reeks of dorkiness, it's still great) But I am the kind of fan who likes the unpopular books, I guess, because I find group stories with the "big guns" much less interesting than the "medium guns." I want to buy New Avengers BECAUSE of Luke Cage and Spider-Woman, but don't because I can't deal with Daredevil or Wolverine in the Avengers. I do agree that Giffen took his concepts in JLI too far, and has done so in several projects (anyone remember his Suicide Squad?). I want to thank Dave F for his excellent comments in the reviews and especially here in the talkbalk. I don't want a return to the cornball "Silver Age," but are there only two options? I will say that if I had to choose between Avengers Dissassembled and Identity Crisis/Countdown, DC wins. But that is probably because I care more about the Scarlet Witch and Co. than I do about Elongated Man, etc. p.s. I bought Young Avengers 2 after reading last weeks column and it was all right, much better than #1.

  • March 31, 2005, 3:36 p.m. CST

    Regarding the return of JT and death of BB.

    by cookylamoo

    With our talkbacks we keep saying "No No" but with our wallets we keep saying "Yes Yes." We want it. They know we want it.

  • March 31, 2005, 4:02 p.m. CST

    cookylamoo...I paid a buck for Infinite Countdown...

    by superhero

    Yes, I bought it because I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt but will I buy the rest of it...probably not, we'll see. Oh, and I actually paid less than a buck because of the discount the guy at my store gives his regular customers. And that's all the book was worth...in my opinion. As for snicky's comments. Glad you liked it. I didn't. No big deal. I guess i just didn't see the death of Blue Beetle as a shocking moment. Plus I felt his characterization and portrayal in the book was all wrong. People always seemed to show him respect and thought of him as reasonably intelligent. That's the issue I had with the book. The sudden and complete disdain everyone had for Blue Beetle. I mean by the end of the book it almost seemed like a mercy killing for gosh sake. I mean if I were a new reader why would I care if BB got killed? He was portrayed a such a pathetic boor it almost seemd like Max did him a favor by putting him out of his misery...

  • March 31, 2005, 4:33 p.m. CST

    This book would have sold equally well for $3.50.

    by cookylamoo

    I'm not commenting on the quality of the story or what's fair or not. But death obviously sells books, and so do resurrections. And as long as we keep making deaths and resurrections big time sellers, they're going to keep doing them.

  • March 31, 2005, 4:37 p.m. CST

    If you say so cooky...but I bet a lot of people might not have p

    by superhero

    I wouldn't have. But I'm a reader that's gotten pretty tired of crossovers and special events. I could be in the minority...that's cool. After all I do like Manga...Yes! I said it! Seems like it's such a dirty word in some comic forums...:O)

  • March 31, 2005, 5:43 p.m. CST

    As long as there is a Lazarus Pit in the DCU ... character will

    by riskebiz

    Actually, I don't know why they don't do a huge crossover event based around the Lazarus Pit. But if Jason Todd is back as Red Hood ... that's fine by me. It makes him a unique villain for Batman. He was going to be back as Hush, but it got screwed up with stupidity and politics.

  • March 31, 2005, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Throw Sue Dibney and Ted Kord in the Lazarus Pit.

    by riskebiz

    They'll be back tomorrow.

  • March 31, 2005, 5:47 p.m. CST

    Throw Barbara Gordon in the Lazarus Pit.

    by riskebiz

    Boom. No more paralyzed. She walks tomorrow.

  • March 31, 2005, 6:01 p.m. CST

    wow, I missed a lot while I was out...

    by God's Brother

    Earlier, if anyone cares, I made some remark about bad writing, blah blah blah... I don't think ANY character should be considered indispensible, especially if you get a good story out of it... I think that killing Blue Beetle (my absolute favourite super-hero character in the universe) is totally ok. I even think it's pretty neat if they were to have someone he knows well and trusts be the killer due to a hidden agenda that nobody saw coming. I mean, the ideas behind countdown were definitely there, it's the way the story was written that I have a problem with (I mean, really, after Identity Crisis, none of the big names were gonna take him seriously? "Someone blew up my house!" "Aw, quit kidding around..." Bad writing, right there.) My earlier comments had more to do with Identity Crisis, where, out of nowhere, we get Sue Dibny's life story, just before she's brutally murdered. Then, in issue 2, she's retroactively almost-raped (yeah, it served to show how "evil" dr. Light used to be, but come on...). Meanwhile, for like 10 years before IC, she was basically a grossly underused, well developed, somewhat realistic and accessible (FEMALE) character that no one knew what to do with, because to write her would take more brains than writing explosions, cheap, shocking stunts with no merit, and crappy, clicheed inner monologue we've all read a billion times. If comics aren't for kids anymore, then step up and make the writing a little smarter. That's all I ask for, but then, I am only one dude...

  • March 31, 2005, 7:19 p.m. CST

    Guys, there are no more Lazarus Pits. No Ra's Al Ghuul, either.

    by SleazyG.

    Greg Rucka got rid of all that stuff already. Bane blew 'em all up, filled 'em with cement, and so on. There was even a story specifically addressing when the very last pit was destroyed. On top of that Ra's was killed off and replaced by a heretofore nonexistent character and her daughter Talia. So in order to bring Robin back with a Lazarus Pit they'd first have to come up with a way to undo the very recent destruction of them all. It's really, really harebrained: don't destroy something, tell us it's gone forever, and bring it back two years later. It's insulting, really--why did I buy that story then? Dan Didio keeps saying part of the reason for IDENTITY CRISIS and COUNTDOWN is to introduce a more "Stakes Iz High" approach to the DCU. Events are serious and will have long-lasting ramifications. Okay, I'm good with that. So how about we start with the serious, long-lasting ramifications of, oh, I dunno, Jason Todd staying blown the fuck up? I mean, otherwise aren't you really talking out of both sides of your mouth?

  • March 31, 2005, 7:30 p.m. CST

    Rucka's a damn fine writer on QUEEN & COUNTRY...

    by Dave_F

    But doesn't it say something about his godawful superhero comics that he could kill Ra's al Ghul and destroy all the Lazarus Pits...and no one remembers it a mere year later?

  • March 31, 2005, 7:41 p.m. CST

    Put the Lazarus Pit in the Lazarus Pit.

    by riskebiz

    Actually, since Ra's Al Ghul showed up in Legion of Superheroes, it means that his pits aren't really gone. Unless you subscribe to the belief that the Legion is some alternate reality like Earth 2 or something like that ... but I thought they got rid of all that sort of stuff. Todd was dug up. It was in the Hush storyline and he very well could have been put into a pit. I personally don't believe that the pits are dead and gone ... like most dead heroe's don't stay dead.

  • March 31, 2005, 7:54 p.m. CST

    Actually, I like some of Rucka's superhero stuff.

    by SleazyG.

    I like a lot of what he's doing on WONDER WOMAN, in fact. I also loved that he brought back Checkmate in the pages of BATMAN. I think most of his Batman work was great, and love GOTHAM CENTRAL. It's just that the "last ever Ra's Al Ghuul story" thing was really poorly done. It's hard to be perfect all the time, though.

  • March 31, 2005, 8:04 p.m. CST

    Time Travel

    by superninja

    What if someone is using the good 'ol time machine plot? It's not like time travel fiascos are taboo at DC. Johns' on JSA plays around with this on a fairly regular basis as I've discovered by reading in trades. Surprising that he does it so often given how much complaining you hear about time travel and messing with continuity. Flash can time travel. What about Atom?

  • March 31, 2005, 8:05 p.m. CST

    Rucka's Wonder Woman

    by superninja

    Is pretty horrible. Talk about characterization that makes you go "huh"? His Diana is one dumb broad. Good fighter BLIND, though.

  • March 31, 2005, 8:09 p.m. CST

    Oh yeah, I forgot GOTHY CENTRAL - Rucka's a'ight on that.

    by Dave_F

    But Brubaker still wrote all my favorite stories for the series. As for Checkmate, I don't know if this is Rucka's doing or not, but didn't the team lose the cool black 'n' gold uniforms when they appeared during his Batman run? I don't like that. Making Checkmate a generic superspy agency ain't no fun - they need their S.H.I.E.L.D.-like trappings and the whole chessboard motif they began with. And as of COUNTDOWN, if I'm not mistaken, doesn't it appear that Checkmate's been wholly subverted? In other words, did Rucka help bring Checkmate back only to screw the concept over?***** Related sidebar: Can anyone believe that Harvey frickin' Bullock was one of the bigwigs for Checkmate back in the day?! I seem to recall he was one of the Bishops, even. Has that whole thing been retconned? It sure feels that way. Maybe it's not an official retcon, but it does "feel" like it's been dropped simply virtue of the fact that no one ever mentions it anymore. Sleazy, did it ever come up during Rucka's Batman days? I only read bits and pieces of that run.

  • March 31, 2005, 8:23 p.m. CST

    Best Clayface was on BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES

    by Dave_F

    Great character design (since appropriated by the comic), great voice, great shape-changing effects, and none of the comic book baggage about there being three other Clayfaces (or is the plural Clayfacii?). As for Batman in the League...I kinda like it, though not when they feel the need to make him Uber-Batman. Morrison did that, and I like what I've read of Morrison's run, but man did he start the ball rolling on the notion of Batman being this unstoppable machine. Thing is, if DC wants continuity - and sometimes they do! - it's awfully hard to reconcile Batman being in the League when he's supposed to've been thought of as an urban legend in Gotham up until recently. I guess in my ideal world, Bats would be a known-but-mysterious quantity to the world AND a JLA'er, but he'd basically be a fill-in member and his own books would simply downplay the League as a resource - maybe even ignore 'em completely in books like DETECTIVE. I like continuity, but I'm okay with bending it a bit because the regular Bat-books are cooler without outside superhero references and yet the JLA *needs* Batman when it's in iconic mode.

  • March 31, 2005, 8:35 p.m. CST

    Tights in Gotham

    by superninja

    Don't think superheroes should be left out of the Batbooks. I like the contrast of a Superman or a Wonder Woman showing up there and working with Batman. Gotham has its own emotional quality that comes with it. Like with Metropolis you get a feeling of progress and optimism and Gotham makes you feel like you're in a Poe story.

  • March 31, 2005, 8:46 p.m. CST

    Yeah, I wouldn't axe superheroes *completely* from Gotham...

    by Dave_F

    I guess they should just be minimized. Bats shouldn't always be using the JLA as resources, but the occasional appearance by a member can add a nice bit of spice - a favorite instance being Superman's appearances in NO MAN'S LAND. And I have to admit, it'd almost be worth the tonal weirdness to see Batman call in the entire League to drop the hammer on a massive Gotham City crimewave. Black Mask, meet Superman.

  • What with even close friends like Oracle giving Blue Beetle all this crap. Hell, even Martian Manhunter dumped on him, and Manhunter's like the huggable Wilford Brimley of the JLA - only here he's more like the evil Wilford Brimley from THE FIRM. Anyway, COUNTDOWN had plenty of well-written moments, so I can see why readers less familiar with the DCU may embrace it, but the drama comes at the expense of pre-existing characterization and the protective bonds that (theoretically) should've been forged among the heroes in IDENTITY CRISIS. Of course, IDENTITY CRISIS itself had some weird mischaracterizations. I still think both Hawkman and Green Arrow would've iced Dr. Light when they caught him raping Sue, though ironically, I'd imagine Green Arrow would never've agreed to the mindwipe thing. And the very notion that Superman would've tacitly approved of anything that went on with the mind-wiping (especially the Batman wipe) is pretty ridiculous. There's a reason Superman is Superman, and mindwiping his pals ain't it.

  • March 31, 2005, 9:29 p.m. CST

    This right winger also objected to GA's role in ID Crisis

    by the G-man

    For the life of me, I think Ollie would have objected to a mindwipe a hell of a lot quicker than Batman.

  • March 31, 2005, 10:31 p.m. CST

    Don't mock the Ra's!

    by Dave_F

    Things that make Ra's cool: A) Daughter is ultra-babe B) For an old guy, looks pretty buff when he swordfights Batman shirtless C) Voiced evilly by evil-voiced David Warner on the animated series

  • March 31, 2005, 11:38 p.m. CST

    Shirtless Batman owns!

    by Dave_F

    It's a perfect fit for the story it appeared in - a globe-trotting, Indiana Jones-esque adventure. In fact, Shirtless Batman's a lot like Shirtless Indie on the rope bridge in TEMPLE OF DOOM! Okay, he wasn't completely shirtless, but he had the "Doc Savage" look going on to show off Harrison Ford's time in the gym, and if Indie gets the opportunity, why not Bats? Dude lost his entire childhood to get buff and you're gonna deny him his one moment to show it off? That's cold-blooded. And if the homoerotic undercurrent disturbs, can I just take a moment to remind you: Talia. Where Ra's goes, she goes, and that girl is ALWAYS in some tight-fitting blouse or catsuit. Which, okay, doesn't make her much different from most superhero comic women, but she really *carries* the look.

  • April 1, 2005, 1:54 a.m. CST

    With all this shirtless talk you guys are starting to give Seduc

    by superhero

    I'm starting to feel like this talkbalk is headed over to West Hollywood...or Christopher Street if you're in NYC...not that there's anything wrong with that! :O)

  • April 1, 2005, 1:58 a.m. CST

    Oh, and I finally was able to read the latest JL:Classified and.

    by superhero

    Is it me or are all those Sue being pregnant jokes just disturbing now? Sad. But I really don't see any reason to be upset by the differences in JLC and Infinite Coundown/Identity Crisis. I still think the JLC is amusing...I'll just have to classify (no pun intended) it as an alternate reality story I guess.

  • 'Cause it is! =D Sidebar: Even though the movie is stunningly authentic, some scenes were indeed cut, and the word on the street is that *everything* will be restored for the DVD's such that you can watch each story separately and with no cuts from the comic. Cool, huh? I still like the comics better, but SIN CITY: THE MOVIE is a damn fine way to spend an evening.

  • April 1, 2005, 4 a.m. CST

    Sorry I didn't respong sooner, Mr. Bullcrap...

    by kintar0

    but I was too busy standing in line for two and a half hours for Sin City. Which is funny because I supposedly don't like violence or violent comics.

  • April 1, 2005, 5:10 a.m. CST

    Things I hated about SIN CITY: THE MOVIE

    by SleazyG.

    Jessica Alba in clothes. Alexis Bledel in clothes. Carla Gugino not out of clothes enough.

  • April 1, 2005, 5:12 a.m. CST

    Things I loved about SIN CITY: THE MOVIE

    by SleazyG.

    Clive Owen owning his scenes just like in CLOSER (my buddies are gonna start an official Clive Owen Appreciation Society any day now--I wanna be Clive from CLOSER when I grow up). Bruce Willis ripping off a dude's junk with his bare hands. Mickey Rourke being enjoyable for the first time since his mom shat him out.

  • April 1, 2005, 2:15 p.m. CST

    no...

    by kintar0

    I'm saying you're a moron for not knowing where graphic violence belongs and where it doesn't. I'm saying you're a fool for thinking that because I didn't like the blood and brains splattered final panels of Infinite Countdown and the violent rape of Sue Dibney means that I think no violence should be allowed in any comics. I'm saying you don't know shit from shinola. You simply fail to understand. I'm saying that this is supremely sad and that you represent the problem, the reason crap like Identity Crisis and Infinite Countdown is popular. But hey, go ahead and enjoy it. I'm sure DC will off more comedy characters to slake you blood lust. Try not to see everything in black and white, though.

  • April 1, 2005, 6:41 p.m. CST

    wow, i am way too late to respond

    by sideshowbob

    JMS's Spidey has been too depressing to read...too much like real life. Parker has always been down on his luck, but it's usually tempered with a lot of fun action. His life is a drag, but he can cut loose with his secret alter-ego. Once you take the fun away from the comic, the whole thing becomes a downer. There are two Marvel titles that should ALWAYS be fun: Spidey and the Fantastic Four. That the bitter, cynical JMS is writing both...Marvel is screwing up here. Dan Slott should be writing both. Actually, Dan Slott should be writing every Marvel book like DC back in the day. The JMS thing is odd since Marvel is making such a move toward fun books these days (Dan Slott exclusive, Giffen on Invaders, Runaways rebooting, etc). And DC is doing the opposite, making their books no fun at all. I loved the JLI, and the grotesque ending to Countdown wasn't the offensive part; it was watching them try to make Booster & BB realistic (read: very, very depressing). DiDio, in that little editorial in that book, said he sat down with Rucka, Johns and Winnick and went over what makes comics fun....and THAT book was the result!!! I can't see myself buying a book by those three writers again, if that's their idea of a fun story.

  • April 2, 2005, 4:21 a.m. CST

    Wow, you're a dumb racist, too...

    by kintar0

    I'd really sad that I have to clarify this for you, but here goes. I'll all caps the important elements for you. I ENJOYED Countdown until the LAST PANELS where Blue Beetle got his BRAINS BLOWN OUT. The GRAPHIC death of a major character in a MAINSTREAM DC title is what I OBJECT TO. IDENTITY CRISIS was POORLY WRITTEN and involved covering up and ignoring RAPE. NO ME GUSTA. You fucking bigot. I've read more Black Panther issues than you ever will. You can keep on hoping they make the DCU a dark, gritty place where people get shot in the face and have their brains and guts sprayed everywhere and chicks get raped and burned to death and they make all the comedy characters get into the showers and gas them all you want, but it'll never stay that way. We're going to have to let this run its course, like any other "Obsidian Age" or "Our Worlds At War" or "Crisis." Hey, maybe Deadshot will shoot someone and he'll go over and fuck the wound? Would that satisfy your bloodlust?

  • April 2, 2005, 8:45 a.m. CST

    way late to the party, but...SPIDEY/TORCH #3 IS THE BEST SPIDEY

    by Johnny Ahab

    y'know...I dropped the Spidey titles...and just about ALL Marvel titles over the past 2 years. I got tired of the X-titles, was livid at "Avengers Dissassembled" (still won't forgive Marvel for killing off the Hawkster), HATED the Goblin/Gwen stuff -- and the "Spider-Men" line that ended with a whimper, and don't get me started on "Daredevil". So I stopped buying. But when I read the reviewers write-up of Spidey/Torch #3, with its loving homage to the dopey, kitschy Spider-Mobile, I had to go out and pick it up. And the reviewer was DEAD ON. This brought back memories of reading Spider-Man as a kid in the 70s (which I've been catching up on thru the Essentials series -- the one thing Marvel is doing right these days!). It made me smile, laugh out loud -- and rush back to the comic store to buy the other two issues in the series. And I'm gonna write Marvel a letter. DAN SLOTT IS TERRIFIC! Haven't read any of his other stuff, but I will be on the lookout. Marvel has gotten so dour and gritty with all of its titles. The "comic" has gone out of their comic books. But this definitely had the Stan Lee era feel of fun that I so miss from modern day comic books. (And I cracked up at Peter telling Johnny "Face front, true believer." GENIUS!) Please please please, Marvel, give Dan Slott the keys to the store! (And find some way to bring Hawkeye back to life and bring back all my favorite long-time Avengers -- I mean, come on, like Spider-man and Wolverine really need more exposure in the Marvel-verse???) Thanks, A$$holes, for making my week. This is why I read this column. So that I can miss the bad comics and pick up the good. Way to go.

  • April 2, 2005, 10:02 a.m. CST

    I wouldn't bring Hawkeye back

    by Ribbons

    He was one of my favorite characters too, but I disagree with the policy of constantly resurrecting people whose deaths mean something. If that's the case, then death means nothing. I'm probably with you in thinking that killing him off was a little exploitative, but one of the things that's been said before and that I agree with is that the reason comics meant so much more back in the Golden and Silver Ages is that practically anything could happen. Now titles live in a state where nothing ever really changes, or if it does, it's not even interesting enough to bat an eyelash at. So basically yes, I disagree with the death. However, I think it'd be best if they left it that way.

  • April 2, 2005, 12:04 p.m. CST

    so let me get this straight, Vroom...

    by sideshowbob

    You're shocked and/or disgusted that the ingredients for the #1 book should be good writing, good art, and a bunch of popular characters in one $2.25 book? Were you expecting The Goon to start charging up the sales charts and overtake Batman/Superman?

  • April 2, 2005, 2:27 p.m. CST

    Dan Slott also wrote some excellent Batman stories, didn't he?

    by the G-man

    If I recall correctly, Slott wrote some really good Batman stories in the "adventures" books, completely in tune with the style of the animated series, that is, completely in character Batman, in the mode of Denny O'Neill on the tope of his game. Unfortunately, it was in the animated book, so no one ever noticed AND, of course, DC was too stupid to hire Slott for the regular Bat book and pair him with, I dunno, JIM LEE and have a true classic on its hands.

  • April 2, 2005, 2:34 p.m. CST

    Well, G-Man...

    by SleazyG.

    ...I'm not sure if he did the ANIMATED books or not. However, he did write a mainstream-continuity miniseries about a white-collar criminal who gets sent to Arkham and ends up losing his damned mind due to who and what he's exposed to. I think it was called ARKHAM ASYLUM: LIVING HELL, but I could be wrong on that. It was kinda like setting "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" in the DCU, and it was pretty good. Much heavier and creepier than what he's doing now, but that's cool with me--it shows he's got chops. It's an indicator of a lot of depth, flexibility and talent, so we're all watching him with hopes he'll keep getting higher-profile assignments.

  • April 2, 2005, 4:22 p.m. CST

    Old school DC touting Marvel bashers

    by stoogeling

    Man am I tired of listening to grizzled old geezers bitching about how Marvel sucks and we should all just grab our ankles at the altar of the JLA. If the new-wave of Marvel isn't your cup of sake, fine. Please review the books w/o the obligatory DC shilling rant. Never got into DC. Never will. Superman sucks.

  • Although ELFQUEST posts will also be accepted. **** Johnny! Glad you liked SPIDEY/TORCH! I'm trying to put it in as many hands as possible!

  • April 2, 2005, 5:44 p.m. CST

    Actually, Sideshow...

    by vroom socko

    I'm shocked and/or disgusted that one of the best writers out there today has his hands on my favorite sandbox, complete with all his favorite toys, and I'm just not having any fun.

  • April 2, 2005, 7:43 p.m. CST

    spidey/torch

    by sideshowbob

    Actually, I made a post last week about Spidey/Torch #3 where I said something like "it was the most fun issue to come since the 80s" and "Does it get any better than the Red Ghost and Super Apes? No." Between this series and Spidey's appearance in She-Hulk, Slott needs to be on "Amazing" ASAP. (Aside to Vroom: regardless of what you think of New Avengers, you must admit Bendis writes the best Spidey one-liners in ages, especially when bounced off the more serious members of that team). *** As to Elfquest...I dunno, what discussion were you hoping for, Dave? Those came out ages ago! Didn't I discuss it enough in 4th grade when I obsessed over it, spent countless hours copying the artwork style, questioned my sexuality, and even created my own crude, stapled ripoff? Answer: yes. (and kidding about the "questioning" part. seriously.)

  • April 2, 2005, 7:48 p.m. CST

    And is it just me about "countdown"...

    by sideshowbob

    But was the whole Max revelation a carbon copy of the Cameron Hodge story in X-Factor and the X-Books? Wherein a wealthy human bankrolls a team of classic superheroes, but keeps them inneffectual while he puts most of his money into his real shadowy organization, whose main goal is for humans to wage war and kill all superheroes and retake the planet Earth. I know the offical @$$hole stance is that everything DC does is wildly original and groundbreaking while Marvel callously rips it off, but come on. Intentional or no, it's shameless.

  • And your candid comments are much appreciated. They're also potentially likely to appear at the next @$$ie Awards in the "most revealing TalkBack" category that gave us "I used to spank it to the Marvel Universe picture of Lorelei" in the last one. Thanks! ***** COUNTDOWN a knock off of the Cameron Hodge storyline? Mebbe. Hadn't considered that, but it would account for another reason I didn't like it: I hated Hodge's betrayal even back in '86 or whenever it was. Here we had one of the first interesting normal humans to appear in an X-book in ages...and they went the ultra-cheap Benedict Arnold route. So weak. It'd be like having Moira traitor-out half a year after being introduced, or that FBI agent that used to be pals with the X-Men. Is he still around or has he been traitored 'n' killed? His name was "Fred" something. ***** Lastly: sure, we 'Holes have favorites we leans towards between Marvel and DC, but let's not forget that we've praised ASTONISHING X-MEN, SHE-HULK, YOUNG AVENGERS, SPIDEY/TORCH, LIVEWIRES, CAPTAIN AMERICA, ULTIMATE FF, and WOLVERINE in just the last few weeks. In that same time, we've been critical of GREEN ARROW, THE HUMAN RACE, JLA, EX MACHINA, TEEN TITANS, and CATWOMAN. So don't be too sure we're on DC's payroll...especially come the fallout of COUNTDOWN. Speaking for myself alone, DC's only really got me hooked on three or four titles at the moment: REBIRTH, GOTHAM CENTRAL, SEVEN SOLDIERS, ADAM STRANGE, and...I dunno, maybe SOLO? Plus some Vertigo stuff, but that's not "real" DC. All the core books are losing me with the IDENTITY CRISIS/COUNTDOWN bullshit, and even ADAM STRANGE might end up tainted by it all. Same goes for the pending GREEN LANTERN. It's a bummer, it is. And as for Marvel, I'm on SPIDEY/TORCH, LIVEWIRES, YOUNG AVENGERS (sorta), ULTIMATE FF (sometimes), CAPTAIN AMERICA, RUNAWAYS and occasionally THE PUNISHER. Puts the Big Two pretty neck and neck in my opinion, though right now I'm not thrilled with either of 'em overall. Dark Horse, baby - that's the place to be.

  • April 3, 2005, 4:10 a.m. CST

    We only have ourselves to blame.

    by Mechakong

    This current generation of DC writers claim to be true "fans". Yet they seem to loathe the very notion of continuity practiced by their elders like Roy Thomas or Marc Gruenwald. So why do they keep ripping them off? the whole mind wipe theme of Identity Crisis was a straight up rip off of Gruenwald's great Squadron Supreme mini from the mid eighties. And now DC has taken to temporarily killing off second tier characters just for kicks, which is the sort of thing that

  • April 3, 2005, 5:08 a.m. CST

    You're not wrong, Mecha.

    by Dave_F

    I out-and-out quit Marvel and DC from the early '90s to the late '90s, so I can at least claim some resistance to the ridiculous loyalty the Big Two inspire...but, sure, I've gone back to 'em. They've got an insanely great stable of characters and, like most fans, I guess I find their worlds comforting escape zones. It's the particular way they're shaping their worlds at any given moment that turns me away or draws me in. In the '90s, we saw the all-time nadir and it was easy to go cold turkey, but now, even when times are bad, there are pockets of real quality. When you like the characters (or creators working 'em), that's hard to walk away from. Nevertheless, I still recommend ELFQUEST over every other damn book we covered this week. Anyone feeling guilty over their addiction to the capes and tights....there's your cure. Except for Sideshow. S'just hair of the dog for him.

  • April 3, 2005, 5:42 a.m. CST

    Sideshow, a couple of things.

    by vroom socko

    First, you're damn right that Bendis writes Spidey better than almost anyone. Quick quiz: what was the funniest bit in NA #4? No, it wasn't the donut bit. It was Spider-Man holding his head, going "aw man, it's one of MY bad guys!" Hilarious. Second, I'd say that Countdown also ripped off something a bit more recent. Think about it, Beetle was sitting in front of a giant monitor, looking at all the information collected on his friends and fellow superheroes, his own entry covered with a big deceased. Then, after being discovered, he's attacked by a mechanical monstrosity designed to kill superheroes. Sure, it may just be an Incredible(s) coincidence, but I doubt it...

  • It's the superhero biz. Several dozen stories told each *week*. There's *gonna* be some commonality of concepts, and I gotta say Sideshow, if it really is coincidental (that is, parallel thought processes), how can it possibly be "shameless"? I didn't like COUNTDOWN, but I do at least believe that Rucka, Winick and Johns have enough integrity to not deliberately swipe 20-year-old stories or year-old movies.

  • April 3, 2005, 10:54 a.m. CST

    Man

    by IRuleAll

    the longest lasting talkback ever and I have nothing to say. I really don't care for Countdown either way. My favorite book in a long time was X-Statix, they introduced 'em, wrote 'em, and killed 'em in about three years, and I was fine with that. I wish they'd end more series sooner. There's only so much to the Punisher. Hell, kill Batman. Just to see moviemack fill his pockets with rocks and jump off a bridge...

  • April 3, 2005, 11:59 a.m. CST

    I like the idea of more finite series.

    by Dave_F

    One of my favorite DC writers of the '80s and early '90s was John Ostrander, and just by virtue of the fact that he kept getting books cancelled under him, he ended up writing several "finite" series: SUICIDE SQUAD, HAWKWORLD, and the SPECTRE, namely. And I was disappointed everytime he'd get a book cancelled out from under him, but I really think those series were stronger for the fact that he had to bring each to an ending (okay, HAWKWORLD fumbled a bit, but...). And STARMAN? Another book that definitely benefitted from having an ending. Same goes - and this would be one of the earliest examples - for the Archie Goodwin/Walt Simonson back-up series, "Manhunter." Cool shit, but when you off your main character, that's pretty much it! On the other hand, kill Batman? Hey, da Warnah Brudders don' like that kind'a talk, ya get me? Wise up, 'fore they have to *wise* ya up themselves. Permanent-like!

  • April 3, 2005, 1:50 p.m. CST

    yeah, i know, dave...

    by sideshowbob

    No stories are truly original. And "shameless" was too strong. But still, you wanna make sure your readers don't immediately think of other works when they read yours. Also, I know you guys don't *prefer* DC to Marvel; I've just seen numerous claims here that DC is original while Marvel rips it off, which, "Identity Disc" aside, is simply not the case.

  • April 3, 2005, 2:04 p.m. CST

    more elfquest talk, sort of

    by sideshowbob

    You know, looking back on my youth, all the books that got me into comics weren't superheroes at all: I read G.I.Joe, Transformers, Conan, Elfquest, Alien Legion, Groo, Star Wars, Indy Jones, Micronauts and even stuff like Strikeforce: Morituri before getting into superheroes. Then I got into superheroes for a while, and now I'm drifting away from them again. Maybe to get kids back, they need to make more all-ages books without superheroes? (Especially since DC has inexplicably decided that superheroes are for adults only). Really, Marvel or DC should pay whetever it costs for the Harry Potter license, Lemony Snicket, Spy Kids, whatever. I hear there's a Drzzzt comic coming out. I never liked him. But you can bet I'm rooting hard for that series to succeed.

  • April 3, 2005, 2:14 p.m. CST

    finite series (after this I'll shut up)

    by sideshowbob

    I like them, reinforced recently with the nice closure Waid/Ringo put on FF. I like endings, and the knowledge that one is coming. I really think these finite, out-of-continuity books are the way of the future, despite loving the endless continuity as a kid. Stuff like the current JLI:Classified arc, the upcoming All-Star titles, upcoming Giffen Invaders series, Spidey/Torch, some of the Ultimate stuff, and so on).

  • April 4, 2005, 9:31 a.m. CST

    WINNICK SUCKS T's - I'd buy THAT for a dollar

    by Squashua

    Or maybe more. If you can do a top ten reasons why he sucks on it, that'd make the damn thing worth it. Shouldn't be too hard to think them up. He has to insert a preachy obvious GAY person in every series, has to make someone have AIDS, etc. Yeah, I'm not very inventive. Pre-Silver Age Blue Beetle and Captain Comet series!

  • April 6, 2005, 6:38 p.m. CST

    very late comments on Spider-Man/Torch

    by Homer Sexual

    So based on this site I went out and bought all three issues. I really enjoyed them, but I wouldn't want EVERY comic to be done in this style, and I can see why many fans, especially young ones, would be put off by the "throwback" style.