AICN COMICS! DAY OF VENGEANCE! BLACK PANTHER! AUTHORITY! WONDER WOMAN! FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! AND MORE!!!
Hey folks, it’s your old pal, Ambush Bug welcoming you to another edition of AICN COMICS! You might notice a few new names mixed in with the regular crew of reviewers in this week’s column. Be sure to give 'em a warm TalkBack welcome - which is to say, give 'em as much hell as you do the rest of us! We’ve got reviews, a load of Cheap Shots, and Vroom Socko pops in at the end to remind you all of a very special day coming up. But first, let’s check this week’s pull!
(Click title to go directly to the review)
DAY OF VENGEANCE #1
THE AUTHORITY: REVOLUTION #7
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #5
SUPREME POWER #16
HUMAN TARGET #21
BLACK PANTHER #3
WONDER WOMAN #215
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!
DAY OF VENGEANCE #1
Writer: Bill Willingham
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Sleazy G
When little kids first start reading comic books, they’re usually drawn to the superheroes. They’re colorful, they’re iconic, and they get to fly around or punch stuff or swing from building to building. As a kid, pretending to be Batman and Robin was right up there with cowboys and Indians. Sure, all of that stuff was supplanted when everybody suddenly wanted to be Han Solo or Luke Skywalker, but still—they’re all pretty straightforward tough-guy superhero types. I read and watched all that stuff just like everybody else. When I started reading what comics I could get my hands on, though, what really grabbed my attention were all the weird characters—the mystical ones with otherworldly powers. Dr. Fate, The Spectre, Dr. Strange and the like. They uttered the names of strange gods and visited dimensions the likes of which I’d never seen. I’ve been a fan of the occult and mystical characters ever since, collecting many of their books, being thrilled when they’re handled well and disappointed when they’re not.
Recently, The Spectre’s star had fallen, as he was transformed from the terrifying Spirit of Vengeance into a pussified namby-pamby Spirit of Redemption. Many of the other more mystical or occult characters of the DCU had also fallen out of favor, seeing less use as things seemed to focus on more “realistic,” street-level threats. Fortunately, somebody at DC realized these characters had a lot of potential, so they’re back in another one of their big summer crossovers. It’s a real treat for anybody who loves the offbeat weirdoes who would pop up in the mainstream books periodically. I mean, how can you not love a bunch of characters that spook Superman?
Most people who read IDENTITY CRISIS last year were left wondering what was going to happen with Jean Loring, The Atom’s batshit-crazy ex-wife. After all, she was deposited into Arkham Asylum, and we all know what that means: they’re comin’ out crazier than they went in, like Jack Nicholson hangin’ out with Ratchett and the Chief. Well, the wait is over: Jean Loring is now the new host for Eclipso, the God of Vengeance. I was never a huge follower of the guy, but I’ve seen enough of him to know that he’s pretty vicious and not necessarily known for championing the right causes. Unlike the self-righteous Spirit of Vengeance, The Spectre—who seeks out vengeance for those who have been wronged—Eclipso is pretty much there just for the sake of revenge, even when the person seeking it is the victimizer and not the victim. A charged-up Eclipso in a psychotic host is bound to spell trouble, and that’s just the warm-up act.
After a brief stay with Loring, we’re on to another great underused mystical character, The Ragman. A Jewish defender of the streets who absorbs the souls of criminals who are added as another patch on his suit of rags, he’s used to dealing with street-level trash in the alleys of Gotham City. He’s a bit thrown off when he suddenly finds himself teleported to another dimension to help save the Enchantress, who is fleeing the site of a supernatural slaughter. Those who’ve been paying attention know that The Spectre has been freed from Hal Jordan as its host recently. As happy as that makes me as a fan (because dear god that concept sucked, and the series was a travesty), it’s bound to be bad news for the characters in the DCU. Without a human host to reign in the Spirit of Vengeance and temper its actions, The Spectre has decided to cleanse the entire DCU of all traces of magic. Apparently the guy is convinced it’s the only way to wipe out evil, failing to see certain inherent flaws in his actions – like, y’know, using mystical means to commit wholesale slaughter even when vengeance isn’t being invoked.
Writer Bill Willingham does a great job of pulling in a lot of B and C-level supporting characters who have long gone unnoticed here, name-dropping ones beyond those who actually appear. I got a real kick out of getting to see so many key players hanging out together: Black Orchid, Blue Devil, Doctor Occult, Blackbriar Thorn, Deadman, Jason Blood, Animal Man—even an amusing cameo by The Phantom Stranger. There’s no question, though, that the guy who steals the show is Detective Chimp. I admit I’m not too familiar with the character, but I quickly got the feeling I knew all I needed to know. I mean, what’s not to love about a beer-swilling, chain-smoking, tough-talking monkey? It looks like the Chimp is there to add a little levity to an otherwise high-stakes mystical journey, which is probably the right way to approach things. Knowing that the traditional “rag-tag team of heroes” has only half the story (they don’t know about Eclipso yet) means they’re in for a much harder time than they’re already expecting, and knowing that Captain Marvel is about to jump into the fray means they’re going to get a little help. I’m hoping that his appearance here works well. He’s definitely an interesting call. Marvel’s powers were granted mystically, but he’s always come across as one of those bright, shiny superhero types, so there’s definitely a lot of potential here to have him walk both sides of the street.
So far DAY OF VENGEANCE is off to a pretty solid start. We’ve got our POV narration coming from The Ragman, we’ve got a god of vengeance in a nutty host, we’ve got a Spirit of Vengeance without any host at all, and we’ve got a lot of the weirdest and most fun supporting characters around finally getting the spotlight. There’s a real sense of the danger everyone is facing combined with a sly sense of humor, and there’s no question the tension is going to get ratcheted up a lot higher than it is right now. I admit I was a little nervous at first when DC announced their big summer crossovers, but with work this good I’m a lot more hopeful than I was a few months ago. If you’ve ever had any interest in the more mystical or spiritual side of the DCU, this miniseries is well worth picking up.
THE AUTHORITY: REVOLUTION #7
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Penciller: Dustin Nguyen
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
I would be remiss if I didn't start this by saying I'm a little biased towards THE AUTHORITY. When I first started getting back into comics in the early days of the new millennia, Warren Ellis and Brian Hitch showed me just how great superhero comics could be, if given a chance to cut loose. Since this isn't the JLA, they are loosely/obviously based off of, they could do as they pleased because they didn't have to worry about the ramifications of their stories ten, fifteen, or twenty years down the road. These characters could be given a chance to grow and develop whichever way they pleased and as "realistically" as possible. Ellis showed just how exciting pulling off the godlike feats that superheroes do could be. And when he left and Mark Millar took over, the book depicted just what would happen if a team of this power level did more than just fight evil super villains. He showed them making a difference on a governmental and economic scale, something you never see in your typical JLA type book. Soon thereafter, the Authority started to be shown as celebrities, and as an independent world power, but it was only a matter of time before we saw how much these things could corrupt these characters, despite their good intentions. This line of thinking showed tremendous potential, but unfortunately, all good things don't last. Somewhere along the line the book lost its steam due to excruciatingly painful delays, creative team changes, and real world events dictating editorial constraint. And thus the once great Authority went from one of the hottest and most original books on the market, and demoted itself into the world of mediocrity.
Then a man named Brubaker stepped up to the plate.
I'm not going to say that Mr. Brubaker has revitalized THE AUTHORITY back to its former glory, because those days are long past. What he is doing here though, is crafting a very energetic story that can be appreciated by new and old fans alike. Those uninitiated to the glory days of the book have caught glimpses of the brutal, balls-to-the-wall action that drove the book initially while long-term readers, even all the way back to the STORMWATCH days, can appreciate how Ed is cultivating old ideas that never reached their potential.
At this point we stand with the team disbanded from within. The last issue takes us three years down the road, and the team is mostly in retirement with the exception of the Midnighter and the Doctor, who have reverted back to some old habits. The Midnighter has taken the "good fight" back to the streets, while the Doctor has reverted to drug use and was revealed to be dead of an overdose as of last issue. We are also left with the hanging plot-thread of long thought dead enemies coming back to take advantage of the situation.
That leads us to this latest issue and the focus shifts to Jenny Quantum, the adopted daughter of Apollo and the Midnighter (now split up) and the successor to the power of former Authority leader Jenny Sparks, the Spirit of the Twentieth Century. With everyone seemingly becoming content with the retired life, Jenny is the one starting to notice things gone wrong and asking questions. For example, where is the successor to the Doctor, as there should have been one active upon the death of the last one? Also, what exactly does it mean to be the Spirit of the Twenty-First Century, and just how much more powerful is she compared to her counterparts?
All these questions and more are raised and are done so with very fluid pacing, backed by some fantastic art. Nguyen is definitely bringing his A-game with this series as his artistic storytelling is just hitting on almost all the right notes. I say "almost all" because I do have to say at times his facial expressions come off as awkward or "cartoony, " but these moments take a backseat to his very fluid and intense action sequences. In this issue, there is a two page splash mid-book that just has to be seen to be believed. Absolutely breathtaking, that is.
For all those who lost their love with this book I beg you, please, give it another shot. While it's not quite what it was, it still has that feel to it. Big ideas, furious action, witty (and oft-times naughty) dialogue and that feeling in your gut that things are gonna get a whole lot worse before they get better. What more could you ask for?
MARK WAID'S LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #5
Writer: Mark Waid!
Artist: Barry Kitson
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by: Prof. Challenger
Yeh. That's right. I said MARK WAID'S LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES. I keep buying this thing and I can't tell if I really like it or not. I mean, the Prof goes all the way back to the days of Cockrum and Grell in his readin' of LOSH comics, so I've got some history here. And I know that buried somewhere in my garage is the whole gosh-darn series starting from about 1979 through the Giffen issues of the 5-years later sequel series. After that, I've been an infrequent visitor to the 30th century. However, I do have a fondness for Waid's stuff, generally (pissy crybaby public waa-waa rants against internet gossip-monger Rich Johnston notwithstanding), and I had this suspicion that he's one of those loooooonnnnnnngggggstanding LOSH fanboys who's now all growed up and had his chance of a lifetime to do the LOSH the way he always imagined it COULD be if only DC would ever give him carte blanche to do it.
So, how's he doin’? Well, if I've got high hopes for a series I tend to be gracious and give the title a good 6 issues to hook me (though, let's see, I dumped Byrne's DOOM PATROL after issue 5 out of sheer boredom and ALIAS after issue 1 cause I didn't much care for the "backend" deal Jessica received from Power Man, so my self-imposed rule isn't set in stone). MWLOSH is on issue 5 and, right now, I'm thinkin' I'm gonna stick with it a little longer to see where he's going with it.
There's some positives and some negatives about the series but, for me, the positives are outweighing the rest. Waid is introducing some clever, modern twists on the old series. He basically seems to have dumped every new LEGION series continuity that occurred after the end of the original - meaning the one that immediately preceded the previously mentioned 5-years-later series. Then he's gone and rebooted that original Silver-Age Legion into the modern comics world. So, the characters have back their goofy quaint "Lad," "Boy", and "Lass" names rather than those even more dorky, but supposedly "kewler" names from the most recent cancelled LOSH series. He's also returned those characters to costumes that evoke the classic Cockrum-designs of the '70s. But, he's given a lot of them some almost too-clever twists. Chameleon Boy is now just Chameleon and is androgynously a-or bi-sexual - as any chameleon-like race such as his would likely be. Colossal Boy doesn't grow big anymore - instead he comes from a race of giants and his superpower is that he can shrink to 6 feet. Phantom Girl now comes from a phantom dimension where her superpower is that she co-exists in our dimension and her dimension at the same time, all the time. It's these sort of too-clever twists on the familiar that I really dig and look forward to each issue to see what new take on an old favorite that he's going to surprise me with. I also like the fact that he's created a new vision of the DC future that has not really been seen before and is confronting this "familiar" Legion with new characters rather than just automatically recycling the Legion villain gallery.
Now, what I don't like is the pervading cynicism that has bogged down each issue, including this most recent one. The Legion, Brainiac 5 and Cosmic Boy in particular, are too too serious. They are affecting the Prof like Debby Downer at a dinner party. I'm missing the youthful sense of wonder, friendship, and fun that I believe is integral to the LOSH super-hero clubhouse concept. Leave the ruminating negativism to the grown-ups, you know? Waid is working real hard in this comic to set up a generational conflict allegory to the modern-world's familiar parent/teen conflicts. Problem is, he's got the teen leaders acting like uptight parents themselves. I'm already tired of that. I'm getting a bit of that sense you get from some of those old sixties teen comics where you had these 50 year-old writers trying to write hep and groovy slang talk. Waid's not writing these characters as "hep and groovy," but there's still a bit of a sense of the characters seeming way older than they are supposed to be - which is probably the voice of the author seeping in.
In this issue, Waid introduces Brin Londo, not called Timber Wolf, into his Legion. Problem. Nothing in Brin's look distinguishes him from anybody else. He could be Ultra Boy, Colossal Boy, or even the villain, Elysion. I'm not sure why Waid didn't set him up with the spiky Wolverine-like hair and the whited out eyes that make Timber Wolf more distinguishable in a LEGION comic. I thought Lightning Lad telling those other kids stories about their battle with the non-existent Bizarro-Legion was pretty funny. Makes me hope Waid makes a "real" Bizarro-Legion arc his second one. I'd also hope that the second arc would be a lot lighter in tone than this one where Saturn Girl gives us this oh so representative of a depressing thought: "These kids didn't unite in the Legion's name to enact social change or protest their government. They took up our banner to battle a genocidal army…and they're going to die." Someone hand me my pills.
Anyway, Waid's apparently setting up some huge galactic conflict that's likely going to include a huge bloodletting. That's all well and good for the drama of it, but I hope he can better balance the grim and deadly with the touching character bits like that Phantom Girl story in issue four. That was short and sweet and I liked it. I was looking forward to another backup like that in issue five and was disappointed it wasn't there. A note on the art: I mostly like Barry Kitson's art in this series, but I would like to see a bit less black. Pages 2 through 5 were just distractingly dark looking. I dunno, can we just lighten this book up a bit? It's got a lot going for it, but it's seeming a bit too dark, both story-wise AND art-wise.
A final note: I hate these cheesy HEROSCAPE inserts. Just wanna yank 'em out and toss 'em in the trash.
SUPREME POWER #16
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils: Gary Frank
Inks: Jon Sibal with Mark Morales
Publisher: Marvel MAX
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
You know, it ain’t rocket surgery we at AICN Comics perform each and every week in this here column, but writing comic book reviews isn’t as easy as one would expect. There are times when coming up with an interesting way to present views on various books, creators, and trends in the comic book industry cause me to beat my head against the wall. Tossing out a recap, a thought on the subject’s history, and views on the writing, story, and art are pretty easy to do, but sometimes (and in this case in particular when I’ve reviewed this comic so many times), you have to make it interesting and write about something more than just the book itself. You have to start it off with a hook, kind of like this one, where I am describing how difficult it is to create a hook. Once you have an interesting hook, the rest of the piece kind of takes a life of its own and once you get to the end? Well, sometimes it makes for an okay read.
That long-winded intro was a segue into what makes SUPREME POWER so intriguing to me each and every month. JMS isn’t just telling a story as much as he is honoring the ever decreasing trend of episodic storytelling in comics. Each and every issue stands on its own while adding to the larger story. I never feel cheated or ripped off after reading SUPREME POWER. JMS packs in characterization, memorable moments, and details that advance the plot in each and every issue. It is this same level of craftsmanship that JMS brought to his comic book masterpiece MIDNIGHT NATION.
Back to that long-winded intro, though. The one thing that stands out in this book is that JMS always finds a way to hook the reader in interesting and different ways, be it a fight scene, a conversation held with a prisoner in a well, or (as with this issue) a tender discussion between a grandfather and his granddaughter. In this issue, JMS frames the story with our villainous one-armed general dissecting a pocket watch and describing the process to his fascinated granddaughter, who, according to mommy, “shouldn’t bother you when you’re working ‘cause…’cause I shouldn’t bother you when you’re working.” In this seemingly innocent exchange, the reader is not only shown a warmer, more complex side to one of the main antagonists of this book, but it perfectly maps out his plans to take these super heroes down.
JMS is telling a story of epic scope with this series. He has proven with past achievements like RISING STARS and the aforementioned MIDNIGHT NATION that these are the types of tales that JMS shines in. More intimate books with characters that aren’t creations of his own? Not so good. I continue to be unimpressed by his incarnations of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange in their own titles. But when JMS is able to play god and construct his own universe with his own set of rules, he stands out as one of the greats.
In issue #16, JMS uses an interesting hook to pull the audience in and watch a smear campaign against Hyperion and the rest of the Squadron. Like the disassembling of the pocket watch piece by tiny piece, the General meticulously manipulates the media, the government, and the general populace in order to bring Hyperion down.
This issue also features a teaser for what is to come. Namely, the ladies. Both Aquarian and Power Princess look to be finally coming into their own in this series. That has been my one criticism of this book so far. For too long, this title has been a super-powered version of the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club. The two women in the group not only were birthed speechless and clueless as to the workings of the world around them, but they were always depicted as buck naked. Now, I’m as impressed to see a boobie or two as much as the next guy, but I’ve gotta call foul when the most three-dimensional women characters of this series are either a nude, mute fish creature, an nude, ancient, Amazonian succubus, or prostitute-fodder for the murderous Redstone to rip apart (and they were usually nude too). In this issue, though, Doc Spectrum finally decides to bring Aquarian home for protection and Power Princess is wearing clothes. I see this as progress. Baby steps, but progress.
Gary Frank continues to be one of the finest artists in the Marvel stable with his fantastic panels and facial expressions. And have a kudo, Mr. Frank, that character design of the Aquarian is both unique and gorgeous. The attention to aquatic anatomy makes this fishy femme stand out as both alien, yet human all at once.
So although, my hook about making a hook at the beginning of this review wasn’t the strongest I’ve ever come up with, the book I chose to hook the hook to is one of the strongest reads that Marvel publishes today.
HUMAN TARGET #21
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Reviewer: Matthew Wanderski
WARNING: THIS ONE CONTAINS ENORMOUS SPOILERS!!!
So now we say farewell to a fine series that never reaped the audience it deserved. I don't know if it was the lack of either capes or the occult, the sometimes intense subject matter and often downbeat tone, its pointedly political viewpoint, or all of the above, but something unjustly held HUMAN TARGET back, and now the comic book landscape lies darker and more parched before us...
The final issue throws the reader the biggest bombshell of the entire series, of course. Has the man we've been reading about actually been Tom McFadden all along? I really didn't expect this whopper, but it seems the grandest, most telling manifestation conceivable of what the whole series is. And it certainly suggests another powerful reason why Chance has continued to have such identity issues. What is so great about the ending is not so much how it might leave the reader unsure as to who is the original Christopher Chance – that we've been reading about the original CC in all these issues seems the "truest" explanation, if only by virtue of the fact that the idea that our protagonist might actually be Tom hasn't had much time to lodge itself too deeply in our minds... although that's a very intriguing possibility. What makes the ending so powerful is how believable it is that that man walking off into the distance in that last panel could HIMSELF doubt who is the real Chris.
And thus our protagonist leaves us more lost within "the Human Target" than ever.
Few mainstream series have ended on such a note of thorough sadness. The Target's final loss of self is even sadder than the fact that Mary chooses "Tom" over him. And seeing this lost soul, whoever he is, part with Bruno only adds to the heartbreak. It's sad because Bruno is bidding farewell to – indeed, practically turning out – either a man who is not Christopher Chance, but someone even more troubled, and yet someone for whom he probably has come to care, some; or his long-time best friend himself. These two characters could easily be reunited later on, in this comic book land, but there's such a profound feeling of finality, loss, and separation to this parting, as portrayed by Milligan and Chiang.
That final page is something of a personal best for Chiang, one of my favorite new cartoonists of the last decade or so. The page opens tightly on "Christopher," but is followed mostly by long shots of the characters, and mostly from behind, if not in close-ups that deny us contact – a fraction of the Target's sunglassed face; Bruno's blurry reflection in a window. Just as the characters bid farewell to each other, Chiang (and Milligan, to the extent that he "stage directed" the sequence) tear us away from them, too. Chiang's characters are so often such fine actors you don't even see them acting; here the cartoonist shows us how the scene itself can reveal depth of feeling without the spotlight falling directly on the cast.
The relationship between "Christopher Chance" and Mary has always been more problematic than the one between our hero and his sidekick, sprung from lies and never attaining the honesty and intimacy of our "Chris's" friendship with Bruno (and possibly even Tom, "The man I taught. The man I loved.") No one else, and certainly not Mary, became a part of and understood the Human Target's world like Bruno did (excepting perhaps Tom). So, while it hurts to see this difficult but somehow sympathetic person be rejected by his mate, there's the sense that he's losing less when he walks away from Mary than when he leaves Bruno.
Actually, I'd say that the handling of Mary is one of the weaknesses of this final issue. Her switch from being unhappy with the first "Chris" to being pleased with his replacement is a little too quick to hold much weight; it serves the plot but belies human behavior. A more subtle upswing in her contentedness with the relationship might've gone over better. On the other hand, one could argue that if Chris has never known what kind of a person he's supposed to be, how could Mary know? And if this is the case, why is she with such a man? Someone putting herself in such a situation may settle for the immediate gratification of a partner, who's suddenly, almost inexplicably intent on making her happy.
Mary also has the unfortunate privilege of delivering a particularly jarring bit of comic relief into a key dramatic/action scene; a misstep on Milligan's part that doesn't help the character come off as more cogent – or emotionally together, depending on how you look at it.
But let's not dwell on what are, in the end, minor faults in the issue and especially in the series as a whole. Milligan has taken on some heady topics in HUMAN TARGET, looking at identity, both individual and American, and he's managed to tell many an engrossing tale while provoking our thoughts – all the while keeping the character of "Christopher Chance" entirely in his sight. Artists Javier Pulido and one-shotter Cameron Stewart have provided solid and at times lively support. Chiang, who drew the most issues, gave HUMAN TARGET not only flesh-and-blood people in his body language, facial expressions, and staging, but also a clean, even elegant look that served both the Target's stylish lifestyle and the bursts of violent action that befell him and that he propagated.
And he and Milligan saved the biggest bang for last.
BLACK PANTHER #3
Writer: Reginald Hudlin
Artist: John Romita, Jr
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by: Prof. Challenger
Man. What a cool comic. Those first two pages were great with the Rhino facing down a black rhino on an actual African savannah. You know JRJr's the MAN when you can have a panel introducing Batroc Ze Leaper without a costume and before you read his Frenchie dialogue you already know who it is. I mean, I looked at the face with that Errol Flynn moustache and itty-bitty beard and thought "Hey! That's Batroc Ze Leaper!"
We get some more background on the legacy of the Black Panther when we see the death of T'Challa's father and we learn more about Klaw's connection to T'Challa and his family. I'm guessin' that was T'Challa as a kid who shot the hell out of Klaw after he assassinated T'Chaka - but I could be wrong. Regardless, it was all really good stuff. Hudlin also introduces (at least it appears to me to be an all-new guy) a new Black Knight. Not sure how this ties in to the Black Panther, but hey, I'm easy-goin' about the Black Panther - I even own the complete Jack Kirby psycho-delic BP series from the '70s (yep, the one with the Black Musketeers and King Solomon's Frog). I don't know who the fat guy caning everybody is, but I want to see more.
This series is deadly serious though and does feel almost like I'm watching a really good hour-long drama on TV. A fine compliment. I like the fact that this is a series about the leader of an African country and we actually SEE AFRICA!!!! I appreciate the fact that these African people dress like AFRICANS!!!!! I appreciate the fact that there is obvious thought and consideration given to T'Challa's family history in such a way that, for the first time, it seems to be a serious story point that the mantle of Black Panther is passed on generationally almost like Lee Falk's PHANTOM. The emphasis here, by Hudlin, seems to be on the Black Panther first and T'Challa second. In fact, the last 3 issues lead me to believe that it would not be entirely unrealistic to expect Hudlin to set up T'Challa's successor as the Black Panther - and it will probably be a girl. See if this doesn't happen within 2 years and then get back to me to rub it in.
My only criticism of this series so far is that it seems to be firmly entrenched in current Marvel continuity (what with Rhino and Batroc Ze Leaper here and Capt. America in issue 1), yet Klaw bears absolutely no resemblance to the "Klaw" I grew up with (you know, the crazy physicist with that bizarre Kirby-design face and that big honkin' sound blaster for a hand that he's supposed to have???). Now he's just some psycho scarface killer. I like my soober-heroes to fight soober-villains, you know? It looks like all Black Panther continuity has been retroactively scrapped (as opposed to just, ya know, ignored). I'm now not even sure if those old FF and Avengers stories with BP ever happened, much less his old battles with Klaw.
Oh well, minor complaint at this point. It's not like BP has ever been considered a top-tier Marvel character. In fact, as much as I always liked him even as far back as when I was in third grade, I wouldn't even say he ranks as a second-tier character. He's a third-tier character at best and if it finally does him some justice in the comics world to junk his continuity to finally give him his due, I'm down with that. T'Challa's always just been just one of those indefinably "cool" characters and it's nice to have a "cool" comic about him. However, now I want to see more flashbacks of T'Chaka. I like him too. I also really like the art. I can't rave enough about the art team of JRJr and Klaus Janson. One of my all-time favorite art teams. And this is some of the best work they've ever done.
My favorite character interaction this week:
RHINO: "Yeah, like the way you Frogs lifted your skirts to the Nazis before we had to save your butts."
BATROC: "Repayment for helping finance your Revolution, imbecile."
RHINO: "Oh yeah? How about - if anybody got a problem with me, step up. Got that Frenchie?"
BATROC: "I don't know if you can fight, Rhino. But you are certainly the most clevair American I've ever met."
RHINO: "Ha! You got that ri-- Hey, is that a wisecrack?"I love that.
WONDER WOMAN #215
Writer: Greg Rucka
Pencils: Rags Morales
Inks: Michael Bair
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
WONDER WOMAN is my nominee for most improved comic over the last year. You see, a while back, I reviewed Greg Rucka’s first issue of this series and was pretty darn critical of it. For those of you too lazy to click on the link, I’ll sum up my thoughts on Rucka’s first issue by saying that while Rucka seemed to have some decent ideas for our Diana (a character who has been mishandled more than any that I can think of by one bad writer after the next), Rucka aped the Marvel-style with too much of the talkity-talk, little or no action, and barely a glimpse of the character who’s name is on the cover of the book. Rucka spent the entire issue focusing on the first day on the job of a plain-clothed and uninteresting new employee on Wonder Woman’s staff and Diana didn’t appear until the last few pages. I called Rucka’s WONDER WOMAN #195 DC’s first Nu Marvel-ized book.
Well, twenty issues later and there’s nary a whiff of that Nu Marvel staleness. The action has been fast and frantic in the last few arcs. Diana went blind fighting a trio of gorgons on national TV. A coup has been staged on Mt. Olympus and all of the male gods have been exiled. Diana took on the entire JLA to prove to them that she was still a capable hero despite the fact that she is now blind. A newly Speed Force-amped Cheetah and Professor Zoom showed up for a FLASH crossover. Issue after issue was filled with intense battles at high stakes.
From the beginning of his run on this series, Rucka has drove home the fact that Diana is a busy woman. Being the Amazonian representative in Man’s World isn’t an easy job. From negotiating with governments to publishing her own book to battling Dr. Psycho, Rucka’s Wonder Woman is a walking, talking, lassoing, and punching multi-tasking machine. This isn’t a book that shoves the “Girl Power” attitude in your face. Rucka makes Diana a strong character simply because she is able to do it all, no matter how large the task or how many problems she faces. Past writers have tried to write this character as everything from a staunch representative of the Women’s Lib movement to the ultimate fanboy cheesecake babe. They’ve all failed to make Diana very interesting at all in my opinion. But Rucka’s Wonder Woman is a woman who is confronted with numerous challenges from all angles on any given day and more of a representative of the various roles a woman often faces in life than I have ever seen her depicted as.
In this issue, Rucka continues to inundate Diana with one new problem after another, not even giving her a chance for a breather. Despite her new handicap, Wonder Woman is still one of the big guns in the DCU. This issue is literally pouring over the edges with intense action and great characterization. Immediately after an intense street-level brawl with a kidnapping ring, Diana is faced with the ominous task of venturing to hell to rescue Hermes the Herald of the Gods. Dangerous machinations have been plotted by the dethroned Zeus and his brothers. Pallas Athena, the new ruler of Olympus, plunges Diana, Wonder Girl, and Ferdinand the Minotaur head first into the middle of this war between the gods.
But just because the action is fast paced doesn’t mean that Rucka doesn’t take the time to make us care about these heroes. Wonder Girl tries to console a child who was turned to stone by Medousa. Diana confronts the media who is more concerned about her hairstyle than the fact that she just stopped a kidnapper. And in a truly bizarre twist, Ferdinand the Minotaur/staff gourmet chef makes a pass at the all too human Leslie. This scene in particular had me a bit freaked out (I don’t know if an all ages book is the place for some hot girl-on-man bull action), but Rucka handles this scene with tact and heart, showing a side of Ferdinand that the readers haven’t been privy to. Tender moments like these really allow the reader to care for these characters when Rucka sends them to hell. The stakes are high and the danger is real. With the way DC has been lately, no one is truly safe or untouchable anymore.
Adding to the excitement of this issue is the debut of the art team from IDDENTITY CRISIS. Say what you will about that miniseries, but it sure looked damn good. Rags Morales’ art shines particularly brightest during the aforementioned quiet moments where the uber-emotional facial expressions that made the tragic events of IDENTITY CRISIS so powerful tear at the heartstrings in these pages as well.
Rucka may have started out slow on this title, but for the last ten to fifteen issues, he’s made up for that big time. With a war between the gods brewing and challenges (ancient, modern, or otherwise) that can’t be lassoed or deflected with Amazonian bracelets, it doesn’t look like Rucka has any intention of stopping his barrage against Wonder Woman. Simply put: Rucka’s Wonder Woman is the way Wonder Woman should be written.
NEW AVENGERS #5 - Okay, five pages of the team (at this point finally including Wolverine,) just hanging around and talking is something I've become used to. Five pages of them *literally* hanging while talking amongst themselves and to their supervillian captors... okay, I suppose it might work. But five pages of this while the entire team is naked? To quote Master Shake, "I don't wanna see THAT! NOBODY wants to see that." - Vroom
RED SONJA #0 - The issue is a bit on the short side, which is fine since it's a 25-cent introductory issue. It's pretty slight, too, though. Not much dialogue, not much narration--just a lot of silent panels and meaningful looks before the ass-kicking commences. It looks great, but hopefully we'll see slightly more fleshed-out stories when the ongoing kicks off. It's an okay start, but there's definitely room for improvement. I've got a fair amount of faith in Carey, though, so I'll still give it a few issues to grow on me. - Sleazy
PHEONIX: ENDSONG #5 (of 5) - Why is it, whenever Marvel drags up another story centered around Jean Gray's all-powerful persona, I'm left more and more confused about the whole damn thing? - Vroom
BATMAN #639 - Hot off of the “Grand Reveal” of the Red Hood in last months’ issue, this latest issue of BATMAN takes the time to remind you of some of the more important issues at hand. Namely, that there’s still the plot thread from IDENTITY CRISIS of Batman’s memory being tampered with by his fellow Leaguers. Yes, after four months (or sixteen years depending on how you look at it) of building the return of Jason Todd to the Batman universe it has been decided that some focus needs to be returned to one of the main COUNTDOWN story points. And really, the end result isn’t that bad. In fact, the tie-in parts are very well integrated into Batman’s search as to how the Corpse Wonder could be back in the land of the living. We see the Batman visiting experts on ways of mysticism and resurrection like Zatanna and Jason Blood, and paying a visit to DC’s most popular resurrectee, Green Arrow. Tension is in the air as Batman so calmly and coyly lets them know that he’s on to them, and you can assume there will be hell to pay. And as for the Red Hood himself, he takes time to show just how much he enjoys reeking havoc and pissing off Black Mask, and confronts Onyx who has been left to seek out his trail in Batman’s absence. Overall, the issue isn’t bad in that it flows well and does push a couple threads along, but it’s a subtle push that combined with how fast the book reads makes it seem a bit filler-like. – Humphrey Lee
SUPERNATURAL FREAK MACHINE: A CAL MCDONALD MYSTERY #2 - I’m still digging this series despite the fact that Kelley Jones art makes everything look more cartoony than scary. Steve Niles’ writing is still top notch and you can tell that out of all of the horrors he has birthed, Cal is his best baby boy. I like Kelley Jones’ art, but it takes what could be a frightening story with an entertaining character and turns it into a Tex Avery cartoon. - Bug
ULTIMATE SECRET #2 - A lot of people complained that ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE moved to slowly or that the art was too dark. Consider both concerns addressed in ULTIMATE SECRET. The art is much brighter and more kinetic, and I really dig the Ultimate redesign on the outfit for Pluskommander Mahr Vell. On the story side, the thing never stops to take a breath. Crises are averted, stuff blows up, wisecracks are made, interrogations take a tenth the time they would in POWERS, threats are revealed, defectors appear, and the Ultimate version of the Fantastic Four continue to prove themselves the most upbeat, fun characters Ellis has ever written. I thought ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE was okay, and took it for what it was – an opening act. No such reservations apply to this series, though – it’s slam-bang, high-stakes big fun. Check this issue out and watch your doubts fade away. - Sleazy
RICHARD DRAGON #12 - I know, I know. No one cares about RICHARD DRAGON, but I have to get one last word in on this the final issue of the series. This issue was the equivalent of a Jean Claude Van Damme film if it were written by someone with talent. It’s your typical tournament to the death scenario, but Chuck Dixon brings his A-game to the table and makes it worthwhile. And artist Scott McDaniel draws his most kinetic fight sequences ever. From Dragon’s clever way of getting around having to fight Connor Hawke (who just may be his equal or better in the ring) to his intense and bloody final battle with Lady Shiva, this issue has got it all. And to top things off, Dragon gets to give the finger to Neron himself in the end. I’m sad to see this series go simply because of the sheer overabundance of capes and powers in the DCU. It was nice reading a monthly dose of good, old fashioned chop-socky for a while. - Bug
Saturday, May 7th is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!
A friendly reminder from Vroom Socko
This Saturday is the third annual Free Comic Book Day. That special event where the major publishers in the industry send out special giveaway editions of their books, and the minor ones hand out all the crap they couldn’t sell during the year. An exciting time, where longtime readers get to pick up special free copies of books they already own, the curious get to take home books without forking over three bucks a piece, and shopkeepers get to say over and over, “No, if you want that near-mint copy of AVENGERS #57 you have to pay for it.”
Kidding aside, this is a great event. Both Marvel and DC have two of their more interesting all-ages books available. Dark Horse, it seems, can’t stop giving away Star Wars books, while Image is offering a small selection from the FLIGHT anthology. Gemstone, in its infinite wisdom, has a Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge book on the table. And much like last year’s BALLAD OF SLEEPING BEAUTY, Beckett Comics is offering the first issue of their new series, this one based on the saga of the 47 ronin.
I’d recommend any of those books, sight unseen. However, there is one book I can suggest after having read it, thanks to the gang at Oni. The ONI PRESS FIST-FEST features two absolutely insane stories. The first is Hysteria, set on an island filled with two-bit hoods, robot detectives, and samurai warriors. The story is similar to that classic 80’s piece of international cinema, THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY. Only here, instead of a Coke bottle, what plummets from the sky is a 9mm Ingram Mac 10. Violence ensues. Mike Hawthorne’s storytelling is solid here, and his artwork is quite impressive.
But the second story… The second story is Sharknife. Good Lord is it the biggest, silliest, craziest ball of fun I’ve read in ages. Created by Corey Lewis The Rey, Sharknife is a busboy at a Chinese restaurant that can transform into a twelve-foot tall fighting robot whenever danger appears. He does this, apparently, by consuming fortune cookies. The artwork is pure madness, and the story is the sort of insane, inspired lunacy that is sorely lacking from the more dim ‘n dour books prevalent today. Whatever you do, whatever other free books you pick up, this is one you shouldn’t miss.
(An aside to those in the Portland, Oregon area. SHARKNIFE creator The Rey will be spending his Free Comic Book Day at a signing from noon to four at Cosmic Monkey Comics, along with PIGTALE creator Ovi Nedelcu and some guy named Kurt Busiek.)
Click here to find a comics shop in your area.
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May 4, 2005, 12:58 p.m. CST
by Dick Fitzwell
I am a big fan of Free Comic Book Day. I have taken my kids the last 2 years and will again this year. They are both heavily in comics with my oldest being a big Green Lantern fan and my youngest being a Flash fan. Free day has had a great impact on them.
May 4, 2005, 1:25 p.m. CST
by Kid Z
... in a long-gone incarnation of the Legion, "Bring back all the miniskirts!" Then maybe I'd read the thing...
May 4, 2005, 1:37 p.m. CST
Anyone notice that in THE NEW DEFENDERS that Bendis has such a mad hardon for Spidey-Woman that it effects his writing?
May 4, 2005, 1:41 p.m. CST
All these new names scare me. Changes are bad.
May 4, 2005, 1:42 p.m. CST
I think it's disappointing how the reviewers on this sight are always complaining about "too much talking" in Ultimate titles, or in anything by Brian Michael Bendis, and so on. If the writing is good, I would rather read ten issues of conversation between great characters then demand action for its own sake. Hundreds and hundreds of pages have been devoted to action, and fighting, for decades. Why is everyone so averse to well-written conversations and dialogue in a select few titles? It's like being upset that "The Sopranos" doesn't have enough car chases.
May 4, 2005, 1:48 p.m. CST
Hey guys, I need some help. This semester I been taking a creative writing class, and I got stuck with one of those English teachers that think the only reason people should write is if they have insight. That writing is not so much about entertaining people, but giving them deep thoughts and the like.(She said that Robert Rodriguez wasted his time doing Sin City, since there weren't many latino directors that could get enough money in Hollywood and that he should be making more revelant stuff) Anyways, the problem of course is that the sole reason I write is to entertain and have fun, so we clash all the time, with her finally saying that "Comic books, sci fi, and fantasy are not Literature." No, I'm not exagerating. Now, sci fi and fantasy are easy enough subjects that I can bring up a number of examples, but I'm stuck in Comic books. Other than Maus, and maybe, MAYBE Watchmen, I can't think of any good examples. Keep in mind that she obviously has a closed mind, so I can't say Frank Miller's Batman is literature. Any help?
May 4, 2005, 1:48 p.m. CST
I thought I'd have the family over, sing some special Free Comics Day Carols, break out the photo albums of those cherished Free Comic Days of the past, and cap it all off with our annual Free Comics Day feast....followed by all of us gathering 'round the crackling fireplace to read our Free Comics.____You know...as much as I like the Free Comics....what's the point of this thing? Do actual "Outsiders" come in for Free Comics on Free Comics Day....or are we fooling ourselves? Do we actually think the non-comics-reading public are going to drop everything and make a bee-line for their local comic shop......the type of shop most of them don't even know *exists*? I dunno...I'll be there for the free comics, as usual...but really, is this thing bringing anyone new into our ever-dwindling little coven of comics fans?
May 4, 2005, 1:52 p.m. CST
Hey, besides the aforementioned "Watchmen", the one comic/graphic novel that comes to mind when thinking of the medium as true literature...is Craig Thompson's "BLANKETS". If you've never read it, pick it up - it's a beautifully written and drawn story about teen angst and romance in the Midwest, and it's a lot more meaningful and poignant than that sounds. It's a huge tome-like graphic novel but it's sheer bliss to read from start to finish. I think that perhaps even your English teacher will have to pause and recognize Thompson's accomplishment. In addition, I've never read any but I've heard people discuss some of Will Eisner's graphic novels ("A Contract With God"?) as being highly influential and literary, so you may want to give those a try. I hope all this helps!
May 4, 2005, 1:56 p.m. CST
by Johnny FilmMaker
Ok, sorry, i had to pimp my store a little. We've got the 501st Garrison of Star Wars guys comin down! Yeah, Boba Fett and Stormtroopers are comin down, and I think we also have this scary-as-shit Ringwraith down too. And Star Wars stuff is 50% OFF! Ya, my store is in Oshawa, Ontario, called Wyldstar. And ya, free comics, too. This is the second location, so dont go downtown to see the Star Wars guys, go to the new one. Sorry about the shameless plug, fellas, but hey....adventising helps....or hopefully it can!
May 4, 2005, 1:57 p.m. CST
No? Then I ain't buying it. Those characters are integral parts of magic in the DCU and I don't care what a bunch of pantywaist editors says about it.
May 4, 2005, 1:59 p.m. CST
Just parrot what your professor wants to hear. They won't change their opinions, and you don't need to change yours. Just tell 'em what they want to hear.
May 4, 2005, 2:02 p.m. CST
LIKES: (1) The inclusion of Ragman. I wasn't familiar with his schtick, so it was nice to finally find out. (2) The Spectre's mission happening largely "off screen", sparing us from the more standardized narrative from the Spectre's POV, the thinking leading up to his mission, etc, etc. This approach returns some of the mystery and awe to the character that's been systematically stripped-away. (3) The fact that the standard gang of mystics aren't front & center in this story...at least so far. As much as I like 'em, it's nice to keep Dr. Fate, Deadman, Zatanna and Phantom Stranger at arms length for a change. (Yeah, I know the Stranger appeared as a MOUSE in this issue...but you know what I mean). ______DISLIKES: (1) The concept that the mystic characters gather at an other-dimensional nightclub of sorts called "The Oblivion". A little too "Sabrina" for my tastes. Yeah....."gathering" is a staple of the mystic character community...but a *bar*? Meh. (2) Detective Chimp. His inclusion was from "on high", as Dan Didio "suggested (read "mandated") that writer Bill Willingham include the Silver Age character under the "It's So Crazy, It Just Might Work" premise. Eh....it's not working for me. I like talking chimps dressed in human clothes as much as the next guy, but I prefer to see it in the context of old "Lancelot Link" episodes...not a dead-serious-as-nails mystical battle royale._____So....looks like the "likes" outweigh the "dislilkes", so on the whole, I guess I can give this series a qualified recommendation.
May 4, 2005, 2:08 p.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
I do it because I see it as not taking advantage of a medium that uses BOTH words and images. Bendis and others who fill the panel with word balloons so much that you can't even see the art just aren't utilizing this medium to its fullest potential. They're damn good writers, but not realizing that a picture can say a thousand words. Now the extremists see this and say, "Well, all you want is mindless slugfests and 'splosions." Not true, but I think there can be a balance. My problem with Bendis in particular is that there is an ego thing there where he sees the art and writing as seperate. It's all about the writing and the conversing. Well, it is, but it's also about telling exciting stories. A ten issue arc focusing on people sitting around in a circle discussing Daredevil, a character who only makes cameo appearances in his own book is not utilizing the medium as well as it should. A single story is okay. But for DD and many other marvel books, this has become the norm. If you want to read conversation after conversation, there are these things they call books. They're pretty good too. But what is the point of reading one story after another where the entire cast is doing nothing but sitting around gabbing. This is a medium that literally has no budget restraints, and yet, most of today's so-called top tier comics could be filmed with a budget of an episode of Mr. Rogers because all they do is sit in a room and talk.
May 4, 2005, 2:09 p.m. CST
It's called "shouting", man. Use some mixed case on the front page once in a while. Keep watching this space for actual comments about reviews.
May 4, 2005, 2:12 p.m. CST
Vrooom, covering Free Comics Day, wrote the following puzzling statement: "Dark Horse, it seems, can
May 4, 2005, 2:15 p.m. CST
What happened to the old Blue Devil? Part of the fun of the character was Dan Cassidy's glib reactions to all the weirdness around him. This character was waaaay ahead of his time. The whole detached, casual attitude toward legitimate occult dangers seen today in shows like "Buffy" and "Charmed" has been played out in the pages of BD before Sarah Michelle Gellar EVER picked up a wooden stake. And, there was a great supporting cast. According to my DC Encyclopedia, Marla Bloom's soul was sold so Dan could become a successful actor or some such nonsense?? Dan was a stunt man!!! What writer plunged one of the most ORIGINAL characters ever created into these depths of mediocrity? BD had such a unique origin as well. DESPITE the fact that he NEVER wanted to be a hero. For a great, old school BD read, try and go through some 25
May 4, 2005, 2:20 p.m. CST
Agree with what Ambush Bug just wrote. It seems to me that the problem with these type of writers is the problem that Noir Blood raised - this lame discussion of whether comics are literature or not. Comics are their own medium and they have their own rules and standards. Comparing one to the other is to misunderstand both. It's like comparing cinema to theatre - both use script, dialogue, actors, sets - but the conventions of one are so different to the other. Kenneth Branagh making a 4 hour Hamlet is an insult to film-makers everywhere because it assumes that cinema is just theatre with cameras. Hence his films are pish. Then look at McKellen's Richard III - a proper movie, half the script gone, tanks & guns & an A-Team opening sequence. That's the way to do it. Filling comics with dialogue is the same thing, pandering to people who think of them as just books but with pictures. Seems like Bendis (on the DD comic especially) is ashamed of what he's doing. He's trying to appeal to dickhead creative writing teachers like Noir Blood's instead of just writing a good book. Stop the self-hating Bendis! Are you saving all your goodness for Powers?
May 4, 2005, 2:28 p.m. CST
From squidman: "The whole detached, casual attitude toward legitimate occult dangers seen today in shows like "Buffy" and "Charmed" has been played out in the pages of BD before Sarah Michelle Gellar EVER picked up a wooden stake."_____I would add that the "detached, casual attitude toward legitimate occult dangers" thing was around pop culture LONG before Blue Devil, Buffy, etc. An example that comes immediately to mind would be "Kolchak: The Night Stalker", an early 70's series starring Darrin McGavin as a wisecracking reporter encountering all kinds of occult threats, with generous amounts of both terror and comic relief. I'm sure others can conjure up other examples of the "detached, casual attitude" school of occult-themed TV shows, movies or books.
May 4, 2005, 3:30 p.m. CST
I love the series, but I'm irritated that the current run of Supreme Power ends with issue 18, to be rebooted from #1 as a Marvel Knights title. I don't care that it moves from MAX to MK, but for chrissakes, people, enough with the #1 garbage.
May 4, 2005, 3:32 p.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
And you thought the title She-Devil with a Sword was talking about her choice in weaponry.
May 4, 2005, 3:34 p.m. CST
I think people blow the problem out of proportion a lot. Go back even as recently as the 90s and you will see that comics used to be a lot more text heavy, esp. with thought balloons/boxes which have all but gone the way of the dino these days. That having been said, I agree with Bug in that to seperate the art and text in the medium of comics is fundamental flaw #1, and the two should work in concert with each other. I actually find a lot of B&W indie comics to be WAY too text heavy to get into... it's really a balancing act when you get down to it. But anyways, I would have to say that the newest issue of Daredevil was quite good. I don't see anything wrong with examining the peripheral, unintended consequences of Daredevil existing, and found this stand alone story to be quite involving and gripping. Reminded me a bit of the latest Astro City mini-series (the name slips my mind). "The Decalogue" seems to have been created solely to piss off Ambush Bug, though, haha. But I don't see how you can critize that issue for not taking advantage of the marriage of art and text (take a look at the page where the wife walks in and finds her husband and kid watching star wars on the couch. perfectly staged.) End long rambling post....now.
May 4, 2005, 3:44 p.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
You know, I was just saying that exact same thing to fellow @$$hole, Sleazy G, the other day. I don't mind a story focusing on how DD effects the lives of those around him. But since this arc is based on the Ten COmmandments, one is to assume that for the next ten or so issues, we will be reading stories about how OTHER people perceive DD. And even that wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact that this is exactly what almost every other DD arc has been about. Look at the Black Widow that had nothig to do with DD, or the arc narrated by the blind chick where DD fought the ninjas in the street for one or two splash pages, or the last arc centering on the former Kingpin's remembrences of DD. How about breaking some new ground and telling a story from DD's perspective for a change? Is that too much to ask for?
May 4, 2005, 3:47 p.m. CST
that Black Widow arc had her in a towel dude! She was wet!
May 4, 2005, 3:47 p.m. CST
by Bubba Fat
I think the "modern" action of the current Black Panther comic is taking place in the past around the time that T'Challa was a rookie. That might be Nathan Garret as the Black Knight. The Radioactive Man is due to show up soon as a villain soon, but he's currently a good guy. These two along with Klaw were all members of the Masters of Evil back in the late '60s when Black Panther first joined. I'm confused too, but there could be some continuity there.
May 4, 2005, 3:49 p.m. CST
by Gus Nukem
May 4, 2005, 3:50 p.m. CST
by Gus Nukem
In which issue Captain America battles Nixon ? Is this collected - where ?
May 4, 2005, 4:14 p.m. CST
I know that on the Free Day that coincided with X2 hitting theatres, I brought Jan Q's two kids and my two considerably younger sibs into the LCS. I suspect that many of the "outsiders" who benefit from this event are kids with some relationship to an established fan (I hesitate to say "kids of fans"; I've been to a convention. I've looked around. In many, many cases, the line ends there). *** As for how the direct impact of Free Comic Day, it's harder to judge. None of the kids I brought magically turned into regular comic buyers. But thanks to events like that and other elements of my corrupting influence as a comic reader, I know Jan's kids aren't developing a bias against comics. Her son digs my superhero stuff and will occasionally throw his allowance at the odd floppy or action figure, and her daughter is currently sloughing her way through MIDNIGHT NATION after tearing through WALKING DEAD. She'd probably really dig Manga stuff too, if I owned any of that crap. In any event, I don't think they'll have any *compunction* about purchasing a comic or graphic novel that catches their eye in the future; something I don't think a lot of the population can say. As for whether or not they actually will...
May 4, 2005, 4:20 p.m. CST
I would think this would be the dullest thing imaginable. I mean, don't you get into super-hero comics so you can illustrate big panels of super guys slugging it out with monsters, aliens and other big super-guys. Who wants to draw twenty pages of talking heads?
May 4, 2005, 4:20 p.m. CST
You obviously didn't read my post at all. I was saying that comics should be a blend of dialogue AND artwork. I don't know what your comment about losing the blind demographic was supposed to mean at all - do you think blind people would read comics filled with dialogue? Spot the flaw in your logic. Please think before posting, it'll help us all
May 4, 2005, 4:28 p.m. CST
The mini will end with Detective Chimp becoming the new host for the Spectre. You heard it here first!
May 4, 2005, 4:35 p.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
I kind of like that idea. I'd buy a comic where the Spirit of Vengeance is housed in the body of a hard-drinking, chain smoking chimp in a trenchcoat.
May 4, 2005, 4:39 p.m. CST
As I recall, every Free Comics Day in the past has tied into a major comic book movie, like Spider-Man (the first FCBD, I believe), Hulk, X2 and Spider-Man 2 (give or take). This year is the first year FCBD isn't tied to a release of a comic book movie....perhaps because organizers have realized that the movies push few (if any) people into the comics shops for Free Comics...so why bother positioning it around, say, this year's "Fantastic Four" release?___Yeah, I think you're right, Jon...the people "reaping the bounty" of FCBD are probably the kids, nephews, neices, neighbors of comics fans who are looking to "spread the gospel". A noble goal....but I'm not sure how much impact it's having after four years.___This year, the big angle seems to be sending as many C and D-list creators to stand around the comic shops as possible...on the off chance that people utterly unfamiliar with comics will enjoy basking in the soft glow of "Comic Book Professionals".
May 4, 2005, 5 p.m. CST
Well, it can't hurt. I don't think anybody is going out of business thanks to Free Comic Book Day. But I suspect that any impact is probably subtle. As opposed to winning over legions of converts who are now rushing to pick up the latest issue of YOUNG NEW AVENGERS every month, it's more like a cog in what the industry probably hopes is a greater shift in perception of comics and comic book shops and will work over time with Barnes & Noble and 7-11 and Hollywood movies and David Eggers, etc. Sort of like how you can't blame THE FLINTSTONES for the way sex dominates our media these days, but you knew that once they started showing Fred and Wilma sharing a bed, it was gonna start some shit.
May 4, 2005, 5:27 p.m. CST
But I don't remember citing the Blue Devil comic as the birthplace of that sort of humor - it just utilized it well at a time when I don't remember any other franchise doing it. Now if you say Nightstalker did it a decade earlier, that's great! I'm aware of the show, but have never seen an episode. Perhaps I should check it out. God, I do hate the new Blue Devil, though.
May 4, 2005, 5:27 p.m. CST
by Homer Sexual
I am going to make a few separate posts because, with no paragraph breaks, long posts are hard to read. I didn't buy DOV last week, this review made me enthused to get it today, until I read the "talking chimp" talkback, and now I am unsure. As the insightful review said, it is best to give new books a few issues, and after 4 Legion purchases, I passed on #5 because it has been boring, and seems like it will continue to be boring. It doesn't suck, but I just find this book very bland. Finally, I agree that the Authority, while not exactly in the Millar/Quitely zone of fantasticness, is good again. p.s. to Kuryakin, don't respond to ego-popper, it is a waste of time and will just make you not want to be here talking back.
May 4, 2005, 5:31 p.m. CST
by Homer Sexual
I started picking up Wonder Woman due to the Flash cross-over, and have continued because it is a very well-done comic. WW is a hard character to do well (I can't imagine how a movie could possibly not suck) WW is currently intelligent, fast-paced and good-looking. I tried to get the Medusa story line in back issues, but the first one was missing, so I am hoping for a TP.
May 4, 2005, 5:34 p.m. CST
by Homer Sexual
After getting me on board by selling issues 1-3 collected, I have picked up #4 and #5 to see how this story ends. I thought issue #5 was not so great, but the best thing about New Avengers is the hard-on Bendis has for Spider-Woman. P.S. Yes, Powers is wordy but that book works. I think Bendis is best with his own creations, and definitely lesser with established characters. The more established, the worse (Good with Spider-Woman, bad with DareDevil and Wolverine, although he isn't bad with Iron Man.
May 4, 2005, 5:39 p.m. CST
by Homer Sexual
Supreme Power is, to me, the best "adult superhero" comic currently published. Things happen every issue, all the characters are well-developed, the action is great and the book has a hard edge. And I, too, am glad that there are some females finally getting involved. My only disappointment is the whole "smear campaign" plot. I suppose it is inevitable, but it's Marvel's oldest chestnut, dating back to Spider-Man of course, continued ad infinitum with X-Men and more. And this re-launch is not going to be a good thing, but at least I can enjoy through issue 18, and will see how this MK thing goes (crappishly, I fear). I imagine that the team will finally be assembled as of #18 and the new series will be about the team once it has been fully formed.
May 4, 2005, 6:12 p.m. CST
it is the last one until 9/21/05. McNiven is doing 4 issues of New Avengers so they pushed Ultimate Secret back to 9/21.
May 4, 2005, 6:22 p.m. CST
by Buzz Maverik
Those guys you have assisting you are okay too.
May 4, 2005, 6:43 p.m. CST
I *said* NT!!
May 4, 2005, 6:46 p.m. CST
I have a hard time seeing that in my little brain too. They should just give up the ghost and go campy fun, a la CHARLIE'S ANGELS (though hopefully not poo a la CHARLIE'S ANGELS), playing up elements from the 70's tv show and WW's own kinky roots. Tongue-In-Cheek seems the most palatable idea to my paradigm-driven brain.
May 4, 2005, 7:09 p.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
First off, I didn't write the BLACK PANTHER review. Secondly, I believe the writer of BLACK PANTHER is, in fact, African American. Do some fact checking before flying off the handle, poncho.
May 4, 2005, 7:14 p.m. CST
The Spectre seems a bit blah. the Demon has potential as does Jason Blood, whereas Dr. Fate is so not interesting. One of the problems of the DCU is that they have characters named Blue Devil etc. I mean granted it's just a name, but marketing-wise it always makes them lose in sales to Marvel. Aside from all that, Mike Baron and Kelly Jones need to collaborate more often.
May 4, 2005, 8:01 p.m. CST
to try to sell more copies of the book, Marvel is toning it down and putting it as a Marvel Knights book next year so the only MAX title left will be Punisher.
May 4, 2005, 8:28 p.m. CST
It's fine the way it is. Hell, it's better than most of the stuff I've read and the only contenders are Fables and Y the Last Man. There's other stuff by Morrison and whatnot that's good too, but JMS has been writing some compelling stuff. Besides who buys comics for nude DRAWN women. come on, you want porn and you have the internet gape at the real thing. With that said, JMS was perhaps unconsciously doing the whole guys club thing. As far as Black Pantha's concerned, the new take is okay, but not really all that original. The art is pretty damn amazing though. Romita's work comes out better with someone like his Dad inking (that issue of X-Men 177 that they collaborated on kicked ass) and I'd put him with a Terry Austin as opposed to Dan Green who is better for casting a dark horror type look to something. Just my take though. The Klaw still seems kind of dopey, but his new incarnation's okay. I keep picturing the Klaw from Secret Wars who was a lackey and had legs that resembled matchsticks so I'm a bit prejudiced. BP needs a more interesting adverserial situation. Also, most African males anyway seem to wear "western" clothing, but hey the native attire's probably better for the weather conditions. Just as in some of the takes on the absurdity of nationalism/patriotism in the US etc., I'd apply the same thing to Africa as well. Mugabe's Zimbabwae representing the same dark side of patriotism that can be substituted for any and all real issues and the role of nationalism in the Rwanda genocide as well for that matter. I'd like to see a Wakanda that is really utopian in that the people aren't all the haughty at all, but are like mysterious Swiss as they can kick anyone's ass if attacked, but prefer to live in peace.
May 4, 2005, 8:37 p.m. CST
Well, I kind of like the more radical idea of a big player like Batman being black. I know it sounds insane to most people, but JMS has done just that in Supreme Power and it's pretty damn good. When you think about it race is meaningless and Black Panther still smacks of a token character to me as well. Luke Cage is alright though and a black GL was a cool idea but it's only tenable as long as Hal Jordan stays dead. Hell taken a few steps further, most superheroes are not just white, but from the US. As for the black superhero beating up on whites, well that might be more of an attack upon power as opposed to race, but I can't mindread. The US, EU and Japan (and many states in Asia) are seen by the 3rd world as exploiters who use the financial institutions like the IMF etc. to tell them what to do and so the villains being former European colonials isn't a bad idea. However, I do believe that they depict the African tribe that tries to attack Wakanda in issue 1 as someone malicious so it hasn't been entirely one-sided really. I just think BP's a token character though. People just aren't ready to move past race yet. Especially when it comes to FICTION which can be written in anyway one chooses to. That's why Supreme Power is cool. JMS can do all kinds of stuff that the established Marvel/DC folks can't.
May 4, 2005, 8:43 p.m. CST
You can't pick up any issue of Supreme Powers, read it through, and come away feeling satisfied that you've just read a self-contained story about characters who's backgrounds and/or powers have been at least partially referenced. That is a crucial element of a episodic story. JMS writes a much more fan-friendly and accessible story with Supreme Powers, but it's still much more serialized than episodic. When I read your post, I was curious if your statement would hold up, so I put it to a quick test. I gave Supreme Powers #14 (an issue picked at random) to my wife, who is not only a big comics fan (yay me!) but is also much smarter than me, as she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from college. She read the book slowly and carefully and then proceeded to tell me, "It was provocative, and I think I could really like this. I'd like to know who all these people are and what's really going on here. Do you have all the back issues?" Gotta love her. Anyway, it spoke to me very quickly that if this were a true episodic book, she wouldn't have nearly the amount of questions about an ongoing plot, because there really shouldn't be much of an ongoing plot. In episodic storytelling, the characters exist to impact the plot (which is often a flimsy vehicle serving mostly as a framing device), while in serialized plotlines, the overall story is the important thing, and it impacts the characters. While I like JMS' writing in Rising Stars and Supreme Powers, it's still not nearly as accessible as you make it seem in your review. Gilligan's Island? Original Star Trek? Samurai Jack? Now THAT'S episodic.
May 4, 2005, 8:53 p.m. CST
As we continued our conversation about Supreme Powers, my wife also mentioned the fact that many of the writing "tricks" (her word, not mine) that JMS uses in Supreme Powers are very, if not blatantly similar, to Rising Stars, which she has read and enjoyed from the inception of that series. She hadn't been reading Supreme Power because I told her back when that series debuted that it was a "re-imagining" of a group called the Squadron Supreme, a lame-ass rip-off of the JLA created by Marvel to give The Avengers a serious tussle or two. Her response to my explanation was, "Ewwwwww." As I said before, gotta love her.
May 4, 2005, 8:56 p.m. CST
Great art, too; I didn't know that McNiven had it in him.
May 4, 2005, 8:58 p.m. CST
She's right about the tricks. Alien invasion does seem to be a recurring theme. The execution is what prompts me to shrug and go, what the hell. It's still better reading than most of the other stuff. Plus, Supes isn't the all-American boy so much as a guy who realizes he's been brainwashed. I like the whole JMS take on questioning authority.
May 4, 2005, 9 p.m. CST
I am a big fan of Independant Pulp (Comics, Manga, whatever you want to call it)... A big reason is I print my own, as well as work with several folks who do as well (as an artist)... So I wanna plug... Sorry if you hate me, but thats all you can do until you get bigtime and pump up that circulation! Simply put: Check out Ohio's Midgard Comics/Studios!!! Johnnie Zombie (Super Powered Man cursed, but fighting evil in his own way... a ROCK N' ROLL COMIC) is our Lead Title, followed by Stiletto Heights (Strong story orientation on relationships and maturing in a modern world. Told from the point of View of Jack, a twenty-something woman pining over a lost love), and Flying Joe (An ordinary man helping those around him in extraordinary ways). Midgard also has the Johnnie Zombie Rock N Roll Gauntlet... An anthology book with a Johnnie Story and several (often continuing) stories from various artists and writers from all over the country. Midgard is also working with Marvel and DC on various projects, such as a possible rebirth of CLOAK AND DAGGER with Artist Darryl Banks (Formerly of DC, most noted for Co-creating the EVIL Hal Jordan/Parallax in the Green Lantern Series in the 90's). Darryl is a contributing artist for Midgard Comics as well! For Free Comic Day we are giving away Johnnie Zombie Issues along with other Free Comic Day titles. We are presenting materials, doing autographs and art from our location in Westerville, Ohio From Noon to 8:00 PM EST. And also partnering in Hilliard, Ohio with Packrat Comics from 10AM until 2PM EST... Want info, Fee Free to email me, or check out our new site (its in it's infant stage still) http://www.midgardstudios.com. Again, sorry to Advertise, but the AICN crowd is always the best for helping us little guys out!!!
May 4, 2005, 9:15 p.m. CST
With an E You should probably remember that. But good luck with Flying Joe.
May 4, 2005, 9:24 p.m. CST
Thus, why I dont write too much... I am pretty much a cartoonist/comic artist. I do write, but sadly live with Spell Check on... Thanks for pointing out the flub...I chuckled also when I mentioned "FEE FREE TO CONTACT ME..." Instead of FEEL... Ah, those grammar slips are priceless!!! All the same, thanks for the well wishes... The Artist/Writer for Flying Joe (Ian Nichols) is the youngest on the team, but he has so much talent it makes us drool!!!!
May 4, 2005, 9:32 p.m. CST
Not enough indies out there. Good luck with all your stuff. Too many people settling for Marvel/DC mediocrity when there's really good stuff waiting to be found. And incidentally Flying Joe is my new favourite comic book name!
May 4, 2005, 9:38 p.m. CST
Rev K. got it right. You aint gonna change her view. I had to put up with profs like her way back in the 80's when i made a documentary about comic books (same time that the first batman came out). suffice to say it got pooped on. my next doco was about the recidivism rate of australian aboriginals in jail...you can guess what happened. it was hailed as a great piece of student film making. we sold it to the government for some fast cash and I learnt the way of the world. give 'em want they want and tell them they are right. that's all university profs want to hear.
May 4, 2005, 9:43 p.m. CST
HEY! a carl barks uncle scrooge! looks like "only a poor man". great comic. i recommend everyone pick it up and give it a try. if you like indiana jones then you are going to like unlce scrooge. it was one of lucas' influences. great drawings with fun, adventure stories.
May 4, 2005, 9:45 p.m. CST
That's not true at all. These days, you don't get more episodic in structure than LOST. I imagine anybody who just tuned in with Episode 1.14 ("Special") would have been *extremely* inquisitive - what with the reappearance of the Polar Bear, Michael's flashback, the suggestion of Walt's psychic powers, Claire's kidnapping, Sayid & Rousseau's map, etc. An episode does not have a stand alone plot - it is, by definition, part of a bigger picture. But it should have a stand alone structure, where each chapter is - in its own way - independent or important in addition to being part of a larger picture. SUPREME POWER - at least initially (I remember the earlier issues much better than the later ones, so that's all I want to lay claim to here) - was *very* episodic. Thoughh it didn't race through the big picture, each chapter had a clearly defined story arc of its very own.
May 4, 2005, 10:17 p.m. CST
I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the end of that review. Its pretty funny (and even more sad) when the decision to put clothes on a women in a comic book is seen as "a baby-step in the right direction". The issue was good, but this series has still yet to overcome the incredible sillyness of watching ultimate-wonderwoman walk around naked for half a dozen pages. I keep hoping Marvel's line of mature comics will grow up, we'll see. For some reason (I'm sure it was a good one) I decided to wait for the trade on Authority: Revolution, so I can't really comment except to say my favorite storyline wasn't ellis OR millar, but was towards the end of the run. Take from that what you will. Good review of Batman (man is that cover awful or what?). Its bad enough you have to bring Robin back, but quit milking it forever. Do it and be done and let us move on.
May 4, 2005, 10:27 p.m. CST
just read that supreme powers is going to the marvel knight label. a move of true genius. the "adult" aspects that will have to be removed won't hurt the book at all. in fact, the exact opposite is the case.
May 4, 2005, 10:41 p.m. CST
Say it with me S-U-P-R-E-M-E P-O-W-E-R. No fucking S at the end of it. Learn to read. The Goddamn title is right in front of you, illiterates.
May 5, 2005, 1:11 a.m. CST
by Jar Jar 4 Prez
Because he's the one who gives a shit about Supreme Powers.
May 5, 2005, 2:58 a.m. CST
by The Founder
Great runs on comics never last. the worst downfall of a comic book that comes to mind is JLa when Morrison was on board. This man breathed life and imagination into a mediocre book. d@mn DC for taking him, off, and that book hasn't been good since, ven the art work is mediocre now. The Authority titally blew me away when it first came out, and when i heard that Ellis was leaving i was so disappointed, but then Miller came on board, picked up the ball and ran with it all the way to field goal. Now it to has become like the JLA, why don't Publishing companies ever stick with a great thing. Yeah The current run of the authority is decent, but i can't agree that the storyline is as good as he say. It's worth checking out.
May 5, 2005, 3:03 a.m. CST
by The Founder
I've been a fan of the Legion since the mid 90's, and what i miss most is the fun and the coocky facial expressions that the chracters made, I forgot the guy who used to draw the Book, but i really miss him. The current run is just palin boring and mediocre. Waid has sucked all the fun out of the book, and made it wat to serious. They are teens for christ sakes, with hookey code names. DC bring back the fun.
May 5, 2005, 10 a.m. CST
It's the same guy, but he got turned into a REAL devil somehow back during that Underworld Unleashed or one of the other, lamer, crossovers. Now he actually DOES the mystic mumbo-jumbo. Kind of like how the post "Our World at War" Superman issues were setting up Guy Gardner as some sort of mystic-shaman-devil-detective person, which I THINK is being slightly used in the current Giffen /Macguire arc of the JLI, but is TOTALLY TOSSED OUT in consideration of the TOTALLY UNNECESSARY rebirth of Hal Jordan.
May 5, 2005, 12:41 p.m. CST
You're talking about a character with a 40-year legacy. He wasn't created by a bunch of white marketing guys either, dumbass. He was created by two guys named Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and he was the first black superhero not to be written as a caricature. They created him to serve as a positive representation of a black man during the Civil Rights struggle. Do your effin' homework next time. I don't mean research about comic books, either--I mean study for that Constitution test or you'll never get outta junior high. Save the misguided lecture on white liberal guilt for somebody who's never heard it before, like the fifth graders.
May 5, 2005, 12:44 p.m. CST
Cuz it's not bad enough his own books run brutally late (SECRET WAR #4 is due out the week after the next Kevin Smith SPIDEY/BLACK CAT) and are overwritten, now he has to screw up the publishing schedules of other writers' books too. Fantastic. Apologizing for it on his website doesn't really cut it, either. "Oh, sorry--I can't do my job right, so I'm going to make other people who do the same job look bad too." Feh. Then again, Editorial at Marvel should know by now not to start publishing a miniseries until it's in the can, but why learn from your mistakes?
May 5, 2005, 2:21 p.m. CST
...black superheroes who predate T'Challa? Written as charicatures or otherwise? None are coming to mind (as published by DC or Marvel, anyway).
May 5, 2005, 2:24 p.m. CST
by Gus Nukem
... while Professor is in the bank
May 5, 2005, 2:41 p.m. CST
"Are there black superheroes who predate T'Challa? Written as charicatures or otherwise?" Well, there certainly were a few black heroes AFTER T'Challa who were written as caricatures. Not in the sense of the "Step'n Fetchit" caricatures of pre-Civil Rights comics, but rather as the embarrassing jive-talkin' stereotype that middle-aged white writers gave to nearly every black character following the Panther. Whether it was the Falcon, Black Goliath, Black Lightning, John Stewart or Amazing Man, each of these guys dutifully dropped their "g" at the end of every "ing" verb ("goin', livin', doin', fightin', etc) or the ubiquitous "ain't". Like the sit-coms of the 70's focusing on black families, comics with black characters should be commended for their earnest, though ham-handed efforts to humanize a long-ignored and caricatured Americans....but at the same time, many of these efforts are almost as cluelessly condescending as the flat-out rascist portrayals were deeply insulting.
May 5, 2005, 7:46 p.m. CST
He had a pivotal role yes as the strong guy or Colossus of the group, but they made him enough of an individual so as to not seem as if they were just going for a black character as opposed to a random guy. The Green Lantern situation was working until they brought back Hal Jordan. Now I gotta admit I'm a fan of Hal's since I was a kid and some of his peculiar characteristics made him appealing, but I forget him quickly when they replaced him with John Stewart. Now his resurrection screws that all up. Obviously, Spawn has worked out well as just a guy who happens to be black and is now well Spawn. Black Panther pretty much the only old-school black superhero, but the treatment is still too iconic for a 2nd tier character. That's why, for me, the best black superhero depictions are being done in Supreme Power. More natural, no shying away from the issues, and showing variations. Wakanda's given a conventional treatment when they had a chance to go really utopian by making the people there more enlightened and even express revulsion at the behavior of Mugabe in Zimbabwae and the nationalism that wrecked Rwanda and other states. Hell, if they have advanced tech. why not invade apartheid South Africa? Seeing as how they are the Afghanistan of Africa (no conquest in-spite of many attempts) it'd make an interesting alternate history.
May 6, 2005, 6:33 a.m. CST
by Gus Nukem
1. T'challa isn't a noble savage. He is of noble heritage, but he isn't savage in any way. His country is the only one never conquered and the most technogically advanced ( among the human societies ). 2. Doesn't the Black Panther movement predate the comic book character? I believe they were the influence on his creation and not the opposite.
May 6, 2005, 12:41 p.m. CST
I mean, why are they always villains? It's hardly fair to assume that just because the guy is from Latveria he's automatically going to be an evil dictator. It shows a complete lack of sensitivity to Czechs, Hungarians, Serbians, etc. It's like a bunch of white guys sitting around a table said "well, we can't just keep making fun of Nazis and the Dutch--who else is known for being a bunch of bastards? I know--EASTERN EUROPEANS!" I mean, it's just playing up to all the stupid stereotypes like in Dracula and Frankenstein and stuff. Shameful, pathetic, condescending, insulting garbage. Whatever, dude. Your arguments are misguided and specious. Drop the preachy BS. They created the character they did, not the one you wanted them to. Many, many people like the character and see him as the creators intended. You don't. Quit throwing around baseless, senseless accusations and just buy a different book instead.
May 7, 2005, 4:48 a.m. CST
I'll be there for the reprint of the first Uncle Scrooge comic.
May 9, 2005, 4:35 a.m. CST
The reviewer is anti-man. Period. What is wrong with showing a nude woman? Once upon a time when we were kids we would see nude people in most genre flicks. Now it`s not happening anywhere, everything is sanitised to "protect" people. SCrew that, screw you PC watchdog morons.
May 9, 2005, 10:32 a.m. CST
I am convinced that they are neither moral or a majority, but they now control all three branches of govt. basically through their kowtowing agents in the Republican and the spineless Democratic party sometimes as well. Nudity bad. I mean Ashcroft freaking had that nekkid statue covered and its been there for decades. This morality crap is getting old real fast. And where are the voters and the people who should be pissed? Not being political. This stuff has a ripple effect upon everything. Including entertainment.
May 23, 2005, 8:52 p.m. CST
by Gus Nukem
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