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#4 6/2/05 and 6/8/05 #4

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

ACTION COMICS #827 – 828
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #78
ZATANNA #2
FANTASTIC FOUR VISIONARIES: GEORGE PEREZ
THE GOON #12
NEW WARRIORS #1
OUTSIDERS #24
THE STARDUST KID # 1
JLA #115
INCREDIBLE HULK #82
BREACH #6
Indie Jones presents: SCOTT PILGRIM VOL 2: SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
Indie Jones presents: OZ: THE MANGA #1
CHEAP SHOTS!

ACTION COMICS # 827 – 828

Written by Gail Simone
Art by John Byrne
Published by DC
Reviewed by Buzz Maverik



The comic book community – writers and artists; editorial; support staff and marketing; retailers; journalists; and the fans – truly is a community. Since I'm from Southern California, I think of it as a middle class suburb in the Valley.

Up in the Country Club, where the creative types live, Gail Simone would be that cool chick who throws the best parties on the cul-de-sac. And John Byrne would be the old guy who calls the cops if you park in front of his house.

Incidentally, everyone writing and reading AICN Comics would be those guys squatting in the condemned trailer park out by the freeway. Now, if you'll excuse me, ol' Buzz is off to shoot your dinner.

Gail Simone and John Byrne seem like an odd pairing, at first. Ms. Simone is a newer writer building a strong reputation and following by telling engaging stories with good characterization and dialogue. She's not one of these writers who are going to set comicdom on its ass and MAKE YOU LOOK AT insert character name IN A WHOLE NEW WAY (which usually means turning them into jerks and making them boring). She's more of the Geoff Johns type of writer who will use the traditional format to truly make you look at the characters in a whole new way, without hitting you in the head with hype.

John Byrne is a living legend. Thanks to our friend the Internet, we now get to trash our living legends and sometimes see them trash themselves with no help from us. The fan portion of our community is very much like the Japanese culture in that they must have consensus. The consensus is now firmly against Mr. Byrne. We here at AICN tend to trash everyone equally, but at most other fan waterholes, you can only get away with trashing Rob Liefeld, Chuck Austen, Ron Zimmerman and Mr. Byrne. Raise a question about anyone else and you're gonna get some peeved postings, Mister Opinion-pants.

Mr. Byrne reinvigorated Marvel art. He brought it back from the Bronze Age slump. As Obi Wan Kenobi said in REVENGE O' THE SITH, "Only a fanboy thinks in absolutes." Yes, there was some good art at Marvel during the Bronze Age. But the majority, especially in mainstream superhero books, was indistinct at best. Not so with Mr. Byrne's work. It was an exercise in contradictions, combining realism and exaggeration, subtlety and bombast. Some of his FANTASTIC FOUR and X-MEN has an almost 3D effect. I say this with no irony, the fucking floor on the Hellfire Club, where the X-Men were prisoner, shimmered. I still haven't seen anything else like that in a comic.

Of course, Mr. Byrne is the man who relaunched SUPERMAN. His writing and art were things of beauty on that. Later, he started relaunching things at Marvel, like AMAZING SPIDER-MAN that weren't such things of beauty. While his work always makes an impact on me, probably the last Byrne series I really followed was the Neal Adams-inspired X-MEN: THE HIDDEN YEARS.

Unfortunately, lately, Mr. Byrne has become known for things he writes on his messageboard like the infamous "It's Spider-Man and Superman, not Spidey and Supes", which isn't that big a deal either way but you woulda thought otherwise between Mr. B and the fans. The great thing about Mr. Byrne is that he seems to be pissed off at everyone from Dave Cockrum to Chris Claremont to Roy Thomas to Christopher Reeve. Probably the last really big boner was when, in reaction to news that Jessica Alba was playing Sue Storm in THE FANTASTIC FOUR movie, Byrne reportedly posted something along the lines of how, in his opinion, Hispanic women who dye their hair look like hookers. Like anyone can afford a hooker that looks like Jessica Alba.

The reason Gail Simone and John Byrne work so well together is that they both excel at putting the story and characters first. It's harder with art because of distinctive styles, but I honestly got the feeling reading these two issues that Simone and Byrne probably weren't trying to get us readers to notice them. They wanted us in that story and they succeeded. That's extremely rare in today's comics, where most of the time we should just be looking at pictures of writers at their word processors and artists at their drawing board (like if they want to insert their own boring personalities and tics into their work, they should move down to the low rent district and become critics where no one gives a crap what they do).

When you have two talents like these, it's kind of hard to differentiate what makes the comic work. An interesting, credible threat to Superman was presented by Dr. Polaris and the Betty Page-looking Repulse. Superman's vulnerabilities were explored without resorting to Kryptonite. Simone and Byrne know just when to bring in Lois, when to show us something through Jimmy's POV, when to have a gag. I will credit Ms. Simone with a great depiction of Lois and Clark's marriage. Their interaction really helps us understand who Superman is today, without the standard, big boring DC mini-series that no one reads about WHO SUPERMAN IS TODAY.

So that's how they do it right on the Right Side of the Tracks. Those of us here on the wrong side can still enjoy it while we throw our own party ... which you know the cops will be faster to bust up.
rich snobs on the hill....



ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #78

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Mark Bagley
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee



So it’s been roughly a week since we had our little Roundtable about the Bendis penned HOUSE OF M and it looks like there has been some, errr… interesting feedback about it all. And I’ll be quite honest with everyone right here, and right now: I don’t care. Last week’s column was the first time I’ve glanced upon the Talkback session since I did my first review here about two months ago. I made a conscious decision when I first agreed to do these weekly reviews that I simply wouldn’t make checking those a regular thing because, quite frankly, I don’t want to be influenced by them. See, I agreed to do this because I love comics, especially good comics, and if I could use this as a platform to preach about the comics I think are highly enjoyable and try and steer people away from the ones that aren’t so much, well, that’s what I came here for. Just as long as I happen to get one person who reads this to try something they normally wouldn’t, then I consider this a success.

That said, though, I do feel like someone here needs to follow up last weeks’ column with something else Bendis related. Like him or not, he is the biggest force in comics today, and he needs to be talked about more, especially around these parts. And I’m going to take it upon myself to do this.

Why?

Because, if I haven’t made it apparent so far, I’m an idiot… that’s why.

Now let’s talk about the comic for a bit, shall we?

This issue here of ULTIMATE SPIDEY is a bit of a self-contained follow up to the fallout of the Hobgoblin arc that ended last issue. The focus here is on Mary Jane and how she handles the drama around her as Peter has called off their relationship as of last issue… again. I’ll say it right now, this kind of issue is what Bendis does best. His strength as a writer lies in how he can take any character, no matter how secondary, and give them a voice. The strongest issues of this entire USM run of his have, really, been based around Mary Jane, and how she drives and is driven by Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s world. And this issue is definitely no exception, though it isn’t without its flaws.

I enjoy the emotional ride that Mary Jane is taken on in this issue. From “seeing” her as a wreck at the beginning of the issue, to her coming to terms a bit in the middle, to her resolve at the end, it has a nice, pertinent flow. There’s a very nice and insightful conversation between her and a new would-be suitor towards the end that made me realize two things, though. One, there really does tend to be too much usage of “focus panels” for dramatic effect in these books. There’s a lead up to a kiss between the two of characters at the end of the book and it takes a whole page to get there. One. Whole. Page. To get to a kiss. Call that nit-picky, call it anal retentive, call it whatever you want but I call it excessive, and it’s starting to wear on me somewhat. And it mainly irks me because, while I thought that was a poor bit of execution for that moment, there was a great two-page bit at the beginning of the book using that same method of “pause panels” that was executed perfectly IMO.

Secondly, I have to say I really would like to see these characters grow up. I enjoy seeing Peter and MJ going through these kinds of things with the high school backdrop, but I would like to see some more maturity and growth brought to the book. I know Bendis has said that as long as he’s on the book Peter will never leave high school, but I think that’s a mistake. I personally think that bringing him up to college age would be a better fit for this book now. After having gone through so much over nearly eighty issues, I’d like to see more weight brought to Peter’s life than just teenage relationship angst. I’d like to see him “get out into the world” so to speak, but to keep him young and more energetic than the “subdued urban husband” he’s become more of in the Marvel Mainline.

Again, I thought this was a nice little break in between story arcs. To be honest, I kind of would have liked this story to be stretched out another issue and have alternating perspectives over the break up between this MJ story and more reactions from Peter. But I imagine we’re going to be seeing the Peter moments throughout all of the seven-part “Warriors” arc starting next issue. I’ll gladly take the respite this single-issue brings.


ZATANNA #2 (of 4)

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Ryan Sook/Mick Gray
Reviewed by: Prof. Challenger



I guess I'm just a sucker for girls in fishnet tights and top hats, but I'm enjoying this mini-series. Affiliated with the SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY sort-of-side-universe-maybe-in-maybe-out-of-DC-continuity collection of various mini-series. That first SEVEN SOLDIERS comic that kicked off this whole thing was utterly fascinating and horrifying. One of the best comics this year. And most of the related mini-series sounded interesting enough to give a try.

Now, this first set of mini-series included SHINING KNIGHT, GUARDIAN, KLARION, and ZATANNA. Well, SK had a good first issue, but lost me on the second. GUARDIAN was kind of interesting, but even though I liked the new character taking up the role of the GUARDIAN, the story didn't make me care enough to pick up issue 2. KLARION I had no interest in. But ZATANNA. That's a different story. That was a first issue that made me want to pick up issue 2. In that one, Zatanna had lost her ability to control the casting of her spells and inadvertently let loose a deadly and malevolent demon when she wished for the "ideal man." They call him "the shapeless one" because he can basically take on the shape of anything.

Well, her "ideal man" wound up incinerating a number of DC's magical heroes, including Ibis and Taia (though, being magical heroes, I'm sure resurrection is in their future). This series is demonstrating such a sense of whimsy that I can't imagine any comic fan not enjoying it. It's smart, sexy, funny, and scary with a fond but twisted take on DC continuity. In issue one, I was especially happy to see one of my favorite mystical characters, Baron Winters, make an appearance and laughed out loud when I noticed the leopard-skin in his house – clearly his old pet leopard, Merlin, must've done a big no-no. Ha! Issue 1 also introduced a young girl, Misty Kilgore, who wants to be Zatanna's apprentice.

So, issue 2 picks up with Zatanna and her apprentice searching out some help on how to get rid of that shapeless demon who's chasing them. This search takes them to a cool little magical shop in San Francisco that would be at home in an episode of BUFFY or ANGEL. It’s run by a blind lady named Cassandra Craft, who I would swear I've seen before but I can't remember where (Talkbackers – help out Grampaw Prof here).

I like the bright-eyed enthusiasm of Misty and her magic die. I snickered when Cassandra introduced her black cat named "Prowley." Get it? Duh. Aleister Crowley + Prowl = Prowley. Clever. The hallmark of this series and this issue particularly is an understanding of performance magic and crafting a relationship between this real-world magic and the fantasy-style magic found in super-hero comics. What Morrison does is set up the "reality" of the mystical/magical world with demons, spirits, and magical spells, but even within that grand paradigm the need for distraction in accomplishing your goals still plays a large part. In truth, Zatanna pulls off the defeat of "the shapeless one" by utilizing her stage skills with sleight and swiftness of hand, but the manner in which she does it will seem noticeably familiar to anyone who watched the first 15 minutes of the recent CONSTANTINE film.

This comic is chock full of little visual bits that strain my continuity-brain. Like Cassandra, they spark a memory in me but I can't quite pull up the file. Similarly, there's a potential future plot set-up with the death or disappearance of an old group of kids who had adventures with the Cabinet of Ali-Ka-Zoom. Again, my continuity-sense is tingling. Looks like Ali-Ka-Zoom is the wizard from SHINING KNIGHT and the massacre probably involved the old Newsboy Legion who used to pal around with the original Guardian. So, the connections between these SEVEN SOLDIERS series are starting to become clearer. It makes me want to tune in next month to see what else Morrison throws my way.

There's also a funny bit with the Phantom Stranger that has a nice payoff in the last panel of the comic. For anyone who's ever wondered a bit about the Stranger's personal life, it gives you a tiny bit of insight and is worth a guffaw. I'll definitely finish out this mini-series and I'm also looking forward to seeing what Morrison does with the FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER and especially how he wraps up the whole SEVEN SOLDERS thing. "The Harrowing" is just that, harrowing and unsettling. Most likely Zee will find herself confronting the Sheeda more directly come next issue.

Final word on the art. Ryan Sook's artwork is outstanding. Smooth and slick lines, strong figure work, and excellent story-telling abilities. He reminds me of that guy who did PROMETHEA – J.H. Williams. Or maybe it's the fact that the same guy, Mick Gray, inked Williams on PROMETHEA also inks Sook here on ZATANNA. Either way, I find Sook's art to be more aesthetically pleasing to my senses. His cover to ZATANNA #2 was the most striking cover of the whole DC line this month. That single, haunting, blue eye staring out from under her top hat. Nice work.


FANTASTIC FOUR VISIONARIES: GEORGE PEREZ

Art by ....duh!
Written by Roy Thomas and Len Wein
Published by Marvel
Reviewed by Buzz Maverik Visionary: Buzz Maverik



As a sociopath, I don't feel guilty about anything because I can't. So I'm not confessing anything here, but I didn't buy this book.

Didn't have to. I've owned all of these issues of THE FANTASTIC FOUR since I was 10 or 11 years old. George Perez appeared big at Marvel during this time. Suddenly, the guy was on a ton of team books. FF. AVENGERS. INHUMANS. He graced all of them with clear, distinct yet ornate artwork. He gave us clumps of heroes that looked different from each other. Like the best comic artists of every era, his work wasn't exactly realistic but you couldn't call it cartoonish either. Mr. Perez gave us lots of tight little panels of storytelling in each issue.

One of our pointless, drunken debates around the @$$hole clubhouse is over the reaction shot. The guy whom I still can't get used to calling Dave F. is a fan of the reaction shot, used in manga and modern comics. I say they are a story-stopper in an already static medium. George Perez (like Dave Cockrum) could insert his characters reactions into the same panel with action and dialogue. He didn't have to stall anything to let us know what his characters were thinking.

The first two stories in this volume were written by Roy Thomas and were intended as issues of GIANT SIZE FANTASTIC FOUR. That mag was discontinued but since most Marvel writers edited their own books at the time, Mr. Thomas made them regular two-parters and brought their artist, Mr. Perez, on as series artist. The first story is notable for the introduction of long time Johnny Human Torch love interest Frankie Ray, a girl who later became the Herald O' Galactus known as Nova (whom I call Chick-Nova to distinguish her from Buzz Favorite THE MAN CALLED NOVA). It also brought back a character from pre-FF Timely/Marvel days who would later somehow morph into the Avenger Quasar. Note Johnny Storm's hip, happenin' new threads which were out of date when the story was originally published.

The second story is one of the most interesting Thing vs. Hulk tales Marvel has ever done. The Hulk accidentally causes a jetliner carrying the FF to crash. They are on hand to save the day in a spectacular example of superhero and writer/artist team work. Ben Grimm has been having a bad day. He's feeling like a monster. And when his teammates take down the Hulk through cruel and dirty fighting, and after he sees the treatment Dr. Banner receives at the hands of the Army, he decides whose side he's on. It's the Hulk and the Thing on a road trip. Ben comes to his senses when he realizes that the Hulk has all the impulse control of a hyperactive three year old on PCP. There's a big dukeroo atop the St. Louis arch that culminates with the Thing reverting to human form thanks to prolonged exposure to the Hulk's gamma radiation.

This was where things got interesting. Without the Thing, Reed had to hire Luke Cage to be the muscle on the team, which Grimm resented. Reed later developed Thing-armor for Grimm to wear. This arc involved the Wrecker and the Puppet Master because guys like Perez and Thomas knew you could still explore concepts like identity, resentment, humanity and reinvention while things actually happened. Now, we'd get five years of these kinds of stories before a supervillain showed up off panel.

For some reason, probably deadlines, other artists drew a Galactus/Counter Earth/High Evolutionary arc in which Ben was turned back into the Thing. But Mr. Perez was back when the FF returned to Earth, first to visit the Marvel Bullpen (they were doing a lot of those kinds of stories at the time. As a kid, I hated 'em. As an @$$hole, I still do). Then, we were back at Baxter Building, now occupied by the Frightful Four who were holding an open audition to replace Medusa. With the FF as prisoners, the Anti-FF saw one loser after another including a dude who was afraid of fire (the Torch voted for him!). The wiseass remarks of the Thing and the Torch were great. Defenders like both Tigra and Thundra showed up for no apparent reason and became adjunct FF.

More fill in issues, not seen here, and Mr. Perez was back. By then, Len Wein had taken over the writing chores. Mr. Wein was great on BATMAN, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK and THE SWAMP THING, among others. For some reason, his FF never worked for me (neither did those of his friend and successor, the brilliant Marv Wolfman who was sort of Matt Damon to Mr. Wein's Ben Affleck). One of the coolest things about this volume is that Marvel didn't correct a color mistake on a splash page in which the now depowered Reed Richards is being hauled out of the Negative Zone. Thundra's costume, for some reason, is green instead of red.

This is how it was. Dazzlement for the eyes. Art as storytelling and characterization.


THE GOON #12

Writer/Artist: Eric Powell
Publisher: Dark Horse
Reviewed by: Prof. Challenger



THE GOON is a gem of a comic book. There's a lot of comics published every month or two. A whole lot. And if Sturgeon's law holds true then a good 90% of it is crap. The top two publishers DC and Marvel dominate in quality and in crap simply because they publish, between the two of them, the majority of continuing series out there. At the same time, there are a lot of admirable smaller publishers and self-publishers out there risking money where a true financial risk is involved while trying to introduce the comics world to the next classic series. For my money, BONE, AKIKO, A DISTANT SOIL, SIN CITY and THE GOON are exemplars of what can be achieved independently in the modern comic book market. These are series that had and have a full-on grasp of who and what they are and what type of audience they wish to attract. Most of all, the love and enthusiasm of the creators permeate each and every page. A common flaw in many wannabes out there is that their books are either too calculated in their attempt to reach an amorphously large audience or they feel like an automaton is producing it – emotionless.

THE GOON is just damn pretty to look at and alternating in funny, sad, and serious. But it's always interesting. My intro to THE GOON was the latest TPB that included the funniest comic book story I've ever read, the one with LLAGARTO HOMBRE. I mean, that one was so blasted hilarious I collapsed in a heap. Even the second time when I was reading it out loud to Prof. Jr. – who also collapsed into a heap. We still occasionally bring up that silent 3-panel of Gorilla-Goon stomping Llagarto and then we just start giggling.

Well, that impulse-buy has me buying THE GOON now and it's just so good. Obviously, earlier in the series, Powell was using inkline work on the characters but has now foregone that. The book is a mixed-media fan's paradise. Looks like Powell's doing full graphite pencil work and then using an ink line only for the outlines of the characters. Which makes for a neat effect. It also looks like he's utilizing a mix of actual watercolors sometimes and computer coloring other times, all to good effect.

In the latest issue, Dr. Hieronymous Alloy (great name) goes bad (again) and starts tearing up the town with his robots. Llagarto Hombre reappears basically as the bard of the story talking in his hilarious nonsense-Spanish. There's an unrelated funny bit includes a zombie putting on a plastic "human" mask to try and sneak into Norton's Bar and just be "one of the guys." Well, Goon'll have none of that and takes care of the situation in his own inimitable fashion.

The Goon is cut out of the classic Kirby thug-like character (much like The Thing) - in fact, this comic almost feels like it should be illustrated by the late, great King. Here, Goon functions like a mob enforcer in a world where supernatural zombies and vampires are constantly cutting into profit margins.

The robot designs, as well as much of the look of the series, are all retro simplicity. I'd say the robots are similar in style to the giant robots of SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. The setting is one where you'd expect to be hearing the howling of a wolf in the background at any time and dry-ice fog would gather around everyone's feet as they walk around. Taking advantage of the comic book medium, Powell makes good use of panel to panel storytelling to mix character-revealing bits with a driving story and lots of action. Talking heads would not fill a Goon story – unless they were then lopped off by a disgusted Goon who got tired of all the talkin'.

THE GOON also sports a funny, kind of bizarre letters page and an appearance by the RAIL YARD BULL. The BULL is the winner of THE GOON'S CREATE A MONSTER contest that ran in Diamond Previews. So, if nothing else, check it out to support the winning fan-created monster. THE GOON is a fun comic-reading experience and needs a movie!. C'mon Hollywood! Nice change of pace from your average funnybook.


NEW WARRIORS #1 (of 6)

Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Skottie Young
Publisher: Marvel
Reviewer: Ambush Bug



Man, was this a fun read.

I loved the old NEW WARRIORS series. It took the age-old concept of throwing together a bunch of misfit kids and tossed them into one bizarre situation after another and added action that was often fun, characterization and personality that was often quite ingenious, and adventures that were often better than those of their adult contemporaries in the AVENGERS and the X-MEN. But all good things must come to an end and so did the NEW WARRIORS. Sure, they tried to relaunch the series a while ago with a few new characters, but it just didn’t stick. Well, the Warriors (or at least most of them) are back. Apparently, they have become the stars of a reality television show. They are traveling across America seeking out crime and showing it off in the prime time. Doesn’t that concept just make your sphincter wince? It did mine when I first heard it. But one thing made me pick up this series: writer Zeb Wells.

Like Dan Slott, Wells writes great comedy and makes his stories fun (a concept that the rest of the Marvel line is desperately lacking). He respects the Marvel Universe and all of its quirky and charming characters. He knows it is a place filled with wonder. This issue illustrates Wells’ clever use of all of what makes the Marvel U special. When the Warriors track down Tiger Shark and Armadillo (who have recently escaped from the Vault in the NEW AVENGERS – WHAT!?!?!? CONTINUITY AT MARVEL!?!??!? IS THIS FOR REAL!?!?!?!?), they knock Armadillo unconscious causing him to instinctively roll into a ball. Unfortunately, he’s still chained to Tiger Shark. Hilarity and chaos of the highest order ensues as Tiger Shark swings the unconscious Armadillo at the New Warriors like a ball and chain. What a wondrously creative fight scene!

Setting this series in the “reality TV” genre could have been a complete flop, but Wells is too smart to do that. He uses the shows’ directors and producers as part of the story. When Speedball mentions former teammate Vance Astro, the director steps in and says that they’ll have to edit that out in post because mentioning old teammates just confuses new viewers. At the same time, Wells is not only adding some serious laughs, but commenting on how overbearing editorial can be in comics and how misguided they can often be in giving the viewer or reader what they think the viewer wants. In another scene, the Warriors are forced to recreate a missed shot of Speedball getting creamed by Tiger Shark. The only problem is that Tiger Shark is unconscious and must be held up my crewmen in order to get the take. It’s fresh elements like this that will bring me back for a second issue.

Despite the fact that every time I see his name, I think of a lisping Marky Mark Wahlberg talking to Phillip Seymour Hoffman from BOOGIE NIGHTS, Skottie (Thhssskottie!) Young is damn talented. His cartoony style reminds me of movies like THE IRON GIANT and THE INCREDIBLES. This style completely fits the mood of this book, which I would very much like to see translated into some form of cartoon. It’s not over the top Manga-ish, like Cartoon Network’s TEEN TITANS. It’s much more grounded in reality, but it does provide the type of energy one would expect from a book about a bunch of kids in a van traveling across country with a camera crew and getting into kooky adventures.

One criticism I have to point out is that as much as I love the concept and execution of this series, comics like this and SHE-HULK are walking on the edge of becoming self-parody. I’m all for making stories fun to read. Lord knows, I need a bottle full of Prozac to get through most of Marvel’s somber monthlies. So far, Wells and SHE-HULK’s Dan Slott are laughing with Marvel’s characters and not at them. So far, the heroes have come away from these treatments pretty unscathed. But the villains, on the other hand, are usually made to look like complete doofs. This may be funny in the story itself, to make every villain into an imbecilic punching bag, but it kind of shits on long time characters like Captain America and Namor (two heavy weights who often went toe to toe with Armadillo and Tiger Shark) and makes them look like douches for actually once breaking a sweat when facing these foes, when the New Warriors mop the floor with them so easily. All I’m saying is that, just a while ago, when editorial decided that Marvel’s heroes had to keep it real and fight “real life” villains and face everyday challenges – somewhere in a bar, in a back alley, in the Marvel Universe, a bunch of super villains were sitting around with absolutely nothing to do. That trend seems to be dissipating, but making these classic villains into complete and utter fools isn’t that much of an improvement.

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this book. Out of all of the new Marvel series to come out in the last few months, this is the first miniseries since Peter David’s amazing MADROX mini to provide a fresh, funny, and original take on old characters. Don’t let the “ugh!” inducing concept scare you away. This is a strong first issue with a fresh take on some classic characters.


OUTSIDERS #24

Writers: Judd Winick
Artists: Carlos D'Anda
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by: Prof. Challenger



I hate being lulled into a false sense of cross-over security.

These DC COUNTDOWN/INFINITE CRISIS cross-overs have almost uniformly been pretty good. Some less so, and some exceptional, but overall...not bad. So, color me naive when I opted to pick up OUTSIDERS #24 because it included the second part of a cross-over with TEEN TITANS. The story is called “The Insiders” (oh so clever) and began in TT where Superboy proceeded to shave his head bald like Luthor and cut an "L" into his super-shirt. Then Superboy beat the holy living hell out of the Titans – including a particularly nasty facial smash of poor Wonder Girl. “The Insiders” Part 1 ended with a scene cut to Outsiders HQ and an android member named Indigo suddenly pulling the same sort of stunt like Superboy except she starts calling herself Brainiac 8.0. It was an engrossing and disturbing issue paced tautly by Geoff Johns and illustrated very well by Mike Clark, filling in for the now exclusive to Marvel Mike McKone (who did contribute the cover to the TT issue and the cover to OUTSIDERS 24).

Now, I'm one of the original OUTSIDERS readers. By that, I mean I was a monthly reader of Mike Barr and Jim Aparo's BRAVE AND THE BOLD and was right on board with them when they transformed that title into BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS and later when the OUTSIDERS stepped outside of the shadow of the bat and into their own. I liked the group. Sure it was a conceptual riff on what corporate probably perceived as the successful elements of the NEW TEEN TITANS, but it gained its own quirky identity quickly. Not only that, it also introduced the art of the great Alan Davis to the Prof.

So fast-forward to today and this latest OUTSIDERS comic. It's been a couple years now but I did pick up the first 2 or 3 issues of the series. I kind of liked the art (Tom Raney at the time) but I didn't care for how out of character Metamorpho was written – I just really hate the whole "I don't remember who I am" kind of schtick when everyone else around him knows who he is including the reader. Much more interesting as a plot device when nobody else knows who the amnesiac is and the process of discovery and revelation is all new to everyone. Basically OUTSIDERS, kicking off concurrent with the new TT series, came off as a poorly executed angry Titans spin-off. Johns has been able to make Cyborg an interesting adult in TT but Winick took Nightwing and the original Speedy and made them morose and dull to me. I didn't keep reading. Yet, because of the cross-over here I plunked my $2.50 down to be entertained.

About the only thing I appreciated about the whole book was the 2-page rehash about Indigo and "her" involvement in the death of Donna Troy. I appreciated it because I never really knew exactly how the entire Death of Donna thing happened – I didn't pick up anything affiliated with it. So, that was helpful. Beyond that....the art was awful and the story just irked me. I think I'm turning into the hair-police now, but just look at the first page. Roy's hair looks like it was cut out of felt and laid on top of his head and Nightwing's hair looks like Bart Simpson's. Beyond that, the faces are all wonky too. I understand artistic styling but there should still be some attempt to make these characters look recognizable. They've each got specific facial and bodily features that distinguish them - this artist utilized none of those distinguishing elements. His Donna Troy also lacked any resemblance to the same character blazoned on the cover of her recent RETURN OF... comic.

On the story side, it was basically the same thing as the Titans. Member goes brutally berserk and starts beating the crap out of the team. We finally learn the truth about Indigo. This android was put back here as a sleeper agent Brainiac from the future. And now the plan of the current Brainiac and Luthor is ready to come to fruition. They want to destroy this entire generation of heroes. I don't know if this is part of the build-up to INFINITE CRISIS, but it sounds like it probably is.

I wasn't as caught up in the emotional horror of this comic as I was in TT, I think, simply because I'm not already involved with the characters. But the comic just left me cold. There's a different resolution to the assault than there was in the Titans, presumably because the OUTSIDERS are supposed to be much more experienced. However, it seemed a little too deus ex machina to me. When the Titans showed up, Wonder Girl did not show near enough damage to her face – one stinkin' bandaid? C'mon! Then some Superman robots show up. I'm so out of it. I don't even think I realized there were Superman robots in the post-Man of Steel Superman, at least other than the one I've heard blamed for Donna Troy's death. Anyway, I sure didn't expect a whole army of them.

You know, I remember when I was reading my Hulk comic book, back in the day, and there was a crossover with Cap America so I picked up that Cap comic. It hooked me instantly and I started buying Cap from there on out. Presumably that's the point of a cross-over. Didn't work this time. For the rest of this crossover, I think I'll stick with the Titans side.


THE STARDUST KID # 1

Written by J. M. DeMatteis
Art by Mike Ploog
Published by Image / Desperado
Reviewed by the Buzzdust Kid



CrossGen comics took a lot of flack from Marvel Zombies, much of which boiled down to the fact that CrossGen's fantasy books weren't Marvel superhero books and also because Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada were programming young zombie minds. Granted, CrossGen books as a whole had a lot of flaws with the Sigil-crap and being as rigidly fantasy as Marvel is superhero.

One of the most promising CrossGen titles, which seemed to just start before CrossGen was killed off, was ABADADZAD! created by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Ploog. It was fantasy, sort of in the L. Frank Baum and John R. Neill vein, filled with glorious, whimsical images.

Mr. DeMatteis and Mr. Ploog have reteamed for THE STARDUST KID. This series is a modern version of the early 20th Century type of childrens' fantasy that involved crossings between the real world and the imaginary world. Like Dorothy in OZ and Wendy and her brothers in PETER PAN, 13 year old Cody has met an impish, magical being who seems to be able to bridge realms. This shapeshifter is Paul Brightfield, who appears to be a boy Cody's age except he looks a little goatish. Cody's mother and Cody's best friend Alana do not like or trust Paul. Hey, Peter Pan was named after Pan, a dangerous forest god associated with satyrs, sprites and fauns. Paul looks more like one of Frodo's bastard, half-human children.

Paul can become any one of a number of Wonderland/day glo poster fantasy characters. He and Cody hang out in a trans-worldly version of the Lost Boys' hollow tree, where Paul shares wisdom that is Yoda-level annoying. A danger is lurking that seems to be tied to Cody growing up. Puberty and poltergeists are almost always associated.

Mr. DeMatteis, who created MOONSHADOW and who has written SPIDER-MAN, DEFENDERS, INCREDIBLE HULK, JUSTICE LEAGUE, SPECTRE, and scores of other characters, makes a great argument for the return of the caption box. Using a novelist's style, without resorting to the now overused in comics first person, he takes us inside the thoughts of several characters and gives us their backstory in a few pages that are well illustrated by Mr. Ploog. I'd love to see this device come back into vogue because most exposition dialogue sucks and comics have a way around it that has become neglected.

Mike Ploog. This man pencilled my single favorite issue of Marvel's CONAN THE BARBARIAN ever. Issue # 49, filling in for John Buscema, and setting up Marvel's adaptation of Robert E. Howard's QUEEN O' THE BLACK COAST. He co-created GHOST RIDER and did significant work on Marvel's Bronze Age horror titles like MONSTER O' FRANKENSTEIN, WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, etc. With Doug Moench, in MARVEL PREVIEW, he co-created a Tolkienesque fantasy called WEIRD WORLD. Here, he combines the best elements of cartooning, illustration, and poster art (which should be the same thing, but aren't). He's gotta be the Fantasy guy. You need a fantasy artist? Mike Ploog!

THE STARDUST KID is fresh and fun, creepy and wondrous in both story and art.


JLA #115

Writers: Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg
Penciller: Christ Batista
Inker: Mark Farmer
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by Superhero



Oh, IDENTITY CRISIS, what hath thou wrought?

Why is the first line of my review attempting to ape the language of the famous Bard or, at the very least, a 1970’s Silver Surfer comic written by Stan Lee?

Because the way things are going, it seems that the whole DC Universe (or at least the Justice League) is about to become one giant Shakespearean tragedy starring different kinds of protagonists who wear tights.

But first let’s backtrack a little. Not too much…just a little.

In the epic (or misdirected, depending on your point of view) mini series IDENTITY CRISIS a beloved, if criminally underused, supporting character was brutally murdered. This of course led to the great chase to discover who the dastardly villain was who had committed the heinous crime.

Of course once you gaze into the abyss, the abyss (as they say) also gazes into you. Our esteemed heroes ended up uncovering some of the most shocking (and some say most uncharacteristic) secrets ever revealed in the DC Universe. In the end what was revealed rocked the foundations of the DC Universe…or so the head brass at DC comics would have you believe.

What was revealed was that our great heroes had used their powers in unscrupulous ways. The bright shining heroes of the JLA, who in the past wouldn’t think of crossing against a red traffic light, had actually crossed the line. They had used their powers in the past to wipe the minds of several major villains who had discovered their secret identities. Not only that, but when several of the individual heroes feared that their actions would be discovered by other good guys within the group, they ended up mind wiping one of their own. Namely, the Batman. And as anyone who’s ever read a comic book knows…nobody fucks with the Batman.

Which brings us to the current issue of the JLA.

The cover of this particular issue brandishes the following dramatic copy: “It had to happen! The unavoidable fallout from Identity Crisis begins here!”

Does it deliver what it promises? Well, yes, it does begin something. Is it particularly dramatic? Um, not really.

This issue acts as a set up issue and as a set up issue it does what most set up issues do. It recaps what has gone before and begins the first part of what may be a very intriguing story. Maybe.

The issue opens with the some members of the JLA at their headquarters on the moon, The Watchtower. We are introduced to the cast as they are in the midst of a heated argument amongst themselves. It turns out that the cards have been laid out on the table and the secret’s out for sure. Hawkman and Green Arrow are ready to engage in fisticuffs because The Flash has decided to let them all know he’s going to spill the beans to Batman. He’s going to let the Dark Night know that the others wiped some of his memories and it’s caused quite a stir among the world’s greatest heroes.

Enter the Martian Manhunter. He’s yet to be let in on the big secret but is curious to know why they are arguing. They tell him what’s going on and in his usual cryptic manner the Manhunter reveals to them that, through his ability to read minds, he knows that Batman already knows.

This, by far, is the best moment of the book and it’s a great hook. It shows us that the team is ready to come apart at the seams and that none of the members are too happy with the way things went down with the Batman incident. Even former mass-murderer and renegade Green Lantern Hal Jordan isn’t thrilled and that says a lot. (Yes, I know he was manipulated by the yellow impurity of his ring…but that’s the key word there: manipulated. Not controlled. Hal still killed a bunch of people and I don’t buy the whole slate wiped clean thing…no matter what Geoff Johns wrote in GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH. He’s cold blooded…I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.)

Johns could have better served this issue by focusing on what the opening pages establish. The dynamic of the team as they deal with the horrifying fact that they’ve done the worst possible thing they could do to one of their own is what the story should have focused on. But instead of that what we get later in the comic is a bunch of super-villain assaults. We get to see the very criminals that the League mind-wiped gathering together to try and take out the heroes one small group at a time. While I’m not saying that this is particularly bad per se, what I am saying is that I could’ve dealt less with the super-villain plot and would’ve appreciated a bit more focus on what the opening pages of the story introduced to us: a simmering internal conflict within the team. Now I’m not asking for a Bendis-inspired 24 pages of talking about how they’re going to deal with the crisis at hand. But what I am saying is that the most intriguing part of the story could’ve carried the comic through to being great instead of what it becomes…just so-so. I mean, if we *have* to have a fight or some action piece just have some of the heroes actually fight each other instead of trying to cram in the obvious VILLAINS UNITED plot point where it doesn’t belong. Save that for the next issue. Yes, I know that DC wants writers to “write for the trade” at this point but the opening chapter of an ongoing story should blow me away (much like Identity Crisis did) instead of just making me go “Eh, typical”. By focusing on the team falling apart Johns could’ve done that but instead we get the typical super-villain assault on the hero team that we’ve come to know all too well.

Now, to be fair, Johns wraps up the story with an interesting enough plot point which will get me to buy at least the next issue. Apparently the reason all the baddies are ganging up on the League is because they suddenly remember what the League had done to them (a plot point tied in from VILLAINS UNITED) and they are pissed.

The best part: one of the villains actually calls Batman “Bruce”. So, yeah, they remember everything.

All in all it’s a good comic that could have been great. I just think the writer tried to cram too much into one story. If this is going to be a multi-part arc then take your time with it a bit more. But then, I don’t know what’s coming down the pike so maybe the pacing is spot on…for a trade collection. Nah, even in a trade I think it’d come across as a bit rushed.

Oh, and one more thing. Does anyone else out there seem to think that IDENTITY CRISIS wrote the whole DC Universe into a corner? I mean if my friends mind wiped me I don’t really think that I’d want to hang out with them much, right? Much less have them watching my back as I fight some psycho who’s trying to off me. I mean with friends like that…

And if the villains all remember everyone’s secret identities how in the hell are they going to fix that without mind-wiping them all again? I’m interested in how the writers of the DC Universe are going to pull their fat out of the fire with this one. To me it just seems like they keep writing themselves into that tiny corner with no plausible way out in sight.

Which is what, I think, is keeping me interested. If there’s some brilliant way out of all this then I want to be able to find out what it is. Of course, every part of me just thinks this is going to be a major train wreck if past cross-over events are any indication but I, for one, hope this is the one time they don’t disappoint me.


INCREDIBLE HULK #82

Writer: Peter David
Artist: Jae Lee
Color Art: June Chung
Publisher: Marvel
Reviewer: Ambush Bug



Two positive reviews of Marvel comics in one week from me? I’d a never thunk it. But here I am again touting yet another Marvel title that is getting it right.

I’m convinced that until some unknown prodigy comes along Peter David is the only one who truly can get the Hulk right these days. Others have tried and failed miserably over the years to make the Hulk both interesting and exciting. At times, Peter David’s famed run became pretty heady with the internal psychobabble, but even then the guy knew how to spice things up with some conflict, some action, and something guaranteed to make old Bruce Banner “Hulk out” on occasion. And really, that’s all you need in a Hulk comic. David has once again returned to the Hulk and he’s picked up right where he left off tossing Bruce Banner and his hulking alter ego into one offbeat and original situation after the next.

INCREDIBLE HULK #82 is a quiet, stand-alone issue. At its heart, it’s a love story. A story of two people whose paths cross only for an instant and how that moment can be a memory one takes to the grave. This is a truly beautiful and poetic story, filled with elaborate descriptions of feelings of love, loss, sadness, and (something every HULK comic should always deal with) anger. In this issue, Peter David flexes the same writing muscles he utilized to perfection in his noirish gem of a series FALLEN ANGEL. There’s a mystery here. The Hulk must solve a murder, but this isn’t Batman gathering clues. The Hulk acts in true Hulk fashion and must smash his way though one obstacle after the next in search of the answer to the mystery. This story is about love and anger and passion and how all of that is more similar than what we all care to admit. I know deconstruction has become a dirty word these days, but done with this eloquence and skill, Peter David takes apart the feelings one has when falling in love and losing that love and plops it directly into the middle of the Hulk’s world. Check out this snippet from the issue:
I lived with death all my life, Tricia. Been looking it in the face ever since I stopped a foolish teenager from losing his life…and earned a lifetime of punishment for my good deed. I’ve feared death…fought it…cursed it…returned from it…but I never just…took it in stride. And I think…the Hulk respected you for that, Tricia. Just a little. Just enough.
Damn, now that’s some powerful writing firmly set in the Marvel U and proudly taking it seriously.

I gave Jae Lee some pretty harsh criticism for his work on the recent HULK/THING miniseries. Most of that criticism, though, was directed towards the writer who chose to waste the artist’s talents by having two of Marvel’s most powerful beings sit in a diner and talk for six issues, occasionally trading a punch or two throughout the entire series. In this issue, Jae’s somber and dark inks and pencils fit perfectly. Jae’s shadowy panels convey the sadness brought on by the tragedy which is central to the story. But the Hulk ain’t just sittin’ and mopin’ and gabbin’ throughout this entire issue. Oh no. He’s tossing cars and smashing through walls. He’s stomping and intimidating the hell out of everyone in his path. I couldn’t think of a better artist to put pictures to this story.

This really is one of my favorite HULK stories I have read in quite some time. It shows that iconic Marvel characters don’t have to be typecast into one genre to make for a good read. Who would have thought that this truly haunting and beautiful tale about love and loss would be found in a HULK comic? Well, I did because I have faith in David’s powers with the word and figured out long ago he could write a successful Hulk story in just about any genre. If you’ve grown weary of the Hulk or never even knew what the hell all of the appeal was about the character, pick up INCREDIBLE HULK #82. There’s plenty of HULK SMASH!’s, but you’ll also get an extremely powerful story and it may enlighten you as to how the Hulk versatile this icon and this writer really are.


BREACH #6

Writer: Bob Harras
Artists: Marcos Martin/Alvaro Lopez
Reviewed by: Prof. Challenger



ZATANNA #2 had the best cover of the month. BREACH #6 had one of the worst. And it ticks me off because an ugly cover is less likely to draw the impulse buyer. You know, there's a reason why DC likes to have Alex Ross and Michael Turner doing bunches of covers – attractive covers sell comics!

But ugly cover or not, BREACH continues to rock along on the interiors as "the danger grows." In my last review of BREACH I challenged all of you reading to go out there and pick this book up and give it a try. Well....I'm waiting. If you give BREACH a try shoot me an email and let me know what you thought – good or bad. I can't believe I'm the only one who grooves to this smart and creepy comic book.

X-FILES, that's what I couldn't come up with last time. It finally popped into my head while reading issue 6 that this comic is CAPTAIN ATOM crossed with X-FILES. Mulder and Scully would fit in perfectly with the sensibilities of this comic investigating the disappearances relating to the Rifters -- those disturbing other-dimensional killers. Or even investigating the sudden reemergence of a military man who survived a massive explosion and spent 20 years in a catatonic coma-like state.

Heraclitus once wrote "Character determines destiny" and Breach demonstrates the strong character of a born hero. The Herdsman communicates with Breach in his mind and shows him images of what "he" and his "brothers" plan to do to the soldiers and scientists surrounding Breach on a mission to find and subdue the Herdsman. At this point, as much as Breach desires to stay and face The Herdsman, he sacrifices his own desires and declares to the team that he made a mistake so that they will promptly return back to base and safety. The Herdsman and the rest of the Rifters are testing Breach. They want to see how "connected" to them he is. They want to see how powerful he is. And they want to see where his weaknesses lie.

The least of the issues so far for me was the one where the Justice League popped in. However, my complaints there are not heavy. I just feel like the BREACH comic stands stronger when it does not involve the costumed heroes of the DC universe too much. But this issue has a stand out couple of pages where Clark Kent shows up at the Meyers house. The Meyers are the poor unfortunate family that was attacked by the Rifters a couple of issues back. The house is still under police cordon and quarantine, but Daily Planet reporter and columnist, Kent, comes walking up to the scene -- but nobody heard a car. Heh. He engages the guards in a little conversation while his eyes do a little x-ray investigating of his own. It's a subtle couple of pages but effective.

The most interesting development is the "great escape" hatched by Breach and Dr. Chambers. Also this issue, McClellan considers the "ultimate" solution to his moral dilemma and Tobias gets summoned by The Herdsman. {{shudder}} I don't know why, but The Herdsman just really creeps me out.

I'm also starting to wonder about this book in the face of Dan Didio's continuing press releases about INFINITE CRISIS and beyond. I guess there's a chance that BREACH actually plays a role in the CRISIS since the whole "breach" incident occurred 20 years ago and in a recent JSA there was a scene with Power Girl reacting to 1985 as she moved through the timestream. We'll see. If BREACH is one of the lucky series that get to continue post-CRISIS with the one-year-later jumpstart, it could be one of the simpler tales to tell since Breach himself could end pre-CRISIS with a cliffhanger where he gets pulled into another cross-dimensional breach and then the very next issue post-CRISIS finds himself popping back into our dimension "one year later." Either way, Bob Harras, a writer who I never had any inclinations about has jumped right up there on my list of writers to seek out new projects from.

Good sci-fi soap-opera stuff. If that's your cup o' tea, pick up BREACH.


SCOTT PILGRIM VOL 2: SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD

Bryan Lee O’Malley: Creator
Oni Press: Publisher
Vroom Socko: Evil Ex-Boyfriend



There was a time, long, long ago, when independent comics (here meaning any comic not published by DC or Marvel,) were serious affairs. The intent was to forward the medium as genuine art, instead of just being colorful goofiness. Today, however, the Big Two are as serious as can be, with superheroes spending entire issues standing around in conversation, pondering things that seem very, very important. And those smaller publishers, they’re putting out some of the craziest, most insane shit you’ll ever see. And damn if it doesn’t make for a more interesting read.

Just look at SCOTT PILGRIM. There’s wild combat that ends in the victor winning a weapon that appears from nowhere, like a Mario Mushroom. Or there’s the catfight, between a delivery girl who travels through dreams and a knife-wielding schoolgirl. Or the recipe for vegan shepherd’s pie.

Vegan shepherd’s pie. You’ll never see that in any Countdown tie-in!

At its heart, though, the focus here is on the maturation of the title character. Poor Scott. He’s met the girl of his dreams, but he has a hard time dealing with her past relationships. Okay, his problem has less to do with inadequacy and more to do with the fact that all her ex-boyfriends are evil killers, but c’mon! That’s a comic book metaphor for the ages there. There’s also the requisite rite of passage that all guys go through at age 23: having your 17-year-old Catholic high school girlfriend go nuts and try to destroy your life.

What? Nobody else went through that? Just me? Okay…

*Ahem*

Bryan Lee O’Malley’s got a real winner on his hands here. Not only is his story out of this world, but his vibrant, expressive art compliments the wackiness to perfection. Just look at the fight scene in the reference library. It features dynamic action, quick paced panel progression, moments of story and character development, and an absolutely beautiful reference to the original Secret of Monkey Island game. MONKEY ISLAND, PEOPLE! That’s the good shit right there!

This book is insane, a mad crossbreeding of DRAGONBALL Z and BLUE MONDAY with laughs and fun galore. It’s easily the most entertaining comic I’ve read in almost a month. I’m already on pins and needles waiting for the next installment. So get out of the House and pick this up--missing out on it would be a real Crisis.


OZ: THE MANGA #1

Writer/Artist: David Hutchison
Publisher: Antarctic Press
Reviewed by Dave Farabee



There is no question of “improper” historians of Oz, if the one telling the tales loves the originals and does not seek to “update” the canon with the introduction of modern troubles.
--Harlan Ellison in his introduction to Eric Shanower’s Oz 1986 graphic novel, THE ENCHANTED APPLES OF OZ
That Ellison – sharp guy. And handy! In one line he eliminates my need to defend the existence of yet another interpretation of one of the most interpreted fairy tales of all time. ‘Course, the justification might not feel self-evident if you didn’t grow up with the land of Oz beyond the much-loved MGM musical, but I did. Read all fourteen of Frank Baum’s Oz books in my bright-eyed, bushy-tailed youth, was so influenced by Eric Shanower’s Oz graphic novels that one of the first comics I ever drew as a kid was a direct rip-off, enjoyed a young Fairuza Balk in RETURN TO OZ (as I snorted derisively at critics who didn’t realize the unexpectedly spooky flick was closer to the books than the musical ever was), and even remember with fondness an old Oz video game my brother programmed into his TI-99/4A computer…in Basic.

So, yeah, bit of a fan here. Show me an earnest Oz tribute and there’s a good chance I’ll like it (McFarlane’s “Twisted Oz” toys falling just short of the mark despite their “Oh, dear GOD!” iconoclasm).

OZ: THE MANGA?

Easily makes the cut.

First off, it’s more faithful than just about any other Oz adaptation I’ve seen. Look for line-for-line book dialogue throughout, the Wicked Witch of the East accurately sporting silver slippers instead of the movie’s ruby ones (girly accuracy, I realize, but accuracy nevertheless!), and even the right kind of hats on the Munchkins – wide-brimmed, pointed, bells on the tops of ‘em. Has me really looking forward to the weirde
Readers Talkback
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  • June 15, 2005, 7:47 p.m. CST

    This could've been my first first

    by El Vale

    Damn you FirstMan#01

  • June 15, 2005, 8:01 p.m. CST

    Ultimate Spiderman...

    by LeckoManiac

    was horrible this week...but I do agree that David's Incredible Hulk is awesome!!! Can't wait for the House of M tie-in that is coming in the next issue!

  • June 15, 2005, 8:11 p.m. CST

    God I hope comics return to the "old school" some day.

    by dr_dreadlocks

    I remember when comics were essentially a religion that we'd all follow... religiously? Sharp, ain't I? Anyway, the new comics are good but it's all too MTV for me now. Stories used to be king, but it seems like now it's just decoration for an artist. Although we still have the Miller's and the Moore's... I miss the old school. Strangely... I think Whedon is turning into one of the better comic writers lately. Having recently read his new X-Men work. It's some damn classy stuff. -- http://www.cafepress.com/thenewpulp

  • June 15, 2005, 8:12 p.m. CST

    Bendis

    by kuryakin

    I keep buying Ultimate Spider-man and Daredevil and keep throwing them down in disgust. And yet I keep going back to them. Why do I do this? Am I trying to punish myself for lies I told my mother? When the guy gets it right it is some of the most original and affecting writing in the medium and yet simultaneously he writes SO MUCH SHITE that I want to puke blood. This is not a healthy relationship

  • June 15, 2005, 8:28 p.m. CST

    Breach cover

    by MisterE

    Hey, I've never heard of "Breach" and won't buy it if I see it, but that cover isn't bad.

  • June 15, 2005, 8:52 p.m. CST

    kuryakin

    by Ribbons

    He can change, he can change, he can change, he promised this was the last time...;-)

  • June 15, 2005, 9:01 p.m. CST

    John Byrne is God

    by docfalken

    He could rock Kleenex boxes where his Jordan's are supposed to go, but I'd still go out and get any title he puts his pencilling in. He really defined the definitive look for so many of our favorite heroes. I just wish he'd fire up SoftImage and get us a 3D version of one of his characters. Even if the faces look the same, I love his look.

  • June 15, 2005, 9:19 p.m. CST

    It was my fault

    by kuryakin

    I made him hit me. God - I am Bendis' beaten wife. This site needs to give more coverage to people like David Mack - like Bendis in Powers he takes up ten pages of his comic with gushing praise from fans and pretentious twaddle from his own pen. Unlike Bendis, his pretentions are borne out with a truly beautiful product in KABUKI. Then again, maybe I'm being too hard on Bendis - I do genuinely like Powers. Kind of like Brian K Vaughan - Y:The Last Man and (my favourite) Ex Machina are comic book gold, while his Ultimate X-Men is boring and soulless. I guess you just need to get paid sometimes.......

  • June 15, 2005, 9:22 p.m. CST

    kuryakin Part II

    by Ribbons

    Glad to see I'm not the only one who's not amused by Vaughan's run on "Ultimate X-Men." ("But he mixes cheap characterization with action!")

  • June 15, 2005, 9:24 p.m. CST

    That said...

    by Ribbons

    ...the characters of Longshot and Mr. Sinister, or just "Sinister," were pretty well-conceived.

  • June 15, 2005, 9:36 p.m. CST

    Ultimate X-Men combines everything that is good and everything t

    by kuryakin

    The Apocalypse non-appearance, the whole "Proteus is a Rangers fan",the dead Beast, a non-wheelchair Xavier- these were excellent and unexpected changes. But the majority of this title makes me despair for the run as a whole - isn't this supposed to be a reinvention or something? They seem to be constantly curtailed by what has happened in the canon X-Men. The Ultimate Spder-Man run is even more guilty of this kind of shit. Let's shake the titles up a bit, that's the point of the Ultimate line.... Gay Spidey - that's what this OC lovin' world needs. "I couldn't kill Doc Ock - look at those beautiful tentacles"

  • June 15, 2005, 9:44 p.m. CST

    OZ comics-

    by RenoNevada2000

    Anyone else remember OZ SQUAD? I enjoyed that book, so of course it up and disappeared...

  • June 15, 2005, 9:49 p.m. CST

    Ultimate Spider-man, the book without a hero

    by El_Barstardo

    Seriously, apart from the occasional quater of an issue lame bank hiest foiling, when was the last time we saw spidey do something actually heroic? When was the last time we saw a villain who actually had a proper plan? Every story arc is the same, villain appears, has some sort of personal connection with Parker, they have a brawl, a third party comes in and helps end it. Doc Ock, the goblins, the symbiotes - do these guys actually ever do anything cleaver beyond 'oh, there is spider-man, I'm going to go hit him?'When was the last time we actually saw Spider-man foil some darstardly plot and save the world? King Pin is the only Villain in this book I can think of who actually had any sort of plan beyond killing spider-man. Spider-man is no hero in this book, it seems the Ultimates have totally nuetured him, and all he does is put on the costume to save his own skin. This book is nothing more than the OC with a few spiderman trimmings hastily tacked on. It's boring, and the quicker 'no ideas' Bendis leaves the title the better.

  • June 15, 2005, 10:31 p.m. CST

    Humphrey, I know you said you don't read these...

    by Fuzzyjefe

    But I still have to put it on the record: I totally disagree with your assessment that WE3 is a "quick read". I found that I took far longer to get through each issue of that book than just about any Bendis "talky-talky, no action" comic. The art in that comic is such an integral part of the story, you really need to take your time and savor it. WE3 really made me realize how many comics I simply "read", and don't take the time to digest what the art contributes. Maybe it's just because Quitely draws so pritty.

  • June 15, 2005, 10:39 p.m. CST

    WE3

    by kuryakin

    Plus I love kittens so I am happy whever they get in print. Especially if it means stink man die

  • June 15, 2005, 10:41 p.m. CST

    I agree with you El Barstardo

    by Fuzzyjefe

    EVERY DAMN villain in Ultimate Spider-man doesn't have to have a personal connection with Peter Parker. And why CAN'T Spidey ever take out a villain on his own? And don't you think Peter should find a little joy when he puts on the costume? Sometimes? Once? All it seems like is "Spider-man is such a drag. My life sucks in every respect. I curse you, genetically engineered spider." It really sucks that the biggest "ultimization" is that Peter Parker is NEVER, EVER, ever-ever-ever happy. Ever. Let him be a super-hero sometimes. It is a super-hero book.

  • June 15, 2005, 10:44 p.m. CST

    That cat was a complete asshole.

    by Fuzzyjefe

    I loved it. And what beats a cyber-rabbit that shits bombs? What, I say?

  • June 15, 2005, 10:49 p.m. CST

    Zantanna is forgiven

    by Fantomex

    I hate the way women are drawn in comics (and usually hate the way they're portrayed). I mean, I REALLY hate it, it distracts from the comic. It brings down the entire medium. But Zantanna doesn't bother me because she's Zantanna. I just can't put it any other way. She gets a pass because she does, period. However this is by far my least favorite Seven Soldiers, probably because I am at least somewhat familiar with Zantanna but not enough to really understand the character. She was in that episode of Batman where she didn't have any powers, I've read a few of her cameos in semi-recent JLA, and of course her huge continuing role in all things Identity Crisis (which means every single DC book right now). Morrison's Zantanna isn't ANY of these characters, which I find somewhat annoying. The first issue read like "Morisson unleashed" which I really don't like (thankfully the entire seven soldiers line doesn't have this problem). The second issue just fell flat. The talk for awhile, she fights the guy, he gets trapped in a mirror (or something). Superhero great review of JLA, I agree completely that DC has written themselves into a corner, and if they're able to reconcile everything it will be really good. I'm beginning to think this is why Identity Crisis ultimately didn't deliver for me, I was expecting a beginning, a middle, and an end. It was only the begining. For better or worse.

  • June 15, 2005, 11:23 p.m. CST

    Se

    by El Vale

    You know my favourite reviews are the sort of spoilerish ones. These are all reviews of comics i'm not able to read so i like being a little masochistic and discovering MORE stuff that i wish i could buy, just so i can cry myself to sleep. Most positive reviews tend to...pretty much claim the reviewer dug what he read, but the ones that actually give examples, right out of the pages and not by claiming it's better than most comics out there, tend to sell me on the books. Me, i'd never think of picking up a She-Hulk comic, but even since i read some ghost showed up to testify during his own murder trial, i've been itching to. Same thing happens with Goon this time around. The thing about the zombie putting on a human mask is hilarious and i can add another comic to my wishlist now. On another subject, i'm getting tired of all the Marvel bashing everywhere i go, not cause it's not earned (i don't really know) but because it stopped being funny a while back. In fact i'm hoping Marvel bashing rises to an all time high and EVERYONE starts doing it, so it becomes fashionable to like Marvel again or something. I've been noticing comic book reviewers (i'm speaking in general terms, not directing it to the @$$holes)tend to do a lot of generalizing, which is always a shame. There's a very sharp line separating people who like dark and "ralistic" superhero comics and people who hate them (altho for the sake of argument i would point out i've never read ONE reviewer claim to actually like dark and "realistic" superhero comics). Way it sounds in most reviews (emphasis on the word most, because some are gonna call me on generalizing, and thus exercising the exact same thing i'm questioning) "realistic" writing and drawing in a superhero book simply sucks balls. Superheroes are all about sense of wonder after all, something that i agree with on ocasion. But if you claim this to be absolute truth then you're negating brilliant work that's been done and that's BEING done. Miracleman, Watchmen, Year one, Born again come to mind, and also for my tastes-and i know i'm gonna be hung from my ballsack for saying it- Bendis and maleev's Daredevil. And tons more that don't come to mind right away. So emphasis should be made on GOOD superhero comics, be them dar or imaginative, and not the tone they're written in, because frankly the more comics you like, the better and i believe anyone can agree with me on that. I've read so many "This was an artist born to draw superhero comics, because his style, tho simplistic, is not cartoony and certainly not the ultra realistic crap that tends to dominate the market today", but every time Ultimates comes out, i don't hear anyone saying Hitch sucks because of his ultra realism. Hitch is just a brilliant artist and i like his art as much as i like Eduardo Risso, as much as i like Quitely, as much as i like Cameron Stewart. Variety in artistc styles and execution, this is ingrained and explusive to the art of comics, and something everyone should appreciate. I'm glad there's a comic like Bendis' Daredevil out there, as much as something like The Goon. And i wish there's people who adore both. I really do. And to close this off, i have a question. You see i don't really get all this emphasis on continuity that i read. I mean...say Cyclops gets his balls blown up in Astonishing X-Men and then he shows up in Millar's Wolverine title, in all his testicled glory. Sure it's inconsistent, but it's two writer's vision of the character, and distinct it should be. why is this an issue?

  • June 15, 2005, 11:24 p.m. CST

    El Bastardo and Fuzzyjefe just made me nostalgic for fledgling "

    by Ribbons

    Remember when Spidey decided to take down the Kingpin? It was clickin' on all cylinders back then. Complicated villains, initiative by Spider-Man, none of this S.H.I.E.L.D. intervention crap where Nick Fury says "go home, kid," mwah. Best of all? "You big fat fatty of a fat man." Ahhhh....the good old days.

  • June 15, 2005, 11:28 p.m. CST

    El Vale

    by Ribbons

    I agree. I don't really collect enough comics to know whether the divide between Marvel fans and the rest of the world is warranted, but it gets pretty tiresome. Not only that, but a lot of times it's uncalled for and not even particularly funny. Prof. Challenger, who I gather thinks he's a fairly bright man, jokingly refers to them as "Marble" on numerous occasions. Oh, my sides.

  • June 15, 2005, 11:32 p.m. CST

    Ultimate Spidey

    by El_Barstardo

    The biggest problem I see, Fuzzyjefe, is that Bendis has given the Ultimates, espectially Fury, too much focus in USM, rather than have them just Cameo like characters use to do in the old Stan Lee comics. Sure it makes for somewhat better continuity, but the problem with this approach is it means we really don't need spider-man (or the X-men for that matter) since the Ultimates are so much better at saving the world. He has painted himself into a corner - if Doc Ock creates a doomsday device and threatens to blow up the U.S., why would spidey get involved when the Ultimates are so much more capable. Spidey is pointless in the greater scheme of things, which seems to be why the only things he fights are 3rd rate bank robbers or over used 'personal connection' villains. Stan Lee's 'ignor the existence of other heros when it suits the plot' approach was much better.

  • June 15, 2005, 11:38 p.m. CST

    I think you've hit on it there Ribbons..

    by Fuzzyjefe

    Spidey has become far too reactive. I think he could be portrayed as a little more proactive. This is a guy who has been bullied and made fun of for much of his high school career. Shouldn't putting on the costume be his outlet for blowing off steam, cutting loose a little? Instead, he's traded Flash & Kong for Nick Fury and Daredevil. It's time for Ultimate Spidey to stir some shit up. At least he finally belted Fury.

  • June 15, 2005, 11:44 p.m. CST

    Another valid point there Barstardo.

    by Fuzzyjefe

    But I think the way to work out of that particular corner is to make Spidey finally decide that he's had it with taking crap from EVERYONE, not just Flash, etc. Hopefully, Bendis is getting little help with that, if the Ultimates title is headed the direction I HOPE it's headed: with the Ultimates severing ties with the government, and a huge round of cutbacks in SHIELD. Time will tell. If not, I can rest easy knowing Bendis ain't on board forever. Right....?

  • June 15, 2005, 11:45 p.m. CST

    "Bendis delivered 70+ great comics for this title ..."

    by El_Barstardo

    I disagree with this. Lets work backwards - Hobgoblin ended up being a total rehash of the second Green Goblin Arc, complete with Mary Jane break up and fury intervention. The superstars arc (wolvie, Johnny S and Dr Strange) were a total waste of time. The Carnage arc was utter shit, with one of the worst charcater deaths I have ever read (no comparison to the classic version). The Holywood arc with the spider-man film was a cute idea that went nowhere. Before that I think was the not too bad kingpin arc. The venom arc was little more than a pointless character origin that again went nowhere... This book has been struggling for ages. Its a damn shame because it started out so fucking good - the first arc was a great intro, the kingpin arc was fucking awsome with brilliant character growth, the doc ock / kraven arc was actually cleaver and featured villains with motivations and plans - something which would later become rare. The second goblin arc was great, the spidey imposter was great, even Geldoff was cool until the ending (and whatever happened to him?) Then all at once BAM! It was like Bendis ran out of ideas. And it seems like the funk is lasting. This book is now worse than the second half of MM's run of ultimate X-men (another book that started great and then went to shit, not inproving to Vaughn jumped on.)

  • June 15, 2005, 11:52 p.m. CST

    A question:

    by Fuzzyjefe

    Does anyone here know for sure if the big "Crossover" arc in Ultimate FF will indeed involve the regular Marvel U? Is it a sure thing? And if so, WHY? Why dammit?

  • June 16, 2005, 12:48 a.m. CST

    I Feel Continuity Is Important Because...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...in most cases, the writers or artists on the books at the big two did not create the characters they are using. They are being deservedly well paid to use existing characters that some readers have already experienced. If you love comics, once you've read a story about a character, that character is as much yours as it is anyone's who didn't create it. Here's a secret about comics, more true with the writing than the art...the guys doing it aren't that different from any us. Most of us could probably give it a go. It also shows that the writer and artist cares about the medium, the characters, the fans and other creators. That's important in comics. If they don't care, the artform that we love is going to suffer. As fans or critics, we don't owe these guys anything. They owe us.

  • June 16, 2005, 12:55 a.m. CST

    Actually

    by Ribbons

    I liked the little Johnny Storm two-parter. The "Hollywood" story sucked big ones. The Carnage arc was actually the good idea that ended up going nowhere. And I thought the Dr. Strange story was good too. I enjoyed the depiction of Peter's nightmares (sufficiently creepy) and the end, where he locked himself in his basement, was sobering. Not sure the story earned it though. But there have been too many characters introduced, all having something to do with Peter, and summarily killed, and the series overall has been pretty directionless ever since that Geldoff arc. Little episodes in the life of an adolescent brat, over and over and over. I'd be more accepting of it if Peter's life wasn't a reaction to everything that was happening to him. If the only source of angst in his life is the responsibility of being Spider-Man, if it's the only thing he ever thinks about, why does he keep putting on the damn suit? And I think I've heard Nick Fury say "go home, kid" about three times too many.

  • June 16, 2005, 2:04 a.m. CST

    John Byrne IS God!

    by Zardoz

    Or at least one of them! He's the reason I started reading the X-Men back in the heyday and his work on that series with Claremont and Austin remains one of the best runs on ANY comic book, EVER! I loved his Superman and FF arcs and he's one of the only writer/artists whose books I buy without hesitation. Start reading his current work on Doom Patrol and The Demon, right now, if you haven't already. One complaint: I sure as heck wish he'd continue his Next Men series, as it ended on a tiny bit of a cliffhanger...

  • June 16, 2005, 3:27 a.m. CST

    John Byrne is God?

    by El Vale

    It's a good time to be an atheist, people!

  • June 16, 2005, 8:42 a.m. CST

    "Wondrously Creative Fight Scene"???!!!???

    by Squashua

    Ambush Bug, what are you, gay or sarcastic???

  • June 16, 2005, 9:43 a.m. CST

    ult spidey

    by Shigeru

    This used to be my favorite book on the market. I still get it but I too feel he needs to get back on track... My opinion: The 2 Wolvie issues were great, that last line was CLASSIC and had me rolling. Doc Strange arc was pretty good, again a great ending. The Torch arc's finest moment was when they went off to be heroes after meeting at the park and Spiday was like "THAT is what it's all about". I would like to see the book get back to more great core stuff like that... anyways....

  • June 16, 2005, 10:03 a.m. CST

    John Byrne IS God

    by Voice O. Reason

    Self-important guy who once did amazing things, but now just sits back and lets shit happen without him.

  • June 16, 2005, 10:05 a.m. CST

    Alan Keyes rally?!

    by YO MOM'S GOAT

    Hey look, I used to be an Alan Keyes guy myself but I've got mixed feelings on that review... I don't know whether or not to be happy that there is actually someone willing admit they're down with AK or be pissed off that the only person on AICN that admits being down with AK is reviewing a Mr. T comic book. Still, Mr. T's a good guy, I guess I can't hate. I pity the foo that voted for Lamar Alexander, ya heard?!

  • June 16, 2005, 10:15 a.m. CST

    Question of the Week : Which are the best ongoing SF comics?

    by Gus Nukem

    NOT superhero tainted (a la Ultimate Fantastic Four). Regular old Science Fiction, like Arthur Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert and William Gibson. Of course these comics should be currently ongoing releases (new stuff) and not re-releases/collections. I 'd prefer the writer had a clue what he was writing (ie he has a scientific education/background). From American comics, I'd say Ultimate Iron Man (so far nothing to do with the Marvel universe) and the upcoming Parallax Man from El Capitan (not ongoing), but it should be a fine SF comic. It goes without saying that French and Japanese comics would kick ass all over this query any day of the month - but I don't know much about them.

  • June 16, 2005, 11:33 a.m. CST

    I'd like to suggest everyone here pick up the newest issue o

    by rev_skarekroe

    It's a Will Eisner tribute, and worth reading (even if you don't care about Cerebus).

  • June 16, 2005, 11:36 a.m. CST

    Marvel's "Ultimate" comics suck ASS.

    by Jar Jar 4 Prez

    That's a simple fact.

  • June 16, 2005, 12:49 p.m. CST

    Judd Winnick is a Hack... AGAIN (re: OUTSIDERS)

    by Squashua

    Prof. Challenger, I wonder if you read last week's talkbacks because I professed the exact same sentiment about "The Insiders". I compared the Teen Titans "The Insiders" issue to the Outsiders "The Insiders" issue. My major complaint was that with Titans, ANYONE could have picked up the issue without knowing anything or anyone. Geoff Johns did an excellent writing job, explaining who everyone was. Maybe I missed 1 person. Boo hoo. In Outsiders, you MAYBE knew who Indigo was from the exposition at the start, otherwise NOTHING. Hell, the artist and writer didn't even let on that Starfire (whom was never directly named) was even in the area. You HAD to have read prior issues of the series. I too, having been fooled YET AGAIN, will continue to not pick up anything Winnick writes. Maybe one day I can get on a reality show and win a job with DC Comics.

  • June 16, 2005, 12:49 p.m. CST

    Hey, Buzz....

    by bizarromark

    ....great review of Simone & Byrne's "Action Comics". Your analysis of both Simone and Byrne was spot-on, as were your observations on how good their collaboration has panned-out.....despite their undeniable "odd couple" status. Finally, a Superman comic book with more of the straight-forward adventure story I've always preferred with minimal (or nonexistant) hand-wringing and thumbsucking from Superman._____Regarding the Perez F.F. collection, I *also* won't be buying it since....like you...I *also* own all of the original issues. Great stuff all around, and a fun look back at some of Perez's earliest professional work.....made even more enjoyable by the sublime inking of Joe Sinnott...who can make ANYone look good. Vince Colletta, on the other hand (the inker for the Hulk 2-parter) could make almost anyone look BAD. Happily, he didn't end up inking too much of Perez' stuff....which could have killed-off the young turk's career!

  • June 16, 2005, 4:18 p.m. CST

    Scott Pilgrim Rocks

    by monsieur_verdoux

    thanks for giving this guy Mal some attention. This is, without a doubt, the best indie book currently being published. And it's going to be a movie soon. The director of Shawn of the Dead (forget his name) has signed on to direct. Yesterday was a great day for comics. With SP 2 and GLA #3 (the only Marvel-esque book currently being produced from Quesada/Bendis productions), I had great reading material for the night.

  • June 16, 2005, 4:36 p.m. CST

    John Byrne is ZOD!

    by vroom socko

    Well SOMEONE had to say it!

  • June 16, 2005, 8:06 p.m. CST

    "Nobody fucks with the Batman."

    by JarJarIsVader

    HA! Great line. I hope Bats really does fuckem up. They should make the animated series like the JLA arc Tower of Babel. When Al-Ghul had all the secrets from Batman and took out the JL.

  • June 16, 2005, 8:42 p.m. CST

    indeed

    by blackthought

    i'd like to see batman wipe out the whole jla for kicks.

  • Pent up hostility much? Hey, I'm not asking for SUPERFRIENDS here - just seems weird to me. Seems like the junior high kid with the Punisher fixation, convinced that Punisher's cooler than everyone else cuz he fuckin' BLOWS SCUMBAGS AWAY! It's all well and good when you're just a dumb kid tripping on anti-establishment power fantasies, but when I hear it from adults...

  • June 16, 2005, 10:41 p.m. CST

    pent up hostility......

    by blackthought

    only when one reads moviemacks reviews...what are the thoughts on the dark dectective run right now?

  • June 16, 2005, 11:16 p.m. CST

    Power Girl and 1985.

    by Bahimiron

    I'm surprised that the Prof is really that thick. I'm pretty sure that Power Girl feeling something odd in 1985 has less to do with Breach than it does with a little thing called the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. I could be wrong!

  • June 17, 2005, 12:49 a.m. CST

    My favorite CrossGen comic was "Ruse"

    by Ribbons

    Although I stopped reading after issue #8. I'd liken it to Fox's TV show "House," although it could be completely biting from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I'd be none the wiser. But I read a retrospective of Sherlock Holmes in the New York Times last month and I noticed similarities between the character and Dr. House, so I guess the comparison still works. Anyway, brisk, entertaing read, especially if you dig the whole Victorian aesthetic, which I do, and shamelessly. Interesting how DC and Marvel scoffed at CrossGen when they've now harvested most of their more talented artists.

  • June 17, 2005, 12:58 a.m. CST

    I don't think anyone really wants Bats to take out the Leagu

    by superhero

    But you've gotta admit...he DOES have a justifiable gripe doen't he? I STILL think this is a nigh impossible situation for the current writers of the DCU to deal with. I mean how do you trust ANYONE who's supposed to be watching your back but wipes your mind clean? That situation is FUBAR beyond belief! I also sort of don't buy that Bats created the OMAC satellite because he figured out that the League mind-wiped him. Does this mean that he began compiling information on the League all those JLA issues back BECAUSE he realised way back when what they had done? This whole thing has completely just opened up a verrrryyy interesting can of worms. Oh, and I hope John Byrne doen't get pissed at me for using "Bats" instead of Batman...:O)

  • June 17, 2005, 1:52 a.m. CST

    re: And if the villains all remember everyone

    by Ribbons

    Duh. Just kill 'em all.

  • June 17, 2005, 2:37 a.m. CST

    I cannot take credit for this post

    by Fantomex

    A few talkbacks ago I said something along the lines of "the reason certain people hate what DC is doing is because they see it as a need for current comic writers/fans to retcon the funny/happy times of yester-year" or something fairly close to that, and someone chimed in "It also seems like the reveal in Identity Crisis was designed to explain why Batman has been such a huge ass all these years." It all makes sense now :-p. Seriously is there anyone that isn't annoyed with asshole batman by now? Now that we know why maybe he can start the road to recovery.

  • June 17, 2005, 4:31 a.m. CST

    Sure, Bats has a gripe...

    by Dave_F

    I just can't take it seriously. It's so contrived, based on so many out-of-character moments for the JLA, based on such an undermining of characters forged over decades...that I can only sort of shake my head in pity for what DC is becoming. It's almost as if they used the whole Green Lantern/Parallax storyline as their template. Wonder if that means it'll take ten years to retcon all this stuff too? ***** As for the Bats/JLA sitch being untenable...nah. I'm sure Geoff "Gone to the Dark Side" Johns will write a sufficiently emotional scene in which the JLA heart-to-heart it with Batman, ask him to imagine the lengths *he'd* go to protect Robin (or somesuch), and with emotions raw after many a story of heroes facing death, torture and rape (bet there's a good year of such dramatics), the heroes will reforge their alliances. And they'll be stronger than ever! "By god, we all survived being fucked in the ass by C-grade fin-head, Dr. Light! With sphincters clenched and hand in hand, we stand...TOGETHER!" Is that cynical? I mean, I might be wrong, though. It might be TWO years of death, torture 'n' rape before we reach that point.

  • June 17, 2005, 4:38 a.m. CST

    RUSE was really good, at least up until Waid left.

    by Dave_F

    Come to think of it, I think that RUSE might've been the only Mark Waid comic I've ever really enjoyed. Figures it'd be the one where they ran him off, eh? Brilliant art from Butch Guice, too. For all CrossGen's fuck ups, you could really see that their best artists were having the time of their life getting to draw material outside of superheroes. It was as if they'd been unshackled. Steve Epting and Butch Guice in particular probably hit their respective career highlights with EL CAZADOR and RUSE.

  • June 17, 2005, 4:52 a.m. CST

    Hey, Reno, what was the skinny on OZ SQUAD?

    by Dave_F

    I think I almost bought that book a few times, but I was always a little too purist. Speaking of such stuff, though, if you flip through PREVIEWS, you'll find about *three* new spins on OZ running right now - all small press, all weirdly revisionist. I suspect many of the concepts are probably cribbed from OZ SQUAD with the fairy tale characters gone all badass and/or AMERICAN MCGEE'S ALICE, but not a one looks to be home to any degree of craftsmanship. Weirdly, the Japanese spin has produced the only Oz-related comic that seems to have any real love for and fidelity to the source material. Hope it continues to be good. Reminds me a bit of the hugely faithful manga STAR WARS adaptations that Dark Horse put out in the '90s. I HEART those things to pieces.

  • So sez El_Bastardo of ULT. SPIDER-MAN, and not that I disagree with the assessment of the book, but it almost sounds like he can imagine the book without Bendis. I'll say this: I've been a fan of the book, I've been a non-fan of the book, but I've always thought of it as 100% Bendis' baby. Is there really a point to it continuing if and when he leaves?

  • June 17, 2005, 5:12 a.m. CST

    Best sci-fi comics?

    by Dave_F

    Man, I can barely think of any true sci-fi books that aren't written by Warren Ellis, and I'm pretty sure that dude fudges a lot of stuff. I guess the new Vertigo book, TRIGGER, qualifies. Couldn't get into its obvious 1984/BRAVE NEW WORLD vibe, though. Y: THE LAST man, maybe? Surely that counts as speculative fiction, lack of laser guns and cute robots notwithstanding. It's pretty good. A little shakey lately, but pretty good. Beyond that...what? I like the manga PLANETES, which is pretty realistic sci-fi about colonizing the solar system under realistic conditions in the near future. Best story in that book was the one about the chick desperate to find a cigarette on a lunar base. Hey, that's practically a Warren Ellis concept! Anyway I've only read two volumes of PLANETES, so I need to play catch up on it at some point. If I had to pick a fave sci-fi comic, though, it's still manga: NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF WIND. It's comicdom's DUNE, baby! And I've read a few French sci-fi comics, too. They made my head hurt.

  • June 17, 2005, 5:14 a.m. CST

    DARK DETECTIVE, Blackthought?

    by Dave_F

    I gave up reading it after issue two. Sometimes you can't go home, y'know? And it's kind of sad if you try to and can't find the way.

  • June 17, 2005, 5:20 a.m. CST

    Prof, yer all wrong on the SEVEN SOLDIERS books!

    by Dave_F

    Zatanna's purt good, but it's actually the *least* of 'em! KLARION, my man, that's the top of the heap. Imaginative, otherworldly...brilliant. Plus it's got what might be the best comic book art of the year. Next comes GUARDIAN, the most classicist of the bunch (and by classicist, I mean '60s Stan Lee style). After that, SHINING KNIGHT or ZATANNA, and I'm inclined to put ZATANNA last just because it's...well...my inclination. S'all good, though. You should look into KLARION. ******* Sidebar: props to Fantomex for calling Zatanna "Zantanna." It's one of my favorite slips ups, always cracks me up. Weird thing is, Carlos Santana's "Black Magic Woman" works pretty great as a Zatanna theme song. Alan Moore level synchronicity, I've no doubt!

  • June 17, 2005, 5:28 a.m. CST

    "a concept that the rest of the Marvel line is desperately lacki

    by chien_sale

    Fuck You, Ambush! Damn geek you should suck Goeff Johns`cock and masturbate on Disney!

  • June 17, 2005, 7 a.m. CST

    Question of the Week ...

    by Gus Nukem

    " I 'd prefer the writer had a clue what he was writing (ie he has a scientific education/background) " - I was trying to exclude comics from Warren Ellis from my search ; he freely admits {1.no scientific background & 2.to ripping concepts off the latest pop scientific magazines}. These last facts have turned me off from his scripts ; his valiant effort to write quality SF comics in the mainstream remains a fact. I, however, was looking for something more sophisticated (and closer to classic SF literature - plot wise).

  • June 17, 2005, 7:22 a.m. CST

    Age of Bronze comics bibliography ...

    by Gus Nukem

    How many volumes have been released so far? #20 was just released. One-shots/spin-offs? Any collections to recommend? Has everything released-so-far been collected?

  • June 17, 2005, 9:33 a.m. CST

    Bendis is Jesus???

    by grendelson138

    "Like him or not, he (Bendis) is the biggest force in comics today..." ----- How you mean greatest? I guess it's all opinion, but Morrison has ruled and will rule Bendis' ass until the end of time. Bendis has a hit or two for Marbel and he's Jesus? Morrison has written almost every genre of comics, and succeeded at most of them. JLA, X-Men, Invisibles, Doom Patrol, Arkham Asylum, Flex Mentallo, LDK, WE3, Sebastian O....the fucking list is endless. And, Gaiman and Moore on bad days are better writers than Bendis can ever hope to be. I hope that's not the opinion of all the Assholes.

  • June 17, 2005, 9:44 a.m. CST

    Dave:

    by Shigeru

    so I guess you didn't like MW's Kingdom Come huh? Bummer cause I thought it was fairly spiffy. And as a new-DC fan that is so far digging the Crisis stuff, could you make an analogy using a Marvel character that's equatable to the "out-of-character" stuff the JLA did? That's why I liked Marvel in the first place, their heroes were people too, who bickered and screwed up and shit like that. Ah well.

  • June 17, 2005, 12:19 p.m. CST

    DC Stuff

    by Homer Sexual

    I am feeling a tad let down by my latest issue of Klarion, though it isn't bad, none of the Seven Soldiers are. They're just not as good as the initial Seven Soldiers, or the first issues of Klarion and Shining Knight. I just think it's all drugggg ooouuuttt toooo loooonnngggg. And as far as Batman the a-hole, I actually find him tedious in pretty much all comic incarnations at this point, definitely prefer to read Nightwing. One thing I do believe about DC, is that while they treat their characters with "respect," all the havok wreaked will impact lesser lights and the biggies will maintain their status quo. Jean Loring is Eclipso! Yee-ha! The icons will be unscathed when all is said and done, I bet.

  • June 17, 2005, 12:50 p.m. CST

    I meant how does DC plan on getting out of the Identity Crisis s

    by superhero

    And ,no offense, Dave but if DC does do what you suggested...that's be REALLY crappy. Although you're probably dead on at this point. If they all make friends and be happy after surviving an incredible onslaught of supervillain manicness...then that's lame. Lame, lame, lame. I hope they planned a backdoor exit for this when they came up with the concept in the first place...but probably not. Oh, and Planetes is AMAZING. Fantastic manga. Full of heart and great characterization. Great, great stuff. And purty art to boot.

  • June 17, 2005, 1:29 p.m. CST

    Crisis resolution

    by Shigeru

    Doesn't this whole infinite crisis thing seemed way too planned out beforehand and organized for the main scribes to write themselves into a corner? I bet they wrote the ending a LONG time ago, and they planned the entire thing out before a single issue hit shelves.

  • June 17, 2005, 1:33 p.m. CST

    Here comes Zannnntanna

    by Fantomex

    Argh that is one of those things I learned wrong and will never unlearn. I will always type out Zantanna, even though I call her "Zatanna". I was suprised (pleasantly so) with the direction Morrison took Klarion in the latest issue. He isn't disregarding the fact that Klarion is a villian. And the rat king? That's awesome. I wasn't pleasantly suprised with Battle Hymn, which I could have swore was going to do something amazingly unexpected after the first two rather good issues, but at this point its just retreading old ground thats been done before.

  • June 17, 2005, 1:54 p.m. CST

    I always wonder about the extreme reaction many fans have to the

    by JonQuixote

    Is it because DC presented it as a great big betrayal of the JLA's ideals, complete with action pissed-off Batman? Is it because we're just used to black and white silver age morality where our heroes *always* make the right (right = most good) choice, with their pristine morality shielding them from any consequences from that choice? *** 'Cause maybe it's just me and the fact that I've read DAREDEVIL so I know the shit that can happen, but if I'm Superman and Parasite finds out my secret identity and says "I'm gonna use it to hit you where it hurts"...I'm thinking the memorywipe is the way to go. Is it really that much more morally grey than beating the fuck out of a bad guy once a month? *** And - for the record - where was the moral outrage in the fanbase when Superman uses his tongue to mindwipe Lois Lane after he reveals his identity to her and nails her? *** Yeah, based on the SUPERMAN II example, I'm thinking the outrage is probably 75% based on the fact that DC is presenting it as controversial, and we'd only hear the occasional whimper if the superhero consensus was that this was the right thing to do, or at least not that big a deal at all (the way supervillains are often imprisoned under heavy sedation or in suspended animation or any other number of 'cruel & unusual' punishments).

  • June 17, 2005, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Yummy ass raping

    by El Vale

    All this talk about ID Crisis kinda has me curious and now i want to read it. Sounds real dark and ass-rapey and since i have no love or respect for these characters' history and blah blah i might as well enjoy it...on one basis: Is it any good? Is it technically well written and well drawn, and not without it's share of great moments? Is it worth spending my money on? And about Ult. Spidey: I never got past the 3rd issue because i just couldn't stand the damn ugly art. It was like wading through those early Invisibles issues with the Jill Thompson art, it was that painful. And it seems i'm the only one who thinks Bagley sucks. Anyone here share my opinion?

  • June 17, 2005, 3 p.m. CST

    Cassandra Craft

    by Gislef_crow

    Nobody identified her yet? She was the Phantom Stranger's "girlfriend" in his old Jim Aparo-drawn series back in the day. Blonde haired, usually dressed in a purple pantsuit. So if the Phantom Stranger also appears in Z #2, and there's a hint of her personal life, yeah, she would be involved too.

  • And JonQuixote, I think you summed it up in your Crisis post, bravo. Don't forget Superman mindwiped some british dude a while back with his heat vision, right?? Through his eyeballs?

  • June 17, 2005, 3:46 p.m. CST

    You misunderstand, Grendelson.

    by SleazyG.

    The point wasn't really about who was a *better* writer. That's why it said "like him or not". Yes, I prefer Morrison in many ways. Yes, Morrison is a more diverse, heady, intellectual writer. Yes, he deserves far more credit and attention than he receives. The truth is, though, that Bendis currently wields far more influence in the comics field than anyone else. He also wields that power over several of the top-selling characters and titles, making his influence appear even greater than it actually is. Many of us find this to be unhealthy and troubling, but it's still pretty hard to deny.

  • June 17, 2005, 4:13 p.m. CST

    Yeah dumbass!

    by El Vale

    "Biggest" and "Greatest" are two different words

  • June 17, 2005, 4:15 p.m. CST

    The ID Crisis fallout

    by Ribbons

    I probably enjoyed Identity Crisis a good deal more than some people here, but one thing I agree with is that DC may have written themselves into a corner. Okay, "heroes don't always make good decisions and wear pristine white clothing, yadda yadda." The point is, they mindwiped a teammate. How do you work with someone, knowing that? And how do they work with you, knowing that? Even after some good ol' armageddon and a caffeine-fueled group therapy, it wouldn't be a normal environment. It's more like slight-of-hand in that it makes the issue seem less controversial and easier to dismiss from the audience's perspective, but from the characters,' it's still a problem.

  • June 17, 2005, 5:40 p.m. CST

    Damn, Sleazy Beat Me To It.

    by Buzz Maverik

    I can't speak for Bug, but I will anyway. If you look at his past reviews of Bendis comics and if you've seen the hate mail he's gotten and the posts about his reviews on the Bendis Board, you'd know that Bug definitely doesn't think Bendis is the greatest writer. But I think others would also be wrong to think that Bug or any of us regular @$$hole reviewers hate Bendis. Even Bug has given Bendis some positive reviews when he has felt they were warranted. Bendis is Marvel's go-to-guy. With HOUSE OF M, Quesada has given him the keys to the Universe. And looking at it from Quesada's perspective (not MINE or YOURS) it makes sense. Bendis has proven himself reliable and has sold a lot of comic books. A lot of fans love Bendis' work and by all accounts he's a great guy (can't take criticism for shit, but neither can I so who am I to talk?). The things Bendis is good at, he's very good at. But there are things he can't do at all, so an unofficial policy has arisen of dismissing the importance of pacing, action, variety, etc. It gets out through the Internet and pretty soon you see fan postings of all these justifications and rationalizations ("Daredevil was never an action book"??!!!!? or "You want 30 pages of fights"!!??!!). I see some changes. Marvel books have gotten more out of this formula since Jemas got fired. We're getting more variety over there. Personally, I'll be having when Quesada's rein is over because I think he's coasted by as good cop to others playing the bad cop. I really think they have a whole crop of editors, lead by Axel Alonso, who don't like comic books, don't like superheroes but are working for a company that only publishes comics in the superhero genre. Bendis, at least, likes comics and superheroes, or he did at one time. The problem is that a lot of things that were innovations 5 or 6 years ago are now formula. THE INCREDIBLE HULK was formula when Jones was writing it and Alonso was editing it. It started out as fresh and interesting, but since that worked, they never toyed with it and they killed it off. Now, as for Grant Morrison, he's currently my personal favorite writer but he'd be stupid to say one writer is greater than another. Morrison's writing interests me, he seems to be a bold guy, unwilling to coast. I can't help but admire that. The writers I like such as Morrison, Gail Simone, Alan Moore tend to change, to challenge themselves. They won't let themselves stagnate. Alan Moore, along with Miller, was one of the fathers of grim 'n' gritty. So he creates the ABC line which are fun comics but from a current, wry perspective. Gail Simone is known as a writer of wacky humor in superhero comics, so she tones that down. Sadly, none of these people are working for Marvel on any kind of regular basis. I think a big reason may be that Marvel won't let them grow.

  • June 17, 2005, 5:57 p.m. CST

    We Don't Have An Edit Feature Here, Do We?

    by Buzz Maverik

    Where I said "having" I meant "happy". And I don't think Grant Morrison would be dumb to say he was the greatest writer, I think anybody would be dumb to say anyone was the greatest writer. You know what I mean. You're all bright people and I have a lot of faith in you.

  • June 17, 2005, 6:55 p.m. CST

    Grant Morrison seems to be a bald guy

    by El Vale

    That Morrison guy, he sure can write. I hope he doesn't have Superman ass-raped by Luthor in his All-Star jail story, cause DC editorial would give him 30 books to write every month and then everyone would start hating him. And also, Axel fucking Alonso doesn't like comic books?! Did he say so himself? Dude edited my all time favourite comic book...and he doesn't even like the damn things? There is no God.

  • June 17, 2005, 9:01 p.m. CST

    hmmmmmm....

    by blackthought

    time to go watch batman begins again.

  • June 17, 2005, 11:51 p.m. CST

    you do that ...

    by Gus Nukem

    while I reign supreme here. LAST! (How many times have you watched it so far?)

  • June 18, 2005, 10:45 a.m. CST

    I've seen Batman Begins twice (in a 24 hour period)

    by JonQuixote

    The last time I did that was with SPIDER-MAN. The time before that...IN THE COMPANY OF MEN (not a porno).

  • June 18, 2005, 10:53 a.m. CST

    oh gus

    by blackthought

    you shall not reign supreme...to my knowledge you have yet to last last me...LAST!...and so far batman begins has been devoured twice by these eyes...and soon more.

  • June 21, 2005, 8:12 a.m. CST

    Anybody still reading this?

    by grendelson138

    Probably not...but I don't think anyone is the greatest...or biggest for that matter....writer in comics. It's just weird to me that some people think Bendis is so huge when he's just churned out certain titles for one company. Especially when there are writers who have redefined (and continue to redefine) what comics are and will be in the future. It just seemed short sided to call him the biggest. He's writing one genre for one company. Maybe he could be comics biggest one-trick pony?

  • June 21, 2005, 8:14 a.m. CST

    or "short sighted"...

    by grendelson138

    for all you typing nazis out there. Eat it.

  • June 23, 2005, 10:39 a.m. CST

    Return of teh King ...

    by Gus Nukem

    aka LAST!

  • July 16, 2005, 3:43 p.m. CST

    "teh" is worse than "the hell"

    by The Heathen

    last is sooo much easier than being first. It just takes dedication, which Gus and blackthought DEFINITELY have, I'm just taking advantage of boredom