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#12 8/3/05 #4

Salutations, compadres! Ambush Bug here and I’m dressed all in black. It’s been a while since we required an intro for this here column of ours, but I think this one warrants it. For the first time in…well…ever, we have more reviews of indie books than mainstream books. Sure, Wildstorm is part of DC, but still, there is a significant lack of stuff from the Big Two in this column. Does that mean that the @$$holes have packed up their capes and utility belts and traded them in for berets and made tracks for the local coffee shop to mope? Hells no! It just means that this column just happens to be a very special…

So sit back, order a latte, smoke a clove cigarette, complain about life, and enjoy an AICN COMICS Indie-stylie.

Don’t worry, cape-heads. We cover some mainstream stuff in the Cheap Shots section. And we’ll start out with our sole mainstream review from the Prof.

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

Big Eyes for the Cape Guy presents CROMARTIE HIGH SCHOOL Vol. 1

JUSTICE #1 (of 12)

Writer: Jim Krueger
Artists: Doug Braithwaite/Alex Ross
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Prof. Challenger

"Meanwhile...back at the Hall of Justice."
-- Superfriends Announcer Guy
All right everyone. After what seems like an eternity of press releases and hype, it's finally here: Alex Ross's official CHALLENGE OF THE SUPERFRIENDS comic book. The guy weaned himself on the SUPERFRIENDS cartoon and gives off the impression that this is the project he's dreamed of doing since before he was potty trained. Now before I start let me acknowledge -- yeah yeah, I know, every damn one of you reading this review has already read the freakin' thing. So what? I'm still going to ramble on about it and if you don't want to read it you can go back and make some more hot monkey love to your bagged and boarded multiple copies of HOUSE OF "M." It also means I'm probably going to spoilerize throughout. So, here's your one and only warning.

THE WRITING: The comic starts off with the end of the world in wrenchingly dramatic detail. It's the result of worldwide nuclear strikes and not even the Justice League of America can prevent the destruction. In the end, they all wither under the onslaught and despairingly resign themselves to ultimate failure and incomprehensibly massive death tolls. Superman becomes the lone survivor of both Krypton and now Earth.

But wait. It's only a dream...a nightmare. But whose nightmare? Superman's? That seemed to be everyone's assumption when DC released the preview pages of this opening segment. No. The nightmare is haunting the villainous Black Manta and simultaneously tormenting many other villains. It was a brilliant choice to have the entire issue narrated by Lex Luthor -- but without revealing Luthor as the voice until the end. What this does is prevent us, the readers, from entering the thoughts of any of the other characters unless it is Luthor interpreting what he believes must be their thoughts during any given moment. Which is to say that, when he throws out his derogatory assumption of what must be Aquaman's thoughts as Manta's team overwhelms him, there is no indication other than Luthor's own cynical hubris that Aquaman is dwelling on how to be clever. But, surely this is the sort of thing that someone like Luthor would assume must occupy the thoughts of the heroes. It has been said that the worst caricature of a villain is the Snidely Whiplash moustache-twirling villain who revels in his own villainy. It has also been said that the truly evil villain is so scary precisely because he never perceives himself as a villain -- he sees himself as the hero. Luthor's narrative, in one issue, defines his character more succinctly than decades of characterization. Luthor, also haunted by this nightmare that he believes is a portent of the future, sees Superman and the rest of the superheroes as usurpers of the greatness of mankind. These self-appointed saviors of humanity not only brought to Earth extraterrestrial threats that otherwise may not have ever even discovered our lone planet hidden in the cosmos, but they lulled all of us into a self-preservational laziness. Because of these great protectors, humanity lost the creative and inventive edge that had previously guided us rather quickly to the pinnacle of Earth-based evolution. And the only logical solution Luthor sees to this problem is that he needs to ally himself with a team made up of the most powerful villains to accomplish an all-out search and destroy mission directed at the heroes who make up the Justice League of America. In doing this, humanity will be re-motivated to survive by their own wits guided by the brilliance of the simply human Lex Luthor. And, of course, the events foretold in the nightmare will be prevented and Earth saved.

Luthor only wants what is best for mankind -- which should also translate into what's best for Luthor.

The hero who gets the most page time is the above-mentioned Aquaman. The interlude scene between Aquaman and Mera is character revealing as well. First thing you should notice is that Luthor's narrative does not appear during this scene. This is a cutaway that gives the uninformed reader a quick and insightful glimpse into who Aquaman is. The reader sees the unfiltered truth about who Aquaman is rather than the view through a cracked prism that colors Luthor's view of the man. Aquaman, Arthur Curry, and his wife Mera come off very much as a modern Arthur and Guinevere type. Mera, the loving wife, wistfully accepts her lot as stay-at-home mother and supporter of her husband. Aquaman is a distracted husband and father weighted down by the pressures of his responsibilities as King of all Atlantis and protector of humanity above and below the seas. He suffers from an all-too-common affliction among born leaders -- an intrinsic unwillingness to delegate responsibility. And this time, setting out on his own to investigate an unidentified dome-like object on the ocean floor puts him right smack dab in the middle of the trap laid out for him by Luthor and Manta. The first step in Luthor's plan has been successful.

THE ART: Remember those old Superheroes versus Supervillains tabloids from the 70s? The ones where the covers were always a group of DC heroes running right towards a group of DC villains who were likewise running towards the heroes? Well, the dual cover choices for JUSTICE create a striking homage to those tabloids. I happened to pick up the villains cover myself simply because Alex Ross interpretations of the DC villains are not quite as commonplace as his heroes. So, I've spent a good bit of time just admiring, once again, Ross's ability to backlight his figures in such a way that they look unlike they ever do under anyone else's paintbrush. The other nice thing about Ross's work on the villains is that he has a little bit more freedom to play around with the costume designs because the characters are not so mass-marketed and trademarked in their looks. I particularly like the way he subtly reworked the Cheetah's costume so that it really looks like she's wearing an actual cheetah pelt. What was one of the goofiest looking costumes ever now looks cool.

I unfortunately think that Doug Braithwaite is going to receive an undue lack of attention for his work on this comic, but I want to extend high praise and compliments to him for his story-telling ability here. I love Alex Ross but I have to confess that even as I admire the beauty in his lighting and color choices, I am sometimes distracted by a noticeable over reliance on posed reference material -- especially the recurrence of the same posed reference material (I'm thinking specifically of the under the legs view he first used back in MARVELS for a photo from below of Giant-Man that I've seen reused more than once since then in other projects). Braithwaite brings a completely different feel to Ross's art. He tells a story in pictures differently and it makes Ross's finishes on the interior art better than I can recall any interior work when it was Ross alone. I know I'm not alone in feeling very familiar now with Ross's static interpretations of the JLA characters, so it was almost shocking when I turned to the double-spread of the JLA by Braithwaite and Ross. Braithwaite's drawing generated a sense of movement, energy, and excitement that I properly gawked at for a long time.

My favorite Braithwaite contribution to this combination of talents was his interpretation of Superman. Braithwaite brought back that barrel-chested Wayne Boring-style Superman that just works on so many levels here where Krueger/Ross/Braithwaite are going for the "classic" look of these characters. Superb accomplishment. Two months between issues is too long to wait, but it's worth it for a visual feast like this comic.

THE WHOLE ENCHILADA: As good as this comic is, there's still a few things that just tingle the continuity-sense. I totally "get" that Ross is going for a classic view of the league circa 1976-77. And that's fine. So, we've got Lois and Clark not married yet and Lois not realizing Clark is Superman. We've got Mera and Aquababy still alive and fine. Aquaman's never had one of his hands eaten off by a hungry Peter David. I also hear that when the Teen Titans show up, they'll be in their original forms with Dick Grayson as Robin and no Cyborg, Starfire, et al. All that's well and good. But the inclusion of Capt. Marvel as a member of the JLA doesn't feel right. Neither does the inclusion of Plastic Man. Plastic Man was never a member of the JLA until Grant Morrison relaunched the title not that long ago and Capt. Marvel didn't join until the Justice League of Slapstick era. So, for me, the inclusion of both characters rubs me a bit wrong, especially considering that none of the villains on this cover have any relationship with these two characters. Couldn't Ross figure out how to add in Capt. Nazi or IBAC or someone? And Plas has always been so goofy he doesn't even have any arch-villains. As a result, they seem like out of place tag-alongs.

I thought it slightly amusing that the series kicked off focusing on the one character most often referred to as the lamest member of the Superfriends. Flitting around on his giant seahorse and unable to breathe air for more than an hour, focusing on Aquaman always seemed to be a storykiller. As a result, Aquaman was mostly good as a damsel-in-distress to lure the other heroes into a trap. And here it looks like that's how he's being used again -- giant goofy seahorse and all. I just thought that was funny. It's also making me start to wonder *shudder* if Ross is so obsessive about the SUPERFRIENDS that we're about to be treated to a Wendy, Marvin, and Wonderdog appearance sometime over the next 24 months. It kind of filled my fanboy heart with a bit of pride, though, when I saw that giant goofy seahorse and, under the pencils of Braithwaite and the paints of Ross, it didn't look goofy at all. Aquaman looked kind of cool riding that thing. Also, Black Manta just looks damned sinister -- both with his helmet on and with it off.

On the back end, we readers are treated to one-page fact files on Aquaman (with a nice full-color pin-up shot of Aquaman), Black Manta, and Lex Luthor. The fact files on Manta and Luthor spotlight Ross's character sketches for the characters. He chose the most interesting faces for both of them. But I gotta ask: How in the name of Nemo does Manta see out of that helmet?

But, overall, this is like the ultimate super-hero comic book. If they can just keep trying to top the previous issue, this thing could end on such a bang that it leaves all other super-hero comic books eating their dust. JUSTICE #1 is a textbook example of exactly how you kick-off an overhyped mini-series! Marvel take notes.


Rick Spears & Rob G: Creators
Gigantic Graphic Novels: Publisher
Vroom Socko: Making more room in hell.

As anyone who’s seen my comments on Western Tales of Terror can tell you, I just looooove Zombie Indians. There is nothing cooler than a dead Indian walking around killing people. The concept just plain rocks the Wild West. And really, so does Dead West, the latest book from Rick Spears and Rob G.

Starting with the slaughter of a tribe of Plains Indians, the story proper shows the lone survivor returning to the land of his fathers, all grown-up and eager to lay down retribution on the town that has sprung up on the field where his tribe was destroyed. He mystically encircles the town, causing all the dead bodies within to arise. This section is replete with ghastly looking stuff, including one corpse who manages to gnaw his way free from the gallows. The story then jumps ahead a week, when Tuco arrives in town, being pursued by The Man with No Na- err… that is, a pudgy Mexican bandit is pursued into town by a stern, silent bounty hunter. Yeah, that’s it. In either case, each one of these two newcomers quickly finds themselves joining one of the two factions of survivors struggling against a Main Street chock full of undead.

Part of what makes this book such a blast is that the survivors are as hardcore as possible. When one of the people hiding in the upstairs level of the saloon is wounded there’s no attempts to treat the poor guy, no debates on “Can we save him? Will he turn?” nope, the poor bastard just gets kicked out the motherfucking window. That’s hard, man. My favorite moment, however, comes near the end, when the Indian who started this whole thing comes face to face with the spirit of his father. Solid writing, that bit.

Solid is also the word to describe the artwork throughout this book, from the massacre at the beginning to the showdown at the end. Almost every page has something horrifying on it. And I’m not just talking the zombies, either. The most disturbing imagery is the depictions of ordinary human violence. The bloodletting that is done to bring on the zombies is honestly some of the nastiest stuff I’ve seen from a comic book in a good while.

This book is nasty, hard and bloody. It’s also one of the best comics I’ve read all summer. Rick Spears and Rob G have done one other book I’m familiar with, the brilliant Teenagers From Mars. While this isn’t the instant classic that TFM was it is a damn fine piece of work, one that should send shivers shooting down your spine. At the very least, it proves that these two are no one-trick pony, and are definitely a duo to watch out for in the future.


Writers: J. Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell
Art: J. Scott Campbell
Publisher: DC/Wildstorm
Reviewer: superhero

I can’t believe it.


I really, really can’t believe it.

After I picked up the preview book WILDSIDERZ # 0 and could barely finish it because it was essentially just PR for the first issue with no story whatsoever I was ready to write the whole book off. I was already pissed that I paid two bucks for a book that amounted to nothing so I was completely closed minded to picking up the first issue.

So when I saw WILDSIDERZ in the shop this week I hesitated to pick it up. I almost decided against it when I saw the price (By the way Wildstorm, nice job hiding it on the front cover. If I were a more cynical type I’d almost say you were trying to trick people into paying more for a book they wouldn’t regularly buy at that price. Don’t believe me? Just try and find the price without any effort. Go ahead.) but I am a big fan of Campbell’s art. His books haven’t really been able to keep me buying a monthly title, mostly because of the writing, but I figured I’d give it a whirl.

I’m so, so glad I did.

Let me start with the obvious. In last week’s talkbacks I bemoaned the use of overly computer colored books. Well colorists out there should take heed of the beautiful job done on WILDSIDERZ. I’m not talking about the glowing animal bits that are layered over the protagonists every time they use their powers. If anything I think that is the worst part of the book. The effects that the colorist/designers are using for the Wildsiderzs’ powers are actually extremely distracting. If anything they end up looking a little bit like a glowing mess of scribbles over otherwise great artwork. Especially in the opening pages where the ‘siderz are squaring off against what look to be animated light illusions. The creatures they are fighting are hard to make out within the action that occurs on the page. This is something that needs to be addressed as I think many readers are going to find the effects that the design team probably thought looked cool actually increasingly annoying.

Where the coloring and design really, really shine are when the story actually moves into the main characters’ everyday lives. The coloring/design of the book are just so well done that they accomplish exactly what they are supposed to do: enhance the art without being a distraction. This surprised the hell out of me as obviously the gimmick of the book was the glowing tech that the characters use to enhance themselves. What I actually ended up being impressed by was the techniques used in the book where no superheroics occurred whatsoever. WILDSIDERZ is a beautiful book to behold not because of what will more than likely be thought of the art’s main draw, the use of layering techniques, but because of the actual vivacity that all the elements (penciling, inking, coloring, design) bring together to make even the most mundane panels spring to life. If anyone out there is paying attention, I think WILDSIDERZ is a great example of the way comic art should be done…except for the glowing animal bits. Figure out a less visually distracting way to do those and the book will be perfect art-wise.

But the art wasn’t the only thing that impressed me. So often comic fans go on and on about how the fun has just been leeched out of comics. How everything in superhero land has just become so grim and gritty. Well, WILDSIDERZ’s first issue is the perfect antidote for the grim and gritties. What we have here is a book that’s incredibly lighthearted and fun. While the characters do have to be fleshed out a bit more, the personality templates are there. Sure they’re stereotypical to a degree but they are amusing. The other thing I loved was the fact that the “Whiz-Bang factor” was intact. In so many movies and comics today you see people do spectacular things in their universe, which no one has done before, and the story and characters just move on without noticing. No one stops and goes, “Holy Cow!” anymore. There are no “Look, up in the sky!” moments. In WILDSIDERZ, however, the “Whiz-Bang factor” is in effect. When incredible things happen in the book people notice and comment on them and it adds to the humor and wonder of the book.

Fans of the teen hero phenomenon will be very pleased with the first issue of WILDSIDERZ. This comic treads the same ground as fan favorite “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” It’s able to combine action and a great sense of humor with interesting and goofy characters without getting too caught up in the drama of it all. While the actual forming of the team at the end of the book is completely contrived and comes across like a Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney “Let’s put on a show in the barn!” moment I was able to forgive it.

I was also able to forgive the fact that the lead character/inventor actually lets the jock who had threatened him earlier on in the story join his super team. I mean, honestly, if someone had threatened to kick your ass several hours ago would you want to let him use your keen new invention so he could have super powers? Didn’t think so. For some reason, though, it worked for me in the context of this book.

In the end the first issue of WILDSIDERZ ends up being a really entertaining ride full of promise for what might become a really fun series if they don’t let it get dumbed down too much.

Now if only they’d fix the glowing animal bits…


Writer: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Artist: Joe Abraham
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Have you ever been at a crossroads? Where you just know that if you go down one path, your life would turn out one way, but it would be completely different if the other path were followed? I have to say that I remember quite a few times in my life where I was conscious of the presence of such a fateful decision be it before or after I faced that fork in the road. In BOOM! Studios’ new series HERO SQUARED, Milo actually comes face to face with himself and sees what he would be like in a reality just a bit different than his own. This comic plays out like the ultimate buddy movie, except the twist is that the oddball pair teamed up here are alternate versions of the same person: one a broad shouldered, spandex-wearing, moralistic super hero, the other a lazy, sarcastic, couch-riding slacker. It is a concept that I’d read the blurb about and say, “Hunh, that sounds kind of fun.”

That is, until I found out that it was Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis (of DEFENDERS and FORMERLY KNOWN AS JUSTICE LEAGUE fame) writing the series. By reading the moniker I have chosen, you know I am a Giffen fan from way back, but I have to admit his most recent work has left a lot to be desired. His recent JLA CLASSIFIED run was fun at times, but lost that spark that snap, crackled, and popped out of the mouths of his characters. In HERO SQUARED, that spark is back.

One of the things that I liked most about this first issue was the fact that it hit the ground running from the very first panel. Giffen starts this story a good time after Milo has met his heroic alter ego, who goes by the code name of Captain Valor. He smartly lets the reader piece together the events which lead to the situation the two Milos are in. By mid-book, you realize that this is a complex and multi-layered story about second chances and making choices that affect the rest of one’s life.

There are many cool aspects to this book. First and foremost is that the villain that destroyed Valor’s reality and plans on moving on to Milo’s is actually Milo’s girlfriend. And she was Valor’s girlfriend in his reality too until he did…something…to cause her to want to not only destroy him, but the entire world he lived in. Any guy who’s been in a bad relationship knows there’s no better villain than a woman with a grudge. Giffen and DeMatteis know this too and I have to admit, Caliginous (love that name) is a worthy villain. Part of Valor’s mission is to make sure Milo doesn’t do the same thing in this reality and turn his girlfriend into another all-powerful Caliginous.

If you think this book is the type of reality-bending, wormhole theory, sci-fi babble that makes your (and my) head spin, think again. This series is seen through the eyes of Milo, who is jaded but sarcastic, intelligent but an idiot, and is having a hell of a hard time believing any of this is happening to him. This isn’t about making complete scientific sense. It’s about having fun with superhero conventions, laughing at them a bit, and then making them interesting by placing them into a well crafted story. Check out the four page preview here if you don’t believe me. Funny stuff.

On top of the fun story, I was pleased with the art of Joe Abraham in this book. I’ve never seen his work anywhere else, but he’s come up with some imaginative designs for the funky space outfits that Caliginous wears. Abraham shows a lot of promise. His lines were a bit shaky, but this may be a style he is developing and I’m willing to stick with it to see how this artist evolves. His panels are dynamic and he has a good command over facial expressions. And in a Giffen/DeMatteis book, an artist needs that skill to survive.

I’m definitely picking up the next issue of this series and seeing where it’s all going. The $3.99 price tag did make me balk a bit (let’s hope this is a 1st issue rate and not forever), but with art and story this strong, I plan on sticking around to seeing how Milo and Valor get out of this mess. So if you’re at the comics shop and at one of those aforementioned crossroads deciding whether or not to buy HERO SQUARED #1, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Who knows what kind of fucked-up alternate reality you’ll create if you don’t?


Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Brent Anderson
Cover/Kibitzing: Alex Ross
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC/Wildstorm
Reviewer: Prof. Challenger

You know, there's something just extra creepy about The Blue Knight. The cover to this comic features The Blue Knight -- a murderous vigilante dressed like a cop with a glowing skull reflected in his helmet lens. He kills criminals. Never mind the logical paradox that this makes him a criminal as well. He's like Ditko's Mr. A without the Ayn Randian pontification. The world is black and white. If you're on the black side (commit crimes), you die. Societal hierarchy of the seriousness of crimes be damned. A thief, an embezzler, a forger, a murderer, all of them receive the same sentence from the one-man Star Chamber -- death.

This comic is Part Two of a multi-issue epic by Busiek and Anderson that will surely unsettle some longtime fans of his ASTRO CITY series. A good portion of the appeal of ASTRO CITY has been its generally positive outlook on a world functioning with the presence of super-heroes for decades. When ASTRO CITY originally premiered, this perspective kind of flew in the face of many years worth of "darkening" seen in the major super-hero publishers. ASTRO CITY was something of a throwback to the days when a character like The Punisher still just used rubber bullets rather than mercilessly slaughter the bad guys. And that was attractive. As the series progressed over the years, Busiek has expanded his approach to incorporate some increasingly complex character studies that peeked into the darker side of ASTRO CITY. He also teased his audience with oblique references to a dark time in the past that involved The Silver Agent, ASTRO CITY'S Capt. America/Guardian analog. Where he's going with this current storyline is anyone's guess. One thing for sure is that those of us who transferred our intrinsic fondness for Capt. America and The Guardian to the Silver Agent when reading ASTRO CITY in the past may find ourselves feeling the same betrayal of our trust as past issues have alluded to have happened in the citizens of Astro City. Years ago, my gut feeling was that Busiek had in mind some sort of homophobic storyline where Astro City's most beloved hero came out of the closet during the less tolerant 70s leading to rampant disillusionment, riots, and eventually a bigoted assassin's bullet taking out the Silver Agent. Looks like I was off base. Now I'm wondering whether the Silver Agent is himself an insane murderous racist xenophobe who used his super-hero disguise as a way to pursue his ignominious goals. Busiek has not let me down in an issue of ASTRO CITY yet, so I have this sick feeling that I, the reader, am not going to see one of those "possessed by a bad guy" deus ex machina resolutions.

Now, as usual with ASTRO CITY, Busiek tells his story through the eyes of a citizen. Right now the story unfolds through Royal Williams' eyes. Royal is a petty thief and his brother, Charles, is a police officer. Charles looks like a young Danny Glover and Royal looks like that guy who played Huggy Bear in the old STARSKY & HUTCH tv series. Royal and Charles dislike and distrust all the super-heroes. At the beginning of the story we don't know why; by the end of this issue, we understand why. Royal constantly hooks up with the wrong crowd and is always looking for low-haul criminal opportunities. Throughout this issue, we glimpse through tv reports and other sources the chronicle of the downfall, capture, and trial of the Silver Agent for the on-camera murder of the Mad Maharajah. As a parallel to the career spiral that the Silver Agent is caught in, Royal finds himself stalked by The Blue Knight. It doesn't seem to matter where he runs to, suddenly The Blue Knight is there and shooting all Royal's fellow criminals right between the eyes. But Royal always seems to escape unharmed and terrified. We get caught up in Royal's terror when he discovers some supernatural gunsight tattooed on his neck that allows The Blue Knight to track him. We're left to wonder, though, why Royal is used and not killed. Is big brother the Blue Knight? One thing's for sure, Royal's nerves are not helped by his big brother's "I told you so" attitude.

I read some reviewer and fan complaints about the first issue in this storyline. Not that it wasn't well-done, just that it felt too much like set-up only. I didn't agree with that assessment. When I read ASTRO CITY it's not for the same reason that, say, I might read a JLA comic. In your average continuity-laden super-hero comic, the emphasis is upon plot and action before characterization. And that's generally how it should be for that type of eponymously named comic where the reader marvels over the adventures of super-powered adventurers and crimefighters. ASTRO CITY, on the other hand, makes no claim to that sphere of the genre. ASTRO CITY tells character-based stories of normal people who happen to live in a world where the supernatural surrounds them. By its own aspirations, both issues so far in this new story arc have been perfectly successful. We readers understand the interpersonal relationship between these two brothers as adults and that last page informs us as to the shared life-changing event in their lives that drove them down the paths they chose and fostered a hatred and distrust for all the super-heroes.

Much like what happened in our country during the years surrounding the Watergate scandal, President Nixon's resignation, and the pervasive malaise that crept into the hearts of the citizenry, the scandal and aftermath of what happened to the Silver Agent unraveled the world of ASTRO CITY. It is their common reference point for the time when everything changed. From a comic reader's perspective, it is probably the equivalent to the death of Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man. Before that time, the hero always saved the girl in distress. Spider-Man's failure and subsequent blame for her death just triggered a change in tone that ever so slowly crept into comics widely and without which the suicide of Phoenix, the murderous Punisher, the death of Jason Todd, the rape and murder of Sue Dibny, etc. would likely not have occurred. Or I may be overthinking the parallels here. But that's the thing about ASTRO CITY, it always provokes thought -- and a little bit of rumination....well, that can be a good thing.

Anyway, as usual with an ASTRO CITY comic, we get but snapshots of the world of the super-hero and this time we are introduced to a Dr. Strange-like character named Simon Magus. Only this time, we get what Busiek bills as a "Handy-Dandy Space-Filling Bonus Feature" where we get to see the design process used in coming up with the physical look of Simon Magus. I love this type of thing and wish the "Bonus Feature" would become a "Regular Feature." Considering that Magus only appears in one stinkin' panel, there sure was a lot of thought behind the guy. Busiek shares his initial written concept and Anderson's first attempts at sketching a look for the character. Unfortunately Magus was coming off a bit TOO derivative of Dr. Strange. So, the baton passed to Ross who went with a whole different approach to the character that just screams "Cool!" Busiek announced that between the different "Books" chronicling THE DARK AGE, that he would have ASTRO CITY SPECIALS focusing on individual heroes outside of the DARK AGE continuity. May I be one of the first to request the first one be a SIMON MAGUS special?


Written and Drawn by: Stephen R. Buell
Published by: Lost in the Dark Press
Reviewed by: superhero

VIDEO is a comic about the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Did that get your attention?

Well it did get mine when I read about the comic online several months back. So, once again, when I went to the San Diego Comic Con this year Video was on my list as books to look out for. It’s not that I’m particular religious or anything. It’s just that VIDEO seemed like an interesting take on an “End of the world” type of story and if there’s one thing I love its end of the world stories. Whether they involve bloodthirsty zombies or nuclear warfare, for some reason end of the world stuff just fascinates me.

VIDEO opens up with society in a complete freak out fest as in the past several hours the image of Jesus on the cross has appeared in the sky for all the world to see. Not only that, but when the public rushes to their television screens and computers to find out exactly what’s going on they are greeted with the message: “Stay tuned for a message from your Savior”. Every channel they go to and every URL address they seek says the same thing so, of course, without television or the internet to guide them the populace gets even more freaked out.

The thing about VIDEO is that, despite the scope of the concept, it tends to focus on a small group of friends as they try to find their way to where one of them thinks they can find a bomb shelter to protect them from whatever it is that’s coming. This is one of the small disappointments that I sort of had with the mini-series. That, despite the grandness of the concept, the storyteller doesn’t really give you a better idea of what’s happening in the world. It’s not that they don’t refer to the madness that the world has plunged into, obviously that is a large part of the story, it’s just that what’s happening seems so huge that it was a bit disheartening to initially think that the books were just going to focus on this small, and quite honestly, not very appealing group of characters.

But as the books move on the pace of the story picks up and certain things become clear. You see why this particularly small group of people is the focus of the story and the narrative begins to grab hold. As I went from book to book the stakes got larger and the events sucked me in. If anything, I’d have to say that this is one of the equally great and detrimental things about this series…the pace didn’t really get going until I was at the end of the second book but once it had me…I was all in. Which is why I’d recommend the publishers getting a trade out there as soon as possible. If I had only read the first book on its own I’m pretty sure I would have brushed off this book as not my cup of tea. But since I had all of the issues available to me I was able to keep reading and the story was able to suck me in. I’m seriously of the opinion that this story should not have been broken up into individual chapters but should have been released in a graphic novel format.

The truly fantastic thing about this book is…oh, did I say it was about Jesus’ return? Well it is and it isn’t. Towards the end of the story certain elements come into play which actually reveal VIDEO’s true theme. While it is about the return of the “Messiah” to a certain extent the story eventually becomes sort of an anti-television polemic. I don’t want to ruin anything for potential readers out there but as someone who thinks that Television is an invention that’s stunted the populace’s capacity for imagination as well as their ability to relate to reality and other people, VIDEO’s message rang loud and clear. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love television and I have several shows that I watch on a regular basis but I’m still of the opinion that the “idiot box” certainly has been responsible for turning some of America as well as the world beyond into a planet of “vidiots”. Either way, I certainly appreciated the point that VIDEO was trying to get across and found parts of the later chapters to be a welcome surprise.

Oh, and I also loved the fact that Jesus, to me anyway, looks a bit like Stan Lee when he finally does shows up. Whether that was intentional or not I can’t say but it certainly put a smile on my face when I saw it. If it was done on purpose it was certainly a clever gimmick even if I personally don’t see Stan Lee as the saint that others do.

While VIDEO, as I said before, takes a while to build it becomes a truly engaging story with an interesting resolution that seems to lead into Lost In The Dark Press’s next mini-series entitled FRAGILE PROPHET. The art is minimalist at best but it works for the story being told. Fans who demand incredibly detailed art won’t be pleased with what’s inside the pages of VIDEO but if you’re more into actual storytelling the art accomplishes its goals rather well. The book is in black and white which makes the combination of grey tones and a sparse art style add to the steadily increasing creepy vibe that builds throughout its pages. It’s not perfectly illustrated but it is well written and I can’t fault Buell for the art as the book doesn’t suffer for it too much. It may turn off some readers but for me it worked and I’m sure that others will be able to appreciate it as well.

I’d highly recommend VIDEO for the comic fan that’s looking for something different out of their reading experience. While it does deal with religious themes it does so in an irreverent way that doesn’t take the issues it’s dealing with too seriously. The characters aren’t particularly fleshed out but they do grow on you as the story develops. I wouldn’t call the story horror per se but if you’re a fan of stuff like the X-FILES or KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER this may be a book you want to pick up. If anything it’s a comic that reminds me of an independent film that came out several years ago called Last Night. If you liked Last Night, heck if you even know the film I’m talking about, then this book is probably up your alley. The only thing that I recommend is that you buy all the books in the series at one time from the Lost In The Dark Press website if it sounds like something you’d be interested in. It’s a series that really should be read in one sitting and would probably lose something if it’s just read in pieces.


Writer/Artist: Eiji Nonaka
Publisher: ADV Manga
Reviewed by Dave Farabee

The mission statement for our manga feature here is to sift through all the strangeness of the East and find those manga that just miiiiiight appeal to Western eyes raised on capes ‘n’ cowls. Doesn’t mean we won’t drop a dime on bad manga on occasion (I’ve been critical of BERSERK, .HACK, and NEGIMA in the past), but given that manga’s alien to many ‘round these parts, our focus will always be on finding the best outings.

And I think I’ve got one for ya, gang.

Foisted upon me by a friend who had to overcome my skepticism (the series does look like an eyesore at a glance), CROMARTIE HIGH SCHOOL ended up kicking my ass six ways to Sunday and becoming one of my favorite surprises of the year. It’s a spoof of the “juvenile delinquent” subgenre of manga and it’s laugh-out-loud funny in its look at the absurdist doings of Tokyo’s toughest high school. This is a school where every student is a badass. In fact, they’re so badass that they seem to spend most of their time talking about how badass they are in lieu of actual being badass.

Truth be told, they’re all kind of likeable. And incredibly stupid.

Our hero is Kamiyama, a decidedly non-badass kid who finds himself enrolled in Cromartie’s den of badassery. He’s so terrified of the thugs surrounding him on his first day that he can’t hold his pencil steady. He drops it! It rolls over to a thug sitting right next to him! The thug picks it up and holds it out! “Silly me,” Kamiyama thinks to himself, “I guess there are good people here, too.”

And then the thug eats the pencil.

“Ah, but Cromartie is famous for its delinquent students,” thinks Kamiyama, inexplicably taking it all in stride. It’s only when we get one of the year’s funniest visuals - the thug gathering up an entire handful of pencils and eating all of them - that Kamiyama realizes, “…this is definitely not a normal delinquent school!” Ever seen that picture of a guy smoking 50 cigarettes at once for the Guinness Book of World Records or somesuch? Picture that with pencils being devoured and you have the first great image of CROMARTIE’s brilliant stupidity.

The rest of the thugs are equally bizarre. There’s Takenouchi, a man-mountain of a badass whose ambitions are constantly foiled by his extreme motion sickness; Maeda, a wannabe who gets no respect because he doesn’t have a badass nickname (“You don’t need one, but if you’re name is, say, ‘The Black Panther of the North Sea’…you have a lot more impact.”); and my personal favorite, Freddie. Freddie is…


He’s Freddie Mercury. The Freddie Mercury. A mute, shirtless, hairy-as-hell Freddie Mercury. Awesome! As a visual, he’s on par with Bill the Cat in old BLOOM COUNTY strips or Kramer on SEINFELD – always and inherently funny.

Kamiyama, now taken in by the thugs of Cromartie, actually spends several chapters trying to figure Freddie out. In one ridiculous scene after another, he makes radical assumptions about Freddie based on his every move. Freddie raises his hand in class and we see Kamiyama’s dramatic internal thoughts: “But class began not five minutes ago! What amazing vigilance…far beyond the norm to be sure!” But Freddie’s just raising his hand so he can go take a leak. And what to make of Freddie’s sudden impulse to do push-ups? His reading books upside down? His cell phone calls to the gorilla in the class (yes, an actual gorilla)?

In the end, the findings are inconclusive: “All anyone really knows about him is that he’s got one hairy chest!”

Is this one fucked-up comic or what?

I don’t think I’ve ever read a manga so irreverently off-the-wall as CROMARTIE HIGH SCHOOL. Paradoxically, I think it’s one of the most approachable manga on the market because its format actually resembles newspaper strip collections. Each chapter is only six pages long and each chapter is self-contained – really, no different than a CALVIN & HOBBES or PEANUTS collection, but with a little more breathing room for each gag-packed vignette. I think it’s a genuine enticement that a given volume of CROMARTIE stands on its own, with no need to read dozens of follow-up volumes to see how things play out. Oh, you’ll want to read follow-ups (a third collection has just been released), but you don’t have to. Just pick a volume up when you feel like laughing your ass off. You’ll definitely want to read more exchanges like this one, excerpted from a moronic student cram session:
“Since antiquity, my family has passed down knowledge of a memorization technique known as the mystical mnemonic. Use it, and you shall never forget what you commit to memory!”
“I never heard of anything so rad! How does it work?”
“I regret to say I forgot the technique.”
Visually, CROMARTIE’s a little on the ugly side, but like SOUTH PARK’s crude cut-out animation, it just adds to the slapstick humor. It’s a series filled with out-of-date pompadours, flaccid mohawks, dramatic exclamations, and sudden! dynamic! poses! I’m told it’s all spoofing Japan’s ‘70s action manga, but you really don’t need to know anything about the source material to get how ridiculous these characters are supposed to be. Hell, the brains of the pack is a robot that looks like a walking oil drum and doesn’t know he’s a robot, and you haven’t lived till you’ve seen a crappy-looking robot call a bunch of hoodlums “PANSY-ASS BITCHES.”

CROMARTIE is so colossally weird that it might seem merely dopey at first glance, but there’s real comedic genius lurking behind it (it recently won Japan’s prestigious Kodansha Manga Award). The gags are brilliantly timed and always come from left field, avoiding those snoozer set-up/punch line patterns we’ve become overly familiar with from newspaper comic strips. I’d liken CROMARTIE’s brand of absurdism to movies like PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, kids’ books like Louis Sachar’s WAYSIDE SCHOOL series, and TV shows like SCRUBS. Like any of that strangeness and you’ll like CROMARTIE.

It is also, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the finest comic of the year to star Freddie Mercury.

Remember, if you have an Indie book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.


Take a moment to click on that nice Sean “SLEEPER” Phillips cover to the left. It’s nice. It’s eye-catching. GOTHAM CENTRAL could use more covers like that. The issue itself is a solid chapter in the investigation of what appears to be the murder of Robin. I was a little disappointed with the actual appearance of the Teen Titans, though. Visually, it’s a fun juxtaposition to see these brightly-costumed heroes strolling through the Vertigo palette of the Gotham police station, but writers Rucka and Brubaker don’t really do much with ‘em. I see that cover and I want to see these kids taking a little heat, being interrogated, etc., even if it’s predictable, but nah, nothin’ doin’. There’s one hilarious bit, though – cheap, but hilarious – when both Maggie Sawyer and Renee Montoya take a moment to ogle the brick house that is Starfire. I happen to think Rucka’s overdone Montoya’s outing as a lesbian, so it’s nice to see he’s not so tightly wound on justifying her that he can’t have a bit of fun. In other news, Kano is doing a great job as the new artist, the scene between Stacy and the real Robin at the end was the book’s standout moment, and I’ll really miss this book if it becomes STREETS OF GOTHAM at issue #40 and gets a makeover (a current rumor). - Dave


Still liking this book, folks. There may be too many sitcom-like moments where the momentum comes to a screeching halt in order to stage a space-wasting dramatic beat and a joke (a la the revelation that Spider-Woman gives off a pheromone series of panels in this issue), but I’m liking the resolution to last issue’s big fight with the Wrecker and I appreciate Bendis’ respect for a character he did not create in The Sentry. One problem I’ve noticed in this series, though, is the tendency for under-whelming final panels on the last page of each issue. It’s bothered me before in this series, where (probably due to a lack of planning and space in a 22 page comic) a huge pin-up page is followed by a teensy bitty panel in the bottom right corner which is supposed to leave us all on a cliffhanger. Yes, there is a cliffhanger in this issue, but it loses all dramatic effect when the tiny panel of The Sentry’s reaction is overwhelmed by a two-page splash of the all of the Marvel heroes just standing there. This is just an awkward way to position panels to graphically tell a dramatic story. - Bug


This old-school G.I. JOE fan found issue 0 and 1 of this relaunch to be surprisingly fun, but issue 2’s a misfire. Part of it’s a feeling of repetition – more scenes of satellite crash destruction and Hawk being obsessive about Cobra aren’t what this book needs. And then Storm Shadow pulls a deus ex machina, suddenly breaking out codes for backdoors into Cobra computers that, hey, maybe he should’ve mentioned a few hundred civilian casualties earlier? But G.I. JOE at least brings the action, right? Eh, sorta. There’s a big action sequence, but it’s strictly Arnold-Schwarzenegger-in-COMMANDO style, and contrary to popular belief, that isn’t what G.I. JOE used to be about. At its best, under Larry Hama, action scenes might’ve had a Hollywood veneer, but they were always grounded in real tactics, and Hama made a point to balance the forces for maximum tension. Here it’s just six or eight pages of the good guys kicking ass. I’ll give this baby one more issue, but I’m growing skeptical. - Dave


I’m just not feeling this miniseries. I mean, is there anyone who really thought Donna Troy wouldn’t come back? And when she was reintroduced in this series as a psychopathic hose-beast, who didn’t see the eventual turn around and “snap back to reality” moment coming? Well, that finally happens in this issue. Whoop-de-frikkin-doo. Just put Donna back in the Teen Titans where she belongs and be done with all of this faux drama. Fine art by Phil Jimenez, but story-wise, this is by far the weakest of the countdown to INFINITE CRISIS miniseries. - Bug


I can’t say as there’s much wrong with this series per se, but I’m starting to wonder if it wasn’t best left in the ‘80s. Let’s face it: hero John Gaunt is very much the tough-guy-with-the-heart-of-gold cliché, and in an era when Wolverine’s run that act into the ground, that doesn’t make for the strongest lead character. Oh, I enjoyed the series well enough. Lots of action, fun cynical edge, economical storytelling, and richly colored Tim Truman art throughout. It’s just that somehow I’ve just put down the last issue, and it feels been-there-done-that even though I never read the original GRIMJACK stuff in the ‘80s. I think John Ostrander’s a damn talented writer, but I’d like to see him away from old properties and STAR WARS licenses. Time for something new. - Dave


John Arcudi is crafting some fine tales of the underwater king in this series and they seem to be swimming right underneath the radar of most readers because I haven’t heard peep about it. This story focuses on Aquaman’s various responsibilities as King of the Seven Seas. More often than ever, Arthur is finding himself torn between his duties as King of Atlantis and savior to the people of the decimated newly-undersea community of Sub Diego, all the while trying to start a relationship with a surface woman. But it ain’t all hearts and lollypops, kids. This series has a muscle-bound, loose-cannon, half-man/half fish cop by the name Malrey that causes annoyances for the Sea King and Black Manta arrives to stir up trouble. All this and the book’s got a Sea Monkey! An actual monkey who can breathe underwater and asks for bananas! So that automatically gives this book Schleppy the @$$hole Mascot’s Poop of Approval. - Bug

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 10, 2005, 12:48 p.m. CST

    Alex Ross

    by Teapot Jones

    I know the man's considered a god of an artist, but I just don't get it. Overrated.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 12:52 p.m. CST


    by 052883

    He is not overrated, OK mabye just a little.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 1:02 p.m. CST

    Good review of Justice Prof.

    by The Heathen

    Well thought and I think I might even enjoy it more now when I re-read it. I thought NA #8 was better than what you gave it credit for Bug. Like I said all last week, I think it's the best of the series so far.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 1:07 p.m. CST

    does anyone really enjoy comics anymore?

    by snakecharmah

    The more I read the reviews, it's always about how you dont like this writer, that artist just doesnt have the touch anymore, this company is just out to make money, etc... I have enjoyed comics since I was about 7 or 8, Im now 30,(too old), and have taken the books as what they are, escapism; mabe I'll lose my geek status for saying this but c'mon lighten up if you dont like it dont buy it. If it disapoints you the way a story plays out dont buy it the next time. I have done this for years, and eventually I always find something elseI like. I was a huge avengers fan waaaaay back in the mid 80s just because all my favorite heroes were in one book, then they started breaking up the groups and a lot of other crap I didnt like. "GASP" I stopped buying it! Found something else. I dont have one hero or title I have been buying for years but many that I have come back too or rediscovered or whatever. Just enjoy them for what they are.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 1:10 p.m. CST

    About time

    by SpikeTBB

    As a kid watching Super Friends I always lamented the waste of such great potential. I love super villains and super villain teams. Always saw the heroes as arrogant and in need of a lesson in humiliation. I like the daring new version of Black Manta. And Luthor is perfect. Best presentation I

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 1:23 p.m. CST

    Joker will be in Justice

    by The Heathen

    I checked out some of Ross' sketches and the Joker was one of 'em.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 1:26 p.m. CST

    no review for New Spring, based on The Wheel of Time?

    by MiserableRainGod

    I was hoping to see a review of this. Robert Jordan's New Spring, from Red Eagle/Dabel Brothers. My own thoughts were that the writing was poor - bad overall, and also in need of a proofread (I'm an editor by trade, so I'd know), the adaptation was not for those new to the Wheel of Time, and the art was way too clean and computer-y, to the point of having no soul of it's own. I'll stick with it, just to see what they do, but overall I'm disappointed. I had such hopes - the books are so good.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 1:28 p.m. CST

    JLA Classified

    by bob7679884

    I've just read JLA Classified #1-3 for the first time today. Those issues were written by Grant Morrison. The JLA fight the Ultramarine Corps and Gorilla Grodd. The Ultramarine Corps are mind controled by a group of characters that call themselves the Sheeda. They appear to be the same Sheeda that are currently appearing in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers series. Did anyone else notice this connection? Is this the first appearance of the Sheeda?

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 1:31 p.m. CST

    Cromartie High

    by Goonie

    Cromartie High (the anime series, not the comic book) will be airing on G4 television startring (I think) next month.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 1:35 p.m. CST

    What makes a great villain for me

    by cookylamoo

    Is when he delivers a powerful impassioned speech that he and only he can save mankind from himself. And right in the middle of this noble diatribe some poor lacky spills coffee on his cape and the villain reduces the poor schmuck to a pile of smoking ashes.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 2:02 p.m. CST

    In answer to your question, snakecharmah...

    by Ambush Bug

    "does anyone really enjoy comics anymore?" Well, I do, but the thing is, our job here with these reviews is to offer criticisms of comics. That means we often point out the good and the bad aspects of a comic. I don't think any of the reviewers at AICN Comics would say they don't like comics. But I'll bet they would say that there are certain aspects of comics that they don't like. Pointing these aspects out is what we do. Pointing out the good stuff is what we do too. I think if you go through this week's reviews, you'll see just as many pros as there are cons. Criticism isn't a Chris Farley sketch where we list stuff and say "that was awesome." Sometimes it's a little more complex than that. Then again, this ain't brain surgery. All we're doing is writing down our thoughts and feelings about these things, but we wouldn't do so if we didn't share a love and respect for the comics medium.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 2:36 p.m. CST

    Hero Squared

    by RenoNevada2000

    HS started with with a one-shot special a few months back showing how Valor came to Milo's reality and everything else that set up the story. Surprised you missed it Bug.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 2:52 p.m. CST

    Better reviews this week

    by Dreth

    Much more thoughtful, and well-written. They were real reviews., with some great insights (eg- Ross's Giant-Man stride pose) Kudos guys- wish I wasn't (at age 3?) a "wait-for-the-trades" guy. Justice is particular almost makes me want to go to the comic book store.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 2:56 p.m. CST

    Yes the reviews are getting better

    by cromulent

    Good job so far guys! Now, where are my free comics?

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 2:56 p.m. CST

    Actually, Reno, I did miss it...

    by Ambush Bug

    Thanks for the heads up. No wonder it felt as if it started the story late. I liked that aspect of the book. I DO think that the first issue was set up well so that new readers (like me) were able to piece together the stoy without having to retell it.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 3:09 p.m. CST

    Has somebody got a count of splash pages featuring all the Marve

    by rev_skarekroe

    And of those, how many were written by Bendis?

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 3:11 p.m. CST


    by rev_skarekroe

    I hadn't read the first issue of "Justice" and went and read the spoiler in the first part of the review anyway. I'm an idiot.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 3:27 p.m. CST

    Alex Ross makes heroes real

    by docfalken

    I remember growing up when a person dressed in hero long underwear looked ridiculous. But with his realistic treatments and sense of magic, I think he's changed our minds about guys in spandex.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 3:33 p.m. CST


    by soundingbrass

    Why does everything think he's drawing this? He's not. He's writing it.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 4:14 p.m. CST

    Oops. My mistake about Jiminez.

    by Ambush Bug

    Guess it's the cover that lead me to believe this. What does it say, though, that I had trouble remembering if Jimenez drew it or not after jsut putting it down?

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 5:07 p.m. CST

    Thanks Heathen!

    by SpikeTBB

    Great news for this long time Joker fan. I got nothing more to add, just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to answer.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 5:13 p.m. CST

    I've been wondering what J. Scott Campbell has been up to

    by Terry_1978

    After abandoning Danger Girl and Gen 13, glad to see he's back on something, which I hope comes out sooner than once every four fucking months.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 5:51 p.m. CST

    Streets of Gotham? That'd be a damn shame as Gotham Central

    by superhero

    And it hardly even had Batman in it!

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 5:54 p.m. CST


    by astronato

    I am happy to see a positive review for DC's Aquaman book. The covers are gorgeous, the art inside is very good and the Sub Diego story is interesting and getting more so every issue. I especially like Malrey the mutant police officer and the water breathing monkey. I still wish he would lose the magic hand but otherwise the book is well done. It's also nice to have one or two titles not included in the Infinite Crisis crossover thing. I loved the first issue of Justice and the fact that Aquaman is featured in most of the first issue. Justice has Aquaman riding a giant sea horse, which I haven't seen in ages and it looks awesome. When people say that Aquaman can't be credible or contemporary in his iconic form, they should look to Justice to see how it's done. Having Captain Marvel and Plastic Man in this Justice League is the icing on the cake for me. They are icons too and fit right in. Thank you Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and Doug Braithwaite!

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 6:24 p.m. CST

    SpikeTBB, if you're a Joker fan

    by The Heathen

    then you might want to catch up on Vilians United if you haven't already. I think the J-man might have something to do with that. Here's what G. Rucka said when asked where the Joker was (he has not been seen in the story, or even as one of the villains the Society approached in regards to membership), both Rucka and Hilty responded that it was a very, very good question.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 6:49 p.m. CST

    Still no love for 100 Bullets?

    by the flashlight

    Last week in Talkback I was directed to a Nov. 04 review which was good, but I also got some vague comments from a slightly constipated a$$hole who said that while Azzarello is a good writer he for some unknown reason just didn't like his work. Which is insane, since 100 Bullets is flat-out the best comic-book writing of the past 15, 20 years. He also said he didn't want to debate (translation: I don't feel like justifying my opinions). I renew my request for another 100 Bullets review. Given the transcendent quality of this book, it's a crime it isn't reviewed each and every week, which I would prefer instead of yet another New/Young/Adopted/Out-of-Wedlock Avengers review.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 7:39 p.m. CST

    Sucky reviews this week IMO

    by El Vale

    Just bleh. Oh and is it just me or does every review of a lighthearted and fun comic say something along the lines of "...proves not every title in comics has to be grim and gritty"? I've read many many many @$$hole reviews of lighthearted titles and they all claim the same thing, which leads me to believe that there are a whole bunch of those around. Actually i don't believe that, i know that. If you think everything's dark now, you've let yourself be sucked in by the big event hype which is all about mind wiping and universe deleting and shit like that. But i'll give the @$$holes a chance since they namechecked Bloom county, one of my favourite things ever. ***Flashlight, i'm totally with you on the 100 bullets topic.*** Also, has this Justice comic been hyped? I swer i only just heard about it. Ok so maybe that's my fault since every time i read Alex Ross' name on something i drop my groceries and run for it. That and Geoff Johns.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 7:53 p.m. CST

    "Aquaman, to some fish."-Superman.

    by Heywood Jablowme

    You remember that episode of The State. Classic. Sorry to you "Aqua-fans", but that one sketch relevated Aquaman to permanent "lame character" status. Nice to hear Joker's possibly making an appearance, but this book will be a total failure in my eyes if we don't see Black Vulcan or Apache Chief. Enoch chok!

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 8:10 p.m. CST

    Question of the week: thought balloons!

    by sideshowbob

    I've been reading lots of old stuff lately, and I'm wondering, does anyone miss thought bubbles? I liked them at the time, now I'm not sure how well they'd work. I think some of the "decompression" debate has to do with the fact that writers are showing stuff rather than telling them. I honestly don't know if they're good and bad, it's why I'm asking. It is interesting that even writers with old school sensibilities, like Slott and Johns, don't use them, even when it would improve their books. Thoughts?

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 8:46 p.m. CST

    Good Justice review Prof

    by superninja

    What a wonderful characterization of Arthur and his family. Really just a very memorable depiction of Aquaman in general. Makes me want to read it again.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 8:51 p.m. CST

    Thought Balloons Help Make The Best Use Of The Medium.

    by Buzz Maverik

    Comics can't give us motion or sound (so, geniuses that they are, comic "creators" give us slow, talky comics on a regular basis)but they can take us inside the character's thoughts almost as well as prose. On film or TV, voiceovers can be kind of clunky. Thought balloons went out of vogue after Moore left them out of WATCHMEN, and this being comics, things change slowly. On the other hand, they aren't necessary but I don't see why the writers are depriving themselves of tools. Now, first person narration captions are overused to the point of cliche since the first WOLVERINE mini and THE DARK KNIGHT. Like I said, once something is in in comics, it stays in and the changes are slow to happen.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 9:52 p.m. CST

    good point, buzz

    by sideshowbob

    I actually thought Identity Crisis did an excellent send-up of the overuse of narration captions. Oh wait, were they being serious? *** And speaking of IC (and HoM to be fair to both of the Big 2)...not having thought balloons now means the characters need to say how they feel every single issue, to keep the readers up to speed. That results in an incredible amount of circular dialogue and plot points spinning on their wheels from issue to issue. How many times do these characters need to explain their POV on mindwiping Dr Light or the Wanda Maximoff situation? We get it already. A quick thought balloon could get the reader up to speed without warranting the same debate between characters in every issue.

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 9:52 p.m. CST

    Thought balloons

    by El Vale

    What's the difference between thought balloons and first pirson narration captions?

  • Aug. 10, 2005, 10:49 p.m. CST

    An interesting question, yes...

    by Ribbons

    [Rubs chin] Actually, I had the opposite experience with thought balloons, sideshowbob. When they were still common I thought they were kind of hokey, now that writers use them sparingly I wish they'd use them more often. I don't know if I'd call it movie envy, but I think entertainers in general tend to try and make things more cinematic.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 1:55 a.m. CST

    Shaolin Cowboy?

    by Nairb The Movie

    Has there been a review of any issues of this comic yet? The story is pretty funny, a little quirky just ot be quirky, but it serves its purpose. Besides the art is STUPENDOUS!!! TOP NOTHCH!!! AMAZING SPLASHES!!! Has there been a review for it yet? Do you need one? (I review movies too! The BEST AICN knock off out there)

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 2 a.m. CST

    Oh and Thought Balloons

    by Nairb The Movie

    I could leave em or take em, depending on how they help the story. I remember in the 80's issues of Moonknight Marc would think things like "I hop eshe doesn't realize I am the Moonknight that rescued her from the mountains last year. It would be bad" And stuff like that would make me chuckle... but whatever helps the story....

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 3:16 a.m. CST

    We reviewed every issue of SHAOLIN COWBOY.

    by Ambush Bug

    CHeck them out here: and here: and a cheap shot here: and stay tuned for an upcoming interview with SHAOLIN COWBOY creator Geof Darrow in the near future.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 3:21 a.m. CST

    bob7679884 | Re: JLA Classified 1-3 and 7SoV

    by Gus Nukem

    indeed Morrison created the Sheeda. It is obvious that his JLA Classified 1 to 3 is the prologue to his 7SoV epic, to be read before 7SoV #0. In my 15 years of reading DCU comics, I 've never come upon the Sheeda elsewhere and I remember in some interviews of Greg Morrison him referring to Sheeda as his creation; it is clear that the concept of them is something like a spell he uses to rationalize/explain/study and fight/dispel/exorcize 'demons' from his life -- just like Jack Kirby did in all his personal sagas. You have to love the guy.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 6:36 a.m. CST

    Ambush Bug...

    by ParkerMan

    How did you make your break into the comic book industry? I write screenplays for TV/indie films in the UK but my real interest lies with the funny pages. Any advice? HOM has been OK so far, think I'm more interested in the after effects and the reshaping of the MU.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 7:41 a.m. CST

    Ambush Bug got his break into the comic book industry by being c

    by rev_skarekroe

    He's currently writing reviews because his appearances in "Lobo" a couple of years ago didn't pan out.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 8:41 a.m. CST

    the difference between thought balloons and narration captions:

    by Shigeru

    is panel space taken up. One is a box, one is a bubble with scallopped edges. The end. Big whup.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 9:15 a.m. CST

    The great thing about thought balloons

    by cookylamoo

    They pop up and then they're gone. They don't drone on from page to page, tearing your eye away from the story and usually repeating the same thing over and over while you wonder who's talking.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 9:29 a.m. CST

    BUG: "Donna Troy" correction

    by bizarromark

    The issue was actually drawn by art-god Garcia Lopez (and inked by George Perez)....not Phil Jimenez as you had listed. Phil, who *is* an artist, wrote the story. A natural mistake to make, since there's so many names ending in "EZ" on this book.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 9:30 a.m. CST

    Ambush Bugs Secret Identity ...

    by docfalken

    ... he's really a Jack Kirby robot similar to the PK Dick android.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 9:37 a.m. CST

    Nice try, Dave.....

    by bizarromark

    ...but I just can't bring myself to pick up Manga, Anime, or whatever they're calling it this month. There's a core sensibility to the stuff I've seen...both printed and animated....that simply doesn't connect with me. I don't know if it's a cultural thing, me being too old, or just my white-hot dislike of the artwork. Or maybe it's something along the lines of me just not "getting" the Japanese sense of humor that permeates so much of this material. Just as some people just don't "get" or enjoy British humor (I'm not one of them), I suppose it's logical that others (like me) don't connect with a Japanese style or "school" of humor and all of its unique quirks and beats. In other words, something gets "lost in translation" for me.___ Still, I've gotta admire your Door-Knocking Jehovah's Witness-like determination to spread the word on Manga....even though I've got my door locked and I'm hiding behind my curtains.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 9:40 a.m. CST

    My thoughts on thought baloons.

    by The Heathen

    Good point cooky about wondering who's talking with the narration boxes. If the nar. boxes were consistent color schemes that matched up with character profiles like in Teen Titans then I'd prefer them over thought balloons, but I've read nar. boxes for Batman in various books where the box is yellow, blue, gray, etc. I think a characters narration box should be consistent in every book the character appears in

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 9:48 a.m. CST

    bizarromark re: Nice try, Dave

    by The Heathen

    "something gets "lost in translation" for me" and "Door-Knocking Jehovah's Witness-like determination to spread the word on Manga....even though I've got my door locked and I'm hiding behind my curtains." - it's good to laugh in the morning. Thanks for the entertainment.

  • Seriously, though, it's my first manga review in a year's worth of superhero/indie/whatever reviews, so I think you might be bringing your own baggage in likening it to a crusade, y'dig? Hell, I didn't even denigrate American comics to talk up CROMARTIE HIGH SCHOOL. Give a brutha a break.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 10:45 a.m. CST

    I wanted to like JUSTICE...

    by Dave_F

    Seemed like just the sort of retro-superhero project I'd be in the mood for. just felt like the Silver Age analog to all the angst and misery that marks the current DC Comics zeitgeist. For all Ross's professed love for the SUPERFRIENDS (or at least what it represents), he and his hack-writer pal Krueger open with 12 pages of the heroes getting their asses handed to 'em? And then they set up odd-man-out Aquaman to have a moment in the sun...only to have him get his ass trashed by Black Manta? I guess I'm glad I'm not a kid reading all this stuff. It's one thing to challenge your heroes, quite another to choose as your *emphasis* their defeat. We'll see how issue 2 goes, I guess. I'd actually like to be proven wrong here, for the tone of this issue to NOT be the keynote for the rest of the mini, but the vibe I'm getting is "gloomy waste of some real purty art."

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 10:51 a.m. CST

    "hack-writer pal Krueger"

    by Shigeru Earth X sucked then? Written by a hack? I guess I was wrong.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 11:13 a.m. CST

    Givin' the brutha a break.....

    by bizarromark

    Dave F: "Hell, I didn't even denigrate American comics to talk up CROMARTIE HIGH SCHOOL. Give a brutha a break."____Yes, that was definitely a textbook case of taking the high road. Points to you! Plus, you know I'm just kidding ya. That *has* seemed recently that some sort of implanted genetic command (like Palpatine's "Order 66") has been activated, since the Forces of Superior Non-Superhero Comics Propaganda (FSNSCP) seem to be on the march. So....maybe it was the collective prosthelytizing of the Kool Kat Hive Mind triggering my response moreso that your lone review. Apologies!

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Givin' the brutha a mild rebuke....

    by bizarromark

    Dave F: "...he and his hack-writer pal Krueger."____Where did THAT come from, Dave? Jeez....the guy's not Shakespeare....but what makes him a "hack" in your mind?

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 11:55 a.m. CST

    I don't think Ross' art is aimed at kids anyway

    by The Heathen

    It's meant for adults, or more accurately for people old enough to have civilized opinions. Theres plenty of Marvel Adventures and Johnny DC for the kiddies. As far as Ross and his nose being stuck in the air about "his" superheroes from "his" childhood not being treated with respect? Good point on that one Dave. Although I don't think a writers personal views or opinions should have that much of an influence over a reader, you were still technically right

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 11:58 a.m. CST

    The snooty types on all sides of the equation, B-Mark...

    by Dave_F

    I've seen manga dorks talk about the superiority of manga the way Hitler talked about the Master Race, but just the same, I've seen superhero dorks painting all manga with the same derisive brush for ages, sometimes with xenophobic overtones. Dickheads a'plenty. it really a surprise the non-superhero devotees would surge toward something like manga? Superheroes have been in total control of the American market for so long now, they're like the four-term president of comicdom. Fans of "anything else" just want a frickin' break! If DC's recent flopped attempt to bring over Euro comics had worked, I'm sure the non-superhero crowd would be all over that stuff, but it happened to be manga, so manga becomes the new standard-bearer of "anything else." And you've got to expect a little radicalism, I say. Fans of "anything else" have been a harried minority (consumer-wise, of course) for decades here, so you better believe they're gonna have some pent up feelings of frustration, anger and all kinds of other crap to vent. Take comfort, though. Manga has hardly unseated superheroes and doesn't seem likely to at all - it's just the first populist contender since, what, EC Comics? Even the '80s indie boom couldn't be considered to have real mainstream appeal, but manga has that potential. Me, I consider it one of the healthiest turns the industry's seen in ages, if only because it creates some competition for the two-party system controlled by Marvel and DC. We all like competition, right? Fosters creativity, good for consumers? In any case, take comfort in the fact that superherodom is still El Presidente of the medium, with fifth, sixth, and seventh terms likely.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 12:14 p.m. CST

    In Defense of Jim Krueger

    by SleazyG.

    I honestly don't think the guy's a bad writer. His own original series, FOOT SOLDIERS, was one I found to be pretty entertaining when it hit a decade or so back. I liked the themes, characters, designs...the whole thing. Sadly, it bounced around between a few publishers and then petered out. The thing is, though, it was enough to prove to me the guy's a decent writer with some really good ideas. Since then, though, he's proved himself to be much like many other independent creators out there: he just sucks on properties owned by the Big Two. I honestly don't even remember the storyline to the original EARTH X mini, but I remember having a hard time reading it because the interior art was hideous and distracting. I disliked the whole run so much I didn't bother with any of the follow-up stuff, and I'm gonna be selling that orignal run off because I just don't care about it enough to keep it in a box in my comics closet. JUSTICE is off to a somewhat better start, so I'll give it a chance because I know Kreuger's got potential. I also know that as annoying as I find Alex Ross to be, he loves these characters, so it might turn out okay. As for the heroes getting their asses handed to them at the beginning of the book, since it's a dream sequence that is actually the basis for the whole series I'm gonna let it slide for now, but we'll see where things end up.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 12:17 p.m. CST

    You're right, I misused the term "hack"...

    by Dave_F

    A hack's just a guy who's crankin' it out for the paycheck, and I don't see many folks doing that in this biz. No, Krueger's just extremely mediocre and also a guy who works on projects I think are crap-o. His style seems to range from obtuse (THE CLOCKMAKER) to misguidedly overblown (EARTH X, JUSTICE), and I can't recall seeing anything of distinction in between. Best I can say is that he's written a few decent scenes here and there, so yeah, let's go with "mediocre." Thing is, I can think of mediocre writers who've occasionally achieved bursts of quality (the Bill Mantlos and Judd Winicks of the world), and Krueger's yet to do that. Puts him low on creative totem pole.

  • Is that the one that Jean Paul Leon drew? I'm pretty sure it is. Anyway, I dig his stuff. Maybe not ideal for superheroes, but it almost seemed to fit the gloomy tones of the story. He's better suited to the gloom of Russia, though, which he draws in this week's THE WINTERMEN from WildStorm. Jury's still out on the story, but it's got possibilities, and the art's real nice.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 12:29 p.m. CST

    in defense of John Paul Leon

    by Shigeru

    Hey I thought he helped tremendously in Earth X being a deep, ambitious and for me successful series. His style is about as different as can be when compared to slick, clean and bright superhero work, but I think that worked to Earth X's advantage. Plus, I loved that issue of Grant Morrison's New X-Men that he did. One of my favorite single issues of that year. The only Krueger work that I've read was Earth X and rather than "misguidedly overblown" I found it suitable epic yet with a great heart (X-51...irony there)

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 12:47 p.m. CST

    So we reach a common ground on Leon, eh Shigeru?

    by Dave_F

    Interesting. And I'd forgotten that issue he did for NEW X-MEN. It wasn't the Xorn issue, right? Or was it? ***** As regards EARTH X, maybe I'll give it another try one of these days, but the series' core notion - of uniting all the disparate aspects of the Marvel Universe in one massive tapestry - is just one of those concepts I find tedious. I remember Alan Moore had worked up something similar for DC, a "Twilight of the Superheroes" or something like that, and even that I found tedious. And, y'know, much love to Moore, but some concepts just seem misguided to me.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 12:56 p.m. CST

    cheers to common ground!

    by Shigeru

    Yes actually it was the Xorn-centered issue. The cover is by Quitely...I think it is Xorn in Lotus position contemplating a cheeseburger in front of him, with a plain white background. heh. It's where Xorn goes to Mutanttown (or whatever) in NYC. With the mutant kid who turns into a monster, and his Mom dies... he keeps yelling MEDDSHUNNN! before the cops shoot him to death freaking sad.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 1:10 p.m. CST

    Yes...Manga HAS unseated the superheroes...

    by bizarromark

    Dave F: "Fans of "anything else" have been a harried minority (consumer-wise, of course) for decades here, so you better believe they're gonna have some pent up feelings of frustration, anger and all kinds of other crap to vent. Take comfort, though. Manga has hardly unseated superheroes and doesn't seem likely to at all..."____That may have been true in the past, but....correct me if I'm wrong......isn't Manga (Anime....whatever) outselling superhero fare, like, a zillion to one thse days? Hardly a "harried minority" in my estimation. Sure....superheros still get most of the play in the comics press, etc...but as far as sheer, dollar-generating popularity goes, Manga's the new 800 lb. gorilla....or so I'm told.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Manga is Grodd!?

    by The Heathen

    Bah! I'm sick of the pastel colored manga books I see when I go to a book store overwhelming my traditional Comics/graphic novels by 2/3. And for every Marvels Legends there's 10 Gungan (?), and for every Justice League Unlimited there's 30 Yu-Gi-Oh's or something involving cards. Nay I say (at least for now, or until the GCPD parachute to safety in AS Bats #2!!!)

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 2 p.m. CST

    Actually guys

    by El Vale

    Jean Paul Leon drew 2 issues of New X-Men...the Xorn issue and the one where Scott and Emma have their first non-physical encounter, and a lot of other stuff happens.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 2:03 p.m. CST

    by Sublimefn87

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 2:12 p.m. CST

    Sublimefn87 your advertising in every talkback is

    by The Heathen

    pathetic. Why don't you go to for the most original student film in history (or so I've been told)

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 2:13 p.m. CST

    Good to hear from you Vale, where's Kal-El? And

    by The Heathen

    are blackthought and Gus battling it out yet?

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 2:51 p.m. CST

    Hello fellow all-weeker

    by El Vale

    It's pretty deserted back there, no battle or anything. And i don't know where the guys are, none of them have posted in this new thread...maybe they think they're better than us!

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 2:59 p.m. CST

    The All-Weekers

    by The Heathen

    thus, in week 5, are team name was born.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 3:07 p.m. CST

    El Vale = pwned

    by Gus Nukem

    "the one where Scott and Emma have their first non-physical encounter, and a lot of other stuff happens." - I believe this issue was Frank Quitely's last, New X-men 138. At the end, Jean catches Emma and Scott red-handed.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 3:56 p.m. CST

    Krueger May Not Be A Hack Writer...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...but working with Ross, then sort of wrangling his own stuff in between, he's almost what I call a Relationship Writer. Not as bad as, say, Brandon Choi, who became a comic book writer because he was in the Junior High Geek Club with Jim Lee. Marc Andreyko is also not a full blown relationship writer because he has his own credits, but mostly, he's Bendis' buddy from Cleveland. It's just that unless it's TORSO and he's collaborating with Bendis, he's not very good. Who's that guy...Ben Raab, did that god awful HUMAN RACE series for DC. I don't think he has a friendshi with anybody well credited, but every time I see his work, I wonder why I'm seeing his work. As far as the term "hack" writer goes, well, today's writers aren't any better than yesterday's. Their work simply suits this era, so...I don't see these guys as actual hacks, because a good hack is not as pretentious, but nobody's getting the National Book Award here or even a Best Screenplay Oscar, ya know?

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 4:12 p.m. CST

    but just to be clear

    by The Heathen

    I, like Prof. Challenger and many others actually thought Justice was good. Some would say really good, especially for a first issue. Let's quit beating this horse. Batman sequel characters (no more Wonder Womens!)? How's about that George Perez Infinite Crisis cover? 4 page preview of Astonishing #12 (awesome use of Kitty)?

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 4:15 p.m. CST

    Good point, Heathen:

    by SleazyG.

    The George Perez cover for Infinite Crisis beats th' holy hell outta the Jim Lee one.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 4:18 p.m. CST

    Gus, sorry

    by El Vale

    But yer wrong, i'm referring to the one where Scott and Emma jump off an airplane in their minds.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 7:04 p.m. CST

    Big Eyes vs. Cape Guys, saleswise

    by Dave_F

    It's actually a little complicated B-Mark. Short version is that manga's dominating graphic novels in the bookstore market, which is certainly notable, but in the comic shop direct market, manga sales are just a drop in the bucket. Check out the latest breakdown from Diamond: The June market share breakdown is Marvel (41%), DC (36%), Image (4%), Dark Horse (3%), Tokyopop (1.34%), and less than 1% for other manga publishers like ADV and Viz. Of course, Dark Horse publishes a good bit of manga, but even with some of their percentage factored in with that smaller manga publishers, we're still probably talking less than 5% of the market. What I don't have a good fix on is the total unit sales for direct market trade paperbacks as opposed to bookstore trades. That's where the truth really lies, so I'll have to do some digging. But at least for the immediate future, the direct market, largest determinant for the American comics market, remains firmly in the hands of Marvel and DC.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 8:06 p.m. CST

    I'd prefer Super Friends to Justice

    by Homer Sexual

    I liked Kingdom Come, thought Earth X was interesting. But Dave is right on: I *liked* the art on EARTH X (it was the story I found ponderous).... "nuff said. This week I bought 11 comics. HoM was again annoying as Peter Parker expressed his desire to kill Wanda. Boo. Exiles was good, even enjoyed Breakout in a silly way.

  • ...on the whole I enjoyed it. Nice to see some oddball villains like the U-Foes getting respect and heavy screentime. Likewise, Crossfire. I'm sure Bendis wouldn't hesitate to make Crossfire a chump just so's some S.H.I.E.L.D. heavies could get the better of him in Bendis's umpteenth interrogation scene, but to me Crossfire'll always be the villain with the cool scheme from the first HAWKEYE miniseries. BREAKOUT writer Tony Bedard seems like a guy who does his research and respects it. ***** Hey, Homer, what's going on in EXILES right now? Haven't followed it for a few years, but I saw what looked like a Shogun Warrior on the cover this week. Is it that American-designed Shogun Warrior dude? I can't imagine Marvel has the rights to the likes of Mazinga anymore. Reminds me: I was thinking the other day that it'd be fun to see oblique references to old toy-themed characters that used to be part of the Marvel Universe. To have Iron Man comment on some armor design he thought up after consulting with a Space Knight or have Dum Dum Dugan remembering the old days when S.H.I.E.L.D. used to chase around "that overgrown, radioactive lizard!"

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 8:39 p.m. CST

    hey fellow all weekers

    by Darth Kal-El

    sorry for the delay its been crazy busy today! great reviews guys and im glad to hear were not doing wonder woman castings cuz that was getting BORING! i havent read justice yet but its sitting right next to me! i didnt like the art or the story for earth x but bought all 12 for no good reason i can remember.does anyone want to buy them real cheap?

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 8:42 p.m. CST

    shoot the messenger

    by Darth Kal-El

    im really starting to like this column!and the breakdown of the days at the comic con made me wish i had gone to san diego for more than just the sunday afternoon that i managed to make it out. next year im getting me a room and doing all 4 days and the panels and any of u want to start planning now so we can geek it up in a group?

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 9:57 p.m. CST


    by blackthought

    breathes slowly..posting...posted.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 10:46 p.m. CST

    El Vale: The Hell?!

    by Gus Nukem

    (The 1st time I am using this joke) "i'm referring to the one where Scott and Emma jump off an airplane in their minds" -- I don't get you. This never happened in NXM? In which issue? If memory serves right, Jean Paul Leon drew only one issue, the Xorn one (superb Quitely cover)

  • NT

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 11:21 p.m. CST

    Actually, I haven't like Bedard's Exiles until now

    by Homer Sexual

    He depowered Sasquatch but kept her around, and brought in Sabretooth and Beak, both of which I could REALLY do without. He also overemphasizes Blink and Mimic to the detriment of all others. And his Timebreakers, the insects messing with reality, is a real streeetch to swallow. About the only thing I liked until now was his handling of Namora. But this issue he uses more characters, including Deadpool and Hulk, and uses them in an entertaining way. He also has some good bits with Fin Fang Foom. Red Ronin was piloted by Stark, Pym, Connors. Good issue. And the letters page says there are many changes in lineup coming, which is one thing I like about Exiles. And I am so sick of the current, tired lineup. Apparently Beak is about to exit. So if only Sabretooth takes a hike. Mimic, Morph and Blink have been around for 68 issues. I wish Blink had not returned, but I can live with her as long as Sabretooth hits the road. I love a good "anything can happen" book, so Exiles has been a long term favorite of mine. Chuck Austen even wrote one good storyline. Really, he did. I know, it's hard to believe.

  • Aug. 11, 2005, 11:47 p.m. CST

    Gus, here you go

    by El Vale

    New X-Men # 131: "Some angels falling". Cover by Ethan Van Sciver depicts Emma Frost walking off a limo.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 8:51 a.m. CST

    Thoughts on balloons...

    by RenoNevada2000

    I like balloons. They're colorful and add a festive atmosphere to any gathering. Heck, I bet balloons at a funeral would cheer things up a bit. When a balloon pops, I think a little piece inside all of us dies.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 9:49 a.m. CST

    so I was at the comic shop the other night...

    by Shigeru

    and I happened to look and see who was pencilling the new Supergirl series. I fainted. I all must have been a bad dream! I flipped through the book. I threw up all over myself, and then fainted again. What is wrong with this world?

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 1:15 p.m. CST

    Riddle me this:

    by The Heathen

    What costs as much as a comic, lasts about as long as 1 or 2 comics takes to read and urges me to buy more comics because I'm paying for something so frivolous anyway?

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 1:43 p.m. CST


    by The Heathen

    It's GAS!!! (like you didn't already know that)

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 1:44 p.m. CST

    Lee's Infinite Crisis #2 cover revealed to be

    by The Heathen

    Power Girl.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 2 p.m. CST


    by El Vale

    Your post on balloons is the best one i've read yet. Thank you.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 2:26 p.m. CST

    No, The Difference Between Thought Balloons & First Person Narra

    by Buzz Maverik

    First person narration captions mean that the story is being told by one of the characters (usually in a pretentious, pseudo-Spillane style)so we have that character's perspective. Thought balloons can show us the perspective of any character in the story any time they are on panel. It's like with an Elmore Leonard novel. Mr. Leonard doesn't generally write in the first person because he wants to be able to switch whenever he needs to and reveal what's on the mind of his next, wonderful lowlife character. They're tools. One is not any better or worse than the other. It really should be what suits the story and the writer's particular skills best, but comic books are both trendy and rigid and just because some guy (Hi, Frank!) started doing first person between 1983-1987 when no one else was and did it very well, and another guy in the mid-80s (Hi, Al!) elminated thought balloons in his well known masterpiece (because we generally don't know what a film character is thinking) things have gotten stuck that way for 20 freakin' years.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 2:34 p.m. CST

    Another Response For This Week's "If You Don't Like &#39

    by Buzz Maverik

    How do you know you like 'em or not until you buy 'em and read 'em? A lot of people read in the shop, but where I buy, the owner is a good guy and his staff are all good guys, so I'm not going to mess up their merchandise or take up space with more than a cursory flip through. I generally have my list from PREVIEWS and spot things in the shop and it's all based on whether the books appear interesting and well done. I don't buy anything I know I'm going to hate, not even to review. But haven't you got something home, read it and hated it? Or disliked it? Or disliked some aspects of it while liking others? A reviewer gets to tell you about it. If the reviews are only positive, that's just advertising and you'd be better off at a publisher's website. The best use of a column like this is that it can direct you to something you may have passed up or warn you off something that you're hedging on buying. This is Buzz Maverik, saying I'll be back next week when a different guy asks, "If you don't like 'em, why don't you just not buy 'em?"

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 2:37 p.m. CST


    by Shigeru

    Rob Liefeld's Mom?

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 2:48 p.m. CST


    by The Heathen

    Nah, she doesn't even last half as long as a comic. But, Liefeld's busty rendition of Cap - he lasts all night long..

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 2:49 p.m. CST

    I have the Ansher to your riddle Heathen...

    by Heywood Jablowme

    Trebek's mother! Shinsherely, Sean Connery. I've alsho boned Liefeld's mother. Shurprisingly, I'd rather tosh Pushy Galore's shallad.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 2:54 p.m. CST

    Buzz, what if there are multiple narration boxes?

    by The Heathen

    Couldn't the story be told using different points of view then? I agree that they are the tools of the trade and that writers should use what works best, unfortunately we get what some writers feel is trendy or cool cause they wanna. Prime example: "the hell?"

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 2:58 p.m. CST

    crap Heywood, I almost spit out a mouthful

    by The Heathen

    of water

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 3:02 p.m. CST

    thats some funny shit shigeru and heywood

    by Darth Kal-El

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 3:03 p.m. CST

    My take on the whole balloon thing

    by El Vale

    Give me a thought balloon that doesn't look hokey and doesn't read like bullshit exposition to me and i'll be on board. Hasn't happened yet. Just because a creator has tons and tons of tools at his disposal doesn't mean he has to use them all to make his work complete. Some tools serve certain moods and tones better than others. So yeah show me it can be done right and i'll agree they're a valuable tool, but don't tell me everyone should be using them. Oh and revealing exposition through thought balloons is stupid and lazy, and any good writer can find his way around that problem by delivering the exposition throughout his story without you even knowing it's fucking exposition.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 3:06 p.m. CST

    Here's an interesting question tho

    by El Vale

    Which do you like best, "The hell?!" or "Da fug?!"?

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 3:14 p.m. CST

    they both sound dumb to me

    by Darth Kal-El

    maybe its because i honestly dont know anyone that says that.i have friends who have elevated swearing to an art form and i have never heard them say either 'the hell' or 'da fug'.they both just sounds dumb to me

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 3:15 p.m. CST

    You get to your pile yet Kal-El?

    by The Heathen

    I've got to get through this weeks new stuff, which I still haven't picked up, not to mention my Invincible, Goon, and Y trades. I'm falling behind with my books! This whole having to work thing really bugs me sometimes : ( I think I may pick up the Crisis On Infinite Earth's trade to touch up on some history and get ready for the now official sequel Infinite.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 3:17 p.m. CST

    Da fug you doin?

    by The Heathen

    I like neither as well. Maybe Bendis will use "cog smooch" next?

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 3:32 p.m. CST


    by El Vale

    I tried reading Invincible a while back but it got to the point where i had to stop and take note: "Old school superhero" is just not for me.*** On another subject i just read the dumbest article ever: Buzzcope's The best comics of the first half of 2005. It claims New avengers, Seven soldiers, Walking dead and Captain America among others are both the best and most overrated comics of 2005. How does that work? It's so fucking stupid it actually made me angry! FUCK!!!

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 3:37 p.m. CST

    ive been whittling it down slowly but surely heathen

    by Darth Kal-El

    im done with all the house of m so far and the new g.i joe elite which im loving by the way.the new ultmate iron man was ok.still liking the art but i got a little lost with the intro of rhodey.i guess in a couple of places it wasnt really clear who was talking but it was a good book nonetheless.i read the 1602 new worlds and i am of the opinion it is ass.a hulk with a wacky scottish accent? what the fuck?(is that so hard bendis?)the only one im missing is justice which i believe i will get through tonite and im looking forward to it. i also bought a trade online called superman:infinte city because the art looked very cool but when i finally got it i was not too impressed with it.quick question does anyone know what happened in the g.i. joe series before the current "America's Elite" relaunch? im enjoying the story but im feeling like im missing some pieces of the puzzle. storm shadow now works for the joes?what the hell?(pay attention bendis)if anyone can give me a quick rundown it would be much appreciated

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 3:39 p.m. CST

    the official team name should be

    by Darth Kal-El

    the league of all week cog smooches

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 3:50 p.m. CST

    League of All Week Cog Smooches

    by The Heathen

    Hee, hee

  • Yeah the TUCHAS I SAID IT! @#$(*&!@#*(@&!#

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 4:03 p.m. CST

    im super angry

    by Darth Kal-El

    and yes 1602 was crap!im going to wait for the whole thing to come out as a trade....AND THEN NOT BUY IT!! i guess its to be expected though.the first one was written by neil gaiman and this one is written by...i dont even remeber to be honest with you but hes no give u an example of the level of craptitude this has banner talking to dinosaurs before rampaging into hulk smash mode.oh yeah and he has a silly ass scottish acccent

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 4:04 p.m. CST

    ive never even been sure how to pronounce tuchas

    by Darth Kal-El

    until i heard judge judy say it on her show

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 4:05 p.m. CST

    I lost pretty much all interest in 1602 (in any incarnation)

    by Shigeru

    when I was introduced to the character "Scottius Summerus". Barf. Tho Gaiman rules.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 4:09 p.m. CST

    how to pronounce Tuchas:

    by Shigeru

    it's pronounced "fart-pipe". As in: "I just kicked that Geisha in her damn fart-pipe". Okay wow I'm done.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 4:10 p.m. CST

    gaiman definately rules

    by Darth Kal-El

    i agree the names were dumb as shit tho.another writer whose books im just devouring right now is mark frost. start with "the list of seven" and then get "the six messiahs" im telling you this is good stuff!

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 4:41 p.m. CST

    ...and Sean Connery as the Hulk

    by El Vale

    Writer's name is Greg Pak...and yes it is a stupid last name. More like a sound effect really. Oh and i'm still angry!!! How can the same fucking article from the same fucking site claim the same fucking book is both one of the best and one of the most overrated? Overrated means "Not as good as people say". SO WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?! *aneurism*

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 5:39 p.m. CST

    now that u mention it vale it does sound like a sound effect

    by Darth Kal-El

    and it rhymes with 'nutsack'.i understand your anger vale that does sounds pretty stupid.hey hows the porn coming along by the way

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 7:01 p.m. CST

    Jesus marimba! All-Star Superman cover to the Nov. '05 Previ

    by Gus Nukem *** Frank Quitely has delivered the goods once more.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 7:50 p.m. CST


    by Darth Kal-El

    thats a pretty awesome image.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 8:36 p.m. CST

    Darth Kal-El- Enjoy Frost's books

    by RenoNevada2000

    For those are the only two. He had planned on doing more but the sales didn't justify it... Too bad.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 8:38 p.m. CST

    that sucks reno!

    by Darth Kal-El

    im halfway through the latest one so i hope it doesnt end on a cliffhanger ill never get to read

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 9:38 p.m. CST

    Superman is sitting on a cloud!

    by The Heathen

    Here's Power Girl on Infinite Crisis #2 And in case you haven't seen that George Perez cover, here it is I don't really like nor dislike the Power Girl cover, but I'm more curious than ever about what she has to do with everything in the Crisis. That Perez cover kicks ass though.

  • Aug. 12, 2005, 11:16 p.m. CST


    by blackthought

    you mean power girl's um "stuff" defies physics?

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 9:13 a.m. CST

    love the power girl cover

    by Darth Kal-El

    it kind of looks a bit like j scott campbell. look at her face and tell me she doesnt look like abbey chase

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 9:39 a.m. CST

    it does look more like a Campbell cover now that you mention it

    by The Heathen

    When I ordered more of the Hip Flask books they had a bunch of variants. I got one done by Joe Mad and the original by Ladronn. J. Scott Campbell did one as well. I can't wait to see Perez's cover for IC #2.

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 9:56 a.m. CST

    yeah its going to be cool

    by Darth Kal-El

    i wanted to order the hip flask books based on your last recomendation heathen but i cant this week.i just bought a psp on ebay.i think i got a pretty good was the system and 3 games and my total came to 232.00 with 18.00 for shipping so 250.00 which i would have paid in the store but not gotten 3 games. so anyways no new trades for me for at least a week till i get paid again.tell me how they are when u get them.oh thanks for the link to the power girl cover by the way-im stuck working a saturday morning and it was nice to see some t & a at this ungodly hour

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Villians United #4, Rann-Thanagar #4, Hom #5

    by The Heathen

    These have been the only issues i've gotten through so far. Here's what I think of HoM. I think it will overall be a good trade. I also think that everything thing that's happened so far could have been done by the end of issue #3. If Bendis is that much of a stinker about his pacing, make the series 8 issues but w/ 48 pages each to progress this more. That said, call me a sucker, but I liked when Peter freaked out and in some way I easily identified w/ him. Liked the end. Didn't like 2 pages of finding people and making them remember. That space could have been cut in half or more. **** Rann-Thanagar was good. Art was great as usual. I like the battles of this series, but I'm curious about how this is tying into Inf Crisis. **** Villians United may be my favorite of the countdown minis. Gail Simone is awesome, plain and simple. That's all I got for now.

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 10 a.m. CST

    ultimates annual

    by Darth Kal-El

    read this through a friend who let me borrow his copy. pretty interesting view of nick fury's character. its interesting to see how he views himself and the rest of the world. also,i liked the fact that only steve rogers has survived the super soldier serum but they have been trying it on other people for a while.always liked dillon's art.reminded me of preacher which is a good dillon sure can draw bald guys with a fucked up eye huh?

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 10:02 a.m. CST

    Ahh! Sorry about working a Sat morning Kal-El.

    by The Heathen

    Yeah, I'll defintely tell you about Hip Flask when I get them. No prob about the T&A either (now, if only Vale would come through w/ some porn) Tell me about the PSP when you do get it. Sounds like a good deal. What games did you get? Oh and when you order the Hip Flask stuff, I checked 3 different sites and was the cheapest for all the books besides Campbell's cover which was $1 cheaper @ $1.75 at

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 10:28 a.m. CST

    yeah i know man i hate it

    by Darth Kal-El

    i had to come in at 5:30 and im here til 11:30 but its my own fault. this girl in my department who i like came up to me and asked me if i could do her a big favor so i said 'for you anything' and i guess it turned out to be if i could cover her shift for saturday. so here i am at an hour when on any other saturday i would still be sound asleep. but its like my boys mike,ronny and ricky said-"never trust a big butt when it smiles, that girl is poison".but anwyas yeah sounds cool about the hip flask.ill let u know how the psp looks.i got twisted metal,midnight club dub and atv offroad fury.i think ill actually just list them on cuz theyre not really the type of game im into.and i agree where is the porn vale?queremos pornografia!

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 12:45 p.m. CST


    by El Vale

    I know i know...listen i'm on the same page, i wants me some Vale-written porn but i have no idea where Maria is, i'm waiting for both the porn comic and the sci fi project material. Oh and the porn comic might be lettered in portuguese, good thing you all read it already.

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 1:26 p.m. CST

    thanks for the update vale

    by Darth Kal-El

    you know you opened a can of worms when u offered geeks the chance to see some porn!is maria your artist hot?for some reason i picture her as being hot.and its ok if its in portuguese.we already got your recap from deviantart so all i need now is the pics!

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 2:50 p.m. CST


    by El Vale

    From what i've seen she's definitely good looking. I'd do her, plus she's got that "older woman" thing going for her. Not old old tho, 27.

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 4:21 p.m. CST


    by blackthought


  • Aug. 13, 2005, 5:56 p.m. CST

    Don't they ever talk about the Flaming Carrot?

    by Borgnine JR

    Do they have a problem with the Flaming Carrot? Do they ever mention the Flaming Carrot? I don't think they like the Flaming Carrot. Don't they know the Flaming Carrot is the best thing goingin Modern Comics today?

  • Aug. 13, 2005, 9:48 p.m. CST


    by blackthought

    they reviewed a flaming carrot comic a while ago...go searching in the archives you might find it.

  • Aug. 15, 2005, 12:02 a.m. CST


    by El Vale

    Not a single post today? Why?

  • Aug. 15, 2005, 8:22 a.m. CST


    by blackthought

    the sabbath?

  • Aug. 15, 2005, 11:08 a.m. CST

    Sorry about not posting guy's

    by The Heathen

    Had a bunch of shit go down, blah, blah. I think they call it life, it get's in the way sometimes. I pictured Maria as hot too, good to know she is. I'm not working today at the office, but I'll see if I can chime in (w/out the latin godess hovering over me) Keep it going guy's. Hope this Monday is better than the last two, that's why I'm not going in to work today - fuck 'em, da fuggin cog suggahs. How's that for a Bendism?

  • Aug. 15, 2005, 11:55 a.m. CST

    What do you guy's think of the Aquaman rumor w/ Marky Mark a

    by The Heathen

    I love Cameron. So anything he does I'd probably be behind as long as it's not another undersea documentary. But, I can handle undersea super heroes. Thoughts?

  • Aug. 15, 2005, 1:30 p.m. CST

    Even better...DOOM PATROL to guest star in THE TEEN TITANS CARTO

    by superhero

    Check it out: Please do a spin-off Cartoon Network! Imagine a wacked out anime-style DOOM PATROL cartoon! Please, please, please!

  • Aug. 15, 2005, 3:58 p.m. CST

    Organizing comic collections and displaying them.

    by The Heathen

    I spent 3 hours organizing my boxes and alphabetizing everything yesterday. I'm hoping to build nice wooden cases with clear plexy drawers that pull out like filing cabinets. Clear, because I'm not ashamed of my books and I want people to see them, but I must confess, cardboard boxes are not very stylish. I don't want to store my books in the attic or garage either. I figure the cabinets should be at least six feet tall too and a little deeper than a short comics box. How's about you guy's? Any suggestions?

  • Aug. 15, 2005, 5:20 p.m. CST

    sorry about not posting

    by Darth Kal-El

    yes definately too much going on and today is incredibly busy at work so this will most likely be all till i get home. just dropping in to say hey.sounds cool heathen i know what u mean about the eyesore that is longboxes!i wish i had room outside of my closet for my books but im too crowded right now. maybe once i win the lottery.gald to hear maria is hot too.theres something about a portuguese speaking porn drawing chick that just makes your mind picture her as hot.ok ill try to be back house of m and 100 bullets over the wekend and wanted to talk about them.later!

  • Aug. 15, 2005, 7:25 p.m. CST


    by blackthought

    and marky mark looks nothing like aquaman...i always pictured bill nighy as aquaman, but then again i'm often drunk.

  • Aug. 16, 2005, 8:41 a.m. CST

    Perez Rocks

    by ransel

    That looks like an amazing cover by Perez. I've been a fan of his for years.

  • Aug. 16, 2005, 10:46 a.m. CST

    that is a sweet cover

    by blackthought

  • Aug. 16, 2005, 12:08 p.m. CST

    can't wait to see it in color

    by The Heathen

    that's probably all for today guy's. I've got a funeral to attend and my insurance company is fucking me over. Yay for insulin costing so much!!! I think i'm a day off, today feels like monday. I think i might draw up some blue prints for my kick ass comic cabinet, oh and i got to work on my boobs for Vales variant cover

  • Aug. 16, 2005, 5 p.m. CST

    Currently reading

    by El Vale

    100 bullets. Just downloaded it to catch up on it and read all the issues i never read...all 54 of them. I am convinced Risso is god. And if he's not he's still the best storyteller in comics today. Also read all of Transmet which was awesome.

  • Aug. 16, 2005, 5:17 p.m. CST

    being that risso is an argentinian hes probably convinced hes go

    by Darth Kal-El

    but seriously that is a damn fine book!the only thing i wonder is after so many awesome stories will the ending be able to go out with a bang or will we already be jaded by 100 issues of greatness?

  • Aug. 16, 2005, 7:36 p.m. CST


    by blackthought

    fork cynicism...let's think that we won't be jaded and 100 issues will just be perfect.

  • Aug. 16, 2005, 9:44 p.m. CST

    Mike Turner sucks

    by El Vale

    Seriously this guy's not really a good artist, he's pretty mediocre, why the hell are the big two tripping over eachother to get the guy to draw their crappy covers? Every time the guy farts it's on Newsarama and i don't get it. Plus i wouldn't sign the guy up for an exclusive contract knowing his cancer's reappeared and he's gonna die soon. Thoughts?

  • Aug. 17, 2005, 9:22 a.m. CST

    i agree

    by blackthought

    i'm not a big fan of turners work either...all gloss and glitz witout any crafsmanship...still he gets paid more than someone must think he's stupendous besides his moether.

  • Aug. 17, 2005, 2:46 p.m. CST

    And Chuck Austen...

    by El Vale

    Was in charge of some big titles at Marvel and DC for a while there so there's definitelly something fishy going on.

  • Aug. 17, 2005, 8:25 p.m. CST

    not first and not least

    by Darth Kal-El


  • Aug. 17, 2005, 11:05 p.m. CST

    what is last?

    by blackthought

    i've never read it...who wrote it? moore, gaiman? whom?

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 4:36 p.m. CST

    Here you go

    by El Vale


  • Aug. 24, 2005, 8:17 p.m. CST

    still fuzzy

    by blackthought

  • Aug. 26, 2005, 3:26 p.m. CST

    Hey, what da fug are you guy'd doin?

    by The Heathen

    I might as well

  • Aug. 27, 2005, 1:34 p.m. CST


    by blackthought

  • Aug. 29, 2005, 1:39 p.m. CST

    don't you people learn ?

    by Gus Nukem

    my pc and internet connection are now working ; thus I can once more claim the mantle of ULTIMACY !

  • Aug. 30, 2005, 11:05 p.m. CST

    here to declaim you

    by blackthought