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AICN COMICS REVIEWS FALLEN ANGEL! ULT. WOLVERINE VS HULK! BIG EYES FOR THE CAPE GUY! AND MORE!

Published at: Jan. 5, 2006, 4:37 p.m. CST

#32 12/29/05 #4

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

CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON : SECRET EMPIRE TPB
JUSTICE #3
ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS HULK #1
SOLO #8
HELLBLAZER #215
Big Eyes for the Cape Guy presents YOTSUBA&!
Big Eyes for the Cape Guy presents A MIDNIGHT OPERA Vol.1
Indie Jones presents…
CHEAP SHOTS!

CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON : SECRET EMPIRE TPB

Written by Steve Engelhart & Mike Friedrich
Art by Sal Buscema
Published by Marvel
Reviewed by Buzz Maverik



Is the Secret Empire real?

Does a shadowy cabal bent on world domination really exist? Or are such organizations simply the pulpish fantasies of conspiracy theorists? Is there an Illuminati out to control everything, or are the Illuminati the good guys, as Robert Anton Wilson has said? Is their creed closer to the original intent of the framers of the U.S. Constitution than what we are left with today?

Certainly, Ian Fleming based James Bond's opponents, the evil SMERSH group, on various black lodges and power bases. But aren't Freemasons just a bunch of old Protestant guys who raise money for charity? It seems like the most evil scheme they concoct are those Job's Daughters ceremonies that your cousin is in and your parents make you get dressed up to attend when you want to be home reading CAPTAIN AMERICA comics, and they serve that disgusting punch mixed with ice cream when you'd rather be guzzling the Slurpee you got with the aforementioned comics. Or am I the only one that happened to?

Just before the stories in this trade were published, a few bits of evil coolness took place in American history. We had the Vietnam War. The Defense Department kept a secret history of that war. Sec-ret fucking history! The only kind of history that interests us, right? This secret history was called the Pentagon Papers. A defense analyst named Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press. They were published by the New York Times beginning July 13, 1971. Ten days earlier, members of the White House "plumbers" unit burglarized the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office for files to discredit Mr. Ellsberg.

In May of the next year, another team broke into the Democratic National Headquarters located in Washington DC's Watergate Hotel and planted wiretapping devices. On June 17, the wiretaps needed a little adjusting, so five men broke back in and were arrested. Checks deposited into the bank account of at least one of the men linked him to Richard Milhouse Nixon, President of the United States. Nixon became the first US President to resign from office on August 8, 1974.

This story was covered extensively by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of the WASHINGTON POST. They received information from an inside source with the cool code name Deep Throat. Last year, Deep Throat was revealed to be W. Mark Felt, number two man at the FBI in that era. Of course, Mr. Felt is 91 years old, looks like he's in Depends, and would have probably admitted to being the alien that crash landed at Roswell, New Mexico if it got him an extra tapioca cup.

And I'm pretty sure the Secret Empire has taken over the country. They may not have done it by capturing the X-Men and a few evil mutants and draining their energies to power a fake UFO to land on the White House lawn, like they did in CA&F:SE. A few hanging chads, a little bit of confusion in the minds of the American people -- It was Osama, not Saddam! Get your bad guys straight! -- and not even the Star Spangled Avenger could stop them.

Maybe a ton of conspiracy lore (Gawd, the internet is full of it!) was cribbed from these stories. A smear campaign against Cap. Manipulation of the media. The villains controlling both sides. A high ranking political official in the thick of it.

SPOILER WARNING
I've heard of these stories since I started reading comics. I was never sure who Number One was actually supposed to be. Since Steve Engelhart wrote the story in SUPER VILLAIN TEAM UP that showed Henry Kissinger forming an alliance with Dr. Doom, I thought maybe Henry the K. would be under the hood. Or better yet, Nixon himself! Let's just say that these comics were published in 1974 and steel ourselves for a little disappointment. I'd pay to see Mark Millar or somebody like that Ultimatize these stories and have Cap unmask Dick Cheney.
END O' SPOILERS

Further disappointment: this storyline sets up the classic, original Nomad saga and stops just short of those issues.

I could have spent this whole review simply paying homage to one of the unsung heroes of Marvel art, "Our Pal" Sal Buscema (and many of you are probably wishing I'd done just that). Mr. Buscema, his brother John and artist George Tuska were what I call the workhorse artists on '70s Marvel. Good solid storytellers, in service of the plot, not so big on style but damned if they weren't able to deliver multiple books a month. John Romita Sr. doesn't fall into that group because his work was more detailed and his duties as art director kept him from being as prolific as his peers. These guys' work lacked the flash of that of such post -Kirby giants as Gene Colan, Neal Adams and Barry Windsor-Smith. They weren't as quirky as some of the younger artists laboring in the horror titles. But in story after story, it’s Mr. Buscema's artwork that drives things forward, that adds an everyman quality of realism to both the unreal and all-too-real.


JUSTICE #3

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



Another gorgeous issue of JUSTICE by Braithwaite & Ross. This is one of those times where I want to speak to the art side of the storytelling first, but more than just "pretty pictures," this comic stands out in the way the story is told through the art. For example, look at the two page spread on pages 2 and 3. Three large slash panels bleeding off the page: the first a view of the JLA satellite headquarters in orbit above the earth looking down on the scariest-looking hurricane storm ever; the second a longshot view of a lone Martian Manhunter standing on a cliff staring off into the horizon toward the same storm; the third a wormseye closeup shot of the Manhunter's grim face. This just sets a perfect tone for this issue because a storm is brewing literally, but also figuratively with the gathering of the emboldened Legion of Doom. Later on, the page featuring the Red Tornado is so disturbing. First of all, it's just cool to see Red Tornado show up in his classic 70s look but through the painting prism of Ross where the red really shows a sheen and a gloss indicative of a metal android body. However, watching Red Tornado uncontrollably rip his own head off and tear his own metal heart out of his chest while crying out to the Manhunter (under the mental control of Grodd), "Help me! Why won't you HELP ME?!"

Disturbing.

Beyond just the visuals, once again I have to praise what Krueger and Ross have cooked up here in the way of a story. Unfolding leisurely over two years, this third issue focuses on Martian Manhunter for narration but spends time further introducing and developing the villainous members of the Legion of Doom. Crazed robotic mad scientist Braniac for one has meticulously taken apart and examined the captured Aquaman's JLA signaling device from his belt. Now that his work is finished its time for Brainiac to have some fun…and his kind of fun apparently involves taking a scalpel and miniature circular saw to the head of Aquaman, Hannibal Lector-style. Just as Capt. Cold was discovered helping people rather than terrorizing them back in issue one, Toyman is found freely providing advanced prosthetics to children with missing limbs. The Cheetah empowers herself and sets out stalking Wonder Woman. The scene with Luthor helping Riddler escape from Arkham while pointedly leaving the uncontrollable and unpredictable Joker behind was great and like the old Hitchcock-ian adage about the gun spotted in the first act always goes off in the third act, I suspect that this "dis" of The Joker in issue three will come back to bite the Legion of Doom in the last part of this series.

But the bulk of the story this issue involves the takedown of the telepathic Martian Manhunter by the also-telepathic Gorilla Grodd. Using a telepathy enhancing device, Grodd is able to take over the Manhunter's mind which leads to the scene mentioned above where he forces Red Tornado to "kill" himself. He also, unfortunately, drives the figurative storm to its most dangerous level by revealing all the deepest secrets of the JLA ~ most importantly, their secret identities. By issue's end the already positioned and waiting Legion of Doom members are given the go-ahead by Luthor to strike.

Krueger and Ross use the freedom of this long form storytelling to fill the occasional page in this issue with wider-reaching glimpses of the full continuity-universe they are working within, with appearances by characters like the Metal Men, the Doom Patrol, Jack (Creeper) Ryder, and others. You know, I have zero interest in hearing that the loathsome Brad Meltzer is going to be guiding the direction of the in-continuity JLA for the next year or so, but I am very happy and satisfied to let Krueger and Ross be my JLA fix for the next couple of years instead.


ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS HULK #1

Writer: Damon Lindelof
Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee



I'll say right now that I bought this book strictly based on the creative team. I've been an avid fan of the Ultimate line for sometime now because I really do like this style of "out of continuity" tales and reimaginings of whatever Marvel character the writers feel like. But this one almost drew the line. It just felt like another classic example of "Let's slap Wolverine's name on the title and let that sell it." But that was at first glance. Then on second glace I saw the amazing pencils of one Leinil Yu, a man whose art on some past CONAN issues and the recently ended SILENT DRAGON mini has always impressed the hell out of me. And as an added bonus the boys at Marvel went ahead and got the co-writer of easily one of my favorite TV shows on the air, LOST.

Way to earn my money boys.

Oh, and guess what? The book turned out to be good too. Funny how that works sometimes.

I do have to admit, though, that this book is pretty much on the setup side. We do get some glimpses of throwdown, and the book actually starts with the gruesome aftermath, but this issue is really to tell us why this fight is going down. Imagine that, a fight between two name brand superheroes actually having an excuse for occurring. And the reason is simple and straight to the point, but makes absolute total sense. If you've been following along with ULTIMATES VOL. 2 then you know that Dr. Bruce Banner is still at large, though as far as the world knows he was convicted and sentenced to death following his little rampage in New York City in the first ULTIMATES series. And if you didn't know that, well, now you do. And while the Hulk has fortunately yet to be seen, he has been raising a little havoc on the side leading Nick Fury to do whatever he has to to quash these incidents before the general public finds out his dirty little secret. And that's where the Wolverine comes in.

And I have to give Lindelof props on this as well, in that he writes Wolverine the way he should be. He's short and angry. He's the best at what he does and he knows it. He's death and arrogance incarnate, but with just that bit of humanity in him to make him "real". Wolverine always reminded me of Clint Eastwood in pretty much every Western he's ever done, and this issue just reinforced that opinion in my mind.

Oh, and he loves a challenge. That's his excuse for helping out his old buddy Fury. "You said he's tough. It'll be fun." That's just fantastic there.

And after all that the rest of the issue is just a matter of Logan tracking his prey. Seems the Hulk has made himself a home in Tibet (and I'll be damned if the kind of home he's made for himself didn't look very inviting) and that's where Wolvie tracks him to spoil his fun. Looks like issue two will be bringing the beats, not issue four or five like a lot of books seem to drag it all out to these days. One issue and we're all caught up and ready to go.

It's a beautiful thing.


SOLO #8

Artist: Teddy Kristiansen
Writers: Teddy Kristiansen, Neil Gaiman, & Steven Seagle
Publisher: DC Comics
Review by Dave Farabee



The first thing you should know about SOLO #8 is that it’s worth the cover price for the Neil Gaiman Deadman story alone. You might not be instantly drawn to Teddy Kristiansen’s expressionistic artwork, you might not have the artsy-fartsy gene that requires you to buy every issue of SOLO to broaden your horizons, and indeed, you might have all your funnybook cash tied up in company-wide crossovers anyway, but

That Deadman story really is a gem. Dark, funny, melancholy…in the space of just six pages, Neil Gaiman will remind you why you love him and why he should be at the top of the list for a DEADMAN miniseries. Check out his summation of Deadman’s religious beliefs:
Deadman: But what the hell do I know? I’m an agnostic Episcopalian with a day pass to Hindu Heaven.
Girl: I don’t know what any of that means.
Deadman: Don’t sweat it.
Oh, and Teddy Kristiansen paints the hell out of the story too.

You familiar with his stuff? I really wasn’t. He’s apparently a Danish comic book artist, though. Painter. Did an arc on Gaiman’s SANDMAN, had a run on a Vertigo book called HOUSE OF SECRETS, and just a few months back he won an Eisner for “Best Painter” for his work on the Vertigo graphic novel IT’S A BIRD. Beyond that, he’s been here and there. GRENDEL, a STARMAN story, BATMAN: BLACK & WHITE – stuff like that. I think I’ve crossed paths with his stuff a few times in there, but his work never quite stuck in my head. And for the life of me, I can’t imagine why, because Kristiansen’s work on SOLO just knocked me on my ass with how damn good it is. Maybe I just needed to see a big chunk of it in one place, not in scattershot bits.

And what differentiates Kristiansen from some of his other painting contemporaries is that he’s not working some variant of the realist school or the Frazetta tradition or even the lineage of pulp magazine covers. He’s a stylist through and through, with forebears in the fine arts, specifically the Expressionist painters like Van Gogh and Edvard Munch (you might know him from such paintings as “The Scream”). His colors are rich, but somber, his layouts straightforward and uncluttered. There’s even an approachability that reminded me of the more lavishly illustrated children’s’ books out there. I couldn’t find any nice scans of the SOLO outing online, but you can get a feel for his work with a few pages from IT’S A BIRD – here and here, for instance.

As befits Kristiansen’s artistic approach, the stories here – excepting the Deadman outing – are of a moody, more serious lot. There’s one collaboration with Kristiansen’s IT’S A BIRD COLLABORATOR, Steven Seagle, following a pair of missionaries in 1913 New Guinea who come face-to-face with savage tribesmen and a choice of either the Bible or a copy of WUTHERING HEIGHTS as their one refuge. This one’s theme may have been lost on me – never read any Brontë, I’m afraid – though I took from it an elevation of literature to the level of Holy Word, and I can get behind that. Like all the entries, it was lovely to look at. It’s more linear than painterly, the first of several artistic change-ups Kristiansen exhibits within his broader style.

Much more interesting to me were the remaining three stories that Kristiansen himself wrote as well as drew. There’s a great give and take between romanticism and voyeurism in “Love Story”, which sees a painter obsessing over a woman he can neither bring himself to approach or capture on canvas. The trials of the fine artist are also front and center in “Ruins”, where a painter is driven to increasing agitation by a series of commissions that require that he work in complete solitude for months on end. Kristiansen actually shows us some of the paintings he creates – gorgeous - truly blurring the line between himself and his fictional creation (or should that be avatar)? Broadly speaking, the story isn’t just about painters but any act of creation that requires extended sacrifices and isolation from the creator. It also meditates on creations for a small audience – in the story’s case, an audience of one - and whether the effort poured into such endeavors is worth the toll the work can take on the creator.

Lastly, there’s “Ice.” Set in what appears to be the 1800’s, it’s a lovely little tale of a wooden ship trapped in iced over waters, the men forced to resort to “Donner Party” extremes in their trek across the ice. It’s cold as a Jack London story, painted exclusively in blue tones, and a fittingly dark capper to Kristiansen’s trio of stories about men in varying degrees of desperation. It’s nice to see thematic consistency like that, which really hasn’t come across in any other issue of SOLO.

For that sense of vision, and for introducing me to an artist whose work I’m clearly going to have to start seeking out, Kristiansen’s SOLO is now neck-and-neck with Paul Pope’s SOLO for my favorite of the series to date. And when you’re talking about the best issues of the best series DC publishes, that’s saying something.


HELLBLAZER #215

Writer: Mike Carey
Penciler: Leonardo Manco
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee



Well, there it is. The last Mike Carey HELLBLAZER. To get it out of the way I'll just throw this down and say that in my opinion this has been the second best run on this title that thrives on amazing creative teams. Powered by a terrific understanding of the character and his history, and a knack for very broad storytelling and some great support from the current artist Manco, and his lead in, Marcelo Frusin the book has just been a hell of a ride. I still think Garth Ennis is the king of this book, seeing as how he pretty much set the standard for him once Alan Moore had established him, but seriously, this could have been the last issue of the title and I would have been greatly satisfied.

But thankfully, it's not over. And I guess we should delve into this issue a bit and give you an idea why I love it so much. A lot of it has to do with the points I mentioned above. Honestly, Carey's ability to perfectly portray Mr. Constantine has made the run and this issue a very smooth read. After the loss of his sister John is again at a crossroads in his life. Despite all the good he's done in his life, the world of magic he lives in has caused just as much, if not more, misery to the world around him. And now that he's finally come to this realization, it's time to spread the word to the rest of his peers. He takes the opportunity of an annual gathering of them to show them just how weak and human they really are, the very thing that he's been fighting all his life. He shows them they're not gods but small people with a bit of power. And he does it all with the usual Constantine flare.

I don't know where this title is headed now. I'm still trying to figure out if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I'm not familiar with the writer (Denise Mina) that's coming on board. I've heard great things about her novels but alas haven't had the opportunity to delve into one. She's got an uphill battle on this following such a hell of an ending to Carey's run, but I think it actually helps that I don't really have a set level of expectations on her level of skill. But like I said, this book has had a tradition of pretty much nothing but at least above average (and most times simply great) writing, so I fully expect that whoever gave her the job knows what they're doing.


YOTSUBA&!

Creator: Kiyohiko Azuma
Publisher: ADV
Reviewer: Dan Grendell



An Overview of Volumes 1-3

Gah... Must... escape... cuteness... Can't do it. YOTSUBA&! has hold of me and it won't let go. Mindless cuteness I can ignore, 'cuz I'm a surly modern man, but combine the adorable with the quirky and humorous and I'm the weak member of the herd. Reading books like this just makes me happier, dammit.

Like Azuma's previous outing, the superior AZUMANGA DAIOH, YOTSUBA&! seems like something for the womenfolk but is really for everyone. The basic idea is that young Yotsuba Koiwai and her father move into a new neighborhood, and she adjusts by making friends with the neighbor girls and their mother and wandering the neighborhood getting into trouble. The heart of the manga isn't the story, though - it's the characters and their interactions with each other, especially their interactions with Yotsuba, who seems to live on a different planet. To her, everything old is new and interesting, and propriety is no obstacle to behavior - which brings about some of the most natural and hilarious comedy back-and-forthing ever with the hidebound Japanese people around town. Her behavior is often startling, usually funny, and always true to life.

Azuma's facial expressions bring YOTSUBA&! to life, making every page feel rich with personality, almost radiating emotion. The faces play a key role in the art, dominating each panel but not overpowering it. A perfect match for the writing, Azuma has improved on his already great style from AZUMANGA DAIOH.

Yotsuba is the little girl I always wish I knew, and would love to spend time with - and I don't like kids.


A MIDNIGHT OPERA Vol.1

Creator: Hans "Hanzo" Steinbach
Publisher: Tokyopop
Reviewer: Dan Grendell



Goth Rock, Manga Stylee

Steinbach has art skill. He's still developing it, but it is definitely there. The overlong, skinny people he draws give everything a slightly surreal quality perfect for a supernatural book like this one, and his use of shadows and black as part of the palette instead of an absence of lines is well-developed and strong. At times, he even integrates photographs, a technique rare in manga and one that works well for him here.

That said, I'm not entirely sold on his abilities as a writer. The manga centers around Einblick Delalune, an undead musical star (shades of VAMPIRE LESTAT!) who was involved in a war with the Catholic Church - undead vs. fanatics - with his brother some 400 years ago. He is in love, and wants to run away with her, but his brother drags him back into the war as it escalates again, this time with a third faction - the brutal undead woman who replaced Einblick as a leader in the cause oh-so-long-ago. This is an interesting plot, but there are one or two issues that I had that kept me from really getting involved in it.

What, exactly, is Einblick? We know he is undead (but only because the back cover tells us), he sleeps in a morgue, lives for 400 years and only ages a little, has greater-than-normal strength and speed, is hard to hurt, and can turn into a wolfman. There are also a number of others like him. Is he a vampire of some sort? What's up? This may seem unimportant, but if I am to identify with the character and his plight, I need to know a little more about him.

He also feels less like a character and more like a stereotype - the angsty goth rocker. I can't pinpoint exactly where, but there is a disconnect in the writing somewhere that made me go "Nice!" at the art, but failed to make me care about the characters. Too bad, really. Here's hoping volume two fixes that. I'm certainly gonna check it out.


THE MAZE AGENCY #1
IDW Publishing

There are times...and as a near-zealous advocate of comics it pains me to say this...but there are times when comics tackle non-superhero material and the result can best be described as, "Pretty good...for a comic." I want comics to match prose and film in all the myriad genres, and I certainly know it's possible -- it's just much rarer than I'd like it to be. And, alas, THE MAZE AGENCY is not one of the exceptions.

THE MAZE AGENCY, for them what don't know, is IDW's relaunch of a late-'80s indie success. The premise was to take the reader along on "fair play" mysteries in which he’s shown the same clues the detectives uncover and invited to solve the mystery alongside or before them. The original series is also notable for launching the career of the premiere cheesecake artist of comicdom, Adam Hughes. It was below my radar, but that didn't prevent the new series from being wholly approachable. Penned by series' creator Mike W. Barr, it's a done-in-one story that gives you not just a standalone mystery but a quick intro to the chic P.I., Jennifer Mays, and down-to-earth boyfriend, the true crime writer Gabriel Webb. Their investigation of a murder involving a 60s radical is pleasantly light and tongue-in-cheek - a nice change of pace from the hardboiled clichés - but the dialogue is fairly hokey, the twists and turns a little on the vanilla side. The penciller, too, while perfectly serviceable, is no Adam Hughes. In other words: pretty good for a comic...but not something I can see making it in other, more mainstream mediums. I can imagine fans of TV's MONK might like it, though, or those simply looking for a real mystery, minus all the macho finger-breakings, femme fatales, and other clichés. - Dave Farabee

DOC FRANKENSTEIN #4
Burlyman Entertainment

I know some of you aren’t too thrilled with Burlyman Entertainment, but dammit if they don’t publish two of the most entertaining comics out there today. Take this issue of DOC FRANKENSTEIN, for instance. We have the Catholic Church in hot pursuit of their century-old enemy, Doc Frankenstein. An immortal cowboy werewolf and the woman Doc loves are in search of him too. And in this issue, a pack of hillbilly werewolves with a grudge find the good Doc and try to tear him to pieces. All this and reanimated dodo’s, Jolt-induced spunky scientists, a warped version of Tinkerbell, an old West gunfight, and more blood, guts, and pure solid action than you can find in ten regular comics. Burlyman may not be too quick to publish their titles, but when they do, they know how to make each issue look and feel like a big budget extravaganza. This issue was a bit wordy for me, but once Doc started in on the pack of werewolves, I was reminded why this was one of my favorite comics. Highly recommended for those who are willing to wait for the goodness. - Ambush Bug

ROBOTIKA #1
Archaia Press

I can’t say I’m completely sold, but the first issue of ROBOTIKA was a pleasant surprise. It’s wrapped up in sci-fi trappings about a future where humans and human-machine hybrids vie to stave off obsolescence, but the heart of the story is more actioneer than conceptual fiction. Our hero’s a samurai, you see, assigned to recapture a key piece of technology vital to protecting the fragile peace. To do so, he embarks on a neo-classical samurai trek, pitting his skills against first-gen cyborgs living like animals in the badlands and ex-domestic service cyborgs reforged as champion female warriors. There are some fun, Grant Morrisonian concepts bandied about casually, but none of ‘em has any real depth. The series’ draw isn’t so much its ideas but its action and its elaborate landscapes and character designs. In them I saw a bit of Michael Golden, a bit of Tony Harris, a bit of the mecha-organic aesthetic of THE MATRIX.

I suggest peeking at a few sample pages. If you like the visuals, give ‘er a look.

Great cityscape. Mad scientist. Futuristic samurai. - Dave Farabee

FUZED! TALES #1
BOOM! Studios

This was my first taste of Steve Niles’ FUSED and it was a pretty good taste at that. Fused turns out to be quite the tragic character and this aspect is highlighted in this collection of three short stories. One set in Iraq, the next undersea, and the third in a suburban home, these stories focus on pulling at the heartstrings rather than churning out the action. Niles has created a reluctant hero, truly unique in design and actions. My favorite story of the three is “Moving Along” written by Christopher Long. This quiet tale pinpoints how tragic and flawed this character truly is. Great art throughout by up and comers Chee (with his clean, yet gentle linework), Nick Stakal (with his surreal minimalism), and Andrew Richie (with his stark and skewed panels). A nicely packaged showcase of an intriguing new character. - Ambush Bug

FALLEN ANGEL #1
IDW Publishing
Reviewed by Dave Farabee



FALLEN ANGEL was my favorite original creation to come from the halls of DC Comics in many a year, but poised somewhere between DC’s superhero line and the darker doings of the Vertigo imprint, it never quite managed to find its audience. Being creator-owned, however, FALLEN ANGEL wasn’t a story destined to wrap just because it couldn’t pull in BATMAN-level numbers. Just recently it’s just landed a new home at the increasingly eclectic IDW, where its dark sensibilities do seem a better fit. But is it still compelling? Still cool? Still mysterious in a good way and not in a get-on-with-it way?

Bet yer ass.

Staged as a jumping-on point for newcomers, we rejoin our heroine “Lee” in the city of Bete Noire with nearly two decades having passed. The city itself seems unchanged. It’s still a vice den and still run by the enigmatic and sinister Dr. Juris…at least for a little longer (we’ll get to the change-up in a bit). The true nature of the city has never precisely been spelled out, but I like the description of its metaphysical nature as given by the Peter Lorre-esque Slate:
“Think of the world as a vast pond, and Bete Noire as a source of pebbles thrown into that pond. Pebbles causing ripples that affect all they touch.”
The city is also described as all-but sentient, living out a love/hate relationship with Lee - AKA the “Fallen Angel”, AKA the hot redhead who dresses up in a red cloak, has supernatural abilities and scars on her back where wings might once have been, and occasionally champions those in need at a bar run by Adolph Hitler. No, really. By day she curiously passes the time teaching girls’ phys-ed at a nearby college, the last 20 years having brought some gray to her hair, some lines to her eyes. By night the grays and lines fade as she returns to Bete Noire and we once again see the hard-ass chick we knew from the previous series. She’s not quite a crimefighter in the traditional superhero sense, tending to focus her efforts on individuals, not city-saving, and according to Slate, Bete Noire welcomes her interference come sundown. The whys and wherefores remain as tantalizing as in the previous series, making this a rare book where I can cite as a positive that the very nature of the lead and the setting are a mystery. A little like TV’s LOST, I suppose.

I was somewhat disappointed to see a new artist at the helm, David Lopez having acquitted himself stunningly on the previous run. But the new guy, J.K. Woodward, is interesting. He’s a painter, though his work clearly incorporates photography as well, maybe to such a degree that the book is largely photographs run through Photoshop filters. Whatever the case, the end result resembles nothing so much as Alex Ross’s art. It’s slick as hell and almost certainly more commercial than Lopez’s work. I still prefer the latter, but the only complaint I have about Woodward’s stuff is the obvious modeling of Juris’s wife on Lucy Liu. Beyond that, his storytelling’s impeccable and I’m particularly taken with the specificity of his faces. Lots of character to ‘em, and they still jibe nicely with the design work Lopez set up.

Sample page #1.
Sample page #2.

But it’s not all atmospherics and re-establishment of the lead. Juris is on the cusp of passing on control of the city to his son with ritual magic, and about to receive a rude surprise. Lee, meanwhile, gets a visitor from on high, a visitor with a key tie to her past – quite possibly her “fall” - and an offer from The Big Man to get her old job back. If you’re a longtime fan, you know just how portentous these doings are, and if you’re new to the series, I’m actually a little envious of the period of discovery you’re about to go through. Those first attempts to wrap one’s head around the mysteries of Bete Noire are among the best times the series offers. You realize just how different the book is from anything out there, how unpredictable its unfolding story, how charismatic its cast of hoodlums and rogues.

Oh yeah, and there’s also a big rooftop fight sequence between Lee and an old fella who’s her match and more. He’s smug and jerky, and like most of the rest of the cast, I liked him almost immediately. If the series has a weakness, it’s that I tend to like the charm of its villains – Slate, Juris, the Boxer, et al. – over the moodiness that defines its heroine.

That’s not such a bad thing, though. Villains deserve their day, and serial shows like BUFFY or even LOST often have supporting players that overshadow the leads as fan favorites.

FALLEN ANGEL is recommended.

Highly.

Again!

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.


CATWOMAN #50
DC

Hmmm. Wow. An IDENTITY CRISIS tie-in that is actually done extremely well. And we didn't have to get a dozen other titles involved. It's all self-contained, it directly affects just the title character alone, and it fundamentally changes the life of the character without having to go in some sort of "Bold New Direction". It's fantastic actually. As soon as I saw Zatanna appear on the final page of last issue I pretty much had an idea where it was going, but the execution made it all work. Selina's reaction to the news that Zatanna brings her about is perfect. From the anger she feels to the thoughts of doubt and confliction that haunt her at the end. It all works so well, and I'm can't wait to see how Pfiefer starts to unravel her life more from here on out. – Humphrey

SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE #1
Marvel

Truth is there’s not a thing to differentiate this new ongoing from the two lighthearted, romantic, impeccably-drawn MARY JANE miniseries that preceded it…but why mess with a good thing? In the first issue, we see Peter Parker’s famed identity confusion as he tutors a Mary Jane obsessed with tracking down Spider-Man (who’s saved her several times already). There’s much fun to be had as she pops up at various villain take-downs to chastise Spidey for ignoring her, but as ever with Sean McKeever’s best book for Marvel, there’s a root wistfulness beneath the goofy stuff that makes the book endearing. Note also the always exceptional art of Takeshi Miyazawa. - Dave

JINGLE BELLE: THE FIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Dark Horse

Would've reviewed this comic before Christmas if I could've gotten my hands on one, but this elusive comic is just hard to find. If you don't already know, Jingle Belle Kringle is Santa Claus's cute, spunky, and sexy spoiled little teenage daughter. Sort of a Paris Hilton by way of St. Nick. The art is kid-friendly with Stephanie Gladden providing Betty & Veronica-style art for the first story about a hockey match between Jingle's team of elves and Tashi Ounce's team of snow leopards. The second story is illustrated by the very Cartoon-Network-ish cartooning of Jose Garibaldi and involves a couple of lemmings taking one of Santa's toy cars out for a joyride. The third story, with art by J. Bone, sees Santa and family attending the "Pageant of Peace" ceremony with Pres. Bush down in Crawford. Funny but a bit overly heavy-handed in its disdain for the current administration. Overall though, this comic is the kind of fun and funny that needs to be produced on a more regular basis and marketed much more widely. Dark Horse really should promote little gems like this that would probably appeal to a wider audience than just the selective hard-core comic fans who will make the effort to search it out. Wake up, Dark Horse. - Prof.

SPIDER-MAN & THE BLACK CAT #5 (of 6)
Marvel

Now here...here in one single issue is an encapsulation of all that is wrong with the adultification of superheroes. First there are the excesses: a kid gets pissed on by some bullies and is later raped by his brother; a prostitute is raped; Nazis are shown experimenting on mutants in World War II; the boy from earlier is raped as an adult (again by his brother); and oh yeah, the Black Cat finally comes out with the revelation that...yes, wait for it...she's been raped too.

JESUS H.!

There can be no doubt: this shit-fest of a comic is almost darkly comical in its single-minded obsession with sexual assault, but the problem is that a Spidey comic is a pretty crap place to get into such issues. And Terry Dodson, a cheesecake artist who draws Black Cat with tit-spillage turned up to 11, is about the worst conceivable artist for such subject matter. A Bill Sienkiewicz or Michael Lark? Maybe. But Dodson's got a smooth, sensual line quality that makes everything look lightweight and attractive. Awful, awful decision. And as for Smith himself, if he thinks this book is any great shakes for the cause of sexual victimization, maybe he should reconsider dialogue like, "I don't go in for that! You can forget it, ya' freak-o perv!" Lastly, the issue reeks of Smith's ego. Guy can't put out an issue on time to save his life and has only a few dozen comics to his name, but look at the “marks” he’s made: he's killed off Daredevil's girlfriend, taken DC's kiddy concept Stanley & His Monster and re-written it to accommodate ritualistic torture of a kid, and now...yes, now he's retro-raped the Black Cat.

What an utter and complete fucking disgrace this guy is to the legacy of Lee, Kirby, Ditko and all the other greats. - Dave

ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN #3
DC

I really want to love this book. I really do. Everything about it should be great. All the elements are there. And the Jim Lee art is still great, but everything going on in this is either dragged out to hell and points are repeated incessantly or things are just randomly thrown out there like in some sort of ADD fit. Really, the best thing I can say to pretty much drive home what I think about this comic is this: "This has everything that made SIN CITY a great work... but executed atrociously." - Humphrey

DRAX THE DESTROYER #4 (of 4)
Marvel

I’m officially recanting the endorsement I gave this series based on its first issue. The promise of that opener fell by the wayside as I became increasingly aggravated with Drax’s new human sidekick, a monumentally annoying teenage girl who appears to’ve been injected with a concentrated dose of Joss Whedon snark. That was painful, as was the localized environment for the action: a small Alaskan town that minimized the cosmic scale of the players to the point that the big finale is Drax breaking into an extreme sports store to gear up with extreme leather pants and an extreme pair of hunting knives. Yes, the green behemoth who once challenged the likes of Thanos with flight, super-strength, and energy bolts projected from his hands…spends the climactic issue of his re-launch running around a darkened small town with knives. And “climactic” is being generous, because it turns out this series was actually a stealth lead-in to Marvel’s NEXT MEGA-CROSSOVER EVENT THAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING, EVEN YOUR STANK-ASS UNDERWEAR. Long story short: avoid. - Dave

SEVEN SOLDIERS: BULLETEER #2
DC

Lots and lots of followup to the original SEVEN SOLDIERS SPECIAL #0 that kicked off the SEVEN SOLDERS saga. Turns out the Bulleteer was scheduled to be one of those unlucky souls who met their grisly ends in that issue, but she "chickened" out at the last minute. Now she's being courted by the FBI's Metahuman Specialists division to help solve the mystery of what happened to those heroes. Footage they've obtained implicates an old Golden Age Vigilante villain called The Napoleon of Crime who once called into our plane of existence a monster known as The Nebula Man. Nebula Man was spotted skewering Vigilante and the Whip back in the SSOVS #0. Don't ask me to explain how The Napoleon of Crime and the FBI agent are both werewolves and about how they had to prevent some girl from marrying a werewolf. That's when the comic kind of lost its hold on rationality. But it's still rollickin' fun and Bulleteer is still smokin' hot. Prof.

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
Image

Borderline indecipherable, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL is the result of two pairs of Brazilian brothers working up a three-chapter story about a guy chasing after his girl and fending off a monster that looks to’ve been stolen directly from Mike Mignola’s sketchbook. Each chapter’s by a different artist, and there’s so little visual continuity between ‘em that I swear I didn’t know it was supposed to be one big story until I read that at a website. The one singularly remarkable thing about the book is the art of the middle chapter by Fabio Moon. It’s stunning work, calling to mind both Paul Pope and Scott Morse, but with the detail I expect from the Euro-artist community (Moebius, Bilal). Sample page. The other artistic contributions are fine, if wildly derivative of Mignola in chapter three, but Moon’s the one to really keep an eye on. - Dave

JSA: CLASSIFIED #6
DC

Read this one while I was taking a walk during lunch last week. I don't know the writer, Jen Van Meter, from anything else but the storyline she's unfolding about the Injustice Society feels very much to me like the old Mission Impossible tv-series ~ with villains. And I'm enjoying it. The theme in this issue involves trust. Icicle really holds on to his naïve belief that if he can just get his teammates to trust him and he can extend trust to them, that they will be unbeatable. Unfortunately, not every villain out there is simply a thief with a heart of gold. Some of them are just evil s.o.b.s and should not be trusted nor affiliated with in any way. That being said, when Icicle's Injustice Society is working together they do take out some key members of the JSA and successfully invade the brownstone to steal the Cosmic Key. Right now with VILLAINS UNITED, JSA: CLASSIFIED, and JUSTICE, DC has created an environment where the villains are more interesting than most of their heroes. - Prof.

THE THING #2
Marvel

The highest compliment I can pay this book is to say that it feels like a lost outing from the Marvel Comics of the early ‘80s – the era of Byrne’s FANTASTIC FOUR, Stern’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and Simonson’s AVENGERS. You know, the best Marvel era this side of the ‘60s? The villain’s a classic – theme-park assassin, Arcade. The guest stars – lesser-known baddie the Constrictor and lesser-known hero Nighthawk – are played with respect and bad-assery. Tony Stark makes the scene and writer Dan Slott even manages to contrive a way to get him into the iconic red-‘n’-gold Iron Man armor of the ‘70s/’80s. And the Thing? A true blue hero who’s not just a bruiser, but sly enough to work out a plan with an actress just this side of Paris Hilton in the brains department. The set-up has the lot of ‘em trapped on an island that’s got Arcade’s usual Murderworld set-up, but also a SURVIVOR-style component where the first person to make it to the other side of the island lives and everyone else dies. Chaos ensues, with fun along the way, but not so much fun that we forget the stakes.

Between this book and SHE-HULK, it turns out the best hero at Marvel these days might just be Dan Slott his own self. What can I say? He gets Marvel. No tricks, no shock events, no obsessive desire to change the status quo…just plain old, garden-variety great yarns. Hey, we could do with a bit more of this stuff! - Dave

Readers Talkback

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  • Jan. 5, 2006, 4:39 p.m. CST

    Frist, Bill!

    by Ted Striker

    The Congressman.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 5 p.m. CST

    Who's got time to read reviews?

    by rev_skarekroe

    I'm clockin' out and heading to the funnybook store! Yoink!

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 5:14 p.m. CST

    "No obsessive desire to change the status quo..."

    by Ribbons

    I know, because any status quo changing after the Dark Phoenix Saga is strictly forbidden.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 5:17 p.m. CST

    CAP SECRET EMPIRE Writer's Name Is Englehart, Not Engelhart.

    by Buzz Maverik

    We here at AICN apologize to Mr. Englehart, his family, and his fans. In our own defense, we cop to doing copious amounts of drugs.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 5:33 p.m. CST

    So the Hulk has spent the last few months in a mountain den full

    by Heywood Jablowme

    Sure. That sounds sooo like the Hulk. Why can't Marvel find somebody that can write a decent Hulk story? He's only one of the most iconic character in Marvel, and comics in general. Another gripe: Why doesn't Wolverine change his name to Starfish? You know, seeing as how he can completely regenerate new body parts and all. I know, Starfish doesn't sound "cool", but it's better than Flatworm. All-Star Batman is going to be the greatest car-wreck of a comic in recent history. Hey DC, you got something on your face, egg. All over it. At least Justice is just freaking awesome!! Like Buzz's penis in a room full of Boy Scouts, I'm out!!

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 5:34 p.m. CST

    Lindelof...

    by Darth Sticky

    I used to read comics religiously. Then I stopped. Now I furiously watch TV and collect movies. I'm a collector at heart. When I saw that Lindelof was writing another Wolverine vs. Hulk arc I nearly shit my britches! This may get me back into comics again. Kudos gents.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 5:37 p.m. CST

    Well lookee here.....

    by Loosejerk

    Look who is trying to get Kevin Smith to post in the AICN talkback.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 5:39 p.m. CST

    holy shit! Burlyman didn't dissapear!!

    by RealDoubleJ

    I got a bet on with my friend that the only reason doc frankenstein has been delayed is so that they can finally change their adverts when some more matrix stuff comes out. Can't fucking wait til i read this bastard though, to have a hiatus after such a "WTF?" moment as the fairy popping out makes this issue make-or-break for the series to me. I might pick up Hulk Vs. Wolvie to gear myself up for this "Planet Hulk" Space epic orchestrated by Greg Pak. I got my doubts about the plot (could easily go dull with more powerful-than-Hulk opponents. Like all the feuds the Undertaker put up with in the early 90's for the WWF) but i hope the execution makes up for it.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 5:58 p.m. CST

    Heywood

    by Ribbons

    The Ultimate Hulk is slightly different. I still don't know how sound it is for him to be sedately sitting in some sort of harem, don't know how much rage has to do with his Hulk-ness, etc., but if you recall from his rampage in "The Ultimates," Ultimate Hulk is quite the horndog. Surrounding himself with women isn't really that absurd.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 6:23 p.m. CST

    She-Hulk 100 was awesome.

    by superninja

    Enjoyed the guest artists all. And superninja loves that Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. But that All-Star Batman cover preview used in the review is still super creepy.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 6:39 p.m. CST

    She-Hulk 100 was awesome

    by kuryakin

    Yes. Yes it was. And Kevin Smith IS a fucking disgrace. What an annoying, conceited, talentless shit. I'm so sick of writers trying to shoehorn their own stupid fucking hang-ups and obsessions into comics in which they have no place. Raped by his brother. In a Spidey comic. For fucks sake.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 7:06 p.m. CST

    You guys are obviously wrong about Kevin Smith...

    by kintar0

    He's so rich and successful, what do you guys do, write comic book reviews for free? And you KNOW you'd cut off some fingers to bone his wife. You need to get out of your mom's basement and write your own comics! Smith's movie have made millions of dollars, so therefore he's right and you're WRONG! Unless you agree with him and he'd gladly fellate you.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 7:08 p.m. CST

    Kevin Smith is a rape-happy little bitch.

    by fiester

    Someone had to say it. I hope they pay him in rape dollars.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 7:24 p.m. CST

    Thanks guys

    by chrth

    Just ordered Solo #8, I'm surprised Neil didn't mention it on his site (maybe I missed his mention). KUTGW.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 7:34 p.m. CST

    Jen Van Meter?

    by The Funketeer

    I believe she's Greg Rucka's wife and no slouch in the writing department herself. I think she's done some novels and some indie stuff but I could be wrong.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 7:34 p.m. CST

    Prof. Challenger, re: Meltzer

    by tiredpm

    Y'know, I don't hate Meltzer for Identity Crisis, I hate the brass at DC for hiring him to write the damn book/commissioning it/agreeing to such a repugnant story that would change their entire comic universe. But you know what the really sad thing is (and this is going to rank me up there as number one geek on this talkback)? Meltzer wrote and had published a fan letter in the Giffen era JLA book. He was a fan. Do you think he spent the next ten years of his life trying to think of ways to kill off the heroes he used to read? The man is, evidently, a fucking mercenary. Finally, when on earth did rape become a good plot device? It's just...Jesus Christ, it's just not on to use it as a story propellant. Are publishers so desperate to prove comics aren't for kids that they want to go that far? Or have they decided that the 18-34 rape demographic is the one with all the money? Fucking hell.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 7:37 p.m. CST

    Took him years to write that?

    by mrfan

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 7:47 p.m. CST

    how come they don't wanna do hulk 2?

    by jig98

    that sucks. HULK SMASH IDIOT PRODUCERS!!

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 8:02 p.m. CST

    "Imagine that, a fight between two name brand superheroes actual

    by 3 Bag Enema

    Strictly speaking, Ultimate Hulk is a villian, really. Still, nice review.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 8:07 p.m. CST

    Dave!

    by sideshowbob

    Glad to see you're back reviewing books. Happy New Year, sir.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 8:09 p.m. CST

    When it comes right down to it...

    by sideshowbob

    SOLO is far and away the best book regularly being published. I love anthology books anyway, but this one tickles my artsy-fartsy jones and my mainstream jones.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 8:10 p.m. CST

    And also when it comes down to it...

    by sideshowbob

    YOTSUBA&! was one of the top 5 reads of the year for me. No cynicism; just joy. Sweet, sweet joy.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 8:22 p.m. CST

    Wolvie v. Hulk is fuckin awesome. My brother showed me his copy

    by R.C. the "Wise"

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 8:44 p.m. CST

    I read (and still read the Ultimates) Ribbons, and...

    by Heywood Jablowme

    to call Hulk a "horn-dog" would be kind of putting it lightly. How about sex-crazed rapist. I also remember several references regarding "HULK SMASH FREDDIE PRINZE JR.", which again only strengthens my point that Marvel can't seem to find a decent writer for the Hulk. Planet Hulk? Hulk in space? Sure, what the hell, it worked for Jason in Friday the 13th. Nope? How about the Leprechaun? No? Well surely you appreciated Pinhead/Hellraiser in space. *crickets chirping* Yes, I know this is different. Hell, this might be the greatest idea since somebody hatched the plot to send Ted Stryker up in space (the brilliance that was Airplane II). But I also know that this idea smells like the deuce I dropped this morning. Keep the Hulk on Earth and get him a decent fucking writer. I don't think that's too much to ask.

  • At least, that's what I remember from the podcast interview with Damon Lindelof on Marvel.com Still, I'm interested to see what Banner's been up to since his "execution" so should be neat anyway.

  • Jan. 5, 2006, 11:01 p.m. CST

    ....

    by blackthought

    good to have you back regularily...i'll keep my eye out on teddy's artwork. are you guys doing a year-end column?

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 1:30 a.m. CST

    Dave is back

    by El Vale

    And he managed to piss me off. It's like the good old days. And you guys should definitelly do a year-end column with bests and worsts and stuff. I love that shit!

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 3:06 a.m. CST

    Kevin won't be on this talkback...

    by crazyeyezkillah

    I doubt Harry reads the a$$hole talkbacks, so he can't hit up K-Smi's celly and let him know the talkback pussies are clownin' him. Besides, this is pretty indefensible. This is a clear case of the douchebags that run Marvel right now being too scared to say "boo" to their famous cash cow. They're not going to say "hey, uh, Kevin, three different people get raped in this one issue.... what's up with that?" Smith and Meltzer, whatta pair.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 3:49 a.m. CST

    So hunting his prey ='s

    by FNORDcinco1

    Finding his damn legs! FOUR MILES AWAY! "Really who throws legs four miles away?"

  • ...so I just had to give 'er a shout-out in the THING capsule review. I'm still just agog that Slott broke out the obscure Time Variance Authority from Walt Simonson's excellent-but-lesser-known FANTASTIC FOUR run. Very fun stuff. I didn't get around to reading the original SHE-HULK that's reprinted in the back, but I did re-read Byrne's first issue, and thought it held up quite nicely. The humor was more understated than it'd become, but even in the first issue he was toying with breaking the fourth wall. My favorite bit had She-Hulk barely squeezing into some spare shorts and t-shirt borrowed from the cop, and she says something to the tune of, "I'm one deep breath away from having my adventures printed in the Epic line." Ha! ****** Now, the big question seems to be...who's She-Hulk gonna bring back from beyond the grave? Based on what she says, my presumption (AND HERE THERE BE POTENTIAL SPOILERS, DON'TCHA KNOW) is that we're gonna see the return of Hawkeye's old gal...Mockingbird. I think this is very cool. Never read her death, but by all accounts it was one of those throwaway shockers. Should be no surprise that I hate such stuff. Worst part is that Marvel would kill off a character whose union with Hawkeye was so integral to that first, classic HAWKEYE miniseries from Mark Gruenwald. I mean, that shit was the Dawn of the Modern Miniseries, and the ending with them getting hitched was HUGE! I don't mind marital fighting, even the separation or devorce thing if they must, but killing her off was just cheap. I actually thought they made for a pretty good couple - both tough, both smartasses, both unlikely candidates for the married life (which was what I liked). So, yeah, I'm hoping that's who Slott's bringing back. Also: Mockingbird is hot. Old school version: http://tinyurl.com/7nux7 New school version: http://tinyurl.com/cqmzl If we can just keep Kevin Smith away from her...Bendis too...we should be good.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 7:09 a.m. CST

    HULK v. WOLVERINE v. BOARD OF EDUCATION...

    by Dave_F

    In spite of myself I thought HULK V. WOLVERINE was pretty well-written. Not my bag, not really planning to follow it...but it was well-written. Here's the thing, though: *that's* what Marvel is putting the co-creator of LOST on?! And LOST writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach is gonna be on a friggin' SUPER-SKRULL comic?!!! Hey, maybe they can reel in James Cameron next, get him to breathe some life into Unus the Untouchable! Peter Jackson on The Soviet Super-Soldiers? It could be AMAZING. And you know who would do wonders on a revival of Black Goliath? Chuck Palahniuk, that's who.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 7:27 a.m. CST

    Yo, yo, yo Vale 'n' Sideshow!

    by Dave_F

    Sideshow, Happy New Year back at, and it's good to see folks are digging SOLO. I'm honestly astonished that DC's putting this comic out. Maybe they figured that with the acclaimed-but-crap-sellin' PLASTIC MAN finally being cancelled they'd pick another dark horse to champion for a while? Don't know, don't care, but they're really doing some great stuff by spotlighting artist's artists with the book. Now where's my Igor Kordey? ******* YOTSUBA&!, eh? I'm really needing to check out this book soon. Heard too many things from folks I trust to imagine I'm not gonna like it. ******* Vale, I don't think we're specifically gonna do a year-end wrap-up, but we'll have the equivalent when we run the @$$ie @wards in February. Here at AICN, we like to, y'know, meditate on the year for a bit instead of competing with all the January award write-ups. Why the hurry, we ask? Comics ain't goin' nowhere. And besides, this is AICN...we're not planning to compete with other *comic site* wrap-ups...we're competing with the *Academy Awards*, baby. Granted, they've had the numbers on us for the last few years, but where they've only got Jon Stewart, comedian, as host this year, we've got John Stewart, Black Green Lantern as ours! I smell a win for us. An @$$-win.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 7:54 a.m. CST

    So...Hulk in a harem.

    by Dave_F

    Are we to presume he's been, er, "Hulking" a lot of these women, or is it more of a strip-club "look but don't touch" kind of thing? I'm creeped out when we get into situations that have me asking questions like, "Is it even possible for Hulk to have sex with a human woman?" And if that IS the case, do ya figure he's created a legion of half-Hulk/half-Tibetan Hulklings? I feel kinda queasy over the matter. "HULK FUCK!"

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 8:20 a.m. CST

    Prof!

    by Thalya

    Glad to see I'm not the only one reading JSA: Classified. What do you think of the apparent strategy to use two books to tell concurrent tales with the JSA? Signs of too much decompression or just more goodies for us?

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 8:29 a.m. CST

    On Smith...

    by kiddae

    I thought his Daredevil run was great. I thought his Green Arrow run was pretty good - I certainly think you're blowing the Stanley & His Monster out of proportion. Spidey/Black Cat on the other hand, is a complete train wreck. From a recent Joe Friday over at Newsarama: "NRAMA: Character that could never support a MAX series, no matter who made the pitch? JQ: Spider-Man. " Well, when you're having three rapes an issue, why the fuck not? As for Dodson, you're right - I really like his stuff, but so wrong for the subject matter.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 8:32 a.m. CST

    red tornado

    by John Dalmas

    Can anyone tell me what happened to Red Tornado, what his status is, etc.? I lost track of him after the original CRISIS, when he was disassembled, and it seems like you never see him any more. What's up with him? (Character was mentioned in the Justice review, so this isn't totally out of left field)

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 8:32 a.m. CST

    "Finally, when on earth did rape become a good plot device?"

    by Dave_F

    Apparently, the year 2005. ***** John Byrne tells a perhaps exaggerated, but still interesting story, about his time working on WONDER WOMAN. Says the then-editor of the book, Paul Kupperberg, told him that the majority of the pitches he got for WONDER WOMAN (excluding Byrne's) began with "Okay, Wonder Woman gets raped..." Sadly, I can believe it, and 2006 might be the year where someone finally gets to push such a proposal through. According to Byrne, Kupperberg came up with a rule that you couldn't do anything to Diana that you wouldn't do to Superman or Batman. I like that. ****** Now, to maybe take this discussion someplace productive....my own feeling is that most of the rape stories floating around the biz lately have been on the prurient side - shock-value stuff, really, no different from the infamously awful Jim Starlin story that had some gay guys threatening Bruce Banner with homosexual rape (it happened in one of Marvel's more ratings-loose black-and-white magazine of the '70s/'80s). My question: have there been any superhero stories in the past that've dealt with rape in a meaningful or at least tactful way? I'm especially interested in those stories where the writers found metaphors over straightforward, literal rape. Chris Claremont stands out as one of the earliest writers to invoke rape on a multitude of occasions. I remember, for instance, that Corsair's wife had been raped by some villainous Shi'ar emperor or another. But Claremont also broached the topic a little more imaginatively with the Brood story arc, even though that was a swipe from Ridley Scott's ALIEN. I remember being really disconcerted as a kid reading the sequence where Kitty was impregnated by the Brood Queen. I don't think I really understood what rape was at the time, but I can say the scene conveyed the sickening quality of the crime. The same might be said for Rogue robbing Carol Danvers of her powers and her memories. I don't know if the word "rape" was ever bandied about in the various stories that touched on that, but I suspect its second-cousin "violated" was. Of course, Danvers was more literally raped by her artificially aged son, Marcus, from what I gather - I've never read the original AVENGERS story. That's actually pretty effed-ed - did Claremont write that story as well? Guy's definitely got a peculiar fascination with rape, dominance, and submission, and overall a mixed track record on the subjects. Sometimes he seems acutely aware of the dangers and shows a high degree of empathy, others he approaches them more fetishistically. How often were character mind-controlled in his stories? Psychically seduced? Fuckin' A LOT. Mastermind seduced Phoenix, Baron Karza seduced...was it Kitty?, Karma became a mind-controlling slaver, even Illyana's years-long imprisonment in Belasco's Limbo could be seen as a stand in for rape? Claremont's done so many variations on the theme that it's actually hard for me to think of other writers who've touched on the topic. Best I can think of is Marv Wolfman. Wolfman wrote a hundred-and-one seductions during his run on TOMB OF DRACULA, some of the quite unnerving, and he'd later go on to incorporate rape into Starfire's origin in THE NEW TEEN TITANS. What other superhero writers have tackled the topic?

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Dave_F

    by rev_skarekroe

    I would assume that feeling queasy over Hulk's harem is kind of the point. I guess we'll find out next issue if he's in that situation because he's a tyrannical dictator type, or if it's a reward from the town for getting rid of baddies (I think the Ultimates Annual implied that he'd been rescuing people or something). And Heywood Jablowme, you need to change your outlook and realize that Ultimate Hulk is a different character than 616 Hulk. I had the same problem as you until I made that mental jump.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 8:55 a.m. CST

    Hulk's Queasy Harem

    by Dave_F

    It's interesting how even in the Ultimate universe, ostensibly more "real" than the Marvel Universe, scenes like the Hulk Harem are still drawn with cliched, male-fantasy tropes. Tell me if I'm misremembering, but aren't the harem girls depicted in standard fantasy fashion - lazing about on each other orgiastically? Whether the women are supposed to be happy under the Hulk's protection or, more disturbingly, are the equivalent of sex-slaves, they're at least *drawn* with the same seductive lure of the cast of, oh, say, BEVERLY HILLS BORDELLO. I don't really read more into it than the industry continuing to be male-dominated, but it does seem to fly in the face of claims of realism, eh?

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 9:42 a.m. CST

    I noticed that too, Dav_F

    by rev_skarekroe

    Though I was thinking more in terms of "Are Tibetan chicks really that hot?" Judging by the old National Geographics I've read, the answer is, sadly, "no".

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 9:45 a.m. CST

    Dave

    by Shigeru

    You don't think the villagers would give Hulk all the fugly girls do you? And I think it's some unspoken genetic rule that if 5 or more smoking hot babes are in the same room with pillows all around they HAVE to caress and writhe all around with each other. *** HULK FUCK? Not bloody likely. He's too, um, BIG. He would literally kill the poor girl. So that leaves the Hulk having a serious case of blue balls (green balls? gray balls?) cause he can't fuck but is surrounded by bountiful beautiful bouncy-breasted bitches(tm). Unless of course Hulk jacks it a lot in front of these girls but that would get old. BUT on the other hand...Ultimate Hulk as portrayed in The Ultimates is just pure unrepressed Id. So the Hulk that would flip the fuck out on a bunch of spaceships cause Captain America said that they said Hulk was queer isn't the Hulk that would not fuck a babe for fear of killing her. THEREFORE shouldn't there be tons of dead babes laying around that cave? Unless of course Hulk has changed since almost blowing up. Thus ends my second-proudest post on AICN.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 9:45 a.m. CST

    Mockingbird

    by sideshowbob

    Was actually the first thing I thought too.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 10:05 a.m. CST

    Speaking of Hulk's id...

    by Dave_F

    Anyone remember a 616 Hulk story, maybe an annual or something, where the Hulk was freaking out and the Avengers decided it was because he was in some kind of mating cycle? There's an oogie scene where She-Hulk is sent to calm him down, and...man, memory is hazy, maybe suppressed even...but I think she sort of presents herself submissively (think primate mating rituals) to chill his ass out. He charges at her, the clear implication being that he's about to mount his cousin and 'have at', but I guess he stops at the last moment and does indeed chill, or maybe turns back to Banner. Something like that. I forget. I just that Hulk + sex = bad. And Hulk + sex + incest = did Ron Zimmerman write this?! And maybe he did. Anyone know this story? It's from within the last 5 years.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 10:28 a.m. CST

    Here you go, Dave_F

    by rev_skarekroe

    http://www.quarterbin.net/trulyawf/tac05.html I am teh bomb at internet research!

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 11:04 a.m. CST

    What Lee and the Dodsons have in common...

    by Rodimus Ben

    They are amazing artists attached to terrible projects. Spider-Man/Black Cat started with some promise, but it no longer works. Dodson's art matched the playful fun of the first couple of issues, which took place back when Peter was separated from MJ and there was some sexual tension between the two. Now it's turned into a rape-happy depressing mess. Kevin Smith reminds me of Mike Teevee in Willy Wonka's candy room-- he gets an opportunity of a lifetime, and the first thing he decides to do with it is destroy, destroy, destroy. He kills off Karen Page, one of the most important characters in the Daredevil mythos and someone given much better treatment by Ann Nocenti and Frank Miller the Sane. Now he decides to throw such violent graphic content into a Spider-Man comic. Indeed, he represents everything wrong with the adultification of comics, as the reviewer said. Then you have Frank Miller the Insane, which is my name for him from the time he did Dark Knight Strikes Again forward. He's managed to mutilate the Batman mythos (which, for God's sake, did not need yet ANOTHER retelling anyway) in All-Star Batman & Robin, yet he has the amazing Jim Lee complementing his story. It's a shame-- it make me wonder what masterpieces these talented artists (Dodsons and Lee) might produce were they partnered with better writers and stories. I would love to see a cheesecake Black Cat series by Dodson with lighthearted but meaningful stories that didn't betray the mood of the Spider-Man family. I also would love to see a Batman and Robin comic more like the Batman and Robin Adventures comic that was based on the animated series-- shorter, 2 or 3-part stories that just had solid storytelling and didn't try to fix what ain't broke, like Miller's doing. Ah well.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 11:30 a.m. CST

    oh god...

    by blackthought

    the hulk almost went after she-hulk...ugh...thanks for that link rev_skarekroe

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 11:45 a.m. CST

    "Hulk fuck cousin!"

    by fiester

    Cripes, that is friggin' hilarious! What were those writers smoking, huh? I'm surprised that issue isn't some sort of weird collector's item at this point. But on the point of Wonder Women: that character actually has her origins in some pretty kinky ass shit. Do a little research on her creator and his, um, fixations with bondage and other s/m stuff and see how it is incorporated into all of her early stories, so making a leap to having her raped seems, oddly, in keeping with the character's peculiar origins. But, really, I'd prefer Superman get man-raped simply because it would be so goddam funny.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 11:58 a.m. CST

    She hulk 100

    by humboldt99

    The avenger she-hulk saves is the western character that Mockingbird fails to save in the background of one of the panels. Two-gun-kid I think.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, noon CST

    Red Tornado

    by holidill

    After Crisis Red Tornado came back in a big way in the late 90s as the mentor of Young Justice, written by Peter David. We delved more into his character there giving him a daughter to look after as well. After Young Justice he has mad an apperance in Infinite Crisis possibly playing a big role with Donna Troy and her crew in Space. As for the rape question, did Black Canary get raped or just tortured in The Longbow Hunters by Mike Grell which brought Green Arrow back to the DC universe in the late 80s early 90s.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 12:16 p.m. CST

    holidill

    by rev_skarekroe

    I think Black Canary was just horribly tortured in Longbow Hunters, but I could be wrong. You know, I never bought the issue that came after that one, and for the longest time I just assumed the guy had killed her.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 12:24 p.m. CST

    Good point, Humboldt.

    by superninja

    She-Hulk makes a comment that she didn't know Bobbi let the Phantom Rider die. Of course, the Phantom Rider WAS looney at that point, but She-Hulk doesn't know that. My favorite joke (or rather criticism of Marvel which Slott has done before) in the issue was She-Hulk trying to warn all the Avengers: Jan not to get drunk on margaritas and sleep with Hawkeye (Austen), Wanda to get a shrink (Bendis) and Hawkeye not to get himself killed (Bendis). And then they all laugh at her.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 12:28 p.m. CST

    Dave, Dave, Dave.

    by superninja

    That first issue of the Byrne She-Hulk is terrible. Terrible I says! The Lee/Buscema Savage She-Hulk was far superior. Byrne gets points for his wacky imagination but that's about all.****Mockingbird WAS extremely hot (I prefer costume #2 myself), and you are right about the excellent miniseries ending in their marriage, which Marvel subsequently blew to pieces. If I recall, they turned Bobbi into a complete harpie before offing her.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Re: rape, the easier question is when it has been handled comple

    by superninja

    As Dave mentioned, there are lots of examples which get the point across without going into detail, such as the seduction of Jean Grey. Then, you have things like the Longbow Hunters or Idenity Crisis or Kevin Smith's work here which make you wonder when the writer is going to see a shrink, and perhaps DC/Marvel should consider letting them work out their issues elsewhere.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 12:56 p.m. CST

    ALL STAR!

    by Nairb The Movie

    In ALL-STAR Batman... won't people put two and two together realizing he took Dick Grayson and all of a sudden he has a sidekick with a knack for acrobatics? He won't have a secret identity or what?

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 1:08 p.m. CST

    well..

    by blackthought

    let's hope rape doesn't become the new writer's crux for 2006 and become overwhelmed with nothing but rape stories...i'm pretty sure there are other tales to tell.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 2:01 p.m. CST

    Rape Dave

    by El Vale

    Those are two different subjects by the way. I love the @$$ie awards, i think i can wait till February for that. You guys work hard on it, tho'. And on the subject of rape...frankly i think it's disturbing that all a writer can think of doing with a female character is getting her raped. I wouldn't be surprised if these guys had a boner while writing that stuff, cause it's that juvenile. One of the most disturbing things i ever saw was the rape scene from Irreversible because it forced you to sit there and watch and realize how horrible it really is...no stylish editing, no music, just...watch. It made me angry, it made me feel impotent towards the situation, it made me feel like helping but i couldn't. And i don't know about you but i think it's not a subject i'd want out of my superhero funnybooks. It seems out of place. Rape IS shocking but i think you take away from how horrible it is if you display it for shock value in a superher comic. It's kinda like Rape Light and rape isn't something to take lightly, in my opinion. So yeah, that's just juvenile comic book making. If the only story you can think of telling in the DCU is one of rape and torture and murder, i think you may need some therapy.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 2:10 p.m. CST

    But what if it's a female writer?

    by Thalya

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 2:11 p.m. CST

    Tibetan babes

    by El Vale

    Alright so women from Tibet aren't hot, i think we all know that. So yeah portraying tibetan women as hot mammas...that's pretty unrealistic. But you have to remember it's a story about a giant green man, which i don't think is too realistic either cause i haven't met one and that Eric Bana dude doesn't count because that was some sort of special effect.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 2:19 p.m. CST

    Then i haven't heard of it Thalya

    by El Vale

    And just because a woman writes it doesn't instantly make it good, or ok. I'd have to read it first...but seriously i mean has Gail Simone touched the subject? If she has then i apologize, and this is all a mute point, but so far it hasn't been publicized much so i'm guessing she hasn't, and that's interesting to me because apparently every male writer wants to rape some character in some way, and female writers don't seem too hung up on it, and don't resort to something so shocking to tell good stories and create good female characters.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 2:33 p.m. CST

    Not that it matters but Jim Shooter not Jim Starlin wrote the Hu

    by cookylamoo

    And, for anyone who ever stayed at the "Y", it wasn't so far-fetched as you could imagine. Jim Starlin wrote the rape story where Pip the Troll took a free ride on Moondragon.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 3:21 p.m. CST

    And one last thought on Rape

    by El Vale

    KUDOS to Garth Ennis, he always gets the male characters raped. Wat to stick it to the man, Garth...literally.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 3:29 p.m. CST

    Oh,yeah, it's Bobbi..and rape is a poor plot device

    by Homer Sexual

    What other deceased Avenger's return would make Hawkeye happy? Gotta be Mockingbird (now, watch it be the Swordsman). And the examples of rape (and molestation is equally bad) from Green Arrow, Black Cat and Identity Crisis show what a terrible plot device it usually is. I also blame Meltzer and DC editorial for totally ruining my joy at the return of the Zoo Crew in Teen Titans with the oh-so-very-IC conclusion, which really, really sucked. So I won't give it away just yet, but I doubt I'm the only person pissed at the Captain Carrot storyline resolution.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 3:50 p.m. CST

    hmmmm.....

    by blackthought

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 4:04 p.m. CST

    Typo

    by El Vale

    That was "way". WAY. Way to stick it.Way.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 4:11 p.m. CST

    More All-Star Batman bashing

    by superninja

    What is wrong with Frank Miller? This book is nonsense. Pages and pages of Black Canary beating the crap out of men with THE WORST dialogue. "Baby cakes. Baby. Cakes. Baby. Cakes."

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 5:08 p.m. CST

    Y'think maybe Miller's gone Hollywood?

    by Dave_F

    I mean, his last few SIN CITY outings weren't particularly good and he probably peaked with 300 (was that mid-90s?), but is it possible Hollywood success has just driven him to total, self-indulgent madness? Someone was talking about the SIN CITY DVDs, can't remember if it was this site or not, and apparently the commentary is just a big back-patting lovefest. Filmmakers: "The best part is that we were able to translate the brilliance of the comics DIRECTLY!" Frank Miller: "The great part is that they were so faithful to my ORIGINAL WORK!" Repeat ad nauseum. I gotta figure you can only hear about your greatness so long before you succumb to narcicistic dementia. Lord knows I've come close, but all the "Dave, you're a douchebag" comments in the TalkBacks have saved me time and again. And for that, I'll always be grateful. Baby. Cakes. ****** What I'm trying to figure out now is whether ALL-STAR BATS succeed at being high camp. Is it the new millenium's YOUNGBLOOD #1? The rightful successor to Todd McFarlane's "adjectiveless" SPIDER-MAN?

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 5:15 p.m. CST

    'member when Powerman raped Ironfist?

    by Borgnine JR

    Or did Danny Rand make his weenus "Like unto a thing of iron" and slam it home to Ol' Luke Cage? Or was it consensual with them? Christmas!!

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 5:17 p.m. CST

    All I remember for sure is that there was a lot of angry love in

    by Borgnine JR

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 5:20 p.m. CST

    No love for Byrne's SHE-HULK, Supes?

    by Dave_F

    He brought back Spragg, the Living Hill! Gave us that sweet Christmas story! The return of all-time awful character, Mahkismo! Dr. Bong!! All that and lots of hottie-shots of She-Hulk. Superninja, there is nothing to dislike in these stories and I submit that you may, in fact, be misogynistic. That's right: you're a gender-traitor. (But I'll still read the Buscema reprint)

  • If memory serves, Nightwing was exhausted from some ordeal or another and female vigilante Tarantula just "climbs onboard" while he's lying practically comotose and starts ridin' away. Didn't something similar happen in THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP? Maybe Grayson's just a John Irving fan, but it sounds more like fan-fic "hurt/comfort" stuff. And I guess there was some ambiguity to the seeming rape, too. Like, Nightwing was helpless, but not *completely* unwilling. Didn't he stay partnered with Tarantula for a time afterward? Of course, he also became a hoppin', flippin' mob enforcer on crutches in those days, so it may ALL be a little wonky...

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 5:51 p.m. CST

    Dave that doesn't count as rape!

    by El Vale

    That counts as non-concentual fun happy times.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 5:52 p.m. CST

    There is nothing to dislike in about the stories

    by superninja

    except for the fact that they stink, I suppose. Speaking of stinky stories, I wish DC would collect the I-Ching Wonder Woman run. Does Egg Foo top Spragg the Living Hill or Dr. Bong the terror of T.H.E.M.? I think not. So by defending the indefensible, I have thus redeemed myself to the female sex.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 5:55 p.m. CST

    Maybe Grayson's just a John Irving fan, but it sounds more l

    by superninja

    Hmmm...

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 6:01 p.m. CST

    ALLSTARS makes me want to punch kittens!

    by EternalComicNerd

    the new miller batman line does anyway.. its pure unadulterated crap.. remeniescent of dark knight returns 2.. its frank miller crap that smells of "i dont really care about this, im just doin this for the sweet dc comics paycheck"

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 6:04 p.m. CST

    What's the "I-Ching" Wonder Woman run?

    by Dave_F

    Is that where she had that white, kung-fu jumpsuit? The only pre-Perez WONDER WOMAN issues I've got are a few Gene Colan-drawn outings I picked up just for Colan's art.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 6:10 p.m. CST

    What I want to know is, how much longer 'til we get a book t

    by Heywood Jablowme

    Come on. You know she's asking for it. She's been trying to get knocked-up for years now. I mean, that was the entire premise behind her destroying The Avengers and that whole House of M fiasco. If Vision & Wonderman can't pull it off, only Foom could; dragon-style. Love. Chunks. Sexy. Baby. Memo to Frank Miller: Put the pen down. It's. Over. You've. Lost it. Gotten Sloppy. Old Man.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 6:27 p.m. CST

    Yes, Dave.

    by superninja

    Depowered Kung-Fu Diana. The stories were really kooky, but mostly I dig the art (Sekowsky). They also were trying to write feminist stories for that time and I'd be curious if they were at all successful.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 7:38 p.m. CST

    Thalya

    by Prof C

    At this point I'm saying "more goodies". :)

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 7:50 p.m. CST

    Dave (re: Comic rapes)

    by Prof C

    Someone double-check me on this, but I think I remember the frickin' Hulk getting raped in FUTURE IMPERFECT. Wasn't there a bit where his neck was broken and while he was recuperating, the evil old-guy Hulk was sending in babes to force him to have sex with a panel cut that had him yelling "Noooooo!!!!!" Sounds unconsensual to me, which means....rape.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 7:51 p.m. CST

    Dave (re: Comic rapes) with added comma to make sense

    by Prof C

    Someone double-check me on this, but I think I remember the frickin' Hulk getting raped in FUTURE IMPERFECT. Wasn't there a bit where his neck was broken and while he was recuperating, the evil old-guy Hulk was sending in babes to force him to have sex, with a panel cut that had him yelling "Noooooo!!!!!" Sounds unconsensual to me, which means....rape.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 9:25 p.m. CST

    ah...

    by blackthought

    the lost art of the comma.

  • Jan. 6, 2006, 11:33 p.m. CST

    Prof's very comma-tose, he is.

    by Thalya

  • Jan. 7, 2006, 12:03 a.m. CST

    It's odd that comics have gone backwards

    by tiredpm

    I seem to remember that there was quite the backlash in the 90s about the "girlfriend in the refrigerator" stories that kept coming up. Didn't publishers and writers at that time agree that the abuse of female characters had gone too far? I seem to remember that female writers were quite up in arms about it, with one writer in particular (indie writer, maybe, I don't remember) being quite furious at the decisions made by mainstream publishers. And, by the way, doesn't Zatanna count as a rapist nowadays? Mentally, at least? She's violating minds. Not trying to give an example of a female rapist here, just pointing out (and if it's already been pointed out, I apologize) that publishers appear to have really moved toward the truly despicable. Way back when I lived in the UK and grabbed my comics from a dodgy store near Lime Street Station, comics with that subject matter wuld have been behind the little archway that said 'Adults Only'. I guess the question is, though, who is to blame? The writers and publishers for delving into such depravity or the readers for buying the comics in large numbers and justifying it?

  • Jan. 7, 2006, 12:06 a.m. CST

    Damn

    by tiredpm

    And are we helping to convince publishers of their course of action by discussing the subject to this extent? It's just word-of-mouth to them at this point. I don't have any answers, just a lot of uncomfortable questions and a very queasy stomach.

  • Jan. 7, 2006, 12:16 a.m. CST

    And...

    by tiredpm

    ...after getting into comics through the Dandy, Beano, Transformers UK, Action Force and then GI Joe, I never for one second would have thought I'd be posting in a discussion about the depiction of rape in comics. Christ, I remember buying the TPB of A Death in the Family and being shocked and awed at what I read -- the current climate just leaves me in shock. There's just no...emotional impact to what Meltzer and others are doing. It's a bankrupt plot device that should be abandoned immediately. For an industry that almost died in the mid-90s by trying to appeal to the collectors while alienating it's core audience, the comic industry appears to have forgotten that they need to attract new readers while keeping the loyalists content. Unless they are looking for the people that actually open the rape spam in their email inboxes, they are going to miss out on years of children and teenagers and have a void where a fanbase should be in a number of years. And they will have done it to themselves. Is that what Johns and Jiminez were trying to say in Infinite Crisis #2 when they showed the good times being Giffen's JLA and Byrne's Superman and Aparo's Batman?

  • Jan. 7, 2006, 12:20 a.m. CST

    Yes, I know Death in the Family hinged around a stunt

    by tiredpm

    But there's nobody out there going to tell me that the story and art didn't fully convey the impact of the decision. Aparo's word-free single page of Batman holding Jason Todd's body stopped me in my tracks. There was a sense of utter loss.

  • Jan. 7, 2006, 9:50 a.m. CST

    ....

    by blackthought

  • Jan. 7, 2006, 2:22 p.m. CST

    extras

    by heystantheman!

    No one's mentioned love for the following titles: Ultimate FF: it took me a while, But I like it. I kinda thought Land's art wa a bit stiff, but I'm learning to appreciate it. X-Factor#2 : Usually, when a fill in artist has to help out on issue #2, that's a bad bad thing. But in this case, by cleverly dividing the plots by artist, and having one colorist handle the whole thing, it's a strength. Who knew. IC#3 : can;t hold it against them. Great ending. Spider-Girl: Best. Comic. Ever.

  • Jan. 7, 2006, 6:35 p.m. CST

    Holy Christ! BWS is working on a Thing GN

    by Gus Nukem

    ** comicbookgalaxy.com/bwsexclusiveintro.html ** And Dillon is the artist of the next Wolverine ongoing series: weird, no?

  • Then I could display them on my bookshelf. I realize that they may end up in a trade, but I don't want to buy a book twice. comicsintheclassroom.net

  • Jan. 8, 2006, 12:48 p.m. CST

    Solo really is the best book DC is publishing right now

    by El Vale

    And i know this is old news but jesus christ did Darwin Cooke blow me away!***In other news, i read V for Vendetta and fucking loved it.

  • Jan. 9, 2006, 10:01 a.m. CST

    The most notorious rapist in all of comics

    by Shigeru

    is Superman. Yes you heard me right. You ever suddenly, out of the blue, felt your ass ache like a sonofagun? Maybe felt a little gust of wind? Two words: Super. Speed. Or Baby. Cakes.

  • Jan. 9, 2006, 11:07 p.m. CST

    Somehow I think Earth-2 Superman would disaprove...

    by Thalya

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 12:58 a.m. CST

    What about Earth-3?

    by Gus Nukem

  • I hate to say it, but it looks like he's got the Dr. Light gene.

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 8:10 a.m. CST

    ...

    by blackthought

    supes-prime...has he hit puberty yet? if anyone is gonna be raping anyone it will.....

  • uugghhhh.

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 8:22 a.m. CST

    one for psynapse...

    by blackthought

    "shh....alexander...this is for your own good"

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 8:58 a.m. CST

    Y'know...

    by Thalya

    For guys who are decrying rape so much, you're really getting off on it.. Though if we're talking rape and Infinite Crisis, what do you make of Dr. Polaris getting offed whilst battling Damage, the guy he child-molested?

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 9:11 a.m. CST

    Sorry, Thalya.

    by Dave_F

    It's the tail end of the talkbacks and things get a little giddy there sometimes. Also, the depths Marvel and DC have sunk to tend to inspire a bit of gallows humor. At least in me.

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 9:39 a.m. CST

    Hey..

    by Thalya

    All I'm saying is make with the consistency; otherwise I read your reviews with a pinch more salt. Personally, I don't have a problem with the subject since it tends to occupy my fantasy life half the time, but then, that's just me..

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 10:03 a.m. CST

    I would hardly call making half-hearted jokes about Superman but

    by Shigeru

    So I'm not really going to apologize, especially since you said "Personally, I don't have a problem with the subject since it tends to occupy my fantasy life half the time". No offense Lady C.

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 10:11 a.m. CST

    ok now...

    by blackthought

    group hug

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 1:11 p.m. CST

    You know

    by El Vale

    There are women who have these weird fantasies about being kidnapped and raped, and they get off on that, which is pretty creepy in my opinion but what the hell do i know. To each his own eh? Oh and now i know why you said "What if it's written by a woman?" Thalya hehe, sorry bout that. I don't like the subject but i'm not saying it can't be done right. Especially by a woman. Altho Irreversible was written and directed by a man, so it can be done. I just don't like rape depicted in an exploitative manner. Unless it's male rape, that's just funny (i love being a hypocrite).

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 1:45 p.m. CST

    *hugz Vale*

    by Thalya

    Clarity and self-awareness are such good things. I just find it really odd the way males and females can have differing opinions on this yet the boundaries of acceptability of opinion vary by gender.. Though even then Vale, who's to say my p-o-v is that far off from S&M, which, of course, brings us full circle back to butt-bamfing at the X-Mansion..

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 2:47 p.m. CST

    ahhh...

    by blackthought

    good times at the x-mansion.

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 3:09 p.m. CST

    butt-bamfing

    by The Heathen

    instantly quotable and dare I say

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 3:14 p.m. CST

    I think Psynapse may have coined that one, actually..

    by Thalya

    I saw it around in one of these TBs, earlier..

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 3:15 p.m. CST

    He can only bamf to where he can see right?

    by Shigeru

    so he'd have to aim it juuuuust right.

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 3:51 p.m. CST

    Re: Psynapse may have coined that one

    by The Heathen

    Did he? I must have forgot, with all of the Cogs sexual endeavors at the good 'ol X-mansion it gets kind of blurry sometimes. Mmm, Emma by Quitely and Jean ribbed for our peasure. You guy's are great. Is it time to rejuvenate this tb in our traditional All Week Cog Smooch fashion? *** Lady C., we haven't talked much about IC #3 yet, but we now know that the uber powerful Superboy Prime was the red caped martian stealer huh? Oh and did you see how I was technically right about who Mockingbird was? (I'm going too mention it until someone eventually acknowledges it) *** As another aside, I just love Dan Slott's She-Hulk and Thing series so far. There fun, crazy, eye popping (specially Thing) and there's no raping. Which leads to the most retarded line spoken by Wolverine written by the Bendis: "STOP RAPING ME!!!!" Which really should be the motto of 2006. That or having a well trimmed

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 4:21 p.m. CST

    I think it may have only been a few TBs ago..

    by Thalya

    ..which means probably at least a month.. I wonder whatever happened to J'onn? And is this all set-up for JLA: One Million? Already we're seeing some of that set up in the DOV: IC Special with Captain Marvel.. And you were right about Alex Luthor, I was flipping through old TBs a few nights ago and saw it myself (and technically I might've mentioned something like that too..). Morena Baccarin would be a good choice for Diana, she's got her dignity, though she may need to wear heels or something since she's a little on the short side.

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 4:56 p.m. CST

    'Butt-bamfing'? Not me....

    by Psynapse

    While I am the resident Cog asspert, I cannot lay claim to that particular phrase. At least I don't think I did. Then again, my weed has been extra potent of late......

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 4:58 p.m. CST

    Oh and Heathen IS right

    by Psynapse

    I do remember reading a post wherein he did in fact lay his money down that MockingBird was actually Lex. At least, I think I did. After all, my weed HAS been rather potent of late...wait, what were we talking about again?

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 5:27 p.m. CST

    AWESOME article by Erik Larsen on Comic Book Resources

    by superhero

    Could not have said it better myself...http://tinyurl.com/b2aqt

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 6:09 p.m. CST

    heathen...

    by blackthought

    had a lex luthor playing both sides i think if i can remember...little did we know that crisis would be all on us again...but i'm enjoying it. and i still expect the joker to do something soon because well he shant be ignored dammit...i'm thinking if he's thinking like a current comic writers then he'll open a rape-mart...er...whoops...bamf.

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 9:11 p.m. CST

    Hey Psy...

    by Thalya

    I've been scouring the TBs for awhile now, but without luck, trying to find that link you posted of 'me'. Do you still have the pic up? As for butt-bampfing, well, it was one of us Cogs, that much I know..

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 10:16 p.m. CST

    Was it me?

    by El Vale

    I'd love to take credit for it. Did Wolverine really say "stop raping me"? When and...how? I mean...was it supposed to be funny? Someone explain!

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 10:49 p.m. CST

    vale...

    by blackthought

    wolverine said that when he broke the fourth wall and to tell marvel to "stop raping me!!!!!!!!" because they threatened to put him in the newly reformed x-factor then the gla and he's just realized that he can't be on all 400 marvel teams. wolverine, self-aware...a shock i know.

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 11:18 p.m. CST

    What title was this?

    by El Vale

    Hopefully it wasn't House of M

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 11:40 p.m. CST

    i have clue...

    by blackthought

    i made it all up.

  • Jan. 10, 2006, 11:53 p.m. CST

    Wolverine said "stop raping me"...

    by SleazyG.

    ...in the last issue of SECRET WAR, which came out a few weeks ago, only about a year late. Worse yet, he was talking to Nick Fury at the time. Seriously. Talk about subtle. No need for metaphor or literary allusion here, kids--it's comics! Let's brainrape Wolverine! Ahhh, good times.

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 12:52 a.m. CST

    That's pretty bad

    by El Vale

    How do you write that and not realize that it's bad? How does an editor not take it out because it's bad? Oh well

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 12:52 a.m. CST

    It wasn't SECRET WAR, Sleazy...

    by Dave_F

    It was when Wolverine guest-starred in the PULSE a few months back as a *tie-in* to SECRET WAR. I think he made some kind of call-back to it in that final issue of SECRET WAR, but the actual line was in THE PULSE.

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 12:53 a.m. CST

    Y'see, Vale, everyone forgives Bendis everything...

    by Dave_F

    ...because he writes a funny Spider-Man. That's my theory anyway.

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 2:09 a.m. CST

    Magical Comedy Girl Thalya

    by Psynapse

    Since I'm a 'tard who has yet to learm to tiny url yet, just go to photobucket.com and go to the album 'psynapse'(go figure!). Oh and any other Cog who is curious to see what Psy is capable of when not either playing video games, reading comics, or harassing the elderly and handicapped, have at it. (*_^)

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 8:47 a.m. CST

    oh...

    by blackthought

    i didn't know marvel had editors

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 8:59 a.m. CST

    I just don't get it

    by Shigeru

    how can you write the holy hell out of Ult Spiderman and Daredevil (most recent arcs of both have had me drooling- in a good way), yet I completely couldn't care less about HOM or Secret War or New Avengers? How can I fawn over 40% of your work and loathe the other 60%? Huhh? Does Joey Q ghost write all the big crossovers for BMB? Oh well.

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 11:11 a.m. CST

    It must be in both, Dave...

    by SleazyG.

    ...cuz I haven't read the issue of THE PULSE in question, but I did (god help me) read the last issue of SECRET WAR, which is where I saw it. Which blew, BTW.

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 11:13 a.m. CST

    BMB just can't handle large casts or complicated stories, Sh

    by SleazyG.

    It's just that simple. The characters all start to sound exactly the same, they behave out of character, they stand around with nothing to do...he just has no idea what to do with any large-scale storyline.

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 12:08 p.m. CST

    yeah I suppose you're right.

    by Shigeru

    He should stick to Peter Parker trying to work up the courage to tell Aunt May that he's spider-man. Or fucking NINJAS vs. FBI vs. Luke Cage and Iron Fist vs. Elektra vs. Black Widow fights. Did I mention NINJAS?? FUCK Ronin/Echo. The Hand is where it's at.

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 12:52 p.m. CST

    he said it in TWICE?!

    by The Heathen

    I couldn't bare to read the last issue of Secret War A) because I forgot what it was about and B) all I COULD remember was the "Stop raping me!!!" quote of Wolverine that was actually from The Pulse. But I can't believe he said/wrote that again, sheesh! And speaking of Echo (not the shitty Ronin one) I can't wait for LOST tonight! (Sorry Vale) ooh, and 24 next week!!! *** So now that we know who Mockingbird is and who the red cape was that stole J'onn, I guess the only question is: Who coined the buttbamfing term? Was it Kal-El?

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 12:53 p.m. CST

    Thalya

    by The Heathen

    What is JLA: One Million? And didn't you see J'onn at the end of IC #3? I'm confused.

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 1:23 p.m. CST

    Bendis

    by El Vale

    Bendis is weird, he's very good at the stuff he's good at, but (from what i hear)he can't make this other stuff work. And it's not like he's only good at writing crime drama cause there you have Ult. Spidey. But like my friend said, Bendis SHOULD be able to write a good Avengers comic. And i guess that's true, but lemme ask you something...just cause the guy can't write a good Avengers story, or a good giant crossover (and let's face it, very few writers have), does that mean he's stagnant? Does that mean he's hit a roof on his abilities? That's not a rhetorical question, i don't know the answer.

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 2:22 p.m. CST

    What Gail Simone said when asked about "One Year Later" for BoP

    by The Heathen

    "Thankfully, the jump fit in with some really huge stories we wanted to tell. In particular, one of the Boppers obsessiveness is going to cause a gargantuan set of problems for her. It's a very different situation for her, and it's going to have what I think will be lasting consequences. Plus, Oracle wakes up and wishes all the mutants away." This woman's great!

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 2:34 p.m. CST

    heathen...

    by blackthought

    jla one million was a story well featuring the jla meetings their counterparts from the far future. it involved a plot hatched by vandal savage and the sentient star "forget its name right now" plans to stop the return of the original superman...and my fingers are tired...jeez...where is cut and paste when i need it...heathen i could go walk 10 feet to the library and make sure the synopsis is all good and gravy but that is way too much effort for a 20-something. now what was the topic?

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 3:12 p.m. CST

    JLA: One Million

    by Thalya

    It's an old company-wide crossover that occurred during Morrison's JLA run. There's a TPB of it out, though it doesn't contain all of the issue #1,000,000s that got published. It was supposed to be about how there was still a JLA 1,000,000 months into the future and what the future of the DCU looked like, including a Captain Marvel-as-Shazam bit. And you're right about J'onn. I guess IC #3 wasn't as memorable as it should have been for me..

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 3:16 p.m. CST

    oh, and the A.I. star's name was Solaris.

    by Thalya

    There's unfounded speculation going around that Brother Eye is Solaris, but Solaris was already constructed by then. (Morrison's warped. In order to defeat the threat of Solaris, the JLA had to create Solaris..)

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 3:55 p.m. CST

    Why so Lady C.? (in regard to IC #3)

    by The Heathen

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 4:21 p.m. CST

    I'm pretty sure the obssessive member in BOP's gotta be.

    by SleazyG.

    ...Huntress. Only thing that really seems to fit the bill. Book's been building to big craziness with her mob ties anyway, and her methods have always been considered far more extreme than everybody else's, so ti seems most likely. On that front, though, the inclusion of Lady Blackhawk (yay!) does bring up an interesting point: where would she stand on Helena's approach? I mean, LB is a chick who ran with fighter pilots during WWII. What are the odds the Blackhawks mowed down a crapload of baddies in their day, not even counting the ones they shot down or bombed mid-flight? Pretty damned high, since I seem to remember seeing it happen. Would the perky, spunky, fun-lovin' LB also be down with wasting some skells? Cuz honestly, I don't see why not...

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 4:38 p.m. CST

    That sounds like a safe bet Sleazy

    by The Heathen

    but who are the new members of BoP?

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 4:56 p.m. CST

    Exterminators #1

    by The Heathen

    hope you @$$es give this a review. It's a crazy book and I had know idea about it. My lady picked up my file for me and asked if there was anything new or different in and they told her to read this. Tony Moore?! Hell yeah, I love me some Tony Moore. Whether it's zombies, space aliens, or bugs and vermin - it's all nice to look at. But this book is just so over the top (and yet somehow subtle

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 5 p.m. CST

    New members?

    by SleazyG.

    I only have one guess. I don't see Batgirl staying Batgirl much longer, to be honest. With her skills, her setting up in a new neighborhood in Bludhaven, and her ties to Lady Shiva (Just like Black Canary) I expect we might see her turning up in BOP. Besides, as much as I love BOP, the only thing I see missing at this point is some youth. There are a lot of older characters there, and I love that (yay Lady Blackhawk!), don't get me wrong--but it would add a whole new dynamic to have somebody young and energetic on the team. They could be less experienced, or less able to work with a team, or more likely to do something unexpected, which might add an element of surprise to some of the goings-on. Plus so far all of the conflicts and bonding alike have been among women of similar ages or experience levels--it might be interesting to see them go all den mother on somebody younger, and see whether that younger character finds it welcoming like a family or tells the old-timers to step off. So yeah, lotsa potential there, and my one best guess.

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 8:33 p.m. CST

    oh sweet...

    by blackthought

    mr.eko

  • Jan. 11, 2006, 9:10 p.m. CST

    Stuff

    by Thalya

    Heathen: about IC #3, I guess I read it when I was tired or something, or there wasn't enough plot momentum for me.. Sure, Atlantis got trashed, Themyscira went away, we got the revelation about Society Lex, and we found out the guy in the red cape... But that all should've been accomplished by the first half of this book if things are going to be paced ok, at least my sense tells me. There are so many threads to juggle and so little page space. I wanna know what's going on in outer space without reading Firestorm. We've gotten the basic gist by inference about what's happening, but I'd just like to see things hammered home a little more to feel like "this is definitely the big plot", no pussyfooting about it. *** Sleazy: personally, my guess is things go somewhat Earth-2 and who we're getting is Dinah DRAKE Lance (not Dinah LAUREL Lance), and Helena WAYNE.. Just a theory. Lady Blackhawk would seem to fit E-2 as well, plus Gail mentioned that a new person would be joining who had already been in the book: that would be Dinah's mom, who guest-starred in one of the later issues of the Sensei and Student arc. Gail said there would be 'a Canary' on the team. With her and Huntress, it could be DC's way of simplifying things to sort out the Chinatown-ness in the two Canary's histories. And about Lady Blackhawk: in some of her early issues in the book, she has no problem brandishing a pair of pistols, even at a friend of hers when she stole the Aerie 1, so.. And Oracle can be pretty obsessive herself, imho..

  • Jan. 13, 2006, 12:13 a.m. CST

    thanks thayla

    by blackthought