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#41 12/21/06 & 12/28/06 #5

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) ESSENTIAL MAN-THING V1 & ESSENTIAL DEFENDERS V2 FABLES #56 NEW AVENGERS #26 CHECKMATE #9 WINTER SOLDIER: WINTER KILLS ONE SHOT BATMAN #659-661 Big Eyes For the Cape Guy presents MAIL V1 Indie Jones presents… CHEAP SHOTS!


Writers: Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Steve Gerber, Tony Isabella, Mike Ploog Artists: Gary Morrow, John Buscema, Neal Adams, Dan Adkins, Rich Buckler, Howard Chaykin, Jim Mooney, Jim Starlin, Val Mayerik, Frank Bolle, Chic Stone, Frank McLaughlin, Sal Trapani, Jack Abel, Mike Ploog, Frank Chiramonte, Klaus Janson, Tom Sutton, Alfredo Alcala, Vincente Alcazar, Pat Broderick, Al Milgrom


Writers: Tony Isabella, Len Wein, Steve Gerber, Jim Starlin, Gerry Conway, Roger Slifer, Chris Claremont, Scott Edelman, Bill Mantlo Artists: Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom, Sal Buscema, Klaus Janson, Mike Esposito, Gil Kane, Dan Green, George Tuska, Mike Esposito, Vince Colletta, Sal Trapani, Dan Adkins, Don Newton, Jim Mooney, Don Heck, Bob McLeod, Jack Abel, Frank Giacoia, John Trataglione Publisher: Marvel Reviewer: Dan Grendell

"For whatever knows fear BURNS at the Man-Thing's touch!!"
"Paper dolls don't cry. Only us real people got that problem."
I'm sure you're wondering why I'm reviewing both these ESSENTIAL volumes together. At first glance, they don't seem much alike. I mean, MAN-THING is quasi-horror with a mindless muck monster used as a focal point for stories. DEFENDERS is a super-hero team book, albeit a more off-the-wall one than, say, AVENGERS. And no, it isn't that Howard the Duck appears in both volumes (in fact, his first appearance is in this MAN-THING volume), although that's close. The real tie is the writer of most of the stories in both books - Steve Gerber.
Most prolific in the Seventies, the era of both these collections, it's rare to see comics work from Gerber anymore. That's a shame, because he's a talented writer with a definite knack for mixing the totally strange with normal tropes of comics and making it work. Another hallmark of his work is the inclusion of social commentary, something he was doing long before it was fashionable. Grant Morrison reminds me of Gerber in some ways, though other aspects of their writing styles are completely different.
Taking over after a couple issues from Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas, MAN-THING is pretty much all Steve Gerber. He stays with the basic idea of a man who injected himself with super-soldier serum to keep it out of AIM's hands and seemingly died in a car explosion in the swamp, rising as an empathic creature whose touch literally burns any who are afraid. But instead of just making Man-Thing a monster that kills people in a swamp, which is boring as hell, Gerber tells stories of people trying to drain the swamp to build an airport. Now there's an environmental tale going on. Later, he reveals the swamp as the Nexus of all Realities, where alternate realities meet, and cults and brains that make their own bodies and jars of peanut butter that turn into barbarian warriors make appearances. And throughout, people are learning lessons about themselves or life in general. Sometimes the lesson is a bit heavy-handed, but the innovative stories always soften that blow.
Gerber picks up DEFENDERS after Len Wein, and again most of the book is devoted to his work. If Gerber wanted to work on a superhero book, DEFENDERS seems like the perfect choice, because they specialize in dealing with weird crap. Flourishes like the Headmen fit right in, a pair of freaks who with screwed up heads. One was working on shrinking (like Hank Pym) and instead turned his head into a cross between Droopy Dog and melting butter. The other was using organs from apes to give transplants, until the apes somehow became intelligent and grafted his head to an ape body. And that's not even touching on Valkyrie's search for who she is, which stretches across a good part of the book and involves destiny, cults, and a drunk who plays a harmonica and unmakes the universe. The lessons are here, too - stories about racism and responsibility with the Sons of the Serpent, making assumptions with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and, of course, just what defines who you truly are courtesy of Valkyrie's search.
As usual with ESSENTIAL volumes, there are so many artists involved that it’s hard to make a very clear call on the quality, but both of these volumes have a high percentage of strong artists putting out good work. Mike Ploog, especially, in MAN-THING, and Sal Buscema in DEFENDERS, seem to really nail the essence of the characters and action perfectly.
If you end up enjoying either of these books, you may want to check out ESSENTIAL HOWARD THE DUCK V.1, another Steve Gerber ESSENTIAL from the Seventies focused solely on the character he is most known for. If you've only ever seen the movie, you've got a few things to learn about that duck.


Writer: Bill Willingham Penciler: Mark Buckingham Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

There are many, many, many questions to this little bit of dismal-itry we call life that go unanswered. What's the purpose? What am I supposed to do with my time here? Why do the good die young and the bastards live for-fucking-ever? And how, each and every December 25th, does that fat and jolly fuck from the North Pole make deliveries to each and every boy and girl in all of the world in just the span of a mere handful of hours?
Well, thankfully Mr. Bill Willingham has finally answered that last one for us.
Christmas has descended upon Fabletown, but more specifically the Bigby household. But not only does this special issue deal with the big question of "Is Santa Claus a Fable?" but it also gives a couple pushes and nudges towards big things to come. Not everything can be fun and games, as much as we'd like it to be with the subject matter at hand. But even though it's the time for giving to loved ones, in Fabletown the prospect of war with the Homelands is always looming.
But there is a lot of fun to be had here, as is the case with most issues of this amazing series. The book starts off with a hilarious bit involving our resident loveable rascal Jack Horner trying to steal Old Saint Nick's Naughty and Nice lists for extortion purposes. Plus, add in some holiday bliss at the Bigby's and an interlude with Boy Blue and Rose Red as they try out some spoils from the Arabian Fablelands and there's plenty of smiles to had. Even Santa's explanation as to how he performs his yearly miracle is a fun little yarn, though there is a bit of melancholy hanging around via a sequence involving the newly re-frogged (man, I can't believe I actually typed that) Flycatcher. It does tie into the FABLES: 1001 NIGHTS OF SNOWFALL OGN from a couple months back, so those FABLES fans who somehow missed out on that instant classic may be lost, but it is a powerful moment filled with lots of foreboding. This series seems to manage a steady stream of those, which is probably why it's one of the best on the market.
And the art as always is spectacular. Buckingham's pencils are always the perfect combination of "adult" and "Disney" when it comes to this series; that is, it always packs the perfect emotional punch when called upon, but always has this upbeat energy to it keeping it fresh and kinetic. As much as the writing is particularly clever, full of twists and turns, and constantly innovative...well, the art is all that and more and is a huge part of this series' appeal.
So another great issue of another great series is in the bag and this is where I'm supposed to do the usual "If you're not reading this you're missing out" and "This is one of the best series comics has ever seen" and blah blah blah and that's done. But as much as it's probably (and hopefully) been beaten into your skulls by now, it's that way because it's true. This comic is that good, and you really should be reading it, and if your loved ones really are that to you and vice versa you'd be sharing Mr. Willingham's gift to the world with them and each other in trade form. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Alex Maleev Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Ambush Bug

The relationship between the works of Brian Michael Bendis and myself has been tumultuous at best. I’ve read many of his mainstream superhero books and found that a lot of them have flaws that tend to get on my nerves. But in recent months, Brian Michael Bendis has surprised me with some interesting reads, most recently the “solo” issues of the NEW AVENGERS that have been going on since Marvel’s super-crossover CIVIL WAR started. I’ve liked these issues and I doubt he would admit it, but I think Bendis has listened to his critics by tightening up the internal logic of his stories and recognizing what has come before rather than writing in a vacuum constructed only of his own design. Bendis has also reeled back his tendency to waste space on redundant beat panels and over-exposition which frustrated me because I felt as if I wasn’t getting my money’s worth by buying his comics in single issue format when they were so obviously paced for trade. These Bendis-isms that have been recognized by his critics and embraced by his followers have been honed to a sharper point these days. I think these “one and done” issues of NEW AVENGERS really have helped make Bendis a better writer. Try any of the last four issues of this series, each told in a single issue, each focusing on a single member of the team, and see what I mean.
But don’t check out NEW AVENGERS #26.
In this issue, it seems as if Bendis is returning back to his bag of old tricks. One thing that frustrated me about the HOUSE OF M and AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED events was the foundations of logic Bendis used to plant his story upon were not strong. Plots were explained away with mentions of words like “chaos magic” or left unexplained entirely. One such occurrence happens at the beginning of this issue as Hawkeye magically appears in the ruins of Avengers Mansion seven months ago. There is no explanation. No dialog. Nothing giving the reader a clue as to how Hawkeye was back. He just was. There are those who say, why ask why? Just enjoy the story. But when shit just happens for no reason, that’s not a story. It’s life. And there’s a difference between story and life. Life happens for no reason. Life is waking up, brushing your teeth, putting on deodorant. Monotony until one day you’re dead and you can’t wake up, brush your teeth, and put on deodorant. Story happens because there is something to tell. One day, you wake up and put on your deodorant before brushing your teeth. Why? That’s the story. There has to be a reason to make your audience care this occurrence happened. When the foundation of your story rests on an occurrence with no explanation, the reader, right off the bat, has nowhere to cling to. Shit happens in life. In story, it doesn’t, not if you want to tell a good story. Sure, later on, Bendis can come back and say “I purposefully left out the explanation.” But the story starts with Hawkeye coming back. The story is Hawkeye coming back. You’d think there’d at least be a clue as to why other than Dr. Strange saying, “You’re okay now” and then moving right on to the search for the Scarlet Witch.
That’s lazy writing anyway you slice it. Bendis knows that any explanation offered will be cheap, or maybe he just can’t imagine anything up to do so, so instead, like a good slight of hand artist, he quickly changes the subject and we’re off on a journey to find the Scarlet Witch.
The rest of the story is ok. Hawkeye stumbles his way around and eventually finds Wanda AKA Scarlet Witch in a village below Wundagore Mountain where she was raised. The two share some intimate moments and then…well…I don’t know what the fuck happened.
And I don’t fault Bendis for this one. Alex Maleev, while in my opinion not a very good ball-handler in the first place, drops the ball big time in the last few pages of this book. After Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch (who by now should be called the Scarlet Ho-Bag since she’s bagged The Vision, Wonder Man, Captain America, and now Hawkeye) bump scruglies, here’s what I think happens: Hawkeye gets out of bed. He looks at her in bed. Looks at her chair. Looks at a door. Walks to the door. Grabs the knob. Looks at the door. Looks at his hand on the knob. Looks back at her in bed. Looks frightened? Constipated? Excited? Sad? I donno, inscrutable facial expression time. Now, his hand doesn’t have a doorknob in it. Hawkeye is a foot away from the door. Another shot of the door. Hawkeye looks at her in bed. Another inscrutable facial expression. Final shot of Hawkeye fully clothed, outside of door, seemingly leaving.
To quote the bard: “--the hell?”
Did Hawkeye just get a case of One-Night-Stand-itis and decided to leave Wanda alone in bed after puttin’ the ol’ shaft into her quiver?
Does reality shift a bit and the door that he thought was there move a foot away?
Did Hawkeye open the door and see something that none of us did?
I have no freaking clue. For a few panels, Bendis flashes back to a quote from Dr. Strange saying that Hawkeye may not like what he sees when he finds Wanda and that he may make matters worse, but this doesn’t shed a beam of light on what Hawkeye is thinking in this final scene. It looks as if the series of panels have some kind of relevance, but I honestly have no clue what it is.
So you have an issue which starts out with an occurrence with no explanation, some shit happens, and then in the end a hodge-podge of panels are jammed together to try to say…something. And as much as one would think I am trying to blame Bendis for this mess of an issue, I have to rest the blame on more appropriate shoulders, that of Alex Maleev. Maleev’s scratchings may convey mood, but mood doesn’t tell story. Maleev’s handling of panel to panel progression is horrible. Something’s going on in these panels, but I have no idea what it is. A better artist would have been able to clarify this mess of an ending. He would have been able to conclude this single issue story in a manner that didn’t leave us asking more questions. So whereas the way the story started out and the initial confusion that proceeds is all Bendis’ fault, it’s Maleev, not Bendis, who messed this one up in the end. Maybe it’s the Bendis/Maleev combo that I don’t like. I’ve seen Bendis work with other artists and I was pleased with the results. Maybe it’s the way they communicate with one another or the lack thereof. Whatever the case, if you’re looking for a clear story about the return of Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch to status quo, look elsewhere. This one ain’t it.


Writer: Greg Rucka Artist: Jesus Saiz Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Sleazy G

Anybody who’s read a Greg Rucka novel can tell you CHECKMATE is pretty much the best possible match for his sensibilities. It allows him to use his knowledge of the military and private security contractors, as well as how they interact with the government and how quickly their worlds can suddenly explode. It also lets him play with the comics characters he has such a strong affection for in new ways. So far the espionage/superhero combination has worked surprisingly well.
I’ve never been a fan of his taking the uniquely hard-nosed, non-powered, human character he created in Sasha Bordeaux and turning her into an angry half-cyborg weirdo because of the big OMAC thing last year in the DCU, and I still don’t’ think she needed the supposed “upgrade”. That said, seeing just what a hardass she really is and watching her throw her weight around in a war room as easily as in the field is a lot of fun, and seeing characters who were previously seen only in a superhero punch-up every now and again being used in covert military ops works to expose a new side of those characters. It’s certainly added welcome layers to the likes of Mr. Terrific and Fire, and it’s exposing a side of the DCU that hasn’t been touched since the old SUICIDE SQUAD and CHECKMATE! series.
Still, there are certain corners of the DCU that would naturally seem harder to integrate into a military-style international action thriller. One of those corners would be coming up with a way to use, oh, Sugar and Spike or Bat-Mite. Another obvious danger zone would be any of the magical/supernatural/occult characters. I mean, how do you do a rapidly paced story about a military squad attempting to exfiltrate with their target and then have the manifestation of the Wrath Of God stop in to help out? Things can get a little tricky, a little outta control. Sure, there’s a lot of potential for interesting stories, but if it’s not handled delicately the magic stuff can be overpowering and throw off the balance of the relatively grounded military/espionage stuff.
Rucka does a helluva job here, though. Sure, it was a bit odd at first, seeing a UN intelligence agency infiltrating the “extraplanar” Oblivion Bar, focal point for the DCU’s magic practitioners and home base of the gang from SHADOWPACT. I was a little leery that it might pull me out of the book seeing these two sets of characters cross over so early in their titles’ runs, but it wasn’t a problem at all. Rucka comes up with a very clever use of Shadowpact’s abilities, actually—a use which perfectly plays off of the military aspects of CHECKMATE. It’s nothing big, nothing flashy—in fact, as I was reading and started to realize what was going on I realized how much sense it made and how obvious it was in hindsight. It’s just the kind of clever adaptation of the magical characters’ abilities that had already been working so well with some of the superheroes in the title.
Of all the books spawned by DC’s recent mega-crossovers, CHECKMATE manages to be one of the two or three best reads every month. In fact, it’s probably the first new title I’d recommend people pick up from DC, because it’s got so much more going on than just the standard superhero fare. Sure, it’s consistently tense and action-packed. Beyond that, though, the insight into the backgrounds of the characters and the political intrigue add a lot more depth than you’re going to see in most of the other mainstream books on the shelves right now. Rucka’s doing some of his best comic work in CHECKMATE, bringing a lot of his knowledge and experience from outside of comics to the title. As long as he does that and keeps coming up with fresh new ways to use the superheroes and magical characters from the DCU, this series is going to keep clicking.


Writer: Ed Brubaker Penciler(s): Lee Weeks & Stefano Gaudiano Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

It's the holiday season and the CIVIL WAR is still raging strong apparently (if you could still call it "raging" since it hasn't really bothered to show up for a couple months, but I digress). But while most of the heroes of the Marvel Universe are trading blows over this whole registration act, Captain America's old sidekick Bucky (now going under the guise of the Winter Soldier) is laying low and trying to re-align himself with the world around him after having spent years in storage, only being drawn out to be used for assassination purposes under someone else's control. So this so-called "Casualties of War" tie-in is really just a one-shot focusing on the current emotional state of our once former "boy wonder" and actually turned out to be quite the touching little book.
The comic starts off with a WWII flashback (come on, what did you expect?) of the last Christmas our boy Bucky had a chance to celebrate before the same accident that flash froze Captain America for all those years also put Buck under as well. But besides just being a poignant flashback, it also sets up the only real "tie-in" this thing has to CIVIL WAR in that it reminds us how much things have changed. Back then Cap was about as popular a human being as you could get, with Bucky not far behind, but now our star-spangled Avenger is feeling the brunt of negative popular opinion due to his anti-reg stance, and Bucky is pretty much nothing but WWII nostalgia to the masses. And now our former sidekick is feeling a bit left out in the cold and deserted by a population that once adored him and by the heroes he once called friends and that are now content to beat each other senseless.
But the book isn't all maudlin and reminiscing. In the midst of his little bout of self-pity, Buck is called out by his new handler, the de facto leader of SHIELD Nick Fury to stop the Young Avengers (out fighting crime in defiance of the Registration Act) from breaking up a Hydra cell that Fury needs operating a bit longer to find out just what they're up to. So you've got some great emotional bits at the beginning and end of this book to really drive home what this character must be going through after the ordeal he has had over the past 60-odd years, a few pages of ass-kickery in the middle, and some great nostalgia via the flashbacks to really put everything in perspective. Sure, I know none of this material is exactly "ground-breaking" material, but it does show some fine craftsmanship and polish to evoke the emotion that it does. I'm still not exactly sure why this warranted having to slap that red banner across the top of the book, but if it encourages someone to buy something they normally wouldn't, and give them a taste of the kind of top-quality writing they've been missing on Brubaker's CAPTAIN AMERICA run, then by all means I hope it worked. I just hope it doesn't leave anyone expecting a full-on tie-in dealie feeling they've been had.
Also, the art chores on this book line up with the writing very well. I've always been a big supporter of Lee Weeks’ art, and was a supporter of Gaudiano's too once he took over for Michael Lark on the classic GOTHAM CENTRAL series. Both have very story-driven styles, using lots of atmosphere in their panels via the dark tones and *gasp* background work (an art that seems to have been lost on most mainstream pencilers). Lots of facial ticks and range of expressions on the part of both of them, plus just great panel work in general, really push the book to make it such the unexpectedly wonderful little read that it is.
So, while the book itself is actually four dollars and a little on the subdued side, that still doesn't make it any less worth your money than whatever event book de jour also walked into your shop this past week. In fact, I think it's that very nature of the book that appealed to me in this mass of "shit blows up and guys in costumes angrily hit each other over a premise that has worn thin already". This is just a good old-fashioned tale of a man coming to grips with his place in a world that has passed him by, and trying to maintain a modicum of sanity throughout it all. And what person here can't identify with that? This is why Brubaker is such a potent writer, because he takes what by all means should have just been a throwaway special with a banner on it designed specifically just to generate sales, and he turned it into a book that really makes you think. That's just fine talent right there. I wish more of these "tie-ins" could be more like this one.

BATMAN #659-661

Writer: John Ostrander Artist: Tom Mandrake Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Ambush Bug

I know there’s a bit of a hubbub regarding this so-called “filler” arc that is currently running through BATMAN. I know people want their Grant Morrison Joker issue. Sure, I kind of want to read it too. But in the meantime, there’s a pretty good story unfolding. Issue #661 is part three of this arc and not necessarily the perfect time to bring attention to this one, but better now than never.
The arc is called “Grotesk” and it refers to a shady character who has been burning and stealing the faces of criminals on the streets of Gotham city. The guy’s got ties to Leslie Thompkins’ health clinic (Thompkins being Bruce Wayne’s maternal figure after his parents’ death until he sent her up the river for letting the Spoiler die) and to an experimental handheld weapon called I-Gore. He’s your typical deranged “Phantom of the Opera”-esque character, scarred and bent to enact revenge on those who he thinks has wronged him. Although the character isn’t all that original, Ostrander’s story is a well-structured mystery pitting bad guy against bad guy against Batman against Grotesk. It’s a strong story with ties to Bruce’s past, but not necessarily ground-shattering in regards to status quo changing stories. And that’s what makes it so special. This is the type of Batman story I love. A well structured mystery. It’s simple and will probably not be remembered as one of the best stories in Batman’s literary life, but it does prove that this is a tale told by one of the best writers we have in comics today. A writer that doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Ostrander isn’t a Wizard Writer of the Month, but he’s been writing strong stories for as long as I’ve been reading comics. This story proves that last statement without question.
Ostrander’s artistic partner for many books including THE SPECTRE and the overlooked MARTIAN MANHUNTER series from a few years ago is Tom Mandrake. I’m not one of those guys who puts comic book art on his walls, but if I were to get my hands on a few select pages of the art Mandrake provides for this series, I’d be a happy man. Mandrake has a subdued style, highlighting both the monstrous and iconic characteristics of the Batman in action. As I flipped through the pages on first pass, I noticed the art as a true standout. Upon looking back, there are specific pages that are truly frame-worthy. Mandrake catches the essence of Batman in action. Panel placement and shape, panel to panel progression, and the action that is illustrated within are all some of the best I’ve seen. You can goo all over that Jim Lee Batman cover if you want, but give me page three or four of issue #661 or any page of issue #660 any old day. Artists should look to the way the panels play out and the way the splashes have relevance and impact and learn how to do it right.
I really can’t help but gush about this BATMAN arc. I think a lot of people saw that this wasn’t a Morrison issue and decided to give it a pass. To those people I say, “Give this one a shot.” They are missing a Batman tale that can’t be beat. There is probably still a chance to pick up the first three issues of this arc (which comes to an end next month) on the shelf or in the recent back issue bin. This story deserves the attention and the team behind it deserves a chance to shine on a project bigger than a so-called fill-in arc.


Creator: Housui Yamazaki Publisher: Dark Horse Reviewer: Dan Grendell

"Dead and impure spirit of the deceased, once again becoming an evil spirit menacing this world. This will not stand. With this spirit gun called Kagutsuchi, I send you to the Underworld."
Okay, so I've read the first volume of Dark Horse's new release KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE, reviewed it even, so I knew Housui Yamazaki could draw. Well, guess what. Like most mangaka, Yamazaki can write, too. MAIL isn't much like that other title, though, except in art style, and though I really dug KUROSAGI that's a good thing- innovation is the name of the game in horror manga.
Reiji Akiba is a private detective, but he investigates special cases- hauntings, curses, that sort of thing. Akiba believes that the dead are always trying to communicate with the living, and that most odd things that people just ignore are this communication - mail from the Underworld. Armed with his ability to see spirits and his magical gun Kagutsuchi, Akiba tracks down ghosts and shoots them with a spiritual bullet which captures the soul. He then takes the bullet to a shrine and lays the soul to rest, allowing the ghost to move on from this world. Often he is just in time, and it is the stories of the various ghosts and the people they are haunting that are the really excellent part of all this. Yamazaki goes into each ghost's tale as the story unfolds and Akiba or the haunted character discovers clues, making it a mix of mystery and horror with enough imagination for two manga.
Yamazaki's art remains as excellent as it was on KUROSAGI, with expressive faces and great character development even in the short time we get to know each haunted person. It takes both writing and artistic talent to make you care that someone is in danger in just a few pages, but Yamazaki really shines at it. The ghosts, too, are creepy, and the double page spread of a young Akiba opening his eyes from beneath his blanket to the face of a ghost inches from his face yelling 'YOU CAN SEE ME!" scared the hell out of me.
I'm riding this new wave of horror manga, and while it isn't all to my taste, enough of it is that I have to commend publishers on their choices. MAIL is yet another good one, and I'm looking forward to the next volume.


When I read the back cover of this book, I have to admit, I rolled my eyes a little at the “after shool special” way the comic tried to sell itself about a guy reaching for his dream despite the odds. But as I read the book I couldn’t help but be sucked into the narrative with its comfortable dialog and tender moments. This is a slice of life book about a man who has aspirations of making his own movies and develops a means to get the funds to make this dream happen, but somewhere along the way gets sidetracked with the stuff that has shattered many a dream, namely drugs, women, and pride. Illustrated with crisp lines which define characters that prove to be distinct and memorable in both look and action, this story, drawn by Shawn Richter, looks as good as it reads. And in the end, I felt a bit inspired myself. A really nice read with some solid storytelling coming from Dino Caruso. Worth a peek. - Ambush Bug

Warren Ellis’ WOLFSKIN #2 Avatar

WOLFSKIN? More like foreskin…
Spoiler warning!!! This issue features a cameo by Wolfskin’s uncircumcised dangling man-junk. So if your bag is bathing barbarians with bulbous organs that resemble a turtle coming out of its shell, then you’d better high-tail it to the comic shop and pick this badboy up, ranger! It’s not that there isn’t a place for uncircumcised penis panels in the cornucopia of indie titles that make up today’s comic book market. It’s just that I was a bit jarred at not one, but two, large panels of Wolfskin in all of his glory. The story is simple, and Ellis is one of the few people that can pull it off, with this tale involving a debt to a village at war with another this barbarian is forced to honor despite the fact that he loathes both parties involved. In this issue, Wolfskin begins to play each side against each other, laying to rest that he is not just some simple, mindless killing machine. There’s a bit of welcome grue towards the end as Wolfy slices warriors in two with his sword and bashes their faces in with a hammer. And the art by Juan Jose Ryp is detailed to insane levels. His panels of bloody action splatter with juicy goodness. But I found the seven page bathing scene with our hero to be more than a little unsettling. - Ambush Bug


SCARFACE the movie is towards the top of the list of many a male cinophile. It’s one of those films seething with testosterone made at the perfect time to give the film a gritty real-ness type of story about a man who literally clawed and scratched his way to the top of the heap. It’s an ugly movie about an ugly man. It’s a rise and fall story. One that depicted a great journey with an end that made sense. It’s one of those films you walk away from full and satisfied. No one was screaming for a sequel because although the story was good, there really was no place for the character to go, since…well…he died in the end. But with the recent resurgence of popularity with the video game and the release of a remastered DVD, IDW has done the impossible and resurrected Tony Montana for a sequel of sorts. SCARRED FOR LIFE picks up moments after the movie with Tony astoundingly surviving his bloody battle at the end of the film. Turns out he was so hopped up on coke that his body just didn’t know it had to die. And with that type of kooky comic book logic, this sequel had me. Sure, purists may not appreciate the decision to continue the story, but I liked seeing Tony back and crabby as hell. I don’t know if it’s the cartoony art or the tone of the story or the absurd way the character was resurrected, but this series seemed a bit less serious than the film. The art is good, mind you, but someone with a style more like the gritty realism of the movie would have bridged the gap less jarringly. But don’t get me wrong, I liked this book and had a lot of fun reading it. The word “fun” is something I would never associate to SCARFACE the film since it is meant to be a cautionary tale about America’s obsession with power, but I can attribute it to this book. - Ambush Bug


I don’t know what a WARHAMMER is, but I know this was a fun read. Apparently this was a sci fi series or role playing game or something. Not sure, but this first comic book introduction of this series was pretty darn cool. It’s one of those cross-genre pieces where futuristic knights go on crusades around the universe. The characters wear armor like the knights of old, but use sci fi tech in their battles. The art is gritty and great by Lui Antonio. And I especially loved the cranky old Dreadnought which is a walking tank-machine that houses the soul of a fallen warrior too tough to stop fighting. There are some nice info pages in the back which fill the reader in on the intricacies of the characters. This serves as a good introduction to readers (like me) who know jack squat about this property. Issue two should be equally entertaining as the Dreadnought is unleashed into the battle. - Ambush Bug

LONE RANGER #3 Dynamite Entertainment

The art is great. Sergio Cariello does a nice job of making this book one of the best-looking cowboy books around. Too bad the story is fluffier than blow-dried sheep. Back when I reviewed the first issue of this series, I complained about the lack of lone-rangering in this LONE RANGER series. Now we’re three issues deep and we still haven’t seen the Lone Ranger in action. Interspersing some future Lone Ranger action with this back-story would have given this series the shot in the arm it needed for those attracted by the possibility of seeing one of the most famous fictional gunmen in a comic book. But in this issue, the future Lone Ranger melts a sheriff star into a bullet, pistol whips Tonto, visits a grave, chugs a beer, finds a suicide, and buys Silver (the horse, that is). This book is the ultimate tease. It looks great, but leaves you with blue balls of action anticipation. Every issue ends with the promise of some action in the next, then does it all over again in 30 days. This decompressed shit has been going on for three issues now and I don’t think the ol’ testes can take much more of this teasin’. - Ambush Bug

MAGNITUDE #1 Ape Entertainment

Writer Greg Waller and artist Axel Gimenez bring a story about a hero sent from the future to correct the mistakes of the past. Although this is well-tread territory in the comics, this creative team brings new life to the story with some vivid panels and nice imagery. I especially like the name of this book’s main baddie, Gigundis. Fun to say over and over. Gigundis, Gigundis, Gigundis. There’s an old school brawl leading into some really engaging plot points that make you question who the good guys are and who are the bad in the end. And I really liked the way the book started out focusing on the last two remaining people on Earth right before it blows to smithereens. This looks to be the start to a wild ride. - Ambush Bug


This comic is like an unearthed loony toon brought to comic book life. Mr. Scootles bumbles through Hell as the people who discovered his lost cartoon battle demons. I’d like to see a little variation between the Hellscape and the real world in this book, but this book never fails to entertain and keep me on my toes. I never know what to expect as the story staggers from deadly serious to off-your-nuts madcappery. If you’re looking for an alternative to the same ol’ same ol’, check this one out. H.C.Noel has got some really great ideas going on here. - Ambush Bug


This is a really gruesome read featuring zombies, vampires, Nazis, and the occult. Set in the last days of the second World War, the Nazis are desperately scrambling to win at any cost. This is the X-FILES meets the Ralph Fiennes sequences of SCHINDLER’S LIST with a little dose of Satanism thrown in for shits and giggles. Not for kiddies or the squeamish, WAR OF THE DEAD seems to be embracing all forms of horror both real and fictional in a tour de force of scares and thrills. Issue one proved to be surprising and entertaining. And the art is absolutely horrifyingly good. The final page sent shivers down my spine and ensured my purchase of issue two. - Ambush Bug

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.


The premise for this one is a good one. The Joker steals Scarface, the Ventriloquist’s dummy, and goes on a crime spree. The interaction between the Joker and Scarface is classic and upholds the continuous subplot from the mainstream books that Scarface may not just be a block of wood after all. Writer Jai Nitz does a great job of packing this issue full of fun moments and action, once again proving that telling stories with characters can be just as interesting as trying to make stories about the character and constantly hanging on the desire to make a status quo changing story out of it all. Nitz respects the Batman Universe. There’s an especially great moment when Batman enlists the aid of the Ventriloquist to help him solve the crime where he recognizes one of his devices on display in the Batcave trophy room and Batman shows a bit of embarrassment. Great stuff. This is a tale that could have easily been told in DC proper. Once again, these “kids books” make the character much more entertaining than its mainstream counterpart. - Bug

SHE-HULK #14 Marvel Comics

Dropping in on the little Marvel Series That Could (avoid cancellation multiple times that is) this special issue of SHE-HULK is pretty much all Awesome Andy-centric as he comes to grips with the fallout with the love of his "life" Mallory. Basically this issue involves a lot of inner turmoil in the rather large headspace of our emoting synthetic life form as he comes to grips with his being. And really, a short summation here can't do this particularly touching issue justice. Slott does such a tremendous job of giving Andy's existence so much life and heart that you just need to read it for yourself. I don't know if it's just because this book is usually so fun and carefree that this kind of story just hit a little harder than it normally would, but it's still a wonderful look into one of the best supporting characters in a comic today. Give it a shot, you owe it to yourself. - Humphrey

ROBIN #157 DC Comics

The first ROBIN comic I have liked in waaaaaaay too long, mostly because of the consistently amazing artwork of Frazier Irving, artist of the KLARION THE WITCH BOY miniseries who shows up in the last page of this issue. This story is very clichéd for today’s standards in the sense that the “guest star” doesn’t show up till the end, segueing into the big confrontation in the next issue. Seeing Robin try to take care of Klarion’s cat was fun, especially when it is rendered with Irving’s amazing visuals. Despite the disappointing story structure, this issue is worth it for the eye-feast alone. Next issue promises to be more of the same when Klarion actually makes his guest appearance. - Bug


This is the first issue of the new Cal McDonald ongoing series, and Steve Niles has decided to crank the volume up. There's a lot going on: higher stakes, more subplots, more monsters, more freakiness. As a fan of the previous few miniseries, that makes me a little nervous--sometimes you can go too large and it's hard to find anything else to build up to. On the other hand, widening the scope for an ongoing is probably the right call. So far so good, though: the series has everything the past minis did and then some. Kyle Hotz' art is clearly influenced by Kelley Jones, but he's starting to develop a more distinct personal style, and it's definitely shadowy and creepy enough for the story being told. If you like your noirish P.I.'s physically and emotionally bruised and not quite smart enough to get out of the way of the next beating, and you like the idea of an undead ghoul as a Girl Friday, this book's for you. Additional draw for total geeks: Patton Oswalt's cameo as a fat, balding, beady-eyed, skull-chomping ghoul. - Sleazy


Man, I really wanted to like this issue featuring one of my favorite comic book heroes and written by one of my favorite comic book writers, but I can only give this a lukewarm recommendation. Peter David comes up with an interesting premise: adhering to the film MY FAIR LADY where a cultured man tries to educate a seemingly uncultured woman, Simon Williams AKA Wonder Man decides to take a wayward super heroine under his wing and teach her how to be a proper super hero. Of course, this is set in Hollywood, so Wonder Man’s agent decides to film it. I was one of the few people who really loved Wonder Man’s previous series which had Simon bounding through California battling evil agents, movie producers gone nuts, and some galactic menaces to boot. But despite its fun premise, I found this story to be kind of fluffy and unsubstantial. One may say this is the perfect way to depict a comic book hero who is also a Hollywood superstar, but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect way to tell a story about him. On top of this, the kid just comes off as annoying and the premise has been used to death, most recently over in SHE-HULK with the Southpaw character. I’ll stick with this one and report back if any heft is added in latter issues, but I’m proceeding with caution. - Bug

BIRDS OF PREY #101 DC Comics

Barda beats up on some fighter jets. Judomaster and Huntress giggle at the innuendo behind Barda's "Mega-Rod.” Oracle confronts Katrina Armstrong about her attempts to hunt the Birds down. And we see the return of our would-be Batgirl from a couple issues ago. So basically that's just me saying that even with the mini "revamp" this title has taken in the past two issues Gail is still bringing it with some great off-beat humor, plot threads aplenty, and a nice twist and/or turn here and there. Oh, and Nicola Scott's pencils are perfect for this series. Another positive piece added to one of the most consistently good series in mainstream comics. At least DC is still doing some of its series justice. - Humphrey Lee

ZOMBIE #4 Marvel MAX

This issue ends what was a breezy combo of Tarantino-esque crime/interactions, zombie movies, and a hint of relevance with previous incarnations of the character in Marvel history. I’m sure very few of today’s audience know who Simon Garth is. Hell, I only know a little about him and I’ve been reading for 25 years. I don’t know if a sequel is in the works now that Simon Garth is set up as the sole survivor of this four-issue confrontation with the undead, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t the way his original origin was played out. Entertaining at times. Visually pleasing thanks to Kyle Hotz’ art and Dan Brown’s colors. This issue ends with a bit of confusion, as if there were a page or two of panels missing from the story. But if the same creative team returns, I’d probably pick up a sequel if one were made. - Bug


Got a little bit of the old dagger eyes thrown at me when I went off my meds last time and reviewed TEEN TITANS #41. That's all right, the book deserved my ire. Horrible, horrible, horrible art. I was a bit tough on the writing, but the art was shit-tastic. I will admit to a little mistake though; I did not pay proper justice to this future Geoff Johns-penned issue. I referred to it as "filler" before the upcoming “Titans East” storyline. It wasn't filler, it was gold. Eddie Bloomberg, aka Kid Devil, takes the spotlight and loose ends of various plot threads stretching all the way back to UNDERWORLD UNLEASHED are tied together in a neat holiday bow. This is how to tell a proper continuity-laced origin story. And the nigh-unspellable Peter Snejbjerg does an excellent job with the art duties. Here's hoping last issue was simply post-Infinite Crisis burn-out. - Squashua

NEXTWAVE #11 Marvel Comics

Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb here, put my neck out on the line, stand in front of the firing squad, whatever little clichéd metaphor you want to use here, and say this: I'm kind of glad this book is ending in an issue. Yes, yes, I know, this book is some of the most gratuitous fun out on the stands, and there's not an ounce of justice in the world that this thing couldn't even break the top 100 in sales. But in the midst of the six absolutely brilliant and gorgeous looking two-page splashes that are the big "gag" of this particular issue, it just dawned on me that there's really no place left for this book to go. We've had skateboarding Mindless Ones, Fing Fang Foom's underpants, giant robots, Forbush Man and explosions, explosions, explosions... I think it's just time to get out while the getting’s good. And oh, I'll miss this book surely, but I just want it to go out while it's still fresh and funny and at the top of its game. So here's to you NEXTWAVE! You were one mad bastard of a comic and I'll remember you fondly. Hopefully in oversized hardcover form. You hear me you bastards at Marvel?! I want this sumbitch in deluxe hard-covery glory!! And include wet naps!! Lots of wet naps!!! I'll be needing them. - Humphrey

100 BULLETS #79 DC Vertigo

With only 20 issues to go before the series ends, 100 BULLETS has started pulling together all the dangling plot threads and bringing the tale to a close. If there was any one thing you could be sure of with this title, though, it was that it wasn't gonna end well for most (if any) of the characters. Things have really picked up steam over the last few months, and this issue we get another major character's death. This time it's the lead of one of my favorite arcs so far (and one I wrote about here), and I really hate to see him go. Probably my own fault for getting attached to any of these characters, though, and a strong indicator of just how bad things are gonna get for The Minutemen in the end. I'm definitely sticking around to see who the last man standing is, if there's anyone left by the time we hit #100. - Sleazy

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 4, 2007, 9:11 a.m. CST


    by Turd Furgeson


  • Jan. 4, 2007, 9:13 a.m. CST

    Cool stuff

    by Turd Furgeson

    Looking forward to a lot of these.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 9:17 a.m. CST


    by muhammad false prophet

    No idea what means, just trying to perpetuate the latest catch-phrase craze ala "lucas raped my childhood" or "too soon" or "damn you michael bay" or whatever came before or after. that is all.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 9:17 a.m. CST


    by muhammad false prophet

    No idea what means, just trying to perpetuate the latest catch-phrase craze ala "lucas raped my childhood" or "too soon" or "damn you michael bay" or whatever came before or after. that is all.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 9:40 a.m. CST

    End of Avengers 26

    by Zarathos666

    Bug, you must have missed where Wanda mentioned her aunt Agetha was in the other room (which would be quite odd, being that she is dead). The end was clearly Hawkeye looking at Agetha's chair, then the room she was supposedly in, going to check what was in the room, remembering what Strange told him, then realizing it's probably best to run the hell away before some nut-job who can warp reality killed him a third time.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 9:46 a.m. CST

    Everyone knows...

    by loodabagel

    The latest catchphrase is Brainiac shoved that thing up Lois's uterus.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 10:09 a.m. CST

    The Bendis and Maleev combo...

    by loodabagel

    Bug, aint you ever read Daredevil? I for one, am a huge Maleev fan.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 10:59 a.m. CST


    by humboldt99

    How can you not follow the end of Avengers 26? Why bother reading comics if you can't follow the art to story.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 11:48 a.m. CST

    I concur…

    by The Heathen

    New Avengers #26 was all kinds of bad. Bug will probably be sacrificed by the faithful legion of Bendi, but he's right here. Also, he's right about Bendis' previous four issues of New Avengers, those were surprisingly good and to be honest they got my hopes up and then I read this latest issue.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 11:50 a.m. CST

    Alan Davis statement

    by TheRevengeOfBayouWilly

    Anybody hear the stuff Alan Davis said, about how since the companies don't really pay royalties that much, the writers write longer stories so they don't have to come up with so many ideas, and artists request more splash pages for resale value of the originals? Stark stuff.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 11:59 a.m. CST

    Here's another NA review from Dave_F's site…

    by The Heathen <br> <br> Bug isn't the only one confused and/or angry about this issue.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 12:10 p.m. CST


    by Buzz Maverik

    The 70s DEFENDERS are sort of a forgotten series, overlooked, misinterpreted or reduced to their first few issues. Sometimes we get something brilliant, like Mark Millar's hilarious Ultimate Defenders (hilarious-but-I-never-want-to-see-them-again; I loved that issue of the ULTIMATES but the ironic thing is that the Defenders and those characters and stories were actually more of a precursor to what Millar is doing than the Avengers). Steve Gerber perfectly handled those long, multi-issue stories that have come to be known as "arcs". His stories had their own internal logic that was out of sync with the Marvel Universe, yet was somehow more logical. Gerber has recently stated that his Hulk and Dr. Strange were proto-types for ULTIMATE and ALL-STAR characters, slightly different than their regular incarnations. The plots were tight, action happened when it should but was never forced and never interfered with advancement of story and character. There was social commentary but it only got slightly preachy and seldom leaked into the dialogue, ala Claremont. When it did, it could be gold, i.e. Hulk to racist-Klan-style-supervillain organization The Sons of the Serpent: "White? Hulk is not white!"

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 12:57 p.m. CST

    I like Maleev

    by Shigeru

    I thought his murky art fit well the murky world (both literally and morally) that Daredevil inhabits. <br> Plus he draws the Black Widow so hot you could fry bacon on her! Or something. <br> But I can see how that style wouldn't be a great fit on a book like New Avengers. I still can't even believe people read that book after the obvious PR stunt that was putting Wolverine and Spider-Man on the team.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 1:32 p.m. CST

    Jebus wept. Her costume was in the closet you dullards.

    by Reelheed

    However why does scarlet witch have such a big shiney red honk instead of a nose on the cover? On the other hand I actually thought this ish was OK with some great art and nice character moments. I find it really odd that you couldn't fit the reappearance of hawkeye into the context of the current marvel universe. If you need an explantation written into the book for you, get a pen and a post-it and try filling in the blanks. snot hard.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 1:53 p.m. CST

    Ish 26

    by CaptDanielRoe

    I read it as follows: Hawkeye reappears because Wanda is no longer using Chaos Magic, so her changes to the MU vanish, like a witch dying and her magic following. Really not too complex; the explanation is there. Secondly, Aunt Agatha is in the next room and my inference (this is less certain) was that Agatha was a facet of the old Scarlet Witch's psyche (named for the aunt) who would be a wicked, wicked beyotch due to being burdened with all the knowledge of what has happened; she's got the magic, but she's sleeping (like, for months, you know, dormant). By the way, Agatha isn't really her Aunt, it's probably just a name borrowed from her old mentor Agatha Harkness, who is dead (well, you know how that goes).

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 1:53 p.m. CST


    by Loosejerk


  • Jan. 4, 2007, 3:39 p.m. CST

    Yeah, Those AICN Reviewers Don't...

    by Buzz Maverik the highly paid comic pro's work for 'em! As a Highly Paid Comic Pro would say, "We can do it murky because if anyone says anything, our fans will tell 'em they don't get it."

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 3:46 p.m. CST


    by blackthought


  • Jan. 4, 2007, 3:50 p.m. CST

    Bendis Really Isn't Writing The New Avengers...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...he's writing the New Defenders. Dr. Strange. Hawkeye. The subject matter would work better in a DEFENDERS title.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 4:10 p.m. CST

    Hoed out Wanda chaps my hide!

    by superninja

    She was one of my favorites, but they ruined her, just like they did Storm.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 5:06 p.m. CST

    Great to see these reviews back!

    by dregmobile

    And I liked New Avengers 26 and Lone Ranger 3. I wonder if I'll be one of the lucky ones that actually get a copy of Civil War 6 from the 'partial shipment' that will arrive today ... bastards ... <br> <br> Oh yeah, and Justice 9 kicked my ass!

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 5:20 p.m. CST


    by The Heathen

    "Wanda is no longer using Chaos Magic, so her changes to the MU vanish" <br> <br> So you're telling me HoM's slight purpose of Wanda saying, "No more mutants" is now void and even more useless? All the spin and gusto of why there had to be not as many mutants is now backtracking among itself? I mean, it was expected and it's not like the changes have any real effect on the Marvel books as a whole, but I think your theory doesn't hold water. Hawkeye reappearing WAS confusing. To be honest, I thought he was still dead and it seems like many others might have thought as much, including Bendis because there's that recap page in the front that say's (in a funny way I can't remember) that say's Hawkeye died and was brought back and then died and then was brought back… It's like they had to convince themselves that that's what happened. A big f'n mess this issue was. The last thing Bendis needs to do is remind us how bad HoM was, especially while Millar is taking the brunt of the heat because of Civil War. "The hell…" indeed.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 6:02 p.m. CST

    War of the Undead!!!!!

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    This news gave me such a (metaphorical) boner this morning! Then I get to my shop...they didn't get any!!! I think my head is going to explode in frustration!!!! That image from the cover is my new desktop background. Whew.....

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 6:40 p.m. CST

    "Bendis has also reeled back his tendency to waste..

    by nofate

    space on redundant beat panels and over-exposition" Maybe you should follow his lead, you know as far as your own redundant "I hate Bendis' writing" high-horse you can't seem to get off of, yet you're always first in line when it comes time to critiquing his books. Oh yeah! I went there! You know you opened your self up for that one after your comment about my "constant negativism" on this posts from last weeks column. Listen, I only post comments on shit I don't agree with and whenever you @$$holes get too full of yourselves. Like that memorable moment when Sleazy felt that appearing on some crappy TV show somehow was similar to Spidey revealing his ID on CW2. Puhleazze!! I'll leave the ass kissing to the rest.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 7:27 p.m. CST

    Sleazy on Attack of the Show…

    by The Heathen

    First off, does anyone including Sleazy have a clip of that on YouTube specifically? Secondly, how did Sleazy feel him appearing on the show was similar to Spidey's lame unmasking? Fill me in on that one 'fate. <br> <br> As for Bendis, look, he's a talented guy and like I (and Bug) said - I really enjoyed his stand-alone issues of NA that tied into Civil War, but this past ish was pretty shitty in that 'oh too familiar smell' you know what I mean? Bendis just needs someone to edit him and that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 7:30 p.m. CST

    Sleazy G was just mad that he looked fat on TV...

    by Son of Batman

    but hey, them's the breaks. Oh, and All Star Superman and Superman this week pwns you.

  • Jan. 4, 2007, 9:02 p.m. CST

    Wonder Man

    by Black Satin 2

    I've never been impressed by Wonder Man. He just seemed to be a really strong guy who works best in groups. It just hit me that with the Hollywood angle, I wonder why no one made him like a Joey Tribianni type from 'Friends'. Simon could hit on hot stars and other superheroines while pining for the true love of his life, Wanda Maximoff. I know the Scarlet Witch is off the grid, but wouldn't it sound good to have at least 50 issues of Wonder Man?

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 2:45 a.m. CST

    Oh nofat...

    by Ambush Bug

    You're so of these days you'll get it.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 9:50 a.m. CST

    Why Wonder-Man doesn't resemble a character on Friends

    by loodabagel

    Friends is a lousy TV show.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 9:58 a.m. CST

    That first page of NA #26 reads…

    by The Heathen

    "Clint Barton--Hawkeye--was reborn in the HoM, and then brutally killed a second time. He reappeared a second time as the world returned to the way it had been. He hasn't been seen since." <br> <br> That's pretty embarrassing and as much of a mess as the rest of the issue. So, Hawkeye was appeared a second time when the world was normal. By 'normal' they mean to a world where 90% of the mutants lost their powers? That wouldn't be normal now would it? Or is it the normal world before HoM? Huh? Wha? And can anyone tell me why the people that remember HoM call it that? It's not like Magento even had anything to really do with it right? Shouldn't it be called 'that time where we attacked Magneto's palace thing in an alternate reality and Wanda fucked things up even more' - what the hell is HoM? <br> <br> Anyway, enough of that. The Escapists mini was amazing. Nothing short of brilliant. I just finished it last night.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 11:58 a.m. CST

    Attack of the Show thingie

    by SleazyG.

    Man, some motherfuckers just can't let shit go. It rarely even crosses my mind again. I guess when I wrote about it here I mighta made reference to the fact that online we all hide behind fake names and personas--essentially secret identities. The number of people from around here I've met in person can be counted on one hand and still leave a coupla fingers and a thumb. So it was a little weird to suddenly be on the show and exposing myself--real name, face on camera, that whole thing. Anybody who took it for more than a passing observation, or thought I was actually a big enough shithead to compare myself to Peter Parker, should probably go ask the nurse for more jello. As for the clip, I think it might still be on You Tube or the AOTS site, but I'm not sure since I've never watched it. Can we talk about something more interesting now, please?

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 12:05 p.m. CST

    "Wabbit Season"

    by iGore

    If you were around for the Wonder Man series from the early 90's... you know that scene!

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 12:06 p.m. CST

    So yeah...Tony Stark just killed Happy Hogan, huh?

    by SleazyG.

    Goddammit, I really wish I'd read this piece of shit IRON MAN #14 a few days earlier. If I had I could've written an old-school vitriol-laced rant about just what an absolute nightmare of an abortion of a trainwreck of a fucking story that is. Oh, wait, he didn't just euthanize Happy Hogan...he did it at the insistence of Pepper Fucking Potts and Sue Fucking Storm. ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME?!? You use Civil Fucking War to kill off Happy Fucking Hogan, who happens to be Tony Fucking Stark's best/only friend?!? And that's, y'know, a good idea how, exactly, you FUCKING MORONS?!? Jesus Hopscotching Christ, what the FUCK is going on over there? "You have to understand, Captain America...I'm not some kind of techie genius who could whip up a way to save Happy in a day or two like I did for myself while trapped in a fucking thatched hut as a prisoner of a foreign military! I'm too busy making sure the good guys don't kill any more innocent people, so instead I had to euthanize Happy from miles away using my abilities to control the life support machines he's attached to!" WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON OVER THERE? CAN NOBODY AT MARVEL ACTUALLY EXTRAPOLOATE LOGICAL FUCKING CONCLUSIONS BASED ON THE FUCKING INFORMATION THEY THEMFUCKINGSELVES PROVIDED THE FUCKING READERS? WHAAAAT THE FUUUUUCK?!?!?

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 12:32 p.m. CST

    I Am Not Bendis...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...but haven't I been saying even before Hawkeye died, using him as an example, I'd like to see a superhero return from the dead with no explanation? For some reason, I always said Hawkeye because he lends himself to humor. Just walking down stairs at the Avenger's mansion, in his mask and drawers, scratching himself, getting a bowl of Grape Nuts (because unless yer a mutant or superhuman, ya gotta eat right to function at his level; why do we never see Daredevil eating rice, tofu, veggies, tuna, and spring water?). Captain America says,"Where ya been the last few days, Hawk?" Hawk says, "Dead. It was a real bitch. We got any low fat soy milk? Some of us don't have a super-soldier serum and can't drink the regular kind, ya know!" I'd kind of like to have Bendis' job, not because I really want to write comic books, but because it has to beat the shit out of most jobs...What else? That was a good one, Cooky!...Also, everybody "Ho-ed out Wanda?" What is this, like, five guys in about 40 years of comics, which would be a few years Marvel time? C'mon, let's not show our geek. Sure, it's more than the average person here gets, but I really don't think that four or five men in...what, about five or six continuity years...would make your average young woman in her 20s a "ho" (which no white guy should say because they sound like Michael on THE OFFICE). One of them was even her husband, and a machine, so he was sort of a vibrator anyway. Sure, four sexual partners is quadruple the lifetime number of yer average Marvel Zombie, but...What else? Sleazy, remember, you have to be a Highly Paid Comic Pro for your irony to get through...What else? Critics who don't always like Bendis' work are going to critique it. Nobody is doing advertising here and wouldn't you say that Bendis still gets enough blind worship that this really shouldn't be a problem for anyone?...Also, I think Wonder Man as Joey on FRIENDS is a funny idea! I agree that by himself, the character is useless. But he makes for so many good Avengers plots. He's got origin ties to Baron Zemo and the Enchantress. We've got the whole Vision thing, which brings in Ultron and Henry Pym. His brother is the supervillain The Grim Reaper. He's been dead and come back and Jim Shooter, both brilliant and heavy handed at the same time, gave this invulvernable character an almost debilitating fear of death. You can bring in Marvel's embodiment of Death, with Thanos, hell, etc. He's diddled with the Scarlet Witch because comic book writers are about as subtle as they ever were. For a long time, I sort of hated these second and third string heroes, especially in the Avengers, etc. But they are the ones the creative teams can really screw with. It's kind of stupid when you make She-Hulk nuts in the Avengers (I'd say she's B level but she can almost support her own book) and it takes a superior talent like Slott to integrate it, but they can go nuts with the Scarlet Witch. Hawkeye, too, is sort of B level, but he's an institution so it's not as arrogant if you're killing and reviving Wonder Man every year. I mean, I dig what Shooter, Stern and later Millar have done with the Pyms (although it's time to try a new angle) etc. If Iron Man goes on a bender, it should be in his own book, for example, which leaves these supporting characters for the team book drama.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Something more interesting, but first…

    by The Heathen

    It's on the G4 site, but nowhere on YouTube. The Cogs are working on our 'Best of 06' and Axel Alonso is the winner of one of our categories. That AOTS segment is the only place I can think of to show how much of a stand up guy he is. ; ) <br> <br> Pressing forward. I'm sick of the NA #26 already too. Is there anything else news worthy in comic book land? I'd love to talk about anyone who has read The Escapists. Brilliant work. Anyone reading Elephantment? There, that should do.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 12:37 p.m. CST

    You See, Sleaze, Killing Hogan Makes Marvel Bad Ass....

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...and therefore, the fans are bad ass because they can look death in its' computer-colored eye without flinching! Because it's like the real world where the guys in super armor have to do stuff like that all the time.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 12:56 p.m. CST

    For crying out loud Sleazy G.

    by rev_skarekroe

    It's a funnybook. Take a pill for God's sake. Somebody'll bring Happy Hogan back to life in a year or two anyway.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 12:59 p.m. CST

    Hey, Sleazy...

    by SleazyG.

    ...there's only one O in "extrapolate", ya jackass! Jeebus, and you call yourself a "writer"?!? And go to lunch already, willya? I'm starvin' over here!

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 1:15 p.m. CST

    Haven't read the final issue of THE ESCAPISTS yet...

    by SleazyG.

    ...but it was a damned fine miniseries, and I know I said so in the column at least a coupla times. I also said several times in the column that the anthology was one of the best series of the last decade. That these books sold as poorly as they did depresses me to no end. Top-notch writers, fantastic art, stories that are touching and funny and exciting...and nobody even noticed. It'd be nice if more comics readers read actual books; then having a series based on the work of a Pulitzer Prize winner might have had a chance in the marketplace.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 1:20 p.m. CST


    by blackthought


  • Jan. 5, 2007, 1:33 p.m. CST

    Kavalier & Clay

    by The Heathen

    The last panel of THE ESCAPISTS #6 is a perfect way to end it. I honestly got chills from it. I knew that the anthologies didn't sell well at all, but I hoped better for this more affordable mini. Ya got Brian K. Vaughan, Jason S. Alexander, Steve Rolston and covers by Frank Miller, Brian Bolland, John Cassaday and Paul Pope. What the hell is there not to like? Nothing. THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY is what got me back into comics. If anyone hasn't read it, do yourself the favor and do.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 2:04 p.m. CST

    Hawkeye's Return

    by holidill

    I always thought it was Wanda's way of apologizing for killing Hawkeye by bringing him back to life again. She didn't do it for the others (ant-man, vision, jack of hearts) because they did not confront her about it like Clint did. Also I think she is one of the mutants who does not have her powers anymore either. By the way, whatever happened with Magneto? Last I saw he was in a helicoptor that blew up.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 2:10 p.m. CST

    that's the last anyone saw of Magneto…

    by The Heathen

    but *gasp* no body was found and all the energy from Xorn/Michael/whatever itwas vanished didn't it? I actually kind of liked Bendis trying to explain that. Kinda, still confusing though. Magneto having his powers back ten fold could be cool.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 4:26 p.m. CST

    A26 and Penance

    by Homer Sexual

    Though already commented on, I'd like to say that the explanations for the murky Avengers 26 are WEAK! Especially the Aunt Agatha part...who knows who is supposed to be dead or alive? If Hawkeye is alive, anyone could be alive, anything whatsoever could really be going on. And I never liked slutty Wanda. I liked Wanda and Vision, weird married couple. Now, slutty She-Hulk is great, but Wanda? No! And she's not really B-List. She was one of Marvel's top female characters for more than a decade. Anyhoo....I read the Penance "origin" and thought that someone had apparently decided to take blend Civil War and Generation X while ripping off the DaVinci code. It was a bit interesting, but also more than a bit hackneyed. And Reed Richards continues to be a character worthy of killing, but he's too "big." Now I am wondering if I'll drop Thunderbolts again. Is the return of Moonstone (so great!) enough to offset including Bullseye and Green Goblin? I hate when "popular" characters are stuck in groups they totally should not be in, just because they're popular. (Wolverine the best example, Spider Man and Sabretooth also). I love the villains-oriented concept of T-Bolts, but Bullseye is so not an appropriate villain for this group.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 4:28 p.m. CST

    Oh, and great reviews!

    by Homer Sexual

    I bought, and agreed with your reviews of, Winter Soldier, Fables, Avengers and Checkmate. I love me some Checkmate. I also bought She-Hulk, but that was a cheap shot and I'm getting really bored with that book anyway.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 5:06 p.m. CST

    Homer re: Penance

    by The Heathen

    I've been meaning to ask since I read the issue of X-Factor where they all were in therapy and Monet said she was Penance and Emplate was her brother or something? As far as I knew, Penance was some red chick with diamond hard skin and Emplate was her brother. I'm confused as hell. Can anyone explain to me what is what and who is who? How could Monet be Penance?

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 5:17 p.m. CST

    Buzz re:Scarlett Ho-bag

    by Ambush Bug

    It's not that sleeping with five men is ho-ish by any means. It's the fact that she's slept with five men on the same superteam. Way to Yoko it up, Wanda... If you're in one place and you look around and see a handfull of people you've tagged in the same room, you've gotta question something about your shag pool. Had it been an X-Man, a Defender, an Avenger, and maybe one of the Warriors Three, it wouldn't be so bad. But Hawkeye, Cap, Vision, & Wonder Man often have to work together, man. That ain't cool.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 6:15 p.m. CST

    Technically, Bug...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...with Wonder Man and now Hawkeye, Wanda nailed two Defenders. The Cap thing is weird. Was that Austen? That almost doesn't count because it's waaaay too out of character for Cap. Vision and Wonder Man are, in many ways, the same guy...although there was always something cruel to the Wonder Man hook up, like: "Hey, Vish, I'd like you so much better in you weren't red and made of that weird material that can change its' density and if you didn't have that freaky computerized voice." Ditto to the stupid Wasp/Tony Stark relationship: "Hey, Hank, if you were successful as an inventor and a superhero, you'd have a shot!" I'm surprised Stark never made a move on Wanda. Now, Hawkeye always liked her but she didn't like him. He had no luck with women. Black Widow ditches him for Daredevil, Wanda prefers a machine, Mockingbird gets messed up by John Byrne, etc. But look, who else is Wanda going to meet if it isn't Avengers? After all, the Rolling Stones always exchanged women.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 6:15 p.m. CST

    I Can See It Now: "Hank, Do You Know Anybody...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...we can set Wanda up with?" "No, Jan, the only guys I know are superheroes, supervillains and androids and I wouldn't recommend any of 'em."

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 6:16 p.m. CST

    Hey, The Talkback Order Is Messed Up...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...just like in the old days.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 8:07 p.m. CST

    Five guys practically all at once!

    by superninja

    Okay, not five, but you get the point. She is like if Cher was in the Marvel universe and had chaos magic.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 8:11 p.m. CST

    Maybe she brought Clint back for the sex?

    by superninja

    The membership roster is running a little light. Maybe they can have have one of those old-school recruitment issue covers with an "x" over the face of every guy Wanda has banged?

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 8:14 p.m. CST

    The deal with the original Penance/Monet St. Croix...

    by SleazyG.

    ...can be found here: I find it interesting that the original (well, not exactly, but...) Penance is slated for an upcoming Marvel ongoing (THE LONERS, formerly EXCELSIOR, the team spinning out of the beginning of RUNAWAYS V.2)and yet Quesada went and greenlighted calling Speedball Penance. Making him, BTW, Penance IV in the Marvel U., although technically I, II and III all shared the same physical form. Ugh. My head hurts.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 8:17 p.m. CST

    The problem with Wanda and Clint totally doing it:

    by SleazyG.

    Hey, I'm a pretty open-minded guy, but seriously: the insane witch who killed me? Twice? Not with Thor's dick, pal. Now what'd I do with Songbird's number? I hear she's on the rebound from Baron Zero...

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 8:36 p.m. CST

    Wow. Thanks, Sleazy.

    by The Heathen

    That's a definite head scratcher/hurter. I think I got it, but I'm not sure I want to. Scott Lobdell's original plan sounds better albeit still complicated.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 9:15 p.m. CST

    Why oh why...

    by Thalya

    ..does it seem like DC continuity is downright simple in comparison to Marvel's? And somehow less corny?

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 9:45 p.m. CST

    I dunno about…

    by The Heathen

    less corny, but it is easier to follow and that's saying something, cuz it's a freakin wreck. I do think it's more iconic.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 10:07 p.m. CST

    Avengers oddness

    by Guj19

    I don't know, it seemed like Hawkeye's hand was pink after he let go of the door knob. Still, that doesn't explain what the hell he was looking at.. or even why they showed the damn door so many times. The door, the handle, and something magic. It really was pretty ridiculous how lost that whole scene seemed to be.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 10:23 p.m. CST


    by SleazyG.


  • Jan. 5, 2007, 10:40 p.m. CST


    by Nairb The Movie

    I officially and jumping off the mainstream MARVEL boat. Anything that is cannon is now just fodder for me. After this week... I've been convinced and I concede.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 11:29 p.m. CST


    by loodabagel

    Is there anything left for me to bitch about? No. I'm afraid all the angles have already been covered.

  • Jan. 5, 2007, 11:55 p.m. CST


    by superninja

    Hello thar young feller. Don't let them get to you- you looked fine on t.v. I'm glad you are reading Civil War so I don't have to undergo the Bendistortureporn.

  • Jan. 6, 2007, 12:06 a.m. CST

    It's kind of crossing a line. Wanda originally was

    by superninja

    a very innocent, almost virginal character. If you're a major perv like Millar, you do what he did in Ultimates. But the minor pervs just skanked her out because they thought she was boring. Which is kind of sad, because it's such a departure from where she started. Whereas many of the characters are more or less the same in personality, although growing in different ways through trials and personal hardship over the years. Consider that no one would blink if Black Cat slept with Hawkeye, because she's vampy. To be honest at this point I don't even know why I care because they broke the character so badly. Wanda should still be married to the Vizh, he should've stayed alive as the J'onn of the MU, and they should've been a funky family whose kids went on to carry the legacy.

  • Jan. 7, 2007, 4:58 a.m. CST

    JarJar's back again, then?

    by stones_throw


  • Jan. 7, 2007, 12:38 p.m. CST

    Vog's not Jar Jar.

    by SleazyG.

    I know who he is, though, and where to find him.

  • Jan. 7, 2007, 3:47 p.m. CST

    Vog could be… anyone?

    by The Heathen

    BUT, the @$$es have access to who's signing in with what I presume so if Sleazy says it ain't Jar Jar, it's probably not, but who is it? It adds some mystery to the 'All Weeking' doesn't it? Ahh, like old times.

  • Jan. 7, 2007, 7:50 p.m. CST

    word to that Super Ninja

    by Homer Sexual

    My favorite era of the Avengers was around the whole Chtonn storyline period, and Wanda was great then. This week's Jonah Hex was a satisfying conclusion to his "origin" storyline. The story, despite a predictable turn here or there, was better than the art, and the whole thing worked. I don't really like Western comics, so making me buy one every month is an accomplishment.

  • Jan. 7, 2007, 9:26 p.m. CST

    I recently skimmed that New Avengers...

    by loodabagel

    And I have to say, those last few pages did look pretty bad. I know, I know, just looking at the last few pages doesn't really qualify me to pass judgement, but I'm down with my homeboy Bendis so it was alright. In other news, that Vog sure is mysterious.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 11:47 a.m. CST


    by The Heathen

    ya see, there's no way that could be anyone like that moron who was five different trolls combined into one mega-troll because that last comment was actually pretty funny.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 11:49 a.m. CST


    by The Heathen

    Okay, I just don't get it. I'm not feeling this book. Can anyone tell me why I should, because a lot seem to like it?

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 12:46 p.m. CST


    by blackthought

    well because it features chess?

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 1:27 p.m. CST

    An Insane Witch Who Killed Me Twice? Hell Yeah!

    by Buzz Maverik

    Could it be much better? Sleazy, you gotta give your life to the Ma-Sheen, man! I don't normally foist my religion on you gentiles, but sometimes you have to. Yes, I base my life on the films and life of Charlie Sheen. Remember that great scene in BEING JOHN MALKOVITCH where Malkovitch, complaining about Catherine Keener, tells Ma-Sheen:"It's like she's some kind of witch!" Ma-Sheen says,"Great! You are so lucky!" "And she may be a lesbian. She keeps calling me Lottie!" "A lesbian witch who calls you Lottie? How much better can it get, man?" I think Hawkeye may be a Ma-Sheen kinda guy...well, Ma-Sheen about 5-10 years ago, although they always draw him looking like Emilio Estevez (read somewhere that Estevez is the son of the Martin Sheen who played Kennedys in TV movies and Charlie is the son of Martin Sheen from APOCALYPSE NOW and BADLANDS). I dunno. At least Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch having sex is somethng happening. I hate it when nothing happens. Did you see LOST IN TRANSLATION. Don't tell me what it was supposed to mean because I already know, but they should have had sex! I don't know where the real Bill Murray is being held but you can bet that when I locate him, an @$$hole Special Ops team, lead by me, will liberate him within minutes, because STRIPES Bill Murray, GHOSTBUSTERS Bill Murray, even GROUNDHOG DAY Bill Murray would have made a move.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 2:24 p.m. CST

    Why I like Checkmate

    by Homer Sexual

    I like Checkmate because it blends espionage intrigue with super heroes. It is intelligent and fast-moving. I find it "realistic" within the concept of women who can turn into green fire. I find the characters "adult" beyond just f***ing, swearing, etc. I'm not interested in reading a Rucka novel, but I do enjoy the sensibility he brings to his comic work. (The opposite of Denise Mina, who is an excellent novelist but her Hellblazer bores).

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 3:54 p.m. CST

    Thank you, Homer.

    by The Heathen

    Maybe I just read it too late. I don't know. I'll give it another try, but I think it may be that I don't care for the characters as much as I should.

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 7:36 a.m. CST

    Wanda should hook up with Toad.

    by rev_skarekroe

    He's lost a lot of weight, and I bet he can do tricks with his new tongue that you wouldn't believe. Plus, he's been wanting to tap that firecrotch since the early '60s. Give him a chance, I say!

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 9:30 a.m. CST

    Rev should hook up with Wanda...

    by loodabagel

    <p>They'd make a cute couple.</p> <p>And about that Bill Murray, I think indy-Bill Murray is still pretty cool. He probably feels that he has to make up for those Garfield movies with super-indy films about dudes qho sit around and contemplate life. Actually, he's been playing the same character since Rushmore. Often wealthy guy who's in a perpetual funk, and doesn't get along with his son/wife/whatever. He meets a someone who brings some much needed excitement to his life. They have a falling out, but at the end, they knod of get along and the other person teaches Bill a lesson. Not that I'm complaining. I'm down with indy-Bill, just like my man Bendis, although I'm not so much their bitch that I can't call them out when they suck.

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 10:44 a.m. CST

    The reason Murray doesn't do wacky stuff anymore...

    by rev_skarekroe

    My belief? He's lazy and he hates being uncomfortable. So he's never going to do a film where he has slime on him, or he has to do push-ups in the mud, or wear clown makeup again. If his character's not wearing a suit or a comfortable sweater, and spending most of the film sitting or standing around, he's not interested. And Garfield? That's a dream job for a lazy actor. Big fat paycheck, a couple of days work in a cozy recording studio just a short limo-ride from the house. That's the life!

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Why I love Checkmate:

    by Shigeru

    Oh wait I don't read it.

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 11:16 a.m. CST

    Indie Bill Murray

    by Shigeru

    Can go fuck. (Unless he's in Rushmore, then he's awesome.) More importantly, Sofia Copolla can go fuck! Spoiled rich brat who thinks she's sooo fucking deep when in reality she's more vacuous that Paris Hilton. Lost in Translation and Marie Antionette both: BOO-HOO, I'M FUCKING RICH AND DON'T LIKE IT!! I'M STUCK IN THIS RICH ASS LIFE!! FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. <br><br> comic books? huh?

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 8:26 p.m. CST

    Sophia Bush, Wonder Woman?

    by The Heathen <br> <br> Saw this over at Rotten Tomatoes. She's pretty. Not bad looking for the part at all, but I dunno *fanboy grumble* Morena Baccarin *grumble grumble*

  • Jan. 13, 2007, 2:06 p.m. CST


    by blackthought


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