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AICN COMICS REVIEWS BUFFY & SPIKE! HELLBOY! CAPTAIN BRITAIN! LOVECRAFT! AND MUCH MORE!!!


#13 7/25/07 #6
Logo by Ambush Bug

Greetings Faithful Talkbackers, Ambush Bug here. We’re hip deep in convention season and although the AICN @$$Holes were unable to make it to San Diego for the big con (en route, the @$$-Jet had to take an emergency landing when we hit a flock of Skrulls in the form of carrier pigeons over North Dakota), we will be at this year’s WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL just north of Chicago on August 10th, 11th, and 12th. Humphrey Lee, Sleazy G, and myself will be out and about, circling the booths and hobnobbing with stars and fans alike. So if you’ve got a booth or a book you’d like us to stroll by and take a look at or if you just want to chat it up about comics, be sure to contact us. It’s sure to be a fun con this year with all sorts of surprises.
And now…
…on with the reviews.


The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST – STARLORD #1 HELLBOY: DARKNESS CALLS #4 ABC WARRIORS: KHRONICLES OF KHAOS TPB & ASYLUM TPB Bowen Design’s 70’s CAPTAIN BRITAIN Sculpted Mini-Bust BLACK METAL VOL. 1 GRAPHIC CLASSICS: H. P. LOVECRAFT - VOLUME FOUR BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON EIGHT #5 & SPIKE: SHADOW PUPPETS #2 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #542 CHEAP SHOTS!

ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST – STARLORD #1

Writer: Keith Giffen Penciller: Timothy Green II Inker: Victor Olazaba Publisher: Marvel Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

Just when you thought Marvel was incapable of publishing stories that weren’t drowning in their own continuity, along comes ANOTHER wave of the best package of stories they’ve put out in recent years, ANNIHILATION- CONQUEST. Granted, WRAITH didn’t exactly thrill me, but between NOVA and STARLORD (and the hot interstellar you-know-whos already highlighted elsewhere) I’m in for this round. This title was my favorite book of the week—a week that included BLUE BEETLE, mind you. THAT’S saying something.
To begin, we finally get the background on the artist formerly known as Starlord, and it’s compelling. But it’s not just the story that grabbed me, though my respect for Giffen has been increasing for some time now. What really made it for me was the art. Timothy Green has a style that reminds me of 70’s-era issues of HEAVY METAL, just the right mix of outer space visuals and jaunty swashbuckling snark. I wish I could describe it better, and I’m not sure it would work in a straight-up hero book (there’s no super-duper musculatures on display here, folks) but for this atmosphere, it’s just perfect.
As a bonus, we get one of the best supporting casts I’ve seen since…uhn, since the last ANNIHILATION arc. Now, you know I can’t stand odd characters that seem to be thrown together seemingly for the sake of sales (ooh – I’m such a cynic). But this cast makes sense, as they are all prisoners of the Kree for one reason or another. I won’t spoil all of them, but Loverbug seems to be Bug from the MICRONAUTS. He was always one of the more interesting characters of that series, but how he got here from the so-called Microverse is not explained. Of course, since Captain Universe is there as well, there might be a connection.
Another member of the team is female Shi’ar warrior Deathcry (not to be confused with female Shi’ar warrior DeathBIRD…all them female Shi’ar warriors looks the same ta me, but this is the teenager who served in the Avengers for a bit, believe it or not.) We also catch up with a certain celestial madonna, seemingly every bit as fetching and loony as Bjork without her meds. She has no speaking parts, but if her past is any indication, “this one” is certain that at some point, she’s gonna talk…and talk…and talk… Additionally, we have Groot, whom I’m sure EVERYONE remembers from TALES TO ASTONISH #13 back in 1960…no? Well, didn’t you catch him in NICK FURY’S HOWLING COMMANDOS #1-#6? No?
Well, the team is rounded out by…okay, that one I’ll let you find out on your own. But the nice thing is, even though all these characters have HISTORY, they’re not slaves to it. And we’re not prisoners of it, either. Never heard of these folks? Fine! You can jump right in. Seen every appearance of these characters? Fine! Get ready for more.
Here’s the deal – it’s a suicide mission against the onslaught of the advancing Phalanx, and Starlord is leading these folks into it. Strap on your weapons, activate thrusters, and let’s get to it. I’m really looking forward to the next issue.

HELLBOY: DARKNESS CALLS #4

Writer: Mike Mignola Artist: Duncan Fegredo Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Reviewer: Jinxo

More Hellboyee goodness.
First, the art continues to be solid. Duncan Fegredo’s style is a bit more of a classic comic book look than Mignola’s style. Not quite as spare as Mignola’s style but he manages to throw a nice Mignola-esque flavor to it. His lines borrow nicely from him. Sweet. The story is also a lot of fun. Essentially Hellboy has been tricked into wandering off the path of the real world into the world of myth and magic. And those that have led him there are now doing their best to punch his ticket. The interesting thing is that often Hellboy’s adventures take him into conflict with more Lovecraftian villains or large mythical types. This story feels more like s trip through a fairy tale. A Grimm grim fairy tale but still more of that flavor. The main big bad are British witches. There are all manner of giants, gnomes and such scurrying around this book. Hellboy surprisingly even teams up with a Russian fairy tale character. For quick shorthand she is a sort of Russian Cinderella. Only her story gets a wee bit darker than your average Cinderella story.
And as it happens, Vasilisa’s original tale co-stars one of Hellboy’s old foes, a certain mythical Russian witch. She’s been keeping an eye out for Hellboy. No…wait…Hellboy put an eye out for her. I don’t think she’s over that yet. No “closure” there. If some, oh, witches were looking to subcontract some magical ass-kicking, she might be the witch to call.
The book is a lot of fun. Beatdowns, crazy violence, shocking turns. And Hellboy right in the middle of it. Always fun to watch Hellboy stick some common man reality into the fantasy. I actually just rewatched “Return of The King”. The scene comes up where Aragorn confronts Sauron through the palantir. It’s all grand and epic and cool but at some level I wanted Aragorn to just go, “Hey blinky. That’s right, the King is back you little punk bitch. And I am coming to put out your Visine-needing eye!” I love reading Hellboy because he would actually say that sort of thing. Screw the epic talk, talk to the giant epic villains like they’re crap and then kick the crap out of them. That’s all for you!

ABC WARRIORS : KHRONICLES OF KHAOS TPB

Writers: Pat Mills, Tony Skinner Artist: Kev Walker

ASYLUM TPB

Writer: Rob Williams Artist: Boo Cook Publisher: Rebellion/2000AD Reviewer: Squashua

Born and raised in the United States, home of DC and Marvel and a ton of other imprints, I had never been exposed to 2000 AD. Sure, I had seen some JUDGE DREDD lying around and Sly Stallone did that movie, but the closest thing I could equate was HEAVY METAL magazine. As a fan of H.P. Lovecraft, my introduction to 2000 AD began years later when, as a H.P. Lovecraft (and occasional Grant Morrison follower, when he doesn’t go all SEA GUY on me) I snagged a ZENITH trade off eBay - true Cthulhu Mythos meets super-heroes; eye opening, provocative stuff. So when Ambush Bug recently asked an @$$hole to step up and review some 2000 AD material, you can't even imagine how hard I whipped my half-empty 40 of King Cobra at Jinxo's head when he started to raise his hand.
A week later, trades of ABC WARRIORS and ASYLUM trades were in my hands, and Jinxo’s mouth is still wired shut. Sorry, dude.
These are two absolutely entertaining and beautifully rendered science-fiction stories, featuring heavy character development and growth. Though they appear physically thin, they're full color prints on glossy paper, making some of the heaviest tomes I've ever picked up, each worthy in it's own right of being able to put Jinxo right back into the ICU.
ABC WARRIORS follows the antics of a robot tribe dedicated to spreading the gospel of Kaos across the galaxy--the aptly named ABC Warriors. These mechanical beasts of terror travel throughout a slowly unrestrained society, gathering heads for an impending sacrifice, and leaving gruesome deaths and wanton destruction in their wake. They bring with them a strange sense of justice, righting a few wrongs and helping to remove the broomsticks from the universe’s collective ass. For a while, the plot feels chaotic, for lack of a better description. The warriors land on planet Hekate, take down a witch-hunt, beat up an industrialist, assault some officers of the law, and piss off a mummy. They get into and out of multiple heavy military, complete loss situations, generally based on their own abilities, but occasionally due to a few (if you’ll excuse the phrase) "deus ex machina" moments from leader Deadlock.
Towards the end, the overarching goal is realized, and on a second reading the fact that a true plot linking all of this Lobo-esque violence together had been planned and staring you in the face from the very beginning becomes readily apparent.
The artwork is stunning; everything is painted and the robots always have a proper metallic sheen to them. Each panel is fully rendered in exquisite detail, and with care taken to maintain the consistency of each robot's complex design. The book also contains a Kev Walker Gallery with pin-ups and covers, creator bios, and an interesting preface by writer Pat Mills. This was my first introduction to the ABC Warriors, and I don't plan on letting it be my last; it turns out that the ABC Warriors have had many other adventures, and Warrior Hammerstein even had a cameo in the Judge Dredd movie.
ASYLUM has immigration meet science-fiction. That's the essential story here. In order to prevent conflict across borders, each country on Earth has been hermetically sealed under a giant bubble. This xenophobia hasn’t prevented multitudes of alien refugees from arriving and asking for political asylum, believing the streets to be paved with gold.
Our protagonist, Holt, is a half-human alien hybrid, whose in-born abilities make him a perfect alien bounty hunter. His job is to ensure that no alien bypasses the orbit-based immigration processor. Unfortunately, something is amiss aboard the processing satellite, and aliens begin running amok in a very graphic, somewhat hilarious, yet ultimately gruesome fashion. A lot of effort went into humanizing the aliens which are put in dire, darkly humorous situations; the tension, drama and trauma are palpable. The overall story is split into two halves, the first part taking place on the satellite, the second on Earth. They comprise an epic tale that defines Holt’s loyalties and allows him to determine where he truly belongs. Holt’s decisions and the issues surrounding them make for an extremely moving piece of social commentary relevant and applicable to many of today’s situations, including those of both immigration and terrorism.
The artistry and designs are astounding. The fully rendered aliens are a mixed variety; a multitude of species, many blessed with special abilities and designed with peculiar and unique cultural traits. There is a giant turtle beast wearing a fez, excited Disney-esque Earth tourists with t-shirts, cute squid-like atrocities, and cigar-chomping dog aliens. A lot of insight went into these pages and nary a detail is left out. In addition to the story, the trade also contains an interview with artist Boo Cook, select sketchbook pieces, and a cover gallery.
For about $25 (10.99 GBP) a book, that is a lot of scratch to shell out for a 100 glossy-page trade, but I feel there was more story and more value in either of these two books than in say, the recent ULTIMATES 2 PART II TPB. They make for excellent additions to any bookshelf.

Bowen Design’s 70’s CAPTAIN BRITAIN Sculpted Mini-Bust

Sculpted by Jim Maddox Reviewer: Ambush Bug

I know, I know. Using the words “bust” and “CAPTAIN BRITAIN” in the same title may bring back that sick “That wasn’t a raisin!” feeling that went along with Chuck Austen’s stanky run on THE AVENGERS where he introduced a new female Captain Britain and…uhm…brought her over to America to serve with the Avengers and mope soap-operatically about her estranged children.
But, no. It’s not that bust I’m talking about. It’s the smooth 70’s CAPTAIN BRITAIN Bust that I just got my grubby paws on that I can’t get enough of and had to blab to all of you about. I’m not one for buying bricka-brak spin-off merch of my favorite comic book characters. I spend enough money on comics as is. But when I saw this little baby in the solcits, I had to have it.
The thing is, I really don’t like the character of Captain Britain. He’s always come off as kind of a douchebag pretty boy with a hot shape-shifting girlfriend when I used to read about him in EXCALIBUR. He’s the kind of guy with the perfect hair, perfect fortune, perfect life that whined about how awful life was and how hard it was defending the Nexus of dimensional realities or some such nonsense. When it came to British heroes, I always fancied the mystery of the Black Knight or the more street-level coolness of Union Jack due to their taste in badass weaponry and cool as hell costumes.
But when I saw that the chisel-masters at Bowen Designs were doing a sculpture of Cap Britain in his original costume, it brought me back to my first meeting with Captain Britain in the pages of MARVEL TEAM-UP. I’m a bit hazy on the story, but I remember how cool the character looked (that’s all that mattered to me in those days of picking up comics in the convenience store off the squeaky rotating racks) and that he used to whomp the shit out of things with what looked like to me at the time to be a giant leg of a dining room table. The Union Jack facemask and the giant lion on his chest were just too amazing for this young soul to take and I had to seek out more. Through time, Cap Britain bulked up and dropped the cooler 70’s version of the suit and my interest waned exponentially with every passing year the old costume gathered mothballs.
Seeing the old costume brought back my initial feelings of “Awww cool!” and I knew that, despite the fact that I was running along the fine line of falling into another area of collecting that I would rather not necessarily dive into, I had to have it nonetheless.
And damn, doesn’t it live up to that level of coolness. Standing a mighty six inches tall, the details are many. The coloring is precise and vivid. And the pose says, “Keep yo’ mutha-flippin’ distance lest I blast yo’ ass with this dining room table leg, bitch n’ chips!!!!” except, of course, it’s in a British accent. The Amulet of Right dangles from a real chain from his neck and turns out that giant dining room table leg I loved is actually called the Star Scepter. It’s all resting on top of a solid base with a roaring lion on the front similar to the one on the good Captain’s chest insignia.
On top of the cool looking statue, I learned a bit more about Captain Britain from the box it came in. Bowen provides a pretty detailed description and history of Captain Britain’s origin and appearances. From costume changes to details about his weaponry, this purchase definitely made me curious about the character past his cool threads.
Now, I fear that I’m a bit hooked. Browsing through Bowen’s website, I found quite a few more cool statues I wouldn’t mind having decorate my desk as I type out my reviews. I already picked up the snazzy red-jacketed Wonder Man bust and am currently eyeing the bust of Daredevil’s nemesis Gladiator. I don’t know if I have room on my shelf for them all, but I’ll probably be looking for the sweet Black Knight and Union Jack busts at the upcoming con to round out my British trifecta. And maybe one day, my dreams of a 70’s Disco Dazzler bust will be a reality. But in the meantime, I’ve got Captain Britain looking down at me and yelling, “Write more reviews, bitch n’ chips!!!” in a British accent, of course, and he looks damn cool up there doing so.

BLACK METAL VOL. 1

Writer: Rick Spears Penciler: Chuck BB Publisher: Oni Press Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

And Lo! Though the world be thee slowly ravaged by the tendrils of mundanity and felt by the lowly and frosty cold grasp of despair as popular culture sinks further and further into a desolate void of, uh, desolation, there remains a hope in these grim times ahead! And that hope is... BLACK METAL!!! Begone ye vile multitudes of trivial subject matter and trendy factions! Make way for the grim Brothers Stronghand and... uh...uh... aw fuck it, I can't keep this up.
Seriously, this book was pretty tits, and I suck at being clever, so let me just tell you a little about it why don't I, huh?
BLACK METAL is a quirky little brainchild from Rick Spears, a man who has created a couple real good ones here and there like TEENAGERS FROM MARS and THE PIRATES OF CONEY ISLAND. This Original Graphic Novel from Oni is about what it says; it's sort of the weekday afternoon cartoon riff on the genre of Black Thrash genre of music. Or maybe more of an adolescent version of METALOCALYPSE. I haven't really decided yet. But either way it's a really fun homage and roasting of that type of music.
The story focuses on twin brothers Shawn and Sam Stronghand, two youths that are bursting metal at the seams. These boys end up entangled in a very heavy and mythological quest involving demons battling for hell, mystical weaponry, and the most brutal of guitar riffs. And it's a story that never fully takes itself seriously and revels in the innate humor that tends to leveled at the subject matter at hand. Just the "grim and righteous" way the two brothers speak (and which I horribly tried to emulate to begin with here) brings a constant string of chuckles in how ridiculous it tends to get. Plus there's comedic relief galore with some of the side characters and the over-the-topness of the situations and battles they find themselves in the midst of. Sure, sometimes it gets a little self-indulgent, but I think that comes with the territory, and more importantly it never becomes very "cutesy" since it is aimed more at a younger audience. In fact, there's a little gruesomeness here in these pages as some demon folk get cartoonishly disemboweled like something in an Itchy & Scratchy short on the Simpsons. But it's all in good fun.
The art in this digest sized OGN is a perfect match for the "spoof-ish" story. It's a very animated style, again, something you'd probably see if you flipped on the old Cartoon Network at 4pm on a school day, which I imagine was the plan all along. But it's got a lot of energy to it, even in a panel that's just a simple throwing up of the horns. And there's tons of great sight gags and even some pretty righteous battle sequences too. Just more good fun to add to an already heaping pile.
This is another great digestual treat from Oni this year, and fills a great little subculturally comedic void until the next volume of SCOTT PILGRIM from Oni graces shops across the country. If I'm not mistaken it should be arriving in stores the day this review makes an appearance so it's something to keep an eye out for. At the very least it's worth a flip through; even if you're not a fan of the music or all too familiar with the stuff it's there's probably enough gags or troll dismemberment in these pages to keep you entertained throughout. Should Oni hopefully continue to produce volumes of these, this is another great addition to their roster.

GRAPHIC CLASSICS: H. P. LOVECRAFT - VOLUME FOUR (Second Edition)

Writer: Howard Phillips Lovecraft Publisher: Eureka Productions Website: Graphic Classics Reviewer: Squashua

In my review of GOTHIC CLASSICS a few weeks back, I mentioned being impressed enough to go to the Graphic Classics website and pick up a couple more books, including the Lovecraft volume. During the time between my receipt of the book and writing this review, I went to a game convention (Origins, in Columbus) and while there I noticed every table which sold Cthulhu Mythos tchotchkes had a stack with copies of this exact volume (and its earlier edition). I am reviewing the Second Edition of this book, which has an additional 75 new pages over the initial release. I could not tell you which stories are newer, but will let you know that I could only order the second edition from the Graphic Classics website. As with all Graphic Classics volumes, this one ends with artist and writer biographies.
“A Memory” Artist: Gerry Alanguilan
Appearing as a single page pre-index presentation, this is a short poem from “Fungi from Yuggoth”, the words painting a chilling vision which was skillfully brought to the page in a single, haunting image.
“The Shadow Over Innsmouth” Adapter: Alex Burrows Artist: Simon Gane
Lovecraft’s classic tale of a degenerate town with a small fish problem is wonderfully and faithfully rendered to the page with designs using hard angles rather than rounded corners. The designs have a slight cartoon-y lilt to them, but it comes across with the same dread the original story imparts. I would have preferred a slightly more distinguished “Innsmouth Look” for the protagonist earlier on, as his facial structure is too similar to the grocery cashier, but that is a minor nit-pick at best.
“Dreams in the Witch-House” Adapter: Rich Rainey Artist: Pedro Lopez
This story of a haunted man living in a haunted house is much more easily visualized here as a comic than it is as a story. The eldritch designs used for the Mythos concepts are quite accurate and this is another faithful translation evoking much excitement and fear in the reader. I felt I got more out of this story in the comic format than I ever did on the printed page. The artwork has clean, sharp lines with well detailed elements.
“Sweet Ermengarde” Adapter: Rod Lott Artist: Kevin Atkinson
I’ve never read “Sweet Ermengarde” before. I guess Lovecraft made an attempt at a goofy stage play satire, poking fun at the “sweet girl goes to a city to find her fortune and proper suitor” storyline of the times. It’s amusing jest, presented in a “you are watching a performance” format. It’s clearly not what I expected, but it was nice to read something “new”. The artwork is deliberately silly, with set pieces ushered in by various Mythos beings, and the audience consisting of a select milieu of Lovecraftian characters. A nice respite from the otherwise dark stories in the volume.
“Herbert West: Reanimator” (four chapters) Adapter: Tom Pomplun Artists: Richard Corben, Rick Geary, J. B. Bonivert, Mark Nelson
For those who don’t realize it, yes, “Reanimator” is a Lovecraft property. Each story is a different tale about the experiments of Herbert West as he tries to create and properly use a serum that brings the dead back to life. I own a lot of older Lovecraft-themed comic books, one of which contained all the various “Reanimator” tales put together in an out-of-order format with minimal artistry. This attempt completely trumps that earlier volume. Each of the four chapters presented here is illustrated by a different artist, each of them giving the Reanimator a proper treatment.
“The Cats of Ulthar” Adapter : Tom Pomplun Artist: Lisa K. Weber
This tale from the Dreamlands relates the how and why the cats are most prized and treated with due respect in the land of Ulthar. Instead of a comic panel presentation, each page has a full illustration associated with the paragraph appearing next to it. It is just as effective, considering how truly short this short story is.
“The Terrible Old Man” Adapter / Artist: Onsmith Jeremi
My least favorite tale in this volume, “The Terrible Old Man” tells of a planned robbery gone awry, and is handled with a straightforward 9-panel-a-page fashion. The art is grim but cartoon-y; I’ve seen the art style before in some short National Lampoon or collegiate cartoons, and I know that others appreciate its “indie” style, but coupled with the story, it is simply not for me.
“The Shadow Out of Time” Adapter / Artist: Matt Howarth
One of my favorite Lovecraft stories and the best of this volume, “The Shadow Out of Time” is a classic, yet wholly unique tale of alien abduction. A professor who had suffered from amnesia is invited to join an expedition into the Australian outback where he realizes a horrifying personal connection. Certainly predictable, especially coupled with the realistically rendered images (and a cameo by Doc Samson), this story still evokes the overall universal dread that fleshes out one of my favorite aspects of the Cthulhu Mythos.
As I have read most of these stories in their non-comic format, and though I would have preferred some different or additional choices (“The Dunwich Horror”, “The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Mountains of Madness”, “The Whisperer in Darkness”, “The Colour Out of Space”, or a Randolph Carter collection), the ones illustrated here have impressed me greatly, and I would not hesitate to purchase an additional volume containing more illustrated Lovecraft stories. As an introduction to the Cthulhu Mythos and for $12, this black-and-white book makes for a top notch gift to anyone.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, SEASON EIGHT #5

Writer: Joss Whedon Penciller: Paul Lee Inker: Andy Owens Publisher: Dark Horse

SPIKE: SHADOW PUPPETS #2 (of 5)

Writer: Brian Lynch Artist: Franco Urru Publisher: IDW Publishing Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

If you don’t “get it” by now, you probably never will, because Buffy is a small cultural phenomenon, like (long ago) the Grateful Dead were, for a time. Those who got it were extremely loyal – those that didn’t, they just stood back, shaking their heads in disbelief, thinking “What is all the fuss about?” Except Buffy fans possibly bathe more than Deadheads.
Issue 5 of BUFFY marks the end of this arc of Whedon-penned stories. I won’t say the arc was everything I thought it would be, since I know that there were lines uttered and hints dropped that won’t make complete sense until a few months from now. But I don’t care. Much like the way Dawny felt as she looked joyfully at a grimy, injured and befuddled Buffy in episode 7.2 (after spending the summer cozying up to the Buffy-bot between seasons six and seven), I’m just happy to have my Buffy back. It doesn’t matter to me exactly what shape she’s in.
But this issue isn’t about Buffy, rather one of her stand-ins. And not the one partying in Rome, but one that is literally underground, doing Buffy-type things. Herc made it sound like she had her own supporting staff, but I don’t thing things have gone that far. She does have people who care about her, and that counts for something. The action is glossed over, though, as this book is really about the temperament of our protagonist. It’s like most Whedon stories, actually - the action is simply the vehicle used to carry the character development.
Paul Lee does an excellent job on the artwork, making recognizable characters…well, recognizable. We also see Giles and a few minor characters, but our centerpiece is the backstory of a nameless girl, whom we are supposed to like, and I do. I’ll let you read the rest.
As for SPIKE, I think Bryan Lynch is doing a great job with this character. One or two lines had me chuckling for a few days, and the book “feels” like Spike. I don’t need to give you the plot – I mean, it’s Spike and ninja puppets. How much more do you need? Anything more self-explanatory would have to be called “Snakes on a Plane” by definition.
I have stayed away from many of the IDW Buffyverse mini-series because they’re usually hit-or-miss, with more than a few more in the “miss” column. But this one hits, and I think that’s because it draws on the SPIKE: ASYLUM mini-series (which was also good, which was also written by Lynch). Hey, getting the “in” jokes is half the fun of this universe, so it’s definitely appreciated.
I wish Urru’s pencils were inked a bit more definitively. He makes very good use of space and lighting, but there were more than a few places where I think he was going for “mood” and wound up with “muddy.” Each panel conveys the essence of each action, but there’s nothing that makes you go “Holy crap, let me look at that again!” Still, it’s nice to look at—we’ve settled for far worse.
And at least Spike will come out once a month for the next three months. BUFFY is on hiatus until September, until the Faith arc begins, and after that, it might be a FRAY-like YEAR until BUFFY comes out again, so we have only Spike to keep us warm. No ANGEL series on the table as far as I know. But that’s okay, because in my opinion, Spike on a bad day is still about twice as interesting as Angel on ANY day.
Now, a mini-series, with Buffy, Spike…and Faith…and Illyria…penned by Whedon and drawn by Chen…(*shakes self into waking*) well, that would just be too much ask for, wouldn’t it? Joss? Joss?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #542

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski Penciler: Ron Garney Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Jinxo

Credit where credit is due: I think JMS wrote his ass off to try and make his “Back In Black” story work but… I still don’t think it’s enough.
So, for those late to the party, an assassin’s bullet meant for Spidey has landed Aunt May in the hospital with the potential for a free trip to the morgue. Filled with rage, Spider-Man pulled out his old black costume as a symbol of his willingness to go the dark side while finding out who was responsible for what happened to May (that and there was this movie out…). Spider-Man has discovered the man behind it all is his old foe The Kingpin. The build has been Spider-Man is out not to hurt Kingpin but to actually kill him.
Okay, before even talking about the issue itself, that’s the point where the whole premise potentially goes kablooey. The idea of someone decent wanting to go that far, to kill in the name of someone they love, is believable. The problem is I don’t think any Spidey-fan wants to see Peter Parker turned into a stone cold killer, even for the noblest of reasons. But on top of that is a bigger problem: does anyone out there believe they would actually kill off Kingpin? Really? Cause I don’t. And for me to buy this story, for it to have some real weight, they would have to go all the way and actually follow through on killing fatboy. All of which leads to an impossible Catch-22. If Spidey kills Kingpin the story fails because they ruin who Peter Parker is. If Spidey doesn’t kill Kingpin then the story fails because it doesn’t live up to its promise. I just don’t see how JMS can write himself out of that corner.
But, I’ll tell ya, he gives it a hell of a try. This issue is THE big moment, Spidey vs. Kingpin. JMS does throw his all into it. At the start it almost feels like Spidey and Kingpin have switched roles with Kingpin being the snarky one and Spider-Man the more serious. The fight is set in a really great location. What he does with the suit made me go, “Ooh. I like that!” As to the battle itself, some might buy it. I do. Given Peter’s focused rage…I buy it. And then there is the part where…man, I so want to say multiple things that would all be too spoilerish. I’ll just say the page that starts with Peter “helping” Kingpin to his feet? That whole page is great, biatch.
JMS really lays out all sorts of fun and razzle dazzle. Stuff I really loved. Good action, solid dialogue. Really good stuff that, while it tries to, fails to hide the fact that the book doesn’t live up to its promises. It reeeally tries to pretend it does but… it doesn’t. Not yet at least. One issue to go with which, I guess, a miracle can be worked but as of yet… no go. If the story was going to go for it, this was where it seems it would have and it didn’t.
He also really tries to spin the idea of Peter killing Kingpin into something…acceptable. But it still just felt creepy and wrong for me. Spin it some more because I still don’t like it. That crap is too dark even for fricking Batman. BATMAN BEGINS already used the only move that could make this story work of the hero almost following through on killing the bad guy only to be beaten to the punch.
Again, one issue to go. Maybe he can pull it off in that last issue but I just don’t see it. This issue just tried so amazingly hard and fell short so…I just don’t see the last issue doing any better.

;

THE INCREDIBLE HULK #108 Marvel Comics

Nice attempt but…what the hey? Marvel is understandably going crossover crazy with WORLD WAR HULK. And some of the crossovers are really disposable. But for the Hulk’s own book to have a disposable WORLD WAR HULK crossover? That’s inexcusable. They run with an interesting premise, contrasting two of the Hulk’s sidekicks and each of their needs to help the Hulk out. But for the Hulk’s own book to barely have the Hulk in it for this event? What a jip! Instead we get a very special episode of Blossom starring the sidekicks. I like the concept, not sure what other book they could have fit it into, but it sure isn’t what I was looking for in a WWH issue of THE INCREDIBLE HULK. - Jinxo

THE GOON #19 Dark Horse Comics

The Goon’s back after a bit of a hiatus and a controversial special and the book is as good as it ever was. This is kind of a filler issue where the plot shimmies ever so slowly towards some kind of big event and there are a bit more splash pages than usual (but artist Eric Powell makes them worthwhile as usual utilizing the Goon in iconic barbarian poses and posturings against all sorts of imaginative creatures) , but even a filler issue of THE GOON is a good one. There’s a nice and rare moment of reflection from the Goon in this one as he realizes that he’s starting to resemble his arch nemesis due to the company he is starting to keep. I don’t want this offbeat book to become all introspection and such, but a little bit of depth to the Goon character is a welcome change and one that will cement this comic as more than just a bunch of dick and fart jokes. Then again, it’s still got plenty of dick and fart jokes, which are pretty damn sweet too. – Bug

IRON MAN #20 Marvel Comics

This month’s WORLD WAR HULK issue of THE INCREDIBLE HULK felt sorely lacking in, well, Hulk. This issue of IRON MAN, by contrast, has very little Iron Man in it but really really works because the point of the book is the lack of his presence. The Hulk has taken Iron Man out and SHIELD suddenly has to deal with what the absence of their leader in a critical situation does to them. And this book has everything about the Hulk I was looking for. This is one of my favorite takes on him I’ve seen in the WWH books. I think they give him a real sense of anger, menace and enjoying scaring the crap out of people thanks both to the writing and the art. The issue also manages to actually push the WWH plot forward rather than treading water like a lot of the others. The plot it runs with might likely not even come into play in the main WWH books but it convincingly gives the feeling this is an important plot. Can’t believe I’m giving &^#* Iron Man’s book a good review. I hate that guy! - Jinxo

WONDER WOMAN #11 DC Comics

If an event drops in a forest and fandom gives a collective yawn, is it an event after all? DC’s trying to make us think so, but failing miserably. From inconsistencies such as Wonder Woman’s on again/off again feelings for Nemesis (which happens between issues of AMAZON ATTACKS and her own title), to characters acting incredibly stupid in order for clunky plot progression to occur (would any president really reinstate a law to jail women like they did to the Japanese during WWII in this day and age?) to the ultimately boring mother/daughter drama that unsettles one of the most poignant WW stories of recent memories--the Death of Hyppolyta story from the OUR WORLDS AT WAR crossover. More than any other character, I can’t wait for someone to come along and get Wonder Woman right. But this certainly ain’t it, folks. – Bug

Remember, if you have a comic 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.

Check out the @$$oles' ComicSpace AICN Comics page here for an archive and more @$$y goodness.


Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11:21 a.m. CST

    The politics of failure have failed.

    by Stallion_Cornell

    We must learn to make themn work again.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11:21 a.m. CST

    gooddamn first

    by sonnyhooper

    .....and yes ALL STAR BATMAN came out last week and was goddamn awesome

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11:21 a.m. CST

    The politics of failure have failed.

    by Stallion_Cornell

    We must learn to make them work again.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11:27 a.m. CST

    goddamn, goddamming, damn it...

    by sonnyhooper

    ...all to hell, i got beat by 12 seconds. and yes i'm goddamn sonnyhooper and i still think frank miller is goddamn great, in a laughing NEAR you and not WITH you way.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11:28 a.m. CST

    World War Hulk is going to tread water for 2 months

    by V'Shael

    Deal with it, fanboy.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11:33 a.m. CST

    Garney's art is cool on ASM...

    by Steve Rogers

    ...but THAT'S IT. The whole Back In Black storyline is overheated bullshit. SPIDEY: "Ooooh, I'm gonna kill you, fatty!" READERS: "No you aren't." SPIDEY: "Actually you're right, no I'm not." The sooner Dan Slott gets on this title the better.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11:58 a.m. CST

    Buffy & Angel

    by mediocrates

    A year break for Buffy? That's the first I've heard about it. My understanding was that there was a month break after BKV's arc and that after that there wasn't going to be another break for a year. Also, they said at ComicCon that Angel Season 6 starts in November.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 12:08 p.m. CST

    You know what would be cool with Spidey and Kingpin

    by rev_skarekroe

    Spidey is just about to kill the guy, but it turns out he just can't do it. Instead, Kingpin cracks his own neck and kills himself, making it look like Spidey did it. Now THAT'S writing.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 12:09 p.m. CST

    Thanks Squashua...

    by Abin Sur

    Can always count on you for all things Lovecraft. You think Cthulhu's in Cloverfield, right? ;)

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Wonder Woman

    by xsi kal

    "More than any other character, I can’t wait for someone to come along and get Wonder Woman right."<br><br> Don't have to wait to long for that, thank God. Gail Simone takes over the series relatively soon. Hopefully, that will end this train wreck, and return WW the series to a place of interest.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 12:17 p.m. CST

    Say, whatever happened with that Harbinger contest?

    by GrantChastain

    Just curious about the state of that contest and the entries therein.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 12:18 p.m. CST

    G.I....

    by BizarroJerry

    Joe. Sorry, it's my only shtick and I'm stickin' to it.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 12:24 p.m. CST

    Harbringer contest results will be posted soon...

    by Ambush Bug

    We're hip deep in con stuff right now, but after the dust settles, the winners will be announced. Sorry for the wait, folks.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 1:05 p.m. CST

    Rock-Me Amodeo

    by SelfSentered

    I get very skeptical when the comics reviewers don't seem to know what they're talking about. "No ANGEL series on the table as far as I know" Umm...The 'Angel' series, entitled 'After the Fall' launches in November, written by Brian Lynch. That has been known for a couple months now. And, yes, after BKV's 'Buffy' arc, there will be a one month gap, then Whedon is writing two stand alone issues, then Drew Goddard is writing a story. Where you got the idea that there will be a YEAR LONG gap between issues I have no clue, but it's not based on any facts at all. It's okay to not know something. There of lots of things I don't know. But please don't pretend that you know something by pulling it out of your ass, because it just makes you look foolish.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Wrong on Buffy

    by Piedmont55

    First off, Mr. Reviewer never said there would be a year break in Buffy. He said there might be based on previous Whedon publishing history. And second... I believe the review should have stated episode 6.2, not 7.2 as when Buffy returned to a forlorn Dawn.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 1:18 p.m. CST

    Cthulhu ain't in Cloverfield

    by Squashua

    It's VOLTRON!<br><br> Actually, all the original "hints" that made people believe Cthulhu might be in 01-18-08 all came from passwords derived through the "Ethan Haas" websites, all of which have been debunked as "completely unrelated".<br><br> Then-again, the Slusho.jp website certainly has a whole "The Stuff" meets "Shadow over Innsmouth" going for it. If nothing else, there could be an allusion to Deep Ones, but certainly no Cthulhu in Cloverfield / Cheese / 011808.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 1:30 p.m. CST

    Oops - Buffy myth-information and Angel news

    by rock-me Amodeo

    I read the letters page in Buffy #5 wrong. It was talking about a break planned after issue 9, and that they didn't have another one planned for over a year after that. I thought they meant another "issue" but they meant another "break". So there WILL be a break after issue 9, but after that, no more planned breaks for a while. <br> <br> "Well, you were myth-taken!" I know, I know...<br> <br>Also, I was informed by a knowledgeable reader (thanks, Nila) of a press release that came out yesterday, after I had written my review, that Angel Season 6 is officially on the books, called ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL. There were some other places it made news as early as July 27th, but it wasn't "official" until yesterday. The series will take place after the fall of Wolfram and Hart and will leave a foot-shaped bruise on the buttocks of every person on the planet, while simultaneously solving world hunger. Or at least not suck, because Lynch and Urru are handling it.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 1:34 p.m. CST

    Someone has to publish a Voltron vs. Cthulhu...

    by hank henshaw

    ...comic, and fast! It would be the bestseller of the year. Throw in there a giant lion too, just for fun.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 1:41 p.m. CST

    ASM

    by Captain Tightpants

    Bring on the Slott!

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 1:44 p.m. CST

    WW

    by Squashua

    Bring on the Simone!

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 1:44 p.m. CST

    Buffy 6.2 and AFTER THE FALL

    by rock-me Amodeo

    Boy, of all the things to get wrong, and it happens to be a series so dear to me. Yes, the Buffy-bot filled a place in Dawn's life between season 5 and 6, not 6 and 7. Double oops. <br> <br> And yeah, I know AFTER THE FALL has been talked about as early as late April (on Whedonopolis, I think? Don't know if there was anything earlier, earnestly) but I have been waiting for an official announcement, as these things don't always go according to plan. Ah well. I just wanted to stick to the facts as best I knew them. Everyone please back away from the torches and pitchforks..

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 2:40 p.m. CST

    "The New Captain America"

    by DuncanHines

    I'm gonna keep pushing this until Marvel complies... Sam Wilson (The Falcon). Make Sam Wilson the man behind the shield in 2008, Marvel. Relaunch the title at #1 as "The New Captain America." It'll be awesome.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 2:58 p.m. CST

    Sorry To Be The Simpson's Comic Book Guy Here...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...but the Kingpin first appeared in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, along with his wife Vanessa and son Richard, and got physical with Spidey long before Miller wisely co-opted the character for Daredevil. Fans have always had the same questions and concerns about the Kingpin battling Spider-Man. Some of the apologists said, "Well, Spidey won't use his full strength on a non-super opponent." My equally lame take (because I like the Fisk family as characters) is that, even after all these years, Spidey isn't really a skilled fighter. He relies on power, where as the Kingpin is a highly conditioned, highly skilled combatant. Also, Spidey's invulnerability level seems to have krept up over the years, especially after the movies. I always thought Spidey had strength and stamina, which made him hold up a lot better than I would, but essentially a punch in the nose from the Kingpin is going to knock him down.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 3:13 p.m. CST

    Spidey Vs Kingpin

    by Jinxo

    It is kinda weird. I can see people faulting a Spidey/Kingpin smackdown in both directions. Spider-Man by the book should be able to knock the guy flat. On the other hand there is sort of history of Kingpin taking any solid blow without much trouble. My take wasn't that Spider-Man ever held back out of charity or that he was less than a skilled fighter. My take was more that, hero or not, under the tights Peter Parker at some level was still a nerdy kid feeling in over his head and so in battles isn't always fully focused. Not that he isn't focused at all just... less than 100% focused. In this issue's fight though his anger has him determined and focused like a damn laser. Yeah one blow from Kingpin would mess him up bad. Only any punch has to get by his Spider Sense. I think the fight was really cool. Only the story wasn't about a good fight, it was about Peter Parker committing murder which was creepy in concept and didn't payoff. No matter how good the fight was, the murder stuff fumbles the ball.<br><br> Now, if at the end of the fight Aunt May, not only healed by Peter's blood but also spider-powered by it, swung in on a web, stopped Peter from killing Fisk and then snapped his neck herself while quipping, "You made a mistake Fisk, you shot me and left me alive!" THAT would be an ending.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 3:36 p.m. CST

    "Well, you were myth-taken!"

    by Thalya

    Buffy meets Maggie Walsh, episode 4.13, "The I in Team!" <BR><BR>Er, sorry.. I get like that around Buffy stuff.. *slinks away*

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 3:49 p.m. CST

    I had no idea there were other ABC Warrior stories

    by Squashua

    until I looked at the back cover and saw other trades, and then double-checked on Wikipedia. <br> So from my perspective, this was a 100% stand-alone trade, and with only a couple odd outside references, it worked as a self-contained story.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5 p.m. CST

    Lost Interest In The BUFFYVERSE

    by LaserPants

    I really wanted to like the new comic, to be into it as much as I was into the show, but... its just not happening. I don't think its anything that Whedon is doing either, I think my passion for it just left the building. I'm sorry. I still love the olde shows -- both BUFFY and ANGEL -- but, for some reason, I'm not all that interested in their new adventures. I can't put my finger on why, but there it is. I read the first few of the new comic and it just didn't thrill me. Appy polly logies to all and sundry, but I just lost interest in it.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:04 p.m. CST

    Starlord and SpiderMan vs Kingpin

    by Homer Sexual

    That Starlord review has convinced me to go buy the book today after work. Sounds very interesting. <p> Unfortunately, that was the only review that did sound interesting. Regarding Spider-Man vs. Kingpin? Of course it's illogical. That's practically a canon of comic-book writing. It is most used with characters such as Superman, who should really never be challenged by anyone. But this concept reaches everywhere, and is one of those "willing suspensions of disbelief" we all make as comic readers.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:12 p.m. CST

    Bowen statues

    by teethgnasher

    I wish DC Direct could produce statues as good and diverse as Bowens. I like how a different character is made every few months. Bowen even produces the more obscure characters of the Marvel Universe.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:20 p.m. CST

    I Wish SPIDEY Would Straight Up MURDER Kingpin

    by LaserPants

    And stop being such a whiner. I mean, yeah, it was cool the way he totally humiliated Fisk in front of the jail, and cooler still that he beat his ass down, but he needs to go teh extra step and KILL HIM. Then he could have this justified murder on his concious so he could start hanging out with Wolverine and drinking alot. <br><br> Spidey: I'm a murderer now, Logan, a murderer! Boo hoo! Angst! Angst! <br><br> Wolvie: Yeah, whatever, bub. Killin' good for yah, it clears up the blood; which you can then sully again with more binge drinking!<br><br> Spidey: Hey, I never thought of it that way! Hey, maybe you and we could go out and kill tonight? With or without mommy's permission?<br><br> Wolvie: Now yr speakin' my language, bub! And you kinda sorta name dropped a MISFITS song to boot! Lets go kill some baddies, bub. > snikt! < <br><br> Spidey: YEAH! Lets do it!<br><br> (Cue killing spree montage set to "Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight" by the Misfits.)

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:22 p.m. CST

    Yeah, I Agree With Homer...

    by Buzz Maverik

    At some point, even for Comic Book Guys like us, it gets into taking this stuff too seriously. If I can buy a guy with spider powers, I can buy him getting his ass kicked by the World's Strongest Gangster!<p>Kingpin was a Godfather rip off for superhero comics. He was created by John Romita Sr., who apparently loved the character and took him, Richard and Vanessa over to CAPTAIN AMERICA when he began drawing that book. The Fisk family has always made for good plots, first with Richard faking a suicide to become the Schemer, a Kingpin rival; then taking over HYDRA to make amends and add to Dad's power base (only to run afowl of the Red Skull and his Sleeper, leading to an odd alliance between Kingy and his mob and Captain America & the Falcon). He wasn't exactly a Penguin knock off, although Marvel wasn't into strict realism in those days...and frankly, they still aren't. This stuff is as wonderfully goofy as it ever was, with each class of True Believers believing just as truly as last year's graduates.<p>I think the Kingpin was always a master fighter, one of these "his speed belies his massive girth" characters. Miller just found ways to rationalize it (sumo, martial arts, etc). And Daredevil, a character whose only super powers are his senses, is a more appropriate opponent, as is the Punisher. The Kingpin has also tangled with the Red Skull a few times, and Captain America.<p>Again, as an apologist for these kind of stories, usually the Kingpin softened Spidey up first with gas, traps, henchmen of various power levels, before he cut loose on him.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:25 p.m. CST

    Oh, Yeah, Wasn't Richard Fisk Also The Rose?

    by Buzz Maverik

    I think that was in Roger Stern's run. Or was Fisk just suspected of being the Rose? I'm not sure because I wasn't into comics at that particular time.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:30 p.m. CST

    Plus, Spidey's Strength Level Fluctuates...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...to fit the plot. Maybe they're better about that now. But depending on who wrote or drew the stories, you used to have Spidey lifting trucks and sucker punching the Hulk in one issue and getting pounded senseless by the Enforcers the next.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:32 p.m. CST

    But they already ruined who Peter Parker was...

    by superhero

    He took off the mask, remember? In public and on tevee, even. Ruined it for me anyways.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:34 p.m. CST

    Yeah, Buzz I remember McFarlane's Spidey...

    by superhero

    Was lifting and throwing TANKS back in the day. And I remmeber thinking, "He can't do that! I read the MARVEL UNIVERSE HANDBOOK and he can only press 10 tons!" It was the beginning of the end for Spidey books for me...:O)

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:44 p.m. CST

    Btw, Didn't Aunt May Already Die In The Comics?

    by LaserPants

    My step-father swears that Aunt May already died in an issue from the early 70s. Was that some kinda alternate reality hoobajoo? Was she brought back from the dead at some point? Either way, I REALLY hope she does die because I've always found her to be deeply irritating.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Aunt May Dies Hard

    by Jinxo

    From Wikipedia...<br><br> Aunt May has "died" several times. In her most recent "death", the "Aunt May" who died was, in a widely-derided plot twist, revealed to be a "genetically-altered actress" who impersonated her while May was held captive by villains. Later writers, like J. Michael Straczynski, of Babylon 5 fame, returned to portrayals of Aunt May's strength and character nuance. For instance, Straczynski controversially had May finally learn about her nephew's secret life once and for all (in Amazing Spider-Man (volume 2) #35, #38). That resulted in a heartfelt discussion in which aunt and nephew confess their darkest secrets and each learned that the other was far stronger than they imagined.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 7:44 p.m. CST

    kingpin's where-abouts?

    by maxwell's hammer

    Um, I don't mean to be a continuity-ophile, but didn't Matt Murdock have all criminal charges against Wilson Fisk dismissed in exchange for him leaving the country?<BR> <BR> It seems to me the privelage of being 'The Official Continuity' should belong to the better comic, which is Daredevil by a pretty wide margin.<BR> <BR> Are the editors are Marvel actually being paid to do anything?

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 10:02 p.m. CST

    Kingpin Continuity

    by Jinxo

    Actually I think they said the current Spider-Man plot happens before the events in Daredevil. But that actually makes the story worse since that fact telegraphs that Kingpin lives.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 10:11 p.m. CST

    yep...

    by blackthought

    yep...

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11:29 p.m. CST

    Reviews ... finally.

    by dregmobile

    I thought they overwrote that issue of ASM. After the final back in black I’m killing this title. Just killed IRON MAN after the above issue, which was kinda okay. I’m enjoying WWH (but no Frontline for me, thanks) and I’ll stick with the NEW AVENGERS book because it’s the coolest thing out there. Especially after the revelation in the last issue (regardless of whether or not it’s true). Still collecting DETECTIVE, that Joker stuff was amazing, some of the best Batman I’ve read in a long time.

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 5:08 a.m. CST

    @unt May...

    by Dr.Zeus

    ......is @ SKRULL!!! D@mmit!...Those @$$holes @re everywhere! Th@t's gott@ be the re@son she c@n die here, @nd die there. Heck, she's been in @nd out of the hospit@l so m@ny times th@t they keep @ bed on reserve for her! So I guess it will fin@lly be reve@led th@t she w@s @ scum of the g@l@xy Skrull. @nd w@s the one responsible for th@t god @wful Spiderm@n cloning fi@sco story!...........hmm come to think of it....I w@nt her de@d too! :D heh

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 5:14 a.m. CST

    Ah ha!!!

    by Jinxo

    May is a Skrull! Of course! I bet the switchover came way way back when they did Assistant Editors and Aunt May became the Herald of Galactus, Golden Oldie! The real Aunt May is still all cosmic powered and in some far off galaxy!

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 6:29 a.m. CST

    DC is overwhelming me

    by messi

    I stopped buying most comics after Infinite Crisis 7 cos I had no cash and it dissapointed me but I kept buying action and superman and in the past 2 weeks I have caught up on everything, read all of 52, countdown, most of the other books. Overwhelemed with information. And I want to finish Civil war, haven't read any frontline. Need to finish the green lantern stuff since IC. Fuck.

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 9:43 a.m. CST

    thanx for the hellboy darkness calls review

    by Shigeru

    it's been a great mini

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 11:27 a.m. CST

    I'm A MARVEL-ite Confounded By DC As Well

    by LaserPants

    Personally, I always found MARVEL's characters and situations to be alot cooler and more interesting, but I have a few friends who swear DC is the bees knees. Unfortunately, every time I try to get into DC, or pick up a book on a lark, I have absolutely no idea what is going on backstory-wise. I mean, yeah, I know the basic BATMAN and SUPERMAN backstories, but thats it. <br><br>On the flipside, I have internalized all kinds of minutae of MARVELs continuity -- I grew up reading MARVEL from when I was a wee lad in the mid-70s, on through the 80s, taking a break in the 90s when I thought I was too 'hip' to read superhero comics anymore and would only read 20scumthing angsty and/or transgressive indies and manga (besides, it seems superhero comics in the 90s pretty much blew. I'm glad I missed the Spidey Clone Saga; it sounded stupid). To be honest, I've only really gotten back into reading comics regularly (dropping on average about $40 bucks a week on monthly issues and trades) within the last year or so; basically brought back in to the fold due to loving the XMen and Spiderman movies, and being intrigued by the premise of the controversial CIVIL WAR. <br><br>Anyways, long story longer, to those of you who are DC enthusiasts -- which books would you reccomend to a DC neophyte? Where is a good place to start in order to catch up in terms of backstory and what the hell is going on? I'd like to get into DC as well (it sure would make our weekly HeroClix games more fun if I could expand my comicbook context), but need some help. Can you @ssholes help a brother-geek out???

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 12:21 p.m. CST

    The crossover events of both companies are...

    by rbatty024

    a little too much. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of huge crossovers and expanding the mythology of the Marvel or DC universe, but it's not terribly special when you have four or five crossover events a year. I'm actually a DC kind of guy, although I love Marvel and think that DC wouldn't be where they are if it wasn't for Marvel stepping up their game in the sixties. I think I'm drawn to DC because it deals more with mythology and archetypes. I'm selective with the books I buy because I'm broke most of the time but usually I pick up DC books that are not connected with the bigger crossovers, and these days, since DC wants to get mileage out of their less known characters, that usually means the big two: Batman and Superman. I've really dug Geoff John's and Richard Donner's run on Action comics as well as Darwyn Cooke's Superman Confidential. I hear that Grant Morrison's All Star Superman is pretty good but because of it's erratic shipment schedule and because I missed the first few issues I haven't gotten into it. After growing up reading lots of crappy Superman comics it's pretty amazing that there are three great Superman comics out right now. As far as Batman goes the Grant Morisson Batman series has been lots of fun. Lots of stuff you wouldn't normally see in a Batman series. The only drawback is a piss poor characterization of Damien, Batman's son with Talia. He's incredibly annoying. Detective Comics has also been great thanks to Paul Dini. I was a huge fan of Batman: The Animated Series when I was younger, so I immediately jumped on this comic. It focuses on the Detective side of Batman, and most of the comics are great little one shots, although story threads are starting to pick up in several issues. Of course, if you want a great tour of the DC Universe I would definitely recommend The Brave and the Bold. It's lots of fun and even if you're not up to date with the latest mythology it's real easy to get into. I've never read anything with the Blue Beetle in it, but I was able to understand the New Blue Beetle's personality and power pretty easily. In my opinion some of the best DC has to offer is where it should be, with their most popular characters. It makes sense, but for so long it hasn't been true.

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 12:37 p.m. CST

    DC's biggest problem is...

    by GrantChastain

    ...they choke themselves under the weight of the wildly-confusing continuity of their characters. And I'm not telling DC anything they don't already know -- every attempt at a "Crisis"-style event was clearly aimed at making things better, but each time managed to make things exponentially worse. So here we are in 2007, with less of an idea than ever what's happening or why. In case Dan Didio is reading this (though I couldn't possibly imagine why) I need to be perfectly frank -- readers shouldn't have to be a human encyclopedia of comic knowledge like Mark Waid to understand what's happening from one issue to the next. DC is a great house of ideas -- so why is it the executions of these ideas are frequently so confounding?

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Grant Morrison's BATMAN

    by LaserPants

    Hey, you know, I picked up BATMAN #666 the other day (heheh, Satan rulez), and dug it, but was confused by the whole Damien Wayne thing. Is that some kind of alternate universe book? I dug it and thought the premise was cool (and laughed my ass off at the LEXMART truck, which is new to me -- of course Luthor would be CEO of a WALMART like entity! Lol), but was confused as to what the deal was. So Bruce Wayne does have kids? Is that part of the main universe continuity, or an offshoot? <br><br> Btw, thanx for the suggestions, RBatty. I think I'll start mining the other BATbooks, especially Detective. I always thought the Dini animated series was cool too, and I like the more "noirish" side of Batman. One of the many reasons why I thought BATMAN BEGINS was so kickass -- it made Batman seem more believeable, while also keeping it fantastic/superhero-y.

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 1:40 p.m. CST

    Of course it's ridiculous.

    by Homer Sexual

    I have often been irritated by, say, She-Hulk's amazing weakness. And when non-powered people take on "big guns," it totally pisses me off. However, many years of reading this stuff has thickened my skin. I don't like it, but have learned to live with it. Just like my spare tire.

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 5:06 p.m. CST

    If The Kingpin Ever Had To Take On The Hulk...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...he'd simply hire/bribe/coerce some super-baddie of a reasonable power level to handle the physical end. Sandman, Rhino, Abomination, Juggernaut, etc. The Kingpin is brains as well as brawn. What did Miller say about him in DD : "The strength of a sumo and the mind of a scrupulous accountant." Simply, the Kingpin would see that there was no profit in battling the Hulk or trying to destroy him. He'd arrange his own escape or have the Hulk diverted. If he used the Hulk, then needed to give him the bum's rush, he would probably use one of the aforementioned baddies as his muscle.<p>It's funny. I never thought Spidey could lift 10 tons. I thought he had the strength of 10 men. He might be extra resilient and his speed might spare him the bulk of punishment, but I never saw him as invulnerable. Or skilled. He's fine when it's power vs. power, say against Electro, but someone like Shang Chi or Daredevil or the Kingpin could create problems. As with most of the Watchmen, a lot of the best characters are more "extreme personality" than anything else.

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 5:10 p.m. CST

    Besides, Didn't Marvel Pretty Much Flush Continuity...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...about 9 years ago. "Continuity is a tool but if it's over relied on..." Must have seen that in a billion-six Bendis/Quesada/Alonso interviews.

  • Aug. 3, 2007, 11:41 a.m. CST

    In Breaking News...

    by Buzz Maverik

    AIM headquarters was raided by Captain America and the Falcon. Although many suspected AIM operatives were apprehended, the biological enity known as MODOK reportedly escaped...Out on Long Island, the Stark International Manufacturing facility sank a mile into the Earth. At this time, only Anthony Stark's bodyguard Iron Man and an undisclosed female Stark employee are reported missing. The Mole Man is claiming responsibility...

  • Aug. 3, 2007, 10:36 p.m. CST

    rbatty: All Star Superman

    by maxwell's hammer

    The quality of this book will completely make you forget about its erratic shipping schedule, and the stories are pretty self-contained, so missing the first few issues isn't really a problem. That said, the last 2 issues are part of an unusual (for this book at least) multi-issue story.

  • Aug. 4, 2007, 6:11 a.m. CST

    LaserPants...

    by Marco_Xavier

    Cred first: I started reading both DC & Marvel in the early 80's, mostly X-titles, but plenty of time spent elsewhere. As I was burning out on muties and Marvel generally in the pre-Image 90's, New Titans became my gateway book into hardcore DC fandom for that entire decade. I ran a comic shop for most of that decade, so I read lots, but skimmed literally a little bit of everything. That said, DC has gone utterly to shit since Jeanette Kahn left the company and Dan Didio wrested control earlier this decade. The only titles I still buy are, get this, Aquaman (cancelled in 3 months) and Birds of Prey (to be dropped after Tony Bedard's fill-in issues.) I look forward to picking-up Gail Simone's run on Wonder Woman once the trades start coming, but that's it for me and DC after about 15 years of devotion to that universe and it's continuity. Do yourself a favor and abort any attempts at diving into DC Comics, because they'll just rape, murder, replace and retcon everything you ever liked.

  • Aug. 4, 2007, 10:18 a.m. CST

    I'm reading a lot more DC than Marvel at the moment...

    by stones_throw

    ...and I'd probably put myself to the Marvel end of the spectrum. I'm down to only CAPTAIN AMERICA and DAREDEVIL simply because all of Marvel's become enveloped in this Civil War/Initiative mega-event which is frankly grim and depressing. Spider-Man was able to take down Doctor Doom and the Kingpin with no training but now every superhero has to go to boot camp and work for the government? Way to suck the fun out of escapism. People complain about DC getting bogged down in continuity but Marvel is even worse. Marvel is now impenetrable to new readers. The current version of Spider-Man is simply not Spider-Man because he bears so little relation to anyone's mental image of the archetypal Spidey. A new reader picking up AMAZING is going to see a black-clad Spidey with no secret identity dodging "Registration". Anyone who flicks through IRON MAN next year after seeing Robert Downey Jr's playboy superhero is gonna see an ultra-serious Tony Stark running SHIELD. No way is that accessible.

  • Aug. 4, 2007, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Starlord

    by Bluejack

    I loved Starlord. The art is Moebius "Airtight Garage." and that is a good thing.

  • Aug. 5, 2007, 11:18 a.m. CST

    ...

    by blackthought

    ...

  • Aug. 7, 2007, 12:25 p.m. CST

    What to do with a poor Aquaman?

    by stones_throw

    I was looking at some old talkbacks and found Ambush Bug again lamenting the dire state of Aquaman. It seems DC can only last about a year with every relaunch before it turns crappy. Canny guy that he is, Dave F predicted DC's current Conan/fantasy type direction, right down to the costume changes. I still think that's the best option, they just need to get a writer who won't run out of crazy concepts and ideas and an artist who can draw wondrous civilisations and sci-fi stuff. Treat the sea like an alien world and make it Aquaman's home then it won't feel like plots have to be contrived to keep him off land. If I was a DC editor I'd just set Morrison and Quitely loose and tell them to go crazy.<p>Alternatively, you could go the whole tongue-in-cheek route and make his dorkiness an asset. Have him on the trail of a mystery and every few issues he has to move around and assume a different identity, like, for example, a Spider-Man story starring Aquaman. He's in New York, attending lectures, banging chicks and sleeping in a (water-filled) bathtub! Then the trail moves on and he's in Gotham City, sneaking up on Comissioner Gordon etc. I reckon that has the potential to be pretty hilarious. Otherwise, I think he could join the Outsiders.