AICN COMICS REVIEWS JLA: NEW FRONTIER DVD! THE BOYS! A TON OF INDIE JONES! AND MUCH MORE!
JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER DVD
Directed by: Dave Bullock Written by: Stan Berkowitz and Darwyn Cooke Release by: Warner Bros. Reviewed by: superheroLet's face it. For years Warner Bros. animation has been the pinnacle studio for super-hero animation. From “Batman: The Animated Series” to “Justice League: Unlimited” the Warner Bros. Studios as well as producer Bruce Timm have taken the DC Universe to heights that few comic fans ever dreamed television animation could ever reach. Sure there have been some missteps along the way, such as BRAINIAC ATTACKS and BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN, but for the most part almost every animated project based on the DCU that Timm and Co. have produced has been stellar.
Of course, last year gave us the straight to DVD movie THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN which many thought was sub-par compared to previous efforts. I, for one, really enjoyed it. Of course I personally thought that the original DEATH OF SUPERMAN storyline from the comic books was one of the dumbest and most convoluted messes that ever graced the pages of comicdom. So I was more than pleasantly surprised at the pared down animated version. I thought it captured the spirit of THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN comics and maintained a discipline in the storytelling that was obviously lacking in the original printed story. While it wasn't the best of the straight to DVD projects (That still goes to BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER…which you can see my review of here) it was a fun and somewhat gripping superhero adventure with some neat character moments. Better than the comics in many ways with some original twists that provided for some great entertainment value.
Which brings me to JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER. THE NEW FRONTIER is latest in Warner Bros. Animation's attempts to adapt a modern classic comic book storyline for the small screen. Does it live up to the source material? Is it better than the book it was based on? Is this the new holy grail of comic book animation?
Well, the answers to those questions would be: Hell yes. What are you, high? Ummm…not really but almost.
Let me go back for a second to the actual series THE NEW FRONTIER by comics mastermind Darwyn Cooke. When the THE NEW FRONTIER came out in the shops I was both excited and skeptical at the same time. I'm a big fan of Cooke's artwork but FRONTIER had a lot of hype surrounding it as well as a pretty inflated price tag for each issue. I wanted to buy the series but the way things have been going in today's comic marketplace I decided that I'd probably just wait for a trade collection or a hardcover edition. When the book came out, though, I couldn't resist the promise of Cooke's glorious artwork. I caved immediately, bought the first issue, and ended up being…somewhat disappointed. Not with the artwork. Cooke's work was as stunning as ever. But I thought the writing left a little to be desired. Specifically it was the sequence where Hal Jordan is portrayed as a pacifist jet fighter pilot who's never fired a gun on an opponent during wartime. That bit just seemed over-the-top silly to me and took me right out of the story. I just couldn't get past it. So after I read the first issue I decided that I would wait for a collected edition of THE NEW FRONTIER. I was still going to get the damn thing but more for the artwork than anything else. And if I was going to get it I wanted to get it in the best edition I could so I'd be able enjoy Darwyn Cooke's work in the best way possible: oversized and on high quality glossy paper.
I ended up receiving the hardcover as a Christmas present and when I sat down to read it I was just stunned. It ended up being a more enjoyable and fantastic read than I could have ever imagined. Once I got past hippie war hero Hal Jordan there was a dense yet terrifically entertaining read within the pages of THE NEW FRONTIER. In short, THE NEW FRONTIER easily became one of my favorite comic works of all time. It lived up to the hype and surpassed it and I was glad I had gotten the chance to read it. If anything THE NEW FRONTIER convinced me that waiting for a collected edition was the way to go with a mini-series like this one because the all around reading experience ended up being fully satisfying from beginning to end, something it obviously wasn't for me when I read the first issue of the comic.
So now back to the DVD. What can I say about this thing to convince everyone that it is the absolute cat's meow, the bee's knees of superhero animation? Well, the first thing I'll say about it is that if you want to see something that brings Darwyn Cooke's art to life then you're definitely going to want to pick this up. While many of the animated universes that Bruce Timm has helped bring to life have always been rooted in the art form of Jack Kirby and Alex Toth, and those art styles are obvious influences in Cooke's work, there is a special artistic quality here that takes certain segments to another level. I'm sure many fans may have already become accustomed to the Kirby/Toth style that Warner Bros. animation has embraced over the years and some may not be initially impressed with the look of this DVD release. But there are some sequences here that are really beautiful to look at. The one area that stood out to me as pure Cooke was the opening sequence, where a slightly disturbed cartoonist is illustrating the origins of "The Source". It's short but effectively gorgeous and it sets the tone for the whole movie while also letting you know that you aren't just watching another episode of the regular Justice League 'toon.
While there are certain limitations to the budget of this project there are still some really amazing moments in the film. You can tell a lot of love went into this movie, as much of the story is preserved in one way or another and much of the grandeur of the action remains. As a matter of fact there were definitely a couple of sequences that made me outwardly say, "Oh, cooool". Let's just put it this way, if the bit where Ferris aircraft tries to launch a mission into space doesn't make the five year old comic fan inside of you giddy with glee then your inner child has left the building, my friend.
What's also really great about NEW FRONTIER is that it really takes the Golden/Silver age versions of the characters and gives them their moments to shine. There's a bit of a departure from the regular character designs that you'll usually see in a DC Universe cartoon and I found that refreshing. Particularly cool was seeing Batman when he first shows up. In his first appearance he looks a lot like he did when Bob Kane first drew him. It's actually the original Batman that you see fighting in this movie and it's really, really fun to watch. Actually, a big part of what makes this movie so great is seeing classically designed versions of DC's greatest heroes in action. Superman has his black "S" shield, Batman has short black gloves on, and Wonder Woman sports an outfit that is very reminiscent of her golden age uniform.
Not only do the characters look great but they sound great as well. The voicework here is top notch. A particular standout for me was Kyle MacLachlan. I never thought that they got Superman's voice completely right in any of the Superman or Justice League cartoons but MacLachlan, for some reason, just nails it here. To me, his voice is exactly how I always imagined an animated Superman should sound. Jeremy Sisto does a really solid job as Batman as well. While I'll always hear Kevin Conroy's voice whenever I read a Batman comic I was impressed with Sisto's take on Batman, particularly because I could have sworn I heard a hint of Adam West attitude in his delivery. I could have been imagining it but there was something in Sisto's manner of speech that reminded me of the 60's caped crusader and it made me smile almost every time Batman spoke.
All in all THE NEW FRONTIER should pretty well live up to expectations. Sure, there are some weaker moments here and there as well as areas where the animation can seem a bit stiff. A specific disappointment for me was when Hal Jordan (SPOILER) is summoned by Abin Sur and given the Green Lantern ring. The sequence kind of felt limp to me and just smacked of a missed opportunity to do something incredibly special. I mean, he doesn't even recite the oath, for cryin' out loud!
In the end, though, THE NEW FRONTIER delivers a quality super-hero experience in spades. Look, I've gotten my hands on a preview copy and I've watched it twice and already pre-ordered the two disc DVD set. If that doesn't tell you how much I enjoyed this thing then I don't know what will. Run don't walk to pick this one up when it finally comes out. I can't imagine you'll be disappointed.
Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com.
CLAN DESTINE #1
Writer/pencils: Alan Davis Inks: Mark Farmer Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Ambush BugOK, for some of you, the return of CLAN DESTINE means nothing. I'm sure there are some who have never heard of the title and don't really feel that pang of nostalgia when you heard that the property was going to begin a new chapter. Yet I'm sure there are others who flipped when the announcement was made that the book was coming back or more accurately surprised as hell to find a new CLAN DESTINE book on the shelves since it's a book that received very little by way of adverts or publicity. I was one of those surprised by seeing it on the shelves, BTW. Either way, the good news is that Alan Davis has brought back his family of offbeat misunderstoodlings. The bad news? Well, after reading this book...there really isn't any bad news to report.
CLAN DESTINE is the story of the Destine family, an immortal family of heroes whose superpowers range from super strength to telepathy to invulnerability to super-agility and beyond. They aren't mutants, but some kind of weird inbred family of red-haired, cool costumed, neatly characterized super freaks. The Crimson Crusader and Imp are still fledgling/wannabe super-heroes. Walter/Wallop is still their uptight paternal figure. And the rest of the clan is still basically marching to their own drum, each with their own motivations and agendas that, more often than not, conflict with the agendas and motivations of the rest of the members of their family. Reading this issue of CLAN DESTINE, you realize that writer/artist/creator Alan Davis hasn't missed a beat and basically starts the story where it stopped close to fifteen years ago.
And therein lies the only problem I had with this book. Aside from a family tree diagram on the first page and a hopscotch narrative provided by some voices from the shadows, we really don't get a lot by way of back-story or history of the Clan Destine. I know that information is a click away. I'm sure a trip to Wikipedia would answer any and all of my questions, but I don’t think a comic book should require such research in order to be enjoyed. Even though I dug this book thoroughly, I doubt that those of you who I mentioned at the beginning of this review (you know, the ones who wouldn't know the Clan Destine from the Destiny's Child) would be able to understand just what makes this family tick or be able to leap right into the story without a few questions. Hell, I bought every issue of CLAN DESTINE and I had questions. I haven't read a CLAN DESTINE book in over ten years, so I wasn't necessarily up to date with how the original series ended and what the family has been doing since. If I had trouble remembering what this family was all about, imagine how in the dark a new reader would be. In this first issue, the Crimson Crusader mentions that they aren't mutants, which lead me to ask the question, “Well, just what the hell are you creepy bastards then?" Not a good question to have on the tip of your cerebellum in a first issue.
But nevertheless, this is a fun story. At its heart is the theme of family. Adam Destine, the head of the family, has difficulty relating to the rest because his immortality makes him look younger than the others. Walter has an overwhelming desire to protect the family, especially the two children, Crimson Crusader and Imp. The kids are ornery and eager to get started in the superhero biz, with their family slowly coming to terms that it is better to supervise the development of their powers than have them sneak out and learn them on their own. Cuckoo is the spacey telepath. Argent is stiff, stern, and unable to connect with the family in a maternal way. And Dominic is the weird uncle of the family with his mullet and feather cape. Kind of remind me of my family… Yet the interaction between the family is what makes this book stand out as a true gem and it made me forget the fact that I had forgotten so many of the details of the Destine family and their previous series. Davis' handling of these characters made all of that insignificant and I just wanted to see more of the family dynamics dynamically play out.
Davis' crisp clean style, highlighted by Farmer's inks, still remains some of the most professional artwork in modern comics. The women are beautiful, the men muscular and powerful, and the depiction of powers is unique and fun. Check out the way Walter's hair turns to fire when he utilizes his super strength. Too cool.
So although I had a little difficulty with the details, there is enough here for me to give this book a strong recommendation. If you're new to the Destine Clan, you might be scratching your head as if you aren't able to get the joke. But I advise you to put all of that aside and appreciate this book for what it is at its core: an exciting book about an exciting family with super powers. If you can do that, you'll enjoy the hell out of it like I did.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for close to seven years. Look for his first published work in this March's MUSCLES & FIGHTS 3 from Cream City Comics . Bug also knows that intelligence, like time and space, is relative.
Writer: Peter Tomasi Artist: Rags Morales Inker: Michael Bair Publisher: DC Reviewer: Rock-Me AmodeoThe complaint I’ve had with NIGHTWING in recent years is that he’s seemed adrift. For years, he’s been portrayed more as a brawler than the complete package that he is: not quite as good as Batman, but tops in the world as a fighter, strategist and detective. After all, when your character can’t be stronger, he has to be smarter (or else you have to expect us readers to be stupid, and require us to needlessly suspend disbelief to cover sloppy writing).
Enter Peter Tomasi, a welcome defection from the ranks of editor to writer. His BLACK ADAM series was about as good as a book could get (where the outcome had already been written) and this is his second issue of NIGHTWING. To sum up the situation so far: Dick has acquired a yen for skydiving and New York and a museum, of which he is going to be the curator.
I know, I was thinking the same thing: “Museum curator! How can I contain my excitement! Because that’s worked so well for all sixteen of HAWKMAN’s cancelled titles….”
But wait. Before you judge too harshly, there IS a difference. Dick is assuming the mantle of curator as a cover story. He’s not a curator who’s playing superhero. He’s a superhero who’s playing curator. It’s a role that fits into his overall strategic plan, and in that sense, I can dig it. It’s more “Pretender” (Jarod, not Chrissie Hynde) and less “The Librarian,” so I don’t expect long discussions on the merits of digital hammurabi and whatnot.
There are no “Holy Crap!” moments, but there are a half-dozen or so neat touches. The scene where a night watchman stumbles onto a conversation between Superman and Nightwing was a classic. I laughed out loud when Superman posed for a picture (look at Supes’ face – good job, Rags.) I loved the way the guard was suitably star-struck, and the casual way Dick talked to Superman. I also appreciated the camaraderie between Dick and Wally West later in the issue. As I like to say, there were a lot of neat moments.
That’s not to say it was perfect. The conversational love fests may have gone on a little too Vaughan…I mean, too long. (Heh.) The thought that a bunch of superheroes have the time to help Dick with some high-speed remodeling is a neat idea, but one would think that kind of thing doesn’t happen very often. Still, it was nice to see a bunch of folks together when it’s not a normal team and not a funeral or COUNTDOWN non-event.
And I’m not sure even Bruce Wayne would buy a bunch of buildings (as if all buildings are always for sale) without a clear cut plan. Of course, Tomasi DID stress just last issue that there is no one Batman trusts more than his family, so that may have been Tomasi’s way of selling to the reader the trust Bruce has, to purchase buildings for Dick with little more than the shopping list in hand. If that was deliberate, then hats off.
Oh, and did I mention there is a plot? Someone is digging up dead bodies for no apparent reason. I don’t have a clue, and that is appreciated. Did I mention that Morales did a great job on art? Not eye-popping, but sturdy work.
You know, the thing that really surprises me is how…I dunno, not just smart , but how “pure” Tomasi is writing Dick. Classic. Innocent even, though not naïve. If you read the BLACK ADAM series, you know Tomasi can get down and dirty. But just like with Ennis’s DAN DARE, I was stunned that a writer can so utterly switch gears, as Tomasi has done here, and simply serve the character. It’s not a return to Silver Age, and none of the aforementioned dead bodies are returning as characters that died twenty years ago, hanging out at the Coffee Bean.
The book as a whole doesn’t really feel “classic” per se. But it had a definite direction, and that is very much appreciated.
Dante “Rock-Me” Amodeo has been reading comics for thirty-five years. His first novel, “Saban and The Ancient” (an espionage/paranormal thriller) was published 2006. He began writing for AICN Comics in 2007 and his second novel (“Saban Betrayed”) is due 2008. He’s often told he has a great face for radio.
THE TWELVE # 2
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) Art: Chris Weston Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Optimous DoucheLast week in the Talkbacks, Barking Frog received a heaping pile of “talk” flung at him for his review of ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN. No matter what your feelings are about the book or BF’s review, I think we can all agree that Miller’s interpretation of Batman is a much darker image of the Caped Crusader than what Bob Kane had originally intended for the Dark Knight almost 80 years ago.
After reading the second issue of JMS’s THE TWELVE I’ve come to the realization that Miller and JMS aren’t creating comics in a vacuum, but rather holding a mirror up to us as a society and saying, “You’re bleak, the infallible hero can’t penetrate your cynical cerebellums and the cost will ultimately be your humanity.”
If issue number one of THE TWELVE was about the yings of awakening and discovery, issue two serves as the inevitable yangs of loss and disillusionment. For anyone that missed issue one, a Nazi with a nitrogen fetish deepfreezes 12 of the Golden Age’s most forgettable D-listers and happenstance buries them underground for the next sixty or so years. Some German construction workers unearth our Herocicles and they are left to go out into the brave new world they were fighting so valiantly to defend during WWII. Unfortunately, they wake up in our world.
They wake up to a world without jet packs and hover cars, a world in which everything they once loved and cherished has disintegrated to dust, a world where the opportunistic douche bag of this title, the Blue Blade, can not only be an opportunistic douche on the radio, but also on the moving picture box called television (I’m glad no one explained the internet to these guys; they spent two panels piecing together the concept of TV).
It’s in this subtle indictment of society that JMS’s writing truly shines. What would our grandparents and great grandparents think of our world today if they still had all of their vim and vigor? What would the generation of builders, doers and action takers think of our internet-induced malaise and apathy towards all institutions. If my 85 year old grandmother wasn’t slowly being ravaged by the effects of Alzheimer’s disease in a North Carolina nursing home, I think she would pour a scotch, light a cigarette and say, “Quit bitching on the internet, go outside, build a fucking jet pack, and head to Mars before the Chinese beat us.”
I also applaud the way JMS has developed rich back stories and personalities for these twelve Timely Comics characters. Where Krueger and Ross have created an exciting overarching story with public domain characters in PROJECT: SUPERPOWERS, and focused very little on intricacies of the characters, JMS has done just the opposite in THE TWELVE. This really shouldn’t be a good book, but it is. JMS has taken the simple “fish out of water” story, doused it with the old stick them in carbonite until we need them later plot device, and yet because of the fullness of the characters I was entranced by every turn of the page. We’re only at the second issue (I won’t count the repurposed shill that was issue 0) and I already have a deep vested interest in the fate of THE TWELVE.
If I had to throw any stones at this title I will say that action junkies should beware. Thus far, this title has been less focused on the super and more on the heroes, but that can really be said for most of JMS’s self-managed projects. RISING STARS was not a book for the Ritalin takers of America. JMS took the time to craft the personalities of the Pederson Specials before he sent them into high flying, ass kicking excitement. While I appreciate the slow build, I will never fault those folks that are thirsting for out of gate thrills and spills. JMS, if you want to appeal to a broader comic audience, it’s time to assault some panels with the action turned all the way up to 11 a little earlier in the book’s run.
I’m a big fan of detailed art in books, especially backgrounds. If Image did one thing to shoot themselves in the foot back in the early ‘90s, it was to draw every character standing in either the white nothingness of the Matrix ready room, or put a background behind the characters that was some unidentifiable pattern akin to my prom picture backdrop in 1991. The first time I read THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS I threw the book down after the first page because I couldn’t stomach the indiscernible character depictions. My point is that while I buy comics for the stories, I will cop a walk if the art is abysmal. Thankfully Chris Weston delivers a visual depiction that is just as detailed and real as the characters themselves. Weston has given each character their own distinct look and feel apart from their costumes. Even when no one is suited up, I can still tell the Phantom Reporter apart from Captain Wonder, which just adds another whole unique dimension to set this book apart from the other standard fare in my pull box each week.
Did I like this book? Hells Yes! Would I recommend this book? Quite honestly, if COUNTDOWN is one of the best selling books out there, I would not recommend THE TWELVE for the masses. While I loved it, it is a vast departure from most mainstream titles, and if A plus B equals C, we can assume THE TWELVE is not for the average comic reader.
I’m signing off to either go build a jet pack, invade China from my base on Mars, call my grandmother, or reread RISING STARS.
THE BOYS (#1-14)
Writer: Garth Ennis Art: Darick Robertson Publisher: WildStorm Productions (#1-6), Dynamite Entertainment (#7-14) Reviewer: barking_frogI cannot help but make comparisons with PREACHER in talking about THE BOYS. Ennis has done substantial runs on other titles -- HELLBLAZER, THE PUNISHER, HITMAN -- but his high-water mark is PREACHER, and Ennis himself has stated that THE BOYS is his effort to "out-Preacher PREACHER" [ Newsarama.com ].
Short answers first, then...
Does it out-Preacher PREACHER? I'm cautiously hopeful that, eventually, it may. At this point it's close, but doesn't quite measure up -- it lacks the very elusive quality of 'heart'. But THE BOYS is also developing more slowly than PREACHER did, and Ennis has 80% of the run to go.
Is it more violent and offensive than PREACHER? This is the issue that divides people on Ennis -- some readers seek his work out for its offensive content, others avoid it out of hand for same. Considering he's one of the best storytellers in the medium, I feel both parties miss the point. But, if you're an Ennis fan in large part because you enjoy dismemberment and forced sex, this series might be a really special treat for you -- it does succeed in being more explicit than PREACHER.
If I don't especially enjoy dismemberment and forced sex, should I read THE BOYS? Absolutely. It has all of Ennis's trademark black humor, quirky and often distinct characters, realistic subtext, and memorable dialog. The only handicap of significance I detected is that it starts slow in terms of character development -- but even in the early stages it's a page-turner, better than 85% of the titles out there.
Unfortunately, the slow start could result in readers dropping off in the first two story arcs (six issues, the contents of the first TPB). I read the 14 issues that've been published to date in two big chunks over a couple days, and at the end of the first day had made up my mind THE BOYS was going to have character writing inferior to Ennis's normal high standard.
In the first seven or so issues there are only two characters Ennis really builds on, and briefly at that. Those characters work. They have a potential Romeo and Juliet situation on the horizon that seems promising. They're individual and real -- we know people like them, or we might even be people like them. One is Wee Hughie, the "everyman" character we empathize with as he's sucked into the cold and impersonal world of the five supers named the Boys. The other is Annie January, or Starlight, sort of Wee Hughie's opposite number as a new recruit for the corporate-funded celebrity supergroup The Seven.
But there are so many characters who fail to engage us taking up so much page count, Ennis's two protagonists get literally lost in the crowd.
The leader of the Boys is the mysterious Billy Butcher, who seems to be Ennis's focal character after Wee Hughie and Starlight -- yet it's issue #6 before Ennis makes an attempt to connect us with him emotionally.
This is a far cry from e.g. Tulip in PREACHER, who we immediately connected with because we could feel her desperation in her first background scene when she fumbled a hit and merely blew a bodyguard or aide's jaw off. It was just as explicit as Ennis ever is, yet we could also empathize with her -- whereas Butcher, after six issues of being just a 'hard guy', seems disconnected. His dialog late in #6 is a stale framework on which to hang what should be strong character motivation.
The Female and the Frenchman, two more of the Boys, as of issue #7 don't even have definable personalities. They're described as "muscle" and are Very Dangerous People -- the Frenchman is French, somewhat incoherent (seemingly even beyond the fact he only speaks English 40% of the time), he talks to himself -- and the Female is probably insane.
That's the sum, up to about that point; most of the characters are cutouts who add little of consequence. We connect more with a minor member of the Seven, who is at least pissed off he's not getting a full percentage of his action figure sales, than we do with three or four of the Boys.
This was worrisome, because ultimately the best fiction is about the inner lives of real people, and as of the second story arc's conclusion it doesn't seem there are going to be enough real people with inner lives in THE BOYS to do the job.
But by the time I reached issue #14, my opinion on the character writing had changed. Ennis is fleshing out Butcher and the Frenchman. I now believe he has a plan for each of his characters -- something I wasn't sure about at first.
After flipping through the first few issues of PREACHER for comparison, I think I see the reason for the difference in THE BOYS.
THE BOYS has a much larger cast than PREACHER. In early issues of PREACHER, Ennis introduced his characters by ones and threes; in THE BOYS he's been introducing characters by fives and sevens. The end result is that in PREACHER, Ennis could flesh out his cast as soon as he introduced each character, giving the series a much more three-dimensional feel early on.
In THE BOYS, due to its nature as a super-group book, it's impossible for Ennis to give us more than a brief sketch of each character he introduces. On top of that, the need to get all his pieces on the board at the outset means he's unable to spend much time even on key characters. This is the classic JLA problem of doing character development when in each issue you can only give two pages on average to any given member of your cast, and there almost seems to be a divide right around #7 prior to which Ennis is focused on introducing characters, and after which he's developing them.
The result is a more slowly maturing book than PREACHER was, but I encourage the reader to stick it out -- with #8 and #9 we at last start to see the characters begin to really interact, and the title only improves after that.
Returning to Ennis's wish to surpass his work on PREACHER, THE BOYS might already out-Preacher its predecessor in one area: setting. PREACHER took place in more or less our world, but Ennis had to create a new world for THE BOYS. At first glance it looks like "generic superhero world", but Ennis has done more than that. His superheroes are tolerated and feared by their governments, not celebrated and loved, or used and discarded, or hunted and destroyed -- which are all things we've seen before.
Instead, it's a world where government fears the supers may organize and take over, but doesn't have enough power to do anything active about it without precipitating exactly the kind of organization it fears.
So the U.S. government (at least) uses the Boys, unusually high-powered supers who (we assume) each has a reason to hate other supers. The Boys are CIA-controlled, and operate the way you'd expect a CIA-controlled unit to operate -- they terrorize other supers, gather potentially damaging information on them, and occasionally beat down or kill a super when an example needs to be made or a super won't fall into line.
It makes for a dark and interesting story environment, with the supers and the government in a peculiar balance that works in the story's present but leaves the reader feeling things could go to hell at any time -- and that the Boys might be the agency tipping everything over the edge.
The result is that the setting does more than just provide geography and backdrops -- atmosphere infuses everything and works approximately as another character, interacting with the cast and shaping things. The supers use, disregard, and destroy the lives of non-supers and weaker supers as the world tries to balance the superhero presence.
I have to wonder if THE BOYS isn't a commentary on the comics industry, with the supers and their followers in the role of the major industry publishers and the mainstream fanbase that for 40 years has exhibited an appetite for little besides superhero comics.
Ennis has always been public about his lack of love for the superhero genre, and he does like to follow ideas to their conclusion. It's unlikely that superheroes in the real world would maintain a benevolent stasis alongside regular society. Ennis isn't the first to nod in that direction -- Moore did it in the early 80's with MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN. But here we are 25 years later and the Big Two publishers are still surviving on the continuity of that same proposition that supers could exist in the world without significantly changing it.
As a non-mainstream author who's been successful telling his own kind of stories, I wonder if Ennis will use the Boys to vicariously show the mainstream comics industry what he thinks of it. Ennis also told Newsarama.com , in answer to the question of where THE BOYS came from: "It comes from 17 years working in an industry dominated by one genre. I've never been a big fan of superheroes, but I can't pretend I'm not aware of them. You look at that stuff and you go, 'No, no, that's not what would happen, this is what would really happen...' and you carry on from there."
THE BOYS was in the best 1/6 of comics titles on the market -- where 2D characters with poorly defined motivation are the rule -- even in its first two arcs. Now that all the players are introduced and he's hit his stride, the title's pure classic Ennis. Unless you're automatically turned off by the explicit sex, violence, and language the author regularly employs, I recommend you check out Ennis's mad, bad, dangerous, humorous, morbid world and its characters in THE BOYS.
Edward Livingston-Blade AKA barking_frog considers PREACHER mandatory lost-on-a-desert-island reading material, and sincerely hopes Ennis can top himself with THE BOYS (what pun?). Edward is presently working on the second and third installments to a six-part prose superhero/adventure cycle that's part of The Man Who Wasn't There.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #549
Written by Marc Guggenheim Art by Salvador Larroca Published by the House of No Ideas Reviewed by Stones ThrowOkay, the good: that cover is absolutely gorgeous and one of the best to grace a Marvel comic in a long time. Sal Larrocca deserves a pat on the back, a beer and a blowjob for that iconic depiction of Spidey.
The bad? Well, how long have you got?
I’m not going to go into the “Marvel’s ret-con of the Spider-marriage was ill-conceived and…” bit, because A) it’s been done to death already, but also, 2) because I was one of the few guys who were willing to look past (meaning, not pay for) the terminal lack of imagination displayed in ONE MORE DAY in favor of what Marvel sold the new status quo as: a chance to forget the last decade or so of not-so AMAZING SPIDEY in favor of a return to the iconic roots of the character. I hadn’t read a main universe Spider-Man book for the longest time, and the news that they were bringing on guys like Dan Slott and Zeb Wells to re-focus Spider-Man sounded good to me.
Then Dan Slott’s first issue came out and it was one of the most painful reads of the year so far. Since Marvel had about a thousand more imaginative, dramatic and credible ends for the marriage, the only way they were going to get readers to get past the almost willful stupidity of OMD was to completely ignore it and focus on moving forward with new stories. That wasn’t what I saw though. The issue opened with Pete copping off with a girl in a nightclub and saying “this isn’t what it looks like”. Elsewhere there were smug winks to the reader about how funny it was for Spidey to be living with Aunt May again and talking about wheatcakes, or Pete saying “Please…I’m too young to get married”. Hey, Joe! We get it! Stop talking down to your audience! Combine that with a lack of imagination in the story, an absence of action and a preference for set-up over substance and you got probably the worst first issue status quo-setter possible.
I read Ambush Bug’s positive review of the last issue, the end of the first three-issue arc, and decided to give it another try. Sure enough, I found a well-crafted Spidey yarn ably assembled by old skool maestro Dan Slott. There were still a few annoying in-jokes and I had to close my eyes and imagine Ross Andru or Gil Kane in place of Steve McNiven’s clinically lifelike art, but I started to think that maybe there was hope for the relaunch yet.
Well, consider those hopes dashed. Just as I suspected they were getting into the swing of things, this issue simply confirms all the worst doubts I had. Number one, it’s not a Spider-Man story. It’s a group of editors and writers sat around a table trying to brainstorm what a classic Spider-Man story should be, instead of getting talented people who are right for the job…say, Dan Slott and John Romita Jr…. and letting them do their work. Ever noticed how, even if they’re working similar ideas, an episode of SEINFELD has so much more heart and soul than an episode of FRIENDS where a football team of writers are scripting punch lines? It’s the same difference here. They’re doing what should be the right things, but it just isn’t working.
The process is wrong. Rather than coming up with a great story for Peter Parker that uses a new villain, they’re saying, “Spider-Man needs new villains. We better get some,” and the generic blandness of the new bad guys is a testament to this. Menace? Freak? Mr. Negative was a bit better, but even then a Kingpin for Chinatown is hardly a beacon of creativity. Likewise with the two, new, potential love interests for Peter. They’re not characters. They’re editorially mandated ciphers.
“Spider-Man needs subplots.” “Uh…how about the Daily Bugle gets a new owner?” Oh, the inspiration! For the love of Roy Scheider, stop treating your audience as if they can’t tell better!
But the most distressing thing about these new issues is the lack of Peter Parker. Spider-Man’s always been the superhero whose secret identity is the most vital to his stories. Telling Spidey stories is a delicate balancing act between the superhero battles and the everyday pressures, but the best of ‘em give you the sense of perspective that it’s always Peter Parker, the richest character in comics, under the mask. This issue completely fails in that regard. We get Spidey the wise-cracking loon, the snarky dumb-@$$, and (very briefly) Pete the loveable slacker, but never the feeling that it’s a real guy struggling in there, or the sense of complete immersion and empathy that the best stories give you. Leaving aside Bendis on ULTIMATE SPIDEY occasionally it almost seems like a lost art, but just pick up any of the ESSENTIALS and you’ll see what I mean.
I’m not even sure who this guy is. He has a carefree existence living at home with his Aunt and hangs around playing baseball with beautiful girls and his stinkin’ rich best friend.
Dan Slott is a talented writer who knows his Spidey well enough that he made it briefly seem like it might work. But this issue just stinks. Even the art, beautiful cover aside, isn’t that good, just seeming rushed and unfocused. And what’s worse, I’ve got a feeling that with this policy of rotating teams we’re in for set-up upon set-up without there ever being any substantial pay-off. But, hey, Marvel, keep up with that customer-is-always-wrong approach. I’m sure you all know much better than the fans. It’s not possible you just have a bad book, right?
FABLEWOOD ANTHOLOGY OGN
By Various artists/writers Publisher: Ape Entertainment Reviewer: Ambush BugFABLEWOOD is a feast for the eyes, the heart, and the mind. This fantasy anthology is done by a handful of talented artists and writers, all fully capable of telling the type of story that stretches the imagination. I found this book to be a real showcase of talent. I’ll go over the entire book briefly, but my observations don’t do this book justice.
Story one is called “Solace” by JP Ahonen, which tells a heart-wrenching tale about a young child accepting the death of his parents. The characters are alien in this story, but the emotions are all too human. A very well told tale to start off the book.
“Die a Hero” is a nicely written story by Steve Kinder with lush pencils by Kevin Crossley that shows an epic battle between man and monster from both perspectives.
“A Vicious Circle” by JJ Naas and Elanor Cooper tells a fun and cute story about a group of wannabe magicians and their quest for power.
Scott Hallett brings us “The Spirit & the Woods”, a PRINCESS MONONOKE-like story about wood spirits that is as visually imaginative as that film.
Due to the stylized font, I may misspell the writer/artist behind the wonderful reading experiment that is “Mandala”, but Joe Thfurhart’s story is one of the book’s highlights both in its mandala-shaped storytelling style and the cool mix of cavemen and giant robots.
“Blessings” features the lively pencils of Ryan Ottley bringing William Ward’s brief story about a death on a battlefield to life.
Joe Suitor’s “From the Pages of Monoluminant” is beautifully illustrated with a clever narrative twist.
Axel Medellin Machain brings us “The Ancient Pact”, telling a tale of revenge that is confidently drawn and an example of good sequential storytelling.
“Under the Midnight Sun” by Dusty Neal and Chris Studabaker was another of the shining highlights of this book told from the perspective of a tree’s shadow who’s futile goal is to see the sun. The shadow’s quest is heartwrenching, as is the extremely emotive and sketchy artwork.
“Unworthy” by Daniel LaFrance is a morality tale about one woman’s bitter fight against obstacles both physical and gender-biased. This is a stark and moody story.
Sarah Mensinga’s “Fish” is a cute tale that focuses on a language barrier between a pirate in peril and a mermaid. The characters and interactions are adorable in this sweet tale.
“A Tale of Two Shifters” is from the GOBLIN CHRONICLES book (reviewed in a previous Indie Jones column) written by Troy Dye and Tom Kelesides and drawn by Collin Fogel. It’s another tale with cutesy goblin outcasts working together despite differences in a war-torn fantasy land. This was a fun installment that continues to flesh out the GOBLIN CHRONICLES world.
Jonathon Dalton’s “The Cloud-Leapers of Blue Pine Mountain” looks to be taking a lot of inspiration from Japanese ink drawings. This is a beautiful tale of a culture’s sacrifices during a war and what that culture must do in order to persevere. It also has a nice battle between a boy and an albino monkey, so it’s gotta be good.
This is one of the best anthologies Ape Entertainment has produced. For those of you who like to see new and fresh voices in comics, this book has quite a few of them. Although there isn’t enough space to go too much in depth in each story, hopefully this brief synopsis will help steer any of you who seek to find what the future of comics holds. Look no further than this book.
DOKTOR SLEEPLESS #5 Avatar ComicsI’m sure I’ll have a more in-depth review of this title in the future, but first, a quick note/question. As somebody who loves music, and loves comics, I’m all in favor of seeing the two intersect, and I would never question Warren Ellis’ commitment to finding new and interesting music. This issue focuses very heavily on a the lead character (who is a villain, not an anti-hero, mark my words) expounding on various musical acts and what he thinks of them, what they represented and what they accomplished. So here’s my question, and I know some of you are about to flip out on me, and I’m okay with that: WHAT’S THE BIG FUCKING DEAL WITH MANIC STREET PREACHERS? Look, I thought some of their stuff was okay, but I didn’t think them the second coming, I don’t think they broke much new ground sonically, and I don’t really care that Richey ghosted on us over a dozen years ago. So why were these guys the focus of both last years’ PHONOGRAM miniseries and this issue of SLEEPLESS? I’m going to be called a cretin, I’m sure, but as somebody on the outside looking in I gotta ask: what’s the power the Manics hold over comics creators? That aside, slightly less development in this issue than in the previous four, but I’m intrigued by the way Ellis is working his usual bizarre fascinations into something I’ve not seen from him before. A highly promising series from one of my favorite writers of the last decade and a half. - Sleazy G
HALLOWEEN: NIGHTDANCE #1 Devil's Due PublishingIt's been proven by many people who have tried to bring the 80's-90's slashers to life in comics that doing so is not so easy. HALLOWEEN: NIGHTDANCE does a pretty good job of that. A lot of this first issue is focused on set-up, mind you. The narrative crisses and crosses back and forth between a couple and a girl who apparently has been taken hostage by some unseen force (seemingly Michael Myers himself). I found this set-up to be kind of long, but once Michael Myers appears, I was happy to see that writer Stefan Hutchinson and artist Tim Seeley have done their homework when it comes to how to make Michael scary (something even the makers behind the HALLOWEEN movie sequels have failed to do). I really liked the way Michael slowly emerges from the darkness in this book as he did in the first movie. That's something that no film or comic has been able to do since the original and its first sequel, but this comic does it very effectively. For that, I'm grateful that somebody is getting Michael right for a change and the story seems to be in good hands. – Ambush Bug
SPACE DOUBLES #2-3 Th3rd World StudiosThis flip book offers a good amount of sci fi entertainment. Each installment reads as if it were an OUTER LIMITS episode. Books are split into two stories in each issue. Issue two brings us “Sympathizers” by Justin Robinson and Aneurin Wright, a tale hinging on Asimov’s Laws of Robotics insuring that robots do not harm humans and how that mandate applies to an alien invasion. The O. Henry twist ending is a pretty good one for this well crafted tale. “Saucerful of Secrets” by writer Jason Hall with art by Ron Chan & Rich Ellis takes us to the not so distant future where the length of people’s loves are determined by how interesting their blogs are and how one man with a mundane life takes control of his own destiny. It’s ideas like this that permeate SPACE DOUBLES and make flipping through the pages such an imaginative experience.
Issue #3 folds more sci fi fun. “Everywhere I Look…Bugs” by Scott Closter and art provided by Philip Schaufelberger is a story that should not be read by those who have a fear of insects. I like the way this story skews reality and gets into the mind of a person whose life has become an obsession. On the flip side of this issue is a story called “Escape Pod” by Mark Smith with moody art by Matthew Huyuh. This was a pretty bleak tale and I think that’s why I liked it so much. And the fact that it ends with the line “kisses and rayguns” left me smiling and chuckling to myself. Some of the concepts presented in SPACE DOUBLES are worth more than a half a comic to develop and I guess that’s my only criticism of this imaginative book. It’s full of ideas both fun and new and worth a peek to anyone with an appreciation for the stars and the possibilities that lie in the cold, dark space that they fill. - Ambush Bug
SALEM: QUEEN OF THORNS #0 BOOM! StudiosThis is a nice offering from BOOM! focusing on witches, magic, and superstition. The main character, Hooke, is a witch hunter and a pretty bad@$$ one at that. With a scythe in one hand and a blazin’ six-shooter in the other, Hooke takes on evil spirits, witches, and grand inquisitors alike. Out to expose the witch trials for the sham that they are, Hooke protects the world from real evil magic like evil trees that look like they uprooted out of the McDonalds Forest and became super-pissed. It’s a smart concept by Chris Morgan and Kevin Walsh, one ripe with potential. Wilfredo Torres’ art is moody and appropriate for the tone of the book, which is a potent mix of black magic, dark mood, and high action. – Ambush Bug
RISERS #4 Alterna ComicsYet another chapter of one of the most unique zombie comics out there today. This book focuses on the zombies rather than the survivors. The zombies, known as risers in this book, are conscious throughout their resurrection and filled with the urge to finish acts or deeds that have been left undone in their time as living human beings. One riser does not know why she has risen and that is the mystery at the heart of this book. Surrounding this dramatic core are a secret society of risers, riser social workers fighting for riser rights and helping them adjust, and religious fanatics who think that the risers are an abomination in need of termination. This issue shows how far these fanatics will go. Illustrated with Kurt Belcher’s vivid pencils and Henrik Horvath’s harsh inks, this story by Martin Fisher takes a dark turn. If you’re burnt out by the zombie explosion in comics these days, RISERS may be the remedy. It’s an original take filled with emotion that scrapes and twists the heart. – Ambush Bug
SWORD OF DRACULA/VAMPIRELLA: EXTENDED & DANGEROUS #1 Digital Webbing/ Harris ComicsAlthough there is a ton of backstory involved in this story that I found to be a bit hard to swallow, once the action starts, there’s no denying that this is an intense vampire gore fest of the highest caliber. Vampirella is a complete bad@$$. Dracula lives up to his legend. And Rachel Van Helsing proves to be a noble force against the bloodsuckers. There’s some really nice mythology going on in this world of vampires. I love the fact that not only do vampires thirst for blood, but they control it once blood is spilled. That means something as minor as a bloody nose is deadly in the proximity of a vamp. Artist Greg Scott, who I last saw drawing the BOOM! project X ISLE, continues to make with the moody panels. His style is definitely improving and his tendency to use famous actors as models for his characters has waned a bit. I found that to be a bit distracting in X ISLE, but here only once does a celebrity that I recognize show up (yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s good old Ralph Fiennes showing up as Freddie the Tooth). There’s an intense scene on top of a train that will fill any gore-hound’s belly and some nice action sequences sprinkled through the rest of the book. I could do without all of the sibling rivalry that is going on with the character of Rachel Van Helsing and Vampirella shows up a bit late in the game in this first issue, but all in all, this is a damn fine vampire read that utilizes the mythology in fun and exciting ways. – Ambush Bug
GRIMM FAIRY TALES #21 Zenescope ComicsRaven Gregory of THE GIFT fame returns with this twisted take on the classic Disney story from FANTASIA. Although I found this issue to be somewhat uneven with its weakest bits occurring in the present day scenes between a student and her grabby teacher, I found the actual FANTASIA tale to be well structured, fantastically drawn, and imaginatively conceived. The panels with dragons belching flames and battling mystic blue-flamed birds are eye-popping. And the scene with the water-bucket carrying broom brought more than a few chuckles. This is a fun issue that modernizes a classic fairy tale yet remembers what makes it so appealing. Plus it throws in a bit of gratuitous T&A for gits and shiggles. Fun stuff. – Ambush Bug
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 8 #11 Dark Horse ComicsContinuing proof of the genius Joss Whedon invested these characters with, and a testament to just how write Dark Horse is getting things with this series. This is a series that succeeds not simply by staying true to the characters and their stories by moving them forward but by investing everything that happens with so much depth, weight, and emotion that it is impossible not to keep reading. From Brian K. Vaughan’s recent and gut-wrenching arc focusing on Faith to last month’s one-shot featuring a character who was a touching tribute to a long-time fan to this month’s action-packed yet character-centric story, there hasn’t been an issue yet that doesn’t make you feel, not just for the characters, but what the characters are feeling. After years of Buffy-related series that felt flat and pointless, we now have a comic book series where the emotional investment and stakes are just as high as on the brilliant TV series. Some of the best writers in comics doing some of their absolute best work. I can’t believe there are people who aren’t reading this yet. Get with the program already. Sleazy G
UNCANNY X-MEN #495 Marvel ComicsRemember back when X-MEN used to do those “day in the life” issues, only they didn’t suck? This is like that. Brubaker took advantage the breather needed after the breakneck pace of MESSIAH COMPLEX and delivered masterful insights into some of the most famous characters in the Marvel universe, particularly one Scott Summers. I admire the way he’s been handled lately, not as the morose and brooding angst machine, but as a born leader and tactician. Remember, he’s the guy who can sink all the balls on the pool table with one shot, because that’s the way his mind works – he’s always looking for the angles to win. And keep in mind that this guy has had TWO telepaths fall in love with him. It’s a rare man who seldom has thoughts he needs to keep secret, but Scott Summers is exactly who he says he is, enough that two strong women (who can see his every thought) have fallen for him. Why he doesn’t have his own book, or why writers want to reinvent such a fascinating character, I’ll never understand. Brubaker gets him, and writes him well. Oh, and there were some other X-Men in it too. I know, I know, there wasn’t much action…but as sorbets go, it was an excellent time. - Rock-Me
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #12 DC ComicsThis title perplexes the shit out of me. I mean, by now I think everyone in the DCU is in the JSA. We already have a roster that is well into its late-teens and writer Geoff Johns whips out five more members to toss into the mix in this issue. I can understand bringing back Jakeem Thunder, although the “Boondocks” attitude is getting very old - very quick. Judomaster shows up, which is cool, but either she ain’t the same person who was just in BIRDS OF PREY or something major happened to the character (something that made her forget how to speak English, that is). I’ve got to admit, there’s something pretty damn cool about Mr. America and his bullwhips. And Lightning from KINGDOM COME is a damn awesome design. But c’mon. Absorbi-…I mean, Amazing Man AKA Sponge Bro Square Hat? And what’s up with Roosevelt Man? This character couldn’t be lamer if he wore an actual douchebag as a mask. Way, way, way too many characters here, folks. I wouldn’t have issue with it if Johns would develop some of the older characters along with the newbs, but lately all he seems to be interested in is carting out
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Feb. 13, 2008, 8:20 a.m. CST
How many fucking X-titles are there total?
Feb. 13, 2008, 8:34 a.m. CST
Feb. 13, 2008, 8:38 a.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
Feb. 13, 2008, 8:39 a.m. CST
I'm there! CRAWLSPACE is great!
Feb. 13, 2008, 8:48 a.m. CST
Feb. 13, 2008, 8:48 a.m. CST
The mind boggles
Feb. 13, 2008, 9:24 a.m. CST
Feb. 13, 2008, 9:25 a.m. CST
by Abin Sur
He's had to deal with the whole Jack Black rumor fiasco, a cancelled Justice League movie, Mr. Greg "Brothers & Sisters & Dudes Kissing all the time" Berlanti is given the reins to bring Hal Jordan to the silver screen (WTF??), and NOW, a pacifist GL and a crummy passing of the ring from ME. GL is quickly becoming the Rodney Dangerfield of superheroes.
Feb. 13, 2008, 9:25 a.m. CST
Feb. 13, 2008, 9:27 a.m. CST
Ellis and (I think) the guys who did PHONOGRAM are both British so maybe that's it. If you were the right age at the right time I suppose they were pretty much THE band (I'm not that bothered, m'self). I mean, the NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS just had a big memorial issue last week because it was the anniversary of Richey's disappearance or something.
Feb. 13, 2008, 9:28 a.m. CST
Sorry to hear about Gerber. Great writer who will be missed.
Feb. 13, 2008, 9:37 a.m. CST
"The Boys" constantly reaffirms this.
Feb. 13, 2008, 9:58 a.m. CST
That is classic Machine Man right there...
Feb. 13, 2008, 10:19 a.m. CST
I have to say I agree 100% with Stone on last issue of ASM.I hated OMD and everything it represented but thought I would give BND a shot cause of my love of Spidey.From the first to this last issue this has been the biggest piece of shit ever.The last issue really killing it for me.What I find interesting is that I havent seen anyone make a comment on the Jackpot character.She walks,talks and acts like a certain redhead but no one has said a thing other than love interest.This to me is possibly the biggest piece of crap to come from this. I hate to say this but Spidey is gone from my pull box for the foreseeable future!!
Feb. 13, 2008, 10:36 a.m. CST
by sean bean
For exactly the reason given in the review: no heart. Preacher and Hitman had interesting, conflicted characters and strong friendships at the heart of their stories, but The Boys is just too cynical and one-dimensional. With the gore and sick humour, it just feels like Ennis-by-numbers. Same goes for Wormwood. Midnighter and Kev were a good deal better, but not essential. However, his run on Punisher Max was fucking superb and possibly the best thing he's ever done.
Feb. 13, 2008, 10:55 a.m. CST
by I am the most horrible
Clan destine was one of my favorite comics Marvel has put out in decades. (The last few issues sucked, sure, but the upshot is that THEY were forgettable.) In my mind the Clan raised the property value of the Marvel Universe and had vast potential for coolitude. I have been hoping for a return of this weird ass family for a long time. Thanks for the heads up.<br> PS I always wanted to see Argent and Colossus hook up. Imagine the sex!<br> PPS What's wrong with me?
Feb. 13, 2008, 11:13 a.m. CST
Don't worry predecessor. I will make Green Lantern one day, and it will be the greatest day of all. Until the day I make Sinestro Corps War. IN BLACKEST DAY!!!!!!!! by the way Greg Berlanti being Gay doesn't bother me, Greg Berlanti being Gay and showrunning a pansy show like Brothers and Sisters and making a pansy movie like The broken hearts club then given the reigns to DC's most potential franchise and manliest character and all the while saying "anyone can be a green lantern, anyone can wear the ring" when every GL fans know that is not true and that you are chosen by your ability to overcome fear. What a Cunt.
Feb. 13, 2008, 11:13 a.m. CST
... I said it last week, and I'll say it again. Some of my favorite books from the last 10 years at DC have been the secondary characters with their own books. Most of them being members of the Bat Family, true, but I loved the Young Justice series and the revamped Teen Titans (which is no more).<br><br>Here's my idea... DC needs to open up a new line of comics which would compete with the Ultimate line, but instead of being same characters, different universe, they need to keep it in the current DC universe but 10 or 15 years in the future. Because you know how comics never really age, right? Batman has been what, 30 to 35 for 60 years?<br><br>I think it would be awesome if we see a retired, possibly injured/paralyzed Bruce Wayne acting as the Oracle for the DCU. We see a married Dick and Barbara living in Wayne Manor, with Dick as Batman and Tim Drake as either a grown-up Robin or the new Nightwing. Then we could have Superman's kid with Lois as Superwoman's (Supergirl) sidekick, but because he's half-human, he doesn't have all the powers, like maybe he only has speed and flight, but not strength and invulnerbility, making him, well, better to write for than his invulnerable dad. We'd have the grown up West kids running around. We have Cassie as Wonder Woman, Daughter of Zeus, and maybe we'll see that her and Tim Drake hooked up. And I'm sure we'd have some new gay Superhero with AIDS from whatever book they throw Winnick's way. He'd probably make that kid Terry the new Green Lantern who's in love with a male alien and gets alien AIDS from him or something.<br><br>But yeah, I think a new set of books set 10 to 15 years in the future would be awesome. This way not only would the sidekicks step up, but you'd have brand new characters as sidekicks. Lot's of possibilities open up.
Feb. 13, 2008, 11:13 a.m. CST
The Punisher constantly reaffirms this.
Feb. 13, 2008, 11:15 a.m. CST
Have you not heard the rumours of Final Crisis? All the main heroes die, and the younger heroes ascend to their position. Whilst on another universe the iconic heroes(supes, bats, WW, Hal) all have iconic comics that are timeless. Everyone wins.
Feb. 13, 2008, 11:25 a.m. CST
Than the critically acclaimed Dragonlance movie from last month.
Feb. 13, 2008, 11:36 a.m. CST
by Abin Sur
Feb. 13, 2008, 11:38 a.m. CST
by Abin Sur
Yeah, the gay thing's not the issue, but GL is not a mincing character - he and Batman are the only heroes of note that have attuned themselves to reach heroic potential (Bats of course being more physical, with Hal through force of will). And I want Hal with Carol, dammit! Not Pieface!
Feb. 13, 2008, 11:39 a.m. CST
... I thought only two or three of the main heroes were going to die... possibly Batman. I've also heard Power Girl is a goner. I didn't know that ALL the heroes were goners. That would be interesting.
Feb. 13, 2008, 11:43 a.m. CST
has been Punisher MAX, in my opinion. The more I think about it, the more its strengths as a piece of writing-- its use of voice, its milking of suspense and tension, its twists and reversals, its (expendable) supporting cast, its overall, sustained tone and mood --increase and make Preacher and Hitman and The Boys seem far more shallow, sentimental, and adolescent. I know a maniacal veteran stalking the inner city with a big gun doesn't exactly scream 'mature adult realism', but the series basically became an anthology of really powerful crime stories, with the Punisher as the gateway into the crime story. I've read him for as long as he's been writing, but it seems like, in the Punisher MAX series, Ennis really grew the most as a writer, came into his own in an unexpected way.
Feb. 13, 2008, 11:47 a.m. CST
in the latest issue of BND, Jackpot gives her name as something not Mary Jane (I got the issue at home, I'm blanking on her name), even though Peter repeatedly asks her if her name is Mary Jane. My first though was that it was that forensic tech that they seemed to want to shoehorn Peter into being with, but that name didn't josh either. So now I think all she is is a device by editorial to flip off the fanbase "hey, remember mary jane, she's like her, but go fuck yourselves for wanting the real thing"
Feb. 13, 2008, 12:16 p.m. CST
I really like the music I have heard from the Preachers, although I have not heard a lot since Generation Terrorists. The few songs I have heard I have greatly enjoyed. The fact is most of their work has not been issued in the states. Wow,I have always thought that Warren Ellis was a bit over-rated. A lot of his stuff reads like Grant Morrison's wackiness without the humanity of Morrison's characters. But if he spent an issue referencing the Preachers, I may have to check this out.
Feb. 13, 2008, 12:42 p.m. CST
by Buzz Maverik
A groundbreaker. A rebel within the system. So truly subversive that mainstream Marvel let him do his thing because they never knew what he was doing.
Feb. 13, 2008, 12:44 p.m. CST
by Baron Karza
Feb. 13, 2008, 12:46 p.m. CST
One of my all-time favorite X-Men issues was a double-sized illustrated by Paul Smith, where Mastermind made everyone think Dark Phoenix had returned, and that she was Cyclops. Cyclops took down all the X-Men on his own, and pretty handily too. Never seemed right to me that Storm was able to out-fight him for leadership.
Feb. 13, 2008, 12:55 p.m. CST
I have to be honest, forcing the sweet little churchgirl into a gangbang kinda sickened me, and I almost walked on the book. But it's now clear that she and Wee Hughie are the only human characters in the book, the only ones who are bothered by what they're doing and questioning things. They spend more time together in #14, and it's quite clear that's where the book is headed: the two of them fighting their respective groups from the inside because it's the only right thing to do.<p> On a related note, it was clear to me within the first 30 pages or so of this series that Butcher is The Bad Guy, and Hughie's going to have to take him out. Butcher thinks he's better than those he hunts, but he's as bad or worse. Knowing Ennis' strong moral code, that means Butcher's a fucking dead man.<p> I do agree, though, that if Ennis is gonna keep having gay characters in his books it's long past time to have some that are at the very least normal, if not good. One starts to wonder after a while when they're all mincing twinks, drag queens and pervos. It's definitely starting to concern me.
Feb. 13, 2008, 12:58 p.m. CST
I'm just not sure, y'know, WHY. That's what I'm trying to get a handle on: what made them so huge, so transcendent, that they still matter to people over a dozen years after Richey painted himself out of the picture?
Feb. 13, 2008, 1:20 p.m. CST
"They spend more time together in #14..." And #15 pounds it home, though I didn't read #15 in time to include it in this review.<br /><br /> "Knowing Ennis' strong moral code, that means Butcher's a fucking dead man." I don't think that's necessarily certain. Cassidy (PREACHER) was more (and more literally) a predator than Billy Butcher is, and Ennis gave Cassidy his happy ending.
Feb. 13, 2008, 1:52 p.m. CST
I totally agree w/ your JSA review. While I still love the series, I also love Sandman, who gave definitely been given the shaft to make room for "Square-hat and Roosevelt-Man"
Feb. 13, 2008, 1:54 p.m. CST
Cassidy was, deep down, a decent guy--he was just a spineless, self-serving weasel. He was also fairly charming--a sad sack you want to like. Butcher is none of those things. Butcher is the guy who *seems* charming the whole time he's figuring out how best to make you shit your pants right before he guts you in front of your friends. Dead man walkin', I tells ya!
Feb. 13, 2008, 2:13 p.m. CST
I like them, but no, they are no more transcendant than U2 are. However, I never meet anybody into the Preachers, so to have them be the topic of a discussion in a comic book piques my interest. This happens whenever a more obscure interest of mine makes it way is referenced. Like how I used to feel when I would see a Bill Hicks reference (not today) or when Love and Rockets had an arc called Wig Wam Bam (an old Sweet Song).
Feb. 13, 2008, 2:14 p.m. CST
Feb. 13, 2008, 3:09 p.m. CST
Fuck it Imma gonna beat this dead horse until it's a decomposing horse smoothie. We should get a series that picks up where the JL:U episode left off. DO IT!Do IT NOW!
Feb. 13, 2008, 3:18 p.m. CST
I'm going to give this a few more weeks to win me over. After that, I am done with Spidey. Which is very sad. I dropped it during the Clone Saga and picked it up again during Civil War, which grabbed my interest. Everyone talked about how good JMS was on Spidey. So I got a bunch of back issues all the way to Spidey dying and coming back with some new abilities. That was lame, the totem was lame too. Norman Osborn fucking Gwen was an abomination. OMD was really insulting and BND is not doing it for me yet. What happened to Spder-Man? My favorite times reading it was in the 80s and early 90s. Favorites include "Where is Spider-Man," "Gang War," Hobgoblin, Sinister Six. What happened to stuff like that?
Feb. 13, 2008, 3:22 p.m. CST
Too long I guess. Well I meant to say the MJ asked Maphisto to make her a super hero if she agreed to make a deal with the devil. She probably thought it would help her find Peter and have them live a similar life together once they fell in love again.
Feb. 13, 2008, 3:40 p.m. CST
the only thing that the bug missed when talking about gerber is that he was a pioneer in fighting the man for creator rights....most of the comics you see today would not be possible if everyone was still working under the old studio system...its amazing how many lives he actually touched and its sad that for most of his life, he lived in relative artistic obscurity....moore, miller, gaiman, et al all owe him a huge debt of gratitude....
Feb. 13, 2008, 3:42 p.m. CST
"Thundarr the Barbarian" wasn't a Hanna-Barbera production. It was Ruby-Spears.
Feb. 13, 2008, 4:11 p.m. CST
for rolling the that ball forward on giving cyclops the respect the character deserves. my favorite x-man, possibly marvel character doing things the way he should...i'm more than happy. r.i.p. gerber, you will be missed. anyone know if there will be a follow up to dark age? cuz faust is messing with the wrong man. go black adam go!
Is it only me, who thinks, that Hughie looks pretty much like Simon Pegg from Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead?
Feb. 13, 2008, 4:22 p.m. CST
Particularly The Slavers. I would rate that as the greatest Crime Story i've ever read. No Country for Old Men and even Goodfellas can't top 'The Slavers'. What a powerful moving story. Anyone who doesn't agree with the Punisher in how he handled those cunts lives in a fantasy world where all humanity can be redeemed.
Feb. 13, 2008, 4:25 p.m. CST
That issue where Emma Frost delves into his mind and Cyek confronts the demons he never could and then can control his optic blasts and then has a handgun and shoots the imaginary villains. BADASS
Feb. 13, 2008, 4:32 p.m. CST
ohh wise and brilliant Lantern. It's not an issue of whether Berlanti is gay, but if you read interviews he lets it get in the way of things he does like his shows Everwood and Brothers and Sisters, unlike Singer which didn't make a difference to how awesome X-men 2 came out. I just don't like the idea of this guy who tries to add as much gay as possible into everything he does taking on DC's Manliest character. Hal Jordan is a hero but he likes his beer and he thinks with his dick.
Feb. 13, 2008, 4:33 p.m. CST
How much research or experience does the guy have with all these things. The guy seems to have a disturbing amount of insight into society's underbelly and despite the amazing amount of carnage in all his stories, gives a pretty credible atmosphere to the proceedings which makes things all the more bleak.
Feb. 13, 2008, 4:42 p.m. CST
I thought the same thing. The Shit is so fucking deep and realistic, the stuff The Punisher says about how Crims work to anatomy to the way a Sex Slave ring operates is incredible, where the fuck does he get this info.
Feb. 13, 2008, 4:46 p.m. CST
My thought exactly.Just find it funny how with the interview with Quasada and with recent reviews it seem to never be talked about.Web shooters back,Harry back all talked about but MJ a freakin superhero nada.....
Feb. 13, 2008, 4:58 p.m. CST
That's who Ennis wanted Robertson to draw him to look like.
Feb. 13, 2008, 5:52 p.m. CST
.....is that the whole "not quite as good as batman" excuse is false. when you really think about it, at this point, dick grayson should have far surpassed batman at almost everything. there is no doubt that dick was allready the more natural athlete to start with, considering he was a acrobat from the time he learned to walk. couple that with the fact that he has been learning at the feet of the "bat-god" since he was 8 or 12 years old gives you a better idea of what nightwings skill set SHOULD be. it's just a shame that no writter will probally ever give us a dick grayson we should have.
Feb. 13, 2008, 5:59 p.m. CST
by rock-me Amodeo
I never thought in that manner. I don't know if Nightwing is more of a natural athlete than Batman, but undeniably, Bruce Wayne did not learn at the feet of masters until he was late into his teens, at best. Meanwhile, Dick was , like you said, learning from the best since he was like 10. Hmmm...
Feb. 13, 2008, 6:20 p.m. CST
... I'll try to dig an issue up but yea Bruce usually refers to Dick being the one thing in his life he is totally proud of- as a crime fighter and as a complete human being. I think the Outsiders series did a pretty bang up job of showing off his prowess as a leader and crime fighter (managed to disable his entire team by rebounding a single baton around a room). The only excuse thats been given for him not being as good as the Bats yet, that I will buy, is that he isn't as much of a total obsessive/ recluse as him. He tries to have a life outside of the job and reaches out to his allies (like the issue above shows) for strength. I remember one specific Outsiders issue, before the current run where he basically yells at Batman for making the Outsiders a dirty ops team and quits, and Bruce basically tells him that this means Dick was always the person he hoped he would be.
Feb. 13, 2008, 7:19 p.m. CST
countdown to mystery? cuz, it is pretty darn good...also...lately countdown has been oh so much better...bring on the final crisis dammit. so...adult grayson v. adult damian v. adult robin v. lazarus rejuvented alfred for the mantle of the bat? who wins?
Feb. 13, 2008, 7:59 p.m. CST
Pick up some of the Year's Best Crime Reporting anthologies. There've been lots of in-depth investigations into human trafficking, most famously in a New York Times article called 'The Girls Next Door.' Sebastian Junger ('The Perfect Storm') also wrote a long article about the women from the eastern block countries who are kidnapped and forced into prostitution; then there's also the second season of 'The Wire.' Mix all that with a bunch of issues of 'Soldier of Fortune' and 'Guns and Ammo', and you're ready to write a Punisher arc. Again, I think Punisher MAX is uniformly excellent, most accomplished thing Ennis has done as a writer.
Feb. 13, 2008, 8:02 p.m. CST
Sheesh... that's the same mealy-mouthed mentality that calls gambling "gaming" and garbage men "waste management engineers" just to make them more palatable and acceptable to people.<p>So, if you like watching people get dismembered and RAPED read Garth Ennis' stuff.<p>I've already said it before, but JLA: The New Frontier movie ISN'T as great as these reviews keep saying. A lot gets left out, some things are made clearer, the animation isn't as good as Justice League's or the last couple of seasons of Batman:TAS, but the voices are pretty good. So it's a mixed bag. Not bad, not fantastic (despite what the reviews are saying) and not as good as the source material. Overall, I'd give it a 6.5 out of 10.<p>And ClanDestine's BACK??? Easily the BEST comic news I've heard in a LONG time!<p>If you've never read this series, pick it up now! Alan Davis's supergroup is fantastic, and I'm more than a little unnerved that it's been almost 15 years since I first starred hoarding their comics.<p>If you can, try to find the original series... there's also a limited series team-up book with the X-Men that sort of acted as the swan song for the first series. Check it out!<p>I guess I'll have to start actually buying comic books again, as opposed to just TPBs...
Feb. 13, 2008, 8:04 p.m. CST
... that he doesn't want to be Batman. He wants to be Robin. So he'll either be Red Robin or just regular Robin as an adult. Bruce has been training Dick for almost his whole life to be Batman when it is time (either through death, paralysis, or some other reason).<br><br>Count me as one of those who think that Dick is a far more complete superhero than Bruce. And the reason is because he's more willing to trust, more willing to work as a teammate, and more willing to ask for help. Bruce is the greatest detective. His IQ is off the charts. Dick has been trained by him, but he'll never be quite as smart, but even 75% of the detective that Batman is is still what, second best in the DCU? Plus, Dick has Barbara for the really hard stuff.<br><br>I think that a Dick Grayson Batman would be a superior Batman. I think then Tim Drake should be Nightwing and someone new as the new Robin.
Feb. 13, 2008, 8:32 p.m. CST
I chose "forced sex" deliberately as a more broad descriptive term than "rape". I think "rape" is too strong a word for some of what goes on in THE BOYS. See issue #2, page 8, for instance. I think you'll agree the little bitch is getting into it.
Feb. 13, 2008, 11:04 p.m. CST
IS there any more info? The Slavers really got me interested in the Sex Slave trade, way to make me angry, but I do want to research it more. Ennis' even has balls to not make up a fake country but specifically target Moldova.
Feb. 14, 2008, 12:54 a.m. CST
I wholeheartedly agree with you on CD2M and CD. I almost didn't pick up CD2M #2, but Justiniano's artwork dragged me back in and I can't believe I almost did that, what with the story. *sniff* 'Wish I didn't come in on the tail end of Mr. Gerber's life. Dammit for being born in 1981..<BR><BR>BTW, for that whole "kill off Batman/the Big 7 and resurrect them as New Gods of the 5th World" rumor, anyone think Morrison was going to have Batman come back as the New Darkseid?
Feb. 14, 2008, 2:36 a.m. CST
The rumour was either the big 7, or Bruce Wayne come back as a New God to battle Darkseid. Which makes little sense. metaphysically, Supes was always DC and the ultimate wildcard uberhero who fought Supes.
Feb. 14, 2008, 2:38 a.m. CST
regardless of the training, it's the will, the mind that makes Bats the unstoppable beast he is. Dick just doesn't have that edge. Like real life and in the comics, people react differently to things, some people don't take injustice, other do at different levels. Bats was just born that way.
Feb. 14, 2008, 4:09 a.m. CST
Feb. 14, 2008, 6:17 a.m. CST
by Steve Rogers
Slott's 3-parter was better, but no issue with the gag of Spidey singing his own theme tune (and changing the words) whilst rescuing those construction workers can be all bad. Lighten up!
Feb. 14, 2008, 9:12 a.m. CST
Check out "Best American Crime Writing 2003", which has a Sebastian Junger article titled 'Slaves of the Brothel' from Vanity Fair. Then, "Best American Crime Writing 2005" which has an article by Peter Landseman called "The Girls Next Door." Both are about sex trafficking, and I think would point you toward other sources. Horrible, tragic stuff.
Feb. 14, 2008, 9:15 a.m. CST
There's a Clan Destine hardcover coming out at the end of this month that collects the original limited series and the X-Men crossover. I agree, a great superhero comic.
Feb. 14, 2008, 9:15 a.m. CST
Feb. 14, 2008, 9:22 a.m. CST
Umm, Bug I love ya but I SERIOUSLY have to question how drunk you were when you read this issue. If the Family Tree on the FIRST PAGE that starts with "Adam Destine" and "Djinn" doesn't tell you ALL you need to know about 'what' they are then I'm not sure what would.
Feb. 14, 2008, 9:32 a.m. CST
That's what I heard too. I was just thinking if a regular DCU character was going to replace Darkseid, it'd be Bats. The two of them are epitomes of "control".
Feb. 14, 2008, 10:06 a.m. CST
I'm interested in the Twelve but it's a definite wait for the trade. Is this a continuing or a mini? My problem with JMS is that everything he starts seems to fall apart. Rising Stars was incredible for awhile, then it was mediocre and then the end was just terrible. Supreme Power was very good for it's original 18 issue run, but then just petered out from there. And I can't understand why anyone would think he did good work on Spidey. His good arcs were vastly outweighed by many many bad to mediocre stories.
Feb. 14, 2008, 10:27 a.m. CST
The Twelve will be a (wait for the marketing genius on this one) a Twelve issue mini-series (even though I'm a professional marketer I hate my lot for kitchy shit like this). I couldn't agree more with your assessment Hedge. But after seeing the verbal eviceration Barking Frog received for his conjecture on ASB&R, I'm retiscent in my reviews to look forward too much. I've always taken a stance as a writer to give audiences what they want (otherwise what the hell are we writing for). This is not to say I will ever write a review that will pander to the masses, and offer anything but my honest opinion. However, if folks don't want to hear our conjecture and want us to focus on the subject matter at hand that's what I will give them. I think most creators do a better job on their own pet projects than the work they do for the major titles, Spidey included. We've seen this with JMS (Rising Stars - The Twelve), Busiek (Astro City) and Bendis (Powers). I guess they just have more freedom when they aren't being lorded over by an editor with a grand vision for the title.
Feb. 14, 2008, 10:32 a.m. CST
Steve, I dug ASM #349 too. The review here is way too harsh. It may not have been the absolute cream of the crop but it was a fun, fast-paced issue with some choice Spidey lines. And I'm all for finding out who Jackpot is - which looks to be revealed next week, if the next issues blurb in #350 ain't lying. My initial guess is that this is a new identity for Felicia Hardy, a heroic flipside to her earlier semi-villianous Black Cat ID. We'll see. But so far, I'm having fun with BND. Way too early to say just how the hand-offs from team to team will work in the long run but having read #349 and #350, it seems fine to me. Plot threads from Slott's issues have continued nicely with a couple of new ones entering the picture.
Feb. 14, 2008, 1:27 p.m. CST
Because you look at the whole product. People love JMS' Spidey and think it's the best since Stan because of Spidey's characterization, how he handled Spidey and the marriage. The dialogue and Peter were great. And so what if his arcs are 'outweighed' it doesn't diminish the good arcs. Think more positively.
Feb. 14, 2008, 2:01 p.m. CST
What do you think of Menace? I'm not sold on him just yet. I'm a fan og Hobgoblin over Green anyway. Menace seems like they are trying too hard. Maybe I just don't like the name Menace. Are there other types of goblins? LOL.
Feb. 14, 2008, 2:59 p.m. CST
by C.K. Lamoo
When you wonder am I reading this because he's the greatest writer in comics or am I just here for the gore?
Feb. 14, 2008, 3:57 p.m. CST
Bug, I couldn't agree more about JSA. I've never really much cared for the silver haired super team, but when Johns started on this book, naturally I followed. I have loved every story to date (yes including the trapped in the building epsiode), but enough is enough. NO MORE NEW MEMBERS This book is starting to remind me of the post-crisis launch of the Justice League. The ranks kept swelling until they had to move some of them to Europe (I guess they couldn't find a good contractor to build some more rooms). If this book is going to keep me they need to develop who they have now and stop Fng recriuting.
Feb. 14, 2008, 5:14 p.m. CST
i want to be a member of the jsa...so settle down your calls for no new members until i have my own coffee(more like green tea) mug in the cupboard. who knows what morrison has cooking for final crisis...i just want to see black adam show up in it...i miss him.
Feb. 14, 2008, 5:32 p.m. CST
His kickass miniseries just ended, and the final issue (#6) was easily the best of the bunch.
Feb. 14, 2008, 9:12 p.m. CST
i want more dammit, that sixth issue was fantastic...and i just want more...tomasi and mahnke really delivered. plus, i could see myself pulling an obsessive crazed for love...oh black adam, romcom all the way.
Feb. 14, 2008, 9:25 p.m. CST
....are 1.) the moronic fan-boy mentality that says "no-one can be better than batman at anything" and (as blindambition perfectly pointed out) 2.) dick isn't as obsessed as batman. <p> nightwing is the more rounded hero because he is much more well adjusted, and a large part of that comes from the fact that bruce gave him an outlet for his greif at a very young age. which was something bruce never had, therfor making them into the two diffrent personality types they are now. <p> but just imagine what might happen to dick if bruce, or tim, or barbra gordon was killed? potentally you would have the most pissed off and kick ass hero ever to hit the mean streets of gotham. granted i don't think it would really take the death of any-one for those people to make nightwing shine as bright as he could. it would really just take a writter that would just think a bit more "outside the box" to bring dick up to his full potental.
Feb. 14, 2008, 9:41 p.m. CST
Being the Cap fan I am, I had to pick up the latest issue of Marvel Comics Presents since the cover story involved the Living Legend of World War II.<p>Boy, did I get rooked. I don't know who's reading this book, but it's horrible. The four stories contained inside are just rambling affairs. (The Cap story wasn't even about Cap.) Pass. In the name of all that's holy, pass.
Feb. 15, 2008, 2:36 a.m. CST
by Darth Kal-El
i gotta agree that while this is a pretty great book its not preacher-great. still good reading though and one of the ones i look forward to when new torrents come out.one of my fellow cogs,el vale, swears by ennis punisher and ive been meaning to catch up on it. i just read all of y the last man in the course of a couple of days and i gotta say this is one well written series.man i was impressed. and honestly i was really surprised to not see anyone in the tbs say frog's boys review couldnt be trusted because of his asbar review. a newer,nicer more tolerant aicn? one can hope
Feb. 15, 2008, 8:25 a.m. CST
Wait until I trash on THE SINESTRO CORPS WAR next week. ;-)
Feb. 15, 2008, 12:35 p.m. CST
Feb. 15, 2008, 6:47 p.m. CST
by Homer Sexual
That comment re: forced sex is really, very offensive. No joke. Maybe it is intended as a joke? But doesn't seem to be. <p> These comments are making me worry about Final Crisis. I really hope DC doesn't go totally down the toilet on this one. What I've read here doesn't seem promising.
Feb. 16, 2008, 8:09 a.m. CST
It's a joke at the expense of people who would prefer being offended over researching sources.<br /><br />The world's full of them, but the talkbacks seem to have a disproportionate share. :-)
Feb. 17, 2008, 11:53 p.m. CST
by Homer Sexual
Feb. 15, 2010, 2:18 a.m. CST
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Feb. 15, 2010, 2:19 a.m. CST
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