Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS TITANS! SERENITY! DRAGON HEAD! THE TOURNAMENT CONTINUES: WINNERS + NEW FIGHTS! & MORE!

Published at: April 16, 2008, 6:49 a.m. CST by ambush bug

#50 4/9/08 #6

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) TITANS #1 SERENITY: BETTER DAYS #2 COUNTDOWN #3 DRAGON HEAD V 9 & 10 GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY #7 AQUA LEUNG V1 JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #14 Indie Jones presents FLIGHT EXPLORER V1 OGN Indie Jones presents SUPER REAL VS THE MOVIE INDUSTRY #1 CHEAP SHOTS! THE SECRET TOURNAMENT OF INFINITE @$$-KICKERY: ROUND ONE – BRACKET THREE – PART TWO TOURNEY R1 B2 - PART TWO: WINNERS TOURNEY R1 B3 - PART TWO: FIGHTS

TITANS #1

Writer: Judd Winick Artists: Ian Churchill (pencils), Norm Rapmund (Inks) Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

Oh, my. Sometimes I don’t know whether to be Randy, Paula or Simon. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Randy might say: “Yo, yo, yo, check it out, Judd. You know, this story was pretty good, a little pitchy in places, but you were doing your thing! You worked it out.”
Paula would say: “Ian. Your characters are beautiful. You’re beautiful. You’re a beautiful person. You have your whole life ahead of you. What are you doing later?” *wink wink*
But I think, for the rest of this review, I’m going to have to be Simon. Because if I’m going to be honest, I found the whole thing rather appalling.
The book started out nice enough, and I have sufficient good will toward all the characters that I would have taken just about anything. As beginnings go, the old classic “we’re all being targeted” is tried and true. But as the book wore on, the same Winickisms we’ve seen again and again came up. And matched with Churchill’s relentlessly shallow pencils, I couldn’t keep my optimism through the whole book.
Let’s take each segment in turn. Nightwing is under sneak attack. He’s expelled from the building with shards of glass protruding from the back of every part of his body. Ouch. Brutal and a neat effect. This sequence and a few others were strong for Churchill.
Next we have Koriand’r. Remember the rule of Winick – there should always be at least one naked person. Combined with Churchill, the probability is doubled. Of course, it’s just to sell comics, and not to traumatize Buddy Baker’s son into early puberty. But when her villain rears its ugly head, I knew she was just being used: she cries out “X’hal” while facing AWAY from the monster. So WE can see that SHE can’t see what’s behind her. Gosh, if only comics weren’t a visual medium!
And newsflash, guys: you’re not going to sell a story with T&A. See, there’s this thing called porn, and it met this thing called the internet, and you just can’t compete. Nor should you even try. That’s NOT what this medium is about. First and foremost, it’s about telling stories.
Next on the list is Raven, who hasn’t caught up to even last year’s fashion, and wears her thong underwear straps rising up out of her low-cuts. She’s hanging out with two girls and much mutual dislike is going around, which was not the Raven I remember. It’s not even the all-EMO Raven. (*snicker*) Except for her un-manga body, she seems very much to be channeling Raven from the TEEN TITANS cartoon. What’s up with that?
Red Arrow is attacked by killer stalagmites. Okay, next.
Garfield is being attacked by killer monologuing. Oh wait, that’s us being assaulted by the monologue. Garfield is being attacked by some fast moving fiery hell, and since he’s a proven leader with years of experience, he high-tails it out of there as a…a…a flying squirrel? They don’t really fly, of course. They float. Great tactical choice, there, Ian…I mean, Gar.
Wally West has a few lines while in the shower. Didn’t one of the characters in TITANS EAST also have a conversation in the shower? I guess that’s an easy place to put naked people. You know, Winick says (via Kory) that the United States is obsessive about sex, but since almost every blockbuster movie in the last 20 years has been PG-13 or less, I’m wondering…if that might be projection…on someone’s part.
Meanwhile, in the land of no continuity, Tim Drake leads the OTHER Teen Titans (which includes Supergirl, Blue Beetle and Miss Martian) back to the mansion, having recently beaten their older counterparts. And we then jump to the events immediately after the TITANS EAST special from a few months ago. I do give everyone here a free pass, however. Timing issues are often out of the control of writers and artists. So no big.
We learn that Power Boy is still dead, but all of the C-listers are breathing. Hawk and Dove are still alive, too. More importantly, we learn that Dove wears thong underwear. Vic Stone/Cyborg is somehow stable, despite the fact that his entire lower torso, hips, groin and legs have now been removed, with only a severed spine sticking out of him. Hey, aren’t there supposed to be some lungs in that torso, somewhere?
Nevermind.
Now, here comes the big part. The Big Reveal. Every major player is assembled and figuring out that something is after them. Cue the ominous music.
But Red Arrow is wearing a different costume. Kory has one on, at least. Donna is in her old Wonder Girl britches. And Nightwing is standing there with shards of broken glass STILL sticking out of the back of his body! Man, that had to be an uncomfortable flight from Gotham! I just had to laugh.
Look, Churchill draws some pretty people, but has he ever drawn a woman that wasn’t at least a C-cup? If Liefeld drew people with terran anatomy, I think it would look like this. In fact, I double-checked the cover to see if I had picked up an old IMAGE book. Churchill draws powerful, beautifully rendered people – and when he goes for nuance, he can do it. He just doesn’t seem to do it that much. And a book full of splash pages is a really quick read, especially for a book already light on story.
Along those lines, I’m really not that impressed with the team, because all I have seen them do so far is react as individuals. So once again, despite all this criticism, the book mostly gets a pass, because it’s unfair to judge a team book until the narrative has given them a chance to work together as a team.
But keep in mind, this may be a reunion of the most successful Teen Titans ever, but these are not those same kids. These are battle hardened warriors, on par with the Justice League. Heck some of them are IN the Justice League! Most of them having more experience in their short lives then the leaguers did when THEY were formed.
These folks will NEVER be the Titans they were. And that’s the way it should be – we already HAVE young Teen Titans. I hope we see some serious finesse and teamwork with these heroes, as is befitting their history, or you can count me out.
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.

SERENITY: BETTER DAYS #2

Writer: Joss Whedon Art: Brett Matthews Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Reviewer: Optimous Douche

You can’t rush perfection, and as a rabid disciple of Joss Whedon’s scribing I do expect perfection from anything with the SERENITY name attached to it.
Sadly, perfection is not what was delivered with this latest installment to the SERENITY: BETTER DAYS trilogy. From cover to interior, the project felt rushed. This isn’t to say I hate this latest installment. Were it anyone else at the helm, I would laud the virtues of this piece. I just know from past experience that Joss and his crew at Dark Horse can and have done better.
Hughes’ cover work bothers me. The juxtaposition of the hyper realistic heads bobbling on cartoon caricature bodies is just not my cup of tea. Now, I’ve been reading comics long enough to realize that not every art style will cater to every fan; it’s for this simple reason that in my last review I left my comments about the cover to “Harlequin Romance novel meets Buck Rogers”.
This time, however, I can not let this point go. At least on the last cover everyone’s hastily sketched bodies were in proportion to their straight from the television craniums. On this outing it looks like many hours were painstakingly dedicated to rendering each head in photorealistic quality, while the rest of the scene was drawn on table napkins at Denny’s over a Grand Slam breakfast after an all-night coke binge. Jayne looks like a junior high student after spending his summer break bulking up, working diligently on his biceps, while letting the rest of his body remain waif like and pre-pubescent. Shepard Book’s head doesn’t even look attached to his body. He reminds me of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day float at the end of the parade route. The cranial chamber is filled to capacity with helium, while everything below the neck seeped out somewhere over Madison Avenue. Plus, is it too much to ask that everyone’s skin tones remain the same from head to toe? I had this problem with the colors in the last issue as well, specifically on Wash. Even though we have colonized the cosmos, we have yet to find a cure for the disease Vitiligo?
I’m of a mind to think that this run should have been stretched out to four issues, instead of cramming everything into three. I loved the concept of the entire team regaling stories of what they would do with their ill-gotten gains from the last issue, but I wanted more of it. The tales were light hearted, clever and utterly in character. Whedon could have easily built an entire entertaining issue around this concept, instead of shoehorning in a page here and a panel there. In particular, I would have loved to see more of River’s acid induced fantasy land.
The dialogue this time was sharp, but I expect laugh out loud moments from anything that seeps off of Whedon’s keyboard. I was close in a few instances, but I was then ripped away from the moment for the sake of keeping the story moving. Sometimes I wonder why there is an allegiance in the comic book industry to adhere dogmatically to 22 pages. If you have more of a story to tell, then tell it. Let the consumer worry about coughing up the extra buck for more pages. If the story is rich enough, it will be money well spent.
Not every middle story can be as phenomenal as, say, “Empire Strikes Back”, nor will they all be as atrocious as “Back to the Future Part II” or Jan Brady. SERENITY: BETTER DAYS falls somewhere between the two. This was far from an awful outing aboard the Firefly class ship; it just wasn’t the best ride I’ve taken with these characters.
When Optimous Douche isn’t reading comics and misspelling the names of 80’s icons, he “transforms” into a corporate communications guru. Optimous is looking for artistry help, critical feedback and a little industry insight to get his original book AVERAGE JOE up, up and on the shelves. What if the entire world had super powers? Find out in the blog section of Optimous’ MySpace page to see some preview pages and leave comments.

COUNTDOWN #3

Writers: Paul Dini and Sean McKeever Artist: Freddie Williams II Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

Simply put, it comes down to good points and bad points.
Good points:
1.) Freddie Williams II is the artist. 2.) Mary Marvel’s inspired choice of weapons against Donna Troy. 3.) Atom’s decision to pull a “Gardner”, i.e., break things. 4.) And a nifty last page.
Bad points:
1.) Either Freddie or his inker seems like they had to rush. A lot. I would love to blame it on the inker, but that was Freddie, too. Sorry man, you know I love your stuff most days. 2.) Insipid dialogue, like “You dare lay your hands on Fill-in-name-of-meglomaniac? You DARE?” Ugh-o-rama. 3.) Mary Marvel saying, “Keep still!” while fighting, and no one makes fun of it. 4.) Mary Marvel suddenly talking like bad-girl Faith on her worst day. I get the whole seduction of evil thing, by the way. I just can’t stand the ham-handed way it’s been handled. Dark Mary (Proud Mary?) was primarily painted as a petulant child. With her re-exposure to “power” (not even ALL of her power, just more than current levels) she’s completely over the edge. I can’t buy the fact that it’s just a zeal for power that made her crazy. It’s never been her nature, and there hasn’t been sufficient setup for a complete personality change. And now that she has all this power (power levels she has wielded for years, mind you, before the whole magic war thing), she’s talking about ripping out people’s vital organs? Sorry. You lost me at “contrived.” 5.) Two words: Olsen flavored. I’m REALLY trying to care about him, but after all this time, I’m convinced he’s like the hominy of super-dom. You can put all kinds of spicy things around it, put other fantastic entrées next to it, but in the end, it’s just not that exciting. And 6.) Nothing kills my excitement like favorite heroes acting like extras. Black Canary reaching for Black Mary, like scratching her is going to help! Hello, sonic cry? It’s a distance weapon that won’t get your bones crushed, unlike an ill-advised hand-to-hand maneuver. And further, she apparently goes down, and struggles to rise on page 12. On page 15, she’s STILL struggling to rise. Why? Script called for struggling heroes who make no impact, that’s why.
I don’t mind finishing my vegetables to get to a good dessert. I would rather it be french-cut green beans slathered in butter and garlic, with a dash of olive oil. But I will choke down unseasoned hominy if the payoff is sufficient.
Two more issues. Grumble, grumble…gulp. Fricking hominy. This better be worth it.

DRAGON HEAD V 9 & 10

Story & Art by Minetaro Mochizuki English Adaptation: Aaron Sparrow Publisher: TokyoPop Reviewer: Ambush Bug

If not for the reviewers of this column, I'd be like you all. Seems the consensus out there is that those who read this column aren't really interested in manga. I understand why. To the normal American comic book reader, I can understand why giving manga a chance would be intimidating. The comics are read backwards by American standards. The books come out in volumes, book length graphic novels, and are more of a commitment to sit down and digest. Plus some of the translations are somewhat awkward and difficult to understand since it's from a different culture. I understand why you would breeze past this review once you find out it's for a manga book.
But I implore you. Don't.
And especially don't miss DRAGON HEAD. The final volume hit the shelves a week or two ago. Unfortunately, I missed out on volume 9, but that lead to the fortunate matter of reading two consecutive volumes at once, quenching my DRAGON HEAD jones a bit more than usual. Yes, volume ten is the final issue of this series, and boy oh boy, is it a doozy.
Since the beginning, this book has been buried in mystery. Writer Minetaro Mochizuki did a great job of planting the reader firmly onto the shoulders of the main characters. They didn't know what the hell was going on and neither did you. Because of this, once you reach the end of this story, you feel as exhausted and weary as the survivors. It's a visceral and bleak journey, one I doubt you will forget if you make it to the end.
I named DRAGON HEAD Best Manga of the Year in this year's @$$IE AWARDS, but in actuality, I think I limited this book by doing that. As much as I liked NOVA's series (my choice for best ongoing), looking back, I think I should have chosen DRAGON HEAD for the honor. The story is extremely involving and unravels with precision and weight. Every revelation asked more questions, but unlike LOST (which incorporates the same sort of device) you don't get frustrated, just more engaged in the story.
This is a bleak tale, one that isn't afraid to hurt the main characters and take them to places that are impossible to get out of. Although the main characters are children, the writer doesn't hesitate to put them through extremely mature and dangerous situations. These dangers are around every corner of Japan and its surrounding areas which appears to be cut off from the rest of the world by a cloud of dark smoke and ash that blocks out the sun. Cities are completely destroyed and our main characters have no clue what caused it. It is about as compelling as you're going to find on the shelves today.
This story doesn't only delve into topographical dangers, but it peels back the brain and goes for cerebral scares and dissections. How does the complete destruction of civilization affect the human psyche? What types of groups form in a time of great tragedy? How fragile is our own sanity and how far can one's perceptions of home be stretched before it either snaps completely or warps beyond return? This is an often heady dive into a somewhat real life situation. Looking at Minetaro's depiction of a devastated Tokyo, one can't help but think of 9-11 and how a tragedy can affect a populace in both good and bad ways. Here, amidst the destruction, there are slivers of hope, but the author/artist doesn't make it easy for our survivors.
In the end, I both breathed a sigh of relief and had an overwhelming sense of dread. Hope was the only thing keeping these kids alive through these ten volumes. When the journey home doesn't turn out to be planned, it is a devastating gut-punch, but you can't help but feel that if the characters made it this far, they would hopefully survive.
You won't find more detailed and textured artwork anywhere. The use of bizarre sound modifiers is both fascinating and haunting, almost providing a bizarre soundtrack while you venture through the ruins with the survivors. The detail puts detail-meisters like George Perez to shame. The story made me fly through the pages, but the art forced me to slow down and absorb every nuance.
DRAGON HEAD was an absolute classic read, and I would have missed it if not for my fellow reviewers here at AICN Comics. As I finished the last page, I was overwhelmed with feelings: I found myself happy that the characters came to some sense of resolution in the end, inspired by their unflinching drive and hope, saddened that this book is at an end, and inspired to seek out more manga books like this one. The search is on for my next manga fix. DRAGON HEAD will be a tough one to beat, but there's a whole lotta manga out there to choose from.
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 MUSCLES & FIGHTS 3 from Cream City Comics. Bug’s Word Fu is stronger than your Word Fu.

GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY #7

Writer: Judd Winick Artists: Mike Norton (pencils), Wayne Faucher (inks) Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

After the scathing words I had for TITANS #1, you know what this one is going to be like, don’t you? Don’t be so sure.
I liked it. I know some people are predisposed to dislike the Juddster, and I know he has a penchant for using some of the same devices over and over. If they work, however, then that’s not a bad thing. I pick up each book earnestly trying to judge it on its merits. And I’m not surprised that I enjoyed this book.
For one thing, Winick didn’t go for any easy laughs. He sets things up, knocks them down and takes them apart. The Hal Jordan sequence at the beginning was excellent stuff, and milked for a good amount of yucks.
The interrogation scene was, uhn…mildly disturbing, but pretty damn funny. I thought about it afterwards, and if something like that happened in a serious movie or comic, I don’t think it would have worked. But I didn’t question it as it happened, and that’s because Winick sold it to me. He sold the tone, sold the setting. I completely bought it, and that’s good writing.
The bar scene was well-played, a lot of “I know what’s really going on.” “I know you know.” “I saw that you knew when I…” kind of stuff. Spy vs. Spy, and again, played well: the required amount of fisticuffs and some good snarky dialogue. This is Judd’s weakness and his strength. He writes almost all of his characters that way, but generally, everyone is not supposed to be clever all the time.
In this instance, however, it’s a known fact that all three main characters here are major smart asses. So it works. All we need is some straight guys (no pun intended, though I’m still waiting for Judd’s traditional insertion of a gay person into the narrative.) And Gambit…uhn, I mean, Piper plays off them well. Hmm, Piper…I wonder if HE’S the…oh, nevermind.
Let’s take a moment here and recognize how good Norton’s artwork is. I think I was halfway through the book before I realized these were not Chiang’s pencils. I really like the purity and deceptive simplicity of Norton’s work. It seems like Faucher “gets” it, too, because his inks have that same powerful economy.
In the final scene, we find that the path to hunting down Conner’s attacker runs to the door of one of Batman’s oldest (literally) rogues. This may seem like an obvious ploy to bring in the Bat, but I don’t think so. For those of you who followed BIRDS OF PREY, you may remember that the Canary has a history with this certain rogue…a romantic history. I’m sure Judd will play it as much for laughs as for drama, and I’m looking forward to that.
I know that all this grinning and winking may seem inappropriate given the circumstances, but as anyone going through a tragedy can tell you, sometimes you just have to…you just NEED to laugh. The fact that these characters are not deadly serious just tells me that this is how they deal, and that’s okay. In this case, Winick is playing to his strengths, and I appreciate that.

AQUA LEUNG V 1

Writer: Mark Smith Artist: Paul Maybury Publisher: Image Comics Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

When I first saw the solicit for AQUA LEUNG I automatically assumed there had to be awesomeness within. I mean, look at that cover! That is pretty much the epitome of epic. Combine that with the excitement of some good old fashioned hack and slash fantasy, something that I realize I've been depriving myself of in comics because, well, there really isn't much to choose from when it comes to that genre, and I was completely ready for this thing to rock out. Like, “3 Inches of Blood” or “Dragonforce” level rocking out. Now that this sleek little package, complete with that still totally epic cover, is in my greedy little hands I can say that it does indeed rock, but not awe-inspiringly/face-meltingly rock. More like “An Inch and a Half of Blood”, which still isn't bad if you ask me.
The best thing for, and actually kind of against, AQUA here is that it feels so familiar. You know those fantasy stories from your youth where the young boy or girl is whisked away from their banal days of being ignored by the other kids to find out that they're really part of some royal bloodline and there's a threat to their newfound Kingdom? Yeah, that's where we are here. But they don't call it "tried and true" for nothing. And like it's worked before it works here, at the very least because this is a bit more mature than you usually see with media of that nature. AQUA is the jump from PG to at least PG-13 for blood and gore. Hell, sometimes it's borderline R, which is why I went through all that effort of using the “3IoB” reference a second ago.
And on the subject of familiarity, the supporting cast that litters AQUA is also a bit on the rehashed side. They're enjoyable characters nonetheless, what with your standard Teacher/Mentor, and your gruff Bodyguard type with a tragic past, and so on, but it still works. In fact, it might be the nostalgic essence of these characters that helps the reader latch onto them, because they remind you so much of versions of those archetypes that you've met before. And it helps that Mark Smith apparently knows these kinds of stories well, and he's able to work them and his own tale very well around the type of mythos a story like this is derived from, all the while giving his creation its own air to breathe life into it.
Take all those elements above, combine them with an intriguing setting and history, cool looking monsters, tons of glorious violence all wonderfully rendered by Paul Maybury's "Scott-Pilgrim but colored"esque art style, and a nice, brisk pace that will enable you to take it all in in a single sitting, and you've got an enjoyable way of passing an afternoon and one that will leave you waiting for more. Consider the second volume on pre-order already.
Humphrey Lee is a long time AICN reviewer and also a certified drunk whose claim to fame is making it up four steps of the twelve step program before vomiting on steps five and six and then falling asleep on steps one through three. Also, chances are, he's banged your mom (depending on the relative hotness of said parental figure) and is probably the father of one of your younger siblings.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #14

Writer: Geoff Johns Artists: Dale Englesham (pencils), Prentiss Rollins (inks) Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

”Green Lantern, Green Lantern!” That’s all I ever hear about Geoff Johns is his Green Lantern. Well, he writes another book and you should be reading that one, too: the JSA.
JSA is a finely layered team story, one where most the players are in motion, and everyone gets at least a little time in the spotlight. Considering how little I knew about these characters in the first issue, and the sheer quantity of characters, and the amount of knowledge I have now in just these 14 issues – now THAT’S some good writing.
And as far as the coming CRISIS goes, forget COUNTDOWN (and I know some of us are desperately trying to.) Lemme tell you, when the you-know-what hits the fan, you won’t be looking through those back issues for things you should have known. You’ll be looking through THESE back issues for groundwork regarding Superman, the Fourth World, Gog and MaGog, the time-lost Legionnaires and a slew of other things I’m probably missing.
Dale Englesham is drawing some great stuff, as usual, and every panel seems to be a story to itself. Lush jungles. Meeting rooms. Cityscapes. This guy’s artistic energy is amazing. He really doesn’t shy away from anything. I just keep turning the page, thinking he’s going to let up, back off, rush things or at least show some fatigue, and he doesn’t.
To the writer’s AND artist’s credit, I didn’t realize just how bad and how critical things got until the page where Gog appears, and then all hell breaks loose. Talk about your titans of old. As much as I love poise and finesse, this was just a good old fashioned brawl. The last page lets you know that the fun will keep going next issue, too, and more than likely gets turned up to eleven.

FLIGHT EXPLORER V1 OGN

Writers/Artists: Various Publisher: Villard Books Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Like its parent book FLIGHT, the revolutionary and always highly entertaining anthology series, FLIGHT EXPLORER is filled with imagination and wonder as well. I know the word flight is used in the title to suggest actual flying, but the book covers more than that. It signifies the flight of ideas that can happen within the minds of artists and writers. It's a place where artists can express themselves in any way and the results are often quite spectacular. Let's take a look at each chapter of this book:
"Copper: Mushroom Crossing" is a cautionary and funny tale about a boy and his dog as they decide to cross a canyon of mushroom tops instead of going down the road a piece to cross at the bridge like they should. It's a moralistic, yet fun short about friendship, manners, and following rules that is written and drawn by Kazu Kibuishi.
I loved "Egyptian Cat: Perfect Cat" in that it exemplifies the attitude most cats seem to have. Writer/artist Johane Matte channels Tex Avery and Tom & Jerry for this popularity contest between two royal cats in the time of Ancient Egypt.
"Jellaby: First Snow" is about as sweet as you can get. A boy and his monster go outside for the first snow, toss snowballs, and look at the individual snowflakes as they fall. There's a calm and serene feeling to this piece that takes its time and doesn't beat you over the head with sincerity. It's by Kean Soo.
"Big Mouth" is another fun adventure of a large mouthed creature who is in search of a friend. Like many other stories in this anthology, this one (by Phil Craven) is very sweet in nature and could be shared with kids while still admired by adults.
The 20 page opus that is "Missile Mouse: The Guardian Prophecy" by Jake Parker is definitely one of the highlights of the book. The makers of this book think so too since they let the space-suit wearing rodent decorate the cover. I liked the cartoony yet dynamic and somewhat realistic artwork. Parker has a good handle on proportion and body positioning. The fight scenes especially pop with Missile Mouse leaping into action. This was a fun read, worthy of the spotlight this book shines upon it.
My favorite of the book, though, was "Fish N Chips: All in a Day's Work" by Steve Hamaker. This fun tale about how a fish saves the world from an asteroid is imaginative, twists comic book conventions, and ends up being acidically charming towards the end. The comedic ending twist has been done before, but in this story, it fits and makes the actions of the heroic fish all the more memorable.
"Zita the Space Girl: If Wishes Were Socks" is another cautionary tale warning us to be careful of what we wish for. I love the light pencils and inks in this one, colored by what looks to be water colors. I like the fun bizarro versions of the characters by Ben Hatke.
Rad Sechrist offers us "Wooden Rivers: Rain Slickers" which I admired mostly for the stylized and fun art since the story went by so quickly. The panel with the cat wearing a raincoat was pretty chuckle-inducing.
Another story that can be enjoyed for its lush art is "Delivery" by Bannister. Not because the story is bad, but because the story is so short. Bannister's depiction of animals and especially the vibrant color scheme of the panels is nice.
"Snow Cap: 2nd Verse" by Matthew Armstrong finishes up our book as a kid and his rambunctious monster share quite a few panels doing very little, but the actions that do happen resonate. The story is playful, simple, and show quite a range of emotions with only a few subtle changes from one panel to the next.
All in all, this is another high quality offering from Villard. It's like a mini-version of the massive FLIGHT books. So if you find yourself with the urge for some amazing art and stories limited only by the artists’ imagination, yet don't have enough time or room in your book bag to carry the massive FLIGHT books, check out FLIGHT EXPLORER. It's short and sweet, yet carries the exact same amount of heart, imagination, and talent.

SUPER REAL vs. THE MOVIE INDUSTRY #1

Written by Jason Martin Illustrated by: Dennis Budd, Jerry Gaylord, Dan Mendoza, Josh Howard and Jason Martin Published by: Super Real Graphics Reviewed by: superhero

I've been pretty much the @$$hole cheerleader for SUPER REAL ever since the book debuted several years ago. Despite its sporadic publishing schedule SR has been a consistently fun read. Jason Martin and his motley crew of super reality show contestants return for another romp in SUPER REAL VS. THE MOVIE INDUSTRY and it's pretty much the same enjoyable stuff that previous installments have delivered.
In this particular volume the SUPER REAL crew are set against a gamut of movie inspired threats in what ends up being another test of their various abilities. It's a neat read to be sure, as everything from indie sci-fi thrillers like “Cube” to mega blockbusters like “The Transformers” end up being used as threats against the protagonists of this book. It's a clever use of the book's backdrop as a reality/game show for meta-humans and it's a device that serves to deliver some amusing and action packed moments.
My only problem with this volume of SUPER REAL is that after two specials (SUPER REAL VS. THE COMIC BOOK INDUSTRY and this one) the story hasn't really moved forward at all. In the main series, SUPER REAL, there was an actual story, or at least the beginnings of one. In this book, like the other special, it's just the characters being put through their paces. While it's a neat read I'm ready to see where the story will go from here. I understand that it's a fun prospect to see your characters face off against templates from the comic book and movie industry. I just feel that it's time to get the story moving again. In my mind one special was enough and creator Jason Martin could have better utilized his time in continuing the development of his story and characters in the main book. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with SUPER REAL vs. THE MOVIE INDUSTRY. It's a fun read…as are all the SUPER REAL books…but I was actually interested in the comic because the concept seemed to be something that could really go places. Unfortunately, with the past two editions of SUPER REAL nothing much has really matured in the book. They've been amusing but they're been missing that creative spark that the first three issues of the series had.
So I was more than happy to see an ad at the end of this book proclaiming that the regular series will be returning. While I enjoyed this volume of SUPER REAL I feel it's time to get back to the main storyline. In any case, if you're already a fan of SUPER REAL, as I am, SUPER REAL VS. THE MOVIE INDUSTRY is a fun ol' time. Heck, even if you've never heard of SUPER REAL before this book should be an entertaining read. It's got action, humor, and, yes, attractive characters in painted on spandex outfits. What more could any comic fan ask?
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.

NOVA #12 Marvel Comics

This book continues to pound the crap out of my preconceived notions of what a cosmic book should be like. And I’m glad. And who knew that Paul Pelletier could draw technology in a scope and detail that even Kirby or Perez might admire? After all, they’re great at drawing machines, but each panel of this technarch practically reeked of power. In this issue, we finally get a Nova who has returned to the peak of his power. I also got a nice surprise in Gamora’s reaction to being “cured.” Unexpected. Frankly, this is more evidence that Abnett and Lanning are not just decorating NOVA’s landscape with props that are nice to look at, but rather with characters who have room to change, grow…or die. This issue marks the end of a stellar (heh!) year, and month after month, I look forward to each issue like very few others. - Rock-Me

SUBURBAN GLAMOUR #4 Image Comics

Huh. So THAT happened. Not really the way I expected things to wrap up in this Faerie Tale (sorry, couldn't resist) but it works. This ending feels like it was kind of rushed and, generally speaking, the series could be summed up as "Neil Gaiman visits the Hot Topic" but overall I would say it was enjoyable. It had a pretty solid sense of humor about itself and a modern day whimsicalness and charm going for it, I'll give it that. At the very least, this book is worth more than a look just for McKelvie's absolutely gorgeous line work and Matthew Wilson's colors. I don't know if I'd want to revisit this world or particular characters again, but I'm still firmly planted on the Jamie McKelvie bandwagon and eagerly anticipating his next destination, that's for sure. – Humphrey

SERGIO ARAGONES’ GROO THE WANDERER: HELL ON EARTH #4 (of 4) Dark Horse

This issue wraps up the story of a wanderer, his dog, global warming, politics, a sage, and a whole lot of fighting. Aragones' message is thinly veiled given the current state of politics and the environment, but it is entertaining nonetheless as seen through the eyes of this dim-witted barbarian. One thing that stood out in this issue more than any other in this series is the amount of detail Aragones has put into the art in this issue. From the ornate detailings on all of the costumes to the highly detailed battle scenes, this issue is tops. If my eyes had stomachs, they'd be completely full. - Bug

YOUNG X-MEN #1 Marvel Comics

I picked this up thinking the most interesting thing would be the cover, showing Cyclops’ apparent secondary mutation of shooting laser beams out of his ears. As it turned out, the comic was easy to follow and immediately intriguing. I’ve read 10 issues of NEW WARRIORS and still can’t recognize more than two or three of them. Here we have a supporting cast almost as large, yet I still remember some of their back stories and such, several days later (update – two WEEKS later!) And I don’t follow X-books, by and large. If you don’t like mutants, this book probably won’t convert you. But if you have no prejudice against them and you pick up this title, you may find yourself enjoying it without all the baggage that seems to always follow titles that start with X. - Rock-Me

TERRY MOORE'S ECHO #2 Abstract Studio

So far so good is the update on Terry Moore's latest creator-produced comic and its second issue. Things are still moving, like we're getting some insight on our lead character Julie and her personality and history. Plus, more developments are arising what with her newfound, uh, "chest accessory" from the sky that attached itself to her in the premiere issue. Throw in some foreboding towards a future conflict being sent her way from the agency that's responsible for her current plight and it looks like we'll have some fireworks real soon. And, of course, the book looks fantastic. Moore's straight pencils are so crisp and clean and unassuming; it's just some great art, no two ways about it. Two issues in and while it might not be groundbreaking stuff, ECHO is definitely starting to make itself comfortable right in the middle of my pull list. – Humphrey


ROUND ONE / BRACKET THREE PART II

Sixty-four of comic bookdom’s best fighters enter, only one will be crowned THE SECRET TOURNAMENT OF INFINITE @$$-KICKERY Champion. It’s comics’ version of March Madness with Talkbacks. Ambush Bug here, on behalf of the @$$Holes at AICN Comics, welcoming you all back to a contest unlike any other, boiling fanboyism down to its basics...whether one guy can kick the other guy's @$$.
Before we move on to this week’s fights, let’s see the winners of last week’s bout.


SHANG CHI VS RICHARD DRAGON

Winning submission by THE T.O.C.

At the end of the bar, Shang Chi sees him. Richard Dragon. The kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Straight from the streets. Full of moves they only whisper about during the latest hours of the most secret of raves.
Shang spent all of his life under the tutelage of his father, the Deadly Fu Manchu, to be the master of all kung fu; but it was his true passion that brought him to the club tonight. Shang didn’t want to battle. Especially not the Dragon, a master of all martial arts as well. Like Shang Chi, he too shared the passion…
…the passion to dance.
If Shang were to be noticed, it would not end well. Shang could see the exit sign up ahead.
“You!”
Shang freezes.
“You’re not getting out of here so easily.” Dragon declares, downing his bottled water. “You don’t have what it takes to step up to me, rich boy.”
A clack of Dragon’s glowsticks alerts the DJ to start the music. “Dance-off!”
Dragon leaps onto the dance floor, smoothly transitioning into a pop and lock, cracking his body to the rhythm with reckless abandon, then dropping to the floor for a backspin. Like a top, the Dragon spins and uses the momentum to flip up, inches from Shang’s face, ending with a mush, dismissing his opponent.
The crowd cheers and the Dragon walks to the perimeter of the dance floor confidently. It’s Shang’s turn.
Time to risk everything.
Shang begins simply with the Robot. Going through dance moves like tissue paper, Shang seamlessly transitions from the Bobby Brown to the MC Hammer, then back into the most furious Cabbage Patch anyone has ever seen. Shang back-flips, then crunks back to the center of the dance floor for a windmill floor-spin into the Worm into a headspin then back on his feet again, ending where he began with the Robot, powering down.
The crowd explodes. The Dragon, admitting defeat, makes his way through the crowd.
“You have more talent…”
“…and more conviction…”
“…than anyone else I know.” The Dragon lifts his fist.
Shang hits the rock and smiles. “You, Dragon-San, got served.”

WINNER: SHANG CHI


SILVER SABLE VS MANHUNTER

Winning submission by Steve “Bucke Down” Crow

“Oh, puuhhhlllease,” Silver Sable groaned. She looked over the advance briefing on her opponent that her Silver Sable International researchers had gathered for her. “District Attorney. Went to law school. Hitting the books doesn’t equal hitting the opponent.”
On the field of battle, Silver Sable approached the rather nervous looking Manhunter.
“Fait accompli? Amicus curiae? Cui bono? Ex post facto law?”
“Sorry, I don’t speak Latin,” Silver Sable replied, hitting her repeatedly. “I keep a team of lawyers on retainer for that.
“Prima facie evidence of physical assault! QED? Ipso facto? E pluribus unum? Ooreyay oingay ootay etgay iedfray in the airchay?”
“So sue me,” Silver Sable shrugged, kicking her into unconsciousness. “Oh, and by the way…you’ve been cancelled.”

WINNER: SILVER SABLE


CATMAN VS KA-ZAR

Winning submission by Whimsy

Overhead, storm clouds thundered. The jungle grass felt cool on Ka-Zar’s feet. Once pampered and pedicured, his soles are now callused due to barefoot adventuring in the Savage Land.
Catman’s life before donning a cape and cowl was similar, but his new appreciation for the creatures of the jungle left him harder and wiser.
The wild changes a man.
As the clouds open up and drench the jungle below, the two Tarzans race towards one another: Ka-zar mimicking a powerful gorilla, Catman taking the stride of a charging lion. The two meet hard. This is no boxing match between gentlemen. These are two beasts, stripped of humanity, fighting for survival.
Ka-Zar’s meaty fists are like mallets, pummeling Catman about the shoulders and head. Each hit makes a dull thud, resonating throughout Catman’s body.
Catman’s neck is tucked in tight. He quickly swats at his opponent with strong, outstretched fingers, snatching chunks from Ka-Zar’s bare chest and back.
Skin breaks, bruises form, blood splatters. Bits of Ka-Zar and Catman hang from leaves and smear across the ground.
The two jungle warriors get some distance and eye each other. What little sliver of humanity they have left urges them to stop, tend to their wounds, and attempt to come to some kind of truce. But blood has passed their lips, taking them to a place without humanity.
Again, they collide. Catman’s claws rip into Ka-Zar’s side. Ka-Zar beats his back with both fists clenched together. Covered in blood, sweat, and mud from the jungle floor, it’s hard to make out who is who. One falls. The other staggers to stay standing. The rain washes away the mud and blood to reveal Ka-Zar, badly wounded, but victorious.
The Savage Land is much more dangerous than any normal jungle.
The wild changes a man.

WINNER: KA-ZAR


WOLVERINE VS CONAN

Winning submission by necgray

Conan vs Wolverine: The Fight That Spells Doom!!!
The very air vibrates with barely-contained fury as the enemies lock eyes and approach their respective positions. Though brutal, these men are bound by honor and will obey custom.
The official approaches a podium 'pon which lies a microphone. He raises it to his lips and begins the opening call.
"This first word is for Wolverine. Metamorphosis."
Logan closes his eyes and smiles.
"M-E-T-A-M-O-R-P-H-O-S-I-S."
"Excellent. Conan, your word is disembowel."
A flash of lightning splits the sky. Conan laughs, stares down at his feet.
"Crom, you have sent me no challenge. D-I-S-E-M-B-O-W-E-L."
The official nods his head, pushes his rimless glasses up his nose.
"Very good, my lord. Wolverine, your next word is xenophobia."
Logan snarls and shakes his head. This word was not on Hank's study sheet.
"Could I have the definition?"
"Xenophobia: an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange."
A moment's hesitation only, for Logan does not fear defeat. Only dishonor.
"Xenophobia. X... E-N-O-P-H-O-B-I-A."
The official nods, smiles slightly. Conan cracks his massive neck.
"Conan, your next word is hyperborean."
Conan staggers back, stunned. What witchery of words is this?
"By Crom's beard! Could I have the definition, please?"
"Certainly. Hyperborean: One of a people known to the ancient Greeks from the earliest times, living in a perpetually warm and sunny land north of the source of the north wind."
Conan grinds his teeth, sweat beading on his broad brow. He glares at Wolverine.
"I shall not be vanquished without a fight, wolf man. Hyperborean. H-Y-P-E-R-B-O-R-I-A-N."
The official shakes his head sadly.
"I am sorry, mighty Conan. It ends with an 'E-A-N'. An understandable mistake, given the spelling of your own Aquilonian people."
Though his heart screams for blood, Conan knows that this was an honest defeat. He closes the distance between himself and the man-beast before him. He offers Logan his hand.
"Well met, Wolverine. You have bested me this day." Logan shrugs, retrieves a celebratory cigar from his jacket pocket. Conan pulls Logan closer, growls a good-natured warning.
"But tomorrow we play chess!”

WINNER: WOLVERINE


Congratulations all winning participants. Winners will move on to Round Two. Be sure to check out this week’s bouts. But first, the rules:

@ To even the playing field, contestants are powerless and weaponless upon entering the ring. They must win on fighting prowess and character alone! @ Check out the fights listed below and send a 300 word (or less) fight scene to us determining who the winner is and how the fight should play out (remember: it’s best to SHOW, don’t TELL in these submissions. That means write the scene as if it is happening, don’t tell us what will happen…it makes for more interesting readin’, don’t cha know!). @ Be sure to indicate winner of each match in the subject line of your email. @ Submissions are judged by a select group of @$$Holes (hint: we’re looking for the most entertaining one to win, not necessarily the one that has been done and over done in comics before. ORIGINALITY RULEZ!). @ Winners of each match will be announced in the column a week later (that means if the fights were introduced in Monday’s SHOOT THE MESSENGER Column, the winner will be announced the following Monday, same for Wednesday’s reviews column). @ Submissions can be sent in to @$$Hole HQ via the link below until midnight Friday. @ THIS CONTEST IS NOT FOR PROFIT but done out of love for Fan Fic, comic book store trash talk, and online comic book debate. @ Have fun and enter as many times as you’d like! There can be only one winner, it’s up to you who that turns out to be!

Here are this week’s combatants!


Bracket Three Fight Five BLACK WIDOW VS THE HUNTRESS

The Black Widow is about as deadly as you can get. She’s fought with Daredevil, Captain America, SHIELD, and the Winter Soldier as both an enemy and an ally (and banged them too). This Russian hottie doesn’t need her patented Widow’s Sting bracelets to kick @$$ in this tournament. You can find her kicking Skrull booty and thinking unnecessary thought bubbles every month in Marvel’s MIGHTY AVENGERS.
Just as deadly, The Huntress is a self made woman who worked hard to be accepted by Batman and the Oracle. Like the Black Widow, she’s made her way around the DCU’s men as well. The Huntress often relies on her crossbow, but even without that, she’s a deadly street fighter, showing off her crimefighting skills every month in DC’s BIRDS OF PREY.
Which femme fatale will prove to be deadlier?

Bracket Three Fight Six HOWARD THE DUCK VS GROO THE WANDERER

Our oddest match-up yet! Trapped in a world he never made and now residing as a cab driver in Cleveland, Howard the Duck has been known for his acidic wit and penchant to take on lame characters. But few people know that he is also a master of a little known martial art form known as Quack Fu. Howard’s been known to flex his feathers of fury and take opponents by surprise. Fresh off of his own fun miniseries from Marvel, Howard’s more than a match for…
Groo the Wanderer has been crusading across the world getting into one fray after another since he was born. He’s got a penchant for violence, his dog Rufferto, and cheese dip. Groo has never been one to back down from a fight and usually dives into battle without a thought in his head. Not known for his smarts, but feared for his fighting prowess, Groo is one tough customer and just finished up his own miniseries at Dark Horse.
Will it be the duck or the dolt who wins this match?

Bracket Three Fight Seven SNAKE-EYES VS DAREDEVIL

Silent and deadly. No, I’m not talking about my post-burrito bathroom activities. I’m talking about the jet black ski-masked face of GI JOE, Snake-Eyes. He’s the deadliest of ninjas and trained as the ultimate soldier. Although he’s an expert with all forms of weaponry, he’s just as deadly with his bare hands. This mute warrior’s past is steeped in tragedy, but that doesn’t stop him from being the go-to guy during GI JOE’s most dangerous of missions.
Daredevil has ninja training as well. Martial arts, boxing, street fighting…all disciplines mastered by this blind warrior. Daredevil patrols the streets of Hell’s Kitchen and has gone toe to toe with some of the deadliest mercs and assassins in the Marvel Universe in his monthly title.
But without his radar sense, how will DD match up with Snake-Eyes?

Bracket Three Fight Eight DEATHSTROKE VS THE PUNISHER

Deathstroke makes it a habit of showing up in DC’s TEEN TITANS and GREEN ARROW, tormenting heroes with his superior mercenary skills. Slade Wilson occasionally shows a noble streak, but lately he’s been nothing but trouble…deadly trouble. He may have only one eye, but it’s keen and deadly. In the past, Deathstroke has shown some forms of powers, but that doesn’t matter in this tournament. Here, Slade is going to have to rely on his wits, fighting prowess, and guts to face…
The Punisher has made a living slaughtering every opponent in his path that he deems guilty in his two monthly books from Marvel. But usually he has an arsenal at hand to take out his prey. In this fight, though, guns and weapons are prohibited, but Frank Castle’s military training makes up for his lack of firepower.
Without weapons, which urban warrior will prevail?

There’s this week’s second round of matches. Send in your 300 word (or less) fight scenes to the link below. Deadline is Friday. Look for the winners of these match-ups in next Wednesday’s AICN COMICS REVIEWS Column. And look for the first batch of matches in last Monday’s AICN COMICS NEWS SHOOT THE MESSENGER Column.
RONIN VS CONNOR HAWKE KINGPIN VS THE GOON ECHO VS THE QUESTION JONAH HEX VS LUKE CAGE

You can still participate in those matches too!
Send your fight submissions here!

There are a few of you who are being vocal about displeasure towards the results of the bouts. The ball’s in your court, though, folks. Don’t be a Monday morning quarterback--write up some fights of your own instead of complaining about how it should have gone down after the fact. Good luck, have fun, and go kick some @$$!

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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  • April 16, 2008, 7:03 a.m. CST

    Glorious First

    by Sledgeh101

    Heh - some of the entries are really inspired. I liked the ones for Wolverine and Black Cat. Very good stuff!

  • April 16, 2008, 7:03 a.m. CST

    Daredevil without his radar sense....

    by blindambition238

    Should be a good one. Reminds me of those toyfare mego theater.

  • April 16, 2008, 7:04 a.m. CST

    As for Ian Churchill...

    by blindambition238

    ewww

  • April 16, 2008, 7:18 a.m. CST

    Not too much of interest this week

    by SpiderHarshaw

    Suburban Glamour was beautiful, but the story didn't do much for me

  • April 16, 2008, 7:23 a.m. CST

    Protest

    by peppersgc

    I want to protest something! I'll figure out what later. http://www.netdisaster.com/go.php?mode=manif&sound=on&url=http://www.aintitcool.com/

  • April 16, 2008, 7:24 a.m. CST

    Protest

    by peppersgc

    I want to protest something! I'll figure out what later. http://tinyurl.com/5hblqg

  • April 16, 2008, 7:29 a.m. CST

    Winick

    by Laserhead

    Do you guys remember how creepy he was on the Real World? He was manipulative, ultra-PC, and always trying to worm his way in with one of the girls by being ridiculously sensitive; the kind of guy that pretends to just be a girl's friend until she gets drunk, and then he tries to make out with her. That asian chick he ended up with always seemed a little appalled by him.

  • April 16, 2008, 7:45 a.m. CST

    So who's deciding these write-ups for the fight

    by Laserhead

    are 'the best'? A rave dance-off for the big kung-fu fight, and Moon Knight flashing a 1-800 number to beat Jason Todd? These are more like lame jokes than actual, well-written fights.

  • April 16, 2008, 8:10 a.m. CST

    Wolverine versus Conan

    by O_Goncho

    I lol'd. Shame about how dissatisfied the Serenity reviews seem to be, although the cover art is quite undeniably shit.

  • April 16, 2008, 8:20 a.m. CST

    I bought an issue of Wizard

    by rev_skarekroe

    I do it once every year or so. This time, I was hooked by the Tim Roth and Robert Downey Jr. interviews. Those were good, though I can't imagine what the actors must be thinking sitting through such phenomenally nerdy QA sessions. The rest of the mag was just as dumb as I remember it being, except for the excerpt from Mark Evanair's biography of Jack Kirby. That looks like something I'll want to read in its entirety.

  • April 16, 2008, 8:25 a.m. CST

    Black Widow vs. Huntress

    by Stefan McTierney

    The winner of that fight would be the spectators.

  • April 16, 2008, 8:54 a.m. CST

    Uhm, the rules with Daredevil

    by BizarroJerry

    I don't know what that means. No radar sense. Isn't his radar sense just super-attuned hearing? So, what he can only hear like a normal person? Shouldn't Snake-Eyes have an easy time of it?

  • April 16, 2008, 8:56 a.m. CST

    O_Gonch_Serenity

    by optimous_douche

    O Gonch if you love the Serenity universe get this book.<p> If you know nothing about Serenity, this is sooooooo not the entry point.<p> I didn't hate it, just didn't love it as much as the first issue.

  • April 16, 2008, 9:06 a.m. CST

    GA/BC #7

    by van_line

    so if you were a victim of torture, that was so bad that you lost your superpowers for years would you really use torture in your bag of tricks??

  • April 16, 2008, 9:26 a.m. CST

    SERENITY: Better Days

    by ShiftyEyedDog2

    This is the very first time I've ever read an AICN comics article, and it's simply because Serenity was in the headline. I can't agree more on that horrid cover art - it makes me lose all interest in checking out the comic series at all. <br><br>I do have one problem with the review: he disparages Back to the Future II. I LOVE BTTF2!! If you have to bash one of them, part 3 is the one you should aim at.

  • April 16, 2008, 9:29 a.m. CST

    BizarroJerry

    by Stefan McTierney

    There was a Frank Miller story arc where Daredevil loses his radar. With all his super senses intact, he could still mostly function (and I think he manages to take out the Hand's minion types), but he has to find his way to Stick to figure out what's gone wrong. At least in Miller's stuff, the radar sense is entirely martial arts, Daredevil's super senses presumably just amplify it.

  • April 16, 2008, 9:40 a.m. CST

    van_line

    by rock-me Amodeo

    Wow. Brilliant point. That did not occur to me, particularly a humiliating interrogation.<br><br>Or one could argue that when she put it behind her, she put it behind her. Still, excellent point.

  • April 16, 2008, 9:40 a.m. CST

    Conan vs Wolvernine

    by Redmantle

    I submitted one for this tournament, but it wasn't chosen. I gotta say though, the one chosen was cleverer than mine. (My submission was more traditional fisticuffs.) Kudos! Pretty funny stuff.

  • April 16, 2008, 9:51 a.m. CST

    thanks for the Dragon Head reviews

    by fried samurai

    It was the review in this column of the first volume that made me pick up this series.While there are a ton of places that review manga its always great to get a superheroes guy's perspective.If your looking for another really good series might I suggest Berserk or Eden.Both are well written :)

  • April 16, 2008, 10:09 a.m. CST

    kamandi: countdown special # 1

    by steverodgers

    I do not know what is happening with countdown, but I do know I love kamandi. So I bought this comic. The comic shop I go to bags and boards all their comics, which although slightly irritating doesn’t really bother me as I usually know what I want before I head in. now i am on a limited comics budget these days because diapers aint free. kamandi cost five dollars – five dollars I had convinced myself was money well spent. i get home, work through the other books and finally get to kamanidi. i have a bowl of cool-ranch doritos and a tall pbr and am ready to enter geek heaven. the first story is a kirby reprint, which i have now in a couple of forms, but whatever that makes sense, to add that – you know – for the kids. i flip to the middle of the book… more kirby. i flip to the cover – i don’t see kirby’s name anywhere or anyone’s name really… now i get a real bad feeling that i’ve been hoodwinked – i flip to the end of the book –more awesome kirbyness - 63 pages or so of reprints that I already have. Is this a case of buyer beware or has dc cheated me? i’m really pissed. there is nothing on the cover that would indicate a pile of reprints. I am tempted to hunt down the DC execs at comic-con this weekend and yell “I want my 5 dollars back!!” has anyone ever done that? demanded cash back at a convention? anyway… boring fucking story but i am just wicked irritated.

  • April 16, 2008, 10:42 a.m. CST

    RE: Steverodgers

    by Prof_Ender

    You, I'm afraid, fell into the same trap I did. A few months ago, DC released NEW GODS: COUNTDOWN SPECIAL. And what was that? A five-dollar reprint of 3 Kirby-drawn NEW GODS stories...just like this KAMANDI book.

  • April 16, 2008, 10:52 a.m. CST

    That sucks about being hoodwinked

    by krushjudgement

    But for guys like me who don't have those issues already, it was a lot of fun. Kirby rules!

  • April 16, 2008, 10:54 a.m. CST

    steverodgers - this is WAY off topic...

    by rock-me Amodeo

    ...but it could save you $500 to a $1000 dollars, so I will endure the possible derision of others for the chance to put some money in your pocket.<br><br>Next baby, suggest to your wife that she have a "diapers-and-wipes" shower. Everyone brings diapers and wipes instead of other baby crap. You can even go so far as to say, "A-E, bring 1's. F-H, bring 2's" and such.<br><br>No lie, for our second kid, we didn't buy diapers until about the seventh month, and when I added up the retail value, we had over $900 worth of diapers given to us, for free.<br><br>I mean, how many onesies does a baby need? Plus, you can spend some of the money on comics that don't SUCK! Like massive reprint books, for example.

  • April 16, 2008, 11:01 a.m. CST

    rock-me Amodeo

    by steverodgers

    thank you. that is a damn good idea. consider it done. 900 dollars buys a lot of comics.

  • April 16, 2008, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Prof_Ender

    by steverodgers

    i will make sure to give dan dido an extra throttle for you when i am thrashing him at the javits center this weekend.

  • April 16, 2008, 11:05 a.m. CST

    krushjudgement

    by steverodgers

    kamandi is full-on kirby goodness. collect them all!

  • April 16, 2008, 11:22 a.m. CST

    Way to go, Nec!

    by buffywrestling

    Entirely clever. Well done, sir!

  • April 16, 2008, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Touche Shifty

    by optimous_douche

    I agree, but to make my story work and stick with the Jan Brady analogy I had to go after BTTFII.

  • April 16, 2008, 12:17 p.m. CST

    i lurve this column

    by Calico Pete

    still one of the best written on aicn, and the tournament entries (and even contestant descriptions) are fitting in nicely with the excellent reviews. rock on amodeo, et al!

  • April 16, 2008, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Judd Winick is the new Devin Grayson

    by SpyGuy

    Neither one is capable of telling a decent story involving the Titans.

  • April 16, 2008, 12:38 p.m. CST

    Optimus Douche

    by O_Goncho

    Thanks for the warning but I'm as avid (read: obsessive) a Browncoat as they come, so there's no questioning me getting these comics, I'll just be doing so with cautious skepticism now that my expectations aren't stratospheric.

  • April 16, 2008, 1:05 p.m. CST

    Marvel U Punisher or Max Punisher?

    by messi

    because Max Punisher would rip apart Deathstroke somehow and make it so fucking brutal.

  • April 16, 2008, 1:07 p.m. CST

    Only reason Mary Marvel went bad again was because

    by messi

    Grant Morrison decided to use her in Final Crisis. shame really, Countdown has been pretty awful.

  • April 16, 2008, 1:34 p.m. CST

    That new Groo mini

    by Rufferto

    sucked ass. I know it's been a while but I feel it's was the blandest Groo story I've ever read to my memory, and I've read them all. It was also the most blatantly preachiest.There have been a ton of political Groo stories (or are they editorials?) about TV, war, the media, conservatives but most of the time it was done in a funny, clever way. There has even been a issue written before 911 about a monarch who blames a disaster caused by Groo on another kingdom to make people forget his unpopularity and rally around him. That's good satire. Stuff like that Cow burping nonsense wasn't funny and seemed beneath them to do so. I don't mind thinking when I read Groo but seriously, if your going to use Groo to continue to preach it just should be your best. This wasn't even close.

  • April 16, 2008, 1:44 p.m. CST

    Also Countdown

    by Rufferto

    was is and most likely to the end will be shit. It was the stupidest thing I've ever had the displeasure of reading through. It burns me that I wasted money buying the first 15 or so issues thinking it would be as interesting as the previous Crisis stories or hopefully get good at some point. I can't stand Jason Todd. He sucked enough to have the fans kill him off way back when and he sucks even more now. There is no point in his continued existence. He has a different personality every time he shows up and DC doesn't know what to do with him. He was a quick buck after Hush now he's a ridiculous joke. So many stupid plot holes in this garbage. Why doe everyone even know so much about who Jason is anyway? I mean even Jimmy knew he was Robin once. Anyone who doesn't know who Batman is with all this public info must be pretty dim.

  • April 16, 2008, 1:53 p.m. CST

    The last thing I remember in Countdown

    by Rufferto

    that I can recall is Jason Todd putting his arms around Harley and Holly. What the fuck is that about? I know they are determined to not make him relevant or consistent but you would at least think he'd have some qualms about making nice with Joker's girlfriend. I don't think she would like it either. All this amazon crap was obviously a waste of time for her anyway since the first thing she did when she thought she was home was visit the Joker at Arkham. !!?

  • April 16, 2008, 3:10 p.m. CST

    22 pages

    by PurityOfEssence

    The way comics are printed dictates the page count. I know it sounds weird, but they have set increments and they don't change them. At least that was what they were saying when I was visiting Darkhorse about a year ago.

  • April 16, 2008, 3:25 p.m. CST

    Woah woah woah, Rock-Me...

    by Thalya

    Piper's *head spazz* in GA/BC now? <BR><BR>..gah..need to get those spazzes under control; they're getting ridiculous.<BR><BR>BTW, around which issue do you think Countdown may've turned into torture porn? I call #19.

  • April 16, 2008, 3:30 p.m. CST

    Howard vs. Groo?

    by superhero

    Fuck! Who would win that one? Shit! I love them both! Could they just NOT fight? Like be friends? Please?

  • April 16, 2008, 4:18 p.m. CST

    Shenjano

    by superhero

    Dragon Head Movie sucks. Especially compared to the Manga. The Manga is fucking awesome.

  • April 16, 2008, 7:02 p.m. CST

    thanks, buff!

    by necgray

    It was fun to write! The first draft was actually 600 words, but that was obviously 300 too many. It was mostly macho posturing and building up to the punchline that their "fight" was a spelling bee. Not that a normal fight would've been uninteresting. In fact, I would like to have seen how Redmantle's turned out. I do LIKE fighting, I'm just tired of Wolvie's rep for being a bad ass. He only won because Hank tutored him. So in a way, it was more a victory for Beast...

  • April 16, 2008, 7:36 p.m. CST

    RE: Dialogue in Countdown...

    by Err

    52 got a lot of dialogue right when they poked fun at the corny dialogue. Lex Luthor even commented that he needed to hire people to come up with cool things for Infinity Inc to say. Countdown has been unimpressive to me because they use corny dialogue and treat it as real.

  • April 16, 2008, 7:37 p.m. CST

    AMBUSH BUG VS. JOKER - MAKE THIS HAPPEN @$$HOLES!

    by Err

    NOW

  • April 16, 2008, 8 p.m. CST

    Err - you're hurting my ears.

    by rock-me Amodeo

  • April 16, 2008, 8:07 p.m. CST

    On 22 Pages

    by optimous_douche

    First, thanks Purity. Instead of calling me a fucktard you gave a knowledgeable answer. Salute.<p> I need to remember that just because everything I say is laced with sarcasm, my dripping Jersey cynicism doesn't always come through on the keyboard.<p> I was really trying to use the 22 page thing as a wake up call to publishers.<p> I can appreciate that standardizing all books on a particular format will save them production costs.<p> I just think it's a sad societal state when we start looking for the ROI in an art form.<p> Is there a limit or a standard to the number of pages in a book?<p>

  • April 16, 2008, 8:34 p.m. CST

    Deathstroke Vs The Punisher?

    by SlowBurn

    Correct me if I am wrong but wouldn't a better comparison be Deathstroke Vs the Taskmaster. I mean they are both mercenaries. The bother have the photographic reflexes thing. Hell they even have similar costumes if you take away Taskmasters cloak and shield. It's just a thought. Cause for my money that's a fight I would want to see. And Taskmaster would put Deathstroke on his ass. That depth perception thing leaves him at a big disadvantage. just my 2 cents.

  • April 16, 2008, 9:56 p.m. CST

    Back to the Future II rules, are you fucking crazy?

    by TallBoy66

    The real abortion of the BTTF franchise is #3. Part 2 is awesome - alternate universes, future hoverboards, and working with BTTF 1 is great and inventive. Argh, lame.

  • April 16, 2008, 11:14 p.m. CST

    @$$holes Vs. The Apatow Group

    by Buzz Maverik

    Pink eyed, the @$$holes emerge from their respective rooms in the @$$hole clubhouse. It's early, only about 3 p.m. Bug rolls Sleazy off the top of the bar and begins mixing cocktails.<p>"They did it again. Ever since everybody saw KNOCKED UP and started pillow farting. Remember the good old days, when everyone just watched HEATHERS and went cow tipping."<p>"You realize this means war."<p>"What about Rogen?"<P>EEEEESSSSSH! I rip apart a styrofoan cup, setting the @$$holes teeth on edge. I take no pity on their hangovers. "You know me,"I say. "I'll find Rogen for ten thousand. And I'll catch him and shave him for twenty."

  • April 17, 2008, 12:58 a.m. CST

    Judd

    by -=Shin=-

    I really don't understand how he gets work either. The quickest way to torpedo my hopes for a comic is to tell me Judd Winnick is writing it. I've never liked his version of Dick Grayson. He seems bent on making Batman a huge cock - even after the mandate of Infinite Crisis and 52 was to make Batman a bit more even keeled. He basically killed off Connor Hawke for god knows what reason. Also, he had the gall to poach on Jeph Loeb's Hush storyline and say that *was* Jason Todd and not Clayface. Never mind the Judd rule that everyone must have the HIV virus. And I'm fine with addressing social issues in comics - it's a great format for that, but the HIV issue with him is starting to read like a writing crutch to instill drama instead of addressing an actual point. ...And he did strike me as 'that creepy guy' on Real World.

  • April 17, 2008, 5:58 a.m. CST

    Time to go back to school Mohamed

    by optimous_douche

    And butt-fucking isn't a compound according to the AP style guide, what's your point?<p> Research before you open your mouth son: http://alexfiles.com/cannot.shtml<p> Don't be so stupid to call out someone who makes their living from writing.<p> Both II and II were abominations. The only good one was I.<p> Move on!

  • April 17, 2008, 11:34 a.m. CST

    BTTF

    by optimous_douche

    Each movie had their own merits. One, was an amazing sory and concept. And at the time the special effects weren't too shabby (when it hits 88 miles per hour, you're going to see some serious shit).<p> II & III were technological marvels, but the heart was gone.<p> I don't know if it was the five year break between movies or the loss of Crispin Glover, bit something was missing.<p> In teh first movie you cared about the McFly family it was their story and you ended up becoming emotionally invested in what happened to each charachter.<p> II & III might as well have been dubbed "Biff Through Time." The whole story became seeing Biff in funny make-up.<p> Also, the whole addition of the Marty Chicken complex was forced. They needed a plot vehicle and they shoe horned it in.<p> Look, on some level I appreciate all three films.<p> I would probably say this is my favorite trilogy of all time and I do sit down once a year to rewatch them in their entirety.<p> Like my review of Serenity, I didn't hate the second installment of BTTF, but from a story and charachter perspective it was the weakest of all 3 IMHO.

  • April 17, 2008, 12:44 p.m. CST

    Part III had lots of heart

    by Laserhead

    Really. But I would prefer to talk about how creepy and stalkerish Winnick was on the Real World. "I'm the most sensitive, PC man in the world! I'd cut off my penis if I thought it would help raise AIDs awareness! Pedro is my BEST friend!" Fuck you, Winnick. Puck was wrong, but so were you.

  • April 17, 2008, 12:50 p.m. CST

    Winnick

    by optimous_douche

    I have to say I didn't hate his stint on Green Arrow.<p> Was it as good as Smith's run, hell no, but it was far from awful.<p> As a fan of Titans from back in the day though, for shame sir, for shame.

  • April 17, 2008, 1:27 p.m. CST

    Smith's run on GREEN ARROW was garbage.

    by SleazyG.

    Pure garbage, top to bottom, beginning to end. Heaven is real, and it's a bunch of hills and trees and sunlight, and that's where Ollie lives? HORSESHIT. The horribly inappropriate treatment of Stanley and his Monster? HORSESHIT. Introducing AIDSy the Sidekick, because if an underaged HIV-infected hooker wants to really make a difference she should do it with sharp, pointy weapons that she could accidentally prick herself with and then bleed all over enemies or teammates? Not to mention the potential for infection any time she's punched or otherwise wounded? HORSESHIT. The whole run was full of lousy, inappropriate concepts that were poorly executed. Like most of Smith's mainstream work, really--the only one I remember kindly is DAREDEVIL, but that SPIDEY/BLACK CAT thing was just effed.

  • April 17, 2008, 1:46 p.m. CST

    Smith

    by optimous_douche

    I didn't have any pre-knowledge of Green Arrow prior to that run, so perhaps I am looking at things through Green tinted glasses.<p> AIDSy is funny though. Hehe.<P> Agreed on Spidey/Black Cat. I wonder if it would have been better though if each issue didn't come out bi-annually.

  • April 17, 2008, 2:03 p.m. CST

    Nah, it wasn't the schedule, it was the content.

    by SleazyG.

    Smith kept bringing tastelessly inappropriate subject matter in to his mainstream stories. He did it with Black Cat, and he did it with GA. And in the case of GA, it's not just about prior knowledge of Ollie. It's an affront to the entire DCU. He introduced laughably stupid pseudo-religious concepts with heaven, took a previously light-hearted all ages pair of characters and soiled them irretrievably, and he came up with a remarkably stupid concept for a sidekick. Only the last of those three is directly GA-related; the first two were major gaffes in the DCU.<p> The only reason he got away with it is they wanted Kevin Smith's name on a DC book. They tried to get him to write GA for years, and he said the only way he'd do it was if he could bring Ollie back to life; they shoulda just told him to eff off. Several other GA projects were pitched, both with Ollie and with Connor Hawke, and they were all set aside for literally half a decade just to get Kev to do what he wanted--and do it horribly.

  • April 17, 2008, 2:51 p.m. CST

    Sleazy

    by Laserhead

    I gotta say I agree with all your points about Smith's run, and I'm glad to hear somebody else saying it. His 'inappropriate subject matter' usually in some way revolves around his own, pretty puerile, sexual and religious issues: rape is everywhere, women are inherently more knowledgable and mature than any man, any problems with a woman's behavior are really problems with a man's perception of her behavior, etc. Actually, his comic book writing kind of brought home to me what a bad writer he is, of movies too. I mean, some truly funny one-liners don't make up for shallow characters that don't behave like human beings.

  • April 17, 2008, 4:33 p.m. CST

    Millar/Gangs

    by steverodgers

    I was actually thinking about that the other day as well, and it got me thinking if I have ever actually seen a gang? I think I ONLY see them on TV/movies/comics. I’m sure they exist, but I have lived in some shitty parts of Oakland and almost gentrified Brooklyn -but I can’t think of a time where I was like, “oh I have to watch out for that gang.” I’ve for sure seen plenty of small groups of thuggish looking folks who I definitely would go out of my way to avoid, but I can’t say if those groups were gangs or just a bunch of thuggy dudes hanging out and having a smoke

  • April 17, 2008, 6:09 p.m. CST

    Gangs and Stuff

    by SlowBurn

    I've seen some thuggy guys that could have been in gangs. Hell I have been chased by a few of them. While I did notice the ethnicities of the character Millar used to portray it never really occurred me that the were a "gang." Though they could have been. I certainly don't know Millar intentions. But it will be interesting to see where he takes it. I mean we don't know for sure if the guys from the 2nd issue were even the bad guys. It looks like they are because it was, what 3 guys beating on the 1 guy. So by default it seems like they would be bad. But they never started beating on the "hero" until he jumped in. If it was me I would show in the next issue that may that guy that was getting beatup wasn't all that great to begin with. And maybe there was a good reason he was getting stomped. Preferably a reason that would come back to bite our hero in the butt in a big way. But that's just me. Like any good here he has to learn how to be responsible for his actions some way. Besides correct me if I am wrong but didn't issue #1 open up with him being tied up and beaten by the Russian mob. I guess my point is we probably haven't seen enough of this story to make a judgment one way or the other about Millar views. Well at least in this story anyway...

  • April 17, 2008, 7:38 p.m. CST

    I will agree

    by optimous_douche

    That nothing else can compare to his Daredevil run, I guess why I liked Green Lantern is for all of the reasons you guys hate it.<p> Sometimes I like to switch off from reality and be presented with a banal, filthy story.<p> It's that same part of my brain the responds to ASBAR.<p> Do I know it's wrong, yeah. Do I like it anyway...well...yeah.

  • April 18, 2008, 12:29 a.m. CST

    I Didn't Like Smith On Daredevil

    by Buzz Maverik

    For me, that's where Nu Marvel and decompression started, and it wasn't even good decompression like Bendis and Ellis can often (but not always) pull off (maybe if he called himself Smithis). The first issue of the Guardian Devil storyline was the first comic I can ever remember where nothing happened.<p>Actually, the only comic work of Smith's that I ever liked was his JAY & SILENT BOB series, which was better than both DOGMA and J&SBSB. I'm sure his CLERKS comics were good, too, but I can't say since I didn't read 'em.<p>Smith is someone whose work I always have high hopes for, but I've been disappointed in since CHASING AMY, which was actually kinda muddled itself. MALL RATS was a real MOVIE, unpretentious fun which makes it smarter than any of what I call his theme movies. Oddly, though, I'm looking forward to ZACH & MIRI and RED STATE.

  • April 18, 2008, 11:04 a.m. CST

    Or Perhaps We Do Need to Define Gang

    by optimous_douche

    While I will never say that a stereotype is in fact reality, there is a reason that sterotypes develop.<p> Gangs traditionally come from the same neighborhoods.<p> Having grown up a stones throw from NY and now living outside of Philly, I will say that neighborhoods are ABSOLUTELY diversified by ethnicity.<p> It would then make sense that most of the gang members share a similar ethnic background.

  • April 18, 2008, 11:52 a.m. CST

    Political Correctness Has Obliterated Reality

    by optimous_douche

    Shen brings up a great point about “whitey” guilt.<p> In an unending effort to be more politically correct as a society we turn a blind eye to reality.<p> PC is the reason that you can no longer fire an idiot from their job, instead you have to jump through twenty different HR hoops to simply terminate an ineffective employee (at least in corporate environments).<p> Should we ever cater to stereotypes? No. But on the same token, the reason that most gang members are perceived as ethnic is because that’s the God honest reality.<p> Should we say that all blacks or Puerto Ricans are gang members? No, because that is racial, narrow minded and untrue. It would be the same as saying all German’s are Nazis. They’re not, but the Nazi party sure as shit had a lot of German’s goose stepping across Europe.<p> Don’t be a racist, but in your effort to be a friend to all races, intelligence levels or whatever, don’t turn a blind eye to the actual world we live in.

  • April 18, 2008, 12:07 p.m. CST

    Shenjanno

    by steverodgers

    i think only one poster accused millar of being racist... i can't remember who it was though. Also 3 hours to comic-con!

  • April 18, 2008, 12:41 p.m. CST

    I'm blaming you, Steverodgers

    by steverodgers

    touche! hour and a half to comic-con!

  • April 18, 2008, 3:20 p.m. CST

    On the other hand...

    by loodabagel

    I do like the way Ian Chuchill draws Ravager.

  • April 18, 2008, 3:33 p.m. CST

    Kudos, gang (no pun intended)...

    by loodabagel

  • April 18, 2008, 3:36 p.m. CST

    Kudos, gang (no pun intended)...

    by loodabagel

    On having such a well thought and sophisticated discussion about Kick-Ass. I'm glad to see the comics talkback is maintaining it's seal of quality. I showed up a little late this week, but I gotta know-Are there any col comic shops-event in Portland (Oregon) the week after next? Does anyone also know any good Portland area cool-undergroud punk bands/rappers, etc? Thanks for anything.

  • April 18, 2008, 11:06 p.m. CST

    ...

    by blackthought

    honestly...

  • April 18, 2008, 11:41 p.m. CST

    Millar Is Not A Racist. He's Clueless.

    by Buzz Maverik

    He does watch too many movies and you wanna bet that he has huge hip hop section in his CD collection. Some writers from the UK have a better grasp of American culture (yes,we do have one, such as it is) than Millar who mistakes American POP culture for the real thing.<p>What's the difference? Damned if I know, but there is one. It's like the Supreme Court definition of pornography. "I know it when I see it."<p>There's a certain emotional truth, a certain resonance that Millar's work lacks. For a writer who is alternately great and terrible in his use of shock value, Millar's writing lacks a certain realism. Not necessarily a bad thing. He often does great work and I consider myself a fan of his. But, cuhmon, his Ultimates and SHIELD honcho talked more like a pack of comic geeks than anything else and it seemed unintentional to me.<p>It gets down to Millar's work reading like he thinks he understands America but he doesn't. Oddly, Alan Moore, of all the UK writers, seems the most natural with American characters. To me, anyway. And guys like Morrison and Ennis do brilliant jobs of circumventing the whole issue.<p>The best thing about it is that it's really a minor flaw of Millar's and often doesn't become an issue.<p>Personally, the gang thing can go either way in a comic for me. Or a movie. I mean, THE WARRIORS is one of my favorite movies and the filmmakers purposely integrated the gangs even though they knew it was rare, to avoid problems. Oddly, the one all-white gang was The Rogues, who were left to the "tender mercies" of the Grammercy Riffs, the one all black gang, at the end. Our heroes, the Warriors, were integrated. They'd been plagued by both the Riffs and the Rogues throughout the movie. The GR problem was settled with a cool line from Swan, but the movie's biggest flaw was that we all wanted to see Swan, Cochise and the boys get some payback on Luther and his buds.

  • April 20, 2008, 11:02 p.m. CST

    That's some insightful stuff Buzz...

    by loodabagel

    Too bad the talkback is dead. In other news, I am again reading Teen Titans. How long will it last this time? Only time will tell.