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#9 7/2/08 #7

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) ASTONISHING X-MEN #25 THE ALL NEW ATOM #25 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #16 THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: RAISING CAIN #3 HOUSE OF MYSTERY #3 JOKER’S ASYLUM: THE JOKER #1 dot.comics presents SHADES Webcomic Big Eyes For the Cape Guy presents PRINCESS RESURRECTION VOL 1-3 Indie Jones presents… CHEAP SHOTS!


Writer: Warren Ellis Artist: Simome Bianchi Publisher: Marvel Reviewer: Optimous Douche

With this latest issue of ASTONISHING X-MEN, for the first time in fifteen years I can I feel a sense of cohesion within the X-universe. This phenomenal inaugural issue by STORMWATCH savior Warren Ellis coupled with Brubaker’s latest run on UNCANNY X-MEN, make me feel like I’m part of an X-Men Renaissance reminiscent of the early 90’s. While there were a few minute editorial speed bumps surrounding this issue, I’ll forgive any trespasses to watch Ellis meticulously craft the foundation that moves the X-Men in a familiar yet all new direction.
In the early 90’s the X-universe ran like a well oiled Blackbird. There was never a question as to the roles played by each title. You had the main team in UNCANNY, the spillovers for the disciples of Xavier found a home in X-MEN (yes, I know there were like five covers for issue one, but lets move on), the rebels operated under the X-FORCE tag , and X-FACTOR, as it does today, wove tales on its own plane of existence.
There was a glimmer of hope in Morrison and Quitely’s run on X-MEN for continued success, but then out of nowhere we were bombarded with the mass bedlam of mutant explosions, mystical genocides and some horseshit about a mutant messiah (where the hell is that kid anyway?). I give the team at Marvel credit for trying to shake up forty years worth of status quo, but in the process they turned their universe into an utter state of disarray. Each title was embroiled in a battle of crossovers, never able to tell its own story, and relegating the mutants we have grown to love to fountains of exposition or catch-up dialogue. What had been lost were the diverse and rich characters, the unique voices possessed by each member of the team. Every fan knows that Scott Summers should be stoic, The Beast, flip, yet wise. Bobby Drake, douchebag, etc…when you take away this element, frankly you take away the X-Men.
ASTONISHING up until this point relished in its ability to be apart from other X-titles in every sense. From the bi-annual publishing schedule to flinging the team halfway across the galaxy in the Breakworld storyline, it was assured that they would be separate from all other X-shenanigans. No more. Ellis brings ASTONISHING back into the fold full force. In fact, unless you read the last trippy issue of UNCANNY you might wonder what the hell is going on.
I know this is supposed to be a review of ASTONISHING, but thanks to this title being ahead of schedule for the first time ever, we need to do a brief recap of the events in UNCANNY and piece together the rest since all will truly be revealed in the yet to be released UNCANNY #500.
Ellis shows us in this issue that the team can have fun somewhere other than on the softball field. Actually, the X-Men finally smarten up and decide to forsake the annihilation-prone Graymalkin Lane residence altogether to set up camp in San Francisco. In the issues leading up to the landmark #500 of UNCANNY (maybe, I’m hoping), the X-Men had thwarted the dealings of a nefarious individual that wanted to keep the city in a permanent acid flashback to the summer of love. In gratitude, the city establishes a pro-mutant policy and offers the team a safe haven on its golden shores. In return, Xavier’s brood must help in times of crisis.
Naturally, crisis ensues. What set the crisis in this issue apart from the norm was the casting away of the mutant-of-the-week storyline. In the first true first acknowledgement of mutants being once again the minority, the only ones carrying the X-gene are Cyclops, Storm, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Armor and Beast. Apparently the central danger is extraterrestrial in origin and all of the clues to unraveling the mystery involve a trip to a spaceport scrapheap nestled in some third-world toilet.
Again though, while I find the story engaging, what truly hooked me is the fact that Ellis has brought personality back to the X-Men. Scott broods and laments his seeming happiness, Emma acknowledges the disdain felt towards her by returning teammates, Armor pines for a new name while also trying to conjure one for the team’s new base of operations, and Wolverine is…surly. And all together they once again feel like human beings instead of plot devices.
Simone Bianchi paints a damn pretty canvas. The cover art is just short of astounding and each panel of the book follows suit. The heavy lines used to render each panel harmoniously jived with the team’s new subterranean lair and the fact that mutant existence has been thrust back into the shadow of humanity.
To finally see ASTONISHING and UNCANNY have their own voices yet still offer cohesion outside the context of an “over-arching” event or convoluted cross-over is not only refreshing, it has restored my faith in the altruistic concept of just delivering a damn good story. Sales be damned.
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.

THE ALL NEW ATOM #25 (last issue)

Written by Rick Remender Art by Patrick Olliffe (pencils), John Stanisci (inks) Publisher: DC Comics A lament set to the lyrics of Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" by Ambush Bug

Goodbye Ryan Choi Feels like I never…knew you at all You had the power to shrink yourself While those around you grew.
Kooks crawled out of the woodwork Whatever spewed from Simone's brain And those tiny little quotes were cool, Even made Byrne seem…not so lame.
And it seems to me…you lived your life Like an Atom in the wind. Never knowing…where to shrink to When bad sales set in. And Remender tried to save you. He wrote the best that one man can. But your series ran out far too soon, You tiny, Asian man…
Low sales were tough The toughest foe that you have ever faced. Although Chronos and Giganta fell, You were no match for fanboys' bad taste.
COUNTDOWN kind of sucked, But you fought on anyway. Only to find that Robinson… Wanted Palmer… In the new JLA.
So goodbye Ryan Choi From the young man on the 52nd Earth Who sees you as something more than a fill-in, For that whitebread…Ray Palmer.
And it seems to me…you lived your life Like an Atom in the wind. Never knowing…where to shrink to When bad sales set in. And I would have liked to read more But I was just one fan. Your series ran out far too soon, You tiny, Asian man…

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 (AVAILABLE NOW!) from Cream City Comics & Muscles & was recently interviewed here and here at Cream City about indie comics, his own artistic process, the comics industry, and other shades of bullsquat.


Writer: Joss Whedon Artist: Karl Moline Inker: Andy Owens Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

I recently read an article about the dumbing down of America. Apparently, the kids today are so addicted to distraction that in the time it takes you to read one paragraph of this review, they’ve checked Facebook and MySpace to see if anyone has updated anything. Twice. In catering to that mentality, the world rewards media fashioned like the articles Jeff Goldblum lamented in “The Big Chill” (you know, any article that takes longer to read than the average trip to the toilet) are now akin to “War and Peace”. It’s sad.
I think this is part of the reason people complain about the Buffy-verse being so inaccessible. The scripts frequently mine all manner of media, everything from Nick Fury to Shakespeare’s speech on Crispian’s Feast Day. So much of that goes over today’s readers: too much effort to figure it out. And then there’s the rich inner mythology and in-jokes and common events that get referenced from time to time…who has that much energy? Who has…whoa, is that a MySpace alert? What were we talking about?
To that I say: it doesn’t matter. This issue tells me none of that matters. You can still enjoy a good story even if you don’t get every nuance behind it. Just because I can’t name all the spicy ingredients doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy me some Lemongrass Chicken. And Season Eight, particularly this issue, goes down like the very best Takee-Outee – leaves you full, and wanting more, at the same time.
In this first part of a new arc, Buffy and crew are investigating some cryptic messages (are there any other kind?) regarding her scythe. This leads them to New York, where Buffy acts like Buffy. Meanwhile, Xander is dealing with “not dealing with” his recent loss, but still notices what a fine filly Dawn is.
The whole of the plot is to put Buffy within punching distance of Fray, the eponymous heroine from Whedon’s OTHER slayer series, set in a far future that brings back the art of solo-slaying. I recently re-read the FRAY mini, and it holds up well with frequent re-reads. Moline was the artist there, so this is a reunion of sorts of diehard Buffy fans (are there any other kind?).
Even though it’s mostly buildup, this journey is well worth your participation. Half the fun of any destination (particularly with Whedon) is getting there. Rarely does he fail to provide some manner of satisfying payoff. But you have to possess an attention span and a little patience, or you won’t find it nearly as satisfying. So take your time and enjoy. Sit back…take your shoes off…and read. Look at the pretty pictures. Take it all in. And then relax in the knowledge that next month, it will probably be even better. You don’t have to catch it all to appreciate a well-told story.
As an end-issue treat, and in an odd twist (perhaps a sly acknowledgement to all those who feel they’re only getting half of any given conversation in Whedon’s World) Buffy herself is hoisted on the petard of unfathomable vernacular. Fray actually out-lingos Buffy. Classic.
If you haven’t checked SEASON EIGHT out, give it a shot. At the very least, amongst the trappings of another sweeping arc and ever-deeper characterizations, you’ll get a dozen or more instances of clever Whedon-speak. Clever Whedon-speak…I ask you, is there any other kind?
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.


Writer: Bruce Jones Artist: Chris Gugliotti Publisher: DC Wildstorm Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Reading this book reminded me of how I often feel when I see a talented boxer fight a no namer in an exhibition bout. Sure, a fight between two wizened boxers is always awesome, but occasionally, it's interesting to see a fighter just outclass the other in 90's Tyson-esque fashion. The relationship between writer and artist is often like that of two boxers. It's great to see two creators on top of their game producing an amazing product. But sometimes it's just as interesting to see one part of that team excel while the other falls a bit short. And although he may be the more wizened of the two creators, writer Bruce Jones clearly is playing the long in the tooth Ray Mercer role, while artist Chris Gugliotti is swinging more like Tyson after a sparring match with Robin Givens.
Boxing analogies aside, this is an uneven comic. Chris Gugliotti is definitely an artist to watch. His muddy yet cartoonish style is reminiscent of Ted McKeever, but is definitely more restrained and cohesive than McKeever's amazingly warped visuals. His characters are all shaped distinctly and in a comic starring a bunch of inbred cannibals, this facet of Gugliotti's talent shines through all of the darkly colored panels. His panels are detailed, skewed, and angled, forcing the reader to twist their necks in order to perceive just what's going on - another aspect of the art that makes for a horrifyingly good and uneasy reading experience. Plus there are little visual gems that stand out as original such as the panel where the inbred mother repeatedly stabs our hero Cain the bounty hunter repeatedly in the chest with a knife. The hand and knife are drawn numerous times in the same panel at differing angles to suggest a frantic stabbing motion. This is nice stuff that suggests movement in a genius manner.
Now the boxing metaphor comes into play because despite the strength of the visuals Gugliotti is setting up, he has to deal with dialog like this from Bruce Jones: "kin yew stick around a bit?" (then the inbred woman stabs him with a knife) or "don't get yourself all hung up!" (then he hangs her on a meat hook). This kick-to-the-taint pain-inducing dialog is enough to make the writers of Freddy Krueger's puns wince, let alone this reader. This is a perfect example of a writer not knowing when to trust the artist and just shut the fuck up. There's no need for constant dialog here. The art is amazing and the action itself is pretty damn brutal, or would be if the writer wasn't tossing out bad puns like hot dogs at a White Sox game.
You know, it's been a while since I subjected myself to Bruce Jones’ writing. After his uber talent of inflicting both pain and snores in his HULK run a while back, I told myself "never again" and avoided his NIGHTWING, WARLORD, and VIGILANTE runs. Avid horror geek that I am, I have been picking up all of WildStorm's horror titles and even after seeing his name on the cover, I went against my better instincts and bought it anyway.
The story itself isn't horrible. Unlike previous TCM issues, it focuses on a pair of new characters; Cain and Abel, twins separated at birth - one brought up by the cannibalistic and inbred Hewitt clan, the other raised by a normal family. Turns out both grew up to be lawmen--one a bounty hunter, the other a crooked cop--and there's a bit of serendipity going on with the story coming full circle in the end. I can appreciate the type of O. Henry ironic twist that Jones is going for. He has definitely improved his comic book writing skills and hopefully by now the guy knows that just because you're talented in one medium, that doesn't necessarily mean that you will excel in another. But the overabundance of word balloons are tell tale signs of a guy who doesn't fully understand the medium.
So this is a book that turns out to be good when it could have been great. Had the writer trusted the artist to convey the horror, it would have been a much for effective read. And that's what I want here. I want to see a good TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE story, and a good FRIDAY THE 13TH story, and a good A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET story. So far, though, the product WildStorm has been putting out has been the best renditions of these horror icons, but the titles have been just shy of great, despite the fact that this is an industry that houses some of the best modern writers. This book should be sought out for the art so that you can see Chris Gugliotti before he gets big. Sadly, that's about the only reason to read it.


Writer(s): Matthew Sturges & Bill Willingham Artist(s) Luca Rossi & Zachary Baldus Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

I wanted to wait a few issues into this new HOUSE OF MYSTERY series by Bill Willingham and his cohort in crime Matthew Sturges before I decided to type up anything about it. Normally I love to crack right into a review of a brand new series because it seems these days I get most inspired for reviewering when I'm presented with something new and hopefully fresh. But after reading the first issue of this HOM I could tell this series was going to be a bit of a slow burn - that it was going to take a while to get an idea of what exactly this book is going to play with and the plot mechanics it would entail - definitely not unlike how FABLES got started. So, three issues in, here we are and here I finally am, what's say we do this thing, huh?
HOUSE OF MYSTERY is a fine little comic, I'll say that to start. Sadly though, I'm still not exactly getting swept up in it. It really is still getting rolling, and again the FABLES comparison rears its ugly head because as I like to say to new readers of that series, it took a couple stories, TPBs, what have you to build up steam to the stalwart of quality that it is today. HOM is building its own elements, mainly the cast of characters we're predominantly exposed to, all while trying to directly and indirectly build up the mythos of the house itself and the power it holds over its inhabitants. What I really like is how so far this book has managed to be very atmospheric and moody, while at the same time exhibiting the "aloof" sense of humor that this tandem exhibit in their collaborations that make them what they are. This book hasn't really yet to lose itself in an overly dour tone or anything, though the Purgatory-like setting would seem to command it, you would think.
The "campfire" interludes, as I'm starting to think of them, i.e. the short stories that interject themselves in the midst of the overlaying one, are actually a bit of a welcome treat as well. I was worried that they might be too out of place, or chop up the momentum of the book needlessly, but so far they've been entertaining and haven't hampered any of the issues. Usually they're just used as a scene transition, like in this issue, where we'll be taken from one part of the House or the rare scene outside of it and then we're back in familiar territory and hey, we pull in on story time. No awkward cuts and we get a nonchalant kind of goombah story to break up the supernatural stuff. So far it works.
Really, this is an enjoyable comic, I'm just still looking for something fat to sink my teeth into to get really invested. This issue’s ending, with the Coachman, I guess we're calling him/her/it, and Rina from issue one riding off together was really pretty disturbing and showed that this could turn into something maniacal and I could go for a bit more of that. Yes, I know the emphasis on this book is Mystery, but I just want a better idea of what stakes we're playing for here. I'll gladly enjoy what this comic is doing as it's doing it, I just think it could use a speeding up in some aspects. But I'm sure Matt and Bill know exactly what they're doing here and I imagine we'll get some of these notions in no time. I'm really probably just being impatient, but at the same time I just want to be a bit more excited about this book than I think I am right now. This is definitely a case of "time will tell" as we watch the mystery unfold, but I think we're in good hands until then.


Writer: Arvid Nelson Artist: Alex Sanchez Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

Well, the cover is very nice. I should stop there, if I wanted to be nice. But I would rather be honest.
When I saw that Arvid Nelson and Alex Sanchez had teamed up again, I had to take a peek. They were the pair responsible for last year’s execrable run JSA CLASSIFIED, the one where Mr. Terrific
a.) looked like several random black men in various stages of anaphylactic shock, b.) squished a helpless brain into oblivion, and c.) called on Superman for a handy “Übermensch Ex Machina,” because he (the lead hero) was written too weakly to solve his own problems.
Yeah. That run. Well, this isn’t much better, except that it’s done in one. I’m not going to pick on the artwork, except that it looks much like Sanchez’s work on JSA, and subscribes to the rule that “more lines, no matter where they are = better art.”
Joker opens the issue as a poor man’s Crypt Keeper, narrating the reader into a Velveeta-fueled coma, then hijacks a game show. I had to read it twice to figure out Joker was posing as the host, because there was no foreshadowing: it just happens, like bird poop suddenly appearing on your windshield. All the while, he spouts cheesy one-liners, as if the script says, “Insert funny and shocking comments here.” But neither kind of comment shows up. Batman does, however. The End.
The story does nothing for Joker but contort him into a character he isn’t. He is not the master of irony trying to make a point. Nor is he the guy qualified to make social commentary on the ruthlessness of TV ratings. “Oh, the horrible cruelty of syndicated TV!” implies the MASS MURDERER. Give me a break.
But the real question I have is: why did “The Joker” even show up? Surely he’s a bigger gun than we see here. Why THIS game show? Why is he, the character, motivated to play a part in a morality tale? Regarding the hidden camera crucial to the ending: he would have needed to plant his camera well in advance in order to set up the ending, so why all the effort? How did he know that action would be worth his time? These are questions that, when answered, might have lent depth to the otherwise Petri-dish-deep proceedings.
The story brings to mind an old rule of writing. If there’s a gun in Act II, we should see it used before the final act. And if a gun is used in the final act, we should see it somewhere before then. So when was the camera planted? Well, to heck with rules for good writing: the writer needed one to be there, so it magically appeared. Ick.
Also, I don’t know if I can see Joker as a type of evil Phantom Stranger: narrating twisted tales of morality where he may or may not be the star, and interacting with events from a view of relative omniscience. I don’t like it. I don’t get it. I don’t buy it. You shouldn’t either.
But as long as Nelson and Sanchez keep pairing up, I’ll keep reviewing them.

SHADES Online Comic

First page can be found here. Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Most of the webcomics I read these days are in their nascent stages with only a few pages to click through, so it doesn’t take a lot of time to catch up. But as with buying a DVD collection of a television series, you get spoiled getting to control your dosage of story only to be let down when you catch up and have to wait a week between episodes or, worse yet, a whole season. Once you hit that most recent page, it could be a long wait before the next page drops in webcomics. On the other hand, there are webcomics out there that have been around a bit and have quite a bit of story already which makes for much more interesting reading. SHADES is one of those webcomics.
Author David AJ Burner has quite an ambitious project in the works with 8 of 16 chapters complete and ready for you to click through the pages. I’ve read more than half of what Burner has to offer and I have to say that, so far, the story is pretty damn good. A tailor, Stanley Miller, used to be affiliated with a team of heroes who fought during WW2. Most of them are still alive, but they’ve spread themselves out across Europe and Stanley feels the need to try to inform and possibly bring together the team to face an evil threat. Along for the ride is Stanley’s grandson Sunil.
Writer Burner nails some great character driven moments as an aged tailor and his grandson go on a quest to inform a team of superheroes from the past about an impending danger. Burner asks the question: what makes a hero? A colorful costume or a person’s deeds? The heroes Stanley finds are shades of what they used to be during the war, leaving it up to him to show true heroism. This point becomes clear early on as Stanley and his grandson become increasingly disappointed in the heroes they come across.
The art is pretty damn fine too, by Harsho Mohan Chattoraj. This is bold strokes storytelling with dynamic poses and effective action sequences. The artist also knows how to capture the more quiet scenes between grandfather and grandson. Many artists don’t really give it their all in the scenes in between the big battles. Chattoraj isn’t one of those artists. He seems to give it his all in every panel.
Like I said, this is an ambitious project, but a lot of the story is already in the can. And if you’ve got a few minutes a day free at work and are looking for a fun story to dive into that deals with heroism, nobility, duty, and a love shared between a grandfather and grandson, SHADES is worth a look.


By Yasunori Mitsunaga Released by Del Rey Manga Reviewer: Scott Green

So... there's this regular teenage guy. On sight, you'd expect him to pass an unspectacular journey through high school, to an unspectacular passage through higher education, to an unspectacular career... basically the person destined to be one of the faceless masses presumed to populate a modern, developed nation. Except, in this case, said guy is identified as something special by a girl who is beautiful, exotic, and magical.
Manga has long found success flipping to this section of the wish fulfillment playbook. Nor is PRINCESS RESURRECTION putting a new spin on the material by adding an element of the grotesque. Like PRINCESS RESURRECTION, Yuzo Takada's (ALL PURPOSE CULTURAL CAT GIRL NUKU NUKU, BLUE SEED) grisly horror action 3x3 EYES started with the premise of a supernatural maiden who accidentally tramples a typical teenage guy while he was crossing the street, then, feeling a bit bad about killing the young man, the maiden decides to revive him to become her semi-immortal servant.
What distinguishes PRINCESS RESURRECTION from the would-be earnest AH! MY GODDESS and CHOBIT and the outright adventurous 3x3 EYES is a princess in a tiara and black dress duel wielding chainsaws or humming Molotov cocktails at incoming shambling mummy hordes.
Yes, Hime (literally "Princess"), of the title, falls for hapless, yet intrinsically noble Hiro, after bringing him back to un-life with a bit of her blood. There's an anime-geek term, tsundere, that describes this sort of cold, haughty personality that's destined to warm up to the male lead. And Hime's rather young, triffid planting, impish sister Sherwood also falls for him...and so do a host of amalgams of Universal Monsters and school girl archetypes, such as rage-a-holic half werewolf, with giant fluffy paws Riza Wildman and the vampire queen bee in a long, dark sailor suit uniform Reiri Kamura. To Hiro's normal peers, he remains, an "eh," entirely dismissible presence. To women of the power games among Hime's siblings, the few who remain indifferent to Hiro's nobility are automata, such as Hime's tiny, one word uttering, franken-maid servent Flandre.
Anime/video games podcast “Fast Karate for the Gentlemen” espouse a criticism of parody anime: that most of it, including the well regarded ones, make references without subverting or commenting on the subject that they are satirizing. Staccato anime comedies, from the classic DAICON IV openings by NEON GENESIS EVANGELION creators Gainax, to Akitaro Daichi's work like ELF PRINCESS RANE, to Shinichi Watanabe's EXCEL SAGA, rely on Pavlovian, flash card recognition of out of context, borrowed images. For example, the Gainax DAICON IV sequence elicits laughs by simply featuring the now mature girl from their previous DAICON short in a Playboy bunny girl suit light saber dueling Darth Vader, the Giger alien, a Macross Valkyrie and so on, set to ELO's "Twilight."
Without the ability to swap images at the blink of an eye, this approach is muted in anime's sibling, manga, but it is still present. After exhausting himself on years of DRAGON BALL, creator Akira Toriyama reacted in Neko Majin. That one volume manga became a send-up to the earlier work where the joke was reenacting Dragon Ball in abbreviating form, starring a blue cat.
Along the lines of those parodies, the humor of PRINCESS RESURRECTION is tied to presenting the recognizable in situations outside their native context, for example, the werewolf girl street racing the Headless Horseman around mountain roads. Like those flash reference animation, it aims to inspire a reaction through jarring juxtapositions rather than commentary or insight. Yet, the manga's approach to the joke works in its favor and makes it a genuinely enjoyable example of this brand of humor. It recognizes the ridiculousness of the situation. So, while there are some nice moments between Hiro and Hime, it does not presume the reader's emotional investment in the relationship. At the same time, it plays the absurdity to the hilt and does so with style. Most importantly, it manages to be outrageous without laughing at its own jokes.
The manga sells itself on being good looking and acutely wacky. On the Hiro side of the story, one of the principle gags of PRINCESS RESURRECTION is the character's ability to survive amputation, knife wounds to the chest, and other considerably nasty damage. Yet, despite churning on blood-stained confrontation between Hime, Hiro and company versus other cadres of familiar monsters, it is a light hearted, if severely violent, comedy. The most memorable bits are often the pain gags, such as Hiro noticing that something is wrong after walking through razor wire, then looking back with dismay to see that he has shed a foot and some limbs. It's not just that he's getting hurt, and hurt badly, it's that he's getting hurt by ghost sharks, and the like. For a world with undead kung fu pandas and the Little Mermaid hooking up with a giant robot, Hiro manages to find embarrassingly outlandish ways of sustaining injuries. The manga is sufficiently cartoonish, and Hiro is sufficient rag doll in his demeanor, that it doesn't suggest any guilt in chuckling at his woes.
The Hime side of the appeal is the goth-glam look of an exotic, nonplussed girl assaulting monsters with weapons that would be suitable for a Simon Bisley painting. It is BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER taken to comic absurdity: snobby girl in delicate fashion up to her elbows in blood. The naughty impression of a proper looking, or at least flamboyantly dressed princess getting her hands dirty has some longevity, and the black and white fashion plays especially nicely in the similarly black and white manga.
Scott Green has been writing for AICN ANIME for close to seven years. If you like what you see here and love anime & manga, be sure to check out his latest AICN ANIME column here.

Hello, worshippers of the fringe! Ambush Bug donning the old fedora and whip to bring you this week’s installment of Indie Jones where we look beyond the big Two companies of mainstream comics to unearth independent treasures to satisfy that Indie Jones of yours. This week we’ve got barbarians, cowboys, co-eds, colorful animal-thingees, and, of course, zombies on tap. Enjoy!


This is the third month of product from Radical and the quality has yet to falter. HERCULES continues to be an exciting yarn that mixes mythology with historical facts while CALIBER is turning out to be quite a surprise in its own right. What I like about the two books is that they show a good range of storytelling: one a more in your face action yarn, the other a slow burner of a story that definitely has a specific destination it's heading in. CALIBER is as much a Western story as it is a clever re-imagining of the King Arthur legend with an enchanted gun taking place of the famous sword. As Young Arthur gathers his knights and tries to figure out the reasons why he and only he can operate the enchanted gun, insidious forces are brewing to come into conflict with him soon. HERCULES has everything one would want in a barbarian comic: action, bloodshed, and weapons clashing with weapons. The panel depicting Hercules’ berserker rage is simply amazing with human parts strewn skyward in all directions followed by waves of blood. Unlike Marvel and DC's versions of Herc, this one is set firmly in ancient times as Herc is experiencing his legendary adventures rather than remembering them as he does in those other books. This adds its own distinct take on a character that has proven to stand the test of time in comics. It'd be a sin not to mention the art. Both books are lushly painted with top notch craftsmanship. HERCULES' art is more rugged and raw, while CALIBER's panels are more softly painted and eloquent. High quality art and diverse storytelling is proving to be the standard at Radical. I look forward to seeing more product from this impressive new publisher.


OK, folks, I’m not going to lie to you. This book has boobs, gore, sexual perversion, immature behavior, and a well timed R. Kelly joke and doesn’t try to be anything else or apologize for what it is. There’s something appealing about that type of unflappable and gratuitous exploitation. There are those who would snub their noses at this type of thing, but if you are a fan of Troma films, this cheesecakey zombie book will probably appeal to you. Don’t look for heady exposition or heavy symbolism here, folks. It’s exactly what the title says – sorority girls vs. zombies. Issue #0 is structured as a “Survival Guide” of sorts. Don’t expect the level of detail that went into Max Brooks’ ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE, but it does a decent job of explaining how the zombies in this particular story work and offers a decent outlet for the three bimbettes to show off amble cleavage and nipple slippage.


As indicated in the introduction, DREAMKEEPERS is one of those labors of love that one often comes across in the independent comics market. Some guy has an idea and instead of going on with his life, he sticks with his idea and believes in it enough to bring it to life on the page. David Lilly is one of those guys. He's created a beautifully expansive universe full of cartoonish characters doing not-so-cartoonish things and reacting not like cartoons but like real characters while doing these not-so-cartoonish things. I'll bet fans of BONE would like DREAMKEEPERS, a story of a band of adventurers on a quest of gigantic proportions. What stands out the most to me, other than the epic scale of the story and gorgeous character designs of the animalistic characters that populate the book, is the coloring. Gazing across the pages of DREAMKEEPERS, it's as if a rainbow had committed hari kari and bled out all over the page. Vivid shades of pinks, purples, blues, and reds, all brighter than I thought possible on the printed page, are there for your eyes to soak in, eat up, and enjoy. This is something pretty special in comic book form. It's a waking dream filled with imagination and wonder, with characters that are relatable and three-dimensional. So why don't you make the creators of this book’s (David Lilly and Liz Thomas) dreams come true and check this book out? It's definitely worth it for the eye feast alone.

If you’ve got an independent comic you’d like reviewed in Indie Jones, click the name of your favorite @$$Hole and drop them an email.


Mike Kunkel's art is infectious. It's sweet and fun and perfectly cast for this all ages title from DC. The story is pretty fun too, something that I found to be sorely lacking from Jeff Smith's SHAZAM AND THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL miniseries from a while back. I liked this book and I think the breath of fresh air that Jann Jones has puffed into DC's kiddie line is inspired, but looking at the way the pages are set up, I'm not sure if kids are going to like this book. As much as I like the artwork, it's often scrunched into tiny panels packed on top of tinier panels. There are an awful lot of panels, captions, and word balloons in this issue for a kids’ book. Now, I'm not saying that kids are dumb. What I am saying is that if I look at a page and let out a sigh because of so much text and...stuff going on within the page, I'm pretty sure a child (especially children these days weaned on X-Box strobe-icity) are going to be a bit intimidated too. I want to support this line, but the page set-up of this issue is way too cramped, not allowing the art to speak for itself and never allowing the reader to fully soak in the plethora of words and pics crammed onto the page. Here's hoping future issues will utilize the space on the page a little better. - Bug


I haven't really seen much about this Brian Wood production, hell, I haven't even talked about it since it started really, but I figured this issue really deserved some wordage. Why? Because there was enough bloodshed and mayhem to make even your most jaded Actioneer revel in it, that's why. Almost 22 pages of clashing blades, battered and broken shields, and gushes of crimson while using very poignant voicing about the human nature to conquer and to fight bitterly to the death to avoid being the conquered. Now this, this was the level of badassedness I was expecting out of a comic featuring Vikings as written by Brian Wood. Good stuff. -Humphrey

JONAH HEX #33 DC Comics

If this was the first issue I had ever read of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's JONAH HEX, I'd proclaim them as wordy sumbitches. But it isn't and I won't, mainly because the wordiness of this issue appears to have a point. The story focuses on a man and his son who brave the elements in search of elk. The man is a storyteller and lecturer of sorts, so it would only make sense that the narrator of the story is wordy as well. Add the fact that the narrator himself is mute and unable to communicate the words in his head and all of those heavy captions make a bit more sense. After a series of events, they come across Hex. This is an eloquent tale; one with a moral and some heft. Occasionally this series can be somewhat breezy given the "done in one" format of the book. It's been a pretty even load with some of the issues leaving me with that satisfied and full feeling while others have left me wanting more. This issue was satisfying indeed given the power of the story, but even if the story were shit I'd still recommend this one for Darwyn Cooke's outstanding art. Somewhere down the line, there'll be a collection of Cooke's works on his various DC titles. I'm sure that this one will be among them and as you are gazing across Cooke's ominous snowy landscapes and imaginative ways to convey motion, emotion, and action in a single panel, you'll say "How the hell did I miss that one?!?" Well, here's your chance to enjoy it first hand. This is one of the best looking and best reading JONAH HEX comics yet. Highly recommended. - Bug

THE SWORD #9 Image Comics

You know that part of classic storytelling where you see a good fight coming, and the buildup scene is crafted so well that it’s almost as good as the payoff? Like when Ripley dons the hydraulic Loader at the end of “Aliens 2”, ready for a throw down? Or maybe when Sentry finally got off his Prozac-laden keister at the end of WORLD WAR HULK? Well, this is almost that good. The Luna Brothers are still feeling their way around the superhero genre, but like Terry Moore on the well-done ECHO, can’t quite leave all the character development by the wayside long enough for a good butt-whoopin. Still, I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could read, and can hardly wait for next month. This is a great issue to jump on, as it covers a lot of back-story without much effort, and still manages to quicken one’s pulse throughout. - Rock-Me

PATSY WALKER: HELLCAT #1 (of 5) Marvel Comics

Hellcat gets sent to Alaska to represent the Initiative presence in the barren state. Sure, it's a bit contrived for a city gal like Hellcat to be sent to the sticks, but it's also the recipe for a lot of fun. The art by David Lafuente makes the 299 pennies worth it with his nice costume work and panels that convey fluid motion. His work reminds me a bit of Adam Pollina before he went overboard with the AEON FLUX stuff. There are some imaginative dream sequences, a cool fight scene with a polar bear, and the set-up for a supernatural mystery. It's only the first issue, so maybe writer Kathryn Immonen has more up her sleeve, but the only thing that this story is lacking is an interesting straight man for Hellcat's boisterous and peppy nature to bounce off of. And the generic love interest bo-hunk she runs into at the Moose Lodge doesn't count. Buy it for the art and hope for the best. Immonen did a pretty good job writing Hellcat with her husband Stuart recently in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS. Looks like she's bringing the same type of quality to this miniseries. – Bug


Wait, wait, come back! You know that kid that died, like, two issues ago? *adopts his best Miracle Max accent* “Well it turns out he was only MOSTLY dead!” And the problem was that DC stuck a filler issue in, last month, without so much as a howdy-do. It’s amazing to me how much DC seems to hate some of their prime properties. But hey: I’m not in charge. The sad thing is, there is a rich subtext that Puckett has been building to, regarding old thinking and new thinking, and stretching the limits of what is defined as normal. The completely disposable filler issue last month threw me off, but I’m ready for part four next month. You should be too. Puckett is really starting to find his voice on this book. - Rock-Me

THOR: REIGN OF BLOOD #1 (One Shot) Marvel Comics

Man, this is some kick @$$, hard core, Asgardian storytelling going on in this book right here. I'm a fan of the regular THOR ongoing by JMS, but holy crap does Matt Fraction know how to spin a good ancient gods/barbarian tale. Filled with morally bankrupt characters such as Loki, the Enchantress, and even Odin and Thor himself, this ain't your pappy's Asgard. I really like the way Fraction depicts Asgard as a flawed and dark society. His twisted tales take these characters we grew up reading in directions that we haven't seen them go before. More reminiscent of stories of the ancient Greek Gods with their flawed personalities and soap operatics, these series of one shots and this one especially (the second in a planned set of three I believe) are some of the coolest Thor stories to come down the Rainbow Bridge in quite a long time. In this issue we get a two-parter as a Frost Giantess sparks the ire of Odin which leads to betrayal, a curse, and a gruesome battle between Thor, a giant mechanical monstrosity that runs on blood, and an army of the undead. Hardcore @$$-kickery follows. The art only makes the book even more of a must buy with art from Patrick Zircher that I never thought he was capable of and top notch work from Khari (SHANNA THE SHE DEVIL) Evans; all colored to perfection by June Chung and Avalon's Matt Milla. On all levels - art, story, packaging, color - this is some of the best stuff Marvel is putting out there right now. - Bug

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Readers Talkback
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  • July 9, 2008, 7:13 a.m. CST


    by DuncanHines

    Mike Kunkel's SHAZAM book was the best damn thing that came out last week! Now THAT's how you do an all-ages book!!!

  • July 9, 2008, 7:15 a.m. CST


    by DuncanHines

    Jonah Hex was the second best. Darwyn Cooke. Every comic that dude does is fucking gold!

  • July 9, 2008, 7:17 a.m. CST

    buffy season 8

    by Mr_X

    <br>I'm not loving this comic. I'm just not. it's not like the tv series. yes i know this is a different medium, but it's nothing like the tv series.</br> <br> if there's a comic you should buy, it's the invincible ironfist!</br>

  • July 9, 2008, 7:43 a.m. CST

    So a positive review of the new Astonishing X-Men...

    by rev_skarekroe

    ...that has made me decide NOT to buy it. I don't WANT it to tie into Uncanny and whatever other titles they've got. That's one of the things I liked about Whedon/Cassidey's run in the first place.

  • July 9, 2008, 7:44 a.m. CST

    Did anyone read the new Squadron Supreme?

    by rev_skarekroe

    I'm curious about that one.

  • July 9, 2008, 8:03 a.m. CST

    Don't Be Too Put Off Rev

    by optimous_douche

    It ties in, but it still has its own voice and feel.<p> If you like Ellis and you like X-Men, you will love this book.

  • July 9, 2008, 8:05 a.m. CST

    I Liked Joker's Asylum, Actually

    by LaserPants

    Think you're being a little hard on the artwork. It is rough, sketchy, line-y, but artfully done, imho. Plus it was a fun read.

  • July 9, 2008, 8:07 a.m. CST

    buffy season 8

    by Mr_X

    dracula helping the scoobies? mechadawn? lezbuffy? no. no. no.

  • July 9, 2008, 8:24 a.m. CST

    Laserpants - J.A.

    by rock-me Amodeo

    You know, the thing is, each panel by itself is not so bad. Sanchez does some great layouts. The thing I can't stand is that his characters seldom look the same from panel to panel. I bet he's a spectacular cover artist...I'm just not sold on his ability to carry off LINEAR storytelling.

  • July 9, 2008, 8:24 a.m. CST

    Squadron Supreme

    by Reelheed

    I enjoyed it. It was mostly talky setup with a couple of pages worth of action panels but overall it left me a bit puzzled. Id always enjoyed squadron supreme mainly because it was a "what if marvel took a shot at rebooting the DC universe" but this issue introduces a Supreme Spiderwoman, Supreme Captain America and Supreme Fantastic Four. Havent we seen this all before? Presumably what seperates them from their ultimate incarnations is that they are somewhat more horrible or grotesque. But there is a sniff of a story with a global reach in the oil plotline and the terrorist antics and the writing feels more mature than whats on offer in the ultimate universe at the moment (particularly The Ultimates V3 WTF is going on with that book?)The art was nice but a bit lacking in energy and detail for my taste. As I said, I enjoyed it and I'll stick about for more but it wasn't the thrill I wanted it to be.

  • July 9, 2008, 8:34 a.m. CST

    There's an

    by Sailor Rip

  • July 9, 2008, 8:35 a.m. CST

    Aliens 2!!!!!!!!!!????????

    by Sailor Rip

    Sorry, I got excited.

  • July 9, 2008, 8:48 a.m. CST


    by RenoNevada2000

    Up until this issue I was concerned that there didn't seem enough forward motion on the overall "season arc." However, it seems that since this is the second story in a row where the Scythe is important, that it will play a big part in whatever finally throws down.

  • July 9, 2008, 8:52 a.m. CST


    by Big Bad Clone

    I like the series but I rather have a bit more to chew on when I read. Since the letter column is at level of comments and that I can get both covers, I'm totally going to wait for the trades. <p><p>And this isn't like my empty promise to wait for Fables trades only to cave anytime I see an issue. I really mean it. Plus, Buffy trades come out pretty quick.

  • July 9, 2008, 9:02 a.m. CST

    i've only read the first collection

    by Gatsbys West Egg Omlet

    of buffy season 8, but i dug it. i'll get the others, eventually.

  • July 9, 2008, 9:04 a.m. CST

    Buffy & season endings

    by RealDoubleJ

    TV series wise there were, like, 20 episodes of building up how evil the "Big Bad" for that season was, 2-3 standalone episodes & then a finale where the mastermind is killed in 2 minutes and a quick quip. Lemme just say how F-ING glad I am that Whedon isn't constrained by a little thing like reality (snotty actresses & TV production slashing your budget) that we can get what can only be the Buffyverse uncensored. I'll put my hand up, I did complain about the bedroom chowdown a couple of issues back but it's still a freakin' good ride. I'm keeping myy fingers crossed that Whedon doesn't blow it for me by having this "Hush"-like villain kaputsed off-panel & we endure 5 pages of Buffy emoting about the hardship of being a woman for the finale (I know! You rammed that analogy down my throat from Season 5-7 quite hard!!)

  • July 9, 2008, 9:04 a.m. CST

    Hold me closer, Tony Danza

    by Squashua

    Yay, my two faves: Atom and Elton!

  • July 9, 2008, 10:03 a.m. CST

    Q: Has Bruce Jones ever written a decent comic book?

    by Laserhead

    I read his entire Hulk run on CD-ROM and it remains probably the single most bizarrely wrong-headed, utterly batshit, make-it-up-as-you-go comic stories ever.

  • July 9, 2008, 10:05 a.m. CST

    I completely disagree about Astonishing.

    by ledbetter51

    I'm an Ellis fan, but I thought this issue was pretty weak. It didn't help that it was all setup and that the change in setting, etc. was so jarring I felt like I'd missed one of the big X-Overs, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now, but I feel like the characters had a way more... well, character to them under Whedon. I really, really don't like the art either. Again, maybe it's the jarring change in style, but the darkness of it bothered me. Plus, Wolverine looked scrawny as hell. He looked thinner than Cyclops for god's sake! Like I said, I'll give it time, but I'm a little leery of the direction they're taking.

  • July 9, 2008, 10:24 a.m. CST

    "reminiscent of the early 90s"

    by jmyoung666

    Dude, If I was not already reading this book, that would have been a clear warning to stay away. Claremont was on a steady decline from 88 - 93 and Liefeld sucked worse as a writer than as an artist. Peter David's run on X-factor was the only thing worth reading at that time. <p><p> Having said that, I thought Ellis did a good job on this issue.

  • July 9, 2008, 10:24 a.m. CST

    So who'll be the next DC hero...

    by Kid Z

    ... to receive the patented DC Comics let's-update-this-lame-hero-with-a-new-diverse-edgy-identity-only-to-go-back-to-the-original-character-in-a-year-or-so-due-to-pressure-from-aging-50+ year old-fanboys?

  • July 9, 2008, 11:10 a.m. CST

    Has anyone got an opening page from 1997?

    by rev_skarekroe

    Or was it just me?

  • July 9, 2008, 11:11 a.m. CST

    X-Men and $$

    by Brett_FlashJ

    I love what's going on in the X world right now. Especially X-Factor. But have to drop most of my comics to tighten the budget. Still reading Buffy, Runaways, (cant wait for Moore's run to start), and Detective as long as Dini is writing. Maybe still X-Factor. But unfortunately that's it. Still getting the trades everynow and then. These reviews and Wizard to keep tabs on the haps too.

  • July 9, 2008, 11:19 a.m. CST

    Astonishing X-Men

    by xsi kal

    I thought it was a decent read.... which is odd, since I disagree with most of what the reviewer seems to think about the rest of the X-Universe. Morrison's run was a high mark? The early 90s were a good time for the various series? Really? Frankly, I've been enjoying the various X-comics more since Mike Carey took over adjectiveless X-Men than any time I can remember since maybe Claremont's initial run. (Back when everything he wrote wasn't a giant pile of shit). I enjoyed Astonishing, even if Douche and I have entirely different opinions about pretty much everything else.

  • July 9, 2008, 11:22 a.m. CST

    Isn't the Joker all gross and disgusting now?

    by Rufferto

    I'm "counting down" until DC changes that after all the Dark knight hype is gone. Hoping it wont be a long wait.

  • July 9, 2008, 11:25 a.m. CST


    by blackthought

    so much...words.

  • July 9, 2008, 11:31 a.m. CST

    Also while I haven't read this one shot

    by Rufferto

    And even though I believe the Joker as a character prefers not to do anything for too sensible a reason, being an ego maniac he also considers himself an artist. So I don't think he'd be above a somewhat entertaining crusade against something he feels falls beneath his taste or sense of humor but yeah not on any moral issue unless he's apathetic to it and just thinks it's funny. He's also easy to goad as well.

  • July 9, 2008, 11:31 a.m. CST

    ledbetter, xsi Astonishing

    by optimous_douche

    Ledbetter, I think the jarring portion of it comes from the fact that Uncanny 500 should have been delivered first. I'll never fault the writer for this. That's an editorial mishap.<p> As for the early 90's, well to each their own. I really didn't feel as though Claremont started going South until post-2000.<p> What I liked about the early 90s was the cohesion of the titles, yet still being able to read just one title if you so chose and still be able to understand what the hell is going on.<P> I'm far from a Liefield fan, but there was a reason he was able to shanghai the industry. Someone had to like his work on New Mutants and X-Force, how else was he able to ride the Image wave?

  • July 9, 2008, 11:37 a.m. CST

    Rufferto is right

    by pleasebanme

    The joker is constantly trying to prove some kind of point (although usually his point is AGAINST any form of morality, a la Killing Joke), and he does consider himself an artist. Haven't read this comic, but I'm naturally against The Joker starring in his own series. The character is best when he isn't over-exposed but rather an unseen threat that can strike any time (the movies will be the classic tools to discuss this- Joker's constant screentime in '89 compared to TDK).

  • July 9, 2008, 11:57 a.m. CST

    The Mutant Messiah is in the poorly plotted future

    by krushjudgement

    See the new Cable series.

  • July 9, 2008, 11:58 a.m. CST

    "I really didn't feel as though Claremont started going South...

    by Laserhead

    To each his own indeed... but are you fucking kidding?<p>Long before 2000, every X-Man started talking in exactly the same, early-80s London discotheque language: "Those're the breaks, sweets." "We're X-Men, sweets. No quarter asked, none given." "Careful what you wish for sweets."<p> The late eighties are where Claremont's stories literally made no sense, and they never got better. One time we were in the middle of a storyline and the next issue is Wolverine feral in the woods being hunted by Lady Deathstrike. How about when Wolverine tried to KILL Rachel to prevent her from killing a bad guy?! "We're X-Men. We don't kill." (Unless it's to kill one of our own members to stop them from killing a bad guy). All Storm's command decisions seemed to involve the X-Men sacrificing themselves for the slimmest of reasons. "Then we'll die."<p> "But we could just shut off the bomb maybe?"<p> "We're X-Men, sweets. No quarter asked, none given."<p> Claremont kept introducing storyline after storyline after storyline that was never remotely resolved or even addressed in future issues... Seriously. Bust out some of those later Essential X-Men volumes and stare in wonder that anyone could ever have actually thought this shit was decent writing. After Claremont, for a while Lobdell kept the thing going pretty nicely, but that degraded into constantly trying to come up with more and more stupid ideas for new mutants, plus tying everything in the world back to Apocalypse. Morrison actually saved the X-Men, in my opinion, but that run is certainly not without its glaringly bad parts.

  • July 9, 2008, 12:08 p.m. CST

    "Ellis has brought personality back"

    by oisin5199

    You're kidding, right? You do realize there was this excellent run of Astonishing X-Men before Ellis that was one of the most personality driven takes on the X-Men since the early Claremont years (and yes, before Claremont fell into his redundancy trap and waaay before he turned into the self-parody he is today)? I also think Morrison's New X-Men WAS a high point, but then became ridiculous with Weapon Plus and Xorn. Carey's stuff is more or less competent, but just not that interesting or memorable, and I'm consistently amazed at how poorly Brubaker does with the X-Men when he does so incredibly well on Captain America, Daredevil, and Iron Fist (and it's Immortal, not Invincible!). Besides Whedon's Astonishing, I definitely look to Peter David's X-Factor for the only consistent, interesting character work in the mutant world right now. I'm hoping that title goes back to its excellent form after it was thrown off course by that Messiah Complex nonsense.

  • July 9, 2008, 12:19 p.m. CST

    Laserhead = Best Post Evar

    by Squashua

    Or at least so far for this talkback.

  • July 9, 2008, 12:25 p.m. CST

    Optimous, RE: Astonishing

    by ledbetter51

    I agree that's probably where most of the jar came from, which is why I'll give it time. I think my subscription still has another 8-10 issues on it, so I'll be sticking around at least that long. Regardless of what was supposed to ship when (and especially so if this was supposed to ship after UXM #500) it would have been nice to have some kind of recap on this major change for those of us who don't read Uncanny. As I recall, that was one of the big gripes about the X-Overs: if you don't read them you're totally lost.

  • July 9, 2008, 12:26 p.m. CST

    Morrison's Xorn kicked ass.

    by SleazyG.

    Morrison did a hell of a job of setting us all up, thinking we were reading one thing when we were reading another, and making sure it wasn't just a plot twist with nothing to back it up. When Xorn is explaining all the ways he was able to use his real powers as Magneto to make them think something else was going on, I just had this huge "OH SHIT!" moment, and it kicked major ass. Then along came a bunch of slack-jawed dipshits who couldn't understand what was going on, and they proceeded to fuck Xorn and Magneto up so badly it made my dick hurt.<p> The only part of Morrison's run where I think he stunk the joint up was the final three-issue storyline set in the future, and even that might not have been so bad if not for the execrable art. Truly awful, awful mid-90's Image stuff from Marc Silvestri? On the heels of an extended run by Frank Quitely? GACK.

  • July 9, 2008, 12:47 p.m. CST

    oisin5199: Character Driven?

    by WarpedElements

    They weren't character driven so much as they were complete rehashes of Claremont's first run. Nothing new, nothing even special. If he had say, treated them as characters, individuals instead of one mess of a team. I'm not saying whenever someone does a good job writing a character with that much history has to introduce something new, but at least don't redo what's already been done to the Nth degree. All that was provided was camp with angsty Colossus (who should've stayed dead) and a mildly interesting Cyclops, and a incredibly predictable ending.

  • July 9, 2008, 1:16 p.m. CST

    that Atom lament set to Candle in the Wind......

    by Ace of Knaves

    was hot shit.

  • July 9, 2008, 1:19 p.m. CST

    Question about Morrison's Xorn--

    by Laserhead

    Did he ever explain how Xorneto was able, just by looking at them, to flash-fry to the bone two children who were brought before him in the X-Men Annual where he was introduced?<p>Did he ever explain how Xorneto was able to free himself and Scott from the Shi'ar after Scott pointed out that one of the Shi'ar was 'living gravity' or something?<p>I know some of Xorn's abilities were explained, but not enough of them to convince me that going back to New X-Men Annual #1, Morrison knew Xorn was Magneto. I really, really liked Morrison's X-Men. And as a whole, I think it reads really nicely-- both an expansion and consolidation of what had gone before. I agree that a bunch of morons further fucked-up Xorn, but I didn't think the idea was handled so great by Morrison to begin with. It was also weird to have Magneto getting decapitated by Wolverine and a month later have him appear in, like, a Bendis comic or something.

  • July 9, 2008, 1:25 p.m. CST

    Got to go with Warped

    by optimous_douche

    Whedon had me at the outset of his run on Astonishinng (the part with Wolverine perched on Scott and Emma's bed - fantastic!<p> but then the wheels fell off later in the run. All focus was on the story and the charachters became plot devices as I stated in my review.<p> Whedon's book isn't the only place this happened. Same thing happened in all of the X-titles over the past few years.<p> Perhaps I am clouded by nostalgia, but I did love the early 90s when the new X-Men title launched,Uncanny, X-Force etc... Everything just seemed to gel, without punishing you if you missed an issue of one title or another.

  • July 9, 2008, 1:31 p.m. CST

    Sleazy G

    by hst666

    The future arc wa so-so overall, but it did provide for me the final revelation about Magneto's baser behavior by explaining that Kick was Sublime. (Unless they explained it earlier and I missed it.)

  • July 9, 2008, 1:39 p.m. CST

    As for the Atom

    by hst666

    I want to see Ryan Choi turn up somewhere. And while I am indifferent to Ray Palmer I hope Robinson or somebody retcons in an explanation of Jean's behavior. Ever since the divorce Ray had coinsistently been portrayed at best as someone who finally learned to live on his own and more often as someone who would taker her back in a heartbeat. She had no motivation, even as someone legally insane. I'll forgive the other problems if someone fucking explains that.

  • July 9, 2008, 1:58 p.m. CST

    warped elements

    by oisin5199

    gotta disagree. Whedon's take on Cyclops was probably the most interesting the character's been in years, the complex connection between Kitty and Emma, Emma and Scott's relationship, Wolverine's and Beast's focused characterization. Character came first in Astonishing, and the plots were there to serve the characters. I think once we read all the stories together (hardcover omnibus?), we'll see the development.

  • July 9, 2008, 2:17 p.m. CST

    Sword of Ray Palmer

    by Laserhead

    Morrison always wrote Ray Palmer really nicely in JLA, giving him the kind of singular personality most DC silver-agers lacked. Has anyone gone back to "Sword of the Atom" by Strnad and Kane? I remember as a kid just being blown away by that stuff, but I have no idea if it holds up. Anyone?

  • July 9, 2008, 2:40 p.m. CST

    Sword of the Atom...

    by Kid Z

    ...liked it as a kid, haven't looked at it in years. Is it in reprint anywhere? But as a kid, it did sort of freak me out. I would actually go into the back yard and check under bushes just in case our property was home to any tiny barbarian civilizations. Good stuff.

  • July 9, 2008, 2:41 p.m. CST

    Morrison's X-Men

    by rev_skarekroe

    I think it's pretty clear that editorial agreed to let Morrison do whatever he wanted to with New X-Men, but that they also hated most of what he did. Which is why they undid so much of it immediately after Morrison's contractual run was over.

  • July 9, 2008, 2:58 p.m. CST


    by DennisMM

    Whedon, even when I hated his quirks and cutesiness, had a strong through-line. Cassaday's art, even with its quirks and occasional distortions (heads that were a foot long front to back) told the story cleanly and clearly. Ellis's X-Men to me sounded a lot like The Authority, with the outsider Doctor replaced by the confused adolescent Armor. The team cared far too much about being cool. The street clothes were ridiculous, especially that the team had a set ready for Ororo. Why not wear the old Morrison leathers? Those weren't superhero-like (exactly the reason the team supposedly pulled them on). Bianchi's art is skilled but a mess. John Byrne (I think) once said, "Fans like lots of lines." The Image boys and artists like Bianchi are proof of this. So much detail, without Perez's or Jimenez's remarkable control, turns a panel into a mass of squiggles. Also, the coloring was so dark that I had to read under bright lights just to see what was in lots of panels. I really like Ellis and Bianchi is skilled, but I doubt I'll stick with this for more than a few issues.

  • July 9, 2008, 2:58 p.m. CST

    Good point, Rev

    by Laserhead

    It also underscores how fatally stupid those editors are. "It doesn't jibe with what Bendis wants to do? Ignore it!"

  • July 9, 2008, 3:01 p.m. CST

    All of Xorn's abilities can be easily explained

    by Squashua

    ...with magnetism. <br><br> Just... not in this forum.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:06 p.m. CST

    Xorn's abilities not seen correctly. He blinded you...

    by rock-me Amodeo

    ...with science!<br><br>Now that's gonna be stuck in everyone's head for a few days. Admit it, you're already humming it in your collective heads.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:09 p.m. CST

    Morrison's X-Men...

    by xsi kal

    I agree with the editors. I liked a lot of the ideas thrown around as Morrison began his run, (not including secondary mutations), and really liked the fact that Cyclops finally busted out of his Jean relationship hamster wheel. But, when it came to implementation, I really hated almost everything but the first story arc of Morrison's run on the X-Men. <br><br> Currently, I am decidely enjoying Astonishing X-Men(Whedon and Ellis' runs) and X-Factor. I'd probably put X-Force, (which I was prepared to hate) and X-Men Legacy (which is decent, but a waste of Carey's talent for team dynamics, in my opinion) in the second tier. At the bottom are New Mutants/Young X-men/whatever, Cable, and Uncanny, the last of which has been really pretty dull, (which seems to be a hallmark of Bru's run on the title). <br><br> Emma sure made a cute hippie, regardless.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:12 p.m. CST

    Also, re: "Sword of the Atom"

    by Laserhead

    If I remember right, that was practically a 'mature readers' title. Everybody was having sex. Ray got A LOT of ass that series. <p>Again, if I'm remembering right.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:38 p.m. CST

    Why all the Tony Daniel bashing?

    by R L S

    Is he the best artist ever to draw Batman? No. But he is far from the worst. Not to mention I think each issue he does gets better and better. Now if I could just figure out what the fuck Morrison is going on about....

  • July 9, 2008, 3:38 p.m. CST

    Gaddamit, F.U. Rock-Me.

    by Squashua

    Shit shit 80's shit shit shit dammit shit.<br><br> Shit.

  • July 9, 2008, 4:10 p.m. CST

    One thing, Laserhead...

    by rev_skarekroe

    ...I don't believe Bendis had much to do with X-Men (maybe Ultimate X-Men) when Morrison stopped writing. House of M was still a couple of years away. They were bending over for Claremont, who apparently thinks he's the only person who should be allowed to write Magneto (Dave Cockrum's nutty wife had some stuff to say about Morrison's Magneto too, IIRC).

  • July 9, 2008, 5:08 p.m. CST

    Why I'm bashing Tony Daniel

    by Laserhead

    Because he's a sub-par Image house artist from the 90s and his art bears all the deficiencies of that style. His work displays a sense of anatomy, layout, and design akin to an amateur teenage artist's from, well, the 90s. All the slashes and lines all over his work, and the large blacked-in portions of figures, are meant to help disguise those things. One of the reasons R.I.P. might be more confusing than necessary is that Daniels has no storytelling ability whatsoever-- you need word balloons to tell you what all his characters are doing, since he can't draw facial expressions for shit, can't draw backgrounds, can't draw anatomy. And no-- each issue he is NOT getting better and better.<p> This has been my opinion. I hope you are not Tony Daniel.

  • July 9, 2008, 5:10 p.m. CST

    Thanks rev

    by Laserhead

    I don't know why I wanted to blame that on Bendis. I don't think that's one of my knee-jerk reactions, but maybe it is. It just seemed like around the time of 'Here Comes Tomorrow' I saw Magneto in a Bendis book, but that might not even have been possible. Sorry, Brian.

  • July 9, 2008, 5:59 p.m. CST

    I don't see 90's image at all

    by hst666

    He has some very good story-telling ability and the character designs all look pretty clear to me in the latest issue. I did notice an abundance of slashes, but even if those existed his drawings of Tim were great.

  • July 9, 2008, 5:59 p.m. CST

    did NOT notice

    by hst666

    I hate it when I say the opposite of what I mean.

  • July 9, 2008, 6:22 p.m. CST


    by Laserhead

    We can agree to disagree I hope. I'm looking at Batman 678 and all those things I mentioned seem to be in evidence here: figures are stiff, faces are flat (and alike-- Tim on the opening pages could be Dick or Jason, or even Bruce in the first 3 panels), and what I think may be his chief stylistic technique: the surface texture of everything is floating slashes. It's not godawful or anything, it's just competent at best, for me, and you want to see a writer of Morrison's abilities do his major arc with a major talent, or even just a distinctive one-- there's nothing distinctive in Daniel's art, maybe. I probably don't need to be ragging on the guy.<p>I flipped through my favorite Batman story by Grant Morrison today, "Gothic," and I was thinking how cool it would have been if Klaus Janson had illustrated the whole run of R.I.P. But that might be misguided nostalgia.

  • July 9, 2008, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Ah, "Gothic"!

    by DennisMM

    Klaus Janson in his "charcoal pencil" period. I know he wasn't drawing with charcoal pencil, but something about the way he inked himself gave it that rough, organic feeling. Personally, I'm not sure Morrison really understands Batman. I'm fairly sure he doesn't understand the Joker. The Joker isn't meta - he's just an Id supported by a massively talented tactical mind. But for Morrison, everything is meta. It worked on Animal Man and Doom Patrol. Otherwise I don't think he's applied it well to mainstream comics, but YMMV.

  • July 9, 2008, 7:54 p.m. CST

    If you liked Whedons X-Men, you don't like the X-Men

    by IndustryKiller!

    What you LIKE is Whedons schlocky Juno-esque jokes using the X-Men as conduits. And apparently you like (mostly) badly paced dull stories in which the X-Men get to (what else?) crack jokes primarily while managing to fight once in a while. What Whedon did to Wolverine is absolutely intolerable and the fact that people accepted is is only proof of how long the character has been butchered for.

  • July 9, 2008, 7:56 p.m. CST

    As for saying Whedons ulta reference laced writing is....

    by IndustryKiller!

    ...going over peoples heads.....bullshit. Bullshit up and down. Family Guy does the same exact thing and I don't think anyone accuses that of being too intelligent.

  • July 9, 2008, 7:59 p.m. CST

    The Sword Rocks!

    by arzbest

    The Luna Brothers are crafting what may be the best on-going series on the stands! Yeah, I know you've heard this before, but what can I say? This is THE book I look forward to the most each month!

  • July 9, 2008, 8:55 p.m. CST


    by WarpedElements

    I did say Cyclops was a bit different. Wasn't too great, but he was different. Colossus was a mixed bag. First he's angry, and can't be in close spaces, but then suddenly, oh he's up for space missions no problem. And what the hell happened to Lockheed? He was there for a lil bit, and he was supposed to help out in return for help on his ho me planet, and then he disappears? Did Whedon just forget about him? I still don't like how the Breakworld tech could pretty much bring anyone back. Cyke was SHOT into space. But oh, we can bring him back. Emma was predictable, and had only a hint of that British attitude/styling that Morrison gave her. Kitty was back to being freakin' Sprite for God's sake. Her sudden lack of ability to understand the most obvious things, so they have to be explained out loud to her? There were moments that were interesting, but they were weighed down with characters back in their early x-men personas, and tons of camp. Lots and lots of campy annoyingness. But seriously, Lockheed was a point for a while, the "mole" in the X-mansion, and then, bamn, he's gone?

  • July 9, 2008, 11:11 p.m. CST

    I'm talking about character, not story

    by oisin5199

    to be honest, I wasn't crazy about the whole Breakworld thing, and I know I missed a lot of plot points at the first read. I do think you're missing some of the subtleties of the Kitty/Emma connection. My favorite is still the sequence when Emma thinks she's part of the Hellfire club again, with the things that happen to all the characters, Wolvie becoming a frightened, snobbish child, Beast becoming feral, Cyclops getting angry, and Kitty stuck in a delusion. You may be right about the whole thing with Colossus, but I figure the amazing scene in which he was brought back kinda gave Whedon a pass for everything else with him. How it was 'staged' and with Cassaday's amazing drawing, was one of the few times I've ever gasped while reading a comic, and I even knew it was coming. I can't understand how anyone who has a deep personal love for the X-Men would not be fans of this run.

  • July 10, 2008, 1:01 a.m. CST

    A more realistic take on Astonishing #25:

    by futureboymaddog

  • July 10, 2008, 1:41 a.m. CST

    I like X-Men and Astonishing X-Men, weird

    by krushjudgement

    I hope I don't create some reality paradox.

  • July 10, 2008, 1:47 a.m. CST

    Great Atom Review,Bug...

    by Buzz Maverik

    True TL@ spirit is alive, well and a beautiful thing to behold...

  • July 10, 2008, 1:57 a.m. CST

    Pretty Right On About Claremont...

    by Buzz Maverik

    I read every issue of Claremont's original run as they came out, starting with the spinner racks at 7-11 and in the 3-pack bags sold in the grocery stores, as God intended.<p>The odd thing about his writing, even early on, is that it shouldn't have worked, but it did ... for a while.<p>Before he developed that weird: "Thems the breaks, kiddo. Wishin' won't change things. Neither will hopin', mopin' or dopin'..." style, he simply had the X-Men shout about whatever was obviously going on in the panel: "Cyclops! We're under attack!" Shouldn't have worked, but it did. And his plots, although eventually adding up to more, mostly consisted of the X-Men being attacked for no apparent reason and defending themselves. That was okay, though, because what he and Cockrum and Byrne could do was really keep those Muties busy. It was the old George Lucas thing, where if there's enough action, no one will notice the cheesy dialogue (ah, George, if only you'd stuck to that and not given us TARIFF WARS and THE SENATE TALKS BACK and REVENGE OF THE SITH BY ANAKIN TURNING EVIL FOR NO REAL REASON).<p> I dug Claremont, and still respect his achievement, but he was only as good as his artist's storytelling ability. Better artists that Cockrum and Byrne worked on the X-MEN, but there probably weren't ever better pure storytellers and designers.<p>It's been said before, Chris stayed too long on the book and should have never gone back.

  • July 10, 2008, 3:24 a.m. CST

    Oisin I explained above why im not a fan

    by IndustryKiller!

    Because no matter what you like or dislike that simple fact remains true. These characters are written as conduits for Whedon's jokes and nothing more, with the possible exception of ONLY Cyclops. As for their transformations in the Hellfire Club story, I think Whedon was totally off base on Wolverine and Beast. The whole paradox of Beasts character is that he's a distinguished gentleman and a gentle soul in a beasts body. To imply that deep down he's a feral Beast at heart is completely contradictory to what makes him interesting and tragic. And saying Wolverine is but an errant child is true only to Whedons sense of humor. What about him is childlike? Even deep down? No more thought goes into that than "Man, Wolverine has been such a bad ass for so long, wouldn't it be funny if he acted like a little kid??!!" It just shows how much Whedon loves his own sense of humor and not the characters he's dealing with. Not to mention Whedon didn't write a single interesting villain or truly excellent arc in the entire series.

  • July 10, 2008, 6:52 a.m. CST

    A more realistic take on Astonishing #25:

    by optimous_douche

    I'm all for a differences of opinion and I love a good verbal sparring match as much as the next guy. That’s why I started a site solely to just argue with people ( But how do you define this review as more "realistic?”<p> I don’t think my review stretched the boundaries of “reality” in any way, shape, or form.<p> But let’s take a closer examination.<p> Popsyndicate wrote - “One of the things that I loved so much about the Whedon/Cassaday run was that it focused on the characters and what made them all unique. It interlaced with thoughtful stories, and a barrage of cliffhanger endings.”<p> Nowhere in my review did I say I didn’t like Whedon’s run. The only thing I disliked was getting an issue every 4-5 months. Other than that, it was a fine run. Now this guy is getting bent out of shape because of cliffhanger endings. I think he needs to go back and read issue 25, it was a damn good cliffhanger ending. A wee bit unfair to compare 24 issues worth of stories to 1 wouldn’t you say?<p> Popsyndicate wrote - “Firstly, where the hell is Colossus?” Who gives a fuck? He’s supposed to be dead. This was the thing I did hate from the Whedon run. Pulling resurrections out of thin air is DC’s bag.<p> Popsyndicate wrote – “Has so much time elapsed that no one seems to mourn Kitty’s loss anymore?”<p> I’m sure Colossus cares.<p> Popsyndicate wrote – What kind of strange fetish does Warren Ellis have for pseudo-science?<p> Was this issue heavily mired in any science, pseudo or otherwise? I missed that. Laden in exposition perhaps, but not science.<p> Popsyndicate wrote – “Why is Simone Bianchi’s art so damn dark? This is Astonishing X-Men, not Batman, for God’s sakes!’<p> Maybe because the team is underground for 80% of the issue and the rest of the issue takes place at night?<p> Popsyndicate wrote – “This takes place after Uncanny X-Men #499.”<p> Really? Where in Uncanny X-Men 499 did it mention the team getting funding from Storm’s husband? And the mention of getting handed the car again did not happen in 499. If you don’t read Uncanny, don’t reference it. I’ll stake my life on the fact that this book should not have been delivered until after Uncanny 500. <P> I’m not going to fault the guy for his opinions, but don’t try to say they are more valid than the contrary argument. Diff’rent Strokes for different folks.

  • July 10, 2008, 7:51 a.m. CST

    Cassandra Nova didn't turn Wolverine into an errant child...

    by rev_skarekroe

    ...because that's who he really is inside or some such psychological silliness. She simply reverted him to age 7 or so, his early childhood prior to the original Origin series. A much more interesting way to deal with Wolverine than throwing a million billion ninjas at him again, imo.

  • July 10, 2008, 8:07 a.m. CST

    Spot on, Buzz Maverik...

    by Mr_Sinister

    As usual! I recently went back and read Days of Future Past, as well as Mutant Massacre. Still both great, but the things you pointed out are there. I actually dropped off reading comics when Claremont did his revamp around 2000 and introduced those 'Neo' as the villains. As for now... I'm finding the books entertaining enough. Messiah Complex was kinda messy but ok. And Mike Carey gets my vote as the most consistent X-writer. I've found his stuff to be the most well-written and enjoyable. I should check Warren Ellis on Astonishing out though... His Excalibur run back in the mid-90s was generally okayish. It was him that introduced Pete Wisdom, right?

  • July 10, 2008, 8:16 a.m. CST

    Y'know what

    by Psynapse

  • July 10, 2008, 8:16 a.m. CST

    WTF was that

    by Psynapse

  • July 10, 2008, 8:20 a.m. CST

    Y'know what's REALLY funny?

    by Psynapse

    Everyone talking about Claremont's 80's stories without once acknowledging that MUCH of what was seen in the published books was actually at the mandate of Jim Shooter. When Shooter was EIC at Marvel (Y'know during that ENTIRE Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne& most of JRJR's run??) he ran it like a gestapo (don't believe me? do some interview research)and OFTEN directly forced words onto the page to fit his vision of what the book should be.

  • July 10, 2008, 9:45 a.m. CST

    When will the Joker start being drawn like Heath Ledger?

    by Leafar the Lost

    I am waiting patiently for the change to happen in the Batman comics. DARK KNIGHT will do very well, Heath Ledger's will be given a Best Supporting Oscar in death, and at some point the Joker character will be drawn like him. The hair will grow longer, and makeup will be all smeared, etc.

  • July 10, 2008, 10:41 a.m. CST

    The Joker in comics ISN'T wearing makeup though....

    by Psynapse

    <-----Geek (Yes, yes, I know I know)

  • July 10, 2008, 11:14 a.m. CST

    I thought it was just makeup in the movie?

    by optimous_douche

  • July 10, 2008, 2:59 p.m. CST

    Jean Loring, X Men, 80s, 90, etc

    by Homer Sexual

    Well, at the risk of repetitiveness, Jean Loring behaved like she did because that story was written by someone who thinks that's how women are. <p> I have my issues with Astonishing during Whedon's run (and being overly intellectual is certainly not one of them) but as far as Wolverine being out of character...well, when a character appears in a zillion books by a multitude of writers, you can pick and choose which one you like. For example, I don't like his portrayal in Old Man Logan, so I'll just ignore it. Wonder Woman, etc,...they're all like that. <p> I am not currently reading Astonishing, but am the kind of reader who will definitely grab X-Men 500 and see if I like it. I loved Morrison's run, except for "Here Comes Tomorrow." That story is so widely reviled, I am surprised to see anyone defend it. I am also surprised to see a reference to the X-Men being good in the early 90's. I recently tried to re-read X-Men #1, always been a big Jim Lee fan, but it's a terrible mess, even worse in retrospect than at the time. And that was the time I quit buying X-Men regularly. I still pick up storylines from time to time. Loved Age of Apocalypse, for example. But Morrison was the only writer in the last 20 years to do something really fresh and interesting with the X-Men, even if he did F it up at the end. <p> Weren't the early 90's when the whole comic industry, especially Marvel, imploded due to the Image stuff? I recall Vertigo being the only thing that was better then than now. <p> Yeah, Lazer, your X-Men post was great!

  • July 10, 2008, 10:53 p.m. CST

    You can tell Whedon loved the X-Men

    by TallBoy66

    Cyke's "To me, my X-Men" bit near the end of his run was classic. Along with the fastball special, and bringing back Kitty, and, hell, even an Origin reference!! My only sole problem with Whedon's run was that Casanda Nova suddenly disappeared after the "Torn" arc when it felt he was setting her up for the big bad. Lame backout.

  • July 11, 2008, 12:17 a.m. CST


    by oisin5199

    rev_skarekroe got it right. I think you're misreading the book. It's not about deep psychology, it's about removing the very thing that makes each an effective X-Man. Without his intellect Beast is just a beast and not a superhero. Without his badassery, Wolverine is also helpless. What backfired is removing Scott's obsessive sense of control - it should have driven him nuts, but instead gave him focus like never before. I guess that makes sense when you can't really focus your eyes because you're shooting beams all the time. And you're also missing the point about the villains. Classically, villains are always some kind of reflection of the main characters. Whedon did this on Buffy quite a bit, in that the main characters' worst enemies were almost always themselves and each other. Villains often would just only bring those qualities out. Like I said, I think the Breakworld stuff was the weakest, and I was hoping for more with Cassandra Nova, so the run is not perfect, but I haven't had such a good time reading X-Men in a looong time.

  • July 11, 2008, 2:30 a.m. CST


    by rock-me Amodeo

    I wasn't trying to imply that Whedon, and by extension, Buffy or AXM is too intellectual or deep for the masses. Being intellectual, I think, implies a deep vertical knowledge of a given topic. What Whedon (and maybe Family Guy) does is pull from a broad, horizontal range of sources. Not quite the same thing, imho.

  • July 11, 2008, 11:13 a.m. CST

    That issue of Jonah Hex

    by DannyOcean01

    Is one of the most evocative comic I've ever read. That final line is perfect.

  • July 12, 2008, 2:05 p.m. CST

    Didio Fired?!?!

    by Laserhead

    Is this old news? Lying the Gutters said Nikki Finke recently announced Didio's dismissal.<p>Awesome. Come back, Chuck.

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