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Well, AICN COMICS: SHOOT THE MESSENGER is your weekly one stop shop for comic book news that’s dropped in the previous week. Thanks to Newsarama, CBR, Wizard, etc. for reporting it as it breaks. Click on the links for the original stories. This column cuts the crap to run down all the vital information for those of you who don’t follow it as it comes in, and serves it all up with that special ingredient of @$$y goodness. It’s also the place for interviews, previews, and special reports.

Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. Before we break out the eggnog and start with our X-M@$$ list, let’s take a look at a few sneak peeks coming out this holiday season.
First up is ROBIN #181. This comic has been smoldering under the radar for a while. After Dixon left the book, it fell into the capable hands of Fabian Nicieza who is amping up the action and angst for the Boy Wonder. Check out this 5 page preview.

ROBIN’s been surprisingly good under the writing talents of Fabian Nicieza. Be sure to check out the friggin’ anarchy this Wednesday.

THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST is the latest book released by Studio 407, a publishing company who have been putting out some quality horror stories for a while now. Check out this gothic nightmare of a story in this 8 page preview.

I love the art on this book. Very reminiscent of Tom Mandrake. Check out THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST #1, coming soon from Studio 407.

Wednesday is a very special day for Vertigo fans. HELLBLAZER reaches it’s 250th issue--the first Vertigo comic to do so. The book is written and drawn by some of your favorite Vertigo creators. Check out this extra special preview which features the first page of each story.

Check out this Vertigo milestone on Wednesday!

Finally, we creep into the crypt for another spooky tale from Bluewater’s VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS. Issue #4 is a Poe-esque cautionary tale featuring Mr. Price playing a Bluebeard character. Don’t read this issue with the lights out. Well, you wouldn’t be able to read it with the lights out, but you know what I mean…

Find out the rest of this creepy tale when VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS #4 hits the stands this week.

AICN COMICS: Ye Olde Christm@$$ Wish List

Thank you, Father Christmas. You got me just what I wanted most: the gift of not being digested by a bear. -- Stephen Colbert: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!

The Holidaze are almost upon us, which means if you’re anything like these @$$holes, you haven’t even started shopping for presents yet. Thankfully (or, depending on your point of view, unfortunately,) the various contributors to AICN’s Comic Book division have rattled off a list of all the best swag to give to the comics fiend on your list.
We’re all on your list, right?

A Stones Throw Shopping Guide

Well, firstly let me recommend SEAGALOGY from our friends at Titan Books and written by everyone’s pal Vern. It’s a mostly hilarious and occasionally insightful trawl through Seagal’s career that’s worth a read even if you wouldn’t watch one of his movies once. And Vern watches them a lot more than that. Highlights include the chapter on his energy drink.
It’s a WATCHMEN Christmas this year. Rereleased # 1s, ABSOLUTE editions, making of books, the lot. I even got the inflatable Rorschach vs. Big Figure lawn display. But no one seems to be talking about the real inspiration behind the book. The little guy who made it all possible. That’s right, Alan Moore’s favorite superhero. I remember Herbie Popnecker from a distant childhood, and that interview’s certainly got me intrigued to take another look. Dark Horse released volume one of the HERBIE ARCHIVES earlier this year, so I see no reason not to.
Otherwise, if there’s any comic book fans who want to find out a little more about the history of our medium, I’m with them in not being able to wait to read David Hadju’s TEN-CENT PLAGUE: THE GREAT COMIC BOOK SCARE AND HOW IT CHANGED AMERICA. And I’d certainly never buy one of these for myself, but that’s why ‘tis the season.

BottleImp’s Bag of Goodies

For the Batfan on your list: I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but BATMAN: THE COMPLETE ANIMATED SERIES Limited Edition Collection is a must-have for any Batman fan—it’s the truest vision of the Dark Knight ever to be put on screen (sorry, Christopher Nolan) and marks the beginning of the Golden Age of DC animation. This set includes the material from the four previously released Batman boxed sets along with a new documentary disk. Of course, if you really want to be a completist you need to include BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM with this set…and BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER UNCUT EDITION… and the SUPERMAN series, BATMAN BEYOND, JUSTICE LEAGUE, JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED…
For that friend who wasn’t really into comics but enjoyed that copy of WATCHMEN that you lent them but hasn’t found any other comics that they like: Try THE TWELVE—J. Michael Straczynski’s and Chris Weston’s tale of twelve WWII era heroes who were cryogenically frozen and revived in the present day shares a similar deconstructionist theme with Moore’s and Gibbon’s classic, but manages to delve into issues and situations that make it stand apart from the Citizen Kane of comic books. Great art, great characters, great murder-mystery plot, and THE TWELVE is constructed in such a way that no prior knowledge of comics is necessary to enjoy this series. The only downside is that since it’s as-yet unfinished, the trade collection only contains the first six issues of what will ultimately be a twelve issue series—but hey, you could look at it as a setup for a future birthday or Christmas gift, right?
For the lifelong fan of the FANTASTIC FOUR comic who was devastated when their childhood was raped by the two FANTASTIC FOUR films: First, get them DVDs of FANTASTIC FOUR and FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER (you can probably get them cheap at any used DVD place—I got my copies for less than $7 for the pair). Then go to and download the Rifftrax mp3s for these cinematic turds. These commentary tracks (written and performed by former MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 stars Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett) actually make watching the FANTASTIC FOUR movies an enjoyable experience and ease the pain of having Dr. Doom be reduced to a smarmy CEO and watching Jessica Alba try to act like a brainy scientist.
And for that person who is excited about the upcoming SPIRIT movie but is unfamiliar with the source material: Just get them DC’s THE BEST OF THE SPIRIT trade paperback and convince them to stay home and read instead of going to the movie. It’s like two presents in one, ‘cause you’ll be exposing them to the genius of Will Eisner as well as saving them eight bucks and a heaping helping of disappointment at what looks to be one of the biggest steaming piles of crap to hit the screen this year.

Ryan McLelland’s LIST O' WHATIWANT

So instead of listing some things that are cool to get this holiday season I'm going to list three things I WANT - and are still cool for the season. This way if you go out and get one - get two and SEND ME ONE!
#1 - SPACED DVD My favorite sitcom of all time is FINALLY available here in the U.S. only seven years after the last episodes aired. Way to be on top of things BBC! Better late than never I say, as you introduce yourselves to Jessica Stevenson (now Jessica Hynes) and Simon Pegg as two roommates sharing a London flat, their wacky neighbors and friends, stolen tanks, paintballing, Darth Maul, Robot Wars, Resident Evil, and so, so, so much more. The comic connection? Pegg's Tim Bisley is an aspiring comic book artist who also works at a comic book shop where he scolds young children for wanting to buy Jar Jar Binks action figures (as every clerk should). The series is so witty that to this day I still find new things I never noticed yet is simple enough to draw you in after just an episode. Did I mention that all the episodes are directed by Edgar Wright, who directed Pegg in such classics as Shawn of the Dead and Hot Fuzz? If you've never seen it you are truly missing something and once you own it you'll never regret it.
#2 - ELEKTRA Omnibus I love these collections that Marvel are putting out (thanks for HOWARD THE DUCK, but can we get some GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY or NEW UNIVERSE Omnibus releases) and the latest I need for my collection is the ELEKTRA Omnibus. The ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN mini-series and ELEKTRA LIVES AGAIN graphic novel are joined by single issues of BIZARRE ADVENTURES and WHAT IF. All are written here by creator Frank Miller back when the man was truly getting into his prime. Here we get into some of the origins of the super-hottie assassin and segue into her coming back to the Marvel Universe once again. Because the only person who stays dead in the Marvel Universe is Bucky. Wait...he's back. Um...Captain Marvel! He's still dead, right? Anywho, this collection features some phenom art by legends like Bill Sienkiewicz, who did such an amazing job on the ASSASSIN miniseries. Now this hardback omnibus is a bit pricy ($74.99) so it's always better to snag your (and my) copy from Amazon, but seeing Elektra long before she got her own movie (shudder) is well worth the trip.
#3 - MR. SCOOTLES TPB I can't rave enough about this indie series which has FINALLY been collected in trade paperback from Alterna Comics. It's a comic book tale you've seen focusing on two kids accidentally opening up a gate to hell on Earth while releasing a long-forgotten about cartoon character into hell itself. Forces from Heaven and Hell get into the fray as the whole thing could cultivate into doom for everyone on Earth. Can Mr. Scootles escape Hell and save the day? Can the day even be saved? Creator H.C. Noel has made something so special and unique that you'll never find anything like it anywhere on shelves. Hands down the best use of an anthromorphic character since Cerebus, this is one Christmas present you'll never regret getting yourself (or me).

Vroom SockoSees You When You’re Sleeping…

This year there’s yet another freaking sweet edition of WATCHMEN available. This hardcover edition, while no Absolute, is a well put together volume. Plus, it’s easier to carry around than the gigantic Absolute, with several of the same bonus features, making this a nice tradeoff between the deluxe Absolute and the ubiquitous paperback. Of course, with the economy the way it is, not many people can afford to spend 40 bucks on one present, so there’s…
THE WATCHMEN #1 that just came out this week. (Look for a full review from me next column.) This is the perfect way to hook those people who got a kick out of The Dark Knight this summer, but had no idea what that crazy-ass trailer in front was all about. And at the original 80’s cover price of $1.50, this is the best comic book value for your buck in years. Then again, you don’t want to be considered a cheapskate for only spending two bucks on a gift, so you could also throw in…

And now, a poetic interlude…

The Night Before Crisis,

or A Few Reasons I Can’t Think of A Single Comic Book From This Past Year to Recommend for Christmas
By Prof. Challenger (with apologies to Clement Moore)

‘Twas the night before CRISIS When all through the multiverse Dan Didio’s hand reached for your purse. The lies were all spun by marketing with care, In hopes that great profit soon would be there. The middle-aged knuckle-draggers were hunkered in front of their Dells. Watching nude visions of Power Girl with strategically placed bells. And wife with her eyerolling and I with my cash Had just settled down for a continuity bash. When right out of the gate confusion set in, I ran to the computer to see what was the matter. Away to the internet I flew like the Flash, First Lying in the Gutters, and then headquarters of @$$. The distraction of the breasts of the pop-up ad girl Just fed into the problem of my own A.D.D….now where was I? When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But an insulting and increasingly late series by one insane writer and a round of beer, With a bald, mustachioed EIC, so power drunk and so sick; I knew in a moment he might be a dick. More vapid than Britney his cogs they came. And he meddled and dangled cash while he called them by name; “Now, Morrison! Now Ross! Now Robinson and Johns! Move On, Dixon! Move on Kitson! Move On, Shooter and Waid! You first four stay here and do what I want, by gosh! But, dash away dammit! You last four get lost! Like a La Brea mammoth in the tarpit sinking, Or course J.G. couldn’t meet deadlines, what the hell was he thinking? So out to the stores the increasingly late sack of monkeyshit flew With tie-ins galore and R.I.P. too. And what the hell’s up with that Japanese team? Kirby’s Fourth World replaced by a bad dream? As they drew a head, With a mohawk and pinched expression, Downward I spiraled into utter depression. And then the finale of R.I.P. was just a ploy not funny With an ending yet to come, I wondered just how big of dumbasses us fans have become, To support such blatant manipulation with our hard earned money. Wait for the trade Had once been the mantra you see, But now even that format Can deliver a complete story. Didio’s eyes how they twinkled! His moustache so hairy! His beer glass half empty, his nose like a cherry. His droll little mouth could speak out of both sides at once, And present an illusion of planning but every friggin’ time punts. FINAL CRISIS ties in to R.I.P. which leads into BLACKEST NIGHT which springboards into SECRET ORIGIN which prompts a BATTLE FOR THE COWL. FOURTH WORLD begets FIFTH WORLD which returns to the THIRD WORLD and into the DREAM WORLD and infringes upon DISNEY WORLD, It’s amazing what peyote can do. He spoke many words, but contradicted himself always because it’s his work, And filled all the press releases with half-truths and lies revealing himself to be a jerk. So flipping his middle finger to us, he gave a nod And somehow held on to his job. He sprang back to the bar and called together his team, And they planned and they plotted the next money-making scheme. But I heard him exclaim as he stumbled into the night, “FINAL CRISIS was just a precursor to more and if you don’t like it you can just SUCK IT!”

Humphrey Lee’s Alcohol Addled Shopping Spree

JOKER Original Graphic Novel: Probably the easiest and most universally appealing recommendation I can make for this Holiday season, JOKER was also simply one of the most engaging comic book reads I had all year. Capitalizing on the phenomena that is the Joker, and an apt depiction of him much more in line with the late Heath Ledger's version of the character, this Original Graphic Novel was a fantastic character study of a being that lives to defy convention. Brian Azzarello did a great job of presenting the character at his most raw, as well as in a story with the appropriate amount of dirtiness and criminality, and Lee Bermejo's pencils and paints were exceptional at bringing the whole ordeal to life as we go through the day-to-day life and glimpse the psyche of one of the most darkened and yet shockingly charismatic characters in all of comics history. Best part is, given the success of THE DARK KNIGHT, this is a book that could easily be handed off to the casual or even non-fan alike and still probably be met with as much enthusiasm as the movie itself has been both this summer and recently in the box office and Best Buy alike. This one is a complete no-brainer.
LOCAL Complete Edition: If there's someone in your special circle that would be the more indie-centric type, then there's almost no reason not to wrap this doozy of a collection up for them. Not only has LOCAL been one of the best comics out there period these past couple years but this edition is probably the best deal you're going to find in comics pretty much ever. Oversized and loaded with near 400 pages of material for just thirty bucks, this collection of LOCAL is just brimming with great characters, fantastic art, and an excellent concept that really brings a lot of atmosphere to its pages as it spans the continental U.S. and draws energy from all its settings. Overall, this is an excellent comic in an excellent collection that is a testament to the medium and the kinds of emotions it can evoke and the kinds of stories that can be told in it with just a little innovation and that extra human touch.
LOCKE & KEY Vol. 1: WELCOME TO LOVECRAFT: One of the biggest surprises for me this year, mostly in how under the radar this book flew considering both its quality and the pedigree of its "princely" scribe, LOCKE & KEY is a great gift idea for those that are big on the horror/thriller genre. The story is deceptively intricate--while at the surface it's that of a supernatural ilk involving a mansion with charmed rooms that cause certain events to occur as you cross their thresholds, there's also a deep rooted and mysterious past surrounding the household itself and the lineage of the family that has occupied it for several generations. Reveling in the suspense and tragedy involving the current inhabitants of the Lovecraft area, and not afraid to bring on the gore which is all wonderfully detailed by Gabriel Rodriguez' pencils, LOCKE & KEY is ideal for those who like their comics to slowly nudge them to the edge of their seats.
THE STARMAN OMNIBUS, Vol. 1: Quite possibly the best superhero comic I've ever read, James Robinson's STARMAN has finally made its Hardcover debut. While sadly not oversized, this new edition of the DCU classic is still a fantastic compilation, both from an aesthetic standpoint with the excellent wraparound cover and sturdy binding and content as it includes seventeen issues’ worthth of material - all chronological unlike the trade paperback editions - for a mere fifty bones. With an excellent lead character in Jack Knight, son of the original Starman and quite the everyman/intrepid hero, and reveling in both the history of the DCU and the culture of the fictitious Opal City that he calls home, STARMAN is bound to win over all your diehard (yet uninitiated to its pages) Capes and Tights crowd and your Universe fanatics, all the way down to those who don't have a clue in the slightest as to the history of this lineage but just want to read some heartfelt comics with the occasional bits of ass-kickery. STARMAN is one for the ages and likewise one that should be on every shelf. Do yourself a favor and make sure it's on your loved one's as well.

Jinxo’s Jigger of Gifts:

THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPCIAL with Riff Trax: Top of my list is something really not that expensive. Awhile back for a “Christmas Card” I sent out a dvd double feature: na MST3K Christmas movie (Is there anything better than a Christmas movie featuring Satan?) and The Star Wars Holiday Special. This Christmas I’m saying… enjoy both things at the same time. A good quality copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special can be found online at a site that sounds a lot like Doogle Kiddeo. The entire special including all the commercial breaks in one file. Once you get that, head over to Riff, the site run by a bunch of the former MST3K folks where they’ve continued to mock movies via mp3. While most of the Riff Trax are for commercial releases they actually have a Riff Trax for The Star Wars Holiday Special, one designed to sync up best with the downloadable version mentioned above. The only thing more fun than staring in shock at Grampa Wookie getting a VR sex machine for Christmas is hearing Mike Nelson and company’s stunned reaction to the same thing. The video is free, the Riff Trax is just four bucks. Awesome cheap fun.
DOCTOR WHO on DVD: I’m also going to recommend the new Doctor Who on DVD. All four seasons are out on DVD and it’s a great show for comic geeks. Each season is better than the one before. It embraces the original series’ continuity as well as meshing its continuity with that of its two spin off series, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. With each season building off of ALL that has gone before, the more you watch the more you are rewarded in later seasons. I’ve currently hooked a friend of mine on Dr. Who and Torchwood to the extent she is accusing me of being some sort of DVD crack dealer. In the U.S. the sets the sets aren’t the cheapest. In stores you’re likely to see the different seasons selling for $80 to $100. For a 14 or 15 episode season that’s a bit pricey. But Amazon has the various seasons currently priced down to around $50 to $65 apiece which isn’t too bad. And for full impact you do want to check out Torchwood too. If you have a geek you like a WHOLE lot, empty your wallet and buy them the whole shebang including the spin offs. If you have a geek you don’t like quite that much, just get him Doctor Who Season 1 and just get him hooked.
Sonic Screwdriver: While I’m at it, for those of you already with a Doctor Who geek in your life, go over to Amazon’s toy area and buy him a sonic screwdriver. So silly but it really is a good replica of The Doctor’s favorite gadget. Has all the bells and whistles you’d want. So stupid but I have one and…I love the damn thing. Other geeks revel in having a lightsaber, I dig on the sonic screwdriver. It also writes in invisible ink that can be revealed by the screwdriver’s blue light. I actually use it to keep certain passwords hidden yet handy. That Post-It note might look like it’s there so I have my friend’s phone number handy but in point of fact… For twenty bucks it’s a fun stocking stuffer.
SPACED on DVD: One more Brit DVD set. Not intentionally pushing UK stuff, really. Just I think most folks are already aware of much of the U.S. stuff I’d recommend. What would even be the point of recommending The Dark Knight? Who doesn’t know about that? But it is possible some folks aren’t aware of something like the UK show Spaced. It’s a show made by geeks about geeks for geeks. Here’s the premise: aspiring comic book artist Tim has broken up with his girlfriend. Aspiring writer Daisy’s boyfriend is away at school. They both need a place to live and discover a great cheap apartment but the landlord only wants to rent to a married couple. Next thing you know Tim and Daisy pretend to be married. Having established that Three’s Company-ish premise the show promptly ignores it in favor of smarter pop culture humor. The characters on this show will likely remind you of people you know. Truth be told I’m guessing most AICN readers are nearly as aware of this series as they are of THE DARK KNIGHT. But these DVDs has been out for awhile so it might not be on the top of your mind to buy someone for Christmas. It should be. Have a friend who loved the original Star Wars trilogy but felt betrayed by the prequels? Buy this series for them and let Tim vent their pain for them.

superhero’s Supergifts

The Paul Pope Trifecta: HEAVY LIQUID, BATMAN: YEAR 100, and PULPHOPE: THE ART OF PAUL POPE For the comic fan with slightly more varied tastes. Paul Pope is a fantastic artist with an equally impressive imagination. Here are three great choices for every type of comic/media fan. If your tastes run a bit outside of the weekly grind of mainstream comics then HEAVY LIQUID is the perfect choice. But if you like the mainstream fare with a bit of a twist BATMAN: YEAR ONE HUNDRED might be what you’re looking for. Still, if you could care less about story and just want to see some great artwork PULPHOPE may be just up your alley. In either case, one or all of the Paul Pope Trifecta is sure to make any comic fan happy on Festivus morning.
DEAD SET DVD: Love THE WALKING DEAD? Who doesn’t? Love 28 DAYS LATER? Who doesn’t? Well, if you’re as crazy about good zombie/apocalypse fiction as I am then you need to check out this series. Quint mentioned it in his holiday list and said he hadn’t had a chance to see it. Well, I have and it’s frakking great. Five episodes of terrific zombie/infected/whatever gore/action/tension. One problem: it’s British so you can only get it and watch it in the U.K. Solution: get yourself a region free DVD player and order it off of It’s worth every penny of the exchange rate.
THE CREAM OF TANK GIRL: My review of this book comes out this week but I just have to add this to my holiday list. For any cartoonist who wants to see a master at work and anyone interested in comics outside the norm. This book is the bee’s knees.
CAMELOT 3000, Deluxe Edition: One of the great, mostly unsung mini-series of the 1980’s finally gets the hardcover treatment. Here is a book that doesn’t get enough credit for its original take on an old idea or its breathtaking artwork by Brian Bolland. While history has lauded THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and WATCHMEN with deserved praise CAMELOT 3000 almost never gets talked about these days. Maybe it wasn’t gritty enough. To which I say: who gives a crap? It was entertaining as hell without making me feel like the people I was rooting for were miserable bastards. Remember when comics were like that?

Optimous Douche Checks it Twice

The first two Very Special Douchey Christmas Comic Book List items come straight from you, the TalkBackers. For every post that merely slams our reviews, tastes, mothers and sexual orientation, there are other posts that expand the dialogue and offer up some choice titles that might be of interest. Thank You TB for the following stocking stuffer ideas.
THE INVISIBLES by Grant Morrison – Volumes 1-???? I have a confession to make. I quit on comics during most of the 90’s. It was a dark time and I simply could not watch something I loved so much disintegrate in front of my eyes. So my first exposure to Mr. Grant Morrison was not until after 2000, where I watched him shake the X-Universe to the core. He then followed things up with kicking the teeth out of the tired old Superman stories. Well, sadly it was not until we started eviscerating FINAL CRISIS that his staunch defenders stepped up to bat and offered a treasure trove of past works that would titillate at the same level of All Star Supes. Time and again THE INVISIBLES has been thrown out as some of his greatest work. Give ‘em to me. Some have stated that the wheels fell off this series after volume three and I appreciate that advice. But I’m going to work. Start me at 1 and take me to the end please. If it’s half as good as ALL STAR SUPERMAN I will be a happy man.
JOKER by Brian Azzarello I get angry each time I watch The Dark Knight on DVD -- since this is it. This is the only time we will ever see Ledger and Nolan’s interpretation of the clown prince on film. I think I’m with most fans in saying that we wouldn’t want to see this nightmarish vision seep into regular continuity, but I think it’s also safe to say no one wants to see this vision die simply because of a tragic accident. After we ran the review of this book there was a resounding chorus saying that Heath was alive and well again in the pages of this title. Even if the Joker is simply partaking in a sadistic sewing circle, I want to see more of what has kept me enthralled through repeated viewings of The Dark Knight.
Deck the Walls I’m generally a word guy when it comes to comics, but there are three artists that make me stand back and simply stare at the beauty and/or mad genius they put on a canvas. In no particular order may I present the works of James Jean, Alex Ross and Frank Quitely that I would be proud to hand in my man cave.
James Jean is the mad genius behind the exquisite FABLES and UMBRELLA ACADEMY covers. If you can find one that isn’t sold out and afford the $2,000 price tag I recommend some of his original work. However, if you are a poor working schlub like me, his prints will have to do. In the $50-80 range these works of art will horrify and amaze.
Alex Ross’ original artwork would beautify any collectors’ den, while also breaking their bank. His original pieces range from the price of a small car to a house down payment, but man they sure are pretty.
Now, for anyone not rolling around in millions of dollars may I present the more attainable way to obtain Ross’ work in giant size. Go to Amazon and type in Alex Ross POSTERS.
I was pleasantly surprised to find Mr. Quitely to be the most affordable of the original art work hawkers. With pieces ranging in the hundreds as opposed to thousands, it actually made me believe I could own an original at some point in my life. The following are simply panels. But if anyone knows how to obtain giant size Quitely original work, please drop me a line.

What Ambush Bug would have gotten this year if he hadn’t been so damn naughty…

Since they haven’t invented the Universal Translator yet so I can understand the writings of Grant Morrison a little better, I guess I’ll have to settle for these picks.
THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: APOCALYPSE SUITE HC LIMITED EDITION: This honking monster of a book would be perfect for comic book fans, emo kids, and just about anyone with some sense of good taste. The miniseries introduces us to a set of unique characters that used to defend the world as children and are brought together as adults to deal with the death of their adoptive father. Madness and mayhem ensue in this surprise hit by Gerard Way with exquisite art by Gabriel Ba. This hardcover edition reprints the book on oversized pages allowing you to enjoy the story and art even more. Additional material also includes an introduction by Grant Morrison and a huge sketchbook showing the evolution of the characters.
On the obscure front, no desk would be complete with the SUPER MAXI-PAD GIRL Plush Doll. I’m reviewing this indie treat in this week’s Indie Jones section and while I was doing a bit of research on the book, I stumbled upon this cool as hell doll. It’s a tampon that fights the evil-doings of the dastardly Period! Follow the link and pick this one out to piss off your girlfriend.
Every year, I reward myself with a Bowen Designs mini-bust. I’ve only picked up a few of them, but it’s a habit of mine that is becoming increasingly hard to break because the guys at Bowen do such a damn fine job with both the detail and durability of these little masterpieces. The other cool thing is that they showcase some of Marvel’s more obscure characters. This time around, I think the Cloak & Dagger mini-bust is going on my Christmas list. Sure, technically they aren’t busts since it looks as if both Cloak & Dagger are sporting arms, but who gives a shit? It’s still one of the finest looking mini-busts around.
My final addition to this list o’ wishes is Image Comics’ beautiful comic book achievement COMIC BOOK TATTOO. I got this book a while back and have yet to finish it, but from what I’ve seen, it’s one of the most poetically written and gorgeously drawn comic book compilations ever. Inspired by lyrics and songs by Tori Amos, this hardcover is one of those books that you can pick up anytime when you’re in the mood for inspiration and close the book feeling satisfied, entertained, and affected. I believe it’s also available in a softcover version for those of you who don’t want to fork over the moolah for the hardback.

From all of us, to all of you… Buy some crap to stimulate the economy.
Oh, and enjoy the season.

What comic book related stuff is on your X-M@$$ List this year?

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 15, 2008, 4:39 a.m. CST


    by terryworld


  • Dec. 15, 2008, 4:40 a.m. CST


    by terryworld

    never been first before....yeeeeaaahhh!!!!!!!

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 4:48 a.m. CST

    Woah. That Final Crisis Poem is so true

    by most excellent ninja

    the worst are the apologists defending JG Jones' art. One dude on the CBR forums called dotdotdot, said that there is no other artist who could have done Final Crisis, not even JH Williams III, David Aja or Phil Jimenez. Is that is the dumb thought of the year? Possibly.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 7:17 a.m. CST

    Regarding the poem....

    by Psynapse


  • Dec. 15, 2008, 7:43 a.m. CST

    Cheers, Professor

    by Laserhead

    That's basically why I'm off (new) comics again. Let me know when Alan Moore re-starts the ABC line.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 7:50 a.m. CST


    by Redmantle

    Dagger has possibly one of the sluttiest outfits in comic books. Gotta love it!

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 7:50 a.m. CST


    by Redmantle

    Not counting Vampirella or Lady Death, but who gives a shit about them...

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 8 a.m. CST

    Seagalogy is a terrific book

    by Laserhead

    The most enjoyable critical writing I've encountered in maybe forever. Try to read that book and keep yourself from checking out at least one of Seagal's DTV oddities-- it's difficult. Optimus, I also quit comics in the 90s (mid-nineties to about 2001). Wonder how long it'll last this time.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 8:58 a.m. CST

    Doctor Who

    by Animation

    I don't agree that each season is better. I think Series 1 is the best, with Series 4 being a close second best. Series 2 was mediocre, and Series 3 was decent. I'd rank them:<br /><br /> Series 1: 9.5/10<br /> Series 2: 5.0/10<br /> Series 3: 7.0/10<br /> Series 2: 9.0/10<br />

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 9 a.m. CST

    Ripping on Fantastic Four is only fun if...

    by cookepuss

    ... you've never seen the Corman bootleg. Seriously. Don't talk smack about how the two Fantastic Four movies "raped your childhood" unless you've seen that movie first. Roger Corman's FF is so unbelievably bad that the Hollywood FFs are actually quite tolerable and even likable by comparison. You don't know how bad you could have had it. Even with Corman level cheese aside, it could have been as mediocre and unmemorable as the TV "Generation X" or a fucktacularly campy shitfest like the Hoff's "Nick Fury" TV movie.<p> <p> Rip on FF all you like, but at least they're actually competent adaptations, albeit flawed. Same with X3. It could just as well turned out as bad as the live action "Legends of the Superheroes" or the aborted JLA pilot (complete with pudgy Manhunter).<p> <p> Actually, those all would be great gifts for those people who rag on X3 or the FF movie. Hell, toss in "Trial of the Incredible Hulk" for those people who think "Daredevil" sucked. Watch that for a newfound appreciation for how good the Ben Afleck flick actually turned out.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 9:09 a.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    No, X3 and FF suck more. Why? Because they had money and they had the potential to draw in real talent and those two factors means they should have been much, much better. This is why the Prequels are the worst films of all time, the potential talent pool available was nearly infinite and yet... poop. the corman films, the hoff fury film, the JLA tv movie, those were always going to suck ass. you knew, I knew, everyone knew it, so they don't count because there was never any expectation.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 9:13 a.m. CST

    Gargoyles TPB Vol. 1: Clan Building

    by ballyhoo

    Get it. For yourself or for a gift.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 9:33 a.m. CST

    You've got unrealistic expectations then

    by cookepuss

    They're fucking based on comic books. Really. Don't expect goddamn Oscar winning acting or writing. If you want to see something thought provoking then maybe you should be in another theater. These movies are meant to be diversions and nothing more. <p> <p> The problem is not necessarily with the flicks, but with the fans. You can't please everybody. The more you try and please the mainstream the more you alienate the hardcore fans. Just turn off your brain, grab your popcorn, and enjoy the fact that somebody, somewhere in another part of the world is being sodomized by a midget... and you're NOT.<p> <p> If you think that you can do better then go ahead. I've seen some spectacular fan films. If you can't, just enjoy what you do have.<p> <p> You'll never get a faithful adaptation of Dark Knight Returns. You'll never get a respectful treatment of JLA. You'll never get blah blah blah.<p> <p> You act as if the somebody went out of their way to make anything less than the best. Every money grabbing bottom feeder has their hands in these movies. These movies are made by committee and not by artists. The fact that these movies even manage to turn out half-way competent without looking like made for DVD shit like "Man Thing" is nothing short of a miracle sometimes. Just look at Spider-Man 3. That fan clamoring for the utterly shallow Venom even swayed Raimi to shoehorn him into the flick goes to show you that artistic vision has no place in Hollywood. It's all about making money. <p> <p> A: "Who can we cast as Sue Storm?"<p> B: "Hey. Jessica Alba's hot."<p> A: "Yeah, but she doesn't look the part and can't act."<p> B: "Just dye her hair. People aren't going to be staring at her 'acting' just her tits."<p> A: "I'm sorry for ever doubting you. *sniff* This is why you're the boss."<p> <p> Fans will never be satisfied. The best you can hope for is to offend as few people as possible. Personally, I think that Chris Reeve was a bad Superman and that EVERY Superman movie has sucked so far. I'm not even a megafan of Nolan's Batman movies. They're just okay. Not a bad way to lose a couple of hours.<p> <p> To each his own.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Who are the ad wizards...

    by wampa 1

    ...that came up with this one?

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 10:01 a.m. CST

    no, no, no

    by Joenathan

    You're mistaken. I don't want "faithful." I don't want "the way I imagined it."<br><br>I want quality. I don't expect "oscar caliber", I expect a well written movie. I rate films on whether or not they successfully achieve what they intended to do. I don't expect Fantastic Four to win Best Picture, I do expect it to not be terrible though... <br><br>Quality, thats the important part and thats what FF and X3 were missing. Quality.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 10:04 a.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    The idea that anyone would want to "turn off their brain" is ridiculous. What does that mean? You want to be a moron? I don't understand. Why wouldn't you want the film to be good? Look, a whiz bang spectacular wow-fest of a movie, does not mean it has to be terriblly written and acted. You can have both and you should demand both. Settling for crap just because of some pretty boom 'splosions is ridiculous.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 11:15 a.m. CST


    by most excellent ninja

    I went to Dark Knight and guess what? there is oscar winning acting(How is Legder not going to win it) and writing. besides, oscars mean shit. Cher won and oscar...CHER!

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 11:25 a.m. CST

    rsanta74 - I think not. I have two words that disprove your theo

    by rock-me Amodeo

    Iron Man

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 11:28 a.m. CST


    by rock-me Amodeo

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 11:59 a.m. CST

    Backing Joenanthan up

    by Continentalop

    Just because Sony’s FF movies are better than Corman’s is nothing to cheer about. You don’t consul a fan of a Pro Sports team by saying at least you were better than a bunch of sixth graders you saw last week. They are operating on completely different levels. <p> In this case, the studios were just plain stupid or incompetent. I don’t think they intentionally looked down on the fans or wanted to take a shit on a believe comic. Hell, they probably never even heard of the FF until the told development to find them another Marvel property that could be the next Spider-Man, X-Men or what they hoped the Hulk would have been. When they saw the FF, they probably realized that this one doesn’t have the name recognition or the die-hard fans clamoring for it like they did for the X-Men, so they wanted to play it safe. They did what they thought would appeal to masses while still pacify the comic book fans. In this case, they were off, way off. They made a piece of shit. <p> We can criticize Hollywood executives and producers all we want, but the truth is they are responsible for millions and millions of dollars and one wrong mistake can end their careers, so they are very averse to taking risk. Hence, you have Jessica Alba, a hot woman and name, miscast; you have Tim Story hired as director, despite the fact he has never displayed any skill at making a large scale action movie or anything comic book related, because he isn’t difficult and will stay within budget; you have Doctor Doom tinkered with because some executive thinks that making him a CEO will make him more acceptable to modern audiences (“I heard that’s what they did to Superman’s foe, Lex Luthor!”); and they make Galactus a cloud because they are afraid people would laugh at the site of a 25-foot tall alien in purple armor with a huge helmet. I can understand why they would “neuter” the project and want to play it safe. It is completely understandable. <p> It is also completely idiotic. <p> I actually don’t like super hero movies, I think they’re way to many of them being made about characters I could care less about seeing on the big screen. But they are here to stay. What the Western was in the 50’s is what the super hero movie is nowadays. And as the Western shows, you can make either crappy, idiotic westerns aimed at the lowest common denominator, or you can make challenging, intelligent films that are considered some of the greatest films ever made (Shane, High Noon, Searchers, Naked Spur, all of these were made in the 50’s). So when studios waste a property once labeled “The Greatest Comic Magazine in the World” by making an idiotic movie that bears little resemblance to Kirby’s, Lee’s, Byrne’s or even Waid’s contributions, you have reason to bitch.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 12:01 p.m. CST


    by Continentalop

    FF was by 20th Century Fox, not Sony. Lets put the blame on the right people here.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 12:09 p.m. CST

    Joenathan said what I wanted to

    by lex romero

    I hate the way people defend criticisms of shitty films with "oh were you expecting shakespeare/oscar worthy talent?" No of course I wasn't, but i was expecting a competent and entertaining film which fewer and fewer action films manage to provide. <br><br> Everyone who enjoyed transformers always has to defend it with "oh yeah well...ok the plot was shit, and the transformers weren't in it much and I couldn't really see what was going on in the fights and the script and attempts at comedy were shit etc....but it was still fun!" Now look at Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's just an adventure film. It isn't aiming to win an oscar or give me depth and insight. Yet it's a brilliantly made and entertaining action/adventure film, that has a good script, good comedy, good action etc. All the things that make up the film! So why do we accept crap now and excuse it? <br><br> FF was bad because it made poor use of the characters powers, the plot was nonexistant and meandering - there was little reason for any of the characters to be doing anything and I felt no connection with them because of it. If a superhero/action film can't give me good action and/or a reason to feel involved in them and want the good guy to win then it's failed. And that's just the basics of why FF sucked. It can't manage to give me the basic entertainment value of an action film.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 2:31 p.m. CST


    by Err


  • Dec. 15, 2008, 2:32 p.m. CST

    FF Film

    by Bluejack

    They should have stuck tot he original, early FF with the space race, cheeso rocket and had most of the sets like "Mad Men" retro late 50s early 60s. It would have been soooo sweet. Mole Man and all. Bring in Doom later. Doom is the best character out of the FF comics and they could have foreshadowed him in FF1. Oh well. Maybe they will reboot and weave it into continuity. I did like the torch though, good effects, best fit as an actor.

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 3:22 p.m. CST

    Thats what I always wondered...

    by Joenathan

    How did this happen: "And then a giant monster comes ripping up through fifth avenue!"<br><br>"Wait. What?"<br><br>"A giant monster rips... rips through... what?"<br><br>"I don't know... it sounds kind of stupid."<br><br>"But... I mean, thats how it..."<br><br>"What if we had them save a crashed fire truck?"<br><br>"OOOOH! Now thats a cool idea!"

  • Dec. 15, 2008, 6:35 p.m. CST

    To any comic book fan in Austin, go buy from TRIBE comics...

    by qweruiop

    ...over at South Lamar. I just came back from there and it was a great experience to once again be able to walk into a comic book store kind of environment. Unfortunately it's been like over a decade since the last time (at least in South Austin), and how sweet it was to be able to do it all over again. The owners Eric and Roy were super nice and the place is great. Lots of books to see and pick from. Please do not goto Barnes & Noble or anything like that. Support your local comic book store by shopping from here =)

  • Dec. 16, 2008, 9:58 a.m. CST

    Checking your brain at the door for a movie...

    by Err

    It can be done. Fantastic four is easily a 8/10 movie if you check your brain at the door. If you don't, it's a 6/10. Michael Bay's unnecessary shot of a transformer jumping over a big breasted girl and giving the audience a close up on her boobs is why that movie was meh.<br><br> Joenathan is correct in expecting that when people put money and talent together to expect a halfway decent movie.<br><br> I've seen the bootleg FF movie as well as the Story FFs. Story's FFs were better but that should go without saying. The bootleg FF had a budget of like 1 million or even less. The Story FFs had a much larger budget. Yet, the story was bad. Rumor is that they are saving Galactus for a Silver Surfer movie. If you are saving Galactus for a Silver Surfer movie then don't do a FF story with Galactus. The result is what we got and it sucked.<br><br> If Christopher Nolan's TDK proved anything, it proved the superhero genre can exceed what it was expected to do. TDK was arguably the best Batman film, the best superhero film, and one of the best films of the year.<br><br> Why? Because the Nolans are storytellers. Budget + Quality Acting + A STORY.<br><br>

  • Dec. 16, 2008, 9:58 a.m. CST


    by Err

    I said Fantastic Four in the second sentence. I meant Transformers.

  • Dec. 16, 2008, 10:39 a.m. CST

    Just curious

    by Snookeroo

    How many titles do you guys typically purchase in a month?

  • Dec. 16, 2008, 12:24 p.m. CST

    16... give or take...

    by Joenathan

    Regularly:<br><br> Invincible Iron Man <br> New Avengers <br> Mighty Avengers<br> Old Man Logan<br> Walking Dead<br> Daredevil<br> Captain America<br> Astonishing X-Men<br> Incredible Hercules<br> Fantastic Four<br> Final Crisis<br> Powers<br> Thunderbolts<br> DMZ<br> Kickass<br> Ultimate Spider-man<br><br> And then there’s…<br><br> Planetary (There’s still one left!) <br> War Heroes (when it comes out) <br> Blue Monday (when it comes out) <br> X-Men Noir (still deciding) <br> Spider-man Noir (will check out) <br> Incognito (will check out) <br> Dark Avengers (will check out) <br> Secret Warriors (will check out) <br><br> I might be forgetting a couple… the list waxes and wanes depending upon a myriad of reasons…

  • Dec. 16, 2008, 12:46 p.m. CST


    by most excellent ninja

    No Green Lantern and no Iron First? What the fuck?

  • Dec. 16, 2008, 1:05 p.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    I read Iron Fist all the way through the faction/aja run, but didn't like the new creative team so I dropped it. <br><br>As for Green Lantern... well, besides my intense hatred for non-human races (I'll admit it, I'm a specists), I also missed the start of the whole thing, so I am slowly making my way through the trades. I find the idea of blackest night really intriguing. <br>It should also be stated that I'm not much of a DC guy. Grant Morrison often draws me over, but mostly I'm Marvel. DC is always about the mask, where Marvel is generally about the guy behind the mask and I like that focus more.<br>Also, and this is just me being weird, but the idea of Space cops in spandex just doesn't sit right with me. I mean, why spandex? Yeah, yeah, superheroes... but come on, why not an outfit with pockets? They're space cops, right? Green Lantern is only a superhero on the side, really, he's actually a cop and you'd think law enforcement would have a more practical outfit...<br>Whatever... Anyway, I fully acknowledge that its good, but due to a couple of different reasons, I trade-wait.

  • Dec. 16, 2008, 4:12 p.m. CST

    Speaking of Green Lantern...

    by Snookeroo

    I just read the Sinestro Corps trade (part 1, anyways).<br>After all the raving, it's not quite what I expected -- but perhaps it gets better with the second part. What I've read thus far strikes me as a Star Wars wanna-be with gratuitous amounts of gore. The Guardians (and the Lanterns, for that matter) seem about as feckless as the Jedi (in that they are always getting their ass kicked).<br><br>I'm holding out more hope for the Brubaker Capt. America omnibus...which is on my Christmas list. But holy bankruptcy Batman, that damn thing is $75.

  • Dec. 16, 2008, 5:47 p.m. CST

    Am I the only one who likes Final Crisis?

    by hst666

    Especially the last two issues.

  • Dec. 16, 2008, 7:20 p.m. CST


    by hst666

    I believe that depiction of DC may have been accurate generally up until the 80s, but DC has been about the persons behind the mask as much as Marvel has over the last 30 years.