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#20 9/23/09 #8

Hey, congrats, you made it another week on this great big blue marble. Ambush Bug here. A couple of things before we get into the column this week. First off, those of you looking for my VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS: THE TINGLER #1 book from Bluewater Comics (which I thought as due this Wednesday) will have to wait a week since it looks like it’ll be in stores next week instead. But enough shameless self promotion from me, on to a much cooler story.

Dark Horse has very cool comic coming out called THE GUILD which is an elaboration on Felicia Day’s online series of the same name. We’re going to be interviewing Ms. Day in a future Shoot the Messenger column, but in the meantime, Dark Horse has a pair of pages from THE GUILD that look fantastic. I can’t think of a cooler way to start this week’s column than with these cool preview pages. Click on the pages to make ‘em grow!

And now, on with the really big shoe!

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) INCREDIBLE HULK #602 CHARLEY’S WAR Vol. 2: 1 August 1916 – 17 October 1916 SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN #1 DIG COMICS UNCANNY X-MEN #515 Big Eyes For the Cape Guy presents KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE Vol 9 dot.comics presents KING OF PAIN and NICKY AND ZANE CHEAP SHOTS!


Writer: Greg Pak Art: Ariel Olietti Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Mr. Pasty One of the rewards of being a cynical snob like me is heading into an established franchise like THE INCREDIBLE HULK with every intention of defecating all over it -- only to squat down and have Greg Pak shove his fountain pen straight up my stinkhole like the vintage album cover for Metallica’s 1982 demo “Metal Up Your Ass.” It feels good, as it should, when a book that passes the 600 mark can still make reading comic books fun. It feels even better when you see a talented writer who’s recently been floundering finally right the ship and start delivering the goods. Welcome back Greg Pak, we hardly knew ye’.
What I liked most about this book was how closely it resembled THE INCREDIBLE HULK tales of yesteryear, right down to its inclusion of the Juggernaut. It says something about the longevity of a series when after 600 issues it can bring back a character we’ve already seen ad nauseam and still entertain. I’ve been down on Greg Pak for his previous offerings, especially his efforts on SON OF HULK which I found to be all pizzazz and no polish, but he nails it here. Like SON OF HULK, Skaar takes center stage for most of the story but without all the teen angst and other bologna that he was saddled with in his own series. I also liked how Pak managed to make me feel nostalgic without abandoning the present timeline. A perfect example is Banner getting a text message from Jugs that reads “JGRNT: Yr ded Bnr.” Banner is trying to train Skaar for his pending showdown with Papa Hulk and to accomplish this, he creates an elaborate setup with fake locales, android townsfolk, frothy milkshakes and of course, a pissed-off Juggernaut. How pissed off? Well, apparently the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak can make you good at smashing things but bad at balancing your budget. Marko lives in a trailer park and Banner goes and blows it up real good to entice him into fighting Skaar while the Fantastic Four does some long distance musing about the fate of everyone involved.
Sound hokey? It is, but just like every other silly story from the glory days it’s a boatload of fun as well. Part of that credit goes to Ariel Olivetti for his ridiculously gorgeous art. I was never a “flat and matte” kind of guy but it works here, especially a stunning pin-up midway through the book that is void of the suddenly cliché use of jagged lines and overworked shadows. Again, it’s a throwback to a simpler time that proves less sometimes really is more. There’s also a running joke about Skaar looking like CONAN (I guess Pak read my review of SKAAR: SON OF HULK #11) that leads Greenskin Jr. to an eventual face-off with Wolverine, in a final frame that not coincidentally resembles the cover of THE INCREDIBLE HULK #340. Skaar versus another old Hulk foe with Rex Reed and Co. sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong? Count me in for issue #603, and if Pak keeps this up, a whole lot more.
Final word: Does art imitate life, or the other way around? Skaar makes HULK worth reading again now that he, like Pak, has matured and gotten comfortable in his own (green) skin.
Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.

CHARLEY’S WAR Vol. 2: 1 August 1916 – 17 October 1916

Written by: Pat Mills Art by: Joe Colquhoun Published by: Titan Books Reviewed by: Baytor

The second volume of CHARLEY’S WAR picks up where the previous volume left off, with our young hero racing back to HQ to stop the friendly artillery raining down on his unit, before quickly moving on to the dreaded “Field Punisher Number One” behind the lines, executions of “cowards”, the debut of the tank, and the start of a fierce German semi-fictional counter-attack. In lesser hands, trench warfare would be as interesting as watching paint dry, but Pat Mills continues doing a good job of moving the action around to give the reader as wide a glimpse of the war as is possible.
He even improves upon the first volume, which had a few too many moments where the hero gets involved in, quite frankly, unbelievable situations to maneuver him into historical moments. This volume flows much more organically, with our hero, Charley, no longer the young man eager to prove himself, and transforming into a more cautious and emotionally isolated character, all without sacrificing his basic decency. Everyone who has seen STAR WARS knows how easy it is for a young, wide-eyed, decent hero to get upstaged by the more world-weary and competent supporting cast, and Mills should be commended for adding this much needed depth to Charley.
As before, there are a few noticeable “flaws” for the modern reader, as these stories were originally published in the late 70s in 3 or 4 page bursts for an audience of pre-teen boys. There’s plenty of villainous characters lurking about to provide a proper foil for the right & proper attitudes of Charley, including the returning Lieutenant Snell (who thinks nothing of using Charley as a human shield), Sgt. Bacon (The Beast in charge of the military police), Oiley Crawleigh (Charley’s worthless brother-in-law), Doctor “No” (a doctor who refuses to take anyone off the line no matter what their ailment), and Colonel Zeiss (the brutal mastermind of the German counter-attack). Mind you, a lot of these characters are drawn upon fairly common attitudes of the time, but many of them probably would have been toned down (or excised completely) had adults been the original target audience.
Characterization is also on the minimal side, tending to stick fairly close to popular war stereotypes. Even then, Mills slips in the odd character moment that elevates some of these characters above type, such as the hard-as-nails Sergeant that is found in every single war story ever told having a private little panic attack on the eve before a major offensive. Such moments are few and far between (because at 3 or 4 pages, there’s little time for such digressions), but are a nice treat when they do happen.
But even with these “flaws”, CHARLEY’S WAR still stands as an impressive achievement in the field of war comics, as Mills & Colquhoun bring home the horror of combat. Popular characters die randomly, despicable characters fail to get their comeuppance, and there’s never any sense of accomplishment. One of the book’s best moments is showing the horror of tank combat from both sides. First demonstrating what a fearsome beast those early tanks would have been to the enemy when they first appeared, then switching roles as Charley finds himself among a tank crew, only to discover what a hard, unpleasant, and incredibly dangerous life a tanker has because he’s sitting in a unventilated, incredibly hot, slow-moving target.
While I’m not a big art fan, I still stand in awe of Joe Colquhoun’s work on this title. Comparisons to the legendary Dave Gibbons instantly spring to mind, as he has a flair for crafting realistic characters with a healthy dose of cartoony caricature. The main characters, despite a similarity of age and body shape, are instantly recognizable without Colquhoun resorting to adding easily recognized props. And I applaud his ability to put in that much detail and still have the fore-ground figures pop against the background. All of which I mentioned in my review of the first volume, but I am no less impressed the second time around.
If you’re a fan of war comics, you should be reading this. While the writing style is a bit dated and it’s hampered by the shortness of its individual installments, it still stands among the best war comics ever made.


Writer: Geoff Johns Penciller: Gary Frank Inker: Jon Sibal Colorist: Brad Anderson Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Matt Adler

You might be forgiven for having a bit of skepticism approaching this series; after all, doesn’t everyone already know Superman’s origin? Sent as an infant from a dying world, raised by a kindly farm couple, endowed with powers far beyond those of mortal man, disguised as Clark Kent, fights the never-ending battle for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Etc, etc. We’ve seen variations countless times in television, movies, and yes, the comics themselves. What could this series possibly have to offer us that we haven’t already seen?
Quite a bit, as it turns out. Chiefly, this is a reinvention of Superman as a Marvel character. For decades, the main difference between Marvel and DC has been in the approaches to their characters and their universe. DC’s heroes have for the most part been accepted as an integral and necessary part of their world; Marvel’s characters typically are outlaws, or at least on the fringes of society: mistrusted, hated, or feared by those they’ve sworn to protect. Superpowers themselves, in the DC Universe, have historically been treated as wonderful gifts, something anyone would be lucky to have; in the Marvel Universe, they can transform people into freaks and wreak havoc with their lives.
As the decades went on, and creators travelled back and forth between companies, the difference has slimmed; you can certainly find plenty of DC characters these days who flout those conventions. But certain elements remained; Clark Kent had an idyllic, loving childhood which developed his unshakeable faith in the goodness of humanity, Batman works hand in hand with the authorities as the accepted protector of his city, Wonder Woman is a world-renowned celebrity, etc.
The problem, of course, is that if your heroes are TOO accepted, too problem-free, they lose what makes them compelling. It’s interesting to note that the early Superman was by no means a boy scout; he was a two-fisted brawler who had no problem using force to extract confessions out of crooked politicians or to force warring countries to settle their differences. As time went on though, the needs of a corporation, combined with the social climate of the 1950s, led to a character who was substantially more clean-cut. But of late, the DC Universe has become harder-edged, and Superman has to keep up with the times (especially since his last movie was a disappointment at the box office).
Geoff Johns’ solution here is to introduce elements of what made Spider-Man and the X-Men so popular over the years: the notion that having superpowers might not necessarily be a blessing, and could actually be quite frightening, especially for a young person. For the first time, we’re seeing a Clark Kent who, as his powers emerge for the first time, realizes that he could hurt the people he cares about. And this terrifies him. This is a very different tone from the Superman origin tellings that we’re used to; most of the origin stories have glossed over his boyhood, and even the Superboy stories of yesteryear portrayed his having powers as an excuse to get into all kinds of loveable teenage antics. But let’s face it: when you’re strong enough to bend steel in your bare hands, and melt things by looking at them, you are a danger. That’s what we see Clark dealing with here.
Johns ties this very real concern skillfully in with the development of the Clark Kent “nerd persona”; if you had to worry about seriously injuring your friends any time you engaged in physical activity, you’d probably become a bookworm too. When Clark’s powers do go awry, and near disaster strikes, Johns is able to convey a palpable sense of fear, not only at the possible harm done to others, but Clark’s fear of how his friends and neighbors will react if they find out someone so dangerous is living among them. There are definite echoes of the X-Men here, where young mutants try desperately to hide their powers for fear of persecution. Indeed, Clark becomes aware of his powers well before discovering their origin; it’s implied that he simply thought he was born that way to Jonathan and Martha Kent, and thus for all intents and purposes, was a mutant.
So we see the seeds of the nerd persona planted here, and we also see Clark developing the skills at pretending/prevaricating that he will put to use throughout the rest of his career. But this isn’t the “winking Superman” of yesteryear either; there’s real anguish and heartbreak in Clark at the realization that he will never be normal, never simply be one of his peers. He will always have to keep his distance, even endure teasing and social ostracization, because he can’t reveal to anyone why he can’t be one of the gang.
Now, what if you learned that your parents weren’t really your parents? That you were an alien from another planet? That’d be pretty cool, right? Perhaps not. Already hit with the terrifying prospect of his powers running amok and hurting people, Clark is not at all prepared for what his parents decide to reveal to him. When they show him the rocket they found him in as a baby, and he makes contact with it, a hologram of his birth parents appears, and begins explaining everything to him, leading to Clark freaking out and making a run for it. It’s not all darkness and despair, though; when Clark asks his parents in regard to Krypton, “What if it’s a bad place?” Pa Kent’s response, “If it gave us you, Clark, it can’t be that bad” shows us that some of the fundamental Superman optimism remains.
The other essential portion of any Superman origin is Lex Luthor, and borrowing from the television show “Smallville” and some Silver Age comics, Johns makes him a fellow resident of Smallville (although Clark doesn’t actually meet him till this issue, which makes you wonder how small Smallville really is). Here, Luthor is shown to come from an abusive home, and uses his intellect to distance and defend himself against a world which life has led him to believe is unappreciative and undeserving of him. It’s a study in contrasts; the compassionate, engaging Clark, raised by parents of the same nature, vs. the angry, bitter Lex, who had a very different upbringing. Even at this young age, Lex has big dreams and a fascination with science (particularly extraterrestrials), but his first goal is to get the hell out of this podunk town.
Gary Frank’s art, as usual, is a pleasure to look at, and it’s interesting to compare this series to his work on Marvel’s “Supreme Power”, where he did a very different take on the Superman mythos. As in his ACTION COMICS issues, Frank’s Superman design, even young as he is here, is very Christopher Reeve influenced. And when Clark finally appears in costume at the end of the issue, Frank makes it look like exactly what it is; a skinny teenager dressed up in an outfit his mom made for him. His does a great job with Luthor as well, giving his face a kind of cruelty that ages him beyond his years.
The next issue blurb promises Superboy and The Legion of Super-Heroes, which Johns and Frank have already played with to some extent in their ACTION COMICS run. This is a very promising new beginning for the Superman mythos; it doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, and yet gives us a clear demarcation to say “This is the start of a new era.” Warner Brothers could do worse than to have Geoff Johns write the next Superman movie.
In most places, Matt Adler goes by the name his mother gave him, but occasionally uses the handle "CylverSaber", based on a character he created for the old DARK FORCES II: JEDI KNIGHT game (one hint of his overweening nerddom). He currently does IT and networking support for the government of Nassau County, NY, but his dream is to write for a living, and is in the process of figuring out how to get publishers to give his stuff a look. In the meantime, he passes the time by writing for AICN, CBR, and a few other places. He has also written for MARVEL SPOTLIGHT magazine.


Written, Directed and Hosted by: Miguel Cima Co-Directed by: Ertuğ Tüfekçioğlu Produced by: Dirk Van Fleet & Corey Blake Reviewed by: superhero

Firstly, let’s get one thing out of the way: if you love comics you’re going to love DIG COMICS. This is a well made and lovingly crafted short film “documentary” about comic books and the love of comic books. I put the word “documentary” in quotes because while the movie is informative and well crafted it definitely has an agenda. That agenda is to get the viewer to begin reading and hopefully grow to love the art form that is comic books. Which, in my opinion, and I’m sure for many of you out there, is a very noble agenda. DIG COMICS wants to get people to “dig” comic books. It essentially asks the question: why don’t more people read comics?
It’s a question that I’m sure a lot of us have asked before. Why, especially at a time where movies like “Iron Man” and “Spider-man” are raking in figures near the billion dollar mark, don’t people read comics? Why is an American cultural creation, like Jazz or Rock and Roll, losing readers as decades go by? Why can’t comics be just as popular here as they are in Japan or in some areas of Europe?
These are loaded questions for every comic fan, to be sure, and questions that have been debated on line in recent years again and again and again. DIG COMICS asks those questions and tries to address them and get to the bottom of why all other entertainment forms (movies, books, television) seem to thrive or be culturally acceptable to mainstream America while comic books (not comic movies) seem unable to make the same profits or achieve the same respect as other pop art forms. For the most part DIG COMICS succeeds in looking at what has gone on in the industry in the past several decades to get us to where we are today in comic-dom. Let’s face it, while I agree that this is probably one of the best times to be reading comic books as far as content is concerned (to see some of my views on this from several years ago click here) the industry itself is bleeding readers and has been for a while. Not only that, but it’s bleeding readers and failing to replace the older generation with a new and rabid younger generation of readers. Sure, there’s a ton of great stuff out there to read but comic book sales don’t even come close to the numbers they used to reach only decades ago. Heck, sales here don’t even come close to the numbers they’ve reached in the aforementioned Japan or some sections of Europe. Why is that?
DIG COMICS looks at these questions in a terrifically entertaining way. Writer/Director/Host Miguel Cima is a charismatic and passionate guide through the ins and outs of the comic book industry and its history. Step by step he goes through the history and the problems that have vexed comics throughout the years. He does it charmingly and with an obvious love that only someone who cares about their subject matter could do. This is not a lecture on why you should love comics. It’s a fervent plea to the viewer to just give comics a try. It’s also a loving warning to the industry to get its act together or face possible extinction. DIG COMICS is as fun and entertaining a documentary about comic-books as I have yet to see. It’s informative without being dry or stuffy and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Like many of the best comics out there it has a sense of fun to it and that’s where it succeeds best.
My only problem with it is that it seems to have a bit of a preaching to the converted feel to it. Early on in the film Cima confesses that he’s pretty much a “normal” guy. He’s got a job, a house, a real girlfriend. But during the course of the documentary he’s wearing a t-shirt with a variation of the Meltdown Comics logo on it (a fantastic comic shop here in Los Angeles). We discover that his house and garage have pretty much been taken over by comic books. When he interviews comic creator Scott Shaw! there is a Flintstones/Dino lamp in the back round. Even later, while interviewing a female comic creator, she’s wearing a tiara during the interview. I’m sorry to say, to your average viewer, these people are not going to come across as “normal”. Which is fine. Hey, I’m one of you. I’ve got comics and maquettes all over the place in my home. I’m often seen at work wearing a Captain America or Superman shirt as I wander the halls. That’s fine. I’m with you. But if what you’re trying to do is draw Mr. and Mrs. “Normal” into your crowd a more conservative approach might be what is called for. Otherwise, and I hope I’m not being insulting here, many of your subjects run the risk of being looked at in the same league as a gun nut with a wall full of guns or a sports fan wearing full body paint and a multi-colored wig at a Giants game. We are unique. We have a passion for what we love. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re trying to get the unwashed masses into your groove it might be best to go at it a bit more gingerly, the Jeph Loeb interview in this documentary being the best example of that. Or possibly the “Searching for Steve Ditko” documentary produced by the BBC several years ago. I’m not saying lose your passion…I’m saying maybe tone down the “geek” a little.
Regardless, this is a great film. As a matter of fact I would put it up there with the “Searching for Steve Ditko” documentary and the brilliant Alex Toth documentary released on the “Space Ghost” DVD set a while back. As of right now the running time is at about half an hour. My understanding is that the producers are looking to expand it to a feature length film. I hope they are able to do it. With some tweaking this could be a really great documentary film. Hell, someone needs to save comics. Maybe the creators of DIG COMICS can do it. I, for one, hope so.
Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at


Writer: Matt Fraction Artist: Greg Land Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Optimous Douche

How do you solve a problem like the UNCANNY X-MEN? For the past several years Marvel’s band of merry mutants have been through a hell of a lot of turmoil — genocide, a new base, a new mandate (sort of) and fractioning of the core team not seen since the early 90s. Where DC is prone to generationally hit a complete reset button in tired times, Marvel has always evolved organically, especially when it comes to the X-Men. Well here we are again at the tail end of an organic reboot orgy, saying good-bye to the new home of San Francisco and hello to the forming of a sovereign X-Nation.
For others like me that are mere mutie lovers as opposed to full fledged Marvel Zombies, UNCANNY 515 represents a return to “normality” after the abrupt intrusion of Dark Reign and subsequent confusion of the past two issue “Utopia” storyline. I won’t fault the end result, but a little bit of lube to soften the harsh penetration of this DARK AVENGER tie-in would have been nice. One minute the X-Men are in harmony and then WHAM…we are deluged with an epic shit storm seemingly out of nowhere. I’ll be the first to admit that the move to San Francisco was going nowhere fast, but I think it’s also fair to say that the entire move was never given a real chance to succeed. Perhaps a “purpose” was all that was missing, instead of the perceived mantra of “Wow, we’re in San Francisco and here’s a place for mutants to hang out. So, who wants to hang with us?” Maybe a simple reestablishing of the Xavier school could have gotten the X-Men over the hump, but that’s something for a “What If” writer to tackle down the road. For now, we are in a new place and if this issue is any indicator, it will be a welcome homecoming and an all new direction all in one fell swoop.
What happened in this issue was nowhere near as important as what is to come. OK, that’s my nice way of saying this book carries a heavy load of exposition on its waifish 22 page shoulders. With the exception of an explosive intro where a cabal of new mutant bad guys laid waste to a Southwest diner, this issue rests firmly in the talky category. If anything I applaud this choice, because it gives all of the information necessary for returning fans or those that have never traversed an X-Book to join in on the fun. Also, with Land on pencils, zooming in and out between full scene and masterfully crafted character expressions, the book feels as though it’s constantly moving even if it’s focused on one conversation inside one room.
So what happened? Basically some of the best character moments we have seen in the X-Men for a long time. Their mission is clear, forming a new nation aboard the recently resurfaced Asteroid M — how this will happen becomes the real question. Stalwart leader Scott Summers fully admits that for the first time in his life his tactical brain is coming up empty. Emma Frost, now in perpetual diamond form to keep the evil Void trapped inside her, has never shone brighter. Bitchy is no longer a choice; she is now devoid of emotion. Her relationship with the X-Men she’s not sleeping with has always been tenuous at best; it will be truly interesting to see how long her callousness will be tolerated. Hank McCoy has some touching moments as they lay to rest one of the members of his mutant science team, once again exhibiting the lion heart that rests beneath his blue fur. The foundation is laid down for some ideological tête-à-tête’s between Xavier and Summers on how this new nation will be formed (basically think of a pissing contest between Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin) and finally the enemy that started off the great mutant wars returns in the final page to no doubt cause some damage next issue.
Yes, this was a great start and a new direction for the X-Men. Yes, Fraction and Land are a team to be reckoned with. But for the love of God, Marvel, please give this new direction some time to take. As much as I enjoyed some of the time in San Francisco, it all feels like a cheap parlor trick in hindsight — a flash in the pan that lasted less than a year. In the end, what was the point? I hate ending on a cliché, but if you’re going to go in a new direction, you need to go boldly. Taking the muties out of hippy-trippy San Fran is a good start; let’s just hope this new direction has time to gain traction before the next “big” event and we find ourselves back at Graymalkin Lane being introduced to the Generation X Next New Mutants.
When Optimous Douche isn’t reading comics and misspelling the names of 80’s icons, he “transforms” into a corporate communications guru. "What if the whole world had superpowers? Find out in the pages of Optimous’ original book AVERAGE JOE. Read the first full issue on Optimous’ New Blog and see original sketches by fellow @$$hole Bottleimp. If you are a publisher or can help these guys get AVERAGE JOE up, up, and on the shelves in any way, drop Optimous a line."


Written by Eiji Otsuka Illustrated by Housui Yamazaki Released by Dark Horse Manga Reviewer: Scott Green

As the title might indicate, the pitch for KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE seemed to be that the manga was going to showcase realistically rendered cadavers in a panoply of circumstances. However, around the second volume, it struck me that the manga's writer Eiji Otsuka had something to say. This wasn't simply the product of skimming urban myths and hot button current affairs to construct modern ghost stories. There's a distinctive, liberal arts educated authorial voice to KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE. It's interested in esoteric facts. It's interested in history. It's conscious of the implications of those facts and history.
After reading more of the manga and more about anthropologist and cultural critic Otsuka, I feel that it's not hyperbole to call KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE one of the smartest horror series, regardless of origin.
I'd point to the manga's unreserved curiosity and spendthrift utilization of story concepts to back that claim. My favorite example of this approach occurs in volumes seven, where one particular story draws from celebrity branding, plastic surgery, the mouse that had a human ear grown on its back and the lore of jinmenso (a supernatural tumor with a human face) for an episode twisted with multiple revenge plots.
Driven by real intellect and informed opinion, Volume Nine of KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE finds Otsuka fitting an examination of the social ecology around otaku and the legacy of World War II into horror stories. This genre has long addressed prickly issues metaphorically, but watching Otsuka fit his theses into the structure of horror is almost poetic.
The Japanese serialization of KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE has changed publications three times as the periodicals have shuttered, repackaged or relaunched. Given Volume Eight's attention to establishing (or reestablishing as the case might be) the fundamental premise of the series and the identity of its characters, I strongly suspect that the volume caught KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE sticking one of those dismounts. It managed some effecting moments in some familiar horror scenarios, but what it appeared to be doing seemed more out of necessity than inspiration.
Volume Nine is back on firmer ground, and back with its unique MO of synthesizing diverse bits of history, politics, sociology and esoteric facts horror ghost stories.
Because KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE is one of my favorite manga, it pains me to admit that I forgot that I had read Volume Nine. I went through it, shelved it for a while, and when I picked it up to read ahead of this review, I was disappointed to note that rather than new material, it was something that I'd already read. The issue is not that KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE's stories are forgettable. It's that they are constructed with the aim of exploring diverse subjects through the horror anthology format rather than driving an ongoing narrative.
Its character are a crew of over-educated, under employed Buddhist college grads whose lack of job prospects and un-marketable skill sets led them to the unprofitable business of delivering dead bodies to where they need to be. The characters do matter. They are well constructed and their backgrounds do have a bearing on the course of the manga. This volume in particular reveals significant background information about Keiko Makino - the loligoth embalmer and Yuji Yata - who claims he channels an alien intelligence through the sock puppet worn on his left hand. While there is a meta-mystery relating to the characters, along the lines of the X-Files mythology, it has thus far been more background than a driving force of momentum.
Manga writer Otsuka is fifty one years old, which makes him slightly younger than the creators who were close to Japan's student protest movements at their height, like Mamoru Oshii or Katsuhiro Otomo. His background includes academic study in anthropology, women's folklore, human sacrifice and post-war manga. When it comes to the academic discussion of die-hard fan otaku, Otsuka is on a tier with Gainax co-founder turned intellectual (and diet book author) Toshio Okada and celebrated pop artistic/Superflat founder Takashi Murakami.
Unlike manga that exists in a vacuum or trades in concepts divorced from reality, Otsuka grounds his work in thoroughly considered extrapolation of true issues. Unlike Murakami, whose work speaks about rather than to otaku, and rather than Okada, who has distanced himself from anime creation and creators, Otsuka has remained in the trenches.
Looking at otaku and World War II, the subject matter of volume nine is clearly in Otsuka's wheelhouse. He isn't trailblazing in his approach to the subject matter either, with stories involving or driven by stock characters such as an egocentric starlet, corrupt politician or duplicitous research partner.
The first of the volume's stories exemplifies the manga's use of conventional moving pieces, such as the above mentioned starlet/idol is harassed by creepy, persistently reappearing doll. Otsuka's interest in mechanics and obscure curiosities can be seen in the detailed procedure used to create possessed dolls and the recreation of a shrine for unwanted toys. Otsuka puts on his culture critic hat and breaks out the otaku-ologists scalpels as he deconstructs the geek/object of geek affection dynamic. As editor Carl Horn says in his legendary end notes "Eiji Otsuka's feelings about otaku are, shall we say, nuanced." Rather than comfortably simple recriminations, Otsuka delves the convoluted feedback channels between extroverted, fame seeking idols and introverted, obsessed fanatics.
The next story, “The Grape Colored Experience” plays to Otsuka's own geek interests. Like the grand ear mouse/tumor/branding episode, this one is a titan of alloyed ideas... a headless horseman, the Susumu Tachi optical camouflage cloak, voyeurism, Mamoru Oshii (a great doppelganger appearance) and associated pop culture representations. There's a great Tarantino-esque thread around an argument as to whether the invisibility camo was inspired by GHOST IN THE SHELL or OH! INVISIBLE MAN (OH! TOUMEININGEN), suggesting Otsuka's own fascination with the subjects.
After a slightly below par Volume Eight, Volume Nine is back to the hyper-informed horror synthesis of ideas that has made KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE a favorite. What originally seemed to rely on gross out spectacles has continually proven to be a remarkably smart take on spooky standards.
Scott Green has been writing for AICN ANIME for over eight years. If you like what you see here and love anime & manga, be sure to check out his latest AICN ANIME column every week on AICN.


Writer: Nicholas James West Pencils: Jiro Tamase Inks: Sam Rodriguez Reviewer: Matt Adler

This online comic is a curious blend of Kurt Busiek’s ASTRO CITY and Garth Ennis’ THE BOYS. On the one hand, it has the fairly cynical depiction of superheroes that we see in THE BOYS, where the superheroes are self-centered, arrogant, abusive pricks, but on the other hand, there is a bit of underlying affection for the “supers” (as they’re called here) in terms of the world that’s built for them, a city called “New Ephesus” which harkens back to ASTRO CITY.
It isn’t immediately clear what or who the story will focus on at the beginning; initially, we are being told a story from a super’s perspective, but gradually the narrative works in the plight of a “norm” named Kyle Kapowski (is he related to Kelly Kapowski?), who grows up aspiring to be a super, but finds that without powers, he’s a second class citizen in this society. The super takes his girlfriend, beats him up, and gets him arrested, all with seeming impunity; in New Ephesus, supers are highly respected, a cross between celebrities and freelance law-enforcement agents, with all the privileges that implies. It’s just expected that the word of a super will be taken over the word of a norm in all things.
For a single issue, the story raises a number of interesting topics, including issues of discrimination, police brutality, the role of power and privilege in society, and how society would be affected if being “special” was, in fact, the norm. It’s a surprisingly deep and engaging effort for a new writer. My criticism of the issue mainly lies in the fact that so much thought and focus is put into establishing the world here, that we really don’t get that the main character is in fact the main character until the closing scenes when Kyle learns a startling secret about himself. The issue also needs some copy editing (the line “I was a cantankerous in my self pity” comes to mind), but the gaffes aren’t too frequent.
The pencil art by Jiro Tamase is highly stylized, leaning towards the manga side of the spectrum, but it tells the story effectively. It does have a bit of a rough, unfinished look; not all of the figures are fully inked. The creators plan to submit it to publishers soon, and it will need some touch-ups before then, but overall, this looks like a comic that is ready to move into print.


Writer: Nicholas James West Artist: Sam Rodriguez Reviewer: Matt Adler

This effort from writer Nicholas West and Sam Rodriguez (this time providing both pencils and inks) is a fairly straight-up riff on the 1990s cartoon “Pinky & The Brain”, which featured “laboratory mice [whose] genes have been spliced” who strive to take over the world. This time, it’s a darker twist, with a rather creepy and disturbing art style to match. Zane (the “Brain” character) has stitches all across his cranium where he’s presumably been operated on, and a distended stomach which apparently makes him incapable of carrying his own weight. Nicky is not quite as completely useless as Pinky was; he’s certainly not much smarter, but spends his time lifting weights, and so serves as Zane’s muscle.
Like KING OF PAIN, this story is also set in New Ephesus, and in an effort at world-building the creators have to be congratulated on, it’s tied into the superhero premise by suggesting that the experiments that created NICK AND ZANE were aimed at developing government-sponsored superheroes.
The story itself is a bizarre mix of gory and funny; it’s not kid-friendly by any means, as Nicky and Zane employ extremely violent methods in their attempts at world domination. But there are a number of laugh out loud moments; my personal favorite came when Zane, describing the computer virus he has designed, exclaims “Not even Linux is safe from me!”
This is a fun comic, although I’m not sure of its viability outside of a pet project that the creators do for themselves on the web; it is after all based on a cartoon that is already more than 10 years old (as entertaining as it was), so it will always be something of an inside joke. But taking it for what it is, it’s an entertaining read.

SPIDER-WOMAN #1 Marvel Comics

It’s a comic book by the former creative team of Bendis and Maleev. Depending on which side of the line you stand, this is either going to be exciting or hum drum news. All of the aspects that made Bendis/Maleev’s DAREDEVIL Bendis/Maleev’s DAREDEVIL are ever-present. We’ve got moping super heroes, photo-rendered images of models who look like they’re waiting for the artist to snap their picture a bit too long, and of course, a smidge of action to appease the splosion folks. Guess you know what side of the line I’m on. Being a fan of the original SPIDER-WOMAN series, I can’t say I was excited about reading this new incarnation of the character. A double page recap in the middle of this book pretty much sums up what I figured I’m gong to get from this series with most of the panels dedicated to the story Bendis told in NEW AVENGERS/SECRET INVASION/SPIDER-WOMAN miniseries and one caption focusing on the aforementioned 50 issue run in the late-seventies. Once again, if it wasn’t written by Bendis, it ain’t important to Bendis. Fans of NEW AVENGERS will rejoice. Anyone who grew nostalgic a while back when it was mentioned Spider-Woman was being brought back for Avengers membership will be wondering who this new chick is in the Spider-Woman costume. Still, the S.W.O.R.D. plot may be interesting (although if it is a defense organization against extra-terrestrials, wouldn’t the name S.H.I.E.L.D. be more fitting?), so some of the spy stuff might be fun. But I still miss the Spider-Woman who was more focused on quirk, mystery, & the supernatural. - Ambush Bug


Acknowledging that JMS couldn’t finish a series if his life depended on it, DC smartly gave him a book where he can do one shots on a regular basis. Though every time I see those three letters in that particular order I can’t help but shout “JUST FINISH THE FUCKING TWELVE!”, I must admit, this was a pretty ok story once I got past all that. Not a lot of flair going on here though. Jesus Sais’ art is fantastic, but there’s something melancholy and serene about the way he draws his laid back looking characters. It’s almost as if they’re all high. Sais does do a fantastic job of differentiating a group of people from one another, giving even background characters their own posture, attitude, and personality. Being a fan of the most recent DIAL H FOR HERO series from a few years back, I definitely found the more serious tone of this story to be refreshing pairing Batman with the holder of the dial, Robby Reed. Batman comes off as preachy in the end, which was annoying. But that’s Batman, I guess (though JMS—aaarrrrrghhh Just finish the fucking TWELVE!—never lets us know if it’s Dick or Bruce under the cowl). Although it wasn’t the most triumphant debut issue for JMS—grrrr TWELVE grrrr—it does show that strong storytelling and art are ahead for this title. Hopefully, we can expect this book to delve into some of the less traveled areas of the DCU and feature some of the more obscure characters. All I know is that if DC knows what’s good for them, they won’t schedule a multi-part story line for JMS—gnaaaarrrrrfghhh FINISH THE TWELVE… - Ambush Bug

G.I.JOE #9 IDW Publishing

Though GI JOE: COBRA was by far the best of IDW’s Joe relaunches, this series spearheaded by actioneer Chuck Dixon is a close second. I like the way this issue ties into last month’s GI JOE ORIGINS issue featuring Mainframe. The unlikely pairing of the computer geek and Snake-Eyes is surprisingly fresh. This is where Dixon shines, in pairing unconventional heroes together and watching them bounce off one another as they try to save the day. COBRA may not have reared its scaled head yet in this book, but that doesn’t mean that the action and intrigue isn’t top notch. It’s also good to see characters like Downtown and Cover Girl get a little face time. With such a deep stable of characters in the GI JOE roster, it’s fun to see stories focusing on someone other than Duke, Scarlett, and Snake-Eyes. - Ambush Bug

FANTASTIC FOUR #571 Marvel Comics

It’s Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham’s second issue into this new FF arc and I’m hooked. Usually, I hate alternate world stories, but there’s something about the patient and confident style with which Hickman delivers the story in this issue that has me completely intrigued. Hickman covers all the bases without making it seem like he’s going down a checklist of what a FF story has to be. Yes, there are obligatory scenes with Johnny and Ben and the kids. Yes, there’s an appearance by Doom. Yes, there’s conflict between Reed and Sue. But they’re done so with an eye for both sensitivity and wonder. Reed is written smartly in this book, not as if the writer is just quoting verbatim from a science magazine, but smart as in, he’s written intelligently and dare I say it, human. Hickman not only understands the dynamics of the characters, but unlike Millar before him, he has a sensitivity to and an understanding of how important the concept of family is to the title. Plus seeing all of the wondrous and nightmarish things a conglomerate of Reeds can come up with is simply thrilling. Sure, we’re only two issues in, but I don’t know when I was as excited to read an FF book as I am right now. - Ambush Bug

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 30, 2009, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Nice logo!

    by LastOfTheV8Interceptors


  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:04 a.m. CST

    The SUPERMAN origins series sounds like Tom De Haven's book

    by YackBacker

    IT'S SUPERMAN- which really got into the angst young Clark felt while growing up and coming to terms with what his powers could mean. It's a great novel (no graphics) and I highly recommend it.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:31 a.m. CST

    "A reinvention of Superman as a Marvel character."

    by 3 Bag Enema

    That was done a long, long time ago. Imitating Marvel became the only viable business model for any publisher of super hero comics in the '60's, and that's when Superman, father figure, basically ceased to exist and was replaced by Superboy. Look at the difference, say, between the George Reeves Superman and the Christopher Reeve version; the former is a chin-up, can-do dad type, while the latter - well at the climax of the first movie, he cries and then defies his father, for God's sake! That's not Superman - it's Superboy! So Geoff John's turning Superman into even more of a Marvel imitation is a step backwards, as far as I'm concerned. Grant Morrison's take was the only one done recently that was actually faithful to the original pre-Marvel personality of the character. Thus endeth the lesson.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:34 a.m. CST

    I interested in Superman,

    by Joenathan

    but wary... more and more, DC just aint my bag.<br><br>Also, Hickman's FF is great. I can't wait to see where it goes.<br><br>I don't know about the rest of you, but I was shocked, SHOCKED I say, to find out that Bug didn't like a Bendis book. SHOCKED!

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Oh, and...

    by 3 Bag Enema

    ...Alan Moore's "Supreme" was an excellent modern example of the pre-Marvel Supes. Strange how only British writers get it right nowadays.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:36 a.m. CST

    Superman Origins

    by The Penultimate Gunslinger

    Was amazing. One of my favorite issues to read in a long time. When Superman is done well it can be awesome, and this was done really well.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:39 a.m. CST

    SHIELD is not a more appropriate name than SWORD...

    by Johnny Smith

    ...because SWORD has been around for decades in the MU, but was formally introduced/established earlier this decade during Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men...before SHIELD became HAMMER.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:47 a.m. CST

    Anyone watch Public Enemies?

    by Mr.FTW

    The one with Superman and Batman not Johny Depp and Christian Bale.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:54 a.m. CST

    An idea for the @ssholes.

    by Sailor Rip

    How about next to the title of each review you give it some kind of rating. A star system, 8/10, thunbs up/down, that kind of thing.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:05 p.m. CST

    Sounds like "Smallville"...

    by BizarroJerry

    I mean, I realize there must be many differences, like no "supervillain of the week" theme, but this sure does match many aspects of "Smallville", at least in certain episodes. Fear of hurting people, becoming an outcast but wanting to just be normal. Same themes.<p>Personally, though I am a Smallville watcher, I really hate the idea that Lex and Clark knowing each other back in Smallville has now creeped into the regular comic book history. I know this actually happened a while ago, but I'd rather these continuities were kept separate.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:13 p.m. CST

    Clark and Lex

    by Joenathan

    Have known each other since they were young in the comics for a very long time now, well before the show. In fact, the original reason Lex hated Superman and vowed to destroy him is: Superboy was once going to visit his friend Lex's lab, but when he got there, he found the lab on fire, so he blew the fire out with his super-breath and in the process blew off all of Lex's hair. Lex has hated him ever since.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:25 p.m. CST

    Blew off his hair? And the follicles as well,

    by V'Shael

    I presume? Good god, that's retarded.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:32 p.m. CST

    by MattAdler

    "Grant Morrison's take was the only one done recently that was actually faithful to the original pre-Marvel personality of the character. " <p> <p> <p> Well, that's the Silver Age version of the character... but the actual original Superman persona, as I said in my review, was a bad-ass who went around using his power to correct the world as he saw fit... basically wish-fulfillment for his teenage, Depression-era creators. Not exactly an establishment, dad-type. <p> <p> <p> As for the similarities to Smallville... look, that's been the most successful media incarnation of Superman in years, so it makes sense to borrow from it. Heck, a lot of the Silver Age Superman elements were borrowed from the radio show. And while I'm not a huge fan of always tying the villain's origin in with the hero's, that is the trend these days, even going to back to the "You made me!" exchange between Batman and the Joker in the first Batman movie. <p> <p> <p> Although I guess in the Silver Age Luthor's case, it'd be "You made me... lose my hair!"

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 1:05 p.m. CST

    That Silver Age Luthor origin is very silly.

    by rev_skarekroe

    But you know, in those days comics were written for 8 year-olds. Too bad Morrison didn't tackle it in All-Star. He would've found some daft way to make it work for adults.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 1:08 p.m. CST

    As a bay area queer...

    by GWB.AT.T

    I'm glad to see the X-Men leaving San Francisco behind. I'd rather be represented metaphorically rather than suffer one more cliched trek into the bourgie ghetto of the Castro where there isn't even a comic book store. Furthermore, it's not quite realistic to call San Francisco "hippy trippy" as it's become quite gentrified, corporate, expensive and gets duller by the day.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 1:15 p.m. CST

    I have high hopes for the return of....

    by BangoSkank

    a decent Hulk comic. Incredible Hulk was --I want to say-- the first comic I had more than 10 consecutive issues of. I first dropped it off my pull-list back when he was living in a mountain, driving a rocket car, and carrying guns designed by Rob Lifield. Eventually I returned, then left again during the Jones run.... I returned for Planet Hulk, but once again dropped the title after Loeb took over. <p> If I can get another 12 issue run out of this I'll be happy, but would love something longer.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 1:42 p.m. CST


    by XAOS

    There is an excellent comic shop in the Castro called Whatever ( on Castro between 18th and 19th. The staff is friendly and competent without being ingratiating, and is the bets comic buying experience I've had since moving to SF 6 years ago.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 1:43 p.m. CST


    by optimous_douche

    Thanks for the perspective.<p> As a life-long East Coaster we only see what teh media tells us.<p> Yes, many of us only have the perception that San fran is a liberal free for all where people are still smoking doobies out in the open and the straight population is less than 1%.<p>

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 1:50 p.m. CST

    And people do smoke doobies out in the open in SF

    by XAOS

    Like to an absurd extent; it pretty much is a liberal free for all, as demonstrated by things like the number of naked people I saw openly walking down the street Sat afternoon in the Castro

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Almost didn't buy Secret Origins

    by Snookeroo

    because I didn't want to encourage yet another revision of the Superman mythos. But since I am a hopeless Superman junkie, I did anyway.<br>It's a nice read, and a good take on the Superman beginnings. It strings together bits and pieces from the various incarnations of the character that have come before. But did we really need that? Is there anyone on the planet that doesn't know the basic points of Superman's origin? Nonetheless, Johns gives us some great snapshots of the Man of Steel's earth-family, friends and insecurities. <br>I know I'm definitely in the minority here, but I'm not a big fan of Gary Frank's artwork. Like Curt Swan's artwork, one can appreciate the consistency, and solidness of the art -- however every character has bulging eyes, excessive gumlines and endless crosshatching, which makes them look either elderly or drug-addled. Give him this, however, the reader can at least tell what's supposed to be taking place in the panel, and the art is not so over-worked that it's indiscernible.<br><br>Spider-Woman<br>I know absolutely nothing about the character, but I bought the issue because of a previous preview on this forum. I have to say, the cover painting artwork is flat and amateurish, but the interior graphic artwork is really well-done, notwithstanding the horrific coloring. The inks are so muddy and over-done that the line work is really obscured -- which is a tragedy.<br>The mundane story is nothing to write home about -- and, in another place and time would have taken about three panels to convey. Unfortunately, this issue follows the current trend of taking an entire issue to tell us that <spoiler> Spider-Woman is bummed out <end spoiler>.<br><br>Personally, I'm glad to see some comic books using the cover to illicit some interest in the story (Brave and the Bold, for instance) rather than just a rendering fest of posing heroes. Maybe -- and this may be too much to hope for -- someday comic books may actually have word balloons on the cover again.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:03 p.m. CST

    My fav Part of Secret orifgins

    by optimous_douche

    Was finally a decent explantion for the glasses.<p> The set-up of them being a disguise has always been insane. The fact that they serve a function now was a really nice twist.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:05 p.m. CST

    Hmmm San Fran

    by optimous_douche

    So is it hippy-trippy or not?<p> Getting a conflicted message here.<p> Although I'm sure the view of my city Philadelphia, would be very different than someone elses.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:07 p.m. CST

    San Francisco

    by GWB.AT.T

    Yes, yes people smoke weed in the open an get naked a couple oof times a year, but it's not as if it's the flowers in your hair place that most people imagine it to be. Other than great topography, I don't see much difference than NY, where people (like me, when I'm there) also smoke in the open- except that NY's hardcore hipsters live accross the water in Williamsburg as opposed to in the city proper. People ARE generally "nicer" here and more tolerant of other modes of being, but that's true of the West coast in general, I think. I've been known to be wrong.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:09 p.m. CST


    by GWB.AT.T

    GREAT head snacks from the basket man in Dolores Park!

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:20 p.m. CST

    If Batman's utility belt cases get any larger

    by Snookeroo

    he's going to look like a traveling purse salesman.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:26 p.m. CST

    The follicles too

    by Joenathan

    Yes, it's true. DC's greatest villian and Superman's longest running threat is simply mad because Superman made him bald. Got to love it.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:34 p.m. CST

    Secret Orgin

    by typhonicbeast

    My favorite part of that issue was it pointed out (to me at least) how poor of a job Robinson has been doing with the Man of Steel. If Johns ever leaves Green Lantern, he should make Superman his new monthly.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:56 p.m. CST


    by XAOS

    Or like he got some sort of Rob Liefeld 1990's makeover :(

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 3:04 p.m. CST


    by Mr.FTW

    As shocking as it might seem there are people out there who know nothing about Superman. I was over at the house of my girlfriend at the time parents. We were unfortunately watching Who Want to be a Millionaire, one of the questions was "What small town is Superman from?" Her parents had absolutely no idea and I'm sitting there in disbelief while wearing a Superman t-shirt. I was shocked and asked them how the could not know something like that, that Superman was larger than comic books and was even more than a U.S. or pop culture icon but a recognizable global icon. But they just didn't know and that went for Batman, Spider-Man, ect. Us nerds often take forgranted that people just know but they don't. Even with the movies, TV shows, cartoon and every other form of media out there people don't know anything about comic heroes. It's bizzare, it's shocking but it's true.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 3:23 p.m. CST


    by Sailor Rip

    The glasses as a way to block his heat vision is just for him as a kid while he's learning to control his powers. That's not why adult Clark wears them. He wears them to add to his disguise. <p> The way you're wording it is like he's still wearing them as an adult to control his heat vision.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Nothing worse than getting nerd-schooled

    by Joenathan

    by the guy who's humping your daughter.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 3:30 p.m. CST

    Regarding Follicles....

    by Psynapse

    Burn 'em off 'til the cows come home and they'll grow back. You have to kill the papilla to stop the follicle from growing. Geez, this is basic trichoanalysis people!

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 3:52 p.m. CST


    by Mr.FTW

    Class was definitely in session and then yeah, I humped his daughter good.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 3:56 p.m. CST

    Gotta agree with Snookeroo

    by bottleimp

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 4 p.m. CST

    Regarding SECRET ORIGINS

    by bottleimp

    I thought that young Clark looked a little freakish-- like when movies use CGI to put an adult's head on a child-size body. And I also think that yet another re-hashing of Superman's formative years is pretty unnecessary; the only thing that's really going to come out of this is that the DC Universe will be cemented into the whole "Crystalline World of Krypton" for a while (until the next re-hash) and that we've come back to the Silver Age continuity, what with the young Lex and the Legion and all. Frankly, I still prefer the businessman Lex from the '80s.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 4:31 p.m. CST

    Superman, Spider-Woman

    by Homer Sexual

    Well, I am a little disappointed because there were many really good comics last week, and most of them weren't reviewed here. I didn't even reallize a new Uncanny came out, as I'd dropped it until Utopia was over. This new version doesn't actually sound very good, but I'm still gonna check it out... <p> What else doesn't sound very good? Superman Origins. In fact, and all credit to Matt Adler, it sounds dreadful. Ugh! This sounds like Peter Parker, Alien. But I am not exactly a fan of Superman. In fact,I totally agree that Grant Morrison is the one and only writer who has ever, ever in my 30+ years of comics reading, made Superman cool or interesting. <p> Spider-Woman, otoh, is a character I have always found cool and interesting, and I have pretty much every book she's ever appeared in since she was created. This new issue was pretty good, IMHO, and had a little of the quirk and mystery of her old series. I agree I'd prefer it more occult based and outside the system rather than in it, but she still seems like Jessica Drew and for that, I am happy. Don't like the art, but it will help sell the book and I am also happy for that. <p> Although I live in LA, when I've been to SF,it has indeed been pretty gentrified and even more pricey than LA. Castro is still counter-culture, though. I ran the SF Marathon and when we went through there, people didn't even know what was going was a surprise to them that the streets had been blocked off and people were running through them. Also, it was unbelievable cold for the last weekend of July.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 4:38 p.m. CST

    So Banshee is back?

    by hst666

    Seriously, I haven't read this in awhile and I am curious.<p><p>Personally, I stopped reading after Morrison's genius run and the shit that followed. I did give both Brubaker and Carey a few issues each, but neither held my interest enough to keep going.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 4:52 p.m. CST

    I havent posted much

    by gooseud

    as I have been feeling really uninspired recently, but I will say, there is nothing that inspires more complete and total apathy in my comic-lover's soul then another retelling of Superman's origin.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 4:56 p.m. CST

    Infinite Crisis

    by gooseud

    I was chillin in the Borders yesterday waitin for the wife to get her hair done, and decided to hit up the Infinite Crisis TPB. Upon further review........that book was terrible. Between the oddly frantic pacing and art (it was like a comic that just snorted 17 rails of coke in a row and wanted to tell you all about all the cool ideas it the next 37 seconds) and the annoying and ludicrous invincibility of Superboy Prime, that comic just pissed me off. It seemed like (anbd still does) they were making up the rules as they went along for Prime just to make him invincible in every single possible way.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 4:58 p.m. CST

    Superman Origins

    by Mr.FTW

    While I agree we don't really need another retelling it doesn't help that it comes only a couple of years after Superman: Birhtrite which retold the origin and placed Lex back in Smallville already.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 6:03 p.m. CST

    Now if we could just a proper Superman film

    by liljuniorbrown

    Why is that so fucking hard? He has a origin that most people know by heart and a huge untapped rouge's gallery. Warner/DC you have got to be the biggest bunch of fucktards on the planet. I wouldn't be shocked if they rebooted it one more time with an origin story and Lex as the villian again. It just boggles the mind that movies like "The Happening" and "Paul Blart Mall Cop" can get made yet no one can put on film a Superman story that has him actualy fighting some kind of Alien threat or at the least some serious shit going down.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 7:23 p.m. CST


    by Captainwhat

    No Banshee's not back yet. For some reason they've got the cover to Uncanny X-Men: First Class up instead of the real cover for Uncanny 515

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 8:26 p.m. CST

    Why old Lex REALLY hated Superman (hint: not baldness)

    by Greggers

    As rev_skarekroe pointed out, comics were written for 8 year olds, so to be rendered permanently bald as a kid (which Lex was) seems like perfectly reasonable grounds for turning to a life of evil. Balding sucks! <br><br>But the more explicit reason given in the actual story as to why Lex swore his lifelong vendetta against Superman was because Superman destroyed his living protoplasm. Lex had created life, and accomplishment that he felt he could never replicate in a million years, and because Superboy was a little overeager in his efforts to save him, this experiment was completely destroyed. Plus, there were some wonky chemicals in the air; if they made Lex go bald, perhaps they did something to his brain. <br><br> So when Lex curses Superboy with the hate of a thousand lifetimes, this was the main reason he gave. Which, when taken in concert with all the other elements in the story, can lead to a very strange reading of what was really going on in the story. Which gives me a chance to roll out the "Lex Luthor's Origin Story Is Really About Rejection/Castration in the Face Of Thwarted Homosexual Love" Theory.<br><br> Stay with me here:<br><br> In the beginning of the story, Lex is introduced as a fan of Superboy -- the the point where he has a room in his house dedicated to pictures and momentos from Superboy's career. A shrine. When he meets Superboy, he positively gushes. At the very least this could be construed as a crush; at most, a fixation. <br><br> So how does Superboy respond? He castrates him. Symbolically, at least. What does Superboy destroy? Lex's ability to procreate. What's more, he robs him of his hair, a universal sign youth, vitality, and verility. <br><br> Lex is left a humiliated eunuch, having been delivered the ulitmate rejection by what was once a love object. Thus, the life of evil. Q.E.D.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 9:32 p.m. CST

    Greggers - Fuck off, brother :)

    by FamousEccles

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 9:34 p.m. CST

    so is Banner is separated from Hulk now??

    by FamousEccles

    or is he just hoping this son of Hulk will kill Hulk at the next change??

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 12:03 a.m. CST

    I totally edited that line in King of Pain

    by krushjudgement

    I just haven't updated the blog yet. Oh well, damage done. Thanks for the review Mr. Adler!

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 12:58 a.m. CST

    An intriguing theory, Greggers.

    by SleazyG.

    And by "intriguing" I mean "disturbing". Not that I don't see where you're coming from, or that I never thought that Michael Rosenbaum wasn't crushing on Tom Welling a little, but still...ick.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 3:14 a.m. CST

    Greggers, your Lex origin

    by Continentalop

    Goes good with my Doc Doom origin explanation - how Doom had a secret, college experimental phase with Reed Richards, but when Reed ended it, it devastated Doom. To Reed, it was just a phase, but for Doom it was much more, but to be rejected AND feel ashamed about what he did led to his pathological hatred of Richards. And then when Reed roomed up with BMOC and hunk Ben Grimm, well that was too much. <P> At least that is my theory.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 3:16 a.m. CST

    And the Golden Age Luthor had a great origin

    by Continentalop

    In that he had no origin. He was just this guy who showed up trying to start wars by instigating conflict and conquer lands. He was obviously European, was a strong personality, and had only one name - Luthor. <P> Kind of like other guys in the late 30s and early 40s known by just their last name causing some problems - Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, etc.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 3:56 a.m. CST


    by sean bean

    One of Jeph Loeb's clusterfudge stories led to Banner "never being able to turn into the Hulk again". Although everyone knows he will, including Bruce Banner.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 6:14 a.m. CST

    Anyone else want to see two-fisted brawler Superman?

    by Laserhead

    Just that description brought back memories of the old Action Comics premier, and made me think... it would be kind of cool to have an Ultimate/All-Star Superman who was more akin to his original incarnation-- much less powerful, with more of a tough-guy, brawler mentality. For some reason I think that would be really, really cool.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 6:58 a.m. CST

    Thank God Homer

    by optimous_douche

    Someone else agrees that Utopia was an annoying mess.<p> Perpetual comic shop fight — it's awesome becasue it has Dark Avengers...Dark Avengers...Dark Avengers...AHHHHHHHH<p> I truly thought I was alone.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 7:07 a.m. CST

    Actually no Laserhead

    by Continentalop

    Not that I am totally against the idea, but really his spot as a brawler has been taken by a number of other Superheroes. <P> Luke Cage, Ben Grimm, Wolverine, Aquaman (after David), Savage Dragon, The Hulk at times, etc. All these characters have kind of filled the void of a powerful, but not omnipotent, scraper and fighter. Someone who is willing to get down and dirty and isn't completely invulnerable. <P> The one thing that made Superman unique was that he was supposed to be the most powerful superhero - that was his blessing and his curse. You could have used to argue that he had only a rival in Green Lantern (or Captain Marvel if they travelled to each other's world) but nowadays it seems like there is dozens and dozens of heroes just as powerful, or arguably more powerful, than supes. And I personally think that is a mistake - maybe they should be making him less of a Marvel character so that he becomes more unique instead of resembling so many other characters out there.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 8:13 a.m. CST

    Well, I disagree

    by Laserhead

    I think there's room for an alterna-Supes who acknowledges portions of the character's original incarnation that seem to have fallen by the wayside (like an Ultimate, or All-Star version). Like an Ultimates version. I don't think this makes him redundant, or goes against the spirit of the character; it just acknowledges that there are other facets to the Superman archetype than simply "Invulnerable Super-Saint." Hell, that list of 'brawlers' you gave is actually more reason to produce a version of Supes like that, to me, because it offers a chance to show what makes him different from others of that type.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 8:48 a.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    Lex hates Superman because he made him go bald. Sorry, that's it.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 8:51 a.m. CST

    I thought Utopia sucked too.

    by rev_skarekroe

    I bought the Dark Avengers issues, assuming that they were a continuation of Bendis' storyline. Whoops. That'll teach me to double-check the creative teams from now on. Anyway, even keeping in mind that I was only reading half the story by skipping the X-Men issues, it was still a freaking mess.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 8:52 a.m. CST

    Superman is the perfect DC character

    by Joenathan

    Trapped in amber and retreading tired old ground already beaten flat. He's perfect for those fans that abhore change, because he never will, not only because the main fans don't want him too, but more so, due to the fact that he is... pretty much... unchangeable. He's too powerful, too one note... there just isn't much you can do with the guy.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 9:06 a.m. CST

    Greggers is correct w/ respect to protoplasm

    by hst666

    People tend to overlook that.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 9:22 a.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    Lex Luthor = Hair jealous!

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 9:23 a.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    It really fell apart at the end. I liked the story and what they intended to do, but the books themselves al felt like they were missing panels. Also, seriously, why is Pixie so front and center?

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 10:07 a.m. CST

    Sleazy, if Quentin Tarantino can sully our memory of...

    by Greggers

    ...TOP GUN, (sully it more than the movie does on its own terms, that is), I figure I can take a cheeky deconstructionist swing at Luthor in Superman. <br><br> What's most disturbing is how it all fits so neatly together. It's like comics written by Gore Vidal!

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 10:18 a.m. CST

    Nobody's addressed the biggest question of the week yet.

    by we_pray_for_mad_skillz

    What's the identity of the new red She-Hulk?

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 10:43 a.m. CST

    Tarantino sullying Top Gun

    by Laserhead

    You know what always bugged me about that? He MISQUOTED Top Gun. Nobody says "You can ride my tail"-- they say "You can be my wingman." Anyway, like you needed Tarantino to tell you Top Gun was homo-erotic. This just in-- the sky is blue.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 11:01 a.m. CST

    I prefer the Byrne Luthor.

    by JonQuixote

    Motivated by his own ego - both in respect to Superman's threat to his plans, as well as bringing out insecurities that this king of Metropolis never had to deal with in interactions with anything else. Seems... pretty real, pretty interesting and pretty frightening. I also hate the whole Luthor/Smallville thing though. I think 3 Bag Enema made an interesting point earlier about Superboy vs. Superman - I don't agree with it 100% but I see where it's coming from. And I like Lex Luthor as a foil for Superman, in Metropolis. I think it means something more to both of them that they meet for the first time as adults, and too much backstory between them thins the soup.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 11:50 a.m. CST

    Rev - utopia

    by optimous_douche

    I bought the X-men issues and skipped teh Dark Avengers at first.<P> I rectified this before my review (I know how you guys hates when we don't drink all the kool aid), but it still did nothing for me.<p> I care as much about the Dark Avenegrs as rev does about the X-men it seems.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 12:09 p.m. CST

    I don't know how you can't like Dark Avengers

    by Joenathan

    I think that book is a total good time. Sure, maybe some folks can't help but to compare it Ellis's Thunderbolts, in which case I can understand it when people think it comes up short, but is that a fair comparisson?<br><Br> Either way, I can't wait for the Sentry fall out and I love seeing Bullseye and Venom get Effed in the A. Plus, Daken is turning out to be a much cooler character than I expected. Also, where the hell has MArvel Boy been? Shit's gonna hit the fan here pretty soon.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 12:27 p.m. CST

    The Many Faces of Superman

    by MattAdler

    I confess to not having read Birthright, but I do feel the time is right to retell Superman's origin in a major way. We're at a period now where DC is trying to revitalize their movie franchises, and Superman is the biggest character that has not achieved his potential, either in the comics or the movies, in decades. The character has all the seeds of greatness... an alien raised on our world, who adopts our values; but he needed a top-notch creative team to get people to give the character a second look, and abandon their preconceptions about him. And to do that, you've got to start with the character's roots. I actually think what we're seeing here is a pretty fundamental and compelling reinterpretation of the character, not just some trivial continuity changes. <p> <p> <p> Is he Peter Parker, alien? Maybe to a certain extent... but then, Peter and Clark's value systems aren't all that different to begin with, are they? The major difference in the portrayals is the level of doubt the characters have to be shown to have in themselves, and to my mind, a character doubting himself makes him more three-dimensional and compelling. So I think it's fine to introduce that here. Now, the last movie failed because it forgot to balance the pathos with enough moments of Superman actually getting to show how cool he is; all we really saw was a depressed, moping, jilted lover who got his ass kicked quite a bit. But this comic doesn't have that problem; there's a number of scenes where Clark gets to shine. As for Luthor's portrayal; there's no reason he can't also become a ruthless businessman; I think we can all think of some socially outcast nerds who grew up to become ruthless businessmen. <p> <p> <p> On the subject of the Golden Age Superman... I too would love to see the original version of Superman again. People forget that not only was he much more down and dirty, he wasn't anywhere near as powerful. His skin could not be penetrated by anything less than "a bursting shell" (ie; conventional artillery), he couldn't fly (he could only leap an 1/8th of a mile), and he was only faster than a train. And he would regularly punch crooks full in the face, so his strength level wasn't anywhere near where it is now (it was considered a feat for him to lift a car over his head). I actually don't think there are a lot of characters like that these days; characters that do have superstrength, etc, but not such a ridiculous level that it doesn't make sense for them to mix it up with ordinary criminals. There's Spider-Man, but he's more of an acrobatic character, rather than someone who will wade into a mob and starting tossing people around. There was something dangerous, almost scary about the original Superman... it was like his creators were saying... "Hey, you wealthy, powerful people who have taken advantage of the system and think no one can touch you... here's our answer." There's both an exciting side and a dark side that you can explore with a character who listens to nobody's rules but his own and has the power to change the world as he sees fit... and yet has to get down in the trenches and fight in order to do it. <p> <p> <p> On a side note, regarding the comment that "they were making up the rules as they went along for [Superboy] Prime just to make him invincible in every single possible way"... the thing you have to understand, is that Geoff's handling of Superboy-Prime is partly a Silver Age homage. In the Silver Age, what you don't like about Prime as a villain was exactly the way Superman was handled as a hero... every other issue, he would face some enormous, impossible challenge... and the writers would have him exhibit some heretofore unseen power that would save the day. This was a guy who literally move planets out of orbit just by pushing them. How? Because he's Superman, that's how. That's part of the charm of the Silver Age; all things, no matter how ludicrous, were possible. And since Superboy-Prime is a Pre-Crisis version of Superman, Geoff was playing with the idea "What if the Pre-Crisis Superman was active in modern DC... and was a bad guy?" I think it's a fun concept, but if you don't get why it's being done, and simply think it's so the writer can show what a bad-ass their villain is, it will get old pretty quickly. <p> <p> <p> So yeah, I think there's room for different interpretations of Superman.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 1:02 p.m. CST

    3- Things

    by Continentalop

    1) How is Superman so one note if he is the most parodied and copied character in comic book history? And even some of those parodies are the best comic books out there (Hyperion in Squadron Supreme was damn good, as was Supreme). <P> He is such an icon and such a powerful character that he is in the best Elseworld stories. Red Sun, Generations, Kingdom Come (actually, I think that is overrated), All Star Superman, etc. Personally, I find his Elseworld stories to be better and more compelling than Batman's. <P> 2) Yes he is trapped in Amber, but that is because he is the most successful comic book character ever. He is practically a brand name. And he is just as much trapped in amber as Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America or any major comic book character. Any change with those characters is illusionary because you don't want to upset the money-making formula - even the Ultimate version. The Ultimate comics is the safest comic book idea ever - apparently drastic change to major characters, but they exist in an Elseworld so anything that happens has no consequences on the mainstream character. Sure they might incorporate some of the ideas on the mainstream character, but when said and done, what happens in the Ultimate Universe has little lasting impact. Those aren't THE characters, just as much Hyperion isn't Superman. <P> 3) Yes when Superman first appeared he could only leap 1/8th a mile and his skin could be penetrated by a bursting shell. Of course, what other super-heroes were there? We went from Doc Savage and the Shadow - incredibly gifted and talented but still human - to a being who had powers and abilities way beyond the realm of anything human. And also what threats did he face back then? This was pre=WWII and pre-nuclear bomb. Superman powers have always correlated to the level of technology (or at least, the perceived notion of what technology can do). <P> There is a Golden Age issue where Luthor challenges Superman, his powers versus Lex's technology. They see who can get higher, have a race, and see who can lift more, and each time Superman defeats Luthor's machines. Well, back then Luthor would have a plane that maybe could almost reach the sound barrier - not today, he would have one that would shatter it. <P> I'm not saying Superman can't have limitations (especially nowadays where we feel technology isn't always the answer to our problems) but I do think his abilities should equal the limits of what we think we can accomplish with our own technology. <p>

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 1:23 p.m. CST

    I've been enjoying Dark Avengers....

    by BangoSkank

    and I'm a huge X-Men fan --though Uncanny has been more miss than hit for a while-- but Utopia was an absolute mess.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 1:49 p.m. CST

    The only thing about Superman that is one-note

    by Snookeroo

    is the incessant chorus of fan-boys who always sing the "Big Blue Boyscout" dirge. Look, to both MattAdler and COntinentalop's excellent points, Superman is no more one-dimensional than any other super hero. Each hero is limited by the parameters that define the character. In Superman's case, that is not infinite -- perhaps in the Silver Age, but not today.<br><br>If Superman's stories are mundane, it's not the character's fault, it's the writer handling the story. For a writer to crank out the same story-line for the Man of Steel, just inserting a different adversary is simply lazy writing. Superman is a being of limitless possiblities

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2 p.m. CST

    woman of tissue

    by Hedgehog000

    If we're doing an alternate or ultimate version of Superman, I'd like to see a really adult one, possibly one based on Larry Niven's short story where Supes super semen would kill any women he tried to have relations with.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2 p.m. CST


    by Series7

    I don't read any of the comics reviewed this week? Yet I bought a shit load of comics last week? <P> That 28 Days Later is pretty sweet.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:01 p.m. CST

    Wait I take that back

    by Series7

    I am reading Hulk, but not for hulk, for Skaar and Juggs. And Fantastic Four. I can't believe there isn't more talk about Mr. Fan is a fucking god? I guess since Millar left everyone dropped it.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:03 p.m. CST


    by Series7

    No mention of that new Ghostbuster story? It looked cool got it in my folder wanting to know more about it.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:12 p.m. CST


    by Continentalop

    As long as the story doesn't include Superman's red kryptonite enlarge sperm attacking women throughout Metropolis. <P> That is an image I can live without seeing.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:24 p.m. CST

    Everyone says that.

    by Joenathan

    Everyone says that: "if Superman's stories are boring, it's the fault of the writer, not the character." <br><br>Well... when's it gonna happen? When is this long fabled writer going to finally step up and pull the Superman sword from the boring Amber stone? When? I'm ready. Let's see it. How long do we have to wait?<br><br>And I can already guess that the Elseworld stories and All Star Superman (which is pretty much an Elseworlds book, as well) will be held up as examples of fine superman tales, but guess what? Those don't count. In fact they actually prove that Superman, as a character, is too one note to be anything but bumbling clark at the bugle, slipping away to rip open his shirt, and flying out to punch something again, rinse, repeat. <br><br>Why?<br><br>Because, while all those mentioned Elseworlds, and most especially All Star Superman, are indeed GREAT, and so are his homage/parodies like Hyperion, all of those examples... ALL OF THEM... only exist OUTSIDE of Superman's usual parameters, proving that regular continuity Supes has got nothing, NOTHING, that in fact, in order for him to truly shine, he needs to be altered in some signifigant way.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:26 p.m. CST

    Series 7

    by Joenathan

    I'm loving Hickman's stuff. Especially his FF

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:39 p.m. CST

    Byrne's Luthor is the best...

    by thecomedian

    Lex and Clark knowing each other as little kids is ass. Bryne's Luthor, the self-made millionaire sociopath who killed his parents for the insurance money. That's much more interesting than "you made me bald, I hate you!".

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:40 p.m. CST

    Joenathan-- "When's it gonna happen?"

    by Laserhead

    It happened my friend. It's called "All-Star Superman" and the Geoff Johns/ Gary Frank run on Action Comics. I've never had any use for Superman, but those were some of the best comics I've read in years, and I walked away from the reading experience with a totally new appreciation for Superman and what could be done with him.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:41 p.m. CST

    regular continuity Superman

    by Laserhead

    Again, see the Johns/Frank run on Action Comics. All too brief, and one of the best Superman runs of all time.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:46 p.m. CST


    by Continentalop

    Are you saying he doesn't work right now? Then I whole-heartedly agree. <P> If you are saying he can't work period, I completely disagree. <P> Once again, it is the writers. Any character can work, and even stay true to his character, if the writer finds a way to present him in an interesting fashion. Hell, trapped in Amber Lone Ranger can work (I have heard some interesting pitches about the new LR movie - all of them keeping the basic elements of the LR myth but presenting them in a new unique manner). <P> The problem might not lie with Supes, Joe, but you. And I don't mean that in a condescending way, but the fact is not all characters should be treated the same. Supes to me works best NOT as a Marvel-style character, someone who has continuity and works within a shared Universe. He works best when functioning in the now, in his own little world. <P> Some people love serial series like the Sopranos, but not all shows have to be like that. CSI pretty much is "New Crime a Week" and it gets great ratings as well. <P> Maybe the problem is that everyone has become so beholden to one style of story telling, the Marvel soap opera style, when some characters work better outside of that style. <P> And you might not like that style Joenathan, which is a completely legitimate position, but you can't say it isn't popular with some people. Just because something doesn't work for you doesn't mean it doesn't work. <P> PS - Personally, I think all Batman stories in the last two decades have sucked. The difference between the two characters is that modern writers have managed to tap into what makes Batman relevant - while still having him be a bigger boyscout and more trapped in Amber than Supes ever is. At least Supes got married (big mistake IMO).

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:50 p.m. CST


    by Continentalop

    Part of the problem is the inherent nature of Superman - he is a God who wishes to be treated like a man. He is the big gun of superheroes, the simpliest and the most complex at the same time. <P> King Lear and Shakespeare seem simple on the exterior - old man splits up kingdom to daughters and comes to regret it - but few actors can make him work, and few directors can pull off that play. Same with Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and the part of Blanche DuBouis. <P> Superman to me is one of those characters that only the best writers can touch, and even then it might be iffy.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:53 p.m. CST

    My favorite Luthor is the Byrne's one

    by Continentalop

    The one from Generations, in which Ultra-Humanite puts his brain in Superboy's old nemesis from Smallville, Lex Luthor. <P> There is something about the Ultra-Humanite/Luthor from that series that was so damn evil and sinister.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 2:57 p.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    "All too brief" I would still consider a failure.<br><br>I'm with you on All Star Superman, all the way, but I consider it an Elseworlds, since it's not part of DC's regular continuity.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 3 p.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    I think he can work just fine, in fact, I agree with you. Like All Star Supeman showed, the further from the rest of DC's regular world he is, the better he is.<br><br>My point is: I like Superman. I love him on a good JLA, but alone... he's like Wonder Woman, there's no drama, no empathy hook, nothing. It's the same story over and over again.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 3:06 p.m. CST

    I disagree Joe

    by Continentalop

    I think his problem is the JLA. When he is in those comics, they have to neutralize him, limit his powers, and present him as ineffective otherwise he will overshadow all the other members. That treatment seems to carry over to him in his own comic. <P> But yeah, nowadays there is no empathy hook or nothing. But once again I blame the writers and the fact that he is tied into the DC universe so much. They don't give him room to be presented in a unique or new manner. <P> Fuck. In the foreward to John Byrne's Man of Steel Ray Bradbury presented more interesting synopsis than most Superman comics have done in the last decade. But instead we get Superman as just another superhero, facing new challenges of the week. I think maybe the writers should go back and listen to the old Radio show, which presented more interesting dilemmas for Supes than they are doing now (and I am not joking - some of the radio shows were just damn brilliant and topical).

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 3:32 p.m. CST

    Good JLA

    by Joenathan

    I meant Morrison's, where he didn't feel limited... when he wasn't blue, that is.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 3:59 p.m. CST

    Don't remind me of the Blue Superman

    by Continentalop

    I don't know that horrible memory back in my head. <P> Next I'll remember Capwold and Punisher as a supernatural agent - aw crap. It is all coming back to me.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 4:23 p.m. CST

    What about Girl Punisher?

    by Joenathan

    Don't forget how crappy that was. Then, of course, there's RED Superman.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 5:23 p.m. CST


    by Mr.FTW

    I think something wthat would help is if they really showcased his power and actually put the weight he carries on his shoulder on his shoulders.<p>It would also be really cool if they showed Superman through the eyes of others, how he is percieved by the other heroes, villians and the people.<p>There was the awesome moment in Superman/Batman when they brought back Supergirl. Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman were fighting the Doomsday clones sent by Darksied and Superman used his heat vison and vaporized them all. Batman and Wonderwoman had to stop for a second and pause because they forget what kind of power he really has. Or in Lex Luthor Man of Steel when Superman is portrayed as the floating entity with the glowing red eyes.<Seein Superman through these other perspectives would give a fresh outlook on him. <p>That and they need to kill off Lois Lane in the comics, she has been an albatros around Superman's neck for 80 years.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 5:36 p.m. CST


    by Mr.FTW

    It didn't post my entire posting for some reason...<p> They should show Superman from these different perspectives it would freshen up and add new life to the character.<p> Also, they should kill off Lois Lane in the comics, she has been an albatros around the neck of Superman for 80 years.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 6:49 p.m. CST

    All-Star Superman

    by MattAdler

    It doesn't make any sense to say All-Star Superman "isn't Superman" because it takes place in a streamlined continuity. A character is defined by their basic elements, and All-Star Superman has all the elements of the most-recognized incarnation of Superman. What you're actually saying is that current DC continuity doesn't work, which is another discussion altogether. And as people have pointed out, there have been a ton of good Superman comics over the years, one just last week in fact. So, like every other comic, it clearly does depend on the creative team.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 8:37 p.m. CST

    ALL-STAR SUPERMAN: The Last Comic Book

    by Greggers

    The last comic book I read, anyway. And when I say "last," I actually mean "final." It said everything that I felt needed to be said about Superman and comics, so it was satisfying to walk away from a hobby -- a hobby that, deep down, felt increasingly unsatisfying; *endemically* unsatsifying -- on a creative high note.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 8:57 p.m. CST

    I like ass

    by Greggers

    My favorite version of Luthor is the one from Mark Waid's BIRTHRIGHT. The series as a whole was a disappointment, but the Luthor in that story was tops: a genius whose intellect alienated him from humanity to the point where he felt no longer human. But he was smart enough to fake it, build an empire, let his ambitions run wild, all in a search for parity and an end to his isolation.<br><br> You see, I think the story of Lex Luthor can bear the weight of tragedy. Tragedy may have brushed the character in the past (with, say, Lexor, or with his post-CRISIS upbringing), but here was something a little more foundational, something almost Shakespearian. And more to the point, this was a Luthor I really understood. His misanthropy made sense. Waid created something with which the audience could empathize.<br><br> And a large part of his story took place in Smallville, where Lex Luthor Boy Genius/L'enfant Terrible met a nerdy kid named Clark Kent who he could almost communicate with. As asses go, this was one sweet onion.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 9:34 p.m. CST

    Bad Supermans

    by optimous_douche

    The east bound and down mullet perm Superman of mid-90s.<P> Raise your hand if you wish he stayed dead.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 9:42 p.m. CST

    Continuity Schmontinuity

    by optimous_douche

    I used to think it matters until reset buttons seemed to become an event that occurs about once a decade.<p> With each new Crisis or Brand New Day, the old continuity becomes worth garbage.<p> Siding with Adler on this one — all star was Superman because we all enjoyed it (Seriously I have not seen one negative comment about the series — production schedule aside of course). If we all got it and we all enjoyed it — it's Superman.<P> And All Star was not an was not recounting and twisting history and everything Superman did/said was totally in character..<p> For me ALL Star was the cliffnotes of Superman canon. Here's the past 80 years in 12 tidy issues folks.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 11:04 p.m. CST

    Lots of great Superman talk

    by Star Hump

    And a good review from M.Adler. Superman will always be my favorite supehero. He's the most dynamic, the most exciting, and his coolness has never waned for me even though there were times I had to ignore his stories. I just wish more writers could step up and write him well. I do like the idea that he works best if kept seperate from the DC mainstream. I hadn't thought of that. I always felt he works very well with Batman, too. Great juxtapositon there. But only if they are depicted as friends. You guys are right, he seems to get watered down for the JLA. They should just have WW run the JLA and forget him entirely. Oh, and is he back appearing his own books yet? I'd heard he was absent from Action and his own title.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 12:09 a.m. CST

    SuperMullet's got nuthin' on Black Frank Castle.

    by SleazyG.

    C'mon...try to come up with a worse character revamp than Frank Castle being turned temporarily black for a single storyline. That was some truly stupid shit right there.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 12:39 a.m. CST

    How about when Lois turned herself black

    by Continentalop

    In the unintentionally offensive and awkward story "I am Curious....Black." <P> And DC wonders why Marvel was killing them through the 60s and 70s.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 1:47 a.m. CST

    Nah, Conti, Punisher was worse...

    by SleazyG.

    ...cuz it was frikkin' 1990, fer chrissakes. I'm sorry, but Lois turning black two or three decades earlier than the Punisher gives it a far, far, far, far lower cringe factor than Marvel's story. The thought that a Marvel editor, in 1990, thought this was a smart way to comment on race relations is insanegnorant.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 3:12 a.m. CST


    by hst666

    There's been a lot of great Superman stories over the last 20 years beginning with Byrne's reboot. <p><p>Also, I seriously don't understand the Marvel/DC thing nowadays. Back in the 70's the differences were more noticeable. Nowadays, especially with writers jumping from company to company, I do not see the difference.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 5:57 a.m. CST

    Marvel/DC difference

    by optimous_douche

    40 years of baggage vs 80. (Yes, I know Marvel was around longer, I'm talking when they really broke out).<p> Seriously though, I think there is still a difference in the charachters. No matter how "dark" DC tries to get there is still an underlying purity to the charachters. Marvel's guys (and gals) have been and always will be edgier. It boils down to history and a public perception, which can never be changed IMHO.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 7:19 a.m. CST


    by MattAdler

    I think the difference could be erased (not that I think it should), but it's a gradual process. The first small step was in the 70s when a new generation of creators like Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams, and Len Wein started cross-pollinating the two companies. In the 80s, Wolfman, Perez, Miller, Byrne, etc, jumped ship completely to DC, with the explicit mandate of bringing the Marvel style with them, culminating in the Crisis Reboot. Superman, Batman, Flash, and Wonder Woman were all revamped at that time, and the Justice League got reinvented as a sitcom by DeMatteis (another Marvel creator) and Giffen. As more and more Marvel-style characters are introduced, and the longtime DC characters start encountering Marvel-style problems, it can't help but change the tenor of the DC Universe. The next step was the event craze of the '90s, and to be part of that, DC by necessity had to do a lot of "shocking" things with their characters; deaths, radical reinventions, etc. Moving into the 21 century, DC is getting their butt kicked by Marvel in Hollywood, Didio comes in with a distinctly darker sensibility, and starts killing off the lighter side of the DCU, and having revelations about the longtime heroes' actions that put them in a different light. Now we have the origin revamps which enables reinterpretations of the characters, and eventually someone at DC will get the idea to do a full-on reboot that allows them to draw up a new status quo. I hope they don't go that far (some cross-pollination, like we see in this book, is good, but it's also important to have distinctions), but something tells me they will, and the groundwork has certainly been laid over the years.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:44 a.m. CST

    Smallville Already Did It!!!

    by Drsambeckett1984

    Why retell an origin story that has been fleshed out extensively over the past decade by a fantastic show? <P> Also bad news about the lack of Superman movie, guess this wont be needed. <P> Going to be contreversial. Superman cannot be allowed to fizzle out. <P> Clark Kent/Superman- David Boreanaz. <P> Lois Lane- Kate Beckinsale. <P> Brainiac- Michael C Hall. <P> Lex Luthor- Kevin Spacey. <P> Perry White- Sam Neill. <P> Jimmy Olsen- Justin Long.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:51 a.m. CST

    My favorite Luthor is from Red Son

    by rev_skarekroe

    I love that Luthor finally gets to take over the world - and he actually does a really good job with it.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:56 a.m. CST

    streamlined continuity isn't current continuity

    by Joenathan

    Every Superman that isn't smack dab in the middle of the main DC continuity isn't the REAL Superman, they are altered versions. I find it very telling that the altered versions are entertaining much more often than the real Superman.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:58 a.m. CST

    East Bound and Down Superman

    by Joenathan

    Ha!<br><br>"I'm Clark Fucking Kent! You're fucking out!"

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 9:53 a.m. CST

    They call him the Action Ace

    by Star Hump

    (Damn. Supes has a lot of nicknames) This character doesn't need reinventing and this goes for the movies, too. OK, do you want to lose the red trunks? That I can live with.<p> You just have to focus on his origins (not his origin). As stated before, he's a two-fisted brawler with outrageous powers (but he can't push planets around for fuck's sake). Watch the Fleischman cartoons. It's all there. Clark is smooth and confident, not a geeky bumbler. And Lois is a colleague who annoys him, condescends to him and gets stuck in jams only his alter-ego can remove her from. In other words, cast her as more of an antagonist than a protagonist.<p> Tone down that gooey love shit with Lois (it just drags the story) and put Superman in all-out action scenarios against giant robots, evil scientists, alien invaders, armies of thugs with super weapons, Luthor, Brainiac or Jack Kirby's Fourth World characters. Whatever, just make sure Superman gets his ass kicked and put him in peril.<p> Need character stuff? Then have him at odds with Lois (the bitch) and Perry (what an asshole) - his job in constant jeopardy due to his frequent absences. Or, get him back to the farm for some golden-hued, apple pie moments with Ma and Pa Kent, where we get to see the REAL Clark Kent. Then it's back to knocking the shit out of the bad guys and saving humanity from volcanic explosions and robots run amok. <p> Give Supermnan more of an edge; make him more of a pulp-fiction Action Ace and you're off to the races.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 11:17 a.m. CST

    Captain America

    by Bluejack

    I can remember people saying that Captain America could never be interesting and that he was played out. Even before Steve Rogers died Brubaker made him interesting. I think Superman can be plenty interesting in continuity. We should also consider that many times it is how a particular writer resonates with the reader that makes Supes interesting or not. For example, I like the take on Superman that he is "among us but never one of us." that quality, combined with his great love for humanity makes him interesting to me. It also links him with Luthor, who is "among (above) us, but never one of us." That's the real reason he hates Superman. Luthor is human but still he is not beloved like Superman is. Luthor can't comprehend how his genius and desire for mankind reaching it's potential (under his rule of course) will never trump Supes power which, let's face it, was just given to him on a cosmic whim.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 11:22 a.m. CST


    by Bluejack

    Fucks around on a cosmic scale too much and makes there books unreadable for me. Every time you pick up the book you have to wonder which universe is which, who is alive and who is dead. Who has replaced whom. It's tiresome. The Titans and Teen Titans are fucked around with. The damn cast of all the team books changes every other month. Outsiders, JLA, Titans, Teen titans. Just pick a line-up and stick with it a while. Align the universe and keep it that way. Moritorium on deaths for a few years. I enjoy Green Lantern and GL Corps, and I like Blackest night so far. But the rest is just a friggin confusing mess.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 11:23 a.m. CST

    their books

    by Bluejack

    sorry for painful grammar.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 11:25 a.m. CST


    by Bluejack

    Where is the friggin love for Hawkeye in UA2? Just getting through the Anti-reg story during early morning baby duty. Fun button mashing if folks like that soert of thing

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 12:48 p.m. CST

    Black Punisher?

    by Laserhead

    WTF? Do tell...

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 12:54 p.m. CST

    The Most Needed Superhero Reinvention

    by Laserhead

    I'm sure people have been saying this for years, but let's start a petition, seriously: No more fucking underwear briefs worn on the outside of pants. Ever. Not on Cap, not on Batman, not on Superman, not on Daredevil, not on Robin, not on Hawkman (admittedly, DC seems to have more). Not even on professional wrestlers. Just stop. With all the "maturation" of super-hero comics, how is this the ONE thing that the industry won't walk away from?<p>...Christ, I'm bored this afternoon...

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 1:12 p.m. CST

    They took the outer-underwear off of Batman...

    by rev_skarekroe

    ...when they updated his costume after all that Knightfall nonsense. Then they changed it back for some reason. Same thing with Hawkman. Cap's and Daredevil's are the same color as their tights, so I usually forget that they're there. Superman would look weird without the red in that area.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 1:59 p.m. CST

    Difference between DC and Marvel

    by Continentalop

    To me the major difference wasn't the tone of the comics (although admittedly DC was originally much "friendlier" and "safer" than Marvel's universe of mutants, gamma monsters and hunted web-slingers) it was the idea that Marvel truly was a shared universe with continuity - not just within a title, but within ALL titles. <P> I think that is something that hurts DC. Shared continuity and a very tightly shared universe seems to go against what makes DC characters great, especially Batman and Superman. Those two really work better when they are isolated from the rest of the DCU and only occasionally interact. <P> I understand times change and that people's taste change, that readers want something that has a serial element to it and some sort of logic. But do DC heroes have to be teaming up every friggin' week or be involved in a major crossover every month? They all exist in their own cities, so you would think they would mostly operate just there. <P> The CSI show exist in about half-dozen cities as well, and they sometimes cross over, but not every damn episode. And there is no CSI Crisis every year. <P> Just my two cents.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 2:01 p.m. CST

    Shorts work, in the comics

    by Continentalop

    It is a completely visual thing, so they are not just one-color and they have a little flair in their appearance. <P> You can't expect Superheroes to look "realistic", otherwise they would look boring. I mean, look at Batman - who the fuck would wear a cape? But it is a dynamic stylistic choice.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 2:16 p.m. CST

    I'm aware of that

    by Laserhead

    but it's still absolutely retarded. There's other ways to introduce color besides wearing speedos. I'm not asking for leather and combat boots, just an end to bikini briefs.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 2:44 p.m. CST

    Both are Guilty

    by optimous_douche

    Of over crossovering...I undrestand an upsell, but c'mon give us a small respite.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 6:59 p.m. CST

    The Real Superman

    by MattAdler

    "Every Superman that isn't smack dab in the middle of the main DC continuity isn't the REAL Superman, they are altered versions." <p> <p> <p> Since "the main DC continuity" has changed so many times over the years, which one of the Supermen over those years is the "real Superman"? And does that mean all the rest are fake? <p> <p> <p> (here's a hint; none of the versions of Superman are real. Superman is a FICTIONAL CHARACTER)

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 7:57 p.m. CST

    Whoa, slow down there MattAdler

    by Continentalop

    You mean Superman isn't real?

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:02 p.m. CST

    I agree Optimous

    by Continentalop

    But at least 90% of all the major Marvel characters exist in one city (or close by). DC characters are supposedly spread out all over the US in different cities - how the hell do they crossover so much? <P> But, yeah, way to many crossover and events. Superhero comics have gone from being about these godlike beings interacting and helping the normal person, into only dealing within their own little clique. It is like reading Dallas or Dynasty with guys in capes - fuck the normal man, only our problems matter.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:12 p.m. CST


    by MattAdler

    I have some bad news about Santa...

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 9:04 p.m. CST

    One more difference between Marvel and DC...

    by MattAdler

    One of the reasons why the Marvel shared universe may work better than DC's is because Marvel was conceived as such, and was largely the creation of 3 guys; Lee, Kirby, and Ditko. DC is a patchwork made up of properties a corporation bought one-by-one from various creators; Superman (Siegel and Shuster), Batman (Kane and Finger), Wonder Woman (Marston), Green Lantern (Nodell), Flash (Fox), etc. They weren't even all published originally by the same company; Superman and Batman were published by a company called National, and the other three by All-American. This had actual effects on the comics themselves, as the Justice Society was created through a partnership between the two companies, and when a spat happened, National withdrew its characters from the book. Add to this all the other DC characters over the years who have been bought from other companies, eg; Plastic Man, the Freedom Fighters (Quality), Blue Beetle, The Question, Captain Atom (Charlton), the Shazam Family (Fawcett) and there's probably no way DC could ever be as cohesive a universe as Marvel. Crisis on Infinite Earths was the best attempt at it, but when you get right down to it, if you knew from the start they were going to be sharing a universe (as Stan and Co. did), you would create your characters and their world very differently. That ship has sailed for DC; they'd be tossing the baby out with the bathwater if they overhauled the characters and their universe so far as to make it feel like they were all created together.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 5:05 a.m. CST

    It's my birthday and I'm getting Superman stuff.

    by Star Hump

    Holy fuck, I received some Amazon vouchers, and I love Superman. I truly do. First up? The Superman novel: "It's Superman!". Second would be "Public Enemies" because I need to see the Action Ace in his latest adventure.<p> I know, I sound like a basement-dwelling misfit, and I'm way too old to dig this stuff, but damnit, Superman is THRILLING!<p> I saw the Superman movie in the theater in 1978 (intermission and all) and I'll never forget the packed house and the reaction of the crowd. People were so into it.<p> As we left the theater, my Dad jumped into a phone booth and ripped open his shirt, making my Mom, my brother and I laugh. I'll never forget that.<p> Superman forever. I really, really hope he continues to see the light of day - in quality comics, quality movies and an all-around continuing love by the general public.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 3:30 p.m. CST

    Here are a coupla links regarding Black Punisher:

    by SleazyG. And yes, Frank Castle makes an MC Hammer reference while temporarily black and hanging out with Luke Cage in Chicago.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 3:30 p.m. CST

    Shit, forgot the paragraph tags.

    by SleazyG.

    Sorry about that.

  • Oct. 6, 2009, 5:06 p.m. CST

    I hope you're being purposely obtuse, Matt

    by Joenathan

    I hope...

  • Oct. 6, 2009, 5:10 p.m. CST


    by MattAdler

    I leave that to you ;)

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 1:31 p.m. CST

    A wise person once said

    by krushjudgement

    If you can't tell that I'm being sarcastic, it's not my problem.