Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS Millar's NEMESIS! King's THE STAND! NEVERLAND! THE MOLTING! AVENGERS! & MUCH MORE! Plus RIP Dick Giordano...

Published at: March 31, 2010, 12:19 p.m. CST

#44 3/24/10 #8

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) NEMESIS #1 ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS: BATTLE AMONGST THE STARS #1 THE STAND: SOUL SURVIVORS #5 HELLBLAZER #265 MIGHTY AVENGERS #35 NEVERLAND #1 AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #34 Raiders of the Long Box presents ARMAGEDDON 2001 Retro Review: SPIDER-MAN: REIGN Big Eyes For the Cape Guy presents PRINCESS RESURRECTION Vols. 6-7 Indie Jones presents THE MOLTING #1-3 CHEAP SHOTS! R.I.P. Dick Giordano

NEMESIS #1

Writer: Mark Millar Artist: Steve McNiven Publisher: Marvel Icon Reviewer: Optimous Douche

NEMESIS finally helped me crack the Millar Conundrum; that puzzling ability he has to polarize the comic book community into almost equal sized camps of blind-rage and gushing-adoration for his work. Millar is essentially the Michael Bay of comic writers. And I don’t mean that as an insult. He appeals to the 15 year old in all of us, tickling the same part of our brains with comic panels that Mr. Bay tickles with robots blowing shit up and Megan Fox bending over. Seriously, every panel of NEMESIS made the 15 year old in me that still “rages against the machine” go “Fuck…Yes!!” Now what did the 35 year old Optimous think? Well, he was a little pissed that he just paid $2.99 for a book that is basically a lot of carnage, a whole lot of swearing, and so shallow that I almost snapped my neck diving into it.
For anyone that does not suffer from an undiagnosed multiple personality disorder like yours truly, and expect your comics to tackle weighty social issues while exploring complex characters; stop reading now! Seriously, you will despise this “Batman Gone Bad” tale. However, if you’re a little bit “Cybil” and enjoy the “sizzle” as much as the “steak” read on; because there is some fun shit in here if you’re willing to shift your brain from 5th gear to neutral.
The question I keep asking myself is, “Why didn’t I come to this revelation earlier?” What was it about OLD MAN LOGAN that made me squeal with glee, where KICK-ASS and at first NEMESIS left me wondering “what the hell is the point of all this?” Again, this was a week of true revelations about my comic buying habits because I finally have an answer. With KICK-ASS, it was on Millar’s shoulders to make me care about the characters (which I never did, but I’ll admit I bailed on the book after issue 2). Some really cool scenes and really cool quips, but without the emotional tether to the fate of these characters and the world they inhabit the book simply seemed like an exercise in base instincts and fool hearted heroics. With OLD MAN LOGAN I already cared about the fate of the main character, actually make that the entire dystopian world Millar painted, thanks to the countless number of years I’ve spent reading WOLVERINE and X-MEN. My mind basically picked up the slack, filling in the deep character introspections between the panels. Essentially I was writing a second book as I was reading OLD MAN LOGAN, my gray matter shoehorned in all of the “talky” emotional stuff between Hulk poundings.
Millar simply does not have this luxury of past history with his original titles. So as readers we are left with two choices; shun the books or shut the fuck up and realize what you are getting into.
No I didn’t hate this anti-batman tale like almost every other reviewer on the intertubes, because I didn’t go into the book expecting FABLES or (insert your erudite title here). Millar’s history combined with the 45 point type on the cover exclaiming “Makes Kick-Ass Look Like S#IT!” well-set the expectation for what I was getting into. Once I knew this, sitting back and reveling in the creative moments of this book was easy, in fact, to use a phrase from my youth, “the shit rocked!”
Where this deviates squarely from BATMAN or any other character that relies on wit over brawn, is that we see none of the planning for Nemesis’ fantastic feats. With Batman we see every thought process, we see his planning in action, we “see” that’s he’s smart because we are shown that he’s smart. Nemesis is an international bad-ass whacking Police Chiefs in all of the world’s major cities. Why? Shut-up with all of your stupid adult questions. It doesn’t matter why; he kills a guy with a freaking train in the first few pages. A meticulously timed kill and he does it because he’s Nemesis fuckers! I hope that’s all you need to know, because that’s all you’re going to get. The second main character of this title is a D.C. Police Chief that is a great fucking cop and is next on Nemesis’ list of marks. In this case we actually get to see that he’s a great cop, well OK you caught me, we actually see that he’s a fool-hardy cop that takes it upon himself personally to break-up a hostage situation in a convenience store. Again, think like you’re 15. We all know that in the real world if cops behaved this way it would be a break down of the system as we know it, but this is comic books. If the Chief is the only guy that can do the job, then by God he’s the man to do it. The book concludes with a great hijack of Air Force One and a cliffhanger, that while expected, certainly sets up some palpable danger for issue deux. While we don’t get to see the planning for the hijacking, the event it self is pretty spectacular all thanks to McNiven who seems to be channeling another artist for this title. It’s all good stuff, just different from the norm.
In the end analysis, I don’t see the need to get so upset over Millar (or any other comic creator for that matter). Seriously you guys are fucking brutal when it comes to big M: I really don’t think I’m a fucktard for enjoying Old Man Logan as one thoughtful reader suggested, nor do I think “I eat the ass of a monkey’s shit after it just ate another monkey’s shit” as one AICN fan kindly told me after I compared KICK-ASS to a lap dance that ends with getting punched in the balls (and yes, their insult is implying that the piece of shit actually has an ass and a mouth – it took me a while). I feel the same way about comics I do about movies. Sometimes I want to watch “Shakespeare in Love” and sometimes I want to watch robots blow some shit up. There’s more than enough room in the world for both kinds of story-telling to flourish – if you’re the right type of reader. Hell, I might even go back and give KICK-ASS another chance when the 15 year old in me wants to come out and play again.
Optimous is lonely and needs friends. Even virtual ones will fill the gaping hole, join him on Facebook or he will cry like a newborn kitten.

ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS: BATTLE AMONGST THE STARS #1

Writer: Martin Fisher Pencils: Ben Hansen Publisher: Bluewater Comics Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Occasionally, I do things bass-ackwards. For example, I recently have been watching ScyFy’s CAPRICA series and despite the occasional heavy handedness of some of the themes, I’m enjoying it. Thing is, though, I’ve never watched BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, so for me, this is a case where I am jumping into an established world without prior knowledge that most may have about the property. Same thing goes for the book that is the subject of this review; BATTLE AMONGST THE STARS. Like many of you, I imagine, you may not be familiar with Roger Corman’s cult classic film, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS. I think I may have seen it a long time ago, but it’s been so long that I remember absolutely nothing about it. But instead of going back and watching the film first, as with CAPRICA, I’m checking out this “prequel” material first, and in both instances, it’s raising my interest in checking out the stuff that has been released before.
For the sake of fairness, I have to admit a few things before going any further with this review. I’ve know writer Martin Fisher for quite some time now. He’s a writer who first piqued my interest when he sent me a copy of his RISERS miniseries which was a truly original take on the zombie genre. Since that initial miniseries, I’ve paid attention when his name was on a comic mostly because I knew that his take would be an interesting one. And through the years, as Martin achieved permission from Bluewater to write a prequel to Roger Corman’s sci fi opus which many have referred to as “THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN in Space”, I spoke with him numerous times about how the project was developing.
Having worked with Bluewater myself with VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS and the upcoming WITCHFINDER GENERAL, I understand the excitement Fisher must have had when given the chance to write a prequel to one of his favorite films. Some may poo poo the recent comic book trend of reimagining, prequelizing, or sequelizing age old movies, but I think that books like Bluewater’s ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS and VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS are filled with potential. Instead of stale remakes, these two properties often provide direct continuations or expansions of a favorite film. And without the limitations filmmakers have of reuniting cast members or building budgets, here you can have a continuation of a property thirty years old and the transition between comic and film are seamless.
This brings me to BATTLE AMONGST THE STARS, a prequel to Corman’s classic set 30 years before the events of the film. This story centers on Zed, who was played by Jeff Corey in the film, in his younger years. Reminiscent of STAR WARS (as was the original BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS) the comic stars small with one lone boy with dreams of flying in space. Fisher injects a lot of humanity into his characters here and avoids the usual over-sci-fi-talk which often permeates sci fi books, in favor of real scenes that develop character and encourage investment. Fisher also does a great job of peppering in tidbits that reference the BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS film, thus expanding the original tale.
Ben Hansen provides the art in this one and does a nice job of depicting both the banality of Zed’s home world and the vivid and stark space scenes as giant ships plow across the screen. Hansen goes into some nice detail with the space ships and the spacecraft’s distinctive and provocative shapes are prevalent in these pages too.
The biggest compliment I can give a book like BATTLE AMONGST THE STARS is that it will propel me to seek out the original film. The world Martin Fisher fleshes out in these pages are filled with sci fi action and intrigue. The art is clear and to the point; not flashy and does not distract from the story. All in all, this is a good looking book with a story any fan of the original film would want to check out.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for over eight years and one of the original @$$holes. Check out his comic book shorts from Cream City Comics’ MUSCLES & FIGHTS VOL.3 and MUSCLES & FRIGHTS VOL.1 on his ComicSpace page. Bug was interviewed here and here at Cream City Comics and here and here about his comic from Bluewater Comics, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS: THE TINGLER #1-2. Look for more comics from Bug in 2010, including ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS DEATHSPORT in July, and the just announced vampire miniseries NANNY & HANK in August (and check out Jazma Online’s new interview with Bug about NANNY & HANK here). Bug’s latest comic is VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS #16: WITCHFINDER GENERAL on sale July 2010. Fanboy Radio recently interviewed Bug about it here.

THE STAND: SOUL SURVIVORS #5 (of 5)

Script: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Art: Mike Perkins Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Jinxo

The latest "book" of the comic adaption of Stephen King's THE STAND draws to a close with more of a low key whimper than a bang. And, okay, cutting a novel into smaller books you aren't always going to be able to end on a huge moment. Sometimes the flow of events is going to just demand that an arc ends on a smaller moment. This part of the saga has largely been about groups of characters finding each other, coming together. Along the way there has been action and adventure but that isn't he overall point of the arc.
Still, SOUL SURVIVORS does end on what could be and should be a solid moment of horror and disquiet. Given that the original book has been out for some time and the cover of the issue itself gives it away, I don't think it's a spoiler (but fine "spoiler ahead") to mention what that moment is: what happens after the end of the world when someone needs surgery? Gotta improvise, someone's just gotta take a shot at doing it. Amateur surgery. That's an idea loaded with dramatic potential. Can you imagine having to do that? And visually, wow, what a chance for something visceral, bloody, and just plain upsetting. And the cover image sets us up to expect something just like that. But when you hit that point in the issue, it really pretty underwhelming. Tossed away. I'm guessing the problem was there was just so many plot points that had to be dealt with in the issue that there was only a limited amount of panels that could be devoted to what in the grand scheme of things is a minor story point. The problem is, big picture it's not so important but, small picture, that was the most interesting and compelling plot in the final issue of this "book". It should have been worked. Instead, much like the world hit with the superflu, this volume goes out with a whimper instead of a bang.
Jinxo is Thom Holbrook, lifelong comic book reader, and the evil genius behind poobala.com. He may appear cute and cuddly but if encountered avoid eye contact and DO NOT attempt to feed.

HELLBLAZER #265

Writer: Peter Milligan (Guest) Artist: Simon Bisley Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

"Sid (Vicious) was just a no-talent prick. And he's dead. And he had a shitty death too." Thank you Peter Milligan, for that line alone you have earned yourself a positive nod from this reviewer. Not to say I’m anything of a buff on UK history, but as a long time reader of the charmingly sadistic John Constantine I cannot help but feel this book is at “home” when it is at home. That is, when it very much has its feet planted in the politics and underbelly of Britain. I may not always understand the history and references, but I get the aura that they lend to the book and the character and how dirty it always makes the book, the character, and the stakes they play for feel. Obviously there have been some great runs that are not always so entrenched in this material, but if there’s anything I’m going to give Milligan credit for in his so far stellar run, it is that he not only writes a hell of a John, but he has done phenomenally in taking this book a little more back to its roots.
Now, speaking of roots, and to go with the quote from this issue I opened up with, this start of a two-parter gets John mixed up with the punk scene and some of his fellow anarchists from back in the day. After having a hard time of it in India and finding himself saddled up with a young new “assistant”, John finds himself pulled back into the world of spiky hair, Thatcher, the Pistols, and a whole bunch of bollocks. And, surprisingly enough, he seems to have grown himself past it finally, despite a former colleague of his, sadly, unable to give up the ghost (in this case literally) nearly thirty years later. Some trips down memory lane ensue, and the subject matter takes a turn for the currently topical as well, if you want to juxtapose the goings on to the climate here in America today (which I do) with the young upstarts raising a ruckus and the old guard trying to beat them down again. “The Conservatives are coming”. God Save the Queen and God help us all.
There is just something magical when this aspect of John’s life gets revisited though. Obviously, part of it to me is the roots part of it, with my being a punk myself (the kind that grew up on the more melodic version of it in the 90’s, with Bad Religion in their prime and the rise of bands like Pennywise, Strung Out, etc. not the Constantine kind of punk, I’m only 28 after all). But, to me, it just so succinctly sums up why this man still has that chip on his shoulder towards authority coming on his fifties, and it’s a great looking glass to how he sees the world. His world may not be as fast and angry, but it’s still just as reckless. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, just like I wouldn’t have Milligan’s wonderful approach to this much-harrowed character any different than it is. It is trademark John and I love it. I wouldn’t mind having the legendary Mr. Bisley along for the ride more often as well.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a Blogger Account where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.

MIGHTY AVENGERS #35

Writer: Dan Slott Artist: Khoi Pham Inker: Craig Yeung Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

I come not to bury the MIGHTY AVENGERS, but to praise them. Even if they are one issue away from the end of their run.
And what a run. With Bendis and Cho in the beginning…then Bagley, to help play catch-up…and then, uhn, I kinda don’t remember the middle. Sorry. But my favorite run, without question, has been this run with Slott at the helm, and Pham on art. My schedule has been a little too busy to review regularly, but I had to come out and play out of respect for this book.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the redemption of Hank Pym. The uneasy camaraderie of the team. The odd subplots with Pietro’s deception, Hercules heroism, Hank’s leadership and returned confidence (the intellectual slap-fight he had with Reed Richards still makes me laugh.) And the times when Pym’s genius was almost scary. Loki in the Avengers… well, if it worked for Ares (though I know he’s recently been split about the whole Avenger’s gig, but still…)
I know that disgust with Pym is part of the necessary editorial impetus to break up the team, so that another book can takes its place. Still, even if it were a bonkers idea right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Loki queuing up with the Avengers at some point in the future. Maybe as some sort of Asgardian community service. I would read that, for sure! And just remember, if it happens, Pym had the idea first. Pym has a lot of ideas lately. I love that.
With this series, there’s almost too much to put into words. But one thing I can tell you, this has been for some time Hank Pym’s Avengers. They have kicked some serious butt in the last year or so. Pym pulled out some winners that few others could. He did an excellent job stepping up to the plate when leadership was needed. And I think Slott has done an excellent job portraying someone who can pivot from confidence to self-deprecation to swagger to steely resolve…without lapsing into the despair that defined him (uhn, Pym, not Slott) for decades. You might like him or hate him, but you gotta respect him. (Pym OR Slott, actually.)
Even in this issue. The agents of the ridiculously-named GRAMPA think Pym is ignoring Captain America’s call to arms just so he can get laid. But the essence of Jocasta’s personality and life are on the line, and Pym chooses to save her first. If it were Thor’s life on the line, and Pym stayed back to save HIS life, would anyone question that? Or Jarvis’ life? No. I would make the same call. Different people might make a different call. But this is the very definition of the misunderstood hero, where Pym makes an informed judgment, and is true to what he thinks is best, despite what others might think.
I gotta respect that.
One more issue to go, and I won’t spoil the ending if you haven’t gotten the book. But everyone who has ever liked the Avengers ought to be on board for the finale with this set-up.
Rock-Me Amodeo is a daytime computer guy and nighttime all kinds of things. He’s also probably the only guy ever to write a book and a movie still hoping he might someday break into comics.

NEVERLAND #1

Written by: Joe Brusha Art by: Jean-Paul Deshong Published by: Zenescope Entertainment Reviewed by: Irish Rican

It's heartbreaking for me to have Zenescope's WONDERLAND trilogy actually coming to a close. I've turned so many people on to the twisted book, even my wife has read it. So with WONDERLAND ending Zenescope has wasted no time trying to find their next awesome GRIMM FAIRY TALES book. I think they truly have found it with NEVERLAND.
The first issue sets up a lot for the reader. Nathan is a guy with one arm (the other is a metal arm with a hook-like contraption. Before you jump to conclusions keep reading...) and is down on his luck. He has nightmares of a weird world where something happened to his brother Tim. More like some THING - a big monstrous creature that probably ate him for dinner.
On the flip side we have gorgeous Aunt Wendy with her nephews Michael and Jonathan. Seems that their parents have died some time ago and Aunt Wendy is raising them in the Big Apple. She enjoys reading them books but Michael and Jonathan's bedtime stories are the LORD OF THE RINGS, not tales of NEVERLAND.
Problem is Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. Did I say problem? Yes - because this Peter Pan isn't the sweet, magical boy from the fairytale. This is some messed guy who really looks like he is kidnapping children rather than offering awesome playtime. Evil Peter Pan? I love it...absolutely love it!
NEVERLAND is over before it really begins and once again Zenescope sinks its teeth in quick. From the awesome David Finch cover to Joe Brusha's kickass story - everything was just awesome with this book. I was going to complain about page count because the story seemed so, well, short - but in counting the pages I was stunned to find out that the issue was just normal comic length. It just read so well that it felt like it was short. That is not a knock - that is rather the ultimate compliment I can ever give for a comic. NEVERLAND is brilliant, Brusha's writing is sharp, and Jean-Paul Deshung's artwork is perfect for the book. This will be a book to watch.
Ryan McLelland AKA Irish Rican has worked in movies and comics journalism for the past several years before joining the @$$holes here at AICN. Ryan’s comic work has already graced comic shelves with Arcana’s PHILLY, WISE INTELLIGENCE, UPTOWN GIRL, and THE SENTINELS ANTHOLOGY. He rarely updates his blog but when he does it can be read at www.eyewannabe.com. Ryan's new webcomic Mobile Estates can be found at www.mobileestatescomic.com.

AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #34

Writer: Christos Gage Penciler: Jorge Molina Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Jinxo

AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE continues to entertain , telling the story of the grunts in the Marvel Universe. With Norman Osborn placing Asgard under siege in the like-named mini-series, The Initiative gets us inside the heads of the smaller players on both sides of the battle lines. Having already seen Captain America face off against Taskmaster in the main Siege book, it was interesting to actually get inside Taskmaster's head and hear the logic behind his choices and realize, yeah, his choice to face down Cap for him does make sense.
I want to say something about SIEGE as a whole though. I'm really enjoying the hell out of it, especially compared to some of the other big event books from recent history. My problem with so many earlier Marvel events was they really weren't full stories. What I mean is they were often less about giving you a satisfying, beginning, middle and end and more about ending with the status quo for the Marvel Universe being changed. So, for me, they often ended with a lack of real payoff. But, man, Siege is the opposite. Marvel has said this is the last big event they're going to do for awhile and as a result this event instead of being all setup is in fact nothing but payoff after payoff on things that have been building for years. It's crazy.
Meanwhile over at DC you have BLACKEST NIGHT going on. For what it is I am enjoying it but... it's maybe too big, too epic in scale. A bazillion Black Lanterns going ape shit across all of space. That's just so huge that it's hard to plot things out in such a way where a reader really feels like they are following everything. I mean, in a way, you can't. The universe is under attack! We're only going to see the key moments, obviously, with the majority of the fight becoming background confusion. Now, not wanting to put BLACKEST NIGHT down too much. Just saying that to point out what Siege has done better. Siege isn't the biggest most important universe-in-the-balance saga ever. It's smaller scale but still made epic by the fact that it's about an invasion of Asgard, city of the gods. And because it is smaller in scale it has enabled Marvel to really do an amazing job plotting the events out. SIEGE and it's crossover books have quite a number of overlapping stories going on and they really all seem to mesh and work really well with each other. Reading any SIEGE title, THE INITIATIVE for instance, I always feel like I understand time-wise where the events of that issue fit into the bigger Siege picture resulting in all the books being pretty satisfying reads.
And since this is really a review of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE specifically, one of the best aspects of the book is that it's about the grunts. In some of the other titles, you might not really have much fear that characters will die (especially when some of them only recently got better from being dead). But with a book about B and C list characters, some of them might actually die. And with as good a job as Christos Gage has done building all the books characters, we actually care.

Every comic shop has them… battered long boxes jam-packed with dog-eared titles ranging from forgotten heroes of the 1970s to multiple copies of chromium-covered “collector’s item” comics from the Big Bust of the 1990s. But if you are patient, and dig deep enough, you just may find something special…

ARMAGGEDDON 2001 Two Issue Miniseries and Annuals, 1991

Written by: Archie Goodwin, Dennis O’Neil and others Drawn by: Dan Jurgens, Dick Giordano and others Published by: DC Comics Scrounged from the long boxes by: BottleImp

A few weeks ago I wrote a Long Box review of DC’s ZERO HOUR miniseries, wherein I mentioned that the character of Waverider was created in DC’s ARMAGEDDON 2001 series. So for those of you too young to remember those long-ago days when the year 2001 was still an enigmatic, futuristic world of endless possibilities, here’s a look back DC’s flawed, yet still enjoyable, event of 1991.
The story begins in the year 2030, as seen through the eyes of scientist Matthew Ryder. The world is seemingly at peace, with global unity and economic recovery enforced by the mysterious Monarch and his armies of Peacemakers. Much like George Orwell’s dystopian future of 1984, the truth of the matter is that the world’s citizens are prisoners, held in cages by their fear, for the Peacemakers are given the power to preemptively arrest and prosecute (and in cases, execute) those who are thought to be a danger to the Monarch’s absolute rule. There is no one who can challenge the Monarch, for of all the rumors that circle about his origin, one thing is known: that the Monarch was once a superhero, until one day in 2001 when for reasons yet unknown, he destroyed all of Earth’s other heroes and took this new identity for himself. But now Ryder is given the chance to unmake this world and stop the Monarch before he ever comes into power, as he becomes the test subject for a time travel experiment and is transformed into Waverider, a being of pure electromagnetic energy that can travel back and forth along the flow of the timestream. Waverider’s mission is to seek out the greatest heroes of the past (1991) and look into their future timelines to see which one will become the Monarch, and stop this hero before this future can occur.
The miniseries consisted of two issues, designed to tie in with several of DC’s annual issues, a format which had been used well by both DC and Marvel in the 1980s and early ‘90s to craft company-wide events that remained somewhat self-contained, and did not necessitate long commitments or exorbitant amounts of money being spent by the readers. Oh, the good old days… The story began with ARMAGEDDON 2001 #1, then spun off into various annuals as Waverider tested (and in cases of heroes with multiple titles such as Superman and Batman, re-tested) DC’s characters to try and determine which one would fall into darkness. The end result was a collection of comic books that gave a nod back to the “Imaginary Stories” that used to be a staple of DC titles back in the 1960s and ‘70s—you know, the ones where Superman was killed by Lex Luthor and Brainiac, or the one where he ended up never leaving Krypton, or where Batman married Kathy Kane and Dick Grayson became the new Batman. Just as with these goofy stories from past, the creators of the ARMAGEDDON 2001 books had the freedom to explore the characters without the worries of messing up DC’s continuity or the constraints of making sure that the characters would be around for the next writers and artists to work with. In short, these annuals gave writers a chance to write “The Ultimate ___________ Story,” and as a result, some of them are some damn fine storytelling.
The three Superman annuals end up being the best examples of the writers doing something new and innovative with an iconic character (I was kind of surprised that the Batman stories didn’t have as much of an edge, but then again perhaps nothing could top THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS). In SUPERMAN Annual #3, the destruction of Metropolis by a nuclear bomb sends Superman over the edge, turning him into a fascist dictator bent on world disarmament—sort of a SUPERMAN IV with balls. His threat is finally neutralized by Batman in a scene obviously meant as an homage to DKR’s climactic battle, right down to Batman’s Frank Miller-esque armor. ACTION COMICS Annual #3 takes a much lighter look at the Man of Steel as he is elected President of the United States (a Constitutional possibility thanks to the re-vamping done in the 1980s which changed Kal-El’s spaceship into a “birthing matrix,” in essence an artificial womb—so Superman was, in fact, a United States-born citizen), and uses his power as part of the diplomatic process to spread peace and prosperity through the world. And in THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN Annual #3, a question that has puzzled comic readers for decades (it was even discussed in Kevin Smith’s MALLRATS) was finally answered, as Lois Lane dies from internal hemorrhaging resultant from a kick from Lois’ unborn child. The rest of the issue follows Superman as he exiles himself from Earth in his grief, ending up as the husband to the super-strong Empress Maxima of Almerac (as Brodie Bruce might have put it, “the only woman strong enough to handle his super-sperm”).
As I said, the Batman titles didn’t take quite as many chances, though both the BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS annuals feature good stories. DETECTIVE COMICS Annual #4 pits Batman against Talia al Ghul in a battle to the death, with it being revealed that Talia’s ultimate goal is the resurrection of Bruce Wayne in one of the immortality-granting Lazarus Pits, so that the Batman might take his place as the new Ra’s al Ghul. BATMAN ANNUAL #15 depicts a future where the Joker is declared sane and the Batman is sentenced to death for the murder of the Penguin, and features another homage to an iconic Batman comic, in this case Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s THE KILLING JOKE.
Both JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA and JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE were in their humorous Keith Giffen-penned phase, and their respective annuals reflect the less-than-serious tone with futures that fit in better with the slapstick antics of their regular titles, rather than the more tragic elements that popped up in DC’s other annuals. However, the final pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE Annual #2 feature an ominous build up to Waverider looking into Captain Atom’s future… an event which would be revealed in ARMAGEDDON 2001 #2.
This is when things get weird.
News had somehow leaked that Captain Atom would be the hero that would become the villainous Monarch. The powers that be at DC panicked and decided to alter the final issue of the miniseries and change the identity of the fallen hero, so that readers would still be surprised at the outcome. Therefore, the Monarch was revealed to be Hank Hall, aka Hawk of the HAWK AND DOVE duo, who witnesses his partner Dove’s death at the hands of the Monarch, who had traveled back in time thanks to the combined energies of Waverider and Captain Atom. Hawk then kills Monarch and takes his armor and identity (just as the Monarch remembered, hence his trip backwards in time), and vows to bring order to the world.
Okay, what’s wrong with this picture
First off, let’s just think about the likelihood that a superhero would kill the man responsible for his partner’s death, find out that the villain is in fact a future version of himself… and the first thing he does is put on that evil version’s costume and step right into his shoes? That takes a big suspension of disbelief, even when we’re talking about people who wear their underwear on the outside of their pants. Then let’s look at the character of Hawk: a man whose soul is linked to the spirit of Chaos. This is the guy who decides to bring ORDER to the world? In their effort to keep the mystery of the Monarch’s identity maintained, DC ended up turning this miniseries into a tangled mess of “what the hell happened?”
And the originally conceived identity of the Monarch, Captain Atom? He and Hank Hall were thrust back to the age of dinosaurs and ended up fighting each other across the timeline in the (sort-of) sequel to ARMAGEDDON 2001, entitled ARMAGEDDON: THE ALIEN AGENDA. The less said, the better.
Waverider popped up again in the miniseries ARMAGEDDON: INFERNO, a mostly forgettable affair whose only redeeming factor is that it brought the original Justice Society back from their Roy Thomas-sentenced Limbo and re-introduced them into DC’s current continuity. Then came ZERO HOUR (see the Raiders of the Long Box review here), and since then the time-traveler has popped up from time to time in titles such as BOOSTER GOLD. He also has the distinction of being immortalized in plastic as one of the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED line of action figures, even though he had just a brief cameo in the animated series.
Though the final outcome of ARMAGEDDON 2001 is a letdown, you could do worse than pick up a few of these WHAT IF?-style annuals next time you’re browsing the cheap boxes at your local comic shop. When all is said and done, they are great examples of the kind of storytelling that is done all too seldom in today’s publications: comic books created with excitement and energy and unconstrained by editorial shackles and decades of continuity.
When released from his Bottle, the Imp takes the form of Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from the Northeast. You can see some of his artwork here. He’s given up comics more times than he can remember. But every time he thinks he's out, they pull him back in.

SPIDER-MAN: REIGN

Writer: Kaare Andrews Artist: Kaare Andrews and Jose Villarubia Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: William

Buy this book immediately. Seriously, when you have a chance visit your local comic book shop and ask the owner the order you this copy. Even if you don’t have a comic book store nearby then I suggest you order it off of Amazon,com, because this mini-series from a few years back remains of the best comics that I have ever read.
Fresh from the great feeling that I had received with recently reading and reviewing Spider-Man: The Secret Wars #1, I decided to continue the Spider-Man streak by ordering this book. I had heard many things about it, such as it being a huge parallel to Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, and how it involves an older Peter Parker. Other than that I had remained pretty much in the dark about everything else, so once I finished reading this TPB I was amazed at how well everything was produced here.
First off, yes there are clear similarities to The Dark Knight Returns. Yes it deals with an elderly Peter Parker deciding to take up the Spider-Man mantle one last time as he battles a new era of crime. But those similarities can best be described as a respective homage rather than a rip-off. Much like Singer made his Superman Returns as a big thank-you note to Richard Donner’s original Superman movies, here Andrews both respects and reveres Miller’s classic tale by juxtaposing it with an elderly Spider-Man. But the thing that made it all so great was that Andrews still incorporated his own original ideas into the mix, some of them becoming quite haunting in fact in their nature.
For example, my favorite aspect within the TPB remains Peter’s relationship with a deceased Mary Jane. Seen now as a hallucination by Peter, I can’t ever quite recall how amazing Peter’s love was for her. Some internet poster nicely said that there are only two comic book relationships that truly matter, that of Clark Kent/Lois Lane and Peter Parker/Mary Jane. I agree with that assessment, as any comic book fans knows how important their relationships are within the comic book world. I won’t spoil how Mary Jane met her demise here, but when Andrews reveals how it happened and how it affected Peter afterward, I was in awe of how truly moving that scene was. It’s haunting in its simplicity and implication, and it’s a testament to Andrews’ skill in making the impact of it so devastating. His recurring hallucinations/interactions with Mary Jane’s “ghost” remain my absolute favorite scenes of all.
Besides that Andrews also incorporates some great storylines as Peter takes on a revised Sinister Six, meets with Doctor Octopus in a manner that has to be seen to be believed, and confronts what Andrews decides is his ultimate archenemy, Venom, for the final time. I say Andrews “decided it” because the only thing seen here as a misfire remains the non-inclusion of Normal Osborn/Green Goblin. I would’ve always thought that somebody as important as him (and to me the true archenemy of Spider-Man) should’ve at least been given a cameo here. But unfortunately he’s nowhere to be seen, and only guessable as to why Andrews never decided to incorporate him. It’s like having The Dark Knight Returns without including the Joker. This non-inclusion is the only thing that keeps this mini-series from becoming a great comic book.
I highly recommend this TPB for anyone out there who’s a fan of Spider-Man or of comic books in general. Andrews created a wonderful epic here, one that you’ll start from page 1 and read all the way through immediately afterward. The artwork is great by Andrews (including computer generated backgrounds that add to the mood), the storyline is fantastic (including obvious allegorical references to a post 9/11 world), and one absolutely roots for Spider-Man in what is supposedly his final tale here. If only all comic books out there had this same type of care crafted within them.

PRINCESS RESURRECTION Vol. 6 & 7

By Yasunori Mitsunaga Released by Del Ray Reviewer: Scott Green

As anime and manga have increasingly become the domain of long time fan creators speaking to long time fan consumers, the dependence on reference has increased in kind. Comedies base their humor on recognition. Action shows rely on the viewer knowing the template to feed their anticipation. In no configuration is this reliance more acute than male oriented relationship stories. There's an established language of character types and relationships in which the majority of these works communicate, and PRINCESS RESURRECTION is a native speaker. Its point of view is a dull guy, with little going for him other than being explicitly the hero (his name is Hiro) of these circumstances and, despite being dull, magnetically attractive to virtually every female character. There's a female lead who literally goes by "Princess," (Hime) whose iciness towards the lead melts away - tsundere character - to quote Galbraith's Otaku Encyclopedia "combining onomatopoeia tsun tsun (which suggests turning your head away in disgust) with dere dere (to turn all lovely dovey)... a developmental process wherein an icy character shows their warm side of the course of time." And, there's literally a wild girl (surname Wildman). A social queen bee...a particularly young girl....all of the standard types.
These relationship stories need a specific tone or gimmick. In the case of PRINCESS RESURRECTION, this identity is found in black and lace. Yasunori Mitsunaga applies solid black ink and nice curves to the loligoth attired Princess of the monster realm. The porcelain young woman in a gown raises a hapless, regular guy from the dead and uses him as a protective vanguard...not that she isn't able to take care of herself. As each volume's cover illustrates, with a saber or rapier, sledge hammer or chainsaw, this Hime is willing to get her hands bloody, if not necessarily dirty.
What PRINCESS RESURRECTION says in that language of anime/manga relationship stories loops back into the referential business. Upper echelon horror enthusiasm is being applied here. PRINCESS RESURRECTION features the obvious. Cute girls mixed with the Universal monster types are in the forefront. The vampire girl, complete with black sailor uniform, with plenty of panty shots as she hovers in the night sky; the werewolf girl, complete with large, fluffy mitt claws. The Frankenstein's monster girl...a little daintier than you'd expect. I imagine that Mitsunaga has a stack of international horror DVDs, because what's brought into PRINCESS RESURRECTION hardly ends with this mandatory set.
Hime and Hiro are the core of one of a network of monster cadres in which members of the royal family of the demonic realm and their entourages vy for the throne. Along with assorted free agents and beasties the manga corrals a diverse host of horror figures. Previous volumes included triffids, the Fly, a little mermaid of the dark, pre-Disney variety, bag headed slashers, and so on. PRINCESS RESURRECTION has impressed in this regard in the past, and this set of volumes nicely carries the torch. That includes a DUEL-like truck. There's a kaiju rumble between Godzilla and a Tetsujin 28-esque robot butler. And, a local spider goddess looks for her sacrifices in Hiro's school.
The manga has gotten away from its gag of slugging grievous bodily harm upon the ill-equipped Hiro, but PRINCESS RESURRECTION still has plenty of glib fun playing with the interaction between character types and horrific violence. It manages to turn thinly drawn characters into a virtue. The persistent smugness of the vampire girl, the unquenchable belligerence of the werewolf girl, it recasts horror as a sitcom. The characters are thoroughly relationship story types and the horror is an enthusiastic reproduction of the genre. This disparity works as comedy. It's rarely hilarious, but it is consistently funny.
PRINCESS RESURRECTION's failing is its fight scenes. Mitsunaga sets up an expectation. Hime's faction is stranded 2,000 years in the past, besieged by yeti and told that they must hold off the assault for three days. The group is locked into a monster world prison, where the werewolf must fight against her like type for supremacy and against a lethal vampire foe. If only Mitsunaga had an assistant that could choreograph these set pieces, because while Mitsunaga has plenty of horror expertise and a knack for illustrating black clad young ladies, he can barely manage disconnected blows in his fight scenes. The author appears to have figured this out, because while he continues to set up the battles, he cuts away before the deficit becomes too evident.
Compounding derivative elements is not exactly a path to greatness and this weakness does not help. It's not a brilliant manga and it isn't as good as it perhaps could be. Still, PRINCESS RESURRECTION is a consistently amusing manga series. Especially for horror fans who are familiar with the template of anime/manga relationship stories, there's a lot to like here.
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.

THE MOLTING #1-3

Writer/Art: Terrance Zdunich Publisher: www.TheMoltingComic.com Reviewer: Ambush Bug

One of the best things about horror is that it comes in all shapes and sizes. Some find horror in giant monsters crashing through cities, others through shambling masses of corpses overrunning society. Still others find horror in the banalities in life. THE MOLTING is that type of horror story. Much like David Lynch’s films which often have extremely horrific elements, THE MOLTING is the type of horror story that wallows in the banalities of life and how that can mask true horror. Lynch’s films are most effective when terrifying things occur and the horror lies in how the characters are unfazed by it. This occurs a lot in Terrance Zdunich’s THE MOLTING, a story of a little girl with a troubled past who grew up to have an equally troubled adulthood.
Issue one begins with a flashback story where we are introduced to Guilty Susie and her brother, who both are adopted by their aunt and uncle when their parents are killed. Their new parents are less than perfect; in fact they are downright sadistic, abusive monsters. As best as she can Susie attempts to defend herself, but the severity and gruesome lengths she goes to are the most disturbing aspects of this flashback issue.
Issues two and three take us to the present, with a grown up Susie who has an abusive husband herself and a pair of delinquent children. She is emotionally cut off, spending most of her time in her room, guarding an attic that houses a secret yet to be revealed, and a house infested with roaches that seem to know a lot more than they are letting on. The horror lies in the fact that Susie is shut off from the rest of the world. She doesn’t notice her two sons getting into trouble with the law. Or her oldest son’s bizarre gift to influence people with a stare. Or the roaches skritching around in every corner of the house.
All of the elements for a successful horror comic are in this book and it all works effectively. The thing that is most impressive is that writer/artist Terrance Zdunich is publishing this one his own. This is a true labor of love for the guy best known for his portrayal of the Graverobber in the cult classic REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA. Zdunich also provides some very impressive artwork for this book which seems to be developing with every issue. In issue one especially, the layout is superb, with the flashback sequences focusing mainly on the action of the panel, leaving the backgrounds to fade out, which is reminiscent of how we ourselves remember specific things when we revisit the past, but can’t remember the entire picture. Zdunich’s present day panels are much more grounded, but all of them dark and twisted, yet innocent, much like cartoon snapshots through a twisted toy camera lens.
THE MOLTING is a fine, fine horror comic and I can’t wait to read the rest of this 12 part series. Be sure to visit www.TheMoltingComic.com to find out how you can pick up this unique horror experience.

THE MARVELS PROJECT #7 (of 8) Marvel Comics

Yet another “meh” issue in this miniseries, which I’m beginning to think was created not so much to delve deeper into the origins of Marvel’s Golden Age heroes, but more as a way to get Golden Age suckers like me to fork over my money. Yes, Brubaker is doing a fair job of spinning a thread connecting the disparate births of Captain America, the Human Torch and the rest, and Epting’s art certainly gets the job done, but when all is said and done, there’s very little being told here that hasn’t been told many times before in these characters’ 70-year publication history. But being the anal-retentive completist that I am, I know that I have to pick up next month’s issue just to own the complete miniseries, even if that miniseries is a letdown. – Imp

THE GUILD #1 Dark Horse

I honestly knew nothing about the specifics of THE GUILD going into this book. I only knew that it a) had something to do with MMO’s (which I particularly don’t partake in, but seem fun enough), that b) Felicia Day, in my exposure to her, seemed like the kind of cute, authentic geek girl that makes geek guys swoon with just a smile and nod (except this soon-to-be-happily-married geek guy. Maybe if I were single girlie) and that c) Jim Rugg (Pittsburgh represent) and creator of the awesome STREET ANGEL and AFRODISIAC is, well, awesome. And y’know what? This was fun, and cute, and endearing; everything my notions about Ms. Day would lead me to believe about her and that she could/would transpose into her work. I actually like her depiction of the world of MMO’s and those that partake in them, in that, while maybe these people may be a little too obsessively into such a medium, that at its heart it’s still a means for the more introverted and those trying to find an identity for themselves to get absorbed in. Some people take it too seriously, some spend way too much time with it, to some it’s beyond an unhealthy obsession, but at its core it should be something that can be used to make some friendships and scratch some geek itches. And Ms. Day and Mr. Rugg present this world wonderfully. It’s playful, it’s very humorous in a self-deprecating way, and a little sad at times too. In the end, I had fun with it and am looking forward to getting a couple more fixes in before I decide if I’m willing to delve into her version of this world a little more via her ongoing webisode series. If it’s half as endearing as this issue was, then she may have just gotten herself a new member in her devoted legion of online fans. – Humphrey

RED HULK #3 Marvel Comics

I didn’t want to like it. I’m not talking this actual issue. I’m talking the whole concept of Red Hulk. It’s amazing to me, in light of this whole “Dark Siege” mega event that there is this whole OTHER Hulk-tastic crossover event going on, carefully orchestrated and executed (even more mind boggling when you consider REALM OF KINGS is still running concurrently, in outer space.) I didn’t want to like it, but I have enjoyed the overall concept and series. So back to the issue at hand, literally: I wanted to like this actual issue. But I don’t think this was as strong as the first two. The tag-team artwork was pretty good. The pivotal end scene of “Good Rick Hunting” kinda left me flat. In terms of the overall arc, the issue served well enough. There’s a lot going on, many pieces in play, and I appreciate that. Enough that you should want to pick up the run, just to see how it played out. But don’t judge the story by this one book. Everything can’t be served in every issue. When I look at the individual pieces, it was a weaker entry in the series. But on the whole, it wasn’t bad. - Rock-Me Amodeo

SUPERGOD #3 Avatar Press

Warren Ellis has never been at a lack for concepts, but sometimes I feel like his ideas just don’t end up translating well to the final product, and such is the case with this series. Maybe it’s just the fact that SUPERGOD is narrated by one person that makes it hard for me to feel much emotion, or maybe it’s because Ellis is throwing out manufactured deity after manufactured deity so fast that I’m not really registering it, but for whatever reason, I’m finding myself forgetting this comic the instant I finish reading it. This is a case where the story would probably be more compelling once if it could be read as a trade collection in one sitting, or even as a novel rather than a comic book. Because even though Garrie Gastonny’s pictures are mighty nice, they aren’t really doing anything to help Ellis convey his cerebral ideas to the readers. – Imp

X-FACTOR #203 Marvel Comics

Though this title hasn’t been able to re-attain that “Holy shit!” momentum that began last year when Madrox absorbed his baby, X-FACTOR nonetheless remains an enjoyable ride. This issue was fun for me because it features Guido (aka Strong Guy), a great character who’s been relegated to the background for most of this series. David picks up with Guido where he left off back in the 1990s, giving a little three-dimensionality to the seemingly one-dimensional smart-a

Readers Talkback

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  • March 31, 2010, 10:46 a.m. CST

    First

    by ECUPirate71

  • March 31, 2010, 10:48 a.m. CST

    First posters are usually assholes

    by ECUPirate71

    but not this time. That guy is awesome.

  • March 31, 2010, 10:57 a.m. CST

    Seriously though,

    by Joenathan

    I love it when Megan Fox bends over...

  • March 31, 2010, 11:02 a.m. CST

    I love

    by Joenathan

    how Optimus's example of a "intelligent" movie is Shakespeare in Love.

  • March 31, 2010, 11:08 a.m. CST

    I agree 100% on the Nemesis review....

    by Righteous Brother

    And Optimus Douche's opinion on Millar too. All his comics just seem to be about the money shots and little else. Although I have to say I did enjoy The Ultimates. Nemesis Spoiler….how did he manage to fly Air Force One after shooting out the cockpit – wouldn’t that be very difficult?

  • March 31, 2010, 11:17 a.m. CST

    2 comic relationships that matter & REIGN

    by NinjaRap

    The 2 that matter are Superman/Lois Lane and Reed Richards/Sue Storm. That's it. Peter/MJ? Hell no. Doesn't matter a whit, because they've had so many breakups that people barely notice. Also, SPIDER-MAN: REIGN is a fucking horrible joke. The tone is so ridiculously far off the mark from what the character is known for and should represent, and the writing is so overdramatic that it makes Dark Knight Returns look subtle in comparison. Some of the smaller storytelling decisions are hilariously tone-deaf - Peter killed MJ because he had radioactive semen!!!! - that they have the potential to become fantastic long-term Internet jokes. SPIDER-MAN: REIGN is worth reading for the unintentional comedy, and then every copy should be burned.

  • March 31, 2010, 11:19 a.m. CST

    Nemesis

    by Joenathan

    I've only glanced at it so far, but I agree it seemed splash page heavy. <br><br>I'm not so worried how he flew Air Force One after shooting out the cockpit, since he was standing on the outside of the plane in flight at the time, I'd more question: <br><br>A. Since when is the Chief of Police the "best" cop in town and NOT a fat, old guy who's more politician than police officer, and... <br><br>B. How could he legally justify shooting to kill on all of the hostage takers? I know that's a stupid question in a comic book, but it's an example of the type of thing that usually bothers me in comics, a little thing akin to why Green Lantern doesn't have pockets on his Space Cop uniform and how on Earth he could be comfortable just walking around and hanging out ALL THE TIME in a spandex bodysock OR why the fuck Hank Pym doesn't just shrink down to normal size during tea... It just didn't make him seem like a good cop at all: "You snuck in the back in a baseball cap and thn just shot them all? Can we do that?" <br><br>This issue is just bare set up, slightly more robost than War Heroes, but not much. I'll wait for the next issue, but it's on the low spectrum for me, and much like War Heroes, I may lose interest. <br><Br>Also, sidenote, I hated the art in War Heroes. It's pretty much the main reason I don't read Ex Machina.

  • March 31, 2010, 11:28 a.m. CST

    "why the fuck Hank Pym doesn't just shrink down to normal size d

    by rev_skarekroe

    Because he's American. Next question?

  • March 31, 2010, 11:35 a.m. CST

    Nemesis was Millar's return to form, man....

    by PTSDPete

    Return to motherfucking form ( i.e. The Authority ).

  • March 31, 2010, 11:43 a.m. CST

    by Joenathan

  • March 31, 2010, 11:43 a.m. CST

    Misfire

    by Joenathan

    Hank Pym doesn't shrink down because he's a wife beating jerk. Poor Jarvis

  • March 31, 2010, 11:47 a.m. CST

    he had magnetic boots.

    by Righteous Brother

    and its not as good as The Authority is it?

  • March 31, 2010, 11:49 a.m. CST

    Doesn't DC do a "What IF?" equivalent?

    by V'Shael

    I think they should DEFINITELY do a "What if Monarch was really Captain Atom?" and show us how the series was supposed to fucking end. <p>

  • March 31, 2010, 11:50 a.m. CST

    Supergod : The delay between issues is killing it.

    by V'Shael

    This is a story that REALLY can't be told at an average of one page a day or less, know what I mean?

  • March 31, 2010, 11:58 a.m. CST

    NEMESIS Doesn't Come Close to Authority

    by optimous_douche

    And for the same very reasons I stated in my review.<p> When Millar is working with established charachters (Ellis in this case) the man is pure gold.<p> Again, your mind is filling in the blanks. OLD MAN LOGAN, RED SON, AUTHORITY...all the same thing.<p> It's the original titles that just seem to lack...depth.<p> I'm not even going to get into the physics or cop deabte although both good points. At a certain point we do need to say "This is comics."

  • March 31, 2010, 12:15 p.m. CST

    rip Dick Giordano

    by Star Hump

    I hadn't heard about his death until I read this today. What a comics titan. He's the first inker I really ever noticed. That heavy but crisp line he used just made the characters pop, especially Batman. What an eye-pleasing, exciting style he had. And I used to love the Soapbox-like column he wrote for the DC books in the 1980s. Unlike the Marvel version, they weren't hype-heavy and often contained thoughtful musings on comics. Dick was the consumate pro.

  • March 31, 2010, 12:45 p.m. CST

    Optimus

    by Joenathan

    True. It is comics. Which is why I wasn't concerned about him flying a shot up Air Force One. I think, in my brief glance, my two real main issues were: <br><br>1. The book felt like it had started out three times loner and then all the inbetween panels were cut out until only the BIG moments remained. 2. It's weird that he would wear an outfit at all... I mean, I guess somebody needs to start wearing a costume in a comic book world, but still, it's kind of like going to a two hand touch game in full pads.<br><br>I also, couldn't help but be reminded of Morrison's JLA/Crime Syndicate crossover. The rivalry and opposing personalities between Owlman and Earth 2's Gordon was so much more clear, despite so few panels. <br><br>I guess, ultimately, at this point, Nemesis seems a bit off for me.

  • March 31, 2010, 1:01 p.m. CST

    "That's right you little peasants, Run! Run!"

    by Tall_Boy66

    Okay, why did people hate this book again? That's not entertaining? I mean, really?

  • March 31, 2010, 1:03 p.m. CST

    Armageddon 2001...

    by blogintomystery

    I remember that cross-over quite vividly and really enjoyed a lot of the stories in the annuals. Spot on about how the Supes futures were really well done - esp. the smackdown Batman gave him with the Kryptonite ring and, speaking of rings, President Superman snatching the power ring from Guy Gardner in a test of wills. Good stuff. The reveal of Hawk as Monarch? Not so much. Even my somewhat naive and accepting 13-year old mind asked "Really? SERIOUSLY?"

  • March 31, 2010, 1:06 p.m. CST

    I liked Spider-Man: Reign better when it was Dark Knight Returns

    by Tall_Boy66

    BUTTT that doesn't mean that I hate Spider-Man: Reign, it's a nice if completely unsubtle remake of DKR with Spidey instead of Bats. And I kind of dug all the wacky ideas - Venom being the last Spidey villain standing after all the years, Kingpin being fed with an IV drip, and Spidey killing MJ with radioactive semen was totally fucking crazy. Good art, though, and very moody. Just cause it's unoriginal doesn't mean it's terrible.

  • March 31, 2010, 1:15 p.m. CST

    re: Pan -- actually, he wasn't that nice in the original

    by JasonPratt

    In some ways he was even more spastic than Tinkerbell. Think "Rufio" from Spielberg's _Hook_, but a little younger. Much of the point, including much of the latent romantic point, is that he grew up a little and became more ethically responsible thanks to Wendy. The new "Neverland" series seems to posit "What if Peter did in fact grow up in Neverland and didn't meet Wendy until she was also an adult?" OBVIOUSLY he'd be a douche-jock villain with a bad-girl armhanger (i.e. Tink).

  • March 31, 2010, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Also, I kinda agree with all pros and cons of Reign

    by JasonPratt

    I mean the Spiderman miniseries. I hate the book for all the reasons mentioned, but also admire it for all the reasons mentioned. No, really. I'm not kidding. Notably, these reasons don't (usually) overlap. {wry g}

  • March 31, 2010, 1:35 p.m. CST

    Also, who the hell was that at the end of X-Factor

    by Tall_Boy66

    Huge Peter David fan here, every issue of the most X-Factor run and god-knows how many books of his, but the reveal at the end of X-Factor kinda threw me off. I get he's a bad guy who absorbs energy, and he seems like a mean dude, but I have no clue who he is. Mid-90s villain revival reveals at the end of comics nowadays kinda piss me off, I'm looking at you Geoff Johns!

  • March 31, 2010, 1:42 p.m. CST

    REIGN

    by DuncanHines

    Man, I loved the hell out of that book when it was coming out as a miniseries. I recently re-read it in trade and I was astonished at how disappointed I was. The prominence of Sandman and Venom in that book were glaring reminders of the fact that it was released around the time of Spider-Man 3. Good effort, but the heavy hand of editorial is too evident the second time around...

  • March 31, 2010, 1:43 p.m. CST

    The importance of the Peter/Mary Jane relationship

    by Laserhead

    Is that it isn't important at all and never should have been. When they got married they were fuck-buddies and Peter married her for no real reason-- it was a publicity stunt to rival Superman's wedding. Then they somehow kept being portrayed as these incredible soul-mates. Then the movie and Ultimate Spider-Man made that the new mythos. In the actual continuity, though, Mary Jane was a bit of a flighty tramp, and her and Peter hooked up for sex periodically, and one day, completely out of the blue, Parker proposes.

  • March 31, 2010, 2:04 p.m. CST

    But MJ was probably really good in the sack

    by Tall_Boy66

    I would assume that is the reason why Parker proposed. "Hey, I gots to get me some of that on a regular basis, yo!" I betcha in the end for all her purr and leather, Black Cat is probably a cold fish. Give Pete the firecrotch any day!

  • March 31, 2010, 2:07 p.m. CST

    And speaking of Black Cat-

    by Tall_Boy66

    I think my favourite representation of the Black Cat/Spider-Man relationship was in Ultimate Spider-Man. After flirting and fighting for a few issues, Black Cat goes in for the kiss, pulls off his mask, sees a pimply 15 year old kid grinning, she looks horrified, vomits, and walks away, never to be seen again in the book. I hope she never comes back, not that I hate her or anything, just that I think it's an absolute gold way to put a bow on the Spidey/Black Cat relationship. Just something different.

  • March 31, 2010, 2:07 p.m. CST

    This column mentions one of the best Superman stories of ALL TIM

    by Greggers

    Of ALL TIME folks! That's big!<br><br> At the time that I read ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #3, I think there was a rule at DC that all "Future Superman" stories had to be about Superman becoming some kind of dictator. The Future + Superman = A Dark Color Motif and Authoritarianism. We can all see the appeal for the writers when it comes to that, right? Exploring the fascist undertones of our regressive power fantasies seems like meaty stuff. The trouble is that it's been done so much, it's hacky. <br><br> (Along these same lines: Mind-controlled Superman. Superman actually had three weaknesses: Kryptonite, magic, and mind-control.) <br><br> In ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #3, written by Roger Stern and drawn by Tom Grummett, Future Superman becomes President of the United States. And not only does he have all the powers of Superman, and not only does he hold the most important job in the world, at one point in the story, *he even gains possession of a Green Lantern ring*. <br><br> So does Future Superman take all this super-awesome power and rule the world with an iron fist?? <br><br> No!! <br><br> Superman is actually a great fucking president. He gets in office, advances his somewhat center-left agenda within the framework of the government, and when his term is up, he leaves office. <br><br> The other Armageddon 2001/Superman tie-ins reliably fell back on the fascist Superman trope. Not bad comics, but predictable and a bit of a drag. ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #3 boldly went in a new direction -- a direction that was optimistic, idealistic, and really, more in keeping with the overall mandate of Superman comics for the past 70 years: Living as if the world were as it should be in order to show it what it can be. Inspiring. It's the feel-good Superman comic of the 90s, and that's important, because a pure Superman comic should make you feel good. <br><br> Lest I oversell it, the "Armagedden 2001" aspects weigh it down a little, and in fact, there's a whole prologue invoiving Darkseid's son Kalibak returning to life that has nothing to do with the main story. (Seemed to be using the extra space to take care of business for the other titles and overall continuity.) And it's a comic book story, not Proust. <br><br>But in the mountain of lukewarm mediocrity that was the Armageddon 2001 crossover -- or, okay, let's be honest: in the mountain of lukewarm mediocrity that comprises most of the Superman canon -- ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #3 stands out as a gem. One of the all-time best. A good one to have in the collection.

  • March 31, 2010, 2:17 p.m. CST

    I finally quit buying X-Factor

    by Homer Sexual

    The previous issue was so bad it finally put me off after hanging on for a while.

  • March 31, 2010, 2:23 p.m. CST

    My Big Problem with the Marvel's Project

    by cookylamoo

    Is that good guy Cap willingly participates in a publicity campaign to fool the American public into thinking Bucky was a gung-ho lucky American kid when he was actually trained to be an assassin by the US Army and the SAS. Makes Cap kind of a dick.

  • March 31, 2010, 2:44 p.m. CST

    End of X-Factor - spoiler, I guess

    by rock-me Amodeo

    M***O was the classic Dr. Strange foe in the 60s/70's, the disciple of the Ancient One that was passed over for Stephen. He lapsed into obscurity and moot-ness many years ago.

  • March 31, 2010, 2:44 p.m. CST

    Killed MJ with radioactive semen?

    by Laserhead

    Is that a joke? I never read Reign, but suddenly I guess I should.

  • March 31, 2010, 2:48 p.m. CST

    They wiped out the Spider-Balls in the TPB...

    by MrMysteryGuest

    ...the original REIGN #1 had a bit of old Peter Parker nudity. Yech! I guess that issue's a collector's item now.

  • March 31, 2010, 2:52 p.m. CST

    Cookylamoo

    by Joenathan

    How does that make Cap a dick? Besides, he was following orders.

  • March 31, 2010, 3:15 p.m. CST

    So was Sgt. Shultz.

    by cookylamoo

  • March 31, 2010, 3:15 p.m. CST

    So was Sgt. Shultz.

    by cookylamoo

  • March 31, 2010, 3:32 p.m. CST

    Spider-Man: Reign...

    by Righteous Brother

    I didn't really dig it, I'll give it another go.

  • March 31, 2010, 3:53 p.m. CST

    So...

    by Joenathan

    Captain America participating in a PR campaign, most likely to sell war bonds... is akin to a NAzi Camp Guard. Awesome

  • March 31, 2010, 4:39 p.m. CST

    RIP Dick Giordano

    by covenant

    Another great talent lost. Every comic company should have a man like him.

  • March 31, 2010, 5:38 p.m. CST

    Spiderman Reign IS an internet joke

    by OutsideChance

    Just google the phrase "spiderman radioactive sperm" and see for yourself. You might want to skip the image search however, unless you have it on safe search.

  • March 31, 2010, 6:12 p.m. CST

    Issue 1 of Nemesis...

    by Baryonyx

    ...was okay. I was just left wondering how Nemesis and the Prez got out of Air Force One before it blew up (in a scene in which Millar kills off a kid in the explosion.) I like a lot of Millar's stuff, but he does seem to overdo the "I'm-being-shocking-because-I-kill-babies" scenes in his work. He killed a baby just recently in Ultimate Avengers (of course, he wiped out a hospital full of them in The Authority.

  • March 31, 2010, 7:21 p.m. CST

    Comparing Millar to Mikey Bay?!?

    by Stalkeye

    Shit, that is n insult.Millar has original concepts, Bay is just a hack.

  • March 31, 2010, 7:31 p.m. CST

    steve bissette hasput up his archive posts

    by brabon300

    on the comic wars of the late 80s, which giordano had a big role in, fighting for creators rights....i suggest everyone hop over and take a look<p> additionally, you might all be interested in hopping over to littlegreenfootballs<p> that blogger just discovered that his mom kept all his comics in almost pristine condition for now what amounts to over 40 years....still amazing to see kirby covers just jump off the pages

  • March 31, 2010, 7:44 p.m. CST

    I hate Michael Bay's stuff

    by Hercules

    I love Mark Millar's stuff, Kick-Ass and Nemesis included. And Wanted was way better than the movie. Just pick up anything with Millar's name on it; I've almost never been disappointed.

  • March 31, 2010, 8:08 p.m. CST

    The worst thing about NEMESIS

    by stones_throw

    His costume! No man ever looked good wearing all white, apart from Christ, perhaps. It makes the guy look like the colorist ran out of time before the book went to press. That's the problem with comics that do "dark, twisted" interpretations of classic super heroes: the writer and artist have to make the character look different enough to be legal while letting you know who it's meant to be. Mark Waid's recent series where Superman was "the Plutonian" was one of the dumbest, but having Batman wear white isn't much more inspired.

  • April 1, 2010, 1:33 a.m. CST

    Rest In Peace, Mr. Giordano...

    by The Merk

    Comics are better for you having been here.

  • April 1, 2010, 1:38 a.m. CST

    Douche hit Nemesis on the head

    by krushjudgement

    It was silly violence, but if that's what you like...

  • April 1, 2010, 1:42 a.m. CST

    Also, Nemesis...

    by krushjudgement

    Did anyone else notice that McNiven's inks were really weak?

  • April 1, 2010, 1:54 a.m. CST

    The Authority

    by Wonko

    Millar's work on the Authority gives him free reign to do whatever the fucking hell he wants for the rest of eternity. It was just that good. Civil War was kind of fun.

  • April 1, 2010, 4:02 a.m. CST

    Here's to you, Mr. Giordano!

    by Daytripper69

    What an amazing talent he was. He added (further) class to the pencil artwork of the likes John Byrne and Walt Simonson. I grew up with the work he's done with Neal Adams, and together they came up with what may be the DEFINITIVE look of The Batman. Let's not forget as well Dick's work on the Human Target series, and his role in making reality Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns." A real genius and he will be missed.

  • April 1, 2010, 5:49 a.m. CST

    WANTED

    by optimous_douche

    Was indeed way better than the movie, but that's back when Millar was actually writing his original titles as comics -- not movie specs.<p> Despite sir Millar's heartfelt letter at the end of NEMESIS. Come...the...fuck...on. This thing was written to be movie fodder from start to finish.<p> Movies - Comics -- Two different mediums that should be told in different ways.<p> I never said Millar was Michael Bay, but he has become the comic version -- all style no substance -- especially with the original titles.<p> Herc all I can say is that if you are placing WANTED and KICK-ASS on a pedastal -- you need to broaden your comic reading list.

  • April 1, 2010, 5:51 a.m. CST

    Krush

    by optimous_douche

    I didn't feel McNiven was weak, merely experimenting. i admire the hell out of the guys taht can change their style on a dime -- that is true talent -- even if I don't agree with the direction they go in.<p> Another recent example is Ottley on Haunt. I don't like anyone trying to ape McFarlane, but I admire the face he can do it while infusing his own signature flare.

  • April 1, 2010, 7:12 a.m. CST

    Stones_throw

    by optimous_douche

    Did you notice that NEMESIS looks exactly like Phantom X from X-men. Seriously do a compare/contrast.

  • April 1, 2010, 8:26 a.m. CST

    When Millar Is On, There's No One Better...

    by Buzz Maverik

    I think is great ability is ideas. Asking what if. And when he's trying, the writing ends up interesting and exciting. But...here's the thing that Millar has against him. He wants his bosses to like him. He wants the press to like him. He wants his fans to like him. He wants Hollywood to like him. (No, I don't know Mark Millar and no, he never said, "Buzz, I want everybody but comic readers over a certain age to like me"). It's the logic of the gut feeling. The other current aging top guns such as Bendis, Ellis, Morrison, and Ennis don't seem to come across as being desperate to be popular. I think they'd probably prefer that we all liked them because it's more...how you say money ... but they're going to do whatever they're going to do anyway, which is cooler.

  • April 1, 2010, 8:30 a.m. CST

    And I Like Michael Bay Movies

    by Buzz Maverik

    It's not just the Oppositional Defiance Disorder talking either. Okay, during the last TRANSFORMERS, I kept asking strangers in the theater, "Where are they?" and "Didn't that already happen?" and "Do you have any pot?" but my point is still valid.

  • April 1, 2010, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Agreed Buzz

    by optimous_douche

    The stuff he does with established continuities is fantastic...RED SON is still one of my favorites...likewise with 1985.<p> It's the stuff he makes with the specific intent of truning it into a movie property that seems to fall flat. There's not a doubt in my mind KICK-ASS the movie will do well -- since the comic was written like a movie.

  • April 1, 2010, 8:34 a.m. CST

    Do You Have Any Pot?

    by optimous_douche

    And with that one line you cracked the Michael Bay code....

  • April 1, 2010, 8:35 a.m. CST

    AND I'm Rooting For Millar In The Movie Biz

    by Buzz Maverik

    I've been hoping for years that one of these dinks would cross over. It looked like Frank Miller ruined it for comic guys forever (see if you ever wonder why I keep saying these guys don't deserve our worship, go see THE SPIRIT) but Millar may have a shot.<p>So what if his original series are movie pitches. They have to get movie ideas from somewhere, so it might as will be Millar.

  • April 1, 2010, 8:40 a.m. CST

    True Comic Shop Conversation

    by Buzz Maverik

    Me: "Yeah, I know Mark Miller."<p>Dip:"You do not know Mark Millar."<p>"Yer right. I didn't say I knew Millar. I know Miller."<p>"You know Millar. Bullshit."<p>"As a matter of fact, I do know Mark Millar, writer of the ULTIMATES, KICK ASS, WANTED and all that other stuff on his resume. He's a helluva a guy and mixes a killer Martini. He's very positive and upbeat and like everyone, except you. I know because he mentioned you by name."

  • April 1, 2010, 11:10 a.m. CST

    still sad about Giordano

    by Star Hump

    I don't get to too many conventions but I checked one out in Tampa, Florida because Giordano was one of the guests. I couldn't wait to meet him. I was truly excited. Unforunately he was too unwell to make it and had to cancel his appearance. Sad, but understandable.<p> Damn that guy was a talent, both cerebally and artistically. He's one of THE main guys (along with Adams and Garcia-Lopez and others) that gave the DC characters that thrilling modern look. I just love the way the characters were drawn and inked in the 70s and 80s.<p> DC should do an entire volume on the artwork of Dick Giordano.

  • April 1, 2010, 11:24 a.m. CST

    Optimus - Phantom X

    by Joenathan

    Completely different helmet and he wore a white trenchcoat, not a cape.

  • April 1, 2010, 11:28 a.m. CST

    Also

    by Joenathan

    Millar is on my list of "always buy" along with Bendis, Ellis, Morrison, Hickman, and Clugston

  • April 1, 2010, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Nemesis #1 was ok

    by Sigourneys_Beaver

    But that's all. Millar angling for another movie obviously. After 'Kick Ass' Why not?

  • April 1, 2010, 12:29 p.m. CST

    I think the movie was as good or better than the comic.

    by Homer Sexual

    "Wanted" the comic starred Halle Berry and Eminem, so how can anyone say it wasn't written to be turned into a movie is beyond me. I also feel, as a reader, that Millar was giving me the finger. <p> The male lead in Wanted was weak, but otherwise I liked it better than the comic. <p> Nonetheless, I agree with the poster who said Millar's work on the Authority was so good it gives him a free pass, and Ultimates was also terrific.

  • April 1, 2010, 12:33 p.m. CST

    No

    by Joenathan

    The supervillain fights were a hundred times better than the future telling loom... A HUNDRED TIMES better. Also, I giggle when I think about people just spittin' mad at the end of Wanted. HA!<br><br>I am also on board with Millar's Authority being totally fucking sweet.

  • April 1, 2010, 1:12 p.m. CST

    Any @$$holes check out Sparta USA?

    by Jaka

    Or would that be in next weeks reviews. Man was I disappointed in that. First of all, I just didn't love the art at all. I think we've moved on from that style and it just wasn't appealing to me at all. Second, it felt like too much had been edited after the intro pages. It was kind of jumpy and hard to follow. Also, I'm quite sure the final page return of the former town hero was meant to be dramatic in an old school super hero kind of way, but it felt really lacking and anti-climatic to me. I like a lot of the ideas about the town, though. Especially how many sports teams they have and how important they are to them. That's some interesting commentary, right there. But I'm completely unsure if it's going to PLAY into the book any further. I'm sure more of the ideas behind the town and the distribution of children will be uncovered in future issues, so I'll can be patient there.

  • April 1, 2010, 1:19 p.m. CST

    Man, I freakin' loved Nemesis

    by Jaka

    I mean I LOVED it. My biggest complaint is the cover that says, "Makes Kick-Ass look like shit!" I don't understand that at all. But the art was beautiful and the language worked in the same way it works in something like Pulp Fiction. The train scene was bad ass - didn't see that coming at all. Fucking with the President as a character is a brave move. One that I'm interested to see play out in the next few issues. I don't know, I just didn't have any ill feelings for this book. It was as interesting as any other first issue I've read recently. And I can't remember reading a book in a long time, if ever, where the completely evil douche bag of a villain was so much the star of the issue (I expect the Chief to be the star by the end, though). Plus, I just love supporting creator owned work. The fact that they did this on their own is something to be respected, in my opinion. One more thing, if Nemesis survives this mini, he and the Kick-Ass crew should meet at some point.

  • April 1, 2010, 1:21 p.m. CST

    Zenescope

    by Jaka

    Should they be a guilty pleasure, or should they just be something I openly love? I really can't decide. But I buy all their damn books, regardless. Haven't read Neverland #1 yet, but the Zero issue didn't excite me as much as the Wonderland and Grimm's books.

  • April 1, 2010, 1:23 p.m. CST

    I'm not caught up on The Stand books

    by Jaka

    And I may just wait for the TPB on those. But The Stand itself, as a novel, is one of the longest, slowest reads imaginable, so I'm not sure it would be possible for the comics to avoid hitting some of those same marks. The difference between the book and the comic is that it's your imagination verses the art you eye is seeing. Imagination is almost always the worst of the two.

  • April 1, 2010, 1:23 p.m. CST

    Jaka, the bad guy will 'win'..

    by Sigourneys_Beaver

    ..or he better. I'm rooting for this particular villain for some reason.

  • April 1, 2010, 1:27 p.m. CST

    I'm so damn far behind on Hellblazer

    by Jaka

    Like, over two years I think. 20-25 issues. It's still on my pull list and I still buy it every month, but I haven't read the damn thing in forever. I prefer my John Constantine when it's just completely bug-fuckin' surreal in dealing with the arcane. But grounded in Britain ain't bad, either. Milligan and Bisley are two of my favorites, though. So I may have to start catching up on this series so I can check this issue out.

  • April 1, 2010, 1:30 p.m. CST

    Sigourney's Beaver...

    by Jaka

    ...made me laugh to type that. You're probably right. And the President will probably get killed, too. Because that would be the sensationalist thing to do. I'm not sure I'm rooting for Nemesis, but I'm definitely interesting is seeing what happens to him. And beyond this series, too. So in that sense, I hope he at least survives.

  • April 1, 2010, 1:53 p.m. CST

    "Stupid hymen" - The Guild

    by Jaka

    I liked the cover, so I picked it up off the shelf to turned some pages. Got to, "Stupid hymen" and decided to buy it. Had no idea what it was about, really. And I had NO idea there was a long ass live action web series of the same name. My free time is already over booked, I don't pay much attention to things like web series. I love the sly pop-culture jabs and references. "Like when Nirvana hit in the Nineties, right?" "Who? Oh, yeah. Right." Playing Tetris on a PC. Also liked the boyfriend/girlfriend band relationship and the way Gunther (with an umlaut) went off about modern music. Both of them are accurate as I've seen exchanges exactly like them take place. Unfortunately I didn't love the in game parts so much, other than the change in the look of the art. That was a nice touch. And then when the boyfriend came back I was actually annoyed. lol So in the end, I'm not sure how much I really liked it. In hindsight it was kind of silly overall, like purchasing it because of a "stupid hymen". Unsure if I'll be buying the next two issues.

  • April 1, 2010, 1:56 p.m. CST

    Man, that's a lot of typos in all those posts

    by Jaka

    Apologies. Was trying to get through it all quickly.

  • April 4, 2010, 1:01 p.m. CST

    "Gravel" series is a lot better than "Hellblazer" ever was

    by njscribe44

    The "Minor Seven" and "Major Seven" storylines in "Gravel" are far more interesting than Constantine's formulaic storylines.

  • April 4, 2010, 1:03 p.m. CST

    Hope "Seige" will mark the end of The Sentry

    by njscribe44

    I orginally liked the concept of a Silver Age character that the other Marvel heroes had forgotten about, but the Sentry is just too lame.

  • April 6, 2010, 12:55 a.m. CST

    On Siege #2/3...

    by SteadyUP

    http://tinyurl.com/ydpehb6

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