Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS Part One: JUSTICE LEAGUE! CAPTAIN VICTORY! 30 DAYS OF NIGHT! ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN! FLASH GORDON! Plus another AICN COMICS Podcast!!!

Published at: Nov. 16, 2011, 8:58 a.m. CST

Issue #33 Release Date: 11//9/11 Vol.#10
The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE #3
THE SIMON AND KIRBY LIBRARY: CRIME HC
30 DAYS OF NIGHT #2
CAPTAIN VICTORY #1
HOUSE OF NIGHT #1
TALL TALES FROM THE BADLANDS #1
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #4
FLASH GORDON: INVASION OF THE RED SWORD #6
Advance Review: ELEPHANTMEN #36
AICN COMICS Podcast!


Advance Review: In stores today!

JUSTICE LEAGUE #3

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jim Lee
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


I see followers of this column in a much different light than the average collector. You are a breed of readers that, like us, look for the deeper meaning in comics. There are a million sites where you can glean the obligatory plot points of this issue; things like the nanites being injected into Victor Stone’s body to complete his transformation into Cyborg, the banter between Barry and Hal as they both try to call dibs on newcomer Wonder Woman, the appearance of Aquaman as Darkseid’s base of operations Boom Tubes out of the sea to dwarf even the tallest of earth’s skylines. This issue was a tsunami of action save the opening of Wonder Woman discovering the heavenly delights of ice cream. Again, if you truly require a blow-by-blow replay of every page my feelings won’t be hurt by clicking off this page. What I want to talk about is what this new JUSTICE LEAGUE symbolizes and perhaps unearth the polarity of fandoms’ loving or loathing for this cornerstone of the new DC universe.

Good comics always reflect the age we live in. The new JUSTICE LEAGUE is a picture-perfect mirror of our age of disillusionment. I sat reading JUSTICE LEAGUE as my local Philadelphia news bombarded my senses in the background with a scandal that has rocked one of our most revered institutions and continues to descend our angels of mercy into the plane of mortal fallible men. Some may still want their heroes to be perfect, but I hold no delusions. I simply can’t and consider myself a rational human being. And it’s for that reason alone I can appreciate this new JUSTICE LEAGUE and their less than perfect ways. Some have not been able to swallow this hard pill; they still want their heroes to be dipped in 24 karat gold, shit rainbows and always make the right decisions. Those people have my deepest condolences, because the world has moved past them. Thank God for back issues, I guess.

When the first issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE hit the shelves in 1960, the world was a much smaller place. A world where our exposure to media consisted of newspaper columns and an hour of news that was broadcast into the one black & white television that sat inside the average American’s home. There was no 24 hour news cycle, no Internet to feed confidential documents into the belly of the wikileaks beast and then have that information regurgitated into the mouths of millions. In short, our heroes of that age were protected; they could hide their dirty secrets because there was no TMZ hiding outside the bushes to take snap shots of their fetishes or dirty deeds done dirt cheap. The JUSTICE LEAGUE of yore was perfect because we perceived our real world heroes to be perfect as well. Take the top real world hero of the time: JFK. He was a man that was revered as a savior for America raising our aspirations into the heavens and attempting to bring the American dream to all citizens of this country, not just the white folks. But even in death JFK could not escape this new age of transparency. In the fifty years since his assassination news of backroom deals to get elected, dalliances with Hollywood starlets and even rumors of a pain pill addiction have been brought into the “light.” JFK wasn’t perfect; we merely didn’t have the resources or the channels when he was alive to uncover the more morally objectionable facets of the man. Superheroes, as the name implies, serve to embody an ideal greater than real world heroes. So if we extrapolate my JFK example it stands to reason that the comic book characters of the time would shine like gilded platinum being directly illuminated by the light of God.

Now, comics took a dark decent in the 80s with the likes of Moore and Miller. Granted, we could blame M&M as just being dark people, but there have been dark people before and our collective do-goodness forced those people into the shadows. Instead, though, we drank in these titles and allowed them to forever transform the comic medium. Why did we allow it? Because it was in lockstep with the dark pall covering the real world. A President had fallen a decade prior, Iran-Contra was smudging the tarnish of the anointed Ragan and Jim Baker was dipping into the holy hole of his secretary. No, these weren’t the first guys to do bad things, but this was the first time that their fallacies were being exposed in real time to the American public. I was a wee Douche during this time period and like most children I was completely impressionable. I revered Miller’s Batman as a hero despite his brutality. I viewed the Watchmen as heroes despite their fetishes or pining for human connection even in the face of denying their duty. I knew even then that no one, and I mean no one, is always 100% good or without flaws.

So we come to today. The internet has been rife with criticisms of Superman’s reckless abandon in ACTION, Hal Jordan’s seeming misstep in characterization as more brawn than brain and the deifying of villains in SUICIDE SQUAD and DEATHSTROKE. Do we blame DC for these characterizations? Yes, some do, but I don’t. I look at it from the broader perspective; I realize that I’m an aging comic fan and there is a generation after me that grew up without any exposure to the supposed “age of innocence” that will be the lifeblood of this medium moving forward. Comics and the ideal of the heroes therein must speak to this audience that is far more steeped in cynicism, scrutiny and insistence on seeing all sides of a person’s life, not just the heroic small snippets of time that were presented in comics of old.

Some misdeeds like we are seeing at Penn State right now do negate the good, but not all misdeeds should be weighted equally. A young Superman causing a few more bruises than prior iterations does not obliterate the fact this man spends all of his free time trying to serve the greater good. DC chalks up the inexperience of this new JUSTICE LEAGUE to the fact that we are looking at a world from five years ago. As any adult knows, though, five years is an infinitesimal amount of time. People do not change the core of their being in a mere five years once we leave childhood. I say this new JUSTICE LEAGUE is a reflection of our current view of heroes. No one, not even heroes, live on a pedestal anymore and if they do, we desperately search for the dark recesses. If we can’t find these dark tides of the soul we turn our backs because our fiction is only believable when it reflects reality.

Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2011 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.


THE SIMON AND KIRBY LIBRARY: CRIME HC

Writer: Joe Simon
Art: Jack Kirby
Publisher: Titan Books
Reviewer: superhero


Ahhhh, the Golden Age. The goofy, goofy Golden Age. It’s hard to believe at times that anyone really could have taken some comics seriously during that era. It’s hard to believe that certain comic books got some shrinks and parents riled up so badly that there was a call for regulating the whole industry. While it’s true that I’ve seen some comics from that era that I would definitely think twice about handing over to a child, a lot of what I’ve seen from that era just seems like very naïve and innocent fun.

That’s pretty much how I would classify the stuff in THE SIMON AND KIRBY LIBRARY: CRIME. The comics in this book are a blast but there’s nothing in here that I would consider hard edged or gritty comics story telling. If you’re looking for that sort of thing you’re not going to find it here. THE SIMON AND KIRBY LIBRARY: CRIME is a catalog of late 1940’s to early 1950’s comics that may have been shocking at the time that they were published but might seem extremely tame or outrageously silly to modern day readers. These comics are crime stories, it’s true, but I’ve seen crime comics from the Golden Age that make these seem like Saturday morning cartoons for the most part.

That isn’t to say that these comics aren’t entertaining in their own right. I actually loved the stories in this book. I’d just want to warn readers of books like 100 BULLETS, Ed Brubaker’s CRIMINAL series, or even Darwyn Cooke’s PARKER comic adaptations that the kind of sort of realistic edgy crime comics that those series represent are not what you’re going to get in this book. What you do get is a collection of fantastically rich and entertaining gangster, “true crime”, romance, and historical comics that just ooze with the charm of the era that they were created in. I absolutely loved the comics in here because of their straightforward simplicity. There is absolutely no subtlety to these comics and it’s wonderful. It’s just straight on villainous fun from the first panel mixed in with imaginative and silly circumstances. It is stuff that’s not meant to be taken seriously…at least I don’t think it was meant to. I mean, one of the very first stories in the book has a gumshoe called Gunmaster trying to track down a guy who can only drink goat’s milk because he’s accursed with a rare disease that has left Element X in his body…one of three compounds that enemies of the United Nations seek to use for their evil purposes! Another story involves a killer shooting people with a rigged up wooden leg in order to help solve the world’s overpopulation problem.

Yeah, it’s ridiculous stuff--but Simon and Kirby are such geniuses at their craft that they make stories that should be so off the wall unbelievable work like gangbusters. And for every goofy or silly idea that they float across the pages of this book there are other more straightforward tales of criminal woe. There are stories of mobsters, serial killers, gun molls, traitorous lovers and crazed historical figures. There’s a definite reason that these comics are considered classics, and it’s because they transcend the limitations of what their creators were allowed to do within the confines of a comic book of that period. Despite the somewhat dopey tropes of the Golden Age of comics these crime tales are able to entertain in the modern day because of the strength of their creators’ abilities and conviction to do justice to the books they were working on. Kirby’s art (while being a long ways away from his classic Marvel style) is impressive and filled to the brim with a manic glee that not a lot of other Golden Age comic artists could capture. Each page barely can contain the crackling energy of Kirby’s talent. THE SIMON AND KIRBY LIBRARY: CRIME is a cornucopia of Simon and Kirby greatness.

It would be unfair of me to close out this review without mentioning what a great job was done on putting this book together. Editor Steve Saffel and Art Restorer/Colorist Harry Mendryk should be commended on the supreme quality of their work on this book. Titan Books has always been a class act when it comes to their collected editions and THE SIMON AND KIRBY LIBRARY: CRIME is no exception. It is a welcome companion to THE SIMON AND KIRBY SUPERHEROES and should be placed on every comic geek’s Christmas list this holiday season.

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. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com and check out his blog at www.parttimefanboy.com. You can check also out his webcomic at www.babybadass.com, which is currently in development.


30 DAYS OF NIGHT #2

Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Sam Kieth
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Lyzard


I’ll read or view anything involving vampires. I was introduced to 30 DAYS OF NIGHT through the 2007 film version. After that I picked up the original Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith series, eventually buying 30 DAYS OF NIGHT: BEYOND BARROW, illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz. More recently I watched 30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DARK DAYS and also enjoyed how Spike’s DEADLIEST WARRIOR: VAMPIRES VS. ZOMBIES had the style of vampires Niles and Templesmith created. So could you say I’m a fan of the 30 DAYS OF NIGHT? Does that really even need to be questioned?

According to the first issue of this new run, the “Story so far…Years following a vicious vampire attack on Barrow, Alaska, the reverberations can still be felt as far off as sunny Los Angeles, where a curious woman known as Alice Blood attempts to find proof of the existence of vampires.” Ambush Bug already reviewed this issue and I do agree with his assessment that “…it’s as good a time as any to show the grungier side of vampirism” and Sam Kieth continues the high standard of artwork that Templesmith set with the first few runs.

To catch up those who did not read the first issue, there are only four phrases that need to be said: “A mysterious letter…a vampire civil war…a curious woman…a deadly confrontation.” There you go, all caught up now. Alice Blood is in an alley, just having watched her newest acquaintance get his neck ripped out by a vampire. After taking down the monster, Alice Blood is left with a choice: save Dean from turning in to the very creature that killed him or turn in the first live vampire specimen to the F.B.I.?

While the first issue had several focuses, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT #2 is all about Alice Blood. For the most part the story is linear and without ellipsis. I don’t miss our letter sender from Barrow or the Benedict Arnolds of the vampire world, but I do hope they pop up again soon.

If you didn’t read the first issue in this run, then upon reading the second you would think that the vampires are essentially the same as in the 30 DAYS OF NIGHT film. The bloodsuckers you encounter in issue #2 are rage-filled monsters who prefer biting to talking. What I enjoyed so much about the first issue was that I finally got to see vamps use their tongues in more ways than just licking the blood off their lips. I would have liked to see the vampire that Alice Blood encounters have a few witty quips and retorts towards her. In the ongoing debate about what is better, a vampire or a zombie, I always favor the vampire due to their intelligence. Being taciturn generally is not seen as a sign of higher brain function.

I’ve never read or watched 30 DAYS OF NIGHT to cheer for the humans. I have followed the series to see those who are truly on top of the food chain massacre them. All that being said, the human characters of this run are interesting and Niles has created empathy for them. Still, I cannot wait to see these characters that he has made us care for go up against a group of hungry nosferatu. I may like Alice Blood, but I’d also like to see her live up to her name and be bled out.

Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a senior screenwriting major with an English minor at Chapman University. Along with writing for AICN, she has been published twice on the subject of vampire films.


CAPTAIN VICTORY #1

Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist: Wagner Reis
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Professor Challenger


“When you get to the gates of Hell, stand there and wait for my grandfather. I'll send him along soon enough.” – Capt. Victory

I really was disappointed in this one. I love Kirby's work on CAPT. VICTORY AND THE GALACTIC RANGERS, but I sure didn't care for this comic.

The story, such as it is, begins with Capt. Victory (think Orion of the New Gods) being resurrected in a new cloned body moments after being killed in a battle (think Battlestar Galactica Cylons). There's some fighting, a flashback sequence to give us a taste of the hard defining moments in Victory's life that have led to his thirst for battle, and then they are called back by Galactic Command. A little teaser bit about his evil and powerful grandfather Blackmass (think Darkseid), and the issue is done and the stage is set for the series.

Why it didn't work for me is a combination of the writing and the art. The writing just didn't grab me and interest me in the story or the characters and the art was distracting on a number of levels. Victory himself comes off pretty poorly to me, barking orders here and there. The other Rangers are pretty much ciphers with no real effort made to introduce them to me. Had I not some buried memories of who these characters were from my youth, then I wouldn't have had a clue...nor would I have cared.

I don't know if Alex Ross laid out the visual storytelling thumbnails, but I doubt that he did. As opposed to the GENESIS series, this suffers by really poorly structured pages, angles, and compositions. Superficially, the main figures usually bear the details well when they are super-hero-like with the heightened musculature. In those moments, they have a Brent Anderson quality to them that is fine. Unfortunately, the story calls for a lot of technological backgrounds and lots of figures wearing bulky sci-fi body armor and that's when the art really falls apart. The fault on this is something I lay on Dynamite's decision to obviously shoot from artist Wagner Reis's pencils rather than bring in someone to actually ink them. Not everyone's pencil art holds up to direct reproduction and nearly all the flaws in the art could have been fixed with a strong inker to clean up the scratchy lines and fix the inconsistencies in geometric angles and foreshortening.

The body armor moments are embarrassing. They look in no way like something a person could actually wear and the geometry of the armor is all over the place, which makes the panel compositions almost impossible to decipher at times.

I know there's a school of thought these days that persists in perpetuating a myth that “inks” in the past were simply a way of making the line art able to be photographed for reproduction. That may have been how it was in the beginning, but beginning in the 60s, there was a generation of artists committed to inks only that did much, much more than trace the pencils. These artists came in and tightened the art up. They fixed those angles, they cleaned up the lines, they added shadows and texturing. In other words, they collaborated with the pencil artist to create something together that was greater than what either of the artists could produce alone. This was especially true in some instances where an inker could pick up the slack when a penciller came up short in anatomical or geometric accuracy. This comic is one that was desperately crying out for an inker to step in. The main figures are so different in quality from the rest of them that they almost, at times, look like they are pasted down on top of the art – like they were done separately and then added in. It is very odd and made the entire comic difficult to follow.

I wanted to like this one. Unfortunately, it's just mediocre at best and that's just not good for a Kirby concept like this one. This should be rocking my world.

Prof. Challenger was beloved by many, despised by a few, but always lived his life to the fullest. Never did he miss an opportunity to pet a puppy, kiss a pretty girl, or ignore a hobo. He is survived by a long-suffering spouse, 2 confused children, a ridiculously silly dog, and a pompous fat old cat. The things that brought him happiness in this life were his comics, his books, his movies, and string cheese. Had he passed from this plane of existence, he would expect the loss to the world to be severe. As it is, however, he has not passed and has no plans to pass for quite awhile. So visit his website at profchallenger.com and read his ramblings and rantings and offer to pay him for his drawrings. He will show his appreciation with a winning smile and breath that smells like the beauty of angels.


HOUSE OF NIGHT #1

Writer: PC Cast
Artist: Joëlle Jones, Karl Kerschl
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Thematically it’s easy to bemoan HOUSE OF NIGHT. Yes, it is another vampire book. Yes, we’ve all been overloaded with this mythology. And yes, vampire purists are sure to shed blood tears over yet another new iteration of the mythos. Personally, I want to drive a stake through the heart of anyone that bitches about a book based on abstracts alone.

In actuality there haven’t been any new stories since the bible, and let’s be honest even the big B probably wasn’t wholly original, just the first time we had an indelible way of passing forward folklore. So where most say “Groan, not another vampire book,” I take the approach of looking at whether it’s a good comic and story regardless of the mythological bucket it belongs in.

And HOUSE OF NIGHT is a damn good story. This is exactly what I would expect from the love child of Judy Blume and JK Rowling. Replace Margaret and Harry with Zoey Redbird, a girl who is trying her best to grow up as normally as she can while being the “chosen one” inside a school for vampires. I specifically chose two young reader authors for my comparison because HOUSE OF NIGHT sinks its fangs directly into that glorious vein of entertainment that works on different levels appealing to both teens and adults. I would have never had the chutzpah to traverse the tween section of Borders to read the prose that inspired this comic, but since comic shops are filled with man-children like yours truly this is a great way to imbibe good storytelling without sullying sections of retail outfits clearly not meant for someone born in the 1970s. HOUSE OF NIGHT proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that anyone who says that comics are no longer for “kids” simply isn’t looking hard enough. There are all the trappings that young people are currently dealing with and old fogies can remember with the gratitude that these trials and tribulations are behind us. Zoey has her group of supporters, but with that comes the inevitable detractors. In Zoey’s case, her chief rival is her own misgivings about her ability to lead other vampires after she is anointed the chosen one. Her secondary rival is a particularly bitchy vampire named Aphrodite that was the queen mean girl of popularity before Zoey arrived.

There’s a surprising lack of blood in HOUSE OF NIGHT considering it’s a vampire novel, but I appreciated the fresh originality of not drowning in each page in a sea of red. Cast avoids the copious amounts of the red stuff by giving her vampires the desire to live amongst humans so nary a drop is shed unless it is consensual between the vampire and their buffet. Cast also scores originality points by giving each vampire a tether to some elemental force (think earth, wind and fire – probably water as well, I just have an immediate affection for disco). And with the introduction of these forces is where the book truly takes off, in my humble opinion. Once we get over the establishment of Zoey’s place in the school and the teen sociology therein, we learn that Zoey is so special because she can control all of the elements where lesser vampires are only gifted with the ability to manipulate one.

Zoey and her friends choose to find solace in their outcast status by traversing stories about vampires of yore. In this particular instance the students decide to focus on the goddess of the winds. This is a true turning point in the book from both a story and art perspective. The western manga style of the time at school is replaced with a Warcraft-type feel as artist and writer traverse to the ancient lands of the Norse. Kerschel paints some beautiful snow covered vistas as Cast shows the first hands of friendship between normal folks and vampires.

Not having read the HOUSE OF NIGHT books, there’s little doubt that I’m missing a slew of subtle nuances to this inaugural comic chapter. I’ve been to enough comic book based movies with non-fans to realize that one line can carry huge meaning to those that have seen the futures (or past depending on your temporal reference) of these characters. However, as a new reader I found enough rich story detail, differentiation from all the other vampire stuff out there and amazing artwork to definitely want to set up residence in the HOUSE OF NIGHT.

Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2011 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.


TALL TALES FROM THE BADLANDS #1

Writers: Sean Fahey & Seamus Kevin Fahey
Artists: Lisandro Estherren, Jose Holder, J.C. Grande, Juan Romera & Borja “Borch” Pena
Publisher: Black Jack Press
Reviewer: BottleImp


So Ambush Bug saunters into my corner of the @$$hole offices one day, tosses this comic on my desk, and says “This ought to be up your alley—I know you like anthologies.” Then before I can say a word, he’s gone. I look at the cover and inwardly groan. See, I do have a fondness for the anthology comic and the short story format. But I have no love for the chosen genre of TALL TALES FROM THE BADLANDS: The Western. I’ve never been a fan of old Western movies, I never read Louis L’Amour or any Jonah Hex stories…even in the case of “The Twilight Zone”—one of the best anthology-format television shows of all time—I always lose interest once I see a ten-gallon hat or hear the jingling of a set of spurs. The prospect of wading through a collection of “cowboy stories” was dispiriting, to say the least. But then I read the forward by David Weddle (a writer and producer on such television shows as “Battlestar Galactica” and “CSI”), which made an interesting point about this genre: “…the science fiction genre…is so similar to the Western. Both forms feature characters crossing vast distances far removed from the institutions of civilization, often thrust into primal moral dilemmas in which they cannot call on a higher authority for guidance. They must make existential choices to decide who they are, what they stand for, what their values are.” Now, I love science fiction, but had never made that simple connection between the thematic elements of the outer reaches of time and space and the stripped-down existence of the Wild West. I resolved to put aside my prejudices and give this comic my undivided attention, and boy, am I glad I did. ‘Cause I can say without hyperbole that TALL TALES is one of the finest anthology comics that I have ever read.

“Thicker Than Water” written by Sean Fahey, art by Lisandro Estherren
The anthology opens with its best story, an exploration of the bonds of family and of friendship. The reader travels with Nathan Miller, a bank robber who has escaped the gallows and saved his brother’s family from murder by turning his partner in crime in to the authorities. Torn between the desire to keep his family safe and his feelings of guilt, Nathan promises to deliver his partner’s last letter to his sister as a way of making amends for his betrayal. This wasn’t the stereotypical shoot-em-up Western that I had come to expect from the genre; this story is a deeper look at the emotional connections that drive our actions. And just when this chapter was winding up into what looked like a satisfying, if somewhat placid, conclusion, Fahey threw in a twist that actually made me gasp out loud as I read it—no joke! The script is perfectly complemented by Estherren’s stylized artwork, a mixture of solid masses of blacks and whites along with scratchier hatched lines. The overall effect conveys both the hot, bright desert sun and the gritty feel of this rougher and wilder era.

“Abigail” written by Seamus Kevin Fahey, art by Jose Holder
This next tale eschews the more melancholic, philosophical musings for a straightforward, slam-bang action story. As her husband rides with a posse to track down a dangerous criminal, Abigail is left alone with her children to fend off a vicious attack from a pack of bandits. It’s a frantically paced sequence that could stand toe to toe with any Hollywood action flick, with the largely dialogue-free story told through Holder’s loose and expressive inking. My one nit to pick here is that at times the panels become a little hard to decipher as the linework becomes loose to the point of being scribbly, making the action unclear. But on the whole, the artwork effectively conveys the intensity and ferocity of the plot.

“The Runt” written by Sean Fahey, art by J.C. Grande
Why is it that cartoon animals can be some of the saddest things in the world? This chapter is one such example, the simple, silent story of a mangy dog doing its best to protect its master from the assault of the wild. The fact that the dog’s master is already dead just adds an extra layer of pathos. You know what? This is a good one, but let’s move on…*sniff*… to something a little less tragic.

“A Thousand Deaths” written by Seamus Kevin Fahey, art by Juam Romera
An old gunslinger faces yet another showdown as he ponders the inevitability of his own demise in this story. Much like “Thicker Than Water,” the focus is on the internal drive of the character rather than the exterior action, making for a moody and introspective look at this hoary Western cliché. The story is capped off with a clever twist that lets the reader off with a touch of levity. Romera’s artwork here is superb; his panels are cinematic in their stark simplicity and use of light and shadow—I’m reminded of Harvey Kurtzman’s work on the “serious” EC titles of the 1950s; Romera shares that sensibility of keeping the flashiness to a minimum while achieving maximum storytelling impact.

“Easy Livin’” written by Sean Fahey, art by Borja “Borch” Pena
The TALL TALES anthology comes to a close with a look at the life of those who opened up the American West to further exploration and settlement, focusing on a fur trapper living out in the wilderness with little but his rifle, traps and a dog. No surprises or twist endings here, but a well-told slice-of-life that displays this rough time in America’s history with a touch of nostalgia for simpler times, but manages to do so without ever feeling cloying or overly sentimental. The artwork here is probably the best in the anthology; Pena’s graceful linework and carefully applied gray tones evoke the classic work of Alex Toth while retaining the artist’s own modern sensibilities. The final page, in particular, is beautifully rendered and a perfect way to close out this issue.

So thank you, Ambush Bug, for forcing me to overcome my prejudices and re-examine my preconceptions regarding this classic, quintessentially American genre. If any readers out there share in those feelings, I encourage you to do as I did and take a chance on TALL TALES OF THE BADLANDS. You just might end up rethinking your stance on the Old West.

When released from his bottle, the Imp transforms into Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from New England. He's currently hard at work interpreting fellow @$$Hole Optimous Douche's brainwaves and transforming them into pretty pictures on AVERAGE JOE, an original graphic novel to be published by Com.x. You can see some of his artwork here.


ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #4

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Sara Pichelli
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Publisher: Ultimate Marvel
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo


Ah-HA! I friggin' called it! Ahem. Sorry. This issue was awesome just like every other issue of this series was awesome. There's your review. Go buy it and come back, because SPOILER ALERT.

When all the hubbub of Peter's death and a new Spidey taking over the mantle was swirling around the toilet that is the internet, I kept saying that the best way to make this work would be for new Spidey to feel guilt over Peter's death.

"I really hope that this new Spider-Man had the ability to save Pete from dying, but didn't, and will become Spidey because of that mis-step, much like Pete learned from his irresponsibility and the death of Uncle Ben."

I even went back and poured over the issue where Pete bit it and looked for characters in the background who could take over the mantle.

"Wouldn't that be cool, if they drew in the character in the background? That'd be so cool!"

Clearly, I was geeking out. But can you blame me? ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN has consistently been my favorite Spidey-title since it appeared in 2000. Bendis has crafted a nearly flawless series that has lasted for 11 years now, and it's always good! This issue is, of course, more of the same. Miles has gotten wind that Spider-Man has been shot and is fighting the Green Goblin, and rushes to the scene to help, but gets there a moment too late. He actually IS in the crowd as Peter dies in Aunt May's arms and even talks to Gwen as she sobs on the lawn. I was glad that my hypothesis was on point, but I have to say, I really think Marvel dropped the ball on what could have been a really cool Easter Egg for the fans. As I said, I did go back months ago and check the backgrounds to see who was in the crowd, and then did so again last night, knowing the Miles was actually there…but alas, there was no sign of him. And yes, yes, of COURSE this is me being nit-pickety, but if they knew all this time how it was going to go down, they should have drawn Miles into the background. Or hell, he's wearing a blue and red track jacket. Bagley could have just drawn a dark silhouette with hints of blue and red, if they were afraid of showing the new character too soon. This is just me being silly, though.

Miles also visits the Funeral Of Peter Parker from ULTIMATE FALLOUT and again engages Gwen, trying to understand why Pete did the heroic things he did. I love this scene and how real it feels. The unencumbered curiosity of a young boy without the sense to know when it's appropriate to ask certain questions. He's just curious and asks. It reminded me just how young Miles is. He's a sidekick's age, but without the hero mentor to guide him. I hope that Gwen shows up and becomes a side character. I'd like to see more of her helping out, and it would be a nice link between the old Spidey cast and the new one.

We also get a revisit of Miles' tangle with The Kangaroo, also from ULTIMATE FALLOUT, and the behind-the-scenes for that little jaunt. And what finally shows up? The inner monologue of Spidey's that you just know Bendis loves to write. Toss in a guest appearance at the end, and you have a pretty perfect Spider-Man comic.

There is absolutely NOTHING to dislike about this book. If you're holding off just on principle, you're missing out on something amazing.

JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, drawing a weekly webcomic, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating for a living, and Booking his Face off over here. Follow his twitter @poptardsgo. His talkback name is PopTard_JD.


FLASH GORDON: INVASION OF THE RED SWORD #6

Writer: Brendan Deneen
Artist: Eduardo Garcia
Publisher: Ardden Entertainment
Reviewer: Professor Challenger


“So....Hans...when we met at that boring dinner after the Olympics, did you ever think we'd end up like this?!” -- Flash Gordon

A rousing conclusion to a great story. I've raved about Ardden's FLASH GORDON series every chance I get and the conclusion to this mini-series is perfect. I don't want to give anything away, but all the pieces come together in a very satisfying wrap-up (and, like all good serials, a tease about an obvious future development). If I understand correctly, the next FLASH GORDON series from Ardden is not going to be a monthly pamphlet-style but a complete story in one larger graphic novel format.

I understand the market needs that make that the more viable way to get the story out there, but I will miss the serialized aspect of the monthly series. One of the hallmarks of this and the previous mini-series have been the masterful pacing and cliffhanger-style storytelling.

I can't really dig into it much deeper other than to say that I love the way writer Brendan Deneen writes the characters. They are recognizable as Flash and his supporting cast but they feel modern and relevant. The story is fun but also nuanced with moments given to characterization. Artist Eduardo Garcia stepped in with this story and has grown with each issue. He gets better and better. A fine artist with a good sense of how to tell the story in pictures.

Recommended for all ages.


Advance Review: In stores today!

ELEPHANTMEN #36: THE KILLING SEASON Part 1 (of 4)

Writer: Richard Starkings
Art: Axel Medellin
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: MajinFu


Set two hundred years from now, in a future where genetically modified human-animal hybrids walk among us, ELEPHANTMEN is a tale that has revolved around themes of crime, sex and murder, with philosophical underpinnings and ethical questions also firmly in place. Despite the numerous anthropomorphic characters this one is obviously not for kids, but for more mature readers looking for a hardboiled noir story with a sci-fi twist (think “Blade Runner” meets “The Island of Dr. Moreau”).

In a grim beginning to the new arc entitled “The Killing Season” this issue opens with a flashback to seventeen years earlier that sets the tone for the story. A facility housing genetic hybrids of humans and animals has been discovered by a group of armed humans and things turn ugly pretty fast. Richard Starkings’ knack for dialogue is immediately apparent, as we follow the chaos and trauma inflicted by the humans who are given distinct personalities in a matter of two or three pages. The story then shifts to the present, where Hieronymous “Hip” Flask, the hippo detective, has been called in to investigate another murder somewhere in futuristic Los Angeles. Elephantmen are apparently dying at an alarming rate and nobody can find the killer. This is a story that is obviously much bigger than a simple murder mystery, but while this issue is merely laying the groundwork for what’s to come, it does so exceptionally well thanks to some compelling character work and good visuals. Axel Medellin does an excellent job of capturing the gritty animalistic qualities of many of the characters while presenting a future metropolis that is smooth and shimmering.

The issue’s sub-title, “Day Before Yesterday”, refers to the rhythmic use of flashback throughout the issue, as past events come back to haunt the present and we are introduced to the conflicts of not just one, but several characters. The rest of the issue is about the business tycoon/rhino Obadiah Horn and his human fiancé Sahara. Most of the story’s philosophical musings also come into play as they are visited by Gabbatha, the elephant Buddhist. All of it is presented in a very clear art style with liberal use of spread pages, primarily to convey the size and scope of the Elephantmen, who are illustrated with an eye for creating sympathetic, emotional characters that still look intimidating.

The book has interspecies relationships that are handled with care and attention to the fragility of human emotions, even through the eyes of the Elephantmen. There is sex, but it’s handled tastefully and thankfully most of it is left to the imagination since what is really important is the later ramifications--which brings me to Hip’s human girlfriend Miki, who I didn’t find particularly likable. After Hip leaves her to go the murder scene, we follow Miki on her daily trip to work. I honestly found her sequence to be the weakest of the book, although it did offer a nice contrast to all of the gruesome murders. The story jumps around a lot from one character to another but it never gets confusing or hard to follow. In fact, any readers who have had any remote interest in this series will be glad to hear this issue makes for a great jumping on point.

ELEPHANTMEN is a complex series with a lot going for it, including some stunning futuristic visuals, a surreal dystopian future setting, and a wide range of characters and motivations that make for a compelling murder mystery. Did I mention this issue’s cliffhanger will leave you waiting with bated breath for the next issue? There is a dramatic tension and a lingering sense of foreboding I get from this book. It’s really solid work that has me looking forward to the next issue, if only to see what happens next.


AICN COMICS PODCAST #3

Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. The below hour-long conversation took place between myself, Optimous Douche, Matt Adler, and our host Johnny Destructo of PoptardsGo.com as we talked about AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #1, PENGUIN: PRIDE & PREJUDICE #2, MARVEL POINT ONE #1, GREEN LANTERN #3, ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #4, DEMON KNIGHTS #3 and other bits of general jack@$$$ery!


Looks for more of the Holes rambling about comics on Poptards in future AICN COMICS columns!


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

Remember, if you have a comic book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.

Check out
AICN COMICS on Facebook and Comixpedia.org!

 

Readers Talkback

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  • Nov. 16, 2011, 9:01 a.m. CST

    yeah, fuck the new 52

    by eloy

    I didnt even read the article but it was about the new 52, right? And, first!

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 9:05 a.m. CST

    No, eloy, it wasn't

    by rev_skarekroe

    Don't be such a fucking idiot.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 9:26 a.m. CST

    So Justice League #3...

    by Righteous Brother

    any good?

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 9:35 a.m. CST

    Dear Fanboys STFU!

    by sunwukong86

    Stop bitching about everything, fanboys make me embarrassed to be a comic book fan. If you hate the new 52, show it by not buying it. Bitching accomplishes nothing, it just makes you look immature

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 9:47 a.m. CST

    Wait... did he read Justice League #3?

    by blacklightning

    I was hoping for a review of it.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 10:08 a.m. CST

    Optimus Douche

    by K-Gin

    I think your claim is quite valid, but at the same time, I look at something like Ultimates...which initially I really enjoyed...but as the series went on, I found myself rooting for the villains because the heroes were just so despicable. There is nothing wrong with characters having flaws, but I also think reading pure hate page after page gets tiring. Geoff Johns doesn't sink to this level thankfully.I enjoyed issue 2 of Justice League primarily because of the depiction of Green Lantern and the Flash. It was nice to see them outshine Batman who has progressively become much more 2 dimensional since Miller's Dark Knight. I think of Geoff Johns as someone who creates...whereas some writers I see as guys who like to destroy, go for easy drama like killing off someone, revealing identities or introducing someone who was supposedly important from a characters past. It takes much more talent to create a mythos than deconstruct it.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 10:13 a.m. CST

    Good Points K-Gin

    by optimous_douche

    And thank you for offering the type of response I was hoping to stir up. I couldn't agree more. I think people are looking for flawless entities and I firmly believe the modern hero is not flawless because we don't want him/her to be. We think it's bunk given the disillusionment of all our real world heroes. Seriously, thank you for not going the easy fuck-tard route like the prior posts.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 10:24 a.m. CST

    k-gin

    by Joenathan

    I think you're exaggerating when it comes to the Ultimates. Please explain how they were "despicable"

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 10:25 a.m. CST

    Optimus and Poptard

    by Joenathan

    Good reviews, although you were a bit light on the issue itself, Douche. Poptard, I'm with you.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 10:32 a.m. CST

    the "pull list" seems to be getting a bit redundant

    by coz

    Why am I just now hearing about ElephantMen? #36? Shit man, that looks more interesting than 90% of the stuff I've seen on here lately. If you guys are going to keep up the double-column thing, I think it would behoove you to use one column for the straight superhero titles and the other for the off-the-beaten-path, odd stuff like this. That weird shit is what I want more exposure to. Sadly enough, this is as close to a LCS as I have.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 10:49 a.m. CST

    joenathan

    by K-Gin

    By the end of the first series, they seem pretty at ease with murdering people in cold blood. That's pretty despicable to me. Its been awhile since I read Ultimates, but Hulk killing Abomination when he was begging for mercy...Hawkeye shooting black widow in the head while she lay helpless in hospital bed. Whether you think he is justified or not, Hawkeye committed murder in the first degree. Maybe I could sympathize with him more if some attention was paid to build up how much his family meant to him, but we aren't presented this side of him. All we are shown is that he is a killer. I have to ask, at the end of the Ultimates, what was to like about these heroes? So that is my take. I loved the art in Ultimates and I initially found it quite a good read, but the more I got to know the characters, the less I liked them.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 10:50 a.m. CST

    Flawed characters are ok, but flawed artwork is not

    by Snookeroo

    More than mourning the loss of innocence in comic characters (and the tiresome tendency of today's writers to go for the easy shock appeal), I miss the capacity of comic artists to tell a story visually. Look at the cover of Justice League #3. While incredibly well rendered, the slavish commitment to endless detail results in a canvas of colorful noise - I had to look at the thing for a long time just to figure out what the characters are doing. It's like super-hero Where's Waldo. I think the problem stems from a glut of artists who know how to render, but not design. Hence, we have covers like Captain Victory that are exercises in photo-realistic detail, but static as hell. Yep, that's Captain Victory in 3-D - but so what? Shouldn't Captain Victory be DOING something? What is the comic book about? Why should I pick this book up? Where's the intrigue? Compounding the problem is a staff of artists all vying to establish their name in the industry. As a result, every aspect of the artwork is over-emphasized. Artwork works best when there is contrast - if the pencils are strong, don't over-power them with over-the-top coloring. Simple line work is a great framework for beautiful coloring, but complex lines with multi-layered coloring becomes a mess. The thing that distinguishes a comic from a regular book is that it has pictures that tell the story, along with the verbiage. If the artwork is not accomplishing that - if the book only serves to showcase how well an artist can render - then the comic companies just need to start issuing monthly coffee table books of artwork and be done with it.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Joenathan

    by Joenathan

    Wait, wait, wait. You need more justification for him executing the person who murdered his family? You need to be shown in detail that he loved them? It's his family. Plus, don't forget, this isn't 616 Clint, this is Ultimate Clint. He's a soldier and Natasha was a traitor and a spy and an intregal part to an invasion of US soil, as well as a murderer. What more "justification" do you need? Maybe if she raped a puppy on screen? Now, if the series wasn't for you, fine, but don't get confused. The Ultimates are "heroes" like the 616 universe counter-parts, they're more like soldiers and that means that they approach, and are involved in, different types of situations. And I think the fact that they continue to face these threats despite what happens to them, and what they are sometimes asked to do, make them heroes in their own right, like many soldiers today. As for likeable, I don't have that problem/hang-up, but I suggest you re-read Douche's review and just let it kind of sink in a bit, think about it.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 11:12 a.m. CST

    I'm sorry, I don't know why I put my name there...

    by Joenathan

    That last post was for k-gin

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 11:31 a.m. CST

    Interesting to me how the cover to JL # 3...

    by superhero

    seems like an homage to Byrne's splash page when WW was "Re-Introduced" to the DC Continuity in the mid-eighties in his LEGENDS mini-series. Coincidence?

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 11:40 a.m. CST

    Fair Enough Joen

    by optimous_douche

    I hear what you're saying about being light on the coverage of the issue, but there's not much to say when we are smack dab in the middle of the rising action. It doesn't mean that the issue doesn't deserve coverage and didn't spark a larger thought in my mind. I think I was pretty fair though to say what happened in the book during the first paragraph, and now we're going to switch gears and talk about what the book means. Hey, live and learn....we're always testing to see what content will make you long-timers and new comers happy.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 11:57 a.m. CST

    I still liked it, Douche

    by Joenathan

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 12:13 p.m. CST

    Hmmm...

    by superhero

    Lee-Byrne comparison. http://parttimefanboy.com/?p=274 and http://parttimefanboy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/jlvsbyrne.jpg

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 12:13 p.m. CST

    ELEPHANTMEN is so good

    by fred

    can't believe it doesn't get more press

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 12:32 p.m. CST

    joenathan

    by K-Gin

    Yeah I get that they are soldiers and it isn't 616...but you miss my point in reagards to his familyor perhaps I wasn't clear enough...I was referring more to developing Hawkeye's character thru his family...an opportunity to show him as more than a soldier was missed and instead, you have a family thrown in there to just be killed off to justify the eventual murder of Black Widow. There is a lot more to soldiers than having to kill...and one is also not to cross certain lines. Did Hawkeye have a good reason to kill Black Widow? I never said he didn't, I just said it was cold blooded murder. Oh I did understand Optimus's article, and I know I could easily fit into liking the idealistic heroes of the past to some extent. Still I did agree with what he was saying. What I am concerned with is going to the other extreme where we discard any traits that might be called good, because then I think the characters become less interesting. I find villains like Magneto, and Doctor Doom in 616 more interesting because people can relate to them and understand their motivations, their ultimate goals. I also found Ironman a lot more interesting in the past few years in 616 universe as he was on the supposed "bad" side of secret invasion. I could totally see and understand Ironman becoming a bad guy. I found it to be very interesting. I just didn't find too much redeeming traits about the characters committing the murders in Ultimates to allow me to care what happened to them afterwards. Maybe its just the callousness in the way the murders were done in Ultimates that didn't sit right with me as opposed to how murders are depicted in 616, but I think it has more to do with that there was nothing else to the characters than being killers. Sorry. I want more than that.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 12:35 p.m. CST

    Douche

    by Shit_Skribbler

    Great, thoughtful article. But don't you have to include Denny O'Neil in any discussion of comics' turn toward the darker/grittier/more realistic portrayal of heroes? His GL/GA stories marked the baby-step beginnings of a shift that movies had already made with the move from the John Wayne-can-do-no-wrong-type hero to the Clint Eastwood-definitely flawed-type (Eastwoodian?) hero. And the historical touchstone, as you pointed out, seems to be JFK's assassination in 1963.

  • At least once, when he's shown calling them up before every mission. Probably more than that but it's not like I've got the books memorized.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 12:50 p.m. CST

    Absolutely Shit-Skribble

    by optimous_douche

    Good point on Denny. Denny rose in the 70's...I was a baby Douche then. I chose the 80s mainly because my first exposure to comics was reading the leave behinds of my uncles at my grandmother's house (50's & 60's Stuff). I didn't start buying my own books until 86 outside of Richie Rich, that's when my parents felt I was old enough to start reading the grittier stuff. (my parents didn't know I was spending hours reading my uncles old comics and playboys while they played Skip-Bo with Grandma). The juxtaposition between what I was reading compared to what I was now allowed to buy was a huge chasm. I was actually born the day Richard Nixon left office, I lived for three hours under his term. Everything from comics to movies drastically changed after that event.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Re: Podcast...

    by scrote

    ...agree with Bug on the Avenging Spiderman title. Was a blast. Been a while since a Spidey book has been that fun.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 1:54 p.m. CST

    Ultimates?

    by Hedgehog000

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 1:59 p.m. CST

    Ultimates - try 2 - sorry

    by Hedgehog000

    Are the Ultimates my only real choice for more realistic superheroes? I frankly think that as characters they're meant to be a "shocking" departure from their baselines. They're always kicking somebodies butt in the most ostentatious, over the top manner possible. I hardly think the new JLA is anywhere near that just because Supes is being a bit rude.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 2:21 p.m. CST

    Hedgehog

    by K-Gin

    That is my point. I am putting Ultimates at one edge of the spectrum as opposed to the characters without any flaws that Optimus referred to. Both are equally uninteresting in the end. In my comments I point out that I enjoyed issue 2 of Justice League. I think there is something out there for everyone to like in comics, I just discovered thru reading Ultimates that by the end of it, I didn't care for the characters...and if these characters weren't named Hulk, Captain America and Ironman in that particular series, I may not have cared for them from the beginning but I was curious and intrigued by the new take on them in the Ultimate Universe. Rev Skarekroe..you could be right, I too do not have the series memorized but his connection to his family did not stand out to me anymore than acknowledging them just enough to establish that he has a family....but I still stand by my stance that I think the way some of the heroes killed the villains, and in the way they did, was despicable regardless of what happened to the heroes to trigger the reaction.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 4:08 p.m. CST

    I think you guys need to revisit the series

    by Joenathan

    It sounds like you're more thinking of Authority, because there just isn't a shock value side to the Ultimates. What? That Thor drinks beer? Tony has sex with women a lot? Or is it just that they made Cap more a soldier than a superhero? Yeah, ok, Hank Pym is portrayed as an ass... so? As for Hawkeye's family, there were several references and in a team book, I think it was established enough. Just like when a co-worker, who you don't know very well, loses a family member, you can just assume that they loved them. It's a given, especially for fictional characters. I think it's really unfair toward the book and the creators to judge the book by the standards of the 616 versions, which is what it sounds like you're doing. The Ultimate Universe is not the 616. Just because they're both named Hawkeye, it doesn't mean they have the same character traits. Different universes. One can't inform the other. Now it's murders? Besides Black Widow, who else are you referring to? The Skrulls? I really think you're using the word dispicable somewhat hyperbolically. Also, I'm not talking about the Loeb run, I pretend like all that didn't happen...

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 5 p.m. CST

    Denny, Nixon and parents

    by Shit_Skribbler

    Yeah, Douche, I was born during Nixon's second year in office and my earliest political memory is getting pissed that Gerald Ford kept interrupting my TV shows. Looks like my parents had a different view of comics, though, because my dad read comics to me instead of the usual kid books. The first one was a Capt America and Black Panther team-up in Marvel Double Feature. Sometime in the early '80s a cousin gave me his comics, which is where I got the early '70s Green Lanterns and lots of other good ones, including the issue of Capt Marvel where he fights Nitro and gets exposed to the gas (or radiation?) that would later kill him. That cousin is now a right-wing, religious conservative, crooked lobbyist. Go figure.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 5:29 p.m. CST

    joenathan

    by K-Gin

    Hi joe, as I said in one of my earlier statements, didn't the Hulk kill Abomination after he beat him to a pulp and the Abomination was begging for mercy? Again, I know they are not 616 versions. There is still a connection/familiarity that brings you to the book.." Oh look, a new take on these characters". I already said I started off really enjoying the book, seeing the characters in a different light, but as it progressed, I started to dislike the characters more. (I do remember liking that they did make Captain America more like a soldier though). The comments you made about the family were valid since it is/was a team book...but I still find it hard to root for someone who would shoot a woman in the head, a woman who couldn't move.You can justify it by what she did to him...but as a reader, I am not going to root for someone who could do something like that. Anyways, you originally asked what I found despicable and there it is. I do not find it to be a slight to the creative team. I am being very specific about what I did not like...its just an opinion.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 6 p.m. CST

    K-gin N

    by Handiana Jolo

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 6:06 p.m. CST

    k-gin and joenathan

    by Handiana Jolo

    First, nice to see a civil, issues-oriented debate around here. I'm an ultimate fan, but i understand the point about a sense of a growing dislikability to most of the heroes (though at no point did I find Thor to be disagreeable, though i admit that's open to debate). I guess the point on Black Widow is where I'm hung up. I frankly looked at that as justice from the man who deserved most to administer the justice. was she immobile and unable to move? i don't believe so. with all her enhancements and whatnot, plus the artwork on the scene, it was clear she was still capable of moving quickly and was making a move on Hawkeye when she saw him (though to be fair she knew what he was there to do). Regardless, was it cold-blooded? Yes. But not necessarily wrong-blooded. I truly believed before that that his family wasn't there as a humanizing tool for Hawkeye, I just saw it as a fleshing out of the character. The man cared about the family, making the incident in his home even more shocking and upsetting to me. I was hoping he'd get his revenge, frankly. Let's face it - they are all in a way vigilantes. That was a case of (extreme) vigilante "justice". Anyways, her betrayal to SHIELD and the US would've resulted in her death anyways. I'm not sure an arrow to the head was less humane than whatever else the gov't would've done to her. Plus, part of me just thinks Fury gave him the go-ahead on it.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 8:42 p.m. CST

    K-gin and so-crates

    by Joenathan

    Like I said: If you don't like the book, that's fine, I just felt like the use of the word "despicable" was a bit of an overstatement. That said, you should read Hickman's new run, it's pretty cool.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 9:23 p.m. CST

    Optimous...

    by KCViking

    I hate to admit this but I never looked at things that way before.Interesting.Thanks. Now I'm wondering when exactly comics changed for me.When did they go from being the old, "heroes can do no wrong", to imperfect "normal" human beings? I've been reading for 40 plus years so it'll take awhile.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 9:32 p.m. CST

    Demon in a Bottle.

    by 3774

    That's when.

  • Nov. 16, 2011, 10:12 p.m. CST

    pink_apocalypse

    by KCViking

    That's a outstanding example/choice.I don't think there's a wrong answer just different ones. I think for me it was Green Lantern/ Green Arrow 85 when Speedy was outed as a junkie.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 9:17 a.m. CST

    When did it change for me?

    by gooseud

    Thats easy: 1. Spidey breaking Sin Eater's shotgun over his knee and proceeding to damn near beat him to death until DD intervened. 2. The original Punisher mini. 3. Wolverine hanging from the ceiling in the sewers waiting to drop down and slaughter the Hellfire Club. And #4, and most importantly, The Masters of Evil torturing Cap in the Avengers mansion.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 9:18 a.m. CST

    Ultimates as Bad Guys

    by Hedgehog000

    While I kind of like Ultimate Cap, and while some of the others are debatable, it's hard to see Ultimate Hulk as anything other than a bad guy. Didn't he go on a rampage and murder people in the first Ultimate series? Also, while they've veered back and forth with him, Ultimate Nick Fury is certainly an evil douche bag who's caused the death of many innocents (didn't he kill millions in the Supreme Power universe cross over) and covered up his deeds, all to protect his own power.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 9:43 a.m. CST

    Authority way more likable than Ultimates.

    by Homer Sexual

    I have to say that I like the Authority, and never found them off-putting.They actually have well developed personalities. I think the Ultimates are inconsistent, but the examples given are good points as to why I only pick up stories here and there. If Hawkeye actually had a personality and the whole thing had been done better, him offing Widow wouldn't be such a sticking point. But as written, he totally comes off as a cold blooded killer. I know I digress, but it's like a horror movie. Many of the new horror movies have extremely generic characters and so they just dont work, because who cares? I couldn't care about Hawkeye's family getting killed because there was no buy in, no attachment. So it was just "shock value." BUT generic ultimate Hawkeye is about to be a big hit in the Avengers movie so what do I know? Also, I did like Ultimatum (you can hate me now) because it brought the crazy and I really wasn't invested in those characters at all, (except Ultimate XMen) so all the mayhem was amusing. It's also popular with my friends, who just read my comics here and there.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 9:51 a.m. CST

    Optimus...

    by QuietMan297

    ...I'm with you on the article above. Our heroes and superheroes need to evolve with the changing times or go the way of Buck Rogers (will there be a resurgence of that character or Flash Gordon as they close in on their hundredth birthdays). But as insightful as it is, I still would have liked a slightly more thorough review of the actual issue. Any thoughts...? Regards, Your friend Greg on FB

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 10:40 a.m. CST

    Quietman - JUSTICE LEAGUE

    by optimous_douche

    I hear ya man, it's just very hard to do a full-on "review" of a third issue. I prescribe to Fraytag's Pyramid when looking at story structure Exposition Rising Action Climax Falling Action Denoument Right now I would say JUSTICE LEAGUE is smack dab in the middle of the rising action. So while this is a necessary issue, we are still in the process of assembling the team. After doing a quick Google search though, I can see why you guys are so thirsty for review because it looks like every other outlet is having the same struggle I had. Most of the other reviews simply dissect the minutia of the major plot points I mentioned in my review. Wonder Woman - breezy and fun introduction to the character. Drastically different than the Azzarello main book. She actuallys eems happy here. Cyborg's transformation - Brutal and gut wrenching. Johns as always the master of the moment really makes you feel Victor's pain. Epic ass kicking of Parademons as Wonder Woman joins the fray with Green Lantern, Superman and Flash Aquaman riseth from the sea, looking more like his scruffier pre-FLASHPOINT self than the clean-cut visage of his main title. Basically if you liked the first two issues, it would be hard to say you don't like this issue.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 11:36 a.m. CST

    That's a blind spot for me, Viking...

    by 3774

    I never read any GL or GA back then. I'm reading my boyfriend's GL now and kinda digging it, tho. Although I typically can't stand animated stuff, I watched the Return of Black Adam DC showcase on Netflix recently and really, *really* liked the other stories included. Green Arrow was one of them. Give it a spin if you have the chance.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Oh, to Poptard or whoever did it...

    by 3774

    Thanks for fixing that autoplay. It was really annoying.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 2:10 p.m. CST

    Hedgehog/Ultimates as Bad guys

    by Joenathan

    What you're saying is true. Hulk is "bad" and Nick is an "evil douchebag" in the Ultimate Universe, but I think that more so illustrates your disconnect from the book. The Ultimates aren't "heroes" like the Avengers, they're Operatives, they're military assets. That's a fundamentally different approach, even though you don't think you're holding them to the same standards as the 616 counterparts, you are. In this case, grim and gritty doesn't mean "beating people up" it means stripping away the somewhat given altruistic nature of all the 616 heroes. Hulk is a monster. He's a beast created from Bruce Banner's uncontrollable rage. In 616, this allows him to be a hero at times. In the Ultimate Universe, he's unbridled Id and destructive anger. Haven't you ever lashed out when you were angry and did something you regretted? That's the Hulk and in the Ultimate Universe, the consquenes are more apparent. But is he a "bad guy"? Not in the way you mean? His actions were selfish, but they weren't super-villainish, you know? And yes, Nick Fury is an evil douchebag, but he's also the first guy on the line protecting his country and yes, he will kill so that you can sleep safe and free. Is this wrong? Well, that's a debatable point, but it doesn't mean HE thinks of himself as a bad guy. Yes, he has killed, but he believes it's for noble and justifiable causes. If you don't like those characterizations, fine. You don't have to buy or read the book, but you can't say that they aren't thought out, consistant and well written. And I could even make the claim that they are, in fact, MORE TRUE to the source of the character than most of the 616 versions.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 2:15 p.m. CST

    Ultimate Hawkeye

    by Joenathan

    I disagree that he wasn't developed. He was a dedicated, competant soldier, a Jack Bauer. He wasn't flashy, like the 616 version, but he was still consistant. His family and references to them appear several times and in a "wide screen format" team book, that's pretty well done. Besides, "shock value" is always thrown around like it's automatically a bad thing and it's not. If it's cheap, sure, if it's a gimmick, sure, but this wasn't either one of those. It was supposed to sicken and shok you, that's what it did, that's what it was for. It intended you to feel something and you did. That's proper execution of a trope. Sure, we didn't spend issues getting to know every member of his family or seeing his daily routine, but... come on. Be realistic in your expectations

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 2:18 p.m. CST

    When it changed for me

    by Joenathan

    It was a What if... comic. What if Captain America was revived today? There were dead heroes all over and suddenly... it was dangerous and exciting. Then Dark Knight Returns showed up and it was all over for me. No more Superfriends.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 2:25 p.m. CST

    Moloids

    by Joenathan

    Are the Moloids you're talking about the ones from the High Evolutionary's city in FF?

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 2:46 p.m. CST

    42

    by Joenathan

    It came from Reed, Hank, and Tony's list of 100 answers. It was their list of ideas/projects during the Civil War. The prison was number 42.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 3 p.m. CST

    Ultimate Spider-man

    by Joenathan

    It hasn't been 16 for 10 years. Each issue doesn't represent a month, fool.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 3:05 p.m. CST

    Poptard does a bad job summing up

    by Joenathan

    It's not just that he didn't help Peter, it's because of his Dad's attitude toward "powers", what he does about that and then Gwen Stacy cements it, by explaining to him why Peter became Spider-man. Really, you should give it a chance. 4 issues. What do you have to lose? You guys by every god damn Green Lantern book that comes out, spend a little on Ultimate Spider-man.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 3:05 p.m. CST

    God, then the next book is GL...

    by Joenathan

    That's where I stopped listening...

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 3:52 p.m. CST

    hey JD

    by coz

    you should either sit closer to the mic or everyone else should sit farther away, you sound all echoy and distant and the other guys sound like they're eating the mic, kinda hard to listen to

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 4:17 p.m. CST

    Sorry Joenathan Some Ultimates Bad By Any Standard

    by Hedgehog000

    I'm not using some 616 idealization to say some of the Ultimates are bad, I'm using any moral and ethical standard known today totally independent of whether I'd ever heard of 616 marvel. You can call them military operative to justify their actions but I suspect that just means you've had little exposure to the military. Nick Fury actions are more in line with the most left wing view of an insane Dick Cheney doing whatever he has to in order to maintain his own power and cover his butt. Ultimate Hulk intentionally killed people, not just as an act of rage - he didn't regret it. In fact, he rather enjoyed it. I'd say if they transplanted both characters into "The Boys" we'd say they weren't out of place. (Nick Fury as head of Vaught America and Hulk as one of the Seven). Hawkey and IM I can at least see the arguments. Radical lefty Thor is kind of amusing though in some ways no more believable than ye olde English 616 Thor.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Hedgehog

    by Joenathan

    Actually, I served for 8 years and have a lot of friends. I'm not going to claim that that means I have experience with the situations we're talking about, or that it happens all the time, but I'm also aware of history. The School of the Americas existed. My Grandfather was a Special Forces "Special Advisor" in Vietnam before the Gulf of Tonkin. I'm accepting the fact that their have been dirty deeds down in the name of God and Country throughout time. This doesn't mean that Fury is "clean", but it, at least from his point of view, he's not a bad guy. As for the Hulk, yes, I know he enjoyed it. He's unbridled ID and rage. But Banner is a victim of this condition, he's not Doctor Doom. Also, he DID go on a journey in an attempt to find a way to control himself and then use the Hulk to find a measure of redemption. There's a difference between wrong and being a villain. It's obvious you struggle with gray areas, but that's where this lies.

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 4:50 p.m. CST

    friends *in the military*

    by Joenathan

  • Nov. 17, 2011, 8:33 p.m. CST

    Wow...

    by KCViking

    I wasn't sure my question made any sense.Thanks for the input folks. and damn you Optimous for making me think!

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 2:59 a.m. CST

    yeah, i noticed Wrath! My mic was down too low!

    by Poptard_JD

    I'll try to adjust it for the next show!! Thanks for the feedback !! :)

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 3:02 a.m. CST

    I think I did a fine job summing it up, JoeNathan

    by Poptard_JD

    but thanks for adding your summation to my summary ;)

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 5:17 a.m. CST

    Digging the podcast

    by kungfuhustler84

    The discussion about 42 was fascinating. Poptard you owe it to yourself to check out the Uncanny X-Force book. Remender is writing up a storm with those characters and the art is stellar. I wonder if it's still too late to jump on the Ulitmate Spider-Man band wagon? I'm not much of a Bendis fan, except for some of his Daredevil. Still not sure it's worth it but maybe I'll check out the trade.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:46 a.m. CST

    Kungfuhustler:

    by Poptard_JD

    ahthangyewsir! Yeah, I HAVE the all the Uncanny X-force issues, and I loved the first couple stories, I just stopped reading about 2 issues into the EIGHT PART AGE OF APOCALYPSE story. 8 Parts? Eeesh. And as the only person on Earth who doesn't care about AoA, it seems kind of daunting, but I'll definitely get to them. I'm trying to catch up on Haunt currently. And I don't think it's too late to jump onto Ult Spidey...at least not at my LCS..we have all the issues, I think, so yours might too!

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 11:49 a.m. CST

    pink_apocalypse

    by jon femster

    I used to have a bias against animation too, until I tried the Justice League cartoon. That, and its follow-up series, Justice League Unlimited, are about as good as anything done outside of the comics themselves. I mean, REALLY good. Season-long storylines, careful attention to character, and lots of affection and in-jokes relating to the source material. You should try it. Now I'm finally watching Batman: the animated series, and it's as good as everyone was saying it was all those years ago. It's funny how superior its depictions of characters like Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy are to the movie Batman and Robin that followed it.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 2:10 p.m. CST

    you're not the only one JD

    by coz

    I used to get all the X-titles back in the day, got all the way through Legion Quest and the awesome issue where the universe broke (the one where Wolvie finally does for Sabretooth, fucking great) and even got the AoA Alpha book, and that's where I stopped. The only good thing I have to say about AoA is it halved my monthly comic expenses. What is it with Marvel rehashing all the worst shit from the 90s lately? Clone saga, AoA, what's next, get together with DC and redo Amalgam?

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 9:49 p.m. CST

    whew!

    by Poptard_JD

    I'm glad it's not JUST me. Though I will say that I'm intrigued about the return to the Clone Saga stuff. Like the second trilogy sucked the life out of the original Star Wars films, maybe this will be the opposite, and they'll retroactively "fix" the Clone Saga? Nah, probably not, but I'm a little curious to see how it plays out