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The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

Advance Review: BALLISTIC #2
Advance Review: SUPERMAN: BRAINIAC #23.2
Advance Review: RAZORJACK #1
Advance Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE: LOBO #23.2
Advance Review: BATMAN: RIDDLER #23.2


Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

FOREVER EVIL is the crossover we have been waiting for...well...forever. That is, if we all believe time began in the year 2011 with the end of FLASHPOINT. "Court of Owls" was good, "Throne of Atlantis" even better, but personally I've been waiting for a cataclysm that would truly test the mettle of our heroes beyond an emotional level. "Trinity War" truly helped set the stage for this book in both plot and tone. There are no subverses of light, magic, Bat or Supes — every character is going to be affected by this event, as is clear in this week's .1 holocover (if you were lucky) villainous deluge.

DC September events have become a staple at this point. Unlike the New 52 launch or the zero issues of last year, FOREVER EVIL is an apocalyptic treat for those of us ingrained in the universe. No exposition in the traditional sense, and it also doesn't waste one second jumping from the end of "Trinity War" to Lex Luthor flying high above...Chicago??????

That's right, kids--Chi-town sets the stage for what is probably the best treat fangeezers will get this year. Lex is soaring the skies with none other than one Mr. Kord, a kind family man with a son in college who is a whiz with electronics (hint-hint-wink-wink). How DC will work two Blue Beetles in the universe remains to be seen, or perhaps the one-half of the ol' Bwahahaha will take on a new mantle. This could also lead to nothing at all, but you can't blame a boy for dreaming, can you?

This moment was also compelling because Lex has played a very gray area in years past. We know he's not a good man, but is trying to make humanity self-sufficient truly evil? I don't think so. The way he treats Pappa Kord, though, leaves no room for doubt. If the company isn't signed over, Lex will take this man to the pain, destroying all he cares for before killing him. However, before Lex's schemes can come to fruition, possessed Cyborg kills the entire US power grid and lets off an EMP blast just for good measure.

This blackout serves as the perfect cloak for the rest of the Crime Syndicate to begin their reshaping of Earth Prime into the perfect image of horror. One by one, they hit every major DC correctional institution to release the hounds on a world unprotected. This is also so Crimey Superman can bust into Lexcorp to get a Kryptonite fix. Kudos to the creative team for having him grind it up and snort it like a college freshman taking Adderall during finals.

With evil running amuck, the issue closes with a feat of Superman-like daring we haven't seen the real Supes even come close to accomplishing yet. Let's just leave it at the world is now shrouded in metaphorical and literal darkness thanks to the positioning of an entire celestial body in front of the sun.

Superheroes, Superfeats, Super Sold on this event. Now let's see how the expanded titles fared.

A NOTE ON VILLAIN'S MONTH: First off: Holocovers? Get them is you can; they do provide a unique dimension and depth to the imagery that titillated the same nerve centers as when I saw my first mini hologram on titles like ROBIN I-VIII back in the 90s. Now, before we get into the play-by-play of select titles, I have to honestly say the .1's left me nonplussed. I really thought these were going to be issues of villains raping the land with reckless abandon as opposed to a deluge of straight-up origin stories (I know, I fault for not reading Previews). Some were good, some not so good, but all in all none of them served to push the event forward. Again, decent reads in many cases, just don't think you need these books to push you deeper into the FOREVER EVIL story.

Optimous Douche has successfully blackmailed BottleImp to draw purty pictures for his graphic novel AVERAGE JOE coming out in 2013 from COM.X. When not on Ain’t It Cool, Optimous can be found talking comics and marketing on and just marketing on

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writer: Adam Egypt Mortimer
Art: Darick Robertson
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Ahhh, the second issue review. Usually, when I review the first issue of a book, I try to avoid writing a review of the second, mainly because everything I said in the first review either applies if the book is consistent, changes dramatically due to a writer/artist blowing their load in the first issue and finding themselves bereft of ideas to continue the story, or in some cases, I don’t stick around to see the second issue at all. When I give an especially positive review, I usually give the book a test and come back to it after an issue or two since by issue 3 or 4, the story is well underway. A good idea is a good idea. A lot of people can do that. But can someone form a worthwhile story worth revisiting? That’s usually a little tougher. With the comic book market the way it is, I know every issue deserves a review, though I can’t always give them. But in the case of BALLISTIC, which blew me back into my neighbor’s dining room with its pants-shittingly awesome idea-crammed first issue, I figured it was worth a revisit to see if there was an interesting story along with these cool details.

Turns out, not only is the world Adam Egypt Mortimer and Darick Robertson created fascinating in concept, but there’s actually an intriguing noir-ish tale of a down and out AC repairman who talks to air conditioners who has aspirations of being a master criminal. Sure there are a lot of noir-isms present; the aforementioned down and out-ness of our sad sack loser of a protagonist being one of them. The other being shady dealings with even shadier individuals who are more than welcome to take your money with one hand and stab you in the back with the other. And in this issue, we are introduced to a couple of femme fatales; one a technological wet nurse who carries around sexual diseases that one can get from watching porn. The other is a dark moll who slaps something called a gnawshackle (a form of tracking device/handcuff) to our hero's wrist, bonding him to her for the long haul. In many ways, Mortimer is filling this story with intriguing future speak, tech, and culture. But at the same time, this is basically a story where a man on the run is handcuffed to a woman who is reluctantly trying to save him for her own selfish purposes (aka a typical noir-ish adventure). Straddling both the future and the past, the result is a story both like and unlike any you’re likely to read this year.

Once again, the presence of a glossary of terms at the back of this book shows how thorough and passionate the creators are about this project. Both Robertson and Mortimer seem to be filling every page with new ideas and Robertson is delivering some of the most detailed and beautiful art in his life depicting this warped and twisted world Earth has de-/evolved into. As with TRANSMETROPOLITAIN, Robertson is dealing with the future, but his eye for detail and creating a living breathing world is much more evident in every panel.

Issue one was not just a lucky hit. BALLISTIC is the real deal and bound to fill that gap folks may be missing from the lack of inspiring Vertigo books on the shelves these days. Issue two just seals the deal that I’m into BALLISTIC for the long haul and if you like innovative comic booking, you should be too.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in October 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel through Hermes Press). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment & GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81. Look for GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES available in February-July 2013 and the new UNLEASHED crossover miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3 available in May-July 2013! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.


Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Derlis Santacruz
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Odd that this title hijacked BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT, since this vaudevillian Carrie has been the bane of Babs over in BATGIRL. For the uninformed, this new addition to the evil line-up possesses telekinesis that she chooses to manifest in murder and mayhem. Her weapon of choice (as the name implies) is a dummy with corkscrew hands of eye-gouging delight.

This character has one of the most interesting and intriguing origins of the entire .1 bunch. As the uglier and less talented of twins, her delusions started early. Her perfect brother was gifted the looks and talent, while our future murderer was perpetually forgotten by her parents. Simone makes these moments come alive by never transcending to hyperbole. This little girl was simply forgotten, not beaten or abused in any fashion. However, this is more than enough to make any would-be diva lash out by pushing the attention whore of the clan off a swing set so the spotlight can shine where she wants it.

It wasn't so much the origin or the bawdy mannequin who gets wood so much you think the little bastard was actually ingesting Viagra that entranced me. Don't get me wrong, any killer killing a clown to get a dolly is aces in my book, but what I liked best was that Simone remembered there was a larger story going on than just the genesis of evil. The entire origin is told to a reporter hanging from the gallows of a dressing room. The Ventriloquist is getting ready to take the stage and perform her death non-defying act to anyone stupid enough to enter her theater of lights and food during this FOREVER EVIL crisis.

I can't wait to see more of this character and the depravity she will wreak with her little boy toy.


Writer: J. W. Rinzler
Artist: Mike Mayhew
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewer: Corey Michael Dalton

Just when I think Dark Horse has run the well dry on all things STAR WARS, they manage to find another incredibly compelling angle that sends me dashing to my comic shop salivating like one of Pavlov's pooches. This time, they're producing THE STAR WARS (note the bonus article), an 8-issue miniseries based on George Lucas' original first-draft screenplay from 1974. J. W. Rinzler has been given the enviable/unenviable task of pulling together Lucas's screenplay and notes to form a coherent miniseries. I'm not sure how much creative writing Rinzler has done in the past (I know him from his excellent THE MAKING OF STAR WARS and THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK books), but he manages to craft a fairly compelling, if slightly by-the-numbers, sci-fi narrative in this first issue.

The issue begins with a Jedi, Kane Starkiller, hiding on a remote planet with his two sons, Annikin and Deak. Soon a Sith shows up, kills Deak, then gets bisected by Kane. Grieving, Kane and Annikin leave the planet in the Sith's ship to return home to the planet Aquilae. This opening sequence is the best part of the issue, cool and action-packed. Unfortunately, the narrative quickly moves elsewhere in the universe to focus on less interesting characters and situations. The last two thirds of the issue are taken up with the kind of dull political meetings between talking heads (and named things like Governor Hoedaack, Tribunal Member Vantos Coll, King Kayos, and Count Sandage) that bogged down much of the prequel trilogy. After the battle, for example, we visit the Emperor (who looks a bit like Hitler or Sinestro in this version of the story), who is declaring war on Aquilae for refusing to submit to Imperial rule. He plans to put an Imperial governor in charge of the rogue planet and crush the resistance there--resistance led by another exiled Jedi, General Skywalker. Meanwhile meanwhile, yet another exiled Jedi is spying on the Emperor for the Aquilaeans and trying to figure out a way off planet (possibly with pirates/smugglers) with his info. Meanwhile meanwhile meanwhile, an Imperial guy with a bad haircut called Darth Vader is irritated to learn from a fat bald yellow dude that General Skywalker is still alive. Cue the introduction of General Skywalker, who looks remarkably like George Lucas, and then more boring political discourse on Aquilae with the royal family and some other people. Finally Kane and Annikin reappear, meeting up with Skywalker in his war room so Kane can dramatically rip his skin off to reveal that he is "more machine now than man" and therefore wants Skywalker to finish Annikin's training. Oh, there was also a side plot with Princess Leia heading off to school saying goodbye to her mom, dad, and two little siblings. I'm sure that'll be important later.

As you can probably tell from that convoluted plot description, the fact that this is based on the first draft of a screenplay is readily apparent. For one thing, there are way too many characters introduced right out of the gate (and we haven't even met Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, or R2-D2 yet.) After finishing the first issue, I'm not even sure who the protagonist is. I'm guessing Annikin, but that's just because a character named Anakin was the lead character of the original six movies. Lucas's rather ridiculous names certainly don't help distinguish one character from another, either. One Skywalker in STAR WARS was acceptable, but in this issue alone we meet a Skywalker, a Darklighter, three Starkillers, and a Whitsun. I had trouble remembering which Jedi went with which silly name. However, there is one big improvement from the final series of films: The overeager young blond child with a penchant for yelling "yippee!" (Deak) is chopped in half by a Sith and then burned in the first few pages. Take that, Jake Lloyd!<br.
Even when the narrative becomes a little shaky, though, the art remains rock solid. Mike Mayhew's work here is simply revelatory. In the past, I have not been a fan of his overly detailed, often stiff art. I have always lumped him in with the Greg Horns and Boris Vallejos of the art world (i.e., artists whose work looks best airbrushed onto the back of a carny's jean jacket). Based on this issue, though, I've done a complete 180-degree spin on Mayhew. Perhaps his painterly style simply fits better with the Ralph McQuarrie-esque costumes/character designs, space ships, and sweeping alien vistas than with superheroes? Or maybe he's made a leap forward in his abilities? Whatever the case, this is one beautiful comic book. The Sith warrior who attacks in the opening sequence looks totally badass, a cross between Darth Maul and a warthog. And the Jedi have a consistent style of dress that is much more interesting that the robes worn by their cinematic counterparts. Each of the characters has distinct features and ways of "acting", too. Mayhew did a nice job casting through his choice of models (although it is strange to see a very George Lucas-looking General Skywalker.) Occasionally one of the characters may look a little too photo-referenced for my taste, but that's a small nit to pick in such an overwhelmingly gorgeous issue.

Bottom line: This comic probably isn't for everyone. So far, the story is sprawling and confused, lacking a sense of focus. If you're new to Star Wars in general, this issue won't convert you. But if you're coming to this as a Star Wars nerd, you'll find this to be a fascinating look at what could have been, a peek into how a cultural juggernaut evolved and came together. By and large, the changes made to the story from this first draft to the final film were obviously necessary ones. But that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the heck out of this issue, because I did. Mayhew's art is a big part of that, of course, creating a fully realized galaxy that seems coherent and yet reflects individual cultures, but the story is interesting from a historical perspective, too. Despite my minor reservations with this issue, I can't wait for #2.

Corey Michael Dalton (A href= target=_blank> has written and/or edited trade books, magazine articles, short stories, novels, comics, plays, reviews, websites, blogs, and more. You name it, he's probably written it. Except religious scriptures. He hasn't gotten around to those just yet.

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Pascal Alixe
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Poor Vril' Dox. I've always had a soft spot for the old L.E.G.IO.N., but I do understand time moves on. It just pains me to see a man who once struggled to understand the plebeians beneath him want to crush and possess them instead.

We learn in this issue that smart people are really friggin’ scary, and no one should trust them. The story of Vril's evolution to Brainiac is standard but appropriate: he's basically a scientist who has no moral boundaries in his path to personal enlightenment. Experiment on my child? Sure. Divorce my wife? Sure. Hijack my prison ship to enslave a portion of my people and destroy the rest? Vril, like Honey Badger, doesn't give a shit.

Now, what he's pursuing is interesting from a book and universe perspective. Basically, refugees from a war in the 5th dimension have bled into ours, and they are devouring planets one by one. Vril's mission is to stop them at all of the aforementioned costs until the obsession finally devours the man.

BRAINIAC didn't get enough attention during ACTION, in my humble opinion, and it's nice to see this old staple truly unleashed at the inception of his evil.

Oh, and don't judge a book's art by its cover: Brainiac looks nothing like a black fun house slide in the actual issue, nor is Superman even present.


Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth

Once upon a time…there was a dark and dismal time for comics. This bleak period would later be come to be known as the 90’s, a decade laden with some of the yuckiest moments the medium had ever seen. Gimmicks like chromium covers and multiple variants were at an all-time high, while artists like Rob Liefled somehow flourished. That’s not to say that everything to come out of 90’s comics was waste; for instance, there was SPIDER-MAN 2099.

Even though Marvel’s 2099 universe fizzled after a few years (and rightfully so), Miguel O'Hara the Super-arachnid of the future continues to endure. Appearing in various comic titles and even as an integral character in some more recent Spider-Man video games, Spider-Man 2099 remains a fan favorite. With Marvel’s “Age of Ultron” storyline now concluded (thank God), the broken timestream sets the stage for the Spider-Man of 2013 to meet the Spider-Man of 2099.

In the future, Miguel learns of an event that could have ominous consequences on his very existence, so Miguel channels his inner Skynet in an attempt to stop himself from being erased. Meanwhile in the present Otto Octavius, aka Peter Parker, aka the Superior Spider-Man, observes a hostile takeover at his current place of employment, Horizon Labs. Otto really gets peeved when Tiberius Stone (the architect of the acquisition) also is laying claim to all Horizon inventions. Otto, being Otto, decides to deal with this matter head on. What Otto doesn’t know is that Tiberius happens to be the grandfather of Spidey 2099 and the reason Miguel ventures into the past.

The opening revisit to the 2099 timeline is handled proper, right down to annoying futuristic expletives like “what the Shock” and “Jammit”. The pacing is quick and wastes little time bringing these two Spider-Men together. I’m still enjoying the contrast Otto’s dialogue brings to Peter’s behavior; there’s just something comical about Parker making comments like “You shall rue this day”. If I had any real complaint, it would be with the inclusion of the Goblin sub-plot. It just felt a little a little forced this time around.

Ryan Stegman returns to artistic duties this issue, and his art looks better than ever. I noticed the color palette for this issue seems a smidge brighter than usual. I felt this really enhanced the visuals, and hope this trend continues. I particularly liked the splash page of Spidey 2099 a couple of pages in. See, confusing fold-out posters need not apply.

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #17 is the opening chapter of a three part story. While it may not be the most amazing issue, it serves its function as a setup well enough. Whether this story will have any long term implications on the title or turn out to simply be an enjoyable little romp remains to be seen. If nothing else, the prospect for a Miguel and Otto encounter is reason enough for me to want to see where this goes.


Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Paulo Siqueira & Netho Diaz
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

I didn't love this book. Darkseid's new origin is an antiseptic story that's simply too clean, and not evil enough to convey the terror that Darkseid brings to the universe. Before he ran a planet that is the embodiment of death, Darkseid was a...mud farmer along with his brother-in-law, Highfather. That's right: both of the newest and greatest Gods were...mud farmers.

Perhaps I am tainted by the recent origin of Thanos, where his pathos was given form and explored from childhood to today. I know many, including my fellow Spoiler Alert hosts, who found that to be too much of a kimono opening. This, in my opinion, is not enough. There's simply no fucking way a man with this much discontent would subjugate himself for any period of time--especially not until adulthood.

Basically, Darkseid sows discontent into the ears of the old Gods to get them to fight one another. I didn't see this as a herculean feat, though. First off, they are kind of stupid. At one point mud and fire make out in a field. Next flaw: all it takes is one night for Darkseid to climb the most sacred mountain in the universe and one whisper to each God to get them to turn. I'm sorry, but Gods should have more free will than the average watcher of TMZ or “The Bachelor”.

So the old Gods kill one another, and as a final fuck you bestow their last bit of power to Darkseid and Highfather. The artists did an admirable job trying to make this story epic, but as we all know spectacle can only take a story so far.

I hope someone eventually gets Darkseid right. He scared the beejezus out pf me as a kid with his reckless regard for all life. Thus far in the DC Universe, he jumped up and went BOOM once. Oh, and he farmed mud.


Writer: David Gorden
Illustrator: Lorenzo Lizana
Publisher: Lion Forge Comics
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson is taking his brand to the next level with the release of his recent comic book, aptly titled STREET SOLDIER, which hearkens back to his rough-and-tumble days on the streets of Memphis. I don't think “Rampage” is the guy Mark Cohen had in mind when he released that catchy tune, but I digress. Anyway, the longtime mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran is finally able to pursue endeavors outside of combat sports after opting to part ways with UFC earlier this year. One of those endeavors is this online comic book that retails for a measly two bucks.

The question now is, does anyone care?

As far as the Octagon goes, Jackson was in like a lion and out like a lamb. He captured the 205-pound title in just his second UFC fight by pasting Chuck Liddell back in 2007, but exited stage left on the heels of three consecutive losses. “Rampage” was quickly scooped up by Viacom to appear in dual roles for both Bellator MMA and TNA Impact Wrestling, but the audience for what is widely considered the world's number two MMA and pro wrestling promotions may not be enough to drive the necessary eyeballs to STREET SOLDIER. Even if Jackson was in his prime, it would be hard to see his trademark chain without the UFC spotlight shining down upon him.

Too bad, because his comic book is actually pretty good.

What I like about STREET SOLDIER (aside from the price) is that it feels like a comic. Jackson was successful as B.A. Baracus in the A-TEAM movie because he played it straight. That applies here as well. This isn't the “Wild and Wacky Adventures of 'Rampage' Jackson the MMA Fighter,” and writer David Gorden knows better. Instead, it's Quinton Jackson, the man, who just so happens to be a fighter and professional wrestler. There's a marked difference between the two, and I don't need a comic to see the former, because I can see that every week in some form or another on Spike TV. As far as the story goes, there's a supernatural element here and the straight-to-the-point plot won't bowl you over with originality, but who cares--I don't mind familiar ground so long as it's done right.

Part of that credit goes to the pencils of Lorenzo Lizana.

STREET SOLDIER, which doesn't require you to be an MMA fan to enjoy, has a nice look and feel to it. The panels are clean, the action is fluid and it reads extremely well on a hand-held device. I tried it on my phone as well as on my tablet, and it's stunning on the iPad. A lot of comics make the transition to mobile readers, but not all of them do it successfully. STREET SOLDIER is a brisk read, but a nice appetizer if Lion Forge does in fact plan to serve up a main course. Unfortunately, based on the tepid buzz for Jackson's upcoming fight against fellow UFC jetsam Tito Ortiz, I'm not sure anyone will be at the table to eat it.

Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.


Writer: Peter Tomasi
Art: Guillem March
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee

As we continue to go down the psychological rabbit holes of all these DCU baddies, I will say that this one – fitting given the duality of Two Face as a character – is somewhat bittersweet.

Again, we have a digression into the fractured psyche of another of this universe’s more vicious killers, tackling both sides of his personality and how adherent he is to his scarred coin. Unfortunately, it’s in a manner I’ve seen before several times as the thrust of this issue is a temporary reversion of Two Face back into a more Harvey Dent-like form of self as the coin leads him to become its protector in the wake of the events of FOREVER EVIL. And it plays out like you’d expect, with Harvey essentially declaring himself judge, jury, and executioner, bending his sentencing to the whims of the coin flip.

The issue has its charms, of course, because a Tomasi story is rarely without them and of all the tragic characters in Batman’s rogues gallery the Dentster has always taken the cake given the circumstances of his decent into crime and evildoing. There’s an enjoyable arc to watching Harvey somewhat find his old public defender self and take up the fight for Gotham again; it just so happens it has been enjoyable the other handful of times I’ve seen it happen before as well.

I’m by no means saying it is an issue of low quality; it just doesn’t hit the (shockingly impressive) levels of character dissection as some of the other Villains’ Month issues I happened to dive into this week.

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 blog 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.


Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man

The dueling crossovers are now in full swing with DC's FOREVER EVIL and Marvel's INFINITY. In both cases, the planet Earth seems to be getting its @$$ kicked. Issue #2 of INFINITY moves past the long setup of issue #1 and gets into the first shots of the dual story.

Spoiler time, people. So the Avengers, backed by the rest of the known universe's superpowers (Kree, Shi'ar, etc.), attack the Builder's fleet (actually, I think that really happened in the AVENGERS comic--we are just getting the aftermath here). And as one might expect from a second issue, things don't go well for the heroes. Quickly getting outgunned, they head for the hills. While trying to regroup, Shi'ar's main man Gladiator decides to punch back a little harder, and the Builder responds by killing an inhabited planet with entropy. Makes for some moving stuff, but Thor couldn't carry the mom too, really? Meanwhile, Thanos' forces have moved in on the planet Earth. With the Avengers off dealing with the Builder, Thanos' Cull Obsidian have got the planet on the ropes. One of them, Corvus Glaive, moves in on the Inhumans (which seems to be Thanos’ true goal), demanding the tribute of chopped heads (as seen in issue #1). Mind you, the guards killing themselves was odd; how did Medusa not respond with “if you all desire death, then please feel free to kill yourselves. We won't get in your way”? While the Inhumans contemplate this, Blackbolt figures this is just a way for Thanos to (wait for it (or avert your eyes)) kill his son, whom Blackbolt seems to be hiding.

Now, I'm still not a fan of this two story set-up, as I mentioned before. I sure hope Hickman merges them at some point, because as of now this feels like it should be two mini-series. The Avengers/Builders storyline is about as interesting as it was when Hickman started it in AVENGERS #1. If you're a fan, you're probably still very happy. For me, who dropped the AVENGERS after five issues, it's just another unfathomably powerful alien race coming to destroy the world/universe in the name of evolution. Nothing wrong with that concept, of course, but Hickman has of yet to make it more interesting than the concept itself (which for me is been there, done that, too many times).

The Thanos/Inhumans story has been much more interesting. And how can it not be? Thanos, Inhumans, secrets, @$$ kickin’--all well written by Hickman. The Cull Obsidian are good and creepy-looking as they go about taking over the world. Corvus Glaive's face-off with the court of Blackbolt was the highpoint of the issue. A real cat and mouse game, but who's the cat and who's the mouse? I very much look forward to watching Blackbolt beat the crap out of all things Thanos in the upcoming issues.

The last page reveal was very cool as well. For one thing, it ties directly in with the events from THANOS RISING (and not quite as heavily-handed as Geoff Johns' GREEN LANTERN: SECERT ORIGINS set-up BLACKEST NIGHT). Another thing, based on earlier panels in this issue: can Black Bolt really trust everyone in the Illuminiati? I foresee good things happening in this story.

Artists Opena and Weaver both do a good job with this issue. Opena is clearly the superior one, with all the style and detail he puts into his well-constructed drawings and pages. Weaver holds his own on his pages, showing the Thanos side of things. While it would be nice (as always) to have one really good artist handle titles like these, so far it's been good. As for the overall series itself, nothing to really complain about yet, but quite a few things to get excited about. Come on, Hickman--it's been too long since Marvel had a good crossover event.

Learn more about the Masked Man and feel free check out his comic book GOLD STAR, CINDY LI: THREE OF A KIND and CAPAIN ROCKET at

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Ken Lashley
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

"Kneel before Zod!" No, seriously, get down on the ground: this issue was pretty damn good. There are definitely two thematic flavors spinning out of this villainous decimal month: origin and now. ZOD is a tale of the baddest Kryptonian since H'el became a denizen of the Phantom Zone. The plot is a bit muddled, but I'll forgive any fumbles when a touchdown is scored on characterization.

If power set wasn't enough to make Zod and Superman opposite sides of the same coin, we learn that Zod was also a descendant of the science caste on the planet that was. Both of Zod's parents were scientists, and brought him on an expedition to one of the more wild satellites in the Kryptonian solar system for a little xenobiology research. Basically, the parents die and Zod is left to fend for himself until a rescue craft with two brothers from the House of El pick up a distress beacon. Pak pulls a nice surprise at the end as well to show that nature plays a part in Zod's badassery, keeping this from being a straight-up Tarzan in space.

I'll tell you, though, it wasn't the origin or the way Zod takes control of the army that entranced me. Yes, the origin was fun, and yes, watching him plant evidence so he can start a war with a race of people that can only hit with sticks was more than evil enough, but what I loved was the pageantry of Krypton.

Between the beats there are some great political machinations at play between the castes. Especially interesting was the relationship between Jor-El and his brother. This aristocracy on the verge of collapse more than resonates with real world sociological trends, which always makes for good comic booking. Also, Lobdell's backstories about Jor-El over in SUPERMAN makes for a pretty cool science/action piece, something the DC stable really doesn’t have right now. Sniff...Sniff…do I perhaps smell a new World of Krypton brewing in the idea ether? Good book, but again I did have to look closely to see exactly what Zod did to piss everyone off so much.


Writer: Scholly Fisch
Artist: Jeff Johnson
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Why? Just...why? BIZARRO hasn't done shit in the DC Universe before now; why did we have to bring him back, and in such a...temporary form at that? That's right--Bizarro's genesis is also his destruction.

Keep in mind I have a deep prejudice against easy Silver Age trappings like Bizarro's backwards speak, so it was going to take a lot to get me to like a character that even Grant Morrison couldn't warm me up to. The backwards speak is gone, but so is Bizarro by the last page.

Essentially, Luthor moves his Kryptonian DNA cloning clinical trials from animal testing to Phase I (that's human testing on people who are healthy, for anyone not married to a clinical data specialist). Fisch does an admirable job with the page count afforded to get us to empathize with the wide-eyed cherub Luthor injects with his Bizarro juice, but again, he's just an expendable element in an expendable story. Some Luthor gadgets chase the mad creature around before Luthor melts it with sun rays (opposite - get it?).

The only reason I think this book exists is the fact Luthor is hatching another experiment labeled B-O. But why would he name it Bizarro before this one went bizarro? Uhmmm...moving on.

Literally moving on: week 2 just dropped. Let me go write some reviews that will actually help when you get to the store this week, instead of remembering when.

Advance review: In stores September 17th!


Creator/Writer/Penciller/Colorist: John Higgins
Scripter: Michael Carroll
Publisher: Titan Comics
Reviewer: Matt Adler

Titan Comics is issuing a remastered hardcover edition of RAZORJACK, John Higgins' creator-owned comic which debuted in a self-published anthology back in 1999, and was continued by Com.X in 2001. Readers will be familiar with Higgins' work primarily as the colorist of such seminal works as WATCHMEN and BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, but he has also stretched his full creative chops recently by writing and drawing the CURSE OF THE CRIMSON CORSAIR back-ups in the BEFORE WATCHMEN miniseries.

Likewise, RAZORJACK affords Higgins the opportunity to exercise multiple comic book disciplines from writing to penciling to coloring. This remastered edition brings on science fiction writer Michael Carroll to re-dialogue the book, and while preserving Higgins' original storytelling intent, the new dialogue serves to give the book a terser, less expositional feel while at the same time cleaning up some of the dialect oddities that may have made the original edition a little hard to comprehend.

The artwork is similarly upgraded, and has a darker, more sinister feel to it, which is very appropriate for a story that feels somewhat influenced by Clive Barker's Hellraiser, but with a more expansive scope. We are treated to, effectively, three stories in one. One track follows two urban detectives, Ross and Frame, as they investigate murders and stumble onto a cult that is rather fond of human sacrifice, and employs two bruisers who have a conversational style that puts them weirdly at odds with their murderous activities.

Another track takes place in the dimension known as The Twist, ruled by the main villain of the piece, the bloodthirsty Razorjack, who seeks entrance to our dimension in order to conquer it. This is where Higgins really gets to have fun with his design work, creating bizarre monsters with bondage-inspired costumes to give an effect of a world populated by truly sick and disturbing beings. Into the midst of this are thrust three hapless teenagers, whom in rehearsing their production of Macbeth (particularly, the witches' scenes) unknowingly provide Razorjack with her opening. All three threads are quickly woven together, and while the outcome isn't exactly a surprise, the story seeds the potential for more to come.

There are two short stories following the main story; the first basically gives us a taste of Ross and Frame in their now ongoing battle against Razorjack's forces, while the second is the more intriguing, providing a look at how Razorjack's war against our dimension spans time and space. There is also a gallery of Higgins' Razorjack artwork, including concept sketches.

The strongest parts of the book are in the artwork and design. Higgins succeeds in creating a world that is both visually compelling and appropriately disturbing. The story does show some of the inherent problems in having been told piecemeal over a number of years. While for the most part Higgins succeeds in stitching disparate parts together, the end result feels a bit cramped, with more room needed for character development, particularly that of Razorjack and her court. The good news, however, is that Higgins and Titan have more plans for RAZORJACK, including a pair of prose novels and more comics as well. That should help to flesh out this world and its characters, and the taste that Higgins had provided in this initial collection has me very much looking forward to it.

Matt Adler is a writer/journalist, currently writing for AICN among other outlets. He’s been reading comics for 20 years, writing about them for 7, and spends way, way, too much time thinking about them, which means he really has no choice but to figure out how to make a living out of them. He welcomes all feedback.


Writer: Andy Kubert
Artist: Andy Clark
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Anyone remember the old Harry Chapin song "Cat’s in the Cradle?" Basically, Harry laments the mistakes of the father being passed to the son, then watching the son make the same damn mistakes.

Naturally, the recollections of a madman should be taken with a lick of salt, but since this is all we have to go on, we'll roll with it. In a time before he lost his face we see the old clown prince of crime adopt a wee baby gorilla from the zoo. During each step of raising Bobo, Kubert flashes back to a similar but far more horrific hyperbole of The Joker's aunt raising him. It's not hard to figure out The Joker was abused as a kid, but seeing it happen still stings the little parts of humanity that remain inside me. No one should fuck with kids or puppies: period.

I enjoyed this issue for every reason I disliked DARKSEID. I want my villains to be evil for a reason, not just because. Also, Kubert reveled in the madness of raising a gorilla and making him the Joker's Robin. And the biggest joke of all is that when all was said and done, this was just another laugh for The Joker to have at the expense of his own humanity.

And here’s another take on BATMAN: JOKER #23.1!

Reviewer: Humphrey Lee

Moving on to this Joker takeover for Villains’ Month I would say this particular issue is less so “insightful” as it is “holy fuck what the shit kind of craziness is this”…ful.

Like the Deadshot special, this is also an issue that goes for some flashback-filled emotional ramifications, occasionally honing in on a Little Joker’s abusive relationship with his grandmother. This parallels with a story about his own family, in this case being a gorilla he stole from a zoo and grew up to be a sadistic sidekick and his “son” by the name of Jackanapes…

Yup. It is cute in a sadistic way, actually; I'll give it that. Jack wears some weird clown get ups, they rob and immolate people together, and then Jack cracks under the same desire to end the nonsensical pain and violence much like Li’l Joker wished would conclude at the hands of his abuser. It is definitely an exercise in transference and Nature vs. Nurture in an absolutely bizarre manner, which makes it unique and entertaining enough in a depressing manner, as it almost makes you feel bad for the Clown Prince of Crime (almost) and definitely enables you to pity Jack.

So far in this batch of dot-one issues I’m already seeing a trend of “humanize the ruthless killers”, and I’m actually buying what I’m getting out of these experiences, at $3.99 for a gimmick cover even, because I am an idiot (and did I mention Ebay?)


Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Neil Edwards
Published by: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by: BottleImp

Well…I guess this is goodbye, then.

Peter David wraps up his lengthy stint on X-FACTOR (even longer, if you count his initial run on the title back in the ‘90s) with an issue featuring the two characters who could arguably be called the heart of this former team of mutant misfits: Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, and Layla Miller, the girl-turned-woman who “knows stuff.” Spoiler Alert: Madrox, who had been turned into a red-skinned, smooth-faced demon of some sort during X-FACTOR’s last story arc, gets all better in this issue thanks to some divine intervention. Of sorts. More spoilers: Madrox and Layla decide not to bring the band back together, as it were. But you knew that. This IS “The End of X-Factor,” after all. I just wish that it felt more like an end that had some sort of closure, some sort of resolution. In short, I wish that the end of this series was more of a capstone to David’s long-running continuity. Instead these last few issues feel more like running out the clock.

I realize as I write this that my expectations were doomed from the start. After all, Madrox, Layla, Guido, Monet—none of these characters belonged to Peter David, at least not in the legal sense. The members of X-Factor’s offbeat detective agency were and are owned lock, stock and barrel by the Marvel/Disney conglomerate, and as such, they are commodities to be used by the company for as long as they can be profitable. So it stands to reason that David couldn’t take any drastic action in tying up his loose ends (although one might argue that making Strong Guy the Lord of Hell refutes this).

But even though David has no ownership over these characters, they still felt like his. It was within the pages of X-FACTOR that Peter David gave these two-dimensional collections of lines and squiggles the nuanced personalities that elevated them above the ranks of the standard superhero comic books. He even did the impossible and made the one-dimensional walking ‘90s cliché Shatterstar relevant, for crying out loud! Though X-FACTOR is technically a Marvel book, in my mind this title belongs to Peter David. That’s why I’m so disappointed that his farewell to his troop of beloved B-Listers is so very cut-and-dried.

Anyways, though this incarnation of X-FACTOR may be over and done, the characters will inevitably go on. This issue even plants the seeds for further plotlines regarding the mysterious agent who seems to have the technology to take down the average superhero (also seen briefly in last month’s Polaris-centered coda), and there’s still the enigmatic Tryp out there in the Marvel Universe. X-FACTOR will undoubtedly be resurrected under a different creative team—-maybe some of these characters will even make appearances—-but it’ll be a hard job for whoever comes next to measure up to David’s tenure…even counting these latter, less engaging story arcs.

All in all, a job well done, Mr. David—-here’s hoping that your next projects will show the same level of artistry and creativity that you brought to my favorite Marvel mutant book.

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.

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artists: Ben Oliver & Cliff Richards
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

When playing RPGs, if I'm given the choice between a rogue or a warrior I always backstab before bash. I share this strategy because apparently DC agrees with me. We don't know Lobo...all the comments about him joining Weight Watchers and being more Village People than biker bar are true...and not. Basically, our favorite Czaranian wasn't the last of his kind. There's another survivor - Lobo.

So if this sophisticated laser katana wielder is the biggest and baddest bounty hunter and smuggler in the galaxy, who is the bastich who pwned our longboxes back in the 90's? Who gives a shit--the new guy is way cooler. Where Ole is a lout, New is a cad. Both can obliterate a room, but new Lobo is a graceful ballet compared to the old Lobo's tank-like ploughing. All of these character traits come alive, as well as new Lobo's complete lack of a moral core as we watch him commit some xenon trafficking. The payment for this mission is the location of Lobo the Lesser.

Part of whether you can move forward will boil down to taste. Personally, I've always hated any Lobo-likes in real life, so I'm happy to see the troglodyte retire. I guess I shouldn't jump to any assumptions, but I would love to see new Lobo transplant.

I don't remember reading any of Ms. Bennett before, but I hope this isn't a one-time gig. Her structure is beautiful and dialog more than engaging. Watch out, Ms. Simone--you're not the only hen in the cockhouse anymore.


Writer: Jonathan Hickman and Mike Costa
Artist: Di Amorim
Publisher: Avatar Press
Reviewer: Chris Massari, The Kid Marvel on Twitter!

GOD IS DEAD just by title alone caught my eyes right off the bat. Then, after I noticed in big bold letters Jonathan Hickman’s name on the cover, well, for four bucks I had to scoop the book off the shelf. It also helped that as I was purchasing GOD IS DEAD at my local comic store (named The Comic Book Store) the owner also gave it some praise from what he was hearing. I know by title and even content this may step on your toes depending on your religious background. However, the premise of the story is actually the opposite. GOD IS DEAD is poking fun at people who like to poke fun at the religious, with the return of ancient gods to the Earthly plane.

The first few panels of GOD IS DEAD set up the scenario of the world: a bunch of natural disasters, climate changes, and overall nature crazy. During this chaos, a mysterious robed figure is shown floating down to earth. I assumed this was God (as in the Judeo-Christian version), having no prior information on the book. However, it turns out to be Zeus, the Greek god of lighnting, for those who didn’t pay attention in history class. Zeus then enters the Sistine Chapel, comparing it to a dusty old tomb lacking blood before Zeus claims his return to Earth and his desire for humanity’s obedience once again. We then fast forward two months into the future, where Mayan-styled sacrifices have returned and the practitioners of science are being hunted down as blasphemous heathens. GOD IS DEAD prepares future issues for the Science vs. Religion battle (like an actual battle) by introducing the Underground, who are a bunch of scientists looking to defeat the gods. All of the Underground oddly resemble famous scientists of history. Then there is the meeting of gods preparing to rule humanity including Odin, Thor, Loki, Anubis, Vishnu, Aries, and Aphrodite, to name a few.

As long as you take the book for what it is, which is an entertaining “what if” story, you should have no qualms or problems reading it. However, if you attached personal ideologies to it, then I guarantee you will not like it. Personally, I find it entertaining and interesting. I’ve always had an interest in religions and most specifically the amazing stories that surround them. GOD IS DEAD is a really cool idea of blending the religions of ancient lands into the story and ancient gods in modern times.

While I think the storywriting could have been more intense and shown more of a presence, it was still definitely entertaining and enjoyable nonetheless. These gods seem ruthless, entitled, and bring back the old school style of what humans thought of the divine and royalty. I also thought the element of scientists being hunted down or even looked at like zealots, in the same manner that our society looks at religious zealots, was a pretty good social commentary. This is, of course, if ancient gods come back to Earth and want to rule over us, which from my understanding of modern science is super unlikely.

For Di Amorim’s art, I thought it was clean and had some nice fine details. I liked the shadings and the style in which he drew these gods, or even the environment of the comic. Amorim’s style of art I thought was excellent and a great fit for GOD IS DEAD.

Overall, I don’t think this is Hickman’s best work, but it’s definitely not bad. The mix of Hickman and Costa may be the reason for this slight lack of quality, but again, it’s not awful in the least. The story idea itself is super cool and I think the writing may pick up in the future issues. The artwork is excellent from Amorim and GOD IS DEAD has the potential for a lot of growth as an idea. This is a book definitely worth checking out if you have the extra four bucks to spend. I enjoyed it and think future issues will definitely be worth the first step on this story’s journey.


Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Pascual Ferry
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee

When it came to choosing issues out of this clusterfuck of renumbering and gimmickry on DC’s part in the wake of TRINITY WAR to try, I went with the only real method anyone should pick their comics by: Creative team and (if that’s not enough) the character involved.

Seeing as how Matt Kindt might have one of the best track records in all of comics now and that good old Floyd Lawton (Deadshot) happens to be one of my favorite villains/occasional anti-heroes, this was a no-brainer if I were to go through with buying some of this material. And this is really some good material. It’s essentially just an origin story, but it’s a good take on it, showing how a man could be haunted enough to become the world’s greatest marksman with some sort of moral code, given the death of his parents and his sister. Then there’s some requisite showing off of how badass and good a marksman the guy is as he assassinates some guy in an impenetrable suit of armor while falling from the sky to make the impossible shot and recounting his harrowed past.

Really, it comes down to execution and how much you want from a one-off such as this. The execution is there in how it brings out some sympathy for a character that is a stone cold killer and even pulls you into appreciating his craft, given how badass he is while performing it.

If the idea of this Villains Month is to put out material like this that is insightful to these characters and why they are as they are – and making extra $$$ while selling gimmick covers which I sadly bought because, y’know, Ebay – then I think I can choke it down and, dare I say, enjoy them for what they are. But, as I stated before, a lot of these tales are going to hinge on the talent putting them together, something that DC keeps putting themselves into the shitter with these days.


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Stuart Immonen (pencils), Wade von Grawbadger (inks)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy

Thank God I Didn’t End Up Reviewing FOREVER EVIL.

Ahhhh, it’s good to write a review again. My little impromptu break has me rested up just in time for crossover season. Some have been goodish (INFINITY) and others have not (TRINITY WAR), but to be honest, I’ve been the most excited by THE BATTLE OF THE ATOM. The X-Men books have been more engaging recently than almost any other time in recent memory, so seeing these various factions run headlong into each other is a very exciting prospect for me, and Bendis is actually writing a better X-Men crossover than he ever did on Avengers.

The story hinges on a slight retread of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (up to and including the appearance of an elder Kitty Pryde), but escalates and exasperates the situation. The continuous presence of Bendis’s All New X-Men apparently drastically alters the future for the worse. The scene jumps along with a brisk pace, introducing an enjoyably diverse futuristic team. You get the fun of trying to guess how Iceman became a speechless Hulk-like figure, fan-servicey introductions of a grown Molly Hayes…it’s very much an X-Men crossover scene, and Bendis is clearly having a wonderful time writing it. The comic never slows down, but it does hit some small snags in a late issue reveal. It’s definitely interesting, but it doesn’t feel earned. Unless it proves to be a plot twist later, it just doesn’t feel like a deserved change--simply a shock moment for shock’s sake. And while it certainly is much better than past “all talking heads” issues of his crossovers, it doesn’t do much to push the story further, save for a small scene with Jean.

The speed of the dialogue is incredibly impressive. Special claim goes to a two page conversation between Jean Grey and young Hank. Succinct and effective, Bendis gives both a good deal of individual character and emotion, and letting the relationship change not because of the event, but because of their opinions on the event. And it’s followed by a small Cyclops scene that’s simply wonderful. The scene is wonderfully constructed, and is a great conflict for the various teams to fight/team-up/yell at each other over.

There’s not much to say about Immonen’s art that isn’t just a retread of past compliments, but it has to be touched upon. Reuniting Bendis with Immonen on this title in the first place was an obvious and perfect choice by editorial, helping create an incredibly solid series. His art is expressive enough to feel genuine, but it’s dynamic in surprisingly surprising ways. Marte Garcia is wonderful, Grawbadger keeps everything well controlled with his solid inking, and Corey Petit makes inspired choices throughout. This is a pretty book, is what I’m getting at.

I was originally going to review FOREVER EVIL, because why not. But it had been already selected, and this had not. It’s not a revolutionary crossover, aping ideas from clichés left and right. But it’s a very well done story, and two issues in, incredibly engrossing.

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writers: Scott Snyder & Ray Fawkes
Artist: Jeremy Haun
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

My favorite villain book thus far. I should have known Snyder and Fawkes were in the driver's seat with the quality of this puppy, but since the credits live in the back this month I wasn't sure if we had a new rising star on our hands.

Edward Nigma received one of the freshest makeovers in the New 52, completely abandoning any past incarnations as a Joker pastiche with simply a penchant for puzzles. Where Joker is sheer lunacy, Riddler is cold and calculating; he's simply so smart he has an OCD compulsion to keep his brain busy with puzzles. He's also a petty man, as opposed to an outright lunatic.

This whole issue takes place in the now, but is retribution for what was. Anyone who hasn't been following Zero Year in BATMAN might be a bit lost on motivation, but that shouldn't stop your enjoyment of this solitary black diamond. Basically, Nigma was a process efficiency consultant for Wayne enterprises when Bruce was on his Rumspringa before coming back to don the cowl. I deal with these sharks on a daily basis because of my day job and I'll tell you now, Snyder has nailed it. Basically, the jig came up and Nigma ended in prison.

So this is retribution against Bruce and a certain Wayne guard who once worked in Arkham during Nigma's tenure. The issue starts with a series of riddles and the answer to each helps Riddler in his scheme - all clever, all apropos. Now for some reason, and with that kind of bleed in you know I question the choice - but beyond his two fold mission of success he opines for the Batman to come play. Too Jokery for me. Too many obsessed criminals to the point of forlorn love will become a cacophonous white distilled noise instead of an emotional gut punch.

Haun deserves a special shout out for Nigma's new yet respectful of yore visage, and for making what's basically a guy going to the top of a building as exciting as DIE HARD's decent down one.

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

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