Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fast Thoughts For 03/26/08

GREEN LANTERN #29 - I can already tell that this is going to be the origin story that Emerald Dawn should have been.

Formalizing what has already been hinted at or discussed in flashback in a number of his Green Lantern stories to date, Secret Origin is Geoff John's reimagining of the Hal Jordan mythos. Fleshing Hal out beyond the fearless he-man of the Silver Age, Johns' Hal isn't quite fearless but he is courageous, reckless and could easily out-Maverick Tom Cruise any day of the week. He also formalizes some points that have been implied by other writers (i.e. John Stewart's Marine background - first presented in the Justice League cartoon - is now gospel background for the New Earth John Stewart) but never outright confirmed before.

If you haven't been reading Green Lantern but are aching to start in the wake of the buzz about how great The Sinestro Corps Wars was, this is a good place to start. Not just because it shows the literal beginning of the Green Lanterns' presence among Earthlings but because the last few pages appear to tie-in to the next big Green Lantern saga.

HELLBLAZER #242 - Another place-keeping issue as we see John's two greatest enemies in Diggle's run so far form an alliance after indulging in some torture. There's precious little of John this time around, but I suspect that Diggle is, as per usual, building to something bigger and special. The tone is also, as I've said before, very close to that of the Delano Run. Indeed, we get another reference to a classic Delano story as we get a reference to John's long lost twin and the parallel reality where he, not John, lived.

JACK OF FABLES #21 -For once, I agree with Jack's surly comments about how an issue without him isn't worth reading. Well, I take that back. It's not that this issue isn't worth reading - I just don't find this one as amusing as previous issues. Maybe it's because I'm too much of a theater geek to find much humor in a "comedy" where one of the actors refuses to learn his lines or his relations to the other characters, an actress has to be coerced into seducing an actor (and then some) in order to get his cooperation and an actor/director gone mad with power. Still, I'll be back next month if only for the promise of Jack fresh off his conquest of the Page Sisters. :)

KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #137 - It's been a while since I've laughed out loud, or laughed long at an issue of this comic. But this time, I did.

I won't spoil the gag or even attempt to describe it. Suffice it to say that while Jolly Blackburn may decry his skills as an artist, he perfectly nailed the "Wile E. Coyote" look in B.A.'s eyes as he watched the metaphorical piano drop.

SHEENA #5 - Delayed for a few months, presumably so this final chapter of what was meant to be a five-part mini-series could be rewritten to allow for a hopefully long-lasting continuing series, this issue did prove worth waiting for.

And why shouldn't it? If there's some manner of afterlife for the good and just, then Will Eisner is smiling right now. Because Robert Rodi and Matt Merhoff have taken Eisner's creation - the first heroine to have her own solo comic title - and made Sheena their own baby as well as the best book among a host of pitiful imitators.

Rodi has routinely proven capable of doing something that nobody else on the market seems capable of doing - writing a "queen of the jungle" heroine who is smart, confident and easily capable of holding her own in a fight and surviving in the wilds. And unlike a certain "Cho-sen" one, who tried to corner the market on jungle girl comics (the title says it all - girls, not women), with cheesecake poses and gratuitous thong shots, Monsieur Merhoff - along with a bevy of amazing cover artists - has depicted Sheena as a heroine who is beautiful, powerful and as sensibly dressed as you can be in a leopard-skin unitard.

The first TP should be available soon and a one-shot, Trail of the Mapinguari, is on the way along with a HC collection of Eisner's Sheena work. So if you missed this comic the first time, don't worry. The Real Queen of the Jungle is here and I don't think she'll be leaving anytime soon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fast Thoughts For 03/19/08

Comic Foundry #2 and two Sheena books delayed.

Ah well. Still a mighty haul of mighty good books this week.

BIRDS OF PREY #116 - I'm a little less sleazed out by this issue even if it was a lot sleazier than last month's. Somehow, knowing that we were dealing with the grandson of the original Killer Shark and that he's a pathetic, posturing geek who - upon stumbling over a mind control serum - immediately starts plotting how to use it to have not one, but two superheroine sex slaves for life makes the whole "mind control, 'You Are My Queen' act more pathetic than anything. And - oh yes - Misfit kicking Black Alice's ass without her powers. Bliss.


"I don't think you feel guilty about what Blacks went through in this city 400 years ago. I think you feel guilty about what we're going through today. And so do I. It's not White Guilt. It's not Black Guilt. It's just Guilt. Guilt that we got a future with fucking jetpacks before we got one with a level playing field.

Vaughan couldn't have timed this issue better if he tried. An examination of race relations in America and politics, this issue also gives us some new insights into the character of Deputy Mayor Wylie as well as some particularly apt lines given the current political zeitgeist in the United States.

FABLES #71 - The last page gave me chills akin to when I first read Watchmen and got to Adrian's now famous lines - "Do it?" To say more would be to say too much. I've said it before and I'll say it again - You MUST be reading this book.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #19- In the words of the LOLCats... "can we haz Grant Morrison back, pleeze?"

RED SONJA #31- Quite possibly the best issue of Red Sonja since the book came back.

We're still in flashback country, with Sonja heading toward Hades and the ferryman recounting her life. This time, we are treated to a tale of how Sonja almost gave up her oath for the noblest man she knew and how she inevitably came to lose him.

It's a fascinating look at an aspect of Sonja's character that has - for better or worse - been one of her defining characteristics. That is to say her oath to her goddess that she cannot give herself to any man who cannot beat her in a fair fight. In addition to spelling out the exact terms of Sonja's geas (we find out, for instance, that Sonja is easily capable of expressing emotional love if not physical) we also find out that the choice has always been Sonja's to make. She could have given up the warrior's path anytime she wanted - but she refused to do so because she could not bare the thought of what might happen if she failed to be there when a hero was needed. And that, in my opinion, makes her all the more heroic a figure.

Once More, With Superheroes!

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog!

Yes, Joss Whedon is making an on-line musical about superheroes.

Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris are already signed on to perform.

That noise you just heard? The Internet breaking from the sound of sheer awesome overload.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Irony At The Comic Con.

This is my funniest story from All-Con this past weekend.

I helped some of my acting-troupe friends with their table at one point and hired the artist in the next booth over to do a Red Sonja sketch for my girlfriend. I asked about his influences, tried to talk shop about my favorite comic artists and discovered two things.

1.) Said artist is a disciple of Dave Sim.
2.) He thinks Neal Adams has some "really weird ideas".

Now, granting that I am somewhat disturbed to find that my favorite Bronze-Age artist doesn't believe in basic geological theory or the Big Bang and has made movies and comics to prove his own theories, I still think that pales to any self-described disciple of a man who is most famous, outside of his comics writing, for having created his own religion and exposing the theory that women are creative "voids" who sap the creative "lights" (i.e. Precious Bodily Fluids!) of men after having done a lot of acid and being dragged to the hospital by his wife and mother, saying that ANYBODY has wacky ideas.

Mind you, it IS a damn good Red Sonja drawing. So damn the hypocrisy - the man can draw!

Three Weeks of Fast Thoughts

And yes, I am fully aware of the irony of calling something "Fast Thoughts" when you're reviewing comics you bought three weeks ago. The new job and a Con appearance consumed all of my spare time that wasn't spent sleeping, okay? :)

COMIC BOOK COMICS #1 - From the team that brought you Action Philosophers!, this little book is a comic book about comics history - a novel idea that I'm surprised hasn't been attempted before. While not quite as funny as AP was - although, in fairness, I don't think much CAN be funnier than the image of Plato being a big bearded bloke in a Luchadore mask who talks in Hulk-Speak - this is, like AP was, a very fun comic that manages to be educational to boot. I dare say that only the most die-hard of comic geeks won't learn something new about the genre's origins from this book and I will further say that this is a must-read for anyone who has ever held a comic-book.

DOCTOR WHO #1 & #2 - I haven't seen any of the Third Season of the Doctor Who revival series (AKA New Who, as some fans call it) but this has been due more to my busy schedule than any desire to avoid it... much as I do miss Rose Tyler already. Still, this comic book series based on the adventures of the current (i.e Tenth) Doctor and his current companion (i.e. Martha Jones) serves equally well as an introduction to the world of The Doctor for old fans, new fans or people who are "not sure if I'd even like Doctor Who".

The first issue deals with The Doctor being kidnapped by one of the last of the Sycorax - an alien species familiar to New Who fans as the main baddies from The Christmas Invasion of 2005 - who is running a business catering to big-game hunters who wish to hunt the last of any given species. Naturally The Doctor, who is the last of the Time Lords of Galifrey as we are informed in the introduction, is big business indeed. The second issue centers upon a trip to 1974, a series of odd sand-based statues and a technological curse extending back to the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs.

If you're a fan of quirky science-fiction, sly British humor or - of course - Doctor Who - these comics are of equal quality to the TV series. I'm no Doctor, but if I were, I'd prescribe these comics for all my patients.

DOCTOR WHO CLASSICS #2-4 - Classic Marvel Comics of England - with Dave Gibbons artwork pre-Watchmen - depicting the adventures of The Fourth Doctor - aka Tom Baker, perhaps the best-known and most popular actor to ever play The Doctor. There's not a lot I else I can say about this except that if you're a fan of The Doctor, Dave Gibbons artwork, or trippy science-fiction with a big heart and a sly wit, this should be required reading. Unless, of course, you already have a complete set of the original Marvel comics and have no need of the IDW reprints. :)

FABLES #70 - Still the best damn book on all fronts published monthly.

GREEN LANTERN #28 - The plot thickens as we see the first signs of the Fourth Lantern Corps - the Red Lantern Corps of rage. Not surprisingly, Laria - the Green Lantern who killed a Sinestro Corps member who had surrendered and was unarmed a few issues ago- was their first recruit. What is surprising is the power behind the Red Lantern Corps is The Empire of Tears - the enemies of The Guardians and the group responsible for, in the Alan Moore story Tygers revealing the Prophecy of Blackest Night which detailed the oncoming war between Seven Lantern Corps based on Seven Emotions and Seven Colors.

Not the best issue for a new reader to jump on, I'm afraid, but this is the best Space Opera book in years. Go pick up the new Hardcover collection of The Sinestro Corps War to see where it all began before picking this one up.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #22 - Pretty much everything I said about Green Lantern applies to Green Lantern Corps as well. Good book. Good art. And not a good issue to come in on as this issue continues last month's storyline involving the Green Lantern Boodika's transformation into an Alpha Lantern (i.e. half organic/half Manhunter robot being devoted toward policing the Green Lantern Corps itself) and her going after one of her former sisters in a group of space amazon bandits. And while you might not think it difficult to get into a comic that is basically a bunch of muscular women wearing next to nothing trying to kill each other, such is the depth of this book that such a simple pleasure is made complex.

HELLBLAZER #241 - Bit of a slow issue this one. John doing what John does best as he tries to redirect the mad warmage Mako toward a different target while buying himself some time as innocent (well, relatively so) people are torn apart while John skates away. It's still good stuff but it feels like the sort of issue that exists only to pad out a story to six issues for the inevitable trade paperback.

JACK OF FABLES #20 - Should I even bother to mention that in five years of librarian school and working in libraries I have never yet met one librarian as hot as any one of The Page Sisters? Much less three? Much less three sisters? Just thought I'd mention it and that I take comfort in the fact that a liar like Jack can't possibly be telling the truth about having seduced all three of them. And yes, I know it doesn't bode well of me that I lust after fictional sexy librarians and am jealous of a fictional character who managed to seduce them all. I don't care. I still want to marry Barbara Gordon.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes - uh... this is a very good comic and you should be reading it. Yes.

SERENITY: BETTER DAYS #1 - Pre-Serenity The Movie, Whedon-written original adventures of Malcolm Reynolds and the rest of the Serenity crew. If you're a fan of Firefly you probably already know about this book and bought it or are cursing in Chinese and resolving to go down to the comic book shop first-thing tomorrow. Suffice it to say that if you're a fan, you'll love it. And if you're not a fan, hie thee hence to procure Firefly: The Complete Series and see what all the fuss is about.

WONDER WOMAN #18- This issue had it all. Really. Kick-ass action scenes in the form of Wonder Woman vs. An Army of Khunds (aka The Conan Aliens). Old-School sensibilities mixed with New-Earth coolness as we get a gun-totting, ass-kicking Etta Candy. And the only laugh-out-loud moment in any comic I've read in the past month as we see Diana start putting Nemesis through the Amazon Courtship rituals.

Yes, you read that right. Apparently lesbian relationships were common enough among the Amazons for complex courtship rituals to be developed. Which is only natural and makes perfect sense. Still, it is a bit flooring to see such a thing finally be spelled out in the pages of Wonder Woman much less to have such a revelation be revealed without a bit editorial hoopla. Especially given the way they handled the reveal of Batwoman and (Insert Judd Winick storyline of your choice here).

Good book. And a good issue to start with if - for some reason - you didn't jump on this ship when Gail Simone became the captain.