Friday, July 31, 2009

Tales of the Corps #3

Bit of a misleading title this one, since the tales in this book all come from but one Corps; The Green Lantern Corps.

The first centers upon Kilowog, and his days as a rookie Green Lantern being trained by a hard-ass Sarge-type named Ermey. (Get it? Get it?)

It's not subtle, but it is a fitting tribute given that R. Lee Ermey has played The Sarge in so many war movies and in so many parodies of so many war movies that he's become synonymous with the type. And this comic is, in the early parts at least, the closest thing you can get to a Full Metal Jacket tribute in a comic that peaks at PG-13 at its' worst.

The second story is a little shorter, but no less dark. It focuses upon Arisaia - the teenage girl who become Green Lantern of sector 2815, following in the footsteps of her father, her uncle and and entire family line of Green Lanterns who all died in the line of duty.

Not much plot besides that, but it does give us some insight into Arisaia's character, showing how at a time when most girls think only of games and boys, she was already longing to do something greater with her life. And I think it's a fair bet that some of Arisaia's family will be coming back to visit. Heh heh heh.

The final story is not a story at all but a low-tech DVD-style commentary of Blackest Night #0, lain over the pencils of that book.

Your tolerance for this sort of thing may be linked to whether or not you are the sort of person who likes to hear artists talk about their work or the kind of person who listens to DVD commentaries. I am, so I loved this. But I can see how it might make for tedious reasoning for those of you who don't care to know that Geoff Johns decided to make Hal and Barry the central characters in this story since the other big heroes of the DCU are all busy with their own problems at the moment - Superman with New Krypton, Wonder Woman with building a new life in the wake of her leaving the Amazons and Greek Gods behind and Batman.. uh, being dead.

The Final Verdict: Two good stories and an interesting commentary on Blackest Night #0, if you are the sort of person who likes listening to the commentaries on DVDs. The only problem is that none of this seems to have anything to do with Blackest Night, apart FROM the commentary.

Those just picking this up for the story of Blackest Night can probably skip this book but fans of the old Tales of the Green Lantern Corps series as well as the current Green Lantern Corps book will want to get it just for the stories focusing on Arisia and Kilowog.

Wonder Woman #34

There's so much I can say about this book and - no pun intended - how wonderful it is.

I could talk at length about how Gail Simone has come up with the most original and exciting plot thread for a Wonder Woman story in years, i.e. Wonder Woman abandons her mother, her gods AND her people in the face of a betrayal of her ideals by all three.

I could talk about the wonderful character moments that make up every single page of this book, like the one page which not only shows us the big difference between how Wonder Woman treats the villains she fights compared to the rest of the Holy Trinity of DC Comics but also gives T. O. Morrow more character than I think has ever been given to him in anything ever.

I could talk about the art, the clever use of expression and how yes... yes... the women in this comic are actually wearing sensible boots with their costumes!

I could talk about how amazing it is that I see more potential for stories I would like to read in a single issue of this comic (i.e. Betsy Ross drawing inspiration from the Amazons and the possibility of Amazon intervention in the American Revolution) than I read in a half-dozen books any other week. And I could really talk about how well Black Canary is written in this and how nice it is to see that again!

But no. I can say all that and more with just one scan. Just a single page.

You have the gorgeous artwork. You have the nice character moment where you learn little details about the characters you never knew before. And you get to learn a little something more about Amazon culture that seems so obvious in retrospect in what basically amounts to a throw-away gag.

It's a good comic, plain and simple.

The Final Verdict: Awesome. There is no other word for it. Gorgeous artwork, a sled-load of wonderful character scene and honest drama with the Amazons, the likes of which has not been seen in years. If you like comics, you should be reading this book!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gay Gamer PixelPoet Wins Internet For Life

Sam? This one is for you.

SOURCE: Gay Gamer Wins EA Promo, Says No Thanks

In a desperate bit of damage control, EA apparently awarded 2nd place in it's horribly sexist and insulting Sin To Win Contest (i.e. the one which encouraged random men at ComicCon to 'commit acts of lust' with booth babes in order to win a night on the town with two babes and a chest full of booty) to a gay male gamer, PixelPoet, who submitted a picture of himself with a "Booth Bear".

PixelPoet refused the prize ($240's in giftcards good for any EA Games games) and sent EA Games an e-mail, which he also cross-posted on, explaining just why he was refusing the prize and suggesting other things they might consider doing with the $240.

The full e-mail is up here, for those who would like a good laugh.

Monday, July 27, 2009

EA Sexist Stupidity Makes Major News Outlet!

SOURCE: EA blasted over questionable marketing stunt

I didn't feel the need to comment on the greatest bit of sexist geeky stupidity since The Open-Source Boob Project, since I just heard about this this afternoon and numerous people linked off When Fangirls Attack! had already said everything I wanted to say about the original article.

I still don't. Sexist, geeky stupidity pretty much says it all, I think. Still, I think it is noteworthy that as of 12:20 AM CST, this is a major headlining story on Yahoo's front page.

Way to keep it classy, EA!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Marvel Acquires Rights To Miracleman - now MarvelMan again.

SOURCE: Marvel Acquires Marvelman

Reports are still sketchy at this time. We cannot confirm any of the following.

1. Todd McFarlane was promised Napoleon Bonaparte's balls as part of the agreement.

2. This is but one part of Alan Moore's revenge scheme against DC Comics.

3. Neil Gaiman will wear a red and blue Marvelman costume for the rest of SDCC weekend in honor of the news.

I might have to lift my ban on Marvel Media for this...

SOURCE: SDCC: Marvel Super Hero Squad Gets Super Cast

Okay - granting that this show does appear to be FAR too cute and a desperate bid to start attracting some of the audience from DC Comics Batman and The Brave and The Bold cartoon... I have to see at least one episode of this based on one piece of casting.

George Takei as Galactus

Oh my.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Conan The Cimmerian #12

There's not a lot to say about this issue, honestly. It's part five of an adaptation of Robert E. Howard's Conan story The Black Colossus (available for free on-line at the preceding link). It's not a good issue to pick-up if you're looking to jump into collecting this title. And it is more of the same from writer Tim Truman and artists Tomas Giorello and Jose Villarrubia.

More of the same, in this case, means more of the same high-quality sword and sorcery action we've come to expect from Dark Horse in their adaptations of Howard's work. If you like high fantasy, you should be reading this book.

The Final Verdict: It's Conan done right, in writing and art. By Crom, what more do you need know?!

Hellblazer #257

Last time, John got his hands on a love potion after telling Phoebe - the doctor who just dumped him - that he can use magic to make her love him again. The suggestion was that John was using the potion on a bottle of wine he gifted to Phoebe AND on the liquor of a magus named Julian who is blackmailing John.

It was my hope that Milligan wasn't taking this step and effectively making John into a date-rapist; a line which even the dodgy Constantine has never crossed and which even other characters in the book noted was horribly out of character for John Constantine.

Well, Milligan apparently did take the final step and elect to turn John Constantine into an attempted love-potion date-rapist for no readily apparent reason. The only thing that kept it from coming to that was his new love interest Phoebe figuring out something was up and pretending that she was madly in love with John, despite only knowing that the wine he gave her was laced with "some kind of date rape drug" and not love potion.

So John wound up getting some of the best sex of his life while feeling horribly guilty about the whole thing... not knowing that Phoebe knew and wasn't really influenced. What's really screwed up is that she knows what John was up to and yet doesn't seem to care, nursing him back to health after his latest scam explodes in his face. This whole thread interests and disturbs me more than the actual "plot" with John trying to get his back against another sorcerer who is blackmailing him by using the love potion on her, which is one strike against the writing.

The art is another matter, with Julian - the eternal sorceress in the body of a 15 year old school girl - being depicted in an exaggerated style that jars with all the other characters in the book. As a stylistic choice, it stinks... though the rest of the art by Guiseppe Camuncoli is decent enough.

The Final Verdict: Not a good time to be coming onto this book. In fact, I may be leaving it after one more issue. We'll see. I'm giving Milligan a chance to turn this around with the final part of this storyline. But I doubt he can.

Jack of Fables #36

In which we explore Rule Number One Of Comics: Everything Is Better With Monkeys. Errr... Apes.

I had hoped that this issue might give us some answers regarding all the concerns raised in my mind by The Great Fables Crossover. I figured that at the very least we might get an inkling of the new status-quo with The Literals apparently departed from this plane of reality and depowered.

What I was not expecting was a guest issue flashing back to yet another point in Jack's life, as he tells the story of how he became the inspiration for Tarzan - aka Jack'N'Apes.

Honestly, this book is good for what it is and you'd never know that Willingham and Sturges didn't have a hand in writing it. Of course the stuff with Jack and his Jane (a talking ape with a thing for humans) is pretty squicky... but par for the course in a book where the main character has accidentally committed incest three times with his half-sisters.

Tony Akins art is wonderful is always. This is one of the most well drawn books out there and I'm amazed that Jack of Fables hasn't followed its' sister title into getting some Eisner nominations for art. Really not much else I can say beyond that.

The Final Verdict: It's a fill-in that you'd never realize was a fill-in without looking at the credits. High praise indeed for writer Chris Roberson.

Doctor Who: Room With A Deja View

The Final Verdict: And, of course, to all fans of Doctor Who. Highly recommended to all fans of a good time travel story. Full marks all around. A rollicking good read by the gent who brought us Lying In The Gutters and the artist behind Rex Mundi.

And the lively artwork by Rex Mundi artist Eric J at least ensures that while this story may be confusing at times, it never looks dull. Thankfully, careful reading doesn't make it completely incomprehensible and the vast majority of the comic is told "properly". The effect of this story - some might describe it as ass-backwards - is disorienting at first.

That is to say, backwards relative to "The Linears" - those like us for whom cause creates effect, rather than the other way around. The plot, in brief, centers upon The Doctor being called in to question a murder suspect; a being whose lives life backwards in time. Johnston proves as capable a writer as he is a journalist in this book.

The reason for this is that while Johnston has written a few comic books, he is probably better known as the creative mind behind the column Lying In The Gutters. Odds are, however, that you don't recognize where you recognize the name from. You may recognize the name of Rich Johnston from the cover of this book.

WARNING: Parts Of This Review May Read Better Backwards And/Or After Several Large Drinks.

Red Sonja #46

Why? Why Brian Reed? Why are you complicating something as straightforward and simple as a Red Sonja comic with a pointless psychodrama where Sonja starts hallucinating between two divergent realities, one of which has her dressed like a geisha?

Ah. Well, as long as there's a good reason.

Seriously, though... this book confused me a lot more than the new Doctor Who one-shot - the one centering around The Doctor attempting to converse with a being who experiences time backwards.

The short version of the story so far (for those of you who missed my review of the last two issues) is that thanks to her patron goddess' death, Sonja has been reborn much more powerful but much more unfocused - i.e. mad as a hatter. This is supposedly why Sonja is doing such horrible and horribly out of character things such as raising demons and destroying Stygia. Well, actually that last one is pretty in-character for any barbarian hero during this time... but I digress.

This issue centers on two of Sonja's former companions - the warrior bard Osin and the ghost of the wizard/monk Suumaro- catching up with her and trying to talk sense into her, even as Sonja is hallucinating that she's fighting two clans of ninjas while wearing oriental garb.

Basically - after a lot of confusing pages like this, jumping between the two realities, Sonja winds up commanding two armies of ninjas and heading north to cut off Lucan - the bad guy who destroyed her family. Oh, and the "Blood Dynasty" magic gem McGuffin that everybody has been chasing over since Brian Reed took over this book? It turns out that the real Blood Dynasty IS Sonja.

*sighs* Look, I'm not saying that you shouldn't try and do a complex story with a character like Red Sonja... but this just isn't working on a lot of levels. What Mike Carey and Michael Avon Oeming did with this book for half its' run proved that you can tell intelligent, complex stories with these characters... but this is just layers upon lawyers for the sake of seeming deep without actually being deep.

We can only hope that things will get better after the end of this storyline in Issue 50. Maybe we can just have a nice simple story where Sonja fights a monster and loots some treasure from a temple? Please?

The Verdict: Is it issue 50 yet? Can we please get to the end of this never-ending storyline?!

Power Girl #3

I remember reading a lot of reviews of issue 2 of this series which were concerned about just how easily Power Girl was subdued by The Ultra Humanite. The usual concerns about bondage artwork, cheesecake and everything that seems to come up whenever anyone tries to discuss Power Girl was discussed.

Which makes this issue all the more satisfying, since we find out very early on - within the first three pages - that Karen was playing possum the whole time. :)

You can check out the rest of the preview DC Comics blog.

Simply put, this book is fun. The kind of fun comic books SHOULD be. And if looking at this and the preview above can't convince you that this isn't the best new series to be release this year and that you should be reading this book... well, I don't know what else to say.

The Final Verdict: Still one of the most fun books out there and a good one for anyone looking for a book centering on a strong female protagonist. The art is great too!

Green Lantern #44

Containing a brief rant about Barry Allen, his return, the DC Comics timeline and - oh yes - a review of Green Lantern #44

Barry Allen just bugs me. On a lot of levels.

Understand that I'm not dead-set against the idea of bringing Barry Allen back from the dead. Hell, I'm probably one of the few who liked the conceit in Final Crisis that Barry Allen was literally out-running Death for the better part of a decade. I think, properly done, the return of Barry Allen could have been a good story.

The problem is that we're still in the middle of telling that story (in the creatively titled Flash: Rebirth) and yet Barry is making an appearance in this book - heck, this whole mini-series. This kinda kills the dramatic tension in Flash:Rebirth, since we know that Barry is going to make it through unscathed.

The bigger problem is that Barry's presence - and the way Geoff Johns writes him in particular - is making a shambles of DC Comics timeline... just a few years into the latest historical reboot.

While I admit that the idea of Barry Allen making jokes about finding the Internet and thinking it's too slow is KINDA cute on paper, it doesn't really work unless you believe Barry "died" sometime over ten years ago before the Internet became commonplace. And granting that the DCU Timeline gets fudged a bit here and there and it's rare to see exact calendar dates, it still doesn't make much sense when the best timeline on the Internet says Barry died seven years ago. Heck, even back in the early 90s, AOL, Prodigy and other on-line services were hitting the suburbs, so you'd expect a scientist like Barry Allen to be at least broadly familiar with electronic databases. And that's ignoring the relatively greater technological complexity of the DCU compared to the real world...

But I digress. Despite being a major character in this story, Barry Allen is not the focus of it. And my own issues with the character, what they are doing with him, the corny jokes relating to him and the whole can of worms opened up by his presence... this is not the issue.

The issue is Green Lantern #44 and this is probably the best story we've seen with the Martian Manhunter in years. You know what they say about old heroes; they don't die - they become undead minions of an unseen master, with bad attitudes and a seemingly greater command of their original powers. :)

Basically, that's what most of this issue is - a zombie J'onn totally owning Hal Jordan and Barry Allen. And only by using his own original powers, completely ignoring whatever powers the Black Ring gives him. He wonders out loud at one point, "I'm as powerful as Superman. Why does everyone forget that?" Well, J'onn - probably because nobody ever writes stories where you are allowed to be this awesome, using your telepathy to turn Barry against Hal by hallucinating him to be you and then forcing Hal to have to fight back against fists moving at Mach 3.

J'onn also gives them a lecture about what a joke The Justice League has become since J'onn's death and decries the fact that the man who killed him still walks free. Gee, I guess that means now we now know how well Hal's attempt at forming a pro-active Justice League BECAUSE off J'onn's death worked.

The rest of the issue is a bit more plot-centered, with us getting some fairly important war information about the other Lantern armies and what they are up to. And - because apparently they remembered this is supposed to be John Stewart's book too this month - we also get to see John at Ground Zero as the entire planet Xanshi - a planet which he failed to save - comes back to life as a bunch of very pissed off zombies.

The Final Verdict: All grousing about Barry Allen's place in this book and John Stewart's lack of one aside, this is a pretty good read that's managing to hold the tone and pace of the series well. It's also a definite must-read if you're a Martian Manhunter fan.

Tales Of The Corps #2

Another three profile stories; these centering upon members of the Red Lanterns, Star Sapphire and Orange Lantern Corps respectively.

The first story centers upon Bleez - a princess who was recruited by the Red Lanterns after her family was killed by The Sinestro Corps, her wings crippled and she was nearly raped by the Yellow Lantern who led the attack on her planet.

This story is serviceable, with Bleez being far from the typical pampered princess, fighting the mother who wishes her to marry and start popping out babies. However, the fan service with her being interrupted in her bath at the start is a bit much. And one can't help but find this story a little pointless since Bleez is nothing but a frothing-mad Red Lantern at the end with no personality or mind to speak of left.

The second story centers on Carol Ferris. For those of you who read Blackest Night #1 and wondered when Carol Ferris became a Star Sapphire (or Violet Lanterns of Love, as I guess they are now), wonder no more. This story details just how that happened.

I can't help but wonder if the irony here is intentional, with Carol insisting that her life isn't defined by Hal when - in terms of the long-term history of Green Lantern as a book - she always has been. Not to mention that while even as she's being asked to take a position of power were she can save the universe, she's being asked to forsake her identity and her life to redefine herself in terms relating to how important she should be to Hal. This is pretty disturbing any way you slice it but given the all-consuming nature of the Love power it makes sense.

What also bothers me is the idea of Carol being set up as the great True Love of Hal's life when I find Hal's current girlfriend - USAF pilot Jillian "Cowgirl" Pearlman to be a much more interesting character. I know this is kind of a "Betty and Veronica" argument with Green Lantern fans right now.... actually, with Gillian being a blonde tomboy and Carol being a brunette rich bitch - holy cow, it IS the Betty and Veronica argument!

Well, even so, it still bothers me. Especially with Carol having shown up only two times in the past four years, and that's including Rebirth

The final story details a creature that calls itself The God of Hunger but which I call The Big Giant Head. There's not much plot here, with the Big Giant Head flying around form planet to planet, demanding the he be fed the most valuable items on each planet.

It's a nice exploration on the concept of value and it's the kind of story you'd expect to see in the old Tales of the Green Lantern Corps annuals. The one downside is that it seems a bit of a waste since The Big Giant Head is consumed by Agent Orange on the last page. Honestly, doing a story on ANYONE in "The Orange Lantern Corps" seems a bit of a waste since, by definition, they're a soul-bound thrall with no independent personality or mind. Hell, even the Orange Lantern Profile Page doesn't bother to give the names of the poor suckers killed off by Larfleeze!

This issue wasn't quite as good as the first one, if only because there's an aura of pointlessness about these stories. They're well written, especially the final story by Peter Tomasi - but there doesn't seem to be much point in recounting the history and personality of characters who have been robbed of all personality or absorbed into a collective that makes death seem attractive by comparison. Why build up interest in a character with a short story if nothing can be built upon that foundation?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blackest Night #1

I debated for the better part of a day on just how best to review this book.

In the end, I have decided that rather than address the complaints of the haters (who wouldn't be satisfied with anything I have to say, anyway), I am just going to show you - in order - the five things about this book that I liked the most. I hope this may give you all some insight into the subtle beauty and craft of this tale.

1. A National Day of Mourning For Fallen Superheroes

Say what you will about Geoff Johns, but the guy does know how to world-build. He is always sneaking little details on how day-to-day life in the DC Comics universe is shaped by the existence of super heroes. And the idea of a National holiday in the USA, devoted exclusively to fallen superheroes is a good one. And in the context of this world, it makes perfect sense for such a thing to exist.

More, this whole sequence is a perfect introduction to everyone who might not be familiar with all the characters we're about to see.

2. All The Little Scenes Showing Our Heroes Mourning.

There's a lot of wonderful character moments here. Atom Smasher taking Damage to task on his apparent disrespect for the original Atom; the former's mentor and the latter's biological father. Bart Allen quickly going from selfish to sweet as he considers the Titans statue gallery, complaining of how his statue looked nothing like him and then wishing that they could get rid of all the statues in that gallery. And Clark Kent mourning his dad alongside his mother and Superboy.

Some have asked why Superman would be mourning his dad on a day for departed heroes. Simple. Pa Kent was HIS biggest hero.

3. Honor Among Thieves.

Trust Geoff Johns to sneak in a cameo of The Rogues, but this is a very effective scene regardless.

This is one of the reasons I prefer DC Comics to Marvel of late - because many of the "bad guys" in DC Comics aren't really bad guys, when you get right down to it. Most of the Rogues are inherently more honorable than many of the so-called heroes at the House of Ideas. They may be thieves, but they know who their friends are and stand by them, through thick and thin.

4. When Words Can't Say It...

Hal Jordan is a man of action. He's not shy about speaking his mind but there are a lot of things he can't find the words for. So when Barry Allen asks him just how many of their old friends have died while he was "away", Hal hesitates for a moment before creating a projection of all the dearly departed.

What might have been just a feeble excuse for a two-page splash spread under a lesser writer speaks volumes about the character of Hal Jordan without a single word or thought balloon being necessary. Hal Jordan may not be afraid of death but he isn't comfortable talking about it either.

5. Stretching Zombies!

A part of me wonders just how the Zombie Ralph can be stretching, since his powers were based on a metabolic process caused by digesting a concentrated fruit-juice formula. But then, I realize that this is justified by The Rule of Cool which states that stretching zombies - especially stretching zombies who can still put an arm around the rotting corpse of their zombie wife in a loving and protective way - are just too awesome NOT to exist.

Incidentally, am I the only one who noticed the irony in Ralph and Sue Dibny - the poster couple for pointless, plot-driven death - killing Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the poster couple for slowly and gradually developing a relationship over time in a regular series book?

Nobody cared about Ralph and Sue until Sue died. Nobody cared about Hawkman and Hawkgirl until Johns made them live together.

I think the symbolism has to be intentionally, since I can't see Geoff Johns killing off two characters he worked so hard to develop and, in Carter's case, resurrect in this manner unless it is to make a point.

Regardless of what anyone else says, I like this series so far. And I cannot wait another two days for the next few issues. I think you'll feel the same way if you give this series a shot.

Tales of the Corps #1

This book contains three stories, along with profiles taken from the Blackest Night #0 special. The first story details the first Blue Lantern, Saint Walker, and his life before he was chosen to become the first of the hope-empowered Blue Lanterns.

This is easily the most powerful of the three pieces, with Johns doing what he does best with this kind of story - introduce a character in a way that recalls their history and lays their motivations bare at the same time. Walker's story is an epic one and you truly get a sense of how heroic he was even before he was chosen to be a Blue Lantern.

The next story by Peter Tomasi isn't strictly necessary but is rather amusing. It details the life of a young Mongul and how he came to realize that he would not ever share his father's power; he would have to take it.

We don't get a lot of deep insight here, what with Mongul being a power-hungry bully who wants to rule as much of the universe as he can. But it is the first tale I know of that shows us Mongul The Elder and how he acted as a father to his son, Mongul The Younger.

The final story is also the most confusing, offering us a brief glimpse of the Indigo Tribe and their power.

This is personal theory, but I think their power is a counter to the Orange Power of Avarice as Hope counters Fear. While the Orange Lantern has the power to drain energy way from other Lanterns (mineminemineminemine!), the Indigo Power seems to redirect it. We see the Indigo leader do something that causes a mortally wounded Green Lantern to smother himself with a ring projection, giving him a relatively more painless death and turn yellow energy back onto a Sinestro Corps member, causing him to flee as his own worst fears are made manifest.

It's rather hard to say since we can't understand a bloody thing any of the Indigo Lanterns say, their language being untranslatable even by the Universal Translator of a Green Lantern ring. Most of this story is told through the art and Rags Morales' darker style isn't quite capable of making the action clear without several read-throughs.

The Bad News: None of the stories here seem to have any direct bearing on the plot of Blackest Night so far. And our first glance at the Indigo Lanterns doesn't give us much more information than their profile which contains about as much information about the Indigo Lanterns as the Hitch-hiker's Guide did about the Earth.

The Good News: Except for the last story, they are all very good character pieces that add insight into various characters, particularly the Saint Walker piece.

The Verdict: Good read. Worth picking up.

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 07/15/09

Yes, I know - I am pushing the definition of Fast Thoughts. But I didn't get my comics until Saturday and spent most of Sunday struggling with how to approach Blackest Night.

Look for a post about that, later tonight.

DOCTOR WHO #1 - If you're a Doctor Who fan and you like comics, you should be reading this book. Period.

The story is fantastic, as well you might expect coming from Tony Lee the gent who wrote Doctor Who: The Forgotten which was easily the best of the original Doctor Who mini-series published by IDW. The art by Al Davison perfectly captures the manic pace of the show as well as the likeness of The Tenth Doctor. And when your biggest complaint is the fact that they are having to use an expy of Charlie Chaplin rather than the real McCoy for legal reasons... well, that's a pretty good sign you have a quality book, I think.

Highly recommended!

FABLES #86 - I was hoping for some resolution regarding whether or not Rose Red had been raped by Jack and what the hell the other characters are doing about her apparent breakdown. What we got was a lot of background and pathos for characters we haven't seen nor do I expect to see again, detailing how our new Big Bad (aka Mister Dark) was captured by forces of The Adversary and hwo it was The Fables who were indirectly responsible for him being freed.

This might be interesting background if we hadn't just spent several months without any inkling exactly who or what Mister Dark is and just come off of a mini-series where most of the series regulars were wasted and didn't do a damn thing that had anything to do with the main storyline of either this book OR The Great Fables Crossover.

Skip it unless you're a completist.

TITANS #15 - Not a bad comic, though it has very little to do with Blackest Night. At the very least, I fail to see how it is a "Prelude To Blackest Night" unless Zombie Aquaman comes back angry about Aqualad taking his throne and allowing his ex-girlfriend (i.e. Aqualad's wife, Dolphin) to die.

Still, this story is easily accessible to readers like me who haven't read Titans before, don't care much about the Atlantis corner of the DC Universe and it does tell you a lot about Garth as a character and really does make you care about him. And when a story can make you give a damn about Aqualad... well, mission accomplished - I don't feel like I wasted three bucks on a comic that doesn't seem to have anything to do with Blackest Night.

I wouldn't say you have to read it, but it's not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination.

The First Five Minutes of Green Lantern: First Flight....

... and they are AWESOME!

Best Touch? Hal Jordan's "huh" to the realization that he is flying without any obvious means of propulsion and his first reaction upon exposure to a downed UFO being to run and help the pilot. Honest and fearless indeed. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Now Is Your Chance To Play Hero For Real, For The Man Who Created Oracle

SOURCE: Comix For Sight

Here's the sitch. Suicide Squad author and the man who turned Barbara Gordon into Oracle, John Ostrander, is in serious danger of going blind to extended problems with Glaucoma.

I know times are tight for a lot of us right now, but if you can afford to Paypal a few bucks, please go to the site above and do so. If not, please include Mr. Ostrander in whatever hopes, prayers or whatever you may do to appease the higher powers.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Primer for Fables and A Semi-Review of The Great Fables Crossover

Whenever I'm called to write a review of Fables or Jack of Fables, I usually just say it's a great book that everyone should be reading without giving much more detail than that.

Today, I'm going to talk about the world of Fables, the concept behind both books and talk a little bit about the recent Great Fables Crossover.

Imagine that every story is true. Imagine that every tale, no matter how tall, is history in places that are both a long time ago and far far away. Imagine that every person who ever existed in a work of fiction is a real person on some other plane of reality.

Now imagine that there is a force of unspeakable evil - one that unites all the other various forces of darkness under one banner and organizes them into an army of darkness the likes of which has never been seen. Imagine that all of these beings - to our minds fictional and in many cases impossible - flee to our world seeking sanctuary against what they now call The Adversary. These beings are Fables. And the world they flee to is our own.

About 400 Years after this occurs is where we first walk into the world of Fables. Where most of these beings who can pass for Human, such as Snow White and Little Boy Blue, live along several city blocks of New York City in an area collectively known as Fabletown. Those who cannot pass for human, such as The Three Bears or The Dish that ran away with The Spoon, live on The Animal Farm - a magically hidden area in upstate New York.

Human or no, most Fables all share a degree of superhuman invulnerability to ordinary weaponry along with whatever magical talents of their own they might have. They can shrug off injuries that would hurt a normal human or animal and even death can only delay the most powerful of them. The Fables theorize this is due to a symbiotic relationship with humanity (or The Mundanes, as they call us), where the more popular a Fable is, the harder it is for them to be killed off so long as humanity remembers them. They have no proof of this but it does fit the evidence at hand.

As the series opens, we are presented with a murder mystery as Rose Red turns up dead. Sheriff Bigby Wolf (gedit?) is quickly on the case, sniffing out clues amongst the numerous suspects. Did estranged sister Snow White get fed up with how her wild sister was ruining their good family name? Did boyfriend and small-time crook Jack Horner (a.k.a. Jack Nimble, a.k.a. Jack Frost, a.k.a Jack O'Lantern) decide to go after bigger stakes than giant-killing and castle-robbing? Did Prince Charming decide to do something about the red-hot redhead, after his affair with her destroyed his marriage? And what about the rumors of a secret engagement to the wealthy Mr. Bluebeard - could he have returned to his old ways and been unable to wait for the wedding night?

The first issue is available for free on the Vertigo Comics website.

Fables has proved to be a critical success, with the book winning multiple Eisner Awards for interior art, covers and writing. It has also been a smash-hit with the fans, being perhaps the most popular series Vertigo Comics has published since The Sandman at its' height. A spin-off was perhaps inevitable under these circumstances so it was no surprise a few years ago when Jack of Fables started.

This book centers upon Jack Horner after his exile from Fabletown in, following an incident involving some stolen treasure, a movie studio and a trilogy of films based on Jack's life. Stripped of his fortune, his name and everything save the clothes on his back and a briefcase full of a cool million in cash, Jack hits the road looking for another adventure. Adventure finds him in the form of a gorgeous redhead, who captures Jack and takes him to a sort of rest home for wandering Fables. Overseen by the orderly Mr. Revise, Jack immediately plans escape and we eventually find out that Mr. Revise and his daughters, The Page Sisters, represent a third faction between The Fables and The Adversary - a group of beings called The Literals.

Literals are living personifications of the elements of a story, similar to The Endless from The Sandman. If the Fables can be said to be characters in a story, the Literals are the parts of the story. The major difference between a Literal and a Fable is that Literals are aware that they are part of a bigger story and can see the readers whereas The Fables do not. The Literals also appear to be more bound toward duty and filling a role in the universe as opposed to the relatively free Fables.

The Fourth Wall. The Deus Ex Machina. Even the various genres of literature are living people, with Comedy looking something like Groucho Marx and Horror looking like an innocent little girl in a pink dress.

The first issue of Jack of Fables is also available for free on the Vertigo Comics website.

The Great Fables Crossover is the first effort to tell a continuing storyline between these two series as well as a three-part mini-series called The Literals. The story starts in Jack of Fables, with Jack having just formed an uneasy alliance with Revise and his team, in the face of a much bigger threat. In this case, Revise's father Kevin Thorn (a.k.a. The Spirit of Creation) has remembered who he is and is now in serious danger of rewriting the universe to "fix" things.

Jack, who has bigger things to worry about (i.e. getting laid and getting out of there) calls Snow White and Bigby Wolf to warn them and "get someone else besides me to solve all the world's problems for a change". (His words, not ours) Eventually they show up, a fist-fight breaks out and Jack abandons his own title in favor of swinging by The Animal Farm just in time to be declared the second-coming of a recently fallen hero and the Messiah of the Fables. And then Jack's bastard son (who is much less of a bastard than his father) shows up...

All of these are long stories that I can't begin to tell, for fear of depriving you of some of the best reading you will ever see in your life.

The Great Fables Crossover is more of the same quality comics we've come to expect of Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Mark Buckingham, Russ Braun, Tony Akins and company. Give the previews above a look-see and start catching up. I suspect you'll be hooked immediately by this wonderful little book that dares ask us all to just imagine.

Van Wilder is Hal Jordan?

SOURCE: Ryan Reynolds is the 'Green Lantern'

On the one hand, I'm sad Nathan Fillion didn't get it. And I personally think Ryan Reynolds would be a better Kyle Rayner than a Hal Jordan, unless we're going with the "can occasionally crack wise" Geoff Johns Hal Jordan.

On the other hand, given that the alternative was Justin Timberlake, I'm relieved. And the pitiful wailing of all the Marvel fanboys who are now scared that a Deadpool movie will never get made now with Reynolds accepting a bigger role amuses me deeply.

Cry for me Marvel Zombies! Your tears are sweet to me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

One More Thought on Green Arrow/Black Canary #22

I edited the original post to include this but wanted everyone who doesn't go back to read replies to see this too.

Could somebody explain to me why in the name of Robin Hood's beard Dinah Lance is running around, jumping across rooftops with her costume unzipped?

That's not a low-cut costume. THAT is an unzipped costume!! You can see the zipper RIGHT THERE!!!

Can anybody explain this? Anyone?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Barack The Barbarian #1

Be Warned! If ye be a liberal lacking a sense of humor regarding portrayals of Our President or are a conservative who thinks Sarah Palin is a viable candidate for any public office, you might just want to keep on walking past this review.

It is a little known fact that Barack Obama is a comic book fan. It is an even lesser known fact that his favorite book is Conan The Barbarian. I have seen some liberals deride this book - and a rash of other books depicting the new American President - as disrespectful.

While I think that argument could be won in the case of... oh say, President Obama's inclusion in an Army of Darkness parody poster or even an official Army of Darkness story, I think that My President would get a kick out of seeing himself depicted as a mighty warrior, ridden into a city of thieves, ready to wear the crown upon a weary brow.

I'd be lying if I said that this book was a great piece of subtle political satire akin to the writings of Voltaire, Swift or Twain. What I can say is that this is easily the best parody of Conan the Barbarian to be presented in comic form written since the early issues of Cerebus.

Most of the jokes are on par with the Mad Magazine movie parodies and political commentaries of old. It is however, a remarkably subdued parody of Robert E. Howard's Tower of the Elephant, with Barack Obama as Conan, Dick Cheney as the dark priest Yara and Hillary Clinton as the thief Taurus, who partners with a younger hero the better to circumvent the dangers before them.

It is a brilliant conceit on a metatextual level, with the pun equating the Republican Party to the evils of the Elephant Tower a brilliant one. To say nothing of Washington D.C. substituting for Arejun, City of Thieves. And all of this is conveyed within the frame-story of a storyteller in a post-historic future, telling children of the days of high adventure...

No, this book is not subtle. It is, however, as hilarious as any book with Dick Cheney wearing the headdress of the Thulsa Doom on the cover should be. And that, for my money, is enough.

I should note, however, that those concerned about this being a fair and balanced portrayal of the previous election should not worry. Much respect and honor is paid to John McCain (aka The Old Warrior) and there is a joke aimed squarely at the liberal side of the aisle, regarding how the amazons supporting Hillary abandon her after Hillary orders them to follow Barack's orders as if they were her own.

In fact, the only real people in the book who is made to look foolish are Sarah Palin and George W. Bush. And I suspect that's only because... well, they took all the other easy jokes so why not those jokes too? But in all seriousness, Larry Hama (yes, THAT Larry Hama) did a good job of creating a political parody that most Americans can enjoy.

I wish I could say that the same care went into the art but honestly, the pencils by Christopher Schons are a bit uneven, with caricatures and proportions varying wildly. The inks are also a bit too thick at times, with far-shots being too heavily shadowed.

Still, for those who are bold and looking for a good laugh, I can think of few books that can offer such a thing so freely.

Secret Six #10 & #11

Six people. Too twisted to be called Heroes. Too ethical to be called Villains. Working together out of the House of Secrets, they are a mercenary army loyal only to their employers and themselves... most of the time. United by necessity and forged in the heat of battle, they are The Secret Six.

The current roster is...

Scandal: Team Leader of The Secret Six, Sandal Savage is the only known daughter of the immortal villain Vandal Savage. She shares her father's skill as a warrior and his amazing healing factor but none of his attitudes or philosophy. Openly gay, she is still mourning the loss of her girlfriend, the villain Knockout.

Catman: A renowned big-game hunter, Thomas Blake turned to super-villainy out of boredom. Eventually, apathy won out and an out-of-shape Blake was nearly killed by his fellow villains. Inspired to clean up his act, Blake returned to the wild, retrained his skills and was adopted by a pack of lions until their untimely death. He joined The Secret Six to get revenge on the villains who killed his new family. He stays because it gives him a purpose...

Deadshot: One of the greatest marksmen on the planet, Floyd Lawton has been a hired killer for most of his life. He joined the Secret Six out of necessity but has stuck around because he's found it easier - and safer - to run in a pack. He has also come to view the rest of his teammates as the closest thing someone like him can consider friends.

Ragdoll: Son of the original Golden Age Ragdoll, Peter Merkel Jr. was born without the metahuman gene that made his father and brother naturally triple-jointed. Twelve years of special surgery have made this Merkel into a virtural human constrictor snake, capable of twisting his limbs in any direction. His teammates are unsure what is more twisted - Ragdoll's body or his sense of humor, which makes even the hardened killers and assassins around him feel uncomfortable.

Jeanette: A long-lived friend of Scandal's, Jeanette is a beautiful woman with an obsession with death as well as a talent for dealing it out. She claims to be a banshee and does seem to have some supernatural power to sense human suffering and the approach of death and danger. She has a fondness for Deadshot, which is semi-reciprocated. Floyd may find her creepy but she IS willing to sleep with him.

Bane: The infamous criminal mastermind who once "broke the Bat", Bane has seen better days. Still fighting his Venom addiction, he is as strong as ever but he seems content to follow Scandal's orders rather than forging his own criminal empire. He looks upon Scandal as a sort of foster daughter and his feelings for her might be called paternal, if you were trying to find a word other than "creepy".

The current storyline, starting in Issue #10, centers upon the team taking a job to escort a package to a place they find out is called Devil's Island. Their employer, a Mr. Smyth, has some rather quaint ideas on human rights and how the reinstitutionalization of slavery on a global scale will become necessary in order to save the world economy. Exactly what his plans for The Six are is unknown, but the final test of their loyalty involves them quelling a prison riot which turns out to have been orchestrated.

To say that some members of the team are somewhat uneasy about working for slavers is an understatement. But even those who say it is too late for any of them to start drawing lines in the sand are made uncomfortable when they see that Mr. Smyth's personal pet project - the one prisoner in his camp who refuses to break no matter what - is a familiar figure; Amazon warrior and former Wonder Woman Artemis!

Artemis' presence here is probably the greatest mystery in this whole sordid story. The last time I remember seeing ol' Artie was in Amazons Attack and I just assumed that she had been transplanted into a normal life along with the rest of the Amazons who were cursed to live as normal women for their hubris. And yet, here she is... strong as ever, willful as ever and wearing her old costume from her days as Queen of Hell/Requiem.

In the end, it doesn't really matter how she is here so much as the fact that she is here. And what is an even greater mystery is that Artemis appears to have some past relationship with the mysterious banshee Jeanette.

Jeanette feels compelled - for reasons having more to do with her own past than any love of the Amazons - to help Artemis and the other Amazons she finds are being held prisoner on Devil's Island. A fight breaks out between the various factions within The Secret Six who feel that working with slavers is beneath them versus those who don't care or feel they need to honor the contract. Of course all these ethical questions are put aside when a bigger problem presents itself...

This title is easily one of my five favorite books every month and is fast on its' way to becoming my favorite. Gail Simone effortlessly balances the action, drama and comedy in every situation the characters find themselves in. Obviously, the humor on this book is very dark but it's gleefully perverse if you're into that sort of thing. The exchange between Artemis and Jeanette above is fairly typical of the playful yet very very adult tone of the series.

The art by Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood is a perfect complement to the diverse and varied writing. These two paired up once before with Gail Simone on the final arcs of Simone's Birds of Prey and you can tell that the three have become used to working like a well-oiled machine.

I'd suggest picking up the Villains United or Secret Six mini-series TPs first before delving into this storyline, just to get a feeling for the history between these characters and the interplay between them. But if you want a good first issue to jump into the main series with, #10 would be a fine one.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wonder Woman #32 & #33

There's been a lot of talk about Wonder Woman lately and how she is not quite as good a character as other superheroes. A good deal of it came after that noted Rhodes Scholar and comic book expert Megan Fox noted that "Wonder Woman is a lame superhero".

Other authorities on the blogosphere, some of whom appear to have read a Wonder Woman comic published sometime after 1987 at some point, have agreed with Ms. Fox. They have listed reasons why Wonder Woman sucks or given reasons why the character has failed to capture an audience outside of comic books.

However, in all of this - nobody has asked the Wonder Woman herself what she thinks about all of this.

Oh Diana? Is there anything you would like to say to Megan Fox in response?


Seriously, if you can honestly say that Wonder Woman is a lame hero, then you obviously haven't been reading this book anytime in the last year.

I don't really have the words to fully explain just how utterly awesome Wonder Woman - and indeed, all the Amazons in DC Comics are. Suffice it to say that the damage done by Amazons Attack has been mercifully undone by Gail Simone and that the recent story in which Diana faced off against a mad new villain named Genocide ranks among the best tales ever to start Wonder Woman.

They say that words are cheap and that pictures are worth more a thousand words. With that in mind, here's a few pictures along with some brief summaries of what is going on.


This is Hippolyta's reaction to learning that hordes of Cthulhuian monsters are storming Paradise Island en mass.

These are Hippolyta's thoughts, as she watches her fellow Amazons fight to defend their home - and then notices the injured Diana fighting alongside them.

This is what Diana does once she finds Ares - who is responsible for the monster attacks - on the field of battle.

And this is what Diana does when Zeus shows himself and announces his plans to allow the Amazons to retire, with an army of his sons taking up their role as protectors of the Earth and the Amazons themselves being allowed to take up the role of mothers and wives to "whatever man has the honor to have you."

Now, if you can look at all that and still tell me that Wonder Woman is a lame hero with a lame comic, then you need to go back and read it again or go see a doctor. Because either you weren't paying attention the first time or you just got blinded by the sheer awesomeness conveyed by the artwork of Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say there are only two words that can be used to describe you if you can look at the above images and still insist that Wonder Woman - the book or the character - is lame. And since I try and keep my language on this blog at a certain level of cleanliness, let me say that those words rhyme with the phrase "ducking boron".