Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About The Guild: Vork One-Shot

GOOD THING: As you can imagine, this book is chock full of more of the insanity surrounding the characters from Felicia Day's popular web-series The Guild. But unlike the web-series, we actually get a look at our favorite characters as they play their characters in the game. It's a small thing but it really does help bring the idea of the game world in the fictional world about to see it in action.

If by some chance you haven't seen this series yet, stop what you're doing and click the link above. Don't worry - it will open in another window.

BAD THING: For a series that boasts such great writing and unique characterization, Vork's grandfather is a real disappointment. Think of every horny old man/cool grandpa character from every 80's comedy and beer commercial ever and you just about sum up all the thought that seemingly went into creating Vork's grandfather. And they seem to be trying just a little too hard to make him outrageous.

Don't get me wrong - I love the old coot. He just seems a little cookie-cutter compared to what I've come to expect from The Guild.

The Final Verdict: Fans of The Guild will love it. The rest of you are advised to check out the series before reading this book. The only bad thing I can say about this issue is that one of the new characters seems a little too standard compared to the unique and unusual characters The Guild usually centers upon, but this is not a bad read by any stretch of the imagination.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Kull: The Hate Witch #2

GOOD THING: There have been Kull stories in the past which did little to differentiate him from Howard's other famous barbaric king, Conan. There is no such danger in this tale, where Kull is immediately set apart from the relatively more chivalric Conan as someone who will not come to the aid of a damsel in distress.

BAD THING: Part of the issue is devoted to some random flashbacks of Kull's past that seem to have little relevance to the current story, until we see something of Kull's boyhood encounter with the titular Hate Witch. It's not bad at all but it is still a distraction from the suspense of Kull's entering the wilds of his childhood.

The Final Verdict: Another great issue for a promising mini-series, despite some distracting flashbacks.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Warlord of Mars #3

BAD THING: The covers. Great Kirby's Ghost, the covers! I know given the setting and the genre there's going to be some degree of cheesecake in the artwork. But this is just gratuitous. Particularly since said warrior princess character hasn't shown up in the book yet!

GOOD THING: Once you're past the cover, you're in for a real treat in terms of story and artwork. And hey - equal opportunity exploitation - John Carter spends most of this issue naked and there's many a shot of his muscular backside for the ladies and gay men to drool over, should they be so inclined.

The Final Verdict: Great book. Bad covers. Nuff said!

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Robert Howard's Savage Sword #1

GOOD THING: You get a lot of value for your dollar with this book. 80 pages for $8.00, relatively free of ads. What's more you get a wide sampling of stories inspired by Robert Howard's work. Including, naturally, the first part of a Conan story. But there's also a tale of Dark Agnes, a historical heroine who may have had as much a hand in inspiring the comic book version of Red Sonja as Howard's Red Sonya character.

BAD THING: For a book with such variety there seems to be little content. Most of the 80 pages are taken up by Roy Thomas' tale of Bran Mak Morn and this is the only one of the five stories that feels like a complete tale. Of course two of the stories (Conan and Dark Agnes) are not complete tales, being the first half of a bigger story. And the John Silent story is fairly short, as is the text-based introduction to El Borak.

The Final Verdict: An enjoyable first issue that gives you tremendous value for your money. Great stories with great art throughout. My one complaint is that the book might benefit from being made up entirely of chapters to larger stories (ala the Conan and Dark Anges tales) or two larger, complete stories ala the Bran Mak Morn story penned by Roy Thomas. Just a thought.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Low For Conservatives in USA, As Racist Half-Wits Protest MuslimBatman of Paris

SOURCE:Racists Totally Freak Out Over Muslim 'Batman of Paris'

This article at Comics Alliance says everything I need to say about this and more. But I do love how the same people who have promoted the "cheese-eating surrender monkey" stereotype of The French for years are now screaming bloody murder about how insulting it is to proud traditions of The French Army to have one of France's representatives in the League of Batmen to be a black Muslim and master of parkour.

Doctor Who 2010 Christmas Special - A Christmas Carol



Amy and Rory, enjoying a part of their honeymoon in the honeymoon suite of a luxury cruise starship, wind up in a bit of a pickle when their ship is caught in a rather nasty storm that prevents them from landing safely. The storm also prevents The Doctor from using the TARDIS to save them and the other people on-board the ship. And the rich, miserly Mr. Kazran Sardick - whose father built the device that controls the skies and the only living man able to control the device that might stop the storm - won't do it. Even at the beset of The Doctor, The President and the 4,000+ people on-board the ship begging for their lives, he sees no reason to have to lift a finger to help others even when it won't cost him a thing.

Faced with a man who has no sense of pity or The Christmas Spirit, The Doctor has no choice but to break the laws of time in order to go back and give him some, playing the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in order to save his companions and the soul of a man most consider beyond all hope.


* Steven Moffat's script is a delight. "Christmas Carol" episodes of sit-coms and dramas tend to be the most bland, predictable form of Christmas special there is. And yet, despite the unoriginal title and the fact that we know damn well just what the story we're viewing is (i.e. a rehash of one of the most famous works of English literature in the 19th century), there is just enough original material - including a romantic subplot - to make you forget that you've already read much of this story before.

* Michael Gambon is a most effective Scrooge and his turn here as the elder/Present Day Kazran Sardick will stun those who are only familiar with Gambon's portrayal of Albus Dumbledore in all the Harry Potter films since Prisoner of Azkaban. He perfectly captures the evil of The Scrooge character - one who commits evil not through malice, but through indifference. He doesn't wish to cause others pain - he just doesn't care to prevent suffering.

* Matt Smith really comes into his own playing The Doctor in this episode. Freed from his companions for the better part of the episode, we get an analysis of The Eleventh Doctor's character and how he views people that was somewhat lacking in many of the Series 5 episodes which centered more upon Amy Pond.

* Amy and Rory spending the entire episode in their policewoman/centurion costumes. Why? No explanation is given other than "they were in the honeymoon suite" and no further explanation should be needed, unless you are as pure as the driven snow. Suffice it to say, I'm sure some fan-fiction has already been written.

* The shark. Just... everything with The shark.

* Great music, particularly from a special guest performer who made her acting debut in this episode. Again, I can't say anything until you've seen it.

* Rory is still delighting me as a character, though he doesn't get much to do this time around. Marriage does not seem to have mellowed him and while he and The Doctor do still have the understanding that they developed at the end of Season 5, Rory is still very snarky about his wife's devotion to The Doctor seeming to be greater than her devotion to him and is quick to point out The Doctor's many mistakes.


* The biggest problem with this episode only becomes apparent after one is finished watching it. Because it is only then that one realizes just how many of the Rules of Time The Doctor violated throughout the course of this episode.

1. Crossing his own timeline, which is supposed to be impossible.
2. Risking a paradox by allowing two versions of the same person from different points in time to meet, which - the Series One episode Father's Day told us - is a VERY BAD THING that weakens the time stream to the point of breaking and causes paradox-eating monsters to show up and "fix" the damage.
3. Changing the course of one prominent life that has already been set by history, which Waters of Mars made clear was an INCREDIBLY AWFULLY BAD THING to do. Even with good intentions.

* There's also the problem of the teenage Kazran Sardick suddenly deciding not to tell The Doctor about what the numbers on the cryogenic freezer mean or about the illness that the love of his life has. Given everything he's seen The Doctor do in his apparent travels on the TARDIS, you'd think the first thing he'd ask would be if The Doctor might save Abigail. I know we need to set up the tragic romance for the final act... but still... you think he'd ask.

* For that matter, why doesn't Abigail think to ask The Doctor herself? She asks him, upon meeting him, if he is one of her doctors and the subject of why she'd ask that question is never raised.

* For that matter, one has to wonder why The Doctor doesn't put two and two together regarding Abigail's illness and the timer on her cryo unit. Granting that Smith's Doctor is a bit oblivious and that he is under quite a bit of pressure at the moment (in theory anyway - more on this in a bit) throughout the episode, you'd think he'd figure something was up.

* There's also very little sense of urgency regarding Amy and Rory's predicament during some parts of the Episode. Of course with the TARDIS, time is on The Doctor's side but it is easy to forget about them when The Doctor takes a goodly amount of time to take Abigail and Kazran joyriding about the Universe.

* The complication in the third act that The Doctor has changed Kazran so much that the electronic device controlling the clouds that responds to his brainwave patterns no longer recognizes him doesn't make any sense given that the machine should have adjusted along with Kazran's memories as time went by.

* Finally, on a personal note... The Eleventh Doctor has got to be the only person in the universe who would view marriage to Marilyn Monroe as an annoyance.

The Final Verdict: Overall, a most excellent episode. There's quite a few plot holes that you could drive a space whale through and the Laws of Time which has governed the show for so long are violated to rather muted effect. Still, the guest performances are engaging and Matt Smith himself shines in what has to be his single best performance as The Doctor thus far in his career.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Knight and Squire #3

GOOD THING: This book has a unique spin on a classic idea: cloning an evil historical figure who makes another attempt and world domination. The twist is that instead of the usual "They Saved Hitler's Brain" scenario, the villain in question is Richard The Third. Who, as they are quick to point out, was probably not that bad of a king in reality but that he got a lot of bad press thanks to William Shakespeare's play, which sorta needed to paint Richard as a bad guy since he was fighting against Henry Tudor, Queen Elizabeth's ancestor, to take over England.

The best part? The super-villain habit of monologuing totally fits the character of Richard as written by Shakespeare, making his breaking the fourth wall to explain his schemes picture perfect for fans of The Bard and comics.

BAD THING: Much as I love this book, I must admit it is somewhat inaccessible to non-Anglophile Americans and other non-Brits. You do need to brush up on your Shakespeare and your British history to fully appreciate this issue.

The Final Verdict: It's a riotous treat for those of us who like British humor and culture. The rest of you will probably be totally lost.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Brightest Day #16

GOOD THING: I've said this before and I'll say it again - we need a monthly Aquaman book again, if it is written half this well and with this much quality of character.

BAD THING: Sadly, this is NOT the end of the Firestorm storyline. Obviously they haven't blown the universe up because if they had, we wouldn't have another issue to pick up in two weeks. I don't know what's lamer - the cliffhanger or the inability of the Firestorm storyline to be interesting in the wake of total universal obliteration.

The Final Verdict: The Firestorm subplot continues to be the millstone around the neck of this series. If it weren't for my desire to keep you all informed, I would have dropped this series a while ago. You're welcome. :)

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Conan: The Road Of Kings #1

GOOD THING: It's Roy Thomas writing Conan. If you require explanation as to just why that is a good thing, go pick up The Chronicles Of Conan: Volume 1.

But seriously, the story here is great - a perfect continuation of the story ended in the last issue of Conan The Cimmerian while also being a perfect jumping on-point for those who are wanting to start reading the latest adventures of the first son of Sword and Sorcery.

BAD THING: The expressions and faces in the artwork are inconstant. Conan's nose, in particular, seems to keep changing from panel to panel.

The Final Verdict: Even some erratic artwork can't ruin this fine example of old-school Conan in action. The one downside is that this is a limited series. But a little Roy Thomas is better than none. And who knows - maybe this will be the first of many new tales from the man who brought Conan to comics?

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern/Plastic Man:Weapons Of Mass Deception

GOOD THING: This book does have a great concept, fresh out of the old Brave And The Bold comics: take two heroes who don't usually team up and force them together on a case. In this case, we have the by-the-book Silver Age take on Hal Jordan and the more classic take on Plastic Man as a bumbling crook turned FBI agent, working on a case involving alien weapon smugglers.

BAD THING: The artwork, while trying to emulate the Silver Age feel of old, feels woefully incomplete at times. Many panels are over-inked and Plastic Man keeps switching between his familiar leotard costume and a variant of his costume with pants. The overall effect is less evocative of the comics of the Silver Age and more evocative of the cheap Filmation cartoons on the 1960s.

The Final Verdict: An easily skippable special. Wolfman's script is an old-school treat though fans of the modern Plastic Man stories, where his mantra is to be serious about what he does, if not how he goes about doing it, may find this bumbling G-Man take on Plas to be a hard pill to swallow. The artwork is also erratic, being overly inked and indifferent colored.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #5

BAD THING: The "rookie gets killed and drives Killowog into a rage" sub-plot has been done to death. Granting that it is done well here does not change that fact...

GOOD THING: The storyline is finally starting to come together and the mysteries are starting to be explained. I'll leave most of this in the dark (the better to inspire you to read this book) but I will say that it is a nice touch to have Guy Gardner - not exactly a dreamer or a navel-gazer - being the Cassandra figure in this story, cursed with strange visions that nobody else believes and he may be powerless to prevent coming about.

The Final Verdict: Still an enjoyable read, though some of the subplots are a bit repetitive. Perhaps the most enjoyable of the Green Lantern books at this time.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern #60

BAD THING: There's nothing in this issue - or the more recent Green Lantern comics, for that matter - telling us that you should have read Green Lantern Corps #54 before this issue or that you should read this issue before Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #5 (also out this week). This is a bad thing since, apparently, the stories are apparently beginning to come together.

While the stories in the three Green Lantern books so far have been independent of one another since Blackest Night and do an excellent job of standing apart on their own, it could be jarring to someone who is reading this title. but not GL Corps, to have the flow of the main story interrupted by the revelation that Sinestro's daughter has been kidnapped by the Qwardians and this causes him to suddenly leave Earth. Likewise, it would be more enriching to read GL: Emerald Warriors after this issue, because that comic has a revelation about this issue and the abduction of the other Emotion Entities on Earth.

GOOD THING: That being said, this story stands strongly as its' own entity. What is more, the final page has a revelation that seems obvious in retrospect regarding the mysterious being that is imprisoning the Emotion Entities, give their connection to one of the few aspects of the Green Lantern mythos that Geoff Johns hasn't explored yet...

Who is it? Like I'd tell you straight out? I'm sure it's on Scans Daily or some other site if you reaaaaaaaly have to know. ;)

The Final Verdict: A good issue of a great comic, which finally begins to clarify the big mystery of who is behind the abduction of the various emotional avatars. The only problem is that it's starting to connect with the storylines in the other Green Lantern titles as well but gives us no indication as to which comics we should read to get the rest of the story. Granted, there little chance that anyone WOULDN'T be reading all the Green Lantern books at this point... but still. What was that line Stan Lee once said about how every comic could be someone's first comic and all writers should keep that in mind?

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Birds Of Prey #7

BAD THING: Obviously, this "Death of Oracle" thing is a total fake-out, right? Right?! Maybe not. This issue makes it clear that Babs is working toward building something bigger... but just what her role in it will be is totally unclear.

GOOD THING: I'm fairly certain gailsimone1 didn't borrow ideas from my column last year regarding the Lady Blackhawk/Huntress/Hal Jordan threesome suggested in Justice League: Cry For Justice #2... but boy does the dialogue here between Huntress and Canary sure fit my suggestions that...

1) it didn't happen.
2) Hal made a drunken ass of himself.
3) Dinah is totally ignorant of the incident particulars and Ollie - being Ollie - was just teasing Hal about what everyone else was saying.

The Final Verdict: A solid, funny issue, as per usual. A must read series!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spider-Man Musical Opening Delayed... AGAIN!

SOURCE:'Spider Man' in web of problems, delays Broadway opening again

Lest anyone think I'm reveling a bit too much in the impending failure of yet another overblown, overhyped Marvel project, I would like to return the favor from yesterday and quote some words of wisdom from Rob Bricken of that sum up my attitude perfectly.

A lot of you guys have expressed concerned over the hard-working, probably talented guys working on the show under Taymor and Bono, and if the show folds, they'll be out of a job. That will suck, and I'll certainly hope for the best for those guys. But remember, the Spider-Man musical itself has Uncle Ben dying in a car wreck and a song by the spider who bit Peter Parker about how much she likes shoes. I can sure as hell hate the musical and the people in charge while pitying the poor guys who will be caught in the catackalysm.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Racist Group Protests Thor Movie - Objects To Black Man Playing Heimdall

I may have to temporarily lift my boycott on all things Marvel to see this movie now...

SOURCE: Racists Totally Freak Out Over Idris Elba Playing Norse God in 'Thor'

Two things occur to me.

1. For a nominally Christian group, the CCC sure seems to be worried about Pagan mythology being portrayed accurately.

2. If they're so concerned about Marvel Comics teaching their children the proper values, why haven't they been protesting Peter Parker making a deal with the Devil to erase his marriage from history?

House Of Bad Ideas Continues To Throw Money Away

SOURCE: Jon Favreau Won’t Direct Iron Man 3.

One informed source hears that [Favreau] was frustrated with Marvel’s urge to stuff more of their in-house heroes into the next film in the wake of The Avengers. In a recent interview with MTV News, Favreau explained that based on his conversations with Marvel Studios executives, he had no clarity as to what a third Iron Man film would even be about. “In theory, Iron Man 3 is going to be a sequel or continuation of Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Avengers,” said Favreau at the time, “This whole world … I have no idea what it is. I don’t think they do either, from conversations I’ve had with those guys.”

This comes as no surprise. Critics who liked the first Iron Man movie for offering a sophisticated morality play about a flawed man's efforts to change himself for the better and do good in an increasingly hostile world tore apart the second movie, which sacrificed a lot of the Tony Stark character moments for totally unrelated (and, in some cases, confusing) scenes meant to set up the next batch of Marvel Comics movies.

The problem is that while we now have technology that allows us to make live-action movies that look just like comic books, the people calling the shots at Marvel don't seem to realize that you can't write a movie like a comic book.

Comics are built on the cliff-hanger. The "And so the world is safe for now... but for how long?" moment at the end. Movies, by contrast, have to have some degree of closure. You cannot make a multi-million dollar film that is made up of sneak-peaks of "Next Year's Storyline" and expect it to please anyone other than the action movie fans who are more concerned with cool visuals and Scarlet Johansson's perfect butt-cheeks encased in black leather.

Which, now that I think of it, is the stereotype of the average male comic reader.

My point in all of this is that it seems remarkably short-sighted on Marvel's part to give the axe to a talented director who is a fan of the material simply because he feels having a coherent story is more important than promoting The Next Big Thing. And I ain't talking Ben Grimm.

The sad thing is... we've seen this story before. And we already know how this drama is going to play out.

It happened in Spider-Man 3, when Marvel forced Sam Raimi to shoe-horn Venom into the movie when he didn't want to. To Rami's credit, I think he rebelled and all the stuff the Venom fans complained about (i.e. the symbiote awakening Peter's love of dance and piano playing, muscleman Eddie Brock being played by skinny Topher Grace, dying like a punk) was done specifically to highlight just what a ridiculous character Venom is.

It happened with X-3: The Last Stand when Bryan Singer left and Marvel got a director who was willing to cram in more mutants and put Halle Berry front and center. And what did we wind up with? A sprawling mess with lots of characters we hardly knew and didn't care about, doing things that were barely understood and the realization that Monsters Ball was the fluke, not Catwoman.

And I don't want to say that Marvel Comics tends to encourage the employment of sycophants who will toe the company line over creative and talented artists with a proven track record of creating quality material... but how else can you explain that their habit of letting talented directors like Singer, Raimi and Favreau go free while putting someone like Jeph Loeb in charge of the development of all of their TV properties.

Jeph Loeb who, in case you needed reminding, was responsible for most of the storyline of Season 3 of Heroes and was fired because of "execs' frustration with the creative direction of the show" and "hefty budget overruns... that are going well beyond its already sizable $4 million per-seg pricetag".

Which, given how cheap Marvel is apparently becoming, can't end well for Loeb.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Queen Sonja #12

GOOD THING: Told almost entirely in flashback, not referring to the present day of Queen Sonja until the very last panel, this issue does more than any Red Sonja story in recent memory to explore the period of time between the death of Sonja's family and her emergence as a mercenary captain in Pah-Dishah.

This issue provides us with something of a quantum leap, showing that Sonja did spend some time undergoing formal training as part of a thieves guild after striking out on her own for a time as a solo-thief, but proving too bold in what she stole and in flaunting her wealth after. She learns caution and fighting skills from Kane, the prize-pupil of the master thief of the guild, and begins to fall in love with the more experienced thief...

BAD THING: This issue seems to try and have it both ways regarding the nature of the blessing Sonja received from her goddess and it may wind up pleasing no one because of it.

Most of this issue, much like the previous issue, is devoted toward showing how Sonja gained some of the skills that she is famous for. It is shown that Sonja is a young woman of rare spirit and skill and that the only thing she lacks is experience and the caution born of experience.

It is worth noting that despite being a great thief, Sonja has no training as a warrior. This is to be expected with a peasant girl in Hyboria. It is no surprise then that she is easily beaten in unarmed combat by Kane when they first meet... and yet somehow, Sonja proves a natural with the sword, beating Kane with some effort during her first fencing lesson.

The idea that Sonja has some divine skill with weapons has long been an accepted part of the mythos for decades. Yet it seems odd that blessing should not extend to unarmed combat. Indeed, one might think Sonja would be better at fighting unarmed - using techniques where her natural speed would make up for any lack of strength facing a stronger male opponent.

It just seems odd that Sonja would only be blessed by her goddess to be skilled with a weapon she would be unlikely to have access to and yet that she would not be granted the natural unarmed fighting skills that would prove more helpful to a peasant girl. Then again, the gods of Hyboria are not known for their gifts and it could be that Sonja's surviving this long, reckless as she is, has been blessing enough until this moment.

It is a fun point to consider but this is likely to aggravate those fans who prefer to see Sonja as a divine champion or those who might take offense that much of Sonja's training was overseen by two male thieves.

The Final Verdict: A good issue with great art, though some Red Sonja fans may be bothered by some of the implications of this tale.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Roger Ebert Plugs Avengers Parody Fan Videos

Mentioned these before, but there's two new ones they have made since then.

You know... the more I see of these videos, the more I want to see these guys getting a feature, Joss Whedon direction be damned.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers #1

GOOD THING: This issue starts right in the middle of the action, with animals around the world going crazy and the cause of it all harkening back to a pre-Rescue Rangers group founded by a young Monterey Jack and Gadget's father.

BAD THING: Surprisingly, this issue is missing a lot of the subtle humor for the adults that most of The Disney Afternoon series were famous for and it's played a lot more straight - so far - than the recent Darkwing Duck title. There's little bits of humor, sure, but there's also some surprisingly serious turns that seem out of place in a kid's title, like Chip's accusations of Monterey being past his prime.

The Final Verdict: A solid start, though surprisingly lacking in humor. This promises to be a good action/adventure series for young readers, though there's little to keep the parents reading but nostalgia.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Brightest Day #15

GOOD THING: The story presented here - taking place 25 years in the future with J'onn as the protector of a reborn Mars - is phenomenal and would have been the great basis for an Elseworld's tale. As it is, the title is a clear misnomer as the roots of this story lie more in Alan Moore's For The Man Who Has Everything than Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?

BAD THING: Naturally, the whole thing has to be spoiled after the perfect last page, where we're treated to a two-page scene involving Starman, Congorilla and... freaking Firestorm.

The Final Verdict: Skip the last two pages and this is the best issue yet. Include them... eh, and it's still pretty good. Can we have a J'onn solo series please?

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Secret Six #28

GOOD THING: As I predicted three issues ago, Giganta wound up avenging the death of her boyfriend The Atom a.k.a. Ryan Choi, who was killed by Deathstroke, who was hired by Dwarfstar.

Choi's death was a phenomenally stupid one and a text-book example of "fridging", serving no purpose other than to make Deathstroke's new team of evil Titans look bad ass. Not only did it fail to do that but it did nothing only to give more ammunition to those fans who accuse DC Editorial of "white-washing" their character line-up by eliminating minority successors to retired/inactive/dead white superheroes.

Whatever your feelings about these accusations, it cannot be denied that the relationship between a shrinking hero and an enlarging villain was a unique concept that was played with beautifully. That drama is forever lost to us now. So it seems only fitting that Giganta should be the one to see Choi avenged and that it should happen under the pen of the writer who did so much to make Ryan a unique and beloved character.

BAD THING: There are a lot of great moments in this book. But in the end, that is all they are. Moments. There's very little plot holding things together and in the end it seems like there was little reason for this story-line other than to put everyone in their skivies (I think all Scandal did to dress for Skartaris was take her pants off) or sexy Conan gear and fight with dinosaurs with an issue or two.

What's wrong with that? Well, nothing really... except that the setting and the set-up here deserves so much more than we get and the whole thing feels rushed. Like what was meant to be a six issue-story was crammed into four issues worth of space or a cross-over with the Warlord comic was plotted out but aborted after that series was recently canceled.

The cast on loan from Warlord suffers the most, with what should be a really big deal (Machiste freeing the evil wizard Deimos to fight the super-villains invading his kingdom) being but one more annoyance for our protagonists to cope with and snark about on top of the dinosaur attacks, wild magic and rampaging barbarian hordes.

And that's just in the first HALF of the book. After that, there's still Amanda Waller to deal with and the revelation that she's only going to keep half the group of villains on retainer. Plus the subplot regarding Black Alice and her sick father. And Deadshot's vendetta against Lady Vic. And Bane's relationship with Scandal and her father issues. And Catman's grudge with... well, everything. And Deadshot's romance with Jeanette The Banshee. And Ragdoll maybe developing feelings for Black Alice. And... well, there's no resolution at all regarding Skartaris except "screw you all, we're going home."

The Final Verdict: A lot of random character moments and funny bits, which are far less than the sum of their parts. There's a lot of good here and a great ending (especially for fans of the Ryan Choi Atom) - don't get me wrong. But the whole thing feels rushed and incomplete somehow, like we were meant to get more issues of this story.

Sharing This, Because It Is Awesome!

Really, that's the best summary of the ultimate theme of Doctor Who ever - the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.

Most good comics too, now that I think of it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Conan The Cimmerian #25

BAD THING: This is a great issue of a great comic. But in the end it is, as advertised, the last issue of Conan the Cimmerian.

GOOD THING: The good news is that this is not the last we shall see of everyone's favorite barbarian hero from Dark Horse Comics. The current team will return next year to do a King Conan mini-series. And then there's the big announcement that Roy Thomas - the man who brought Conan to comics nearly 40 years ago - is returning to the comics industry to write a new monthly Conan book: Conan: The Road Of Kings!

Here's one of the covers for Issue #1!

The Final Verdict: An era comes to an end with a bright new dawn on the horizon for Dark Horse Comics and Conan. I'm sad to see the current team go but I can't wait to see what Roy Thomas has in store for us in the upcoming Road of Kings series.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Kull: The Hate Witch #1

GOOD THING: A solid set-up for a story involving Robert E. Howard's lesser-known original barbarian king. Kull gets a lot of flack for being a Conan rip-off but the truth is that Kull was created first and indeed the first Conan story was a reworking of a Kull story that Howard wasn't particularly happy with. This one is a real treat for fans familiar with the original Kull stories and yet a subtle introduction to all the original characters for newbies.

BAD THING: Kull himself is "off-model" throughout the book, appearing to be a relatively handsome if rugged man in some pages and a pug-nosed neanderthal in others. Thankfully, the look is usually consistent from panel to panel, even if the individual pages are not as consistent.

The Final Verdict: A promising start, despite some inconsistent character design in the artwork.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Red Sonja #53

BAD THING: For no readily apparent reason, Sonja is now in a longer - and much more practical - leather skirt as opposed to the chainmail breechcloth she usually wears.

Why is this a bad thing? Because this scene seems to follow immediately after the end of last issue (Sonja and company are still standing in the same room where Sonja found the heads of her men laid out) and no reason is given for the wardrobe change. Which is odd because Sonja is wearing her usual costume on the first page...

EDIT NOTE: On rereading the issue, I noticed - in the scan above - that the caption does note that this scene takes place two days later, though the dialogue is much the same as the lines that closed out the last issue. Also, couldn't/wouldn't they have buried the heads by now?!

GOOD THING: Ignoring that, there is absolutely nothing else about this issue I can complain about. The artwork is great, the story engaging and the dialogue manages the unique humor and pacing that the sword and sorcery genre requires.

The Final Verdict: Another solid issue, though one wonders why Sonja changed skirts and how she changed so quickly and without comment from her men between issues. ;) In all seriousness, the sudden costume change is jarring but it is a minor distraction from what is a perfect comic all-around.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Arrow #6

GOOD THING: There's relatively little Brightest Day nonsense in this issue. After a brief page of Galahad musing upon duty and public service, we are treated to a picture-perfect fight scene with Ollie storming the Queen Enterprises building and fighting an army of mooks in close quarters.

BAD THING: Storywise, everything falls apart once Ollie confronts The Queen and we finally get her backstory. While it's not hard to believe that a naive, attractive young woman from a backwater berg might be easily wooed by some sweet nothings from a millionaire playboy out for a quick fling and come to believe he was the handsome prince come to save her from a life of toil and misery, it is rather hard to believe that Ollie would take her at her word about his father's apparent plans to abandon his family to bring home a Russian trophy bride, before his untimely death.

What is worse is that Ollie's justification for believing the story in the first place is that he knows what lying about an affair sounds like. "So does Dinah." There are two problems with this...

1. Lying about having slept with someone is quite different than denying having slept with them. Granted that lying is lying, The Queen wouldn't be "lying about an affair" in the same sense that Ollie means in this sentence.

2. As I've pointed out numerous times in the past, the rumors of Oliver Queen's cheating on Dinah have been greatly exaggerated to put it mildly, briefly and politely.

(On a side note, It's surreal going back and rereading an article I wrote about how Oliver Queen didn't ever cheat on Dinah Lance mere months before Judd Winick wrote the infamous story where Green Arrow slept with Black Lightning's niece.)

And this is ignoring the fact that the dialogue used (and the artwork with Ollie and Dinah in their modern costumes) seems to suggest that Ollie lied about an affair to Dinah recently, when - as we all know if you've been reading my rants - that Ollie has only ever cheated on Dinah once. And the way the lines are written suggest that it was an affair that drove Oliver and Dinah apart recently- not Ollie's attempts to conceal his killing of Prometheus and getting caught before he could tell Dinah everything.

Lying did end the relationship, yes. But not lying about an affair.

The Final Verdict: Good action sequences and artwork are betrayed by a massive plot hole that serves to make the title character look bad over a subject that is already a sore point with most devout Arrowheads. Sadly, I suspect only I and a few others will care at this point given that this is the best treatment Oliver Queen has had in years. Which is really sad, the more I think about it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DC Superhero Glasses Among Those Recalled Over Lead Levels

I found out about this after a royally bad Monday ($450 in unexpected car repairs - goodbye Holiday Bonus) JUST after I hit up two comic shops so I could get a matched set of Green Arrow pint mugs.

On the bright side, I hadn't had a chance to use them and still had the receipts.

SOURCE: Feds Probe Lead-Tainted Comic Character Drinking Glasses

Not just DC Comics glasses, mind you, but just about ANY collector glass made in the last few years. Warner Brothers is just the first to do a formal recall. Turns out the Shrek glasses scare at McDonald's this past summer? Tip of the iceberg...

Friday, November 19, 2010

For everyone seeing Harry Potter tonight who is dressing up...

... know that some of us think you are amateurs.

My Eternal Thanks to of Deranged Comics for drawing out my idea!

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Knight and Squire #2

BAD THING: Despite a glossary in the back that tries to explain away some of the more obscure in-jokes that American audiences are likely to miss (i.e. the nod to The Avengers and I don't mean the ones led by Tony Stark), there's quite a bit that can still be missed by your average American.

I had to explain to a friend, for instance, that Morris Dancing has a number of traditions behind it - among them the belief that the ritual of the dance causes certain things to happen, like the start of summer or the end of winter. So the idea of a group of men doing a magical dance in order to turn back time or open a portal to another reality is just an application of the ritual magic performed by cults in your average H.P. Lovecraft story being applied to what most see as a harmless folk tradition that is only practiced "seriously" in a few remote English villages.

This is also why the presence of a woman disrupts the magic. Because even if you don't believe that the presence of a woman can foul-up the masculine energy being drawn upon, the fact that the Morris Men believe that is enough to shake their faith in the spell. You see?

GOOD THING: Another fascinating plot, though one perhaps more worth of Hellblazer than Batman and Robin as The Knight and Squire investigate a cult of Morris Dancers.

The Final Verdict: Still an enjoyable series for an Anglophile like myself. I can't help but think that this is a bit much for the average American comic book reader, even with the glossary at the end.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Brightest Day #14

GOOD THING: Some good character stuff here for Deadman, as we get a more in-depth look at his mast and motivations than I think we've ever gotten in anything written in the modern age.

BAD THING: The ending is a tad predictable, with this romance between Deadman and Dove (or at least, the potential for one) having been telegraphed pretty heavily before now. At least the revelation that contact with the White Ring somehow restored Bruce's memory of Maxwell Lord is a surprise... but that's mostly because Maxwell Lord hasn't shown up in this book since the early issues!

The Final Verdict: Some good character stuff but the ending is anti-climactic and the surprise revelation might mean something to those following the Maxwell Lord story-line in the other books connected to this one... but not this book itself.

One More Thought On Green Lantern #59

Special thanks to for pointing this out in our weekly comics talk.

One thing from the new issue I didn't mention in my original review. Namely, the revelation that the Indigo Light of Compassion seems to seek out and redeem those who don't have any. In this opening scene, we see the Indigo Tribe come for a paramedic who gives preference to the insured over the more severely injured. And of course we know that The Tribe claimed Black Hand as a member at the end of Blackest Night.

Why do I mention this? Because in the wake of this revelation, suddenly the disconnect between the Ray Palmer of Blackest Night (i.e. the man who was judged most capable of everyone on Earth for feeling great compassion even for those who wronged him) and the Ray Palmer of Cry for Justice (i.e. the man who was jumping around in the sinus cavities of his enemies trying to get information out of them ) has disappeared completely.

Now... if only we had an explanation for how a pretentious, nit-picking dick like Barry Allen got a Hope ring...

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern #59

BAD THING: Is it just me or is Barry Allen a dick? I mean, a colossal, pretentious, uptight, needs to get laid and/or get his ass-kicked dick? I ask this because for all the complaints Johns gets about fetishism regarding the Silver Age Flash... I just don't see how ANYBODY can believe that Barry is being the reasonable party here, which I think is Johns' intent with the writing.

Really, Barry's rant about how he doesn't like what Ollie turned Hal into makes him sound less like a concerned friend/teammate and more like a whiny little schoolgirl who is upset that she's now only the second-best friend of the girl she spent all of her time with up until yesterday. And the subtext seems to be Johns slamming the Bronze Age and all of the stories where Hal Jordan was portrayed as being less than perfect.

Granting that I'd be concerned if Hal "I Was Manipulated Into Trying To Reboot The Universe To Make It Good For Everybody" Jordan were traveling around with a group of known villains, including several of his greatest enemies, I find it ironic that this worrying is coming from a guy who - a scant few issues ago - was being held up as an avatar of optimism and the most Hopeful person on Earth, to the point that he got to become a back-up Blue Lantern.

And - oh yes - lest we forget, Barry Allen killed his arch-enemy for reasons that were just as personal as Ollie's reasons for going after Prometheus and in much less urgent circumstances. So not only is Barry Allen a dick, possessive and jealous - he's also The Fastest Hypocrite Alive.

GOOD THING: Thankfully, Barry gets the piss taken out of him when he is pick-pocketed - in mid rant - by Larfleeze, proving that the glowing orange klepto isn't really all that bad.

The Final Verdict: After this issue, I really want Barry Allen to die. Again. Slower this time. Much more painfully, if possible. Ideally through the use of some kind of Enema Arrow that proves necessary to cleanse him of the massive stick that is shoved up his...

Ah-ha-ha. But apart from that this is a very nice comic that furthers the whole plot with the Energy Avatars and reveals some cool stuff about the Indigo Tribe. So... yeah.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern Corps #54

BAD THING: Based on the cover art, my worries regarding last issue and Soranik becoming a girl-hostage for the sake of the story appear to have been well-founded.

GOOD THING: Thankfully, Soranik isn't in kept in bondage for any part of the issue. Indeed, the whole issue is a real treat and does explore one aspect of the Green Lantern mythos that somehow went ignored during The Sinestero Corps War. Namely, how the Qwardians of the Anti-Matter universe were not willing partners with The Sinestero Corps but slaves to the will of Sinestero. This explains a lot of what we saw in the earlier series but was never stated outright.

The Final Verdict: A solid issue with a worrisome cover, that ads some insight into The Sinestro Corps War and some extra background to a group of villains that have been curiously absent from the Green Lantern mythos ever since Rebirth.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Warlord of Mars #2

BAD THING: As with last issue, the covers don't match the content of the book.

GOOD THING: Again, as with last issue, the interior of the book is awesome. More western action as Jon Carter makes his way to Mars through astral-projection and we get a look at green Martian politics as Tars Tarkas earns his new name.

The Final Verdict: Another solid issue of a promising series that is ill-served by its' cheesecake covers. Thankfully, it seems like this will be less of an issue as our hero will be reaching Mars shortly.