Monday, February 28, 2011

Comic Awards Completely Meaningless. Also, There Is No God.

What makes me say that? The fact that The Rise Of Arsenal was nominated for the Prism award for "outstanding accomplishments in the accurate depiction of substance abuse and mental health disorders: prevention, treatment and recovery..."

SOURCE: Justice League: Rise Of Arsenal Nominated For Prism Awards

I'll remind you that this is the comic in which recovering heroin addict Roy Harper falls off the wagon in record time, proves unable to get it up after he attempts to rape the supervillain assassin Cheshire and winds up suffering hallucinations where he is talking to his first drug dealer and his dead daughter and winds up beating a gang of drug-dealers up using a dead cat as a weapon. Or protecting the dead cat that he thinks is his dead daughter - it's really not clear in the artwork.

The point is that this is the biggest joke since James Robinson got nominated for a Best Writer Eisner Award for Justice League: Cry For Justice and that to call this comic an "accurate depiction" of anything other than a terrible story is a mockery of all that is good and decent.

So yeah... comic awards are totally meaningless. Just like the awards for everything else. Big shocker, right?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Curves And Comics: The Comics Blog of The Taffeta Darling

While I'm doing the shout-outs, let me take a moment to sing the praises of Taffeta Darling.

I met Taffeta last year at a Con and ran into her a few times after at various events, even helping run her table at a burlesque show in Dallas. She won automatic cool points for using a Mel Brooks reference as her stage name. And - well, why lie - she's a hot, redhead model who likes cosplaying and comics. That sort of thing gets attention. Moreso when she's dressed as The Hellfire Club Black Queen.

I'm amazed she doesn't carry a mace at cons. Like, a big metal spiked club - not pepper spray.

At any rate, I knew that she spoke out about various geeky matters on The Loud Idiots podcast, but I didn't know until recently that she had a print blog/video blog.

So if you enjoy reading what goofy but gorgeous geek girls think about comics, check out her blog.

Curves And Comics: The Comics Blog of The Taffeta Darling

Awkward Embraces: Series 2 Has Begun!

As some of you might remember, not too long ago, I called this series "easily the funniest thing in the geek-humor genre since The Guild."

The first episode of Season 2 came out earlier this weekend. And I stand by my earlier assessment.

So if you haven't already checked it out, take a spin by - you'll be glad you did!

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern Corps #57

BAD THING: No sooner do I stop picking up Brightest Day, they bring Firestorm into a book I actually enjoy to torment me. There's no escape! And the worst part is he doesn't actually do anything that changes the outcome of the issue! He's just here to bitch about Deathstorm, be told "That sucks but we're kinda busy" by the Green Lanterns and take out a few Sinestro Corps members before buggering off.

GOOD THING: At least the Firestorm scenes are few, far-between and do nothing to distract from the much more interesting battle between Sinestro and the Weaponeer.

The Final Verdict: A fitting conclusion to this story, marred only by the totally pointless inclusion of Firestorm. He doesn't do anything to change the story. This is both a blessing and a curse, as it makes his appearance completely pointless but it also means I'm free to ignore him.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern #62

GOOD THING: Johns has done a wonderful job in revealing the bad guy over these past few issues. What is more, he actually refers back to Larry Niven's unappreciated classic Ganthet's Tale without getting too bogged down in the continuity. Nice little nod to the long-time Green Lantern fans of how Hal DID face Krona once before.

BAD THING: You'd really think - Parallax incident aside - Hal would be given a little more credit from his fellow heroes. Well, okay... Batman doesn't trust Hal. And Barry is being blinded by his latent homosexual attraction to Hal (although that's just personal theory) but you'd think Superman of all people would be willing to give Hal the benefit of the doubt when he says "I appreciate the help but this is Lantern business - we have to deal with it.". It's not like Hal was butting in insisting on helping when New Krypton showed up...

The Final Verdict: A solid issue with some sly shout-outs to the last time GL baddy Krona showed up. Barry Allen is still a dick.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Doom Patrol #19

BAD THING: The artwork in this book is sub-par, rife with odd proportions, weird facial expressions and coloring mistakes.

Either they colored in Bane as Deadshot, or Floyd Lawton is attempting to hail himself.

GOOD THING: Most of the Secret Six are written true to form, with Keith Giffen writing a suitably twisted Ragdoll. I do think the personalities and lines got switched on Black Alice and Jeanette the Banshee, however. Perhaps that is why Alice's costume is now all-fishnets up the back?

The Final Verdict: Keith Giffen has written many fine comics. This isn't one of them. The fight between The Secret Six (Or Eight at this point) and The Doom Patrol is written well, but some of the characters (Black Alice and Jeanette in particular) seem a little off. Still, Giffen does manage to keep most of the background regarding Oolong Island in the background, so there's little to confuse us Secret Six fans who only picked this book up for the crossover. But even that can't save this book from some truly terrible artwork.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Darkwing Duck #9

GOOD THING: The Lovecraftian Mythos are introduced into the continuity of The Disney Afternoon, as F.O.W.L. - the COBRA of the Darkwing Duck universe - turn their goals from James Bond-style villainy to the summoning of creatures sane ducks know not wot of. This leads to Darkwing and long-time foe Steelbeak teaming up to stop these power mad baddies from summoning Cuthulu... er... Duckthulu!

BAD THING: The only bad thing I can see in this book is that there is no way they shall ever again be able to approach the apex of awesomeness with a single story concept ever again.

The Final Verdict: Darkwing Duck isn't as good as you remember - it's better. It's a great read for kids, full of sly humor for the adults and did I mention that this issue has Darkwing Duck preparing himself to fight Cthulhu?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Cinderella: Fables Are Forever #1

BAD THING: The central conceit of this story is that Cinderella - now a secret super-spy for the Powers That Be behind Fabletown - is forced to confront another secret agent she thought was dead, her equal and opposite member who used to work for the Russians. This is a great idea but I had thought they would have played with this a little bit before the big reveal, which comes near the end of this first issue. I think a little more build might have benefited the story a bit.

GOOD THING: That being said, the reveal itself is brilliant and the enemy in question is PERFECT, given the circumstances hinted at in the previews and the story itself leading up to that moment.

This... is perfect.

Both heroines have a slipper motif to their stories (Glass vs. Silver). Both are working-class girls that were elevated to a heightened position (maid/slave vs. farm girl) through magic.

Now I know what you're thinking - why is Dorothy Gale, an American heroine, working for the Russians/The Adversary? Well, I think it makes an odd sense given what we know of the nature of Fables.

It's fairly well accepted at this point that the popularity of a Fable with the public at large gives them a degree of power, the least of which is invulnerability and near immortality. It has also been established, by Jack Horner masquerading as a human movie executive so he could make a fortune making movies about himself, that movies and other electronic medium in the modern mundane world are more powerful than simple books and that they tend to shape the Fable to fit how most people view that character. That's why any Fable who has been turned into a Disney Princess is functionally invincible whereas more obscure characters aren't.

So let's consider Dorothy Gale, who is almost certainly better well known for the movie The Wizard of Oz than the original books. Hence why she looks kind of like a twisted Judy Garland here. And then let us consider what we know of Dorothy from the movies.

Well, if you go by the movies, The Wizard of Oz is a tragedy.

Think about it. Dorothy goes from a poor dirt farm in Kansas and is whisked away to a magical realm over the rainbow. Where not only are the concerns of the gray, dull world she left behind not an issue - she's an honest to goodness hero who slays two witches, frees numerous enslaved peoples and becomes beloved by everyone.

And then... she goes home. Back to where she is not a hero and her talk of a magical land is dismissed as the rantings of a lunatic. Back where the rich lady who owns the town is just waiting to have Toto put to sleep under threat of kicking Auntie Em and the rest of the family out on the street. Back where, rural Kansas being what it was back then, her best hope is getting married off to some rich townie before her looks fade.

But you aren't supposed to think about that, because "there's no place like home" and the whole thing was probably a dream anyway. Right?

Now, I can easily see Dorothy falling in with the Communist movement during the whole fiasco in the Dust Bowl and the many incidents that later inspired the writings of John Steinbeck. Which, in turn, could lead to her becoming a Russian spy as their belief in equality for all would have been more in keeping with the ideal societies in Oz.

And this is totally ignoring whatever influence Wicked might be having on Dorothy. I think more people today sympathize with The Wicked Witch than they do Dorothy.

The Final Verdict: Great book. That's all I can say without spoilers. If you haven't read it already, go grab the recently released trade paperback of Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #7

BAD THING: There's no way around it - this issue is confusing. I don't know if it's the sudden intersection of plotlines from three other books, including Tomasi's run on Green Lantern Corps but I had to reread this one three times just to understand exactly what was going on - which is doubly strange given that this whole issue is one big, long fight scene.

We have our telepathic badddy Zardor, who it turns out has nothing to do with the power being leached from all the other Lantern Corps, taking advantage of that plot (one more thing being done by major baddie Krona), to turn Sodam Yat (no longer with the power or Ion), into his minion, so he can get revenge on The Guardians.

And no, I have no idea who Aleesun is, either and why Guy is suddenly so worked up about her. As far as I can tell, nobody on the Internet does and we're all confused by this scene.

GOOD THING: At least the fight scenes are illustrated well, even if the plot has suddenly become nonsensical.

The Final Verdict: The worst issue of this mini-series yet. The plot, decently explained and paced so far, suddenly twists off in a new direction as we get an info dump that serves only to confuse the readers. Even the hardcore Green Lantern junkies seem to be clueless right now! Still, the artwork is nice and the action is paced well. Let's just hope it all gets explained better next issue.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Birds Of Prey #9

BAD THING: Hawk still sticks out like a sore thumb on this team and in this book in general. Reportedly Gail Simone requested Hawk and Dove specifically for Birds of Prey when the book was restarted. One has to wonder, if this report is true, how much of an effect the storyline in Brightest Day might be affecting Simone's plans, which so far have hinted at a rekindled romance between Hank and Dawn... which would be interesting and difficult, even without Dawn's apparent romance with Deadman in Brightest Day now.

GOOD THING: The scenes of Dinah confronting her regrets and worst moments is effective, if somewhat brief. While I would have liked to have seen more flashes (explaining just WHY The Ray and Ra's Al Ghul showed up last issue for the new readers, would be a nice touch), I can understand the desire to avoid harping upon it... particularly when the whole point is to build up to this moment, in which Dinah manages to overcome Mortis' telepathic attack through sheer force of will... totally unaided!

And hey - give them props for the Longbow Hunters reference, while still making it clear that as bad as things were for Dinah in that situation, she was (and still is) a survivor who can overcome anything.

The Final Verdict: A great issue which gives every member of the team a chance to shine, especially Dinah. Hawk's presence is still totally unnecessary but at least in this issue he seemed to be somewhat better developed than he has been in most of his recent appearances.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Knight and Squire #5

GOOD THING: Rather a neat story here with a Silver Age feel as Jarvis Poker, The British Joker (it's a Cockney Rhyming Slang thing), in ill-health and sick of not being taken seriously in the modern day, decides to go out with one big crime spree... with The Knight and Squire, well aware of his ill-health, playing along so the aged villain can go out in style.

BAD THING: Much as I do appreciate the list of all the different unique characters Cornell created for this series, I think it would have been more effective had this been posted in the first issue when most of these characters showed up.

The Final Verdict: One issue to go and this one ends on a cliff-hanger I dare not spoil. Suffice it to say there is a very special guest star who is sure to make the last issue end with a bang!

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Kull: The Hate Witch #3

GOOD THING: I noted this before, but it bears repeating: this story does an excellent job of setting Kull apart from Conan as a character, showing how Kull is both more savage than our favorite barbarian (having been raised by tigers and able to make peace with them) and yet somehow more civilized and Conan when it comes to his leisure hours, being more interested in talk and philosophy than dallying with wenches.

BAD THING: The subplot with an attempted rebellion back in Atlantis and Kull's allies dealing with it is treated as an afterthought and serves as an unwelcome distraction from the real meat of this issue.

The Final Verdict: A good issue in a good mini-series, though I think it might benefit from dropping the subplot about Atlantis and would be better focused upon Kull's adventures alone.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Red Sonja #54

GOOD THING: A classic story worthy of Roy Thomas himself, with Sonja leading a rag-tag band of misfits against an experienced army with a commander who has it out for Sonja personally. Throw in a cursed Styigan artifact, a group of seperent priests just as desperate to recover it as Sonja is to keep it from them and use it to win the battle and the pathos in Sonja seeking revenge on the comrades she has already lost and you have far more going on than one might guess from a book with a buxom, scantily clad redhead with a sword on the cover.

BAD THING: Speaking of which, the cover artwork isn't nearly as good as the interior art. This is quite unusual for the Red Sonja books, which usually boast great covers but occasionally questionable interiors. There's also something to be said for the fact that Sonja is wearing sensible, true armor throughout the interior comic and yet is back in her infamous chainmail bikini on this cover.

The Final Verdict: Darn near perfect in every respect, save that the covers belay the serious story within and the current state of Red Sonja's costuming.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Queen Sonja #13

BAD THING: The inking and coloring on this issue is sub-par. It seems, at times, like whole pages were colored in and lined with a Sharpie so as to obscure the incomplete nature of the art.

GOOD THING: There is a fairly good story here, still being told in flashback (though we are barely reminded of this fact) of Sonja telling of how she did once truly love a man. And as we see in this issue, Sonja did spend what she thought might well be her last night alive with him, since he did satisfy the terms of her oath.

The Final Verdict: Oddly inked artwork obscures a surprisingly touching tale (for this genre, at least) of young love and old regrets.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Conan: The Road Of Kings #2

BAD THING: As before, the artwork is rather erratic in regard to character appearances, with the expressions looking odd throughout and the shapes of faces changing from panel to panel.

GOOD THING: The story by Roy Thomas is top notch. There's nothing really unique here in terms of story, but it is paced well and it has the perfect mix of comedy and high adventure that you'll find in most Thomas-penned Conan stories.

The Final Verdict: Get past the artwork and you'll enjoy a great story full of action and romance by one of the greatest living masters of the comic book genre, Roy Thomas.

Monday, February 7, 2011

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Doctor Who (2011) #1

BAD THING: As great as this issue is, it is a little hard for me to forgive that the entire plot is based around making Rory Williams look like a total idiot, using The Doctor's phone to check his e-mail, thus opening up The TARDIS to attack from living spam in the form of hard-light holograms.

GOOD THING: Thankfully, Rory had a good reason for doing what he did and The Doctor is presented as being just as much of an idiot for not having any sort of protection against this sort of thing. And Rory does redeem himself later when he stops a phishing scam from getting inside the TARDIS.

The Final Verdict: Aside from the plot serving to make one of my favorite characters and The Doctor look a little bit dim (but for all of the right reasons), I dare say that this issue isn't just a good Doctor Who comic - this is one of the best Doctor Who stories ever and a damn fine introduction to the characters, the series and the comics for anyone. Anyone who hasn't seen the show ever. Any Tenth Doctor fans who were reluctant to give Matt Smith and company a chance. And any non-comic reading Doctor Who fans who can't believe the comics can't perfectly capture the spirit of the show. A must read, in other words.

Oh yes. There's also a suggestion that The Doctor once met Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern Corps #56

GOOD THING: We finally get an explanation for why Sinestro has been willing to tolerate the constant insults and attacks by The Weaponer - all a show to showcase just how little The Weaponer means to Sinestro.

BAD THING: The artwork, while good, seems a little too static at times which is odd considering how much action there is throughout. Many pages, such as this one, look too posed and frozen.

The Final Verdict: A fairly standard issue, packed to the brim with action and awesome character moments. Shame that the artwork doesn't seem to move with the story but it's hardly bad.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Arrow #8

GOOD THING: There's a very neat plot thread here with Jason Blood somehow getting separated from a less-than-pleased Etrigan. While I'm sure this idea has been done before, Krul plays with it beautifully. And then there's the added element of Ollie trying to figure out how he can use Jason - who actually was there for the days of Camelot - to confirm or deny that his new buddy Galahad is the REAL Galahad without upsetting the knight errant in question.

BAD THING: There's a lot of cameos here that don't amount to a lot, any one of which would be worthy of a story themselves. You have Poison Ivy, apparently traveled into Star City with a group of environmentalists, attempting to commune with the magical forest. You have Lex Corps scientists doing what they do while a group from STAR Labs with Mr. Terrific and Doctor Midnite are present. And Lois Lane shows up for a moment to talk to our own local report about the craziness in Star City. And apart from Doctor Midnite and Mr. Terrific fighting with Ollie and Galahad when Galahad goes a little crazy and attacks the STAR Labs scientists, nothing much is done with ANY of this.

It's possible Krul is setting up a lot of future storylines here but it feels more like he's trying to make up for lost time and explain why we haven't seen more people in the DCU expressing concern or interest in a magical forest suddenly growing out of a major metropolitan area before now.

The Final Verdict: This issue is either trying to hint of things to come or covering its' ass as to why nobody in the DCU at large has expressed much interest in the Star City forest before now. Still, the core of the story - centering on Jason Blood and Etrigan's battle leaking over into the lives of Ollie and Galahad - is well worth reading.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Darkwing Duck #8

GOOD THING: As fun as it is seeing all the various in-jokes and references in all of the alternate-universe Darkwings (my favorite was the Tom Baker Doctor Who Darkwing), I have to give props for the hero of the issue being the Green Arrow-inspired Darkwing, Quiverwing.

BAD THING: The ending, in which the army of Darkwings have to fight a Paddywack-posessed Negaduck, is a little rushed and depends far too much on knowing the continuity of the old show (and why there are TWO different Negaducks) for my tastes. Paddywack is never really explained as a character apart from being so evil that even the rest of the bad guys fear him. Yes, I know that this comic is aimed more at fans of the old cartoon than it is child readers today... but still, it could have been made a little more accessible or explained better than it is here.

The Final Verdict: A pat ending that may be inaccessible to all but the most devout of Darkwing Duck fans doesn't spoil the enjoyability of this issue or this series. Highly recommended.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Secret Six #30

GOOD THING: Wacky fun. You've got The Doom Patrol fighting the Secret Six (Plus Two, now that King Shark has apparently joined the team). You've got the return of The 100 from Simone's Rose And Thorn series in the form of a slacker revolution of sorts. And in what is sure to be a SyFy Channel Original: King Shark vs. Robotman!

BAD THING: I hesitate to say it but there's almost TOO much wacky fun in this book. To the point where great ideas like Bane going out on his first date are given far too little time. Thankfully, the book suggests that this storyline is far from over... but I wanna see a whole issue devoted to this!

The Final Verdict: It's a fun issue, even by the standards of this book. The one problem is there's so many good ideas here it seems like they are fighting to stay on the page.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

DC Universe On-Line: Second Thoughts

I went and read some of the other reviews of this game. Saw a lot of complaints about random bugs, random lag, the crappy chat system, some of the PVP fights in the open zones being arbitrarily difficult since it doesn't limit who can participate or curve the levels accordingly and how you have to go hunting for costume pieces rather than being able to start out with what you want.

These are all very valid complaints and they are accurate.

However, all the faults this game has are minor ones. And they are quickly forgotten during the moments like this...

That's Beau Hunter. Fighting The Joker. With BATMAN.

You wouldn't think that would have power over a 32 year old fanboy... but it just hits you.

You. Are fighting The Joker. With Batman.

And that is awesome.