Friday, December 24, 2010

Versus: Snake-Eyes (Comics) VS. Deathstroke (DC Comics)

Only two are left.

Storm Shadow took out Ravager, the daughter of Deathstroke, with one final cut and received a warrior's death.

Blades, bloodied in previous battles, are at the ready. They silently stalk one another, looking for an advantage without making a move. There's a definite respect between these two. They know that within a series of moves, one of them will soon be dead. A move is made and blood mixes with that of the fallen...






Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Definitely Not Reviews (12-15-10)

Green Lantern #59 - man that was a lot of talking. Yes, there was a lot of action surrounding the talking, but, you know, the action was irrelevant because you knew that Parallax wasn't going to kill or even hurt Hal all that much and you also knew that Hal wasn't able to hurt Parallax (or if he was he wouldn't hurt the possessed Barry Allen), so ultimately it was just a lot of jibba jabba leading virtually nowheres.

G.I. Joe/Cobra #11 - With all these different iterations of G.I. Joe out there I sometimes get confused as to who exactly Cobra Commander is (or should be), but this dapper-suited, intelligent, sensible Commander with a photographic memory is the first truly inspiring and competent leader of a global terrorist organization/legitimate business that the Joes have had. That doesn't mean he's not fun, but he's a different, non-buffoonery kind of fun.

Strange Tales II #3 - while I get a big kick out of the humorous takes on the Marvel universe, pointing out, repeatedly, the absurdity the the superhero genre is built upon, I think I appreciate the more straightforward - earnest even - takes on the characters. I liked best Alex Robinson's slice-of-life college-aged Ben Grimm and Reed Richards going on a double-date story as it used it's short story form to maximum efficiency.

Captain America: Man Out Of Time #2 - The first issue, truth be told was a little weak, as Mark Waid's updating of Cap's resuscitation ran over familiar ground but with minor tweaks. This issue, however, was solid gold, introducing the anachronistic Cap to a disbelieving Rick Jones, acclimatizing to the modern era and, quite frankly, reminding the audience what Captain America's appeal truly is (something, I personally, have always had a hard time understanding, but think I get now).

X-Factor #212 - X-Factor and Thor team up on a mission to hell, and that guy Darwin who hasn't had much to say or do since he first showed up finally shows some usefulness, and how.

Mighty Crusaders #6 - If I can say one thing to writers who know that they're working on the last issue of a series or line or company, don't end it by saying goodbye or the big bravado and bluster rallying cry "wherever there is trouble, we'll be there" type speech, because that's pure Camembert, instead, leave them wanting more. Hint at the next big adventure to never come, make it seem like there some big idea waiting in the wings that the audience will never see, make it memorable rather that awkward. Frustrate the hell out of them with a cliffhanger. As much as people say they want closure, people remember that which doesn't give it to them even more. I say this because dammit I want more.

Batman and Robin #18 - I was reading an interview by Paul Cornell over at CBR and Cornell notes:
It kind of is startling where you see reviews of my "Batman And Robin," which is supposed to be as dark as dishwater, going, "Oh, this is a light-hearted Silver Age adventure." I don't think of this as a Silver Age adventure, guys.

"Dark as dishwater"? Oh Paul Cornell, you're having us on, aren't you? This second part is as 60's as it gets, complete with a plodding bad-guy-telling-the-good-guys-their-origin which ate up a good chunk of the issue and felt more Stan Lee than Grant Morrison, less Alan Grant, more Roy Thomas.

Mighty Samson #1 - I thought I had some past connection to the old Gold Key Mighty Samson, but turns out I was full of it, because reading this issue, (which contains both Jim Shooter's remake and a reprint of the original Gold Key first issue) I don't even have a slight tickle of familiarity with the series. A post apocalyptic story set hundreds of years in the future as New York and New Jersey tribes square off. I haven't read Kamandi, really, so it would be interesting to hear someone compare the two. I also thought there should be more traces of the 20th century strewn throughout (hammer home the fact that we've made a lot of shit that's never going away).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Comics I NEED To See In My Lifetime

It only took, what... 30 years for me to read Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali and guess what, really enjoyed it.

Thing was that as soon as I finished it, I wanted a sequel. No, not Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali 2 but the most natural extension of this iconic 1970's event, featuring the only comics character and historical figure worthy of iconic Treasury Edition treatment...




Make it happen.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Definitely Not Reviews (Dec 1 + 8, 2010)

Had such a paltry week on December 1st (two floppies and a trade) that I decided to skip DNR last week... also I was travelling and Christmas shopping followed by catching up with gobs of work I'd been avoiding so I was otherwise preoccupied anyway. So with two weeks to catch up on...

Doom Patrol #17 - What was this all about again... oh, right, this was a weird one (which means it's a normal one for Doom Patrol). To compare it to TV series, it's kind of like Fringe by way of Human Target at the Doom Patrol go to a soiree loaded with criminal element types as bodyguard for the President of Oolong Island. Bad stuff happens... and Bumblebee can't find fancy attire.

Secret Six #28 - a muddled issue trying to resolve a far-too-complex situation far too quickly. Also, it had that conceit which annoys the living poop out of me whereby people (from opposing sides) stop and have a chat on the battlefied, and nobody else even attempts to take them out (and that happens here multiple times... gargalarg!)

The Incredible Hercules: The New Prince Of Power tpb - Combining two mini-series, "Hercules: Fall of an Avenger" (Spoiler Alert: Hercules is dead!), wherein a buch of heroes eulogize Herc (I find it hard to believe that an Altlantean princess would refer to anyone as "hot" though) followed by "Heroic Age: The New Price Of Power" (Spoiler Alert: It's Amadeus Cho), where in Amadeus Cho (notice how he's usually only referred to by his full name... some people are like that... mostly athletes though) takes over as CEO of Olympus Corp (or whatever it's called) and must deal with his first hostile takeover, all while actually trying to become a god so that he can find out where Hercules really is (Spoiler Alert: Herc's not really dead). This is a frustrating trade as it's all just a lead-in to the Chaos War event. (Remember the Adam Strange/ OMAC/ Rann-Thanagar War/ Secret Six etc mini-series that didn't have endings but only led into Infinite Crisis, it's just that annoying.. not bad otherwise).

Batgirl #16 - Batgirl's been framed for murder! Hardly original, but it's like pulling a cd off the shelf that you haven't listened to in 15 years... it's so familar, but time has made it sort of unfamiliar as well and yet kind of comforting.

Booster Gold #39 - Booster finally grieves over the loss of Ted Kord. It's sweet but Chris Batista's art has either gone way downhill or he's in need of a new inker, because this book is looking terrible (and really, after all the jokes, I still can't see Booster's bald spot).

Justice League:Generation Lost #15 - Like: Captain Atom time jumping, Booster Gold taking charge, Rocket Red and his tenuous grasp of English turns-of-phrase, Blue Beetle because he wicked awesome, Max Lord's aggrivated acknowledgment of the Wonder Woman reboot. Dislike: Ice and her new retcon which I guess is supposed to toughen her up, but, y'know, being a sweet, timid, pacifist superhero was really her appeal. It's basically lazy writing to completely reboot her character to explain her new personality rather than just develop her as a character. Winick you frustrate me so.

Red Robin #18 - Tim is in Russia, encountering an old Titans ally Red Star, who has been changed in recent years and has an alien spaceship sidekick (an actual inhabitable one, not like Skeets). Fabian Nicieza acknowledges how much of Russia's post-Communist development/prosperity has been a result of corruption and criminal underground, which depending on your level of familiarity with Russia may play as insightful or insulting. I'm not sure which, but it's a somewhat different story for Red Robin so far and I like it.

Superboy #2 - Y'know, I like this book, but I don't love it. In the same way I like old Silver Age comics, but I find them also incredibly difficult to take seriously. Superboy has a very Silver Age feel, and it demands an almost total shift of modern-reader mentality to not balk or dismiss it, because when you succumb to it, it's damn entertaining in that ridiculously goofy way Silver Age comics were. Remote control Parasite frogs indeed.

THUNDER Agents #2 - This was a very well-written character piece, but as much as I liked it (even at $3.99) I'm almost worried that the THUNDER Agents aren't going to have much in the way of story and instead be almost solely character focused... it's almost as if JMS were behind it.

Teen Titans/Little Archie #3 - What can I say about it, except I'm sad that it's over. It's pure pop bubblegum, sweet and chewy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Second Printing Handy Dandy Holiday Gift Guide

At work, we've been using a sort of guide book for "civilians" who've been coming in looking for comics with similar sensibilities to current TV series, movies and books. Thought we'd share to a wider audience:

If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead comic and TV series (Image Comics), you may like:

Chew Vol. 1 through 3 (Image Comics):

Vice cop Tony Chu lives in a world where, after a global epidemic of avian flu, all poultry is illegal. Chu also has a secret; he’s a “cibopath,” a person who gets psychic impressions from the things he eats. While investigating an illegal chicken smuggling operation, he tastes a bowl of chicken soup, finding himself on the trail of a serial killer.

If you’re a fan of the current Batman series of movies, you may like:

Batman: Year One (DC Comics)

The skill of leaping from rooftop to rooftop while dodging bullets isn’t something you learn overnight. No, there’s a definite learning curve. This book explores the forging of a man into a hero. Batman: Year One is what many believe to be Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Sin City writer/artist Frank Miller’s stronger Batman work.

If you’re a fan of Breaking Bad, you may like:

Scalped Vol. 1 through 6 (Vertigo):

Bearing nunchucks and an attitude, Dashiell Bad Horse returns to the Prairie Rose Reservation he left fifteen years ago. A lot’s changed in the years, he’s been gone, meth labs litter the area adding more misery to the already crushing poverty. Soon, a 97 million dollar casino will open on this land, headed up by Lincoln Red Crow, a man from Dash’s past who’ll also play a major hand in his future. With brilliant characterization and sharp dialogue, Scalped is simply of the best books being printed today.

If you’re a fan of TV’s Mad Men, you may like:

Richard Stark’s Parker series by Darwyn Cooke (IDW Publishing):

Parker is neither hero nor villain. He knows exactly who he is. He’s a thief, simply out for his next dollar. What makes him the character so interesting is that when it’s all said and done, you’ll respect the character’s honesty. Adapting author Richard Stark’s singular character is master storyteller Darwyn Cooke of DC: The New Frontier fame. Art-wise, Cooke builds a world reminiscent of the time in which Mad Men is set while maintaining the stylistic flourishes comics fans have come to appreciate within his work. Look for both The Hunter and the newly released, The Outfit.

If you’re a fan of James Bond and The Jason Bourne series of books and movies, you may like:

Queen and Country Definitive Editions One through Four (Oni Press):

Tara Chace is an operative within The British Secret Service. The work is rarely glamorous and rarely involves traveling to exotic locations, sipping martinis. When the assignment does come, it usually involves being sent to some far off place with the express knowledge that you may be being sent off to die and knowing that if you live, you may need to drink to forget the things you’ve done. You’ll never see the espionage thriller in the same way after reading this.

If you’re a fan of Calvin and Hobbes, you may like:

Tiny Titans (DC Comics):

Full of good, simple fun and drawn in an art style accessible to young and old, The Tiny Titans are the child sidekicks of some of superherodom’s most famous heroes. Robin, Superboy, a couple of Wonder Girls, a Kid Flash and few super-pets, among others, hang out in a clubhouse while keeping the world safe for whimsy.

If you’re a fan of the Iron Man movie and comics series, you may like:

Secret Avengers (Marvel Comics):

Following the events of the Siege mini-series, Steve Rogers, the former Captain America, realizes a need for a more pro-active team of Avengers; one that takes the fight directly to any potential threat. Featuring Avengers mainstays such as Black Widow while utilizing mission specific and insanely clever additions such as Shang Chi, The Master of Kung Fu, Secret Avengers is what happens when childhood fave G.I. Joe meets the storied Avengers franchise.

If you like True Blood book and TV series, you may like:

American Vampire Volume One, co-written by Stephen King (Vertigo Comics):

Skinner Sweet is sick. Sick of aristocratic vampires trying to run the world. Sick of the romanticizing of what he is. Sick of vampires who seek the light. Skinner Sweet is an outlaw and vampire turned during the height of The Wild West. Skinner Sweet does not sparkle. Under the stellar writing of Stephen King and Scott Snyder, he shines.

If you’re a fan of political thrillers, you may like:

Ex Machina Vol. 1 through 10 (DC/Wildstorm)

Following his actions during a pivotal moment in American history, Mitchell Hundred has become the first superhero ever to be elected Mayor of New York. Operating in real time, Ex Machina follows this man through his four years in office. One of comics’ best series, Ex Machine opens with a first chapter that will leave you absolutely stunned and a final chapter that will leave you speechless.

If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series of books, you may like:

The Books Of Magic (DC/Vertigo)

Tim Hunter, a bespectacled, young British orphan is taken on a tutorial through The Books of Magic by some of the world’s greatest magicians. Will he reject or embrace his destiny to become the world’s greatest magician? Released in 1990, a full seven years before the first Harry Potter novel, The Books Of Magic is written by Sandman and American Gods author Neil Gaiman.

If you’re a fan of the recent Green Lantern trailer, you may like:

Green Lantern (DC Comics)

Hal Jordan is a test pilot, ne’er do well and possessor of the most powerful weapon in the universe, the Green Lantern Power Ring, a ring fueled by the only thing he has in spades: willpower. The only thing that can stop Hal Jordan is the one thing he’s never known: fear. When the two meet, a battle of truly universal importance will take place and a legend will be born. To get your best look at just who Hal Jordan is; the trade paperback collections of Green Lantern: Secret Origin and Green Lantern: Rebirth are both highly recommended.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It Came From Beside The Bed

(a feature dedicated to the stack of comics, old and new, languishing beside my bed)

Who's Who #2

If it weren't for Who's Who, I probably wouldn't be the DC Comics obsessive I am today (or should I say "was, until about 5 years ago"). I had, before the end of the 1980's, managed to acquire every Who's Who issue (and thoroughly scoured them time and again, at one point even tracing the images within, creating mash-up characters, such as Rad Dude, the skateboard hero who had (Golden Age) Red Tornado's soup-pot head, Reactron's body and, for some reason, Heathcliff's legs).

Anyway, for some reason, issue #2 of Who's Who always eluded me... "for some reason"... I know exactly why... because issue #2 was the Batman issue, and it always fetched a much higher price than the other issues and was nearly impossible to find in most back issue bins. So it was with much excitement this year when I found it in a dollar bin at the Toronto Fan Expo, it's blue-background George Perez cover smacking me giddily in the face. The coveted prize was quickly escorted home where it was tossed in the pile beside the bed to be left, unloved, for many more months.

But I've now read it, and my knowledge of the DC Universe circa 1985 is now complete... completely out-of-date. Alas. Some notes:

"Automan" - there was a tragic-looking Tron-rip-off TV show from Glen A Larson (Battlestar Galactica, The A*Team) called Automan back in the 1980s. I seem to only recall seeing it on French-Canadian tv as a pre-teen. This isn't him. This dude looks kind of like Robotman, only dorky.

"Azrael" - not the Bat-universe Azrael, but some flying dude with wings who appeared briefly in the Teen Titans.

"Babe" - I have to wonder why the Atari Force, wonderful though it was, was given individual entries for each character in the series. It was out of DCU continuity and lasted less than 25 issues. Surely just one "Atari Force" entry in the first issue should have sufficed?

"Batman" - This was 1984 and Batman's Origin was as so:
Now and orphan, Bruce Wayne was placed in the care of his Uncle Philip. Since Philip Wayne was a world traveler, Bruce spent his formative years under the guidance of Philip's housekeeper, the kindly Mrs. Chilton (who was secretly Joe Chill's mother, a fact Bruce has never learned).


"Ben Boxer" - Never heard of him before but he sounds totally awesome and is an instant new favourite obscure character. One of Kirby's extras from Kamandi, which I should really give a gander one of these days.

"Big Sir" - man, he really didn't come unto his own until Giffen/DeMatteis/Jones got ahold of him.

"Black Canary II" - I honestly had no idea the Dinah's origin was this damn convoluted, but given DCU continuity it doesn't surprise me.
In pre-Crisis continuity, the younger Dinah was cursed by the Wizard while still an infant to create the Canary Cry. Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt removed the baby to his own dimension, where she could do no harm, and then stripped Dinah and Larry of their memories of her existence as an act of mercy. Larry was subsequently killed and Dinah mortally wounded during the JLA/JSA battle with Aquarius. At the elder Dinah's dying request, the Thunderbolt retrieved her daughter, now a young adult, from the Thunderbolt dimension and had her take the elder's place. The younger Canary moved to Earth-One and joined the JLA. For a number of years, she believed that she was her mother.

"Blackhawk Island" - Reading this reminded me that "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" is basically the Blackhawks movie which nobody seemed to want or care all that much for.

This issue is a pretty neat time capsule of the confusion that resulted while Crisis on Infinite Earths was just beginning (it ran in parallel with that series for the first 12 issues, which was probably the biggest problem with the series). I think the writers/editors knew that changes were in the offing, but couldn't really write about them yet (there were no "Spoiler Alerts" back in them days, kids), so they were stuck trying to make sense of incredibly convoluted histories or bridge the differences between old and new (the Batman and Black Canary entries really highlight this). It's interesting reading, also from the standpoint of how diverse DC's offerings have been over the years, from non-continuity projects like Atari Force and Barren Earth to alternate-realities (but in-continuity) like Warlord and Amethyst to future and space heroes where characters like Automan and Ben Boxer came from.