This Isn’t Going To Be Good For Business

A schtick.  A hook.  A gimmick.  Every super-person has one.  Electro shoots lightning.  Dr. Octopus has metal limbs.  Batman puts on a pervert suit and hits people.  Not all of them are successful, though. Submitted for your approval:  Awful Super-Person Gimmicks.

  • The Amazing Duck-Man’s robotic beak and wings
  • Mr. Plumber’s Golden Plunger and Infinity Cleanser
  • The Janitor’s multi-mop
  • The Word Processor’s Ink Ribbon of Death
  • Captain Jellyfish’s weak stingers and especially fragile torso
  • The Crime Organizer’s Double Barreled Label Baby
  • Captain Koala’s two thumbs on each foot
  • Slugman’s Oozy Trail Tail
  • The Skunker’s Stench Sacs
  • Doctor Who’s Sonic Water Closet
  • The Bibliophile’s “Book Nook”
  • Jazzman’s Scat-ter Grenades
  • Skid Mark’s white pants
  • The Incredible Shrinking Redneck’s RC Cola RC Car (currently up on blocks)

Also, one last reminder that Free Comic Book Day is tomorrow.  Have fun!

Sunnytime Review Show – All Hail Megatron Edition

Matt’s been reviewing All Hail Megatron for a while now and giving it relatively mixed reviews.  It’s still been positive enough that when I received some review copies (ie: I saw the trades in the library and checked them out), I was pretty anxious to give them a try.  The result is a mixed bag like Matt said, but there’s a lot to like, especially for someone like me who loves Transformers but hasn’t really been keeping up with the comic series as much as I’d like.

Volumes 1 and 2 are the meat of the story but there’s a pretty steep learning curve.  There’s obviously a significant amount of backstory, but I’m not up to speed on what it is.  We open with the Decepticons destroying New York City with some pretty vile acts of terrorism.  Meanwhile the Autobots are broken, defeated, divided, and stranded on Cybertron.  Humans are putting up a resistance, but it’s not much of one.  As always, Starscream schemes to take over leadership of the Decepticons but Megatron is keeping watch on him as part of some master plan that isn’t yet revealed to us.

The robots in disguise aspect is played up to strong effect in this arc, as the Decepticons really use their alternate modes to strike terror into the human population, coming from nowhere to strike their targets.  This gets back to the core concept which is all-too-often ignored.

Coming in cold like I am, I do wonder what the backstory is.  For the entirety of this volume the Decepticons do evil for it’s own sake, but there’s no real motivation for it yet.  The Autobots, understandably, are anxious to be off their abandoned planet, but we don’t know what happened to it.  I’m okay with coming in during the middle of a story, but it is pretty off-putting to pick up volume 1 of a story and still come in halfway through.  The art is hit or miss: namely it hits when the primary artist is  drawing Transformers, and misses when his backup’s over-simplified art is used for the human scenes.Where this book really shines is its characterization, especially with the Decepticons.  Their ranks and groups really appear to have meaning, particularly with the gestalt groups, but also with the Seekers.  Starscream, Thunkercracker, and Skywarp all have unique abilities, motiviations, and voices rather than being interchangeable cannon fodder.  Frenzy, the crazed tape, is given an especially interesting and well-thought out relationship with Soundwave.

Volume 2 is a fairly straightforward continuation of the story from v1, as the Autobots escape from Cybertron and start defending Earth from the Decepticons.  We find out who the Autobot traitor was (and why) and learn that Optimus and Megatron once had similar motivations.  The Autobots inevitably win and defeat Megatron (or more accurately, convince him that he won’t win), but he gets in a strong monologue with Starscream explaining that Starscream will inevitably take leadership from him (as that is how leadership is always transferred), but it won’t be that day.

Earth lives, which is a nice bonus.

Volume 3 is 5 standalone issues, each spotlighting one Autobot. Most of them are fairly forgettable, but noteworthy for catching us up on some of the backstory that I apparently missed.

  • Blurr – The story kicking off the collection is the best of the bunch. Transformers are picking sides, and the different factions are each recruiting Blurr, the fastest racer on the planet.  It was interesting, but a big mistake to take this character, whose main characteristic was to do everything (including talk) fast, and then reduce it to one boring trait (he’s a racer).  Still, this is good not so much for the story of the character as much as for the story of Cybertron before the war started.
  • Jazz – This was a pretty dynamic story bogged down by muddy coloring that made it too difficult to tell what was going on, it was a good beefing-up of Jazz’s character as a real leader with a tale of a mysterious Autobot helping get a blinded comrade out of a warzone, and providing inspiration as the story circulates.
  • Cliffjumper – An utterly forgettable story of Cliffjumper on an alien planet that feels like it hit each 80’s cartoon plot point exactly according to the formula.  It’s pure filler and contributes nothing to the mythos.
  • Drift – Another story that was mainly notable for it’s look at the war and opposing factions, we learn why the Autobots have beef with Drift, and how he switches sides from the Decepticons.  I still have issues with the dark coloring in this one, but it was a good look at a character I’d never seen before this series.
  • Metroplex – The art in this issue is stellar, but it’s essentially a copy of “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize” from Green Lantern #188.  Kudos for the choice of source material, but I’d prefer to have read an original story.
Volume 4 is broken down even more, with two 8-page stories per book.  At this point it’s been a while since I’ve read it, but what I remember most is that Don Figueroa’s art looked to the movie for its cues on how the characters should look, which resulted in every Transformer looking like a skeleton, a la Bludgeon.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Trevor Hutchison’s covers, all designed to look like propaganda posters.  They’re entirely unlike anything you would expect to see on the front of a Transformers comic, but they work really, really well.  They’re dynamically designed and stand out on the rack.  Top marks to IDW for taking a chance with them.

After all that…Are they worth it?  I definitely dug the main story.  It was nice to see “robots in disguise” mean something, rather than just have alternate forms solely for transportation.  The spotlight issues were mostly filler, though, and not worth picking up.  I’m definitely looking forward to finding more review copies, as long as I can focus on the main story.

The Best Day of the Year!

It’s almost upon us!  The best day of the year!  Yes, Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 1st.  Not  only is it a chance for those of us who are already addicted to catch some great sales and snag some free books, but it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to evangelize about our love of the art form.  With comic book movies among the highest grossing, college courses on comics catching on, and an unprecedented breadth of genres to pick from, we are truly looking at a golden age of acceptance.  Do your part: get the word out.

There will be haters, but now is the time when we must put our best foot forward and make sure that we do not let someone judge an entire medium by it’s weakest examples. The format of the novel shouldn’t be suspect because Hardy Boys novels are juvenile, and comic books shouldn’t be denigrated because Deadpool is, either (not that there’s anything wrong with the Hardy Boys or Deadpool).

FCBD is our chance to yell at the world that comics have everything to offer.  Use your voice.

I’d like to throw out some quick plugs for comic shops that the Colorado half of the L.E.M.U.R. Comics Blog will be hitting this weekend.  These are not coincidentally also the shops cool enough let us put out fliers in their stores*, but they’ve historically put on great showings for FCBD.

Mile High Comics – Thornton
8806 Washington Street
Thornton, CO 80229
(303) 457-2612

I Want More Comics
10343 North Federal Boulevard
Westminster, CO 80260
(303) 466-1620

Hero Headquarters
8757 North Sheridan Boulevard
Westminster, CO 80003
(303) 426-0768

Time Warp Comics & Games
3105 28th Street
Boulder, CO 80301
(303) 443-4500

*Not that anyone said no, these are all the shops I asked.  Denver has plenty more quality comic retailers worth checking out.

This Week’s Comics — And Some Light Ranting

It’s a fairly light week again, which is still good because lately the local quarter bins have been full and I’ll probably be doing some heavy back issue shopping this Saturday.  Still, there’s some solid books out this week.  Here’s what I’m looking at.

  • IMAGE FIRSTS INVINCIBLE # 1 – In spite of some questionable choices like Youngblood #1 and Savage Dragon #1, releasing this as a $1 book is a good call by Image.  It’s a great superhero book by Robert Kirkman, full of twists and turns, and it stays in print in a variety of formats from trade to hardcover to Omnibus.  I think the only thing they’re missing is digests.
  • IMAGE FIRSTS PROOF #1 – Strangely, I don’t think I’m familiar with this book at all, but I’m willing to expand my horizons for a buck if it passes the flip test.
  • MARVEL ZOMBIES 5 #2 (OF 5) – I’ve been digging Marvel Zombies for a while, but I just finished volume 4 and am fairly convinced that the concept has been played out for now and needs to take a little nap.
  • NEMESIS #1 2ND PTG MCNIVEN VAR – If you missed out on the first print of Nemesis #1, now’s your week to check it out.  My late review posted last week, but (SPOILER ALERT!) I liked it a lot.

Matt, please look elsewhere for the next bullet.

  • THUNDERBOLTS #143 – A bad Jeff Parker story is better than most people’s good stories.  Still, I feel like we’ve both been biding our time until the new direction kicks in.

Like Matt, I was entertained enough by Green Lantern #53 but felt that it was mostly starting points for new story arcs, like Johns has been doing a lot lately.  Green Lantern has been okay, but I’m starting to
feel like I did when I dropped JSA several years back: that it’s solid but not great, and that I want just a little more out of the book.  I also grabbed JLA on a whim, since I’d been wanting to check out Robinson’s new team and new writing, but I felt let down.  It’s a really generic feelgood story about the team learning to work with each other, but I didn’t really care about any of the characters or how well they work with each other.  This Starman is not the Mikaal Tomas I remember and every word coming out of Congorilla’s mouth just made me wish I were reading about Gorilla Man (even their origins are identical!).  FAIL.

I WAS impressed by the conclusion of Avengers vs Atlas, though all the time travel talk left me mystified and disinterested.  The beginning was especially strong, though, in a meta-textual look at fandom and how every line-up always be someone’s ideal team.  We all have a favored line-up (see the Busiek/Perez run for mine), and anything else is always inadequate.  (And here’s where we digress into an Avengers rant for no good reason…)

The current Avengers lineups don’t do anything for me.  From a marketing point of view I understand why Marvel put in Spider-Man and Wolverine, and from a creative point of view I understand why Bendis put in Luke Cage and Ms. Marvel, but like a giant temporal cloud it’s not what I think the Avengers should be.  To me, the key lineup is Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man (of course), along with the Vision and Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye (I accept Giant-Man/Ant-Man/Yellowjacket and Wasp, but don’t especially care about them).  There should also be a couple lesser characters floating in and out, but the Avengers has never been a “big guns” team, so the lineup should be more fluid. It’s worked for 40 years, I would think that would be a pretty solid proof of concept.

Anyway, that’s it for me.  What are YOU looking at?

Random Links For Your Weekend

And here’s where we get REALLY random!

  • Matt and I are both big fans of bad movies.  The Onion reviews Best Worst Movie, a documentary about Troll 2, of all things.  We must see this.
  • Salon talks about Po-Boys.  Yes, it’s pretty-off-base, but we’re both guys from the South, and I think more people need to embrace The Greatest Sandwich Ever Given To Man By God.

THE LIST – I sell Propane and Propane accessories

Not everyone in costume with superpowers is a billionaire industrialist like Tony Stark. Nor can they make their own costumes out of science! like Reed Richards. Certainly, not everyone has access to a tailor such as Paul Gambi. So where do the other guys and gals buy their necessary paraphernalia? This week’s list answers that question.

Stores that cater to the needs of Supers:

Fairchild’s Secrets: Strategically Places Small Pieces of Fabric

All ‘Bout Pants that Stretch and Turn Purple

Nothing But Ankle Pouches!

Grapnels ‘N Thingz

Schwartz’s Super-Logo Designs: for all your chest emblem needs

John Elway’s Volkswagen and Volkswagen-Sized Guns Dealership of Thornton

Everything’s a Dollar…and Green and Purple

Baryshnikov’s – Slippers for the Liefeld-Footed Man

Miss Shapen: Boutique for the anthropomorphic and oddly deformed

Sivanna Brothers serving the discerning mad scientist since 1939

Otto’s – For The Plus-Sized Super-Villain

S.H.I.E.L.D.-Sonoma – For all your overpriced gadgetry needs

Fashionableman (a subsidiary of Fashionable Male)

Gleek’s Primate Supplies

Game Tape

It’s time, once again, for Game Tape reviews: the continuing story of a quack who’s gone to the dogs.

From my reviews of his books, it probably sounds like I hate Geoff Johns. Couldn’t be farther from the truth. Johns’ name attached to a project is not the kiss of death for me that someone like Joe Casey carries. He’s a genuinely nice guy; I’ve had the chance to meet and talk with him for more than five minutes at cons. There aren’t many writers out there with as vast and deep a knowledge of (any) character. Still, he’s got his strengths and his weaknesses. We see these both in Green Lantern #53. Strength: no one in this book acts in an uncharacteristic way. Strength: there are many cool story ideas coming down the line in the GL universe. Weakness: while an issue following a major event should probably deal with the aftermath, it should not be an issue 0 style string of teasers. Johns’ famously created that concise and fun teaser page with JSA, Flash, Superman, and Green Lantern. Unfortunately, here he’s turned it into a long form. Weakness: cool ideas are often ruined when they’re blown up into too large a scale. Blackest Night being the prime example. Suffice it to say, I liked #53. It was fun and exciting to see what’s planned. I did not enjoy having to pay so much for a “story.” It’s like paying to see a movie and only watching the trailers.

I still don’t really understand what happened in the main story of Avengers vs. Atlas. There was a time displacement thing, and somehow it involved Kang and that useless poor man’s Ray Palmer: Hank Pym. Apparently the old school Avengers are AWESOME and everyone since are poseurs. Confusion aside, I’ve enjoyed this mini-series. The interactions between different eras of the Avengers and the Agents of Atlas were entertaining. The fights have been fun and well scripted/ drawn.

Imagine I’ve written another paragraph about how fantastic it is to read Jeff Parker. I’ve run out of ways to say he’s crazy good; either you believe me by now or not.

I will say that the back-up story was strikingly good.  Gorilla Man is featured in this one, and I was surprised. We get a great and rare moment of pathos. We see a deeper level to Ken Hale than we’ve seen in the bravado and joking that are his hallmark.

The Last Stand of the Wreckers #4 was good and ominous. A serious of hard decisions are made and ‘bots keep dying like it’s The Dirty Dozen. I was not expecting Aequitas to be what it is. Kup gets medieval on some Decepti-asses, but Perceptor comes off as a bit of a tool. There’s also some sort of secret that makes at least one Autobot question Looking forward to the next issue to have all Hell break loose. I’ve always liked the idea of this team of Autobots, They’re the guys that go in and do the dirty work that no one wants to acknowledge needs doing, and they tend to skirt the acceptable boundaries of behavior for an Autobot. Think robotic A-Team and you’re close.

That’s a wrap on this week. I found the entire A-Team – Shotgun Wedding for cheap, so I picked it up. I just haven’t read it yet.

Dr. Strange — SECRETS!

I taught Tony Stark everything he knows about mustaches! And HE gets Robert Downey Jr in his movie???


The hoary hosts of Hoggoth used to deliver my newspaper. And now they're hoary hosts! It just goes to show that you never know...


Dormammu's real name is Oliver Dormarth. He changed it in high school when he was really getting into musical theater.


I have no idea why Clea is always at my house.


The Ancient One actually chose Penn and Teller to be the Sorcerers Supreme, but Penn wouldn't shut up about libertarianism so they got kicked out of the monastary.


Sunnytime Review Show: Nemesis Edition

I have a strange sort of love/hate relationship with Mark Millar’s work.  His work is full of a dark cynicism that tends to be bleaker than even I can deal with, and his penchant for self-promotion (and occasionally outright lying) has become so grating that even Rich Johnston is tiring of it.  I’m normally able to separate the artist from the work, but the last two pages of Wanted was so vitriolic that it was impossible for me to separate the rant from the author.  That said, he’s also an unquestionably talented writer who can still write an intriguing and compelling story.

Now with MY baggage out of the way: Nemesis.  The story of the world’s only super-criminal (it remains to be seen if superheroes don’t exist or if they just haven’t been mentioned yet), Nemesis answers the question “What if Batman was the Joker.”  Or if Joker was Batman.  One of those.  He is organized, disciplined, collected, and has been working his way across Asia killing police and pulling off  elaborate heists with local gangs.  When he targets Blake Morrow, he makes his way to Washington, D.C., taking his time to go through the President of the United States.

Nemesis is a very good Batman study.  Because we’re already familiar with Batman, Millar gets to use some shorthand, but Nemesis is erudite, poised, fearsome, and aloof.  Even Nemesis’ costume — all white with that familiar Bat-nose — evokes the opposite of Bruce Wayne.  I feel like we learn more about Batman by learning about Nemesis (but then I feel like all learning essentially brings us closer to understanding Batman).

All of this talk of writing is not to dismiss Steve McNiven at all, but he’s a known quantity here.  Millar calls his art spectacular, and he’s right on.  If you pick up one of McNiven’s books you know you’re going to get an excellent, realistic artist who can grab the drama in a conversation along with as much kick/punch/splode action the writer can throw at him.  Still, his work here reaches a new high, with a strong attention to detail and a remarkably fine line that stands out from panel one.

It’s also worth mentioning that in a time when comic publishers will take any excuse they can get to jack up cover prices, Marvel/Icon has kept this issue to a reasonable $3.

So yeah, the story was great, but Millar still manages to interject some of his more irritating qualities into the text piece in the back. What should have been a fairly straightforward behind-the-scenes piece became a case study in Millarian contradictions.  At one point he expresses his pride in the “Angelina-propelled Wanted movie” then makes a none-too-subtle (and none-too-kind) reference to her “nicking” children from other countries.  He also talks about how simple the concept was (“What if this cool billionaire with all those planes, cars and gadgets, put on a mask and waged war on the forces of law and order?”) and then concludes that “sometimes we rely a little too much on the work and ideas of other people,” as if creating the anti-Batman was a stroke of originality (and hadn’t already been done).

But a book should be judged on its own merits, not the relative craziness or doublespeak of it’s creators, and Nemesis is a book I will absolutely be coming back to.

*I didn’t want to write that joke, I just couldn’t resist the setup.