Game Tape, Huzzah!

A second consecutive week of comics and Game Tape? I thought it a thing of the past too, brothers and sisters. Yet it is here waiting for you. Jump into the internet’s 35th least read weekly comic book review blog.

Agents of Atlas #5 was out this week. It marks the end of another Jeff Parker title. Forgive me for not reviewing it. Even writing this much has me a bit verklempt.

Having forgotten my copy of Fantastic Four last week, I fixed the error. This is one of those books that I’m always looking forward to when it comes out. Since Hickman took over writing chores, this title has made the climb to the top of the read pile; it’s that good. I see what Jesse means about Doom being a part of the family. I’d never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. I’ve also always been curious to see if a writer would further develop/exploit the connection between Doom and Valeria that Waid established in his run with the late great Wieringo. I’m glad Hickman is picking up that little thread. How many Galactus bodies are there floating around now?

While I haven’t yet read the whole thing, I object to IDW’s GI Joe: Cobra Special #2. On principle, I do not appreciate that we got 22 pages of comic story and 33 pages of prose that is actually a preview/sample from a new collection of prose GI Joe stories. It might be the best thing I’ve ever read, but it’s still a 33 page house ad. No… just no.

On the other hand, Action Comics #893 impressed and entertained on so many levels. All you need to know about the main story is encapsulated in a quote by Gorilla Grodd, “Kneel before Grodd! You have walked into my ambush! And I have brought my biggest combat spoon–to eat your tasty brains!!!” This is the brilliance of Paul Cornell, and brother if that don’t butter your popcorn, don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you. I even enjoyed the second feature starring Jimmy Olsen.

Superman’s pal is one of those ideas I really love but have rarely liked past the Silver Age. Modern stories with Big O are rarely executed well. Most writers have him come off as either a doofus or a hipster. He a bit of both with some many other interesting layers. Nick Spencer has found these layers and crafted a character that is interesting to read. I tip my hat to Mr. Spencer for making me care about a story that featured Jimmy Olsen and was billed as being the “first comic book appearance of Chloe Sullivan of Smallville“…whatever. It’s a nice beginning for a story. I’m looking forward to seeing it resolved as much as I am seeing the resolution of the main Luthor story.

That’ll wrap it up for this light week. Except for two special shout outs.

H.D., long time supporter of Jesse related madness, celebrated a birthday this week. So happy birthday to you; I sang “O’ Dem Golden Slippers” in honor of the anniversary of the day of your birth.

Reader and frequent commenter, Saint Walker, also celebrated a birthday this week. For you, I shall sing “Camp Town Races.”

Mr. Freeze… SECRETS!

Nora kept me in cryogenics, but it was a deep love of Otterpops that got me into the field.

Secret…

I am three credit hours from becoming Doctor Freeze.

Secret…

When my step-father adopted me, I honored him by taking his name: Freeze

Secret…

The Penguin and I used to dream of teaming up. It just makes so much sense... sadly it will never be.

Secret…

I'm a Curly Joe kinda guy. That's pretty much all you'll ever need to know about me.

SECRETS!

This Week’s Comics

Another light week, and a sad, sad day for comicdom.  I’m picking up one book this week, ATLAS #5, which brings that series to a close. Since Jeff Parker has brought Jimmy, Ken, and pals with him on other books he’s written I don’t think this will be the last we see of them, but it’s disappointing that such an excellent book can’t find the sales numbers it needs to stay running.

Last week saw some very good books come out.  Fantastic Four continues Jonathan Hickman’s incredible run, with new artist Steve Epting on-board with his stellar pencils.  I was especially impressed by the scene with Doom, where it really dawned on me that Victor is a part of the family as much as anyone else.  Sure, he’s the crazy uncle nobody talks about, but despite multiple murder attempts it’s clear that he’s as much a part of the family as Ben Grimm.  Just not, you know….welcome.

Going into this issue Galactus is dead and Doom has lost his intellect.  Are these hanging plot threads from Mark Millar’s run?

And speaking of Millar, I continue to be pleasantly surprised with Nemesis.  The book has plenty of action, enough twists to keep me engaged, and the characters are in precarious enough positions that it doesn’t feel like one issue is going to be enough to wrap everything up.  Knowing Millar, it will be just enough.

That’s it for me.  What are YOU looking at?

LIST: PLEASE and THANK YOU edition.

Captain Marvel, when the word SHAZAM! is shouted, derives his powers from six gods and legendary figures from olden times. Another well known example (…to Jesse and I and anyone who is a Michael Kupperman fan) is SCREWPA. This is a series of porn titles with magic powers. But there are other words floating out there that when shouted create heroes, heroines and villains of remarkable ability. Here are some of the lesser used regular and acronymic magic words that cause transformations in comics.

KHaN (Kirk, Hefner, and Nugent) when screamed by 12 year old Stanley Lieber, he becomes hairy chested lothario and exemplar of manliness: Stan Lee.

NERD harnesses the powers of Newton, Einstein, Robiquet, and Da Vinci, and allows to Gary Gygax to roll two saving throws against Magic Missile.

RICHARDS!!!, when screamed by mild-mannered gypsy Victor Von Doom, allows him to  capture the power of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, get ridiculously drunk, high as a kite, and make time with ladies who would otherwise never give him a second look due to his grim visage .

KERFUFFLE – allows the user to access the poetic word power and combine vocabulary of Kipling, Emerson, Rossetti, Frost, Updike, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Lear, and Elliot. Like the magic of the Wizard Shazam, this power may be accessed by multiple users at once. Most often it is used by desperate English majors and comics blog writers.

HOOCH – on Earth 90, Tony Stark calls on the strength and stamina of Hemmingway, the puking power of Ouzo, lowered inhibitions of Old Milwaukee, and the drunk goggles of Cognac and Hot Damn to become The Fighting Drunk.

Exclaiming the word HAG gives Fred J. Dukes the ability to harness the comedy stylings of Hardy, Arbuckle, and Gleason to become the world’s funniest (and fattest) mutant.

One night young Willy Watson followed a mysterious stranger into an abandoned aeroport. Magically transported to the Stone of Forever, an old witch instructs Willy to become a champion by shouting her name: JAGATH! Willy was then imbued with the energy of Jupiter, the staying power of Atum, the bravery of Gilgamesh the common sense of King Arthur, the muscles of Thor, and the quickness of Hermes.

SPANDEX allows any would-be hero or villain to look good in tights. Results are comparable to sucking in one’s gut. Does not apply to Otto Octavius. N. B. This particular magic word was first invoked by Adam West on the set of the Batman television series.

HOLY – If young sidekick Robin exclaims this and punches his fist, he gains the ability to intuit moderately difficult deductions.

Game Tape

It looks like my comic book guy’s troubles with UPS and Diamond are finally straightened out. Everything that should have been out this week was on the shelves and in pull boxes…as were books from two and three weeks ago finally. I feel pretty good about saying that the Game Tape season is back in full and proper swing. This week is going to be more of a catch-all for the last several weeks; I’m too lazy to look and see when things shipped, and if it’s really good you should know about it and make it part of your collection.

Standard caveats apply: Jeff Parker is to comics as Five Guys is to fast food, and no one understands all things Muppet related better than Roger Langridge. That said, let’s look at the game tape, shall we?

I’m still on the fence about this volume of The Avengers. #5 is less jumpy than past issues and there’s only a smattering of Bendis’ trademark snippy and snappy dialogue. It finally felt like something was happening, and it seems we’re on the down hill side of the arc. It’s still a time travel story and now they’ve thrown in Ultron which goes a long way for me. Disappointingly though, they stole Rip Hunter and the Distinguished Competition’s wall-of-scribbled-hints-of-the-future-schtick. I’ll see it through to the end of this arc, but I can’t see sticking around for Bendis’ slow and long-form storytelling.

On the other hand, Brubaker’s long-form stories feel like we’re accomplishing something in each issue or two. Secret Avengers #5 is crafted so well that I found myself enjoying what is nothing more than a Life Model Decoy story. It’s not the best issue of the run so far, but kudos to Brubaker for taking a story that’s been told so many times before into something breezy and enjoyable. Also of note (more so since I don’t often notice it) is the layout of the book. Smaller panels and varied page-layouts help this story flow and feel tense in a Jason Bourne sense. David Aja and co. are doing a fantastic job with the art chores on this book.

What’s a Decepticon with no leader and no clear enemy to do? How about fight for a faction of humans willing to pay in Energon? The Combaticons (minus Swindle) have joined with North Korea and it’s up to the US’s own Autobots to keep ’em in check. It’s an interesting idea: tying these giant robots to our own nationalistic tendencies. There are some outstanding character moments (Brawn and Bluestreak/ Silverstreak) great character moments here (Thundercracker and Bumblebee), and a chilling and off kilter character moment (Ratchet). I chuckled appreciatively at the last page too. Not much action, but it’s quality over quantity.

The Muppet retellings have been hit or miss with me. Muppet Robin Hood was pretty rough, but the lovely Grace Randolph’s Muppet Peter Pan was spot on. In this fifth shot at a retelling looks to fall in the win column. Patrick Storck’s Muppet Sherlock Holmes presents us with a quirky and strong Muppet version of “The Speckled Band.” The easy choice would have been to pair Gonzo and Rizzo or Kermit and Fozzie in the roles of the Baker Street duo. The inspired choice was to pair a Sherlockian Gonzo with Fozzie’s Dr. Watson. Their brand of Marxist (the brothers, not Karl) chaos makes for a rare gem. Amy Mebberson is on art chores here. Previously I spoke against her Fozzie. The problems are gone; the balance is back in the face. The inclusion of art by Amy Mebberson, her keen eye for detail and little sight gags, and a nice Veterinarian’s Hospital page turn the gem into a diadem. This one’s worth picking up in singles or trade.

There were also three GI Joe books waiting for me. Two were good, the other sort of adequate. GI Joe: Cobra II continues to delve into the darker, but more practical corners the secret organization. This month it looks at the training of Range Vipers. It’s good and sinister, and it draws heavily from the toy’s file card. GI Joe (on-going) is quickly building to a head on collision between the Joes and Cobra. The Commander is on the board now in a serious way and it’s only taken 25 issues. GI Joe: Origins #19 was an homage to Hama’s other silent issue. It’s for those that care about how Snake Eyes and Timber first crossed paths. I am not one of those people who care.