This Week’s Mysterious Comics

It’s a week of trials this time around.  Or at least trial and error.

  • BATMAN AND ROBIN #13 – B&R has been consistently great, but with the current Return of Bruce Wayne tie-in happening right now, it’s by far the best Batman book I’ve read in some time.  I’m putting this right up there with Morrison’s All-Star Superman.  Except with, you know…Batman.
  • BRIGADE #1 – I honestly can’t believe we’re getting another 90’s Liefeld throwback.  I always thought Brigade was one of the worst of The Rob’s paramilitary superhero comics, but I may still be tempted to pick this up if Liefeld’s doing the art with the painted-style coloring that showed up as a preview in Image United.
  • HIT-MONKEY #1 (OF 3) – I like the concept, but the cynic in me thinks this is just a cash-grab using Julie Schwartz’s theory that comics always sold better with a gorilla on the cover.  Still, for 3 bucks I may bite and give it a try.
  • MARVELMAN FAMILYS FINEST #1 (OF 6) – I’m a huge Miracleman fan, and I’m pretty excited that Marvel may finally reprint (or dare I hope?) finish Neil Gaiman’s run.  Still, I’ve never had the opportunity to read any of the original Marvelman material, and I’m looking forward to the chance.  If nothing else, it should be fairly insane.
  • SHADOWLAND #1 (OF 5) and THANOS IMPERATIVE #1 (OF 6) and X-MEN #1 – Regardless of what publishers may think, there is such a thing as “event fatigue,” and I have it.  I just lack the interest or motivation to keep up with whatever terrible line-wide crossover is supposed to the the big, new, status-quo shattering event.  Of course, Marvel kicks off three new events this week (granted, Thanos Imperative is a reprint).  Sorry, Marvel. No.  You JUST got the 616 universe back into a recognizable shape.  Let’s keep it that way for a while, shall we?

Last month Matt swore he was done with Green Lantern, but I’m hoping he makes an exception for last week’s issue.  Featuring Lobo — the 90’s most inexplicable fad — hunting down Atrocitus, this issue was
all action, something we don’t really see enough of in Geoff Johns’ comics.  While I’d hate to see him regain his Deadpool-like status he had 15 years ago, I really enjoyed this issue and felt like Lobo was making the meta-commentary I have been for the past year.  The conclusion wasn’t especially original, but I liked it, and it set the groundwork for a story that could prove to be really interesting if he decides to follow it.  We also finally got the origin story of Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern cat, and it read a little too much like “Dream of a Thousand Cats” but I liked it.  This was a solid, fun chunk of storytelling, and I wish more of Blackest Night And Its Infinite Crossovers had been this well done.

That’s it for me.  What are YOU looking at?  And don’t forget, new comics come out on Thursday this week.

Dispatches from Heroes Con, 2010, pt. The Second

In which our intrepid protagonist attended two panels and bought enough stuff to make both Achilles and Agamemnon sulk in their tents.

What I neglected to mention yesterday was a rather significant fact. I apologize for getting your hopes up in yesterday’s post if the following bit of information depresses you.

Neither Marvel nor DC have a noticeable presence at the convention. Let me repeat: there is no Marvel booth, nor is there a DC booth. For me this is a mixed bit of news. On the one hand, the big two don’t see this convention as big EVENT…which is nice… As their booths are behemoths that take away from the shops while offering minimal exposure to talent in return. On the other hand, the big two publishing companies do not see this convention as a BIG event. The difference is subtle, but it boils down to the panels and the coverage.

Starting this month fanboys and fangirls around the world will be checking in religiously to the larger comics news sites (my personal favorites are comicbookresources and newsarama). Eagerly they’ll refresh the pages frequently to see what new announcements have been made. Generally at cons like Wizard World and San Diego, you don’t have to attend the BIG panels because the transcript is uploaded within an hour or two of the event.

Check anytime this weekend or next and you will see little or nothing coming out of Charlotte. It was with this in mind that I attended the DC Nation panel today. The presiding Ian Sattler did not seem at ease despite trying to convince us that he was. While he was joined by Franco of Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! and Bill Tucci lately of several Sgt. Rock pieces, the atmosphere was subdued and fairly reluctant. The powers that be at DC did not see fit to allow for any thing to “leak” at this weekend’s convention so it was an inordinate amount of, “wait and see.” It turned into more of a rehash of information fans could find on the DC website and a bit of thanks for buying our stuff/ what characters do you like? I can get that talking to the guys at the comic shop that I visit on a weekly basis complete with snarky “repartee.”

DC’s not alone in this. Marvel had it’s Mondo panel today also with a significantly greater number of creators in attendance, but it was more of the same. The ladies and gentlemen on the dais are muzzled by editorial heavies to keep mum. Yes, it’s always a joy to hear Jeff Parker talk about anything. Yes, Jonathan Hickman, currently on Fantastic Four, is a delightful fellow. It’s just that the word MONDO implies something more than pleasant conversation and sound bites for interviews.

What neither company sees is that there is a subtle message being sent. The implication of waiting to leak stories (until August in Chicago or late July in San Diego) is that there simply isn’t enough exciting new news to spread around. Spread it around guys. While no PRESS is bad press, NO press is BAD press.

If that put a damper on your interest in this convention, let me tell you something that should raise it again. You get some really nice almost boutique panels that are a ton of fun. Yesterday there was an in depth interview/ Q&A session with Brian Bolland. Did you know he hasn’t done any hand drawing (outside of sketches for conventions) since 1997? ‘Strue! Mr. Bolland does everything in Photoshop.

Today, there was a similar session with Mike Mignola. There was also a panel with Evan Dorkin, Jeff Parker, Colleen Coover, and Chris Pitzer. The title was Defective Comics: A Celebration of Superhero Oddness. With Dorkin, it quickly took a turn down other paths. It ranged from the lameness of Archie Andrews as a character to a condemnation of the Big Two for not making all-ages books while ramping up the violence and sex in their flagship titles to a truly awesome summary of the events of The Rise and Fall of Arsenal. After hearing Dorkin and Parker compare reading it to the pain of watching an Ed Wood movie, I cannot wait to find this “gem” in a fifty-cent bin in the not too distant future. In this same panel, a clip from a movie called “Ratfink a[nd] Boo-boo” was shown. Words fail me except to say that if Ed Wood had made a superhero movie it would have been this one.

So what did we come away with today? The (lack) of presence by the Big Two does not break a convention. A more varied and intimate panel experience can be had.

If you care, you’ll find a list of things I picked up today.

1. I found the remainder of the Simonson books I was looking for.

2. Took a flying leap on Fallen Angels a 1980’s New Mutants mini.

3. Three silver age Superman gems, two of which involve battling a pauchy Lex Luthor.

4. Pak and Van Lente’s entire Incredible Hercules run… as per Jesse’s strong recommendation.

5. Two posters by a fellow named David Malki ! He does interesting collage work with a victorian/ Steam Punkish bend to it. Check him out. He’s good.

6. Nice display cases for my 3.75 inch scale action figures.

That’s a wrap on today’s events. How are things going in the real world?

Sentry…SECRETS!

Stan Lee said he found me in the back of a filing cabinet. That's not true, I sprang fully formed from Alan Moore's Marvelman.

The Void and I take an annual trip to Atlantic City with our wives. Engelbert Humperdinck puts on a hell of a show.

I went into prop comedy for about 18 months. I did okay, but I sold my best gags to Carrot Top and Gallagher.

I'm entired composed of wormy tentacles. Oh, wait...That's not a secret any more.

Last Week’s Comics

Wow.  Last week was a pretty terrible week for comics.

Let’s get the good out of the way: Chronicles of Wormwood: The Last Battle continues to be excellent.  And to be honest, I didn’t expect such a compelling and complex discussion of relationships to come from the mouth of the Antichrist.

In Batman #693 Tony Daniel successfully proves that he should stick to penciling.  His normally solid, Jim Lee-lite style is completely lost now, and his idea — that the Falcone family is moving back in on Gotham — is really strong but poorly executed, proving (surprisingly) that Jeph Loeb seems to be the only one who can pull that off.

I’ve read a bunch of relatively poor comics lately (I’m looking at you, Blackest Night Superman and Batman), but Amazing Spider-Man #611 takes the cake.  This is one I was actually looking forward to, so maybe part of the problem is just me expecting too much, but  I think it was the burden of putting the two funniest characters in the Marvel Universe together, the whole thing collapses on itself.

Everyone involved seems to be trying way too hard, and it shows.  The first victim of this comes quickly: the recap page, a fumetti-style romp through the editorial department.  WOO!  That’s just one page, though.  Let’s work through this.

Eric Canete’s  art did nothing for me.  The 2D style seems like it’s meant to emulate Skottie Young (who drew the cover), but the sketchiness looked half-finished and over-emaciated.  I don’t know if there was an inker or if they went directly off the pencils, but it could have benefited from some inking or cleanup. Complicating the matter, the colorist tried adding layering and depth through the colors, which confused the art and didn’t match the style at all.  If it were Carlo Pagulayan or someone who adds a lot of detail and
definition it would have worked much better than with artist with a more flat style, which tends to benefit from flatter, more straightforward colors (think Bruce Timm).

The real train wreck here, though, is the writing.  Joe Kelly has been successfully writing Spider-Man for a while now, and (despite sales) had the only critically acclaimed run Deadpool has seen, but none of that seems to come through here.  The jokes feel forced, especially when they stop the action to play the  dozens in a playground.  Adding insult to injury, Kelly and Marvel decided that Deadpool MUST use
offensive language and then put [censored] bars over the naughty words (not that I’m offended, but if it was innocent it wouldn’t have been blocked).  However, they used the same faulty method DC did with
All-Star Batman and Robin, so we’re able to read about how Spider-Man’s dead mother gave Caligula a reach around.  Not offensive, but not funny.  (At least, not to an outside reader.  I certainly understand that “Your Mama” jokes are funny when you’re playing, but that doesn’t come across here.  I told Kelly his dead mother gave me a reach around and it was hilarious.)

I was really looking forward to The Gauntlet, which appears to start next issue, but ASM has used up all of the goodwill they generated with me from the excellent 600th issue.  The truth of the matter is — and this has been the case since Brand New Day started and they went to three times a month — some of the story  arcs/creative teams are great, and some are dogs.  We used to be able to separate them out by title, but since Marvel reduced the line to one Spider-Man title, it’s getting a little harder to ferret out the good stuff.

This Week’s Comics — And A Couple Reviews

It’s a good great week to be a Batman fan, and a bad terrible week to be an X-fan. (Sorry, Matt.)

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #611 – Yeah, I’m just curious to see what happens when Spider-Man meets Deadpool. If it’s happened before, I don’t remember it, so I’m excited.

BATMAN #693 – The last issue was a competent showing by Tony Daniel, though it looks like his art is becoming a little less consistent due to the addition of writing.

BATMAN AND ROBIN #6 – Still Grant Morrison, still on the pull list.

BATMAN DOC SAVAGE SPECIAL #1 – I’m no Doc Savage expert, but I’m interested in this one as long as the page count justifies the higher price tag. It looks to exist outside of the DCU, which is probably best, and the art by Phil Noto is a big, big draw.

Jimmy the Rabbit is the best Ennis character since...ever.CHRONICLES OF WORMWOOD LAST BATTLE #2 (OF 6) – I LOVED the first mini, hated the special that followed, and went back to love again with the first issue of Last Battle. This is Garth Ennis at his funniest and most offensive (without the horror aspects that turned me off of Crossed). Definitely not for the squeamish or easily offended, but that’s fine by me.

PUNISHER MAX #1 – I really, REALLY want to read Jason Aaron’s Punisher, but the $4 price tag isn’t going to let me. If his Ghost Rider run is any inclination, he’s perfect for this book. Maybe the collections will be more price-conscious.

X-BABIES #2 (OF 4) – Grrr…

Last Week’s Books

Haunt #2 was solid, and even though I was joking about Todd ripping off Spider-Man BEFORE I read it, I’m serious about it now. It’s one thing to reuse wacky poses and eye-holes, it’s another to incorporate webbing and sticking to walls. It’s the difference between your art style and your concept. Still, those looking for more McFarlane influence will be happy here, as his inks seem to be taking over Ryan Ottley’s pencils this time. Robert Kirkman’s writing will keep me coming back, at least for the first story arc.

Mommy, what happened to the nice Spider-Man?

Strange Tales wrapped up with #3, and it proved itself a classic. Cupcake by Chris Chua didn’t make any sense to me, but Michael Kupperman shows up again, and there was a terrific Beast/Morbius story by Jay Stephens and the end of  Peter Bagge’s The Incorrigible Hulk.

So…What are YOU getting this week?

This Week’s Comics — And a Cry for Pity — And a Correction

  • BATMAN THE UNSEEN #3 (OF 5) – Good news, Larry Hama!  Kelley Jones and Doug Moench are still out there proving that no matter how awful a team’s Batman run was, someone out there still thinks it was great and is willing to pay for more.  You should have your mini by 2013.
  • BATMAN WIDENING GYRE #3 (OF 6) – Does anyone out there know if this is any good?  I do like Smith’s writing and the scripts are all in so it should come out on time, but his last mini (Cacophony?) was pretty much universally panned so I passed it up.
  • HAUNT #2 – I actually dug the first issue and am interested in seeing where this goes, at least for the first story arc.  A note, though, Todd: you only get to redraw Spider-Man so many times.
  • GHOST RIDERS HEAVENS ON FIRE #4 (OF 6) – I can’t wait for this to wrap up so I can sit down and read the ending of the most Awesome Ghost Rider run ever (okay, that may be setting the bar a little low).  But Marvel?  $30 for the Danny Ketch TPB?  WTF???
  • X-MEN VS AGENTS OF ATLAS #2 (OF 2) – I did wind up getting issue #1, and it was EXCELLENT (not that I’ve read any bad issue of AoA yet). And Carlo Pagulayan’s art is extraordinary.  I hope this drums up more interest in the Agents’ regular series.


I owe DC an apology for my comments on last week’s issue of Batman. Judd Winick’s run on Batman is apparently over and he’s been replaced by Tony Daniel.  I really enjoyed his art with Grant Morrison, but I
wonder if part of the reason I found Batman RIP so hard to read was because the art wasn’t telling the story correctly.  I guess we’ll find out!

I had hoped to put up resplendent pictures of me in my M.O.D.O.K. costume from Halloween, but the geniuses at A.I.M. weren’t working with me and the costume never finished coming together.  Maybe next
year.  All I know is that it would have probably just been easier to grow my head until my body could no longer support it, then invent a hoverchair.

So, that’s it for me.  What are YOU getting this week?

Some Short Reviews — And This Week’s Books

I’m going to get some reviews of recent releases out of the way before I take a look at this week’s books.

  • Haunt #1 – Here’s how I think it went down:

INT – Todd McFarlane and Robert Kirkman are trying to come up with ideas for a new book together

Todd – I’d love to do Deadman, but he’s owned by another company.

Robert – I’d love to do Firestorm, but he’s owned by another company.

Todd – Wait a minute…

Both – TWO GREAT TASTES THAT TASTE GREAT TOGETHER!

Okay, that’s probably not how it happened, but that’s what it feels like.  Here’s the thing, though: it works.  We’ve got a cynical priest, a dead brother, and some killers.  That’s a good setup!  Anyone looking for McFarlane’s influences will probably be disappointed, though. He’s credited as co-plotter and inker, but not much stands out in the artwork  to scream McFarlane.  That’s probably for the best, since Ryan Ottley’s art is solid, and I don’t think the story would benefit from Todd’s grotesque (that’s an adjective, not a judgment) style.

  • Blackest Night: Batman – I think we just got a digression here, but it was an interesting one.  And the pain Tim and Dick felt came through.  Of course, unless the Gordons are complete idiots — and I don’t think they are — between Damian name-checking Tim Drake and Alfred helping them out undisguised, some secret identities are blown.  That’s a big let-down.
  • Batman #691 – Oh, look, it’s Black Mask!  Who could have seen that one coming?

I also picked up Deadpool #900 (not just because The Rob draws a close-up of a hand, though he does) and the new Chronicles of Wormwood, but haven’t read them yet.  Alright.  Finally!  Now for this week’s comics…

  • ARSENIC LULLABY PULP EDITION OMEGA – Ever since this has been relaunched as a magazine I haven’t known what’s going on with it, but if I don’t have it already, I’m in.  Yes, I’m sick.  I know this.
  • BLACKEST NIGHT SUPERMAN #3 (OF 3) – No.  No, thank you.
  • EX MACHINA #46 – Three issues left!  On the plus side, I think we’re really going to find out what’s been going on.  I just wish I wasn’t so excited that it’s about to be over.
  • FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE GN – I bought this the first time around, but I can’t recommend it enough.  This is messed-up Steampunk at it’s most insane.
  • LOCKJAW AND THE PET AVENGERS HC $24.99 – Really, Marvel?  You put out 4 issues of a mini-series featuring sidekick pets and then  put it in a hardcover and charge $25 for it?  Are you sure you know who your audience is?  Think Big Little Books.
  • PUPPY POWER BO OBAMA – Just to prove that I’m not only hating on The Big Two, I’d just like to say “Stop, Bluewater.”  Still, I would LOVE to know the sales figures on this.
  • STUFF OF LEGEND #2 (OF 2) – ARGH!  I still haven’t read the first issue yet, but I’m definitely picking up issue two based on the strength of the FCBD book.  See, comic publishers?  Proof that Free Comic Book Day works!
  • UNDERGROUND #2 (OF 5) – This one is going to have to pass the flip test if I’m going to keep going with the series.  I’m not entirely sure why I’m reading it.

That’s it for me.  What are you getting?