Game Tape

I didn’t post reviews last week because there wasn’t much to say that hadn’t been said before. I will say that FF #1 was a great solid start/ transition. Hickman continues to be a master at crafting stories that are interesting with enough material to feel full for an issue and enough mystery to pick up the next. So…. how was this week?

The winner of Wednesday is hands down Nick Spencer’s Jimmy Olsen #1. The amazing thing about this one shot is that half of it reprints Spencer’s back-up feature from Action Comics. The framing device was always a sort of week-in-the-life-of-Jimmy-Olsen, but we didn’t get the entire week until now. These adventures are distilled mad-cap. Spencer took the best parts of Silver Age Jimmy and gave it some modern character and zip. From 5th Dimensional madness to the Mobile Newsroom to plot to take over the internet the stories fly. If you missed these stories the first time around, the $5.99 cover price is worth it even the second time around.

No other books this week fared as well.

Cornell’s Action Comics #899 started out really well. His version of a battle of wits between Luthor and Brainic is not to be missed. Unfortunately, this takes up only half of the issue. The other half can best be explained in the phrase, “Come again?” or in the parlance of our times, “WTF?” There’s a Phantom Zone space god and a battle on the astral plane… uh….yeah.

Age of X: Universe is bizarre. It’s got that same feel uncomfortable squirmy feeling that Warren Ellis’ Ruins did. Everything and everyone you know is off kilter in a bad way. The only mostly recognizable person is Sue Storm as she chafes against some of the more extreme measures taken. Tony’s fate in this universe is fascinating and it’s hard to find Bruce tragic (which seems to be what they’re going for) given the Nazi/ Racial overtones of his work in this universe. No clues still as to how this world got so far off track. If you’re looking for something to drop a few bucks on this week, this book isn’t it.

When you’re talking infinity gems, one name probably pops in you head. It probably also isn’t Parker Robbins. In his talkiest issue yet, Bendis has Uatu the Watcher narrate/explain/ blather through the most recent issue of Avengers. I’d be okay with this type of narration if JRJR’s art didn’t SHOW US everything Uatu is explaining. Worst of all, Bendis through Uatu sings a tiresome refrain about how over his head Robbins a.k.a. the Hood is at this moment. He also ham-fistedly reminds us that others more accustom to the gems’ power are probably (read certainly) searching for the gems too. Which boringly telegraphs the last page. I’m officially dropping this book after the arc ends.

I also picked up the Godzilla book, but I imagine Jesse will have more to say about it than I ever could.

Disguise Trunk

In his quest to get a scoop and prove that he’s more than a cub reporter, Jimmy Olsen sometimes goes undercover. Often he delves into his disguise trunk to accomplish this. How well we all recall the time Jimmy dressed as a rock and roll singer to start his own band. Or the time Jimmy disguised himself as a gangster’s gun moll. How about the time Jimmy created a dance sensation while disguised as his own bizarro counterpart. This week we look as some of the other disguises that he has used.

Monocle, top hat, morning suit, and spats – used to gain access into a secretive billionaire caviar smuggling ring under the name Phineas Filthylucre.

Giant Kiwi costume – for investigating a rash of kidnappings involving the ambassador from New Zealand.

Jimmy Moneybags – Jimmy dressed up as a burlap sack with a dollar bill on it in order to infiltrate a gang of bank robbers.

Hawkman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen – Jimmy participates in the Cub Reporter Exchange Program on Thanagar.

After accidentally drinking an elixir from the 30th century, Jimmy spent 3 months as roller-derby queen Jimmi Leggs on the Metropolis Mamas.

Foam Rubber Jimmy – Jimmy goes to Tokyo to report on the rubber monster movies.  He gets the chance of a lifetime to dress up in a costume and wreck a model of Japan, but gets blown up to 30 stories tall!

Jimmy James – Jimmy’s disguises himself as eccentric billionaire owner of WNYX to monitor Andy Dick for the US Government

J. Bartholomew Olsen – name assumed when Jimmy traveled back to the 1870’s. Became first editor of Daily Star and made sweet love to his elderly great-great grandmother.

Jimmy the Greek – Jimmy travels to ancient times in order to photograph Hercules’ feats of strength.  This was the first time
Hercules would partner up with a sidekick, but not the last.

Homer J. Olsen – A freak accident with a Cartoon Ray puts Jimmy smack-dab in the middle of his favorite animated family.

Sporting a captain’s hat, fake beard, pipe, and pea coat, Jimmy explored life and love on the Mighty Mississippi as captain of the paddle-wheeler, Sweet Nothing.

Game Tape

October finally ends so we have a fourth week of books. This is the week I look forward to the most each month. Fantastic Four, Secret Avengers, Action Comics, and a slew of other good books came out.

First, a trip in the Wayback machine to last week. Batman and Robin #15 was great. Here’s the start of the endgame. We learn some important things that start to put the pieces together, and see why Bruce is the master of the long con…wait…Bruce? DAAAAYUMN! There’s no one writing the Joker better this century than we see in the hands of Morrison. This Joker continues to be brilliant, boisterous, and a blackguard. The gallows humor is in full swing with everything he says and insinuates. I’m going to sorely miss the high quality of this title when Tomasi and co. take over. Not to knock Tomasi, because Green Lantern Corps was well written and interesting, it’s just that Morrison is an impossible act to follow.


Speaking of high quality and hard acts to follow: Fantastic Four #584 continued the tradition of excellence that Hickman is bringing. At its heart this issue is a buddy story. Ben and Johnny have a day on the town and a night to remember. Meanwhile, Reed investigates and hints at trouble ahead. Sue is off to do her diplomatic due while the young geniuses of America have a breakfast of champions. One of Hickman’s greatest strengths is that he takes conventional story beats and reimagines them into new and interesting ways. Who would have guess the current status of the Yancy Street Gang? Bravo, sir. Oh…and then there’s a confused and pissed off Galactus. That’s not going to be good for business.

G.I. JOE: COBRA ended the arc that gave us the new continuity’s take on Serpentor and Cobra-la: cult and cash-cow for the international terrorist organization. In spite of an ending that was a little telegraphed, this was a creepy and enjoyable arc. Costa and Gage also to a z-list JOE, Scoop, and… well he wasn’t improved, but he was given a unique and sympathetic voice. Of the JOE books, this is consistently good with short arcs and character driven stories. Mind you there’s usually less shooting, but it’s a fair trade for the quality we’re getting. I’ll take good cloak and dagger over gratuitous gun play any day.

Ummmm… I don’t know how I feel about Action Comics # 894. On the one hand, Cornell clearly understands Lex Luthor as a character. On the other hand, it was a meh philosophical debate about the afterlife and Luthor’s actions in the here and now. Dunno why Vertigo’s Death had to be his guide on this trip. Didn’t seem to fill much purpose. The Jimmy Olsen back up story was enjoyable. It’s doesn’t have a much of the small story attached to a greater whole feel that the first one did, but that’s a small complaint when it’s fun and quick to read.

Avengers #6 ended the first arc, and I still contend that it was at least two issues two long. The interaction with Ultron was interesting, but Kang/ Immortus’ rant at the end was a repeat of almost every speech/ threat given by Per Degaton and monomaniacal time travelers everywhere. I am officially done with this title.

Secret Avengers on the other hand continues to be a keeper. The mystery is still engaging and everyone has a unique voice and purpose on the team.

Whatever you end up buying, happy reading.

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.”


It takes me exactly 37 minutes each day to pencil on the twelve freckles, but the hair is natural.


A couple of years ago, Rick Jones, Snapper Carr, and I spent a wild weekend in Reno.


My pal Superman bought a 1.5 million dollar life insurance policy from Lloyds of London in my name for my birthday.


The worst part about being Superman's pal is that he asks me to help him move frequently.


Those remarks about Canadian mail-order brides were taken completely out of context in that "This American Life" interview.