Saturday, April 28, 2007

Catwoman, Pervert

The Dynamic Duo trail Catwoman to her secret island hideout, but she attacks in her fearsome catplane, with real cat-claw action, forcing Batman and Robin to make an emergency crash landing. Our heroes are at the mercy of the Feline Fatale and her bloodthirsty henchmen, who suggest unmasking the heroes and shooting them dead immediately.

But Catwoman has a "better" idea...

I found this story in a late-'80s editon of The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told. I think it's pretty clear why.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nobody Likes Captain Marvel

Seriously. Women are literally lining up to kiss Superman, and poor Captain Marvel is just standing there in the middle of all these joyous reunions between heroes and their loved ones, his arms folded, trying to look aloof, but you know he's hurting on the inside.

My second favorite part of this panel?
Jean Loring snuggling her tiny little lover Ray Palmer to her face. They sure make a cute couple. I wonder whatever happened to those crazy kids?

April 26th Meanwhile in Las Vegas...

This week's LVW column features Avril Lavigne's Make 5 Wishes and The Professor's Daughter.

You probably don't need anyone to tell you that the latest Sfar book from First Second is totally awesome, but well, it's totally awesome.

The Avril amerimanga, on the other hand, is something I suspect a lot of non-Avril Lavigne fans will turn their noses up at, but it's actually quite good, if you like that sort of thing (And by "that sort of thing," I mean comcis for little girls. And I love that sort of thing).

In other assorted linkage,The Beat has DC's March sales figures and analysis. It's a kick reading Marc-Oliver Frisch summing up the shipping problems with the Superman books in a few paragraphs of objective prose; the scheduling is getting so sublimely ridiculous that now even the fill-ins have fill-ins.

Based on the numbers, it looks like Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis is pretty much sunk at this point—Tad Williams' first issue sold only 18, 997 copies, a thousand more than Busiek's last issue, but the book's doing slightly worse than it was two years ago (the Sub Diego bullshit) and a lot worse than when the "OYL" direction started a year ago.

At this point I think it would probably be best to return Orin, cancel it and leave the property dormant until Geoff Johns makes room in his schedule to do for this second-tier Justice Leaguer what he's previously done for Flash, Green Latnern and Hawkman. Selling in the same neighborhood are Blue Beetle, All-New Atom and Manhunter. I was really surprised to see how poorly the two Classifieds are doing, considering their parent books are two of DC's most succesful titles. Both are such incredibly wasted opportunities, and I find it genuinely shocking that DC hasn't figured out how to capitalize on the parent books' success in these spin-offs—it's not exactly rocket science, you know?

Over at Newsarama, Team Best Shots is doing a series of special articles focusing on Top Shelf Productions' output this week. The first piece, which consists of me reviewing every Top Shelf book on my bookshelf (Save the Alan Moore and Alex Robinson ones) is currently up; pieces by Troy Brownfield and Michael C. Lorah should follow shortly.

Finally, this weeked The Condemned opens. Don't see it; it sucks. If you don't believe me, just read this review by's film critic. Comic fans may take note that the heavy is played by X-Men: The Last Stand's Juggernaut Vinnie Jones, who's actually the third biggest guy on the cast. It's plot also resembles the Mojo arc of Ultimate X-Men and the Deadpool arc of Ultimate Spider-Man exactly, only without all the mutants. Or quality. (I'm not saying The Condemned is ripping off those stories, mind you; it's pretty clear all three took their inspiration from Battle Royale).

I got to see an actual comic book movie today in a critics screening, and, good God, that franchise just gets better and better. More on that particular film soon.

A Justice Society of America #5 Review, in the Form of a Three-Panel Cartoon

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Weekly Haul: April 25th

52 #51 (DC Comics) I don’t think I’ve been more excited about the release of the next issue of a comic since Kyle Rayner had to get off the phone with Superman at the end of JLA # 6 because he thought the apocalypse had just arrived. Joe Bennett pencils a series of homecomings through most of the issue, as Animal Man, Starfire, Adam Strange, Lobo and the Trinity all reach the end of their respective journeys. But it’s the last four pages that really generated all the excitement, as the secret of “52” is pretty heavily suggested at, and what went wrong with Skeets is revealed.

I don’t normally do so-called “spoiler warnings” here because, well, you are aware that you’re reading a review of a comic which might conceivably reveal information about said comic book, right? But for the sake of propriety, I’ll be as vague as possible. The big, surprise reveal of what’s up with Skeets is yet another thing I’ve seen posters guessing months ago (as they similarly predicted that Sobek was the Fourth Horseman), and that some of them have been predicting an appearance by this particular character since the very first issue of the series was released, but it was so well executed that I was still delighted and excited to see him appear.

And his appearance suggest two things to me.

First, from a certain angle, 52 was pretty much a series driven by Captain Marvel’s rogues gallery, and if a series featuring just Cap’s villains could be both one of DC’s best-selling and best-written titles of the past year, why on Earth can’t DC make a Captain Marvel title work? Why are they even bothering letting Judd Winick remix the whole franchise into oblivion, when more or less straight versions of the bad guys alone, when in the hands of quality creators, is a recipe for creative and commercial success? Clearly, some mixture of these four writers could kick all kinds of ass on a Shazam! title, even one set in the shared DCU (I’ve heard a lot of people suggest Captain Marvel needs his own universe to shin in; I say, “Screw you!”).

Second, between this issue of 52 and Jeff Smith’s Shazam!: Monster Society of Evil series, DC should really reprint the original MSOE epic into an affordable trade paperback. Strike while the iron’s hot, DC trade paperback program!

The back-up origin this week is that of the Justice League. It may have taken DC an entire year to figure out and/or let us know how last year’s Infinite Crisis’s continuity rejiggering affected JLA history, but better late than never, I guess. In terms of story, it’s one of Mark Waid’s weaker origins (and Ivan Reis’ pencil art is hardly anything to get excited about here), but it does the job of at least nailing down the origin of the League, which has been in limbo for a year now: “Initially, black Canary, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter formed the group’s core. Before long, co-founders Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman assumed full membership.”

So, in other words, JLA: Year One is still more or less canonical, you just have to assume that somewhere between issues Wonder Woman showed up, helped fight some Appellaxians, and gave the whole “I’m kinda busy right now, but if you ever need me” speech that the other two points of the Trinity did. Black Canary is still a founder, and Wonder Woman’s continuity being shunted back to its pre-Crisis timeline didn’t knock Canary out of the initial League line-up (This makes a little more sense out of her current chairmanship of the League…aside from Hal, she’s the only founder on the team now).

So, according to this two-page story anyway, League continuity isn’t quite as jacked as Infinite Crisis seemed to suggest. Wonder Woman history, on the other hand, is still jacked, since the Perez-era of Wonder Woman was knocked out of continuity if she was in Man’s World eleven years ago at the formation of the League.

Amazons Attack! #1 (DC)
I have absolutely no idea what happened in this issue. Well, that’s not true, I have some idea. I know that the Amazons, wearing new costume designs by Pete Woods and commanding armies of mythological monsters, have seemingly boom-tubed into Washingon D.C. and started slaughtering innocents left and right. I know Hippolyta is alive again, allied with Circe, and leading the Amazons against America, requesting the president’s head on a spike.

I don’t, however, know why any of this is happening. I don’t know why Black Lightning is the only superhero doing anything at all about it (Good thing the Justice League just relocated to Washington D.C.; now they don’t even have to commute to invasions like this. So, um, what’s taking so long, heroes?). And I don’t know why I should buy #2. Should I have to have read the last two issues of Jodi Picoult’s run on Wonder Woman to be able to make heads or tails out of this book? (At least World War III had Marvel-style first-page plot recaps of salient info). Should DC really expect any of their reader to have to suffer through Picoult’s Wonder Woman? Woods’ art is top-notch, but Will Pfeifer doesn’t throw a single bone to readers.

Action Comics #848 (DC) Kurt Busiek’s sometimes writing partner Fabian Nicieza performs stalling-for Johns/Donner/Kubert-duty solo this month, with the first half of a two-parter in which Superman meets one of those Superman analogues that keep popping up in super-comics good and bad. This one’s named Redemption, and he’s an awful lot like Superman, right down to his family life and tastes in terrible sweaters, only his power-levels are apparently fueled by his parish’s faith in him. This can make him uncontrollably powerful, so powerful that even Superman is approaching him cautiously. It’s a pretty interesting story so far, and penciller Allan Goldman does some really nice work here (Well, except for the sweaters. Bleah). I know it’s become en vogue online to complain about the terminal delays on the Johns/Donner/Kubert story arc and the need for fill-ins, but as long as the stories are good, I don’t see how this is a bad thing (and, frankly, this story is just as good, if not better, than the chapters of “Last Son” we’ve seen so far). Yeah, DC probably shoulda set their dream-team to work on a miniseries or standalone graphic novel instead of the monthly, but no sense crying over spilled milk at this point—let’s just hope they’ve learned their lesson about unreliable creators on monthlies.

Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #2 (Marvel Comics) Jeph Loeb re-teams with his old DC artist partner Ed McGuinness for a look at how the two teams of Avengers are dealing with the “Death of Captain America.” And that’s just how Loeb has Spider-Man refer to their loss, as if it weren’t simply a friend and colleague who died, but as if they were reacting to an event comic. Check it out:

(Above: A badly cropped scan of a nice layout by Ed McGuinnes in Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #2. Lame dialogue provided by Jeph Loeb)

Ms. Marvel leads most of the Mighty team against Tiger Shark and an army of sea monsters, where she works out her anger over Cap’s death by beating the holy hell out of the bad guy, while The Thing visits the New Avengers for a poker game, and they work out their anger bickering. Aside from Spidey’s reference to Cap’s death by the subtitle of the book and some histrionics about leaving an empty chair for Captain America, this is hardly a bad Loeb comic (no tedious first-person narration, cross-narration, or cut-and-pasted text from historical speeches).

The main selling point, however, is McGuinness’ always fun art. I love his cute little superhero faces, with their big eyes and square jaws. I love his squat bodies full of round curves and helium filled muscles. And I really love his sea monsters, including a nice Godzilla swipe (he was part of the Marvel Universe for a while, after all) and even the exact same whale monster he had fighting Superman back during his time penciling for the Distinguished Competition. Also, kudos for the Power Man costuming—no sunglasses or winter cap, just a nice, form-fitting black t-shirt and the old bracelets, making for a decent compromise between plain clothes and a traditional superhero costume.

Fantastic Four #545 (Marvel) It’s good old-fashioned cosmic adventure as the new FF tackle Galactus’ heralds while the big purple guy makes his way to feast upon Epoch, whom the FF suspect of having absconded with the body of Greg Willis, Gravity. Writer Dwayne McDuffie does good superhero fight chatter, and I like the way he makes the super-competent Black Panther seem less arrogant than Reginald Hudlin’s version and more aloof (And his last act of the issue sure was a surprise). I have no clue what’s going on with Gravity exactly, although I know I should read Beyond! to find out (and I will, just waiting on that more affordable trade paperback), but it’s an exiting kind of cluessness here (as contrasted to the the “The fuck--?!” brand of cluessness I experienced while reading Amazons Attack!). The cover is, unfortunately, once again the work of Michael Turner and it, once again, isn’t very good. Ignoring Silver Surfer’s ten-pack as, um, artistic license, can I at least ask why Ego, The Living Planet, who doesn’t appear in this issue at all, made the cover, instead of Gravity, Epoch, Black Panther or Storm, all of whom did?

Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #35 (DC) Well, this volume of Firestorm lasted about as long as Martian Manhunter’s solo title, so I guess that’s something of an achievement, huh? I’ve only read—let’s see—three issues of the series before this one, so I’m not going to bother commenting on whether the cancellation was deserved or not (although I think it was a foregone conclusion, given the replacement of the title character by a new one; same goes for Blue Beetle, Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis and All-New Atom). This issue, by Dwayne McDuffie and Pop Mhan, ends with a rather significant cliffhanger involving Darkseid, which, given all the Fourth Worldliness apparently going down in the upcoming Countdown, seems to indicate we’ll be seeing a lot more of Firestorm soon, and probably in that title. This issue lacked any truly giddy scenes like that of the Orion/Stompa fight or the Orion/Kalibak trash-talking of the previous issue, and other than Gehenna’s trick with dynamite, I didn’t really see anything terribly interesting in this issue.

Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood #6 (DC) Connor Hawke takes his first life at the climax of his six-part miniseries, which amounts to a bonus arc to Chuck Dixon’s run on Green Arrow. My hero. Maybe Dixon was trying to make some sly commentary about the amount of gore and violence in today’s DC Universe stories during the scene in which our hero and our villain duke it out knee-deep in a pool of blood (and the bad guy even literally tries drowning Connor in blood at one point), but somehow I doubt it. I guess we can just add Connor to the list of DC and Marvel heroes who really aren’t all that heroic anymore. I hope to see more of artist Derec Donovan in the DCU again soon. Chuck Dixon I could do without at this point, although I’d definitely read a Dixon-written Nightwing again, given how awful ‘wing’s been over the last year.

Heroes For Hire #9 (Marvel) This was my first issue of the relatively new (and probably not long for this world) series. I’ve never really read any stories focusing on any of the characters on this team, except Black Cat, nor did I have any strong attraction to the previous creative team, which explains why I haven’t read it up until this month. As to why I decided to start now, well, that is Devil Dinosaur’s crotch on the cover, isn’t it? The team—Misty Knight, Shang-Chi, Humbug, Paladin, Tarantula, Black Cat and some lady in white with a sword—get hired by SHIELD to capture Moon Boy, the little monkey man who rides around on Devil Dinosaur’s back. New writer Zeb Wells and new artists Clay Mann and Terry Pallot don’t actually get to D.D. this issue, but they do get to all sorts of prehistoric Savage Land monsters giving the team all sorts of inventive grief, so that’s cool. The two-page sequence involving giant killer butterflies was pretty much worth my $2.99. I’ll be back next month.

Justice #11 (DC) On the level of superheroes-per-square-inch-per panel, this is probably your best choice of books for the week. You’ve got the whole expanded Justice League line-up, the Doom Patrol, the Teen Titans, the Metal Men, pre-haircut John Stewart (rocking a little fro), hotpants-and-V-neck Supergirl, Mary Marvel, Batgirl and Captain Marvel Jr. vs. the entire Legion of Doom, with cameos by every supporting cast member from everyone of their books. Jesus. The story continues the epic battle between the two forces, which had so many twists and turns I’ve long past forgotten it (guess it’ll make more sense in trade, without months between issues). Most of this issue involves Hal Jordan and Sinestro beating on one another without their rings. Good old-fashioned DC superheroics, with no gore, ogling of underagers in panties (unless you count Robin, I guess) or heroes with questionable ethics. I’m going to be sorry to see this thing end, mostly because Ross and his collaborators (who I tend to mention less ‘cause their names are harder to spell) really seem to get all of these characters, even the ones few other creators do, like J’onn, Aquaman, Captain Marvel, Plastic Man and the Metal Men.

Justice Society of America #5 (DC) DC’s worst super-team title infects DC’s best super-team title as part of an epic crossover story especially created for fans of Pre-Crisis (on Infnite Earths) DC! Alex Ross provides the cover and it’s a totally badass image of Sand Hawkins’ new, totally badass look (How unfair is it that the JSA get Ross, while the “World’s Greatest Superheroes” get Michael Turner; not only does Ross know anatomy, lighting and drapery, but his Character Just Kinda Standing There images are all unique and active, whereas Turner’s are just kinda filling space).

The first half of the book features Batman, Geo-Force, Starman and Sand/Sandman/Sandy Hawkins (not sure what to call him, he doesn’t get a logo floating by him like all the other characters do during their first appearance) all go into Arkham to save Dream Girl from Dr. Destiny. There’s a lot of 40-and-over DC fan service I didn’t follow (Kenz Nuhor? Come on guys, it’s not like this shit’s in trade or anything!), but only one really icky part:

(Above: An unconscious and shackled Dreamgirl being licked by Dr. Destiny, who simultaneously thrusts his thumb into her mouth. This is one of those panels that makes me think DC writers and artists need some kind of mandatory sexual sensitivity class. Image from Justice Society of America #5 written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Fernando Pasarin)

The second half of the book features Superman bringing Stargirl, Cyclone and Red Tornado to his Fortress of Solitude to show off his statue collection of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who apparently have even better abs than the armies of Sparta:

(Above: The Legion of Super-abs, again by Pasarin)

Oh yeah, by the way, Superman? He was a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes back when he was Superboy after all, just like before the first Crisis (which he refers to as “the first crisis”), a time period that was erased from his past and their present during the Crisis. So, did the “New Earth” rejiggering restore the pre-Crisis Legion/Superman continuity, thus negating the other Legion reboots (and/or the Superman reboot), restoring the 20-year-old, pre-Crisis continuity and complicting if not negating much of post-Crisis continuity? Aaaugghh!

I know we’re only two chapters into this story (Warning! Semi-tangental rant imminent!), but it strikes me as a really, really bad idea, as much as I like to see the various heroes from various teams interacting with one another. This seems like it might have been a better story in an original graphic novel (like Virtue and Vice), all drawn by the same artist and with a nice, scholoarly introduction explaining who the characters are and their real-world histories.

As it is, the story jumps back and forth between two different monthly titles, features two to three cover artists, and two interior pencil artists with vastly different art styles. It also revolves around story points that are impenetrable to me, and I’m pretty familiar with the last 20 years worth of DC comics, not to mention being the kind of guy who reads the DC Comics Encyclopedia in my free time, and I don’t know who any of these characters are or why I should be excited to see them.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I imagine in a few months time JLA/JSA: The Lightning Saga is going to be collected in a hardcover graphic novel to be sold in big box book stores, probably with a trade dress that resembles Identity Crisis and Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Tornado’s Path with a big, fat “By Brad Meltzer” on it in the hopes of attracting fans of Meltzer’s prose to the exciting world of DC graphic novels.

But is this really a story that’s gonna hook someone on DC comics? If that future fan is intrigued enough by this story to seek out other Legion of Super-Heroes trade collections, they’re going to see a team that has only a passing resemblance to this one.

Anyway, anyone have any idea what happened in the second-to-last and third-to-last panels? Did Wildfire shoot the utility belt out of his chest, or did it fall on him from somewhere above or…?

Super F*ckers #279 (Top Shelf Productions) Super F*ckers is fucking super.

One problem with Amazons Attack! #1,

aside from it not being any good at all, is that the attacking Amazons are shown riding giant black lions, pegasi and chariots. Which leads me to wonder:

Where the kangas at?

Wonder Woman Wednesdays: The Exotic Exclamations of Steve Trevor

Great Caesar's Ghost. Holy Moley. By the Vishanti. Great Scott. Suffering Sappho.

Some comic book characters have their own personal expressions of shock or dismay that are so catchy and memorable that the expressions have become signature phrases over the years.

Steve Trevor is not one of those characters.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

K. Thor Jensen's Columbus Adventure

K. Thor Jensen's recent 300-page graphic novel Red Eye, Black Eye is the NYC-based cartoonist's choronicle of his adventures going Greyhound in late 2001. You can read the first 16 pages here, and my review of it here, but the long and the short of it is that Jensen reaches a point in his life where he feels like he has nothing left, so he buys Greyhound's "Ameripass," which allows him to take as many buses as he wants for a certain period of time, and he becomes a hobo and drifter, criss-crossing the country and crashing at friends' houses.

Most of that time is spent drunk or getting dunk, which, coupled with the freedom of the hobo and drifter, allows him to do things you probably wouldn't consider doing in your own home town. The story is a lot more interesting and a lot less gimmicky than it might sound. Jensen gets stories from each person he meets—many of which are quite crazy—and the graphic novel has a strange but oddly gripping conflict in that his landlady owes him $1,000 and is dithering about depositing it. It's all the money he has, so if he doesn't get it, he has to do things like dance on street corners for money (which he does). Okay, it's not Galactus threatening to devour the planet, but it's something you can relate to, you know?

Oh, and he's a hell of a cartoonist, too. That also helps make it a great read.

He visits 17 cities in 60 days, a total of 10,000 miles. These include San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis and Gainesville, but the two most fun chapters are undoubtedly Birmingham and our own great city of Columbus.

The capital city is actually Jensen's second stop in Ohio, following a stay with his friend Chet in Cleveland. There he is interviewed by (and interviews) a person named Mike whom I suspect is Plain Dealer staffer and occassional columnist Michael Sangiacomo. I say this only because his name is Mike, he looks like Sangiacomo and Jensen's avatar refers to the guy's paper buying them lunch, which in Cleveland most likely means the Plain Dealer (it's the city's only real daily paper as far as I remember... I haven't paid much attention to the north east Ohio newspaper scene since I moved down here a few years back).

I mention this only because the chapter-within-a-chapter entitled "Mike's Story" is about Mike driving off to find himself and ending up at an outdoor Canadian rock and roll festival, where two girls high on drugs fight over him, which climaxes with one pulling a knife. And well, if you've read as much of Sangiacomo's writing as I have (we grew up with a Plain Dealer subscription), it's not the kind of situation you usually imagine Sangiacomo getting into, you know?

Anyway, on to Columbus.

As the image above attests, Jensen had some harsh words to say to some in our fair city. But keep in mind, Jensen was probably drunk when he said it, and had just been thrown out of a karaoke bar.

Also, Jensen is out to "find himself' as Mike was. When Mike warns him not to look for trouble, he responds, "Are you kidding? Trouble is all I'm looking for. I'm not gonna be satisfied if I go home without a black eye." (Hence, the title).

Chet drives Jensen down to Columbus, and they stay with his friend Chris, in this houses, which Jensen refers to as "a chalet." I have no idea where that is. Nor do I know who Chris or Jensen's other apparent Columbus-based friends Walker or Mark are. This is remarkable only because Columbus, despite being the country's fifteenth largest city in the millennial census (deal with it!) is an incredibly small place, where the normal six degrees of seperation is more like one-and-a-half degrees. If both you and Kevin Bacon lived in Columbus, you probably would have either dated him, shared an apartment with him, worked with him or gotten into a barfight with him within a year of living here.

It's late October when Jensen visits, and he plans to stay through Halloween, to make Chris a chestvagina. Which is just what it sounds like. Using papier mache, coathangers and scans of vaginas from the Internet, he makes a gaint vagina which Chris can wear on his chest (Since I use a library scanner, I'm not even gonna attempt scanning it. Although, it would be intersting to see if including "chestvagina" in the label for the post brings any interesting visitors to my site. Or not.)

On the way to the art supply store, they stop at this place, which they refer to as a "goth store" and look around, eventually taking umbrage with the fact that all the ghosts on the walls were white and make a scene until they're tasked to leave ("You like to wear black, but you don't like blacks?"). I have no idea where it is, or if there eve is or ever was a "Dark Masque" goth store in Columbus.

I suppose Jensen could have changed the name and that it could have been the magic store in the Short North on the corner of Fifth and High (which has since closed), which is on the way to an art supply store if you're coming down high from the north. I can't remember the name of that place, but I don't think it was "Dark Masque." There was also that place Clintonville off High (which has also since closed), but I think it had the word "Shadow" in the name. How bad is my memory? I once interviewed the second place's ownder and wrote a profile of his store for a local paper, and now I can't even remember the name of the place.

The next day he goes here to do a little laundry. I don't know exactly which laundromat this is either, but then, I'm not terribly familiar with the laundromat scene in Columbus.

He and his friends visit a club to enter a costume contest which is giving away cash prizes. I assume it's Red Zone (note the title), but having never actually been to Red Zone, I can't say for sure. If it is Red Zone, I should point out that it has also since closed. So anyone outside Columbus reading Red Eye, Black Eye thinking, "Man, that place is awesome! Let's totally drive there and check out the goth store and club K. Thor Jensesn went to!" I should caution you that we probably can't offer you a complete Red Eye, Black Eye guided bus tour at this point.

Chris' Macho Man Randy Savage costume is totally defeated by a girl's Lara Croft costume (which, yes, is just a tank top and short, with a braid in her hair).

Aftwards, they go out for pizza at this place. I'm not 100% positive where this is, but I'd hazard a guess that it's Hound Dog's, based on the fact that they go there at night after leaving a club and it's packed (Also, the drawaings of the interiors feature some booths that look Hound Dogs-ish.

There Jensen and his friends are unable to find a table large enough to accomodate them, so he asks two girls occupying a huge booth if they'd mind vacating for a smaller table. When they say no, he then politely asks if they'd mind if he and his friends "pull a train" on them. When they ask what that is, he says "Oh, I'm sorry. Pull a train. That'd be were me and my friends take you to an abandoned watertower and take turns hate-fucking you unconscious."

Jeez, the things you learn when reading comics.

Apparently, K. Thor is not a psychopath, but this was part of his attempt to get a black eye ("I was hoping they'd have big dumb Ohio agriculture college boyfriends I could try to fight").

The next day, he walks to German Village and seems excited to learn where he is. German Village, it turns out, is a popular destination for visiting comic book characters. While there, he kicks a brick in the sidewalk out of place, and then continues on his way for a bit before thinking "I gotta go put that brick back," and running back to put it back in place.

Finally, they go here for a big costumed karaoke contest. Again, I have no idea where this is supposed to be. I know there's a Champps at the Lennox Town Center, but I always just assumed it was an Applebee's-like restaurant. Googling Champps and Columbus, I guess it's actually a sports bar, and there are three of 'em within ten miles of me.

At any rate, Chris is now dressed like Macho Man Randy Savage, but with a chestvagina. He's asked to take it off because Champps is a family establishment, so Chris must cover it up beneath his jacket. On stage, he sings that annoying song that I think is called "Rumpshaker" (You know, that "I'll I wann do is a rooma zoom zoom" song) while in character. When someone in the crowd tells Jensen that his friend is "totally gay," Jensen freaks out on him, in a six-panel sequence that scared me as a reader, during which he pantomimes getting dicks in his mouth and ass while shouting, "Wait, what do you mean, he' s gay? You mean he's gay like he takes dicks in the mouth? And dicks in the ass?" He repeats this until he's screaming, but no luck, no fight comes out of it.

On stage, the karaoke routine climaxes with Chris opening his jacket Clark Kent-style to reveal the chestvagina, and soon a phalanx of bouncers is hauling him off stage, while Jensen screams "We won!" and "Give us our money!"

That's when he busts out the epithet with which this post begins, but despite the crushing loss, Jensen leaves Columbus by bus with a smile on his face, which is much better shape than he leaves a lot of the cities he visits. Based on this book, Columbus would seem to be one of the most fun cities in the country, topped only by Birmingham, which is where the cover image comes from. No, that's not symbolism. Jensen does rid a burning couch hauled by a pick-up truck in Birmingham.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 19th's Meanwhile in Las Vegas...

Hey, loyal EDILW readers, how's it going?

Everything okay in your life?

I'm okay. I'm a little bummed because I just realized I made a huge tactical error in my schedule arrangement tonight. A friend of mine has a film festival here in Columbus, and tonight was its opening night. So I went to take in the prosaically titled but actually quite good Waitress.

Two hours later, it hit me that today is Thursday, April 19th and at the exact same time that Waitress was playing, two miles down the street, the still-in-production Eisner documentary Will Eisner: The Spirit of an Artistic Pioneer was unspooling at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

I probably shoulda been watching that instead, and then posting about it here.

Man, I am the worst comics blogger.

In happier news, Las Vegas Weekly ended up using my lame W. Somerset Maugham joke headline on this week's comics column. To pull the curtain back a bit, each weekend when I submit my column for the following Thursday's issue, I usually include a headline suggestion, which the editors will either choose to use or, if it's too stupid, will choose not to use and instead make up their own, superior headline.

I had a hell of a time thinking of one that would be appropriate for a column that covers both Adam Warren's sublime superhero bondage comic strip-com Empowered and K. Thor Jensen's autobiographical book about his Greyhound journey across America, Red Eye, Black Eye. At least until I realized that not only did W. Somerset Maugham write Of Human Bondage, but also something called The Vagrant Mood, and what is "vagrant" but another word for "drifter" or "hobo," terms Jensen kept applying to himself in his book?

So "Of superhuman bondage and the vagrant cartoonist's mood" it was. And they used it. Woo hoo!

Anyway, click on the words "comics column" above to read reviews of Empowered and Red Eye, Black Eye, which are both pretty excellent books (We'll be taking a closer, scantastic look at the Columbus chapter of Red Eye, Black Eye later this week). While you're at, you may want to check out the cover story, "The Most Beautiful People in Las Vegas" (Or at least look at the pictures).

And while I'm linking, The Absorbacon has the only piece of DC fan fiction you ever need to read, in which Aquaman busts in on Brad Meltzer's JLoA and sets "Clark," "Bruce" and "Diana" straight, and The Invinicible Super Blog reviews the greatest story entitled "World War III" DC ever published (and it didn't come out yesterday).

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go kick myself for missing that Eisner flick...

Weekly Haul: April 18th

I’m getting this up a little later than usual, on account of yesterday’s haul being a pretty sizable one and the fact that, I actually had to leave my house on a Wednesday after I finished reading. So this week, EDILW has fallen down on the job of providing you reviews of everything Caleb read this week in a timely fashion, and the Internet’s already full of reviews of yesterday’s biggest event books.

Troy Brownfield will save you $10 on World War III with a thorough what happened-to-who write up at Ami Angelwings will give you the complete blow by blow, and do it much cuter than I could. And Kevin Church uses his technological superiority to point out some of the most ridiculous things that happened in WWIII and DC’s best book of the week. Here, however, you’ll get a panel of Martian Manhunter head-butting Black Adam in the breadbasket (at least, I hope that’s the breadbasket) as seen in World War III #4.

And, of course, you’ll get all these…

52 #50 (DC Comics) Wow, now that’s a pay-off! I might be the only DC reader in the world who feels this way, but I found the conclusion of Black Adam’s fifty-part, year-long story much more exciting than anything that happened during Infinite Crisis. Rather than multiple versions of the same characters scrabbling over obscure bits of continuity, this issue had a huge superhero fight with high stakes and the sorts of fantastic feats I haven’t seen enough of in DC comics since Grant Morrison left JLA.

Behind another beautiful J.G. Jones cover, one-named penciler Justiniano and inker Walden Wong deliver the best and most polished art of any issue of the series yet, and they squeeze a lot of detail into these panels (I almost didn’t even notice the Global Guardians in the rubble on that two-page splash panel).

Adam decimates the Great Ten (whose names seem culled from Wu-Tang members when shouted out in rapid succession like this), while the heroes of the DCU nervously line up along the Great Wall, waiting for permission to cross the border and take on Adam. And when they finally do, Captain Marvel catches an armful of lightning and throws it at Black Adam. That’s DC superhero comics as they should be, right there. And after twenty-pages of superhero-brawling, that whole “52” plot that hasn’t been given much attention lately comes back in a big way, when Professor Morrow sees what Red Tornado and the space heroes saw.

All that, and the line of the week: “Go, Shaolin Robot!”

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #51 (DC)
Last issue made me awfully happy, since it seemed like Tad Williams was finally going somewhere with the all the untold plotlines floating around in the title since “One Year Later” gave it a new status quo one year ago. But now I’m not so sure I like it. Arthur Curry joins powerless, cranky Tempest, Aquagirl and the new Topo in a journey back to Sub Diego, and on the way they fight some neat-looking fish men (I really like Shawn McManus’ art here), but the whole endeavor just seems really disconnected from the rest of the DCU. For one thing, the old Aquaman just raised Sub Diego back to the surface and cured all of it’s inhabitants in World War III #2, which just came out this very week.

It was nice to see the Justice League in Atlantis to say goodbye to Orin/Aquaman/Dweller, but what was the Flash doing there? That’s Bart Allen under the hood, a character who’s never really met Aquaman except in the occasional adversarial circumstances where his sueprteam is fighting Aquaman’s superteam for some reason or another. And who’s also not a member of the Justice League, like the rest of the visitors. How do Williams, McManus and the book’s editors not know this? I don’t even read Flash (let alone work for the comic’s publisher) and I know who the Flash is.

Confidential to Hal Jordan: Why the hell are you wearing an oxygen mask? Your power ring creates forcefields and an oxygen supply.

Army @ Love #3 (DC/Vertigo) Okay, seriously Rick Veitch—Why on Earth isn’t this called Our Army at Love? It seems like you guys opted out of going all way with the allusion to Our Army at War. This issue features a lot of backstory in what I think is a pretty brilliant satire thus far, but, with the hook all laid out over the course of these first two issues now, Veitch gets to the make-or-break point. Is there more to the story he’s telling then the sharp observation about how to really sell warfare to today’s youth? I guess we’ll find out in #3. I’m really digging his art with Gary Erskine’s inks on top of it.

The Brave and the Bold #3 (DC) The spotlight swings back to earth, for a Batman/Blue Beetle team-up, with just a few pages spared to show what Supergirl is up to back on Ventura. As the cover attests, Batman and BB III are faced with the Fatal Five, villains that don’t do much for me personally, as I’ve never been able to get into any Legions (I don’t think that would be a problem I’d have with Christopher Bird’s Legion though). But it’s Mark Waid and George Perez playing in DC’s sandbox; that’s really the only selling point one needs here. This series should go on forever, or at least until these creators have managed to feature every single DC character in the book. After all, this is exactly the sort of introduction new readers need when it comes to a character like Blue Beetle, whom a lot of us were understandably quite resistant to. BB’s imaginary excuse slip from Batman to his teacher? Genius. I’m afraid I can’t address the Big League Chew-sponsored The Batman/Cal Ripken, Jr. comic that’s inserted into the middle of this one though, as I’ve yet to read it.

Birds of Prey #105 (DC) I really love the Secret Six, and I really love the way Gail Siomone writes them, and I really, really, really love the new recruit, which finally bumps them back up to a membership of six again. I’d love a S6 ongoing, but I guess that doesn’t seem too likely at this point (Maybe if All-New Atom and Gen 13 get cancelled?).

The new Birds line-up, including Barda, Misfit, Manhunter and a new female Spy Smasher, still hasn’t grown on me though, as it just seems so randomly assembled. And as for the resurrection of a character who’s never once even appeared in this title (talk about random), it leaves me cold (Ha ha! Get it? Cold?). I liked the character, and it was too bad when she died, but I don’t seen any reason to bring her back to life at this point. Why on earth should I care if Black Adam puts his fist through a heroine’s chest in World War III, if the very same week I see a character who’s been unequivocally dead-as-hell for over ten years comes back to life pretty much at random? Jesus, who’s left in DC’s graveyard at this point? Just Vibe?

Simone gets off the worst line of the week, when Hawkgirl tells Scandal Savage, “I don’t know who you are, lady-- --but you’ve just awoken the hawk!” Um, what?

Justice League of America #8 (DC) Wow, way to go Brad Meltzer! Regular readers of either EDILW or Newsarama’s “Best Shots” column will have noticed I’m not exactly a fan of Brad Meltzer’s Justice League stewardship. But this issue, the first part of “The Lightning Saga,” crossing over with Geoff Johns’ superior JSoA, is by far Meltzer’s best, maybe better than the last eight issues combined. I think it’s still over-written, with the parallel narration in the opening scenes a little too artificial (the only thing worse than first-person narration in a comic book is cross-narration), and Batman and Superman seem to have had a press conference off-panel announcing their secret identities to the whole world a la Peter Parker that I hadn’t heard abut.

But never mind all that for a minute.

The conflict, involving one of those Legion line-ups I don’t know jack shit about, is set-up quite quickly in an old-school JLA/JSA team-up/quest fashion, right down to the number of the time-lost soldiers in need of rescue, and Meltzer still has time to advance the Something’s Wrong With Red Tornado plot, the Roy Harper And Hawkgirl Totally Want Each Other Plot and get the whole JSoA in the same panel as the whole JLoA. In one issue! Bravo! And sneaking that Interlac key onto page three? Brilliant.

The art comes courtesy of penciller Shane Dais and inker Matt Banning. I didn’t care much for it, and there were too many panels with way too little background, but they did a nice job approximating the style of Ed Benes and Sandra Hope, giving this arc a strong stylistic continuity with previous issues.

Confidential to Batman: You might want to call Clark “Superman” when you radio him in front of a villain who just beat the crap out of you. And when you’re in front of that villain and some guy named Starman that you’ve just met, you’ll definitely want to go ahead and say “Superman.” It’s only two more syllables, man.

Confidential to Hawkgirl: You’ve known Red Tornado for about seven minutes now, are you really familiar enough with him to call him “Reddy?”

Confidential to Vixen: It’s just a hologram, right? Just turn the “tree” off.

Confidential to Power Girl: You don’t know Batman’s secret identity. So don’t fucking call him “Bruce.” Particularly when in the same room as Stargirl, Liberty Belle II, Damage, Hawkgirl, Dr. Mid-Nite, Mr. Terrific, Wildcat III, Hourman II and Vixen, none of whom know either.

Marvel Adventures Avengers #12 (Marvel Comcis) Wow, Jeff Parker got away with an awful lot this issue, particularly considering this is a kids book. The plot? Ego the Living Planet wants to hook up with Earth (machines translate Ego’s come-ons into their closest English equivalents, and they amount to, “Hold up, Miss Thang! What’s the big hurry?” When Ego realizes that Earth is crawling with humans, he changes his mind, telling her “I’ll be back around—you clean that act up and we can discuss.” So, basically, Ego totally wants to bang Earth, until he notices the planetary equivalent of STDs (Well, Parker has Giant-Girl refer to them as “cooties,” but we know what he’s talking about).

Oh, and there’s this:

The Mighty Avengers #2 (Marvel) Brian Michael Bendis continues to do a great job introducing the new status quo of his line-up (in this issue, we see Ms. Marvel and Iron Man make their pitches to each recruit that isn’t Ares), and I love the thought-cloud asides, but the conflict is so goddam base and lazy I don’t know if I’ll be picking up #3. Basically, it’s the Avengers vs. Ultron, Round 4,567, but the twist this time is that Ultron has somehow changed Iron Man into a naked Janet Van Dyne, with liquid metal covering her erogenous zones (and clouds of smoke presumably covering the nipples Frank Cho must have drawn in some panels). Cho’s a good storyteller and he draws all of the characters well. It’s cool that his women’s bodies look like real women’s bodies, with body fat and everything, but he essentially draws the exact same woman with slightly different hair over and over.

Nightwing Annual #2 (DC) Attention, Dan Didio! You know this Marc Andreyko guy who’s been writing Manhunter for you guys? Did you check out this week’s Nightwing Annual yet? Because it turns out to be one of the most enjoyable Dick Grayson stories I’ve read in…God, I can’t remember the last time I’ve read a really, truly, all-around enjoyable Dick Grayson story (Maybe one of Devin Grayson’s Dick-centric Gotham Knights issues? Wait, that didn’t sound right…). And, as an added bonus, it was also one of the better Barbara Gordon stories I’ve read in a good long time (I’ve generally enjoyed the bulk of Simone’s run on BoP, but the focus has usually been on Black Canary and Huntress rather than Oracle). After a seven-panel recap of Dick’s proposal and a six-page sequence recapping the end of Infinite Crisis and a related nightmare sequence, Andreyko plunges into Grayson’s recovery from his injuries, coached along by Babs, who avoids talking about the proposal as long as possible. During extended flashbacks we see their first date and their first time having sex, and Andreyko seems to fit their incredibly complicated histories together rather neatly. He also refreshingly demonstrates that you can have grown-up “mature” DCU stories that don’t depend on gore and violence for their maturity—there’s also sex. Learn who Dick lost his virginity too, see he and Barbara totally bang and, in a fantastic two-panel sequence, delight as he tries to shield an erection from Batman and Batgirl with his little Robin cape (“Robin? You OK, chum?” “Um, it’s nothing.”) Yes! Andreyko for Nightwing, STAT!

The Spirit #5 (DC) And speaking of sex and DC Comics, damn, the bottom tier of panels on page ten is weird. After five issues now, you know the drill—perfect script, perfect art, perfect design and production, an all-around perfect comic book.

Superman/Batman #34 (DC) Okay, did anyone get what the fuck was going on in this comic book? Because I sure didn’t. Is this an imaginary story? A flashback? A Year One? A reboot? I honestly have no idea. Mark Verheiden tells a tale of Doc Magnus and the Metal Men—including new, female robot Copper—in which Mercury and a human, female friend of Magnus’ talks about the Metal Men going public, and when Batman first sees Magnus, he greets him with a “Who the hell are you?” Two panels later, Magnus tells Batman, “I’m sort of new at this…” The art, penciled by Pat Lee, is decent on the Metal Men, but awfully messy and ugly on everything else. And for some reason, he keeps drawing Lucius Fox in a tuxedo from a 1970s prom. After last week’s 52, this is a gigantic disappointment for a Metal Men story; it doesn’t even make sense, something which happens fairly frequently in Superman/Batman I know, but I was really hoping for more out of this story.

World War III #1 (DC) I didn’t have very high hopes for this series when it was announced. The plotlines sounded for the most part like they were culled by DC editors trawling boards for suggestions, and the creators are some talented folks who seem to be simply given busy work, writing and drawing dotted lines that connect the characters at the end of Infinite Crisis to where they were “One Year Later” (which, at this point, started one year ago, our time). Didio’s “DC Nation” column says exactly that.

It seems tremendously unfair to readers and creators; the OYL hook was pretty inspired, and a nice way to re-start all of the series on a new-reader-friendly foot which didn’t have anything to do with Infinite Crisis fall-out, but the universe has simply moved right back to IC mode since then (With the five Monitors sub-plot, and the countdown to the next Crisis). Telling stories out of sequence is fine, as long as you tell all of the parts at some point, but in almost every case, the OYL writers didn’t tease, hint at or give any indication that they’d go back and explain how the characters got from Point A to Point G, and it’s left to these four one-shots to do all of that.

That said, I was also tremendously excited. I mean, eighty-eight pages of B- to D-List DC characters, plus 52 on the same day? That’s the sort of single-story binge I haven’t had since DC discontinued their 80-Page Giants. If you haven’t read these books but are curious, I’d caution that they are not at all necessary. This week’s 52 tells the entire story of “World War III” perfectly well, and these issues focus on a few weeks through the eyes of the Martian Manhunter, and world reaction to Black Adam’s rampage. Each issue focuses on a few of the characters and explains their OYL status, but if you’re not a fan of those characters, it’s pretty much pointless reading. Additionally, you can read any one of these all by itself and get a more or less whole story, provided you’re interested in anything other than Martian Manhunter’s story, which is the only one that continues from book to book. As a fan of J’onn’s who was completely confused and annoyed by the 180-degree turn in his character witnessed OYL and in his own eight-issue series, this was right up my alley; your alley may vary.

This first issue is titled “A Call To Arms,” and is written by Keith Champagne (the inker-turned-writer who filled in for Geoff Johns on JSA, closing out the series…and yes, I realize that Paul Levitz wrote two stories after Champagne’s arc, but I’m trying to forget, so please just accommodate me on this, okay?) and penciled by Pat Olliffe, whose work should be perfectly familiar to regular readers of 52. It opens with Martian Manhunter, too-little seen in the weekly series (given his powers, connections and always-a-bridesmaid status, I think he’s actually an ideal character for a “year in the life of the universe” type of story) confronting Black Adam before a mountain of corpses in Bialya. During the battle, they link minds, and J’onn flees from Earth, the blackness of Adam’s mind completely infecting his own (Which goes an awful long way toward explaining why he’s such a dickhead a few weeks later). There are one-panel check-ins with characters all over the DCU, but the rest of the issue is devoted to expositional scenes involving Jason Todd-as-Nightwing (which offers no real insight), and Jason and Firehawk fusing into Firestorm for what I presume is the first time. If you don’t care for J’onn, Resurrected By A Super-Punch on The Walls of Continuity Jason Todd or Firestorm II, there isn’t really any reason to buy this.

World War III #2 (DC) Don’t get too excited by Batgirl, Donna Troy and Supergirl on the Ethan Van Sciver-drawn cover; they don’t exactly get a lot of valuable panel time inside. In “The Valiant,” we find J’onn J’onnz floating in space in the fetal position, using his telepathy to check in with various players in the DCU. Champagne’s still scripting, and Andy Smith is now penciling. Four pages are devoted to Supergirl, who during the Zeta Beam accident was apparently plunged into time, and I have no idea what the fuck happens here. It seems like she’s split in two, and one half flies through J’onn, and she crashes into Metropolis…I don’t know, I’d given up on both Supergirl and The Legion of Superheroes before OYL. The other major points of focus are the Batman-less Gotham City, where we see Harvey Dent and Cassandra Cain, and the fate of Aquaman.

The Gotham thread shows Harvey Dent fighting with Killer Croc, and, like the Jason-as-Nightwing scene, it doesn’t add much of anything, we just see him. The Batgirl scene unfortunately doesn’t do anything to make her OYL 180 make any more sense, and probably actually hurts her awkward redemption story currently unfolding in Teen Titans. Deathstroke is all, “Look, Batman doesn’t like you, he had Harvey Dent take over for you before going on vacation with every sidekick who’s not you.” (And he has a point…still no word on why Oracle and Batman seemed to completely forget Cassandra Cain’s existence during Infinite Crisis, and this week’s even would seem to have been the time to address that). He gives her the whole join with me/power of the dark side speech, and she seems to be considering; he doesn’t just jump her and inject her with science juice. Also unexplained is why she’s dressed like Batgirl and in Gotham, after deciding to give up being Batgirl at the end of her own title.

As for the Aquaman thread, basically the people of Sub Diego are losing their ability to breathe underwater, and Orin cuts a deal with two water giants (I assume Neptune and Poseidon, but it’s unexplained) for the power to save them, whatever the cost. The result is that Sub Diego is raised to the surface and all of its inhabitants cured, but Aquaman goes all squiddy and loses his mind. Note that in 52 he’s been going nutty, growing his hair out and dressing in a robe for weeks now, and that in this week’s issue of Aquaman there’s still a Sub Diego populated by water-breathers.

We also see a few panels of Donna Troy as Wonder Woman, a role she apparently played for just two weeks, and there’s a page of Black Adam beating down the Doom Patrol. Aquaman fans will definitely want to check this one out, if only for some clue as to what’s been going on in Sword of Atlantis, but even Supergirl and Batgirl fans probably won’t find anything in here they didn’t already know.

World War III #3 (DC) Champagne passes the writing baton to John Ostrander, and just in time too, seeing as how J’onn J’onnz and some old Suicide Squad characters are about to be featured. This one’s called “Hell is For Heroes,” and J’onn’s got his shit together well enough to return to Earth. Using his invisibility and shape-changing abilities, he begins to track Black Adam down, following his path of destruction while considering how crappy human beings are. Tom Derenick is on pencil duty now, and I think this is probably the best looking of the four issues, but that may just be because I dig Derenick’s style.

The Teen Titans have a couple of tussles with Black Adam, and two of ‘em don’t make it out alive. Meanwhile, some Checkmate types bicker, Amanda Waller makes some plans and attempts to recruit Bronze Tiger and Kate “Manhunter” Spencer’s new status quo is revealed. J’onn comes to the realization that he’s engaged in quite a few lies himself over the years, and thus burns down his old John Jones secret identity. By this point, he’s got it together, and is on his way to China, because “The time has come for an ending.”

In other words, it is on.

World War III #4 (DC) Ostrander’s joined by Penciller Jack Jadson to bring it all home in “United We Stand,” which details the final battle against Black Adam in Beijing, told from J’onn’s perspective. The opening page is a twelve-panel grid, showing extreme close-ups of many of the heroes—Alan Scott’s Green Lantern logo on his chest, Hakman’s hand gripping his mace, Wildcat cracking his knuckles— which is pretty tense and dramatic, building up to an awesome two-page spread featuring just about every DC hero who wasn’t missing during the missing year, marred only by the close-up of Power Girl. Guess what the focus of the extreme close-up on P.G. is. If you guessed her boobs, you’re right! But to show just how serious this battle is, her boobs are spattered with blood.

Ostrander writes a pretty elegant few paragraphs of narration, as J’onn picks up the stray thoughts that go throgh the heroes’ heads on the cusp of battle during this spread, and then we plunge into the Great Ten vs. Black Adam battle.

And before you know, it’s time for a Black Adam vs. J’onn rematch, with J’onn giving Adam the super-head butt pictured above (eliciting an “Aarrh!”) and a face-full of Martian vision (“Yarrgh!”). Their tussle is a nice climax to this series, particularly the part where J’onn gives Adam all his memories of all those he killed back, plus all of J’onn’s memories of the Martians who died during the fire plague as well. Ostrander has Adam draw a parallel between the two as men who have lost their families, and Adam swearing a rematch will come, which would make for a neat next Martian Manhunter series (“You have earned a mortal enemy this day, Manhunter! I will see you broken once more!”)

Adam goes down the exact same way he did in the pages of 52, but Jadson draws the scene in an even more mythological arrangement, with Captain Marvel holding a lightning bolt like Zeus, rather than awkwardly holding an armful of lighting (I liked the armful better, personally). Anyway, that’s why J’onn J’onnz looks like a creepy BDSM Skrull and acts like such a dickhead OYL. And that’s why John Ostrander shoulda wrote that eight-part Martian Manhunter mini previewed in Brave New World.

Finally, cut to those damn Monitors again, talking about the heroes’ darkest hour which is yet to come (but which will presumably include a lot of tie-ins). This is the one issue of the four that is probably the most general, and if you only want to read one of them to add to your 52 reading pleasure, this is probably the one for you.

Ultimate Spider-Man #108 (Marvel) I really appreciate that Bendis is always trying new things with the storytelling on this book, even after 107 issues, although I don’t think either Mary Jane’s news report video or the whole battle in Moon Knight’s fucked-up mindspace worked all that well. It sure was fun seeing Bendis’ 616 creations Jessica Jones and Ronin interacting with his Ultimate Universe versions of MJ and Spidey though. Another very solidly written and drawn issues of one of the most reliable comic books on the shelves.

X-Factor #18 (Marvel) With a couple of old X-Men characters—Blob, Marrow, Callisto and Some Lady I’ve Never Heard Of—appearing this issue, and the M-Day/House of M/Son of M fall-out intensifying, I find my interest in the series plunging. Peter David still knows how to construct a plot well though, and I did enjoy watching Layla Miller’s machinations all fall so perfectly into place here.

Hey Kids! Comics!