Thursday, October 31, 2013


While I don't think I agree that Mr. Dressup could literally kick Big Bird's ass in a real fight (Big Bird's closely related to the Phorusrhacids, right? And his best friend is a wooly mammoth?), he was my favorite television star when I was a toddler. The above scene is from Elaine M. Will's Look Straight Ahead, which is about a teenager suffering from mental illness, and not about Mr. Dressup, whose only appearance is in the cameo I sampled above. For my review of Will's graphic novel, you can visit Robot 6.

I also have a new review up at Good Comics For Kids; it's of The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror #19, Bongo's annual Halloween-themed horror anthology special, so make sure you read it before the night is out, because it will no longer be relevant come November 1.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Comic shop comics: October 30

The Fox #1 (Archie Comics) I wouldn't normally make a trip all the way to my local comic shop for just two comic books*, and instead wait another Wednesday or two until I had a decent sized handful of comics waiting for me, but I was really pretty excited to see The Fox, The Mark Waid/Dean Haspiel comic resurrecting an Archie-owned Golden Age hero.

I really enjoy Golden Age superheroes, ones that I've heard of but never really read before especially, because of how much imaginative blank space they conjure. And The Fox is about as Golden Age as they come; he's even one of those character's whose costume doesn't match his name at all (One might expect a character named The Fox to have something vaguely fox-like about his costume, right? Or, at the very least, to wear red or orange instead black? But then, Golden Age Green Lantern wore more purple and red than green, and Golden Age Batman wore blue and gray instead of brown and/or black, so there you go—perfect Golden Age character. His logo, by the way, which looks like Capitol Building upside down? That's apparently a fox head. I spent a lot of time looking closely at Fox costumes last week, for the purposes of a dumb joke for my blog).

And I like Mark Waid's writing a lot. I mean, I like superhero comics, and liking superhero comics and liking Mark Waid go pretty much hand in hand, right? Not everything he writes is great, of course, but I think he's one of the better super-comics writers we have, and his Daredevil is currently one of the best examples of the genre on the stands.

And I also really like the work of Dean Haspiel, who is a great superhero artist, although one doesn't get to see a lot of his superhero work (Certainly not as much as I'd like). Individually, they don't seem like the sort of creative team one would find on an Archie-published comic. And together? I don't know; this whole thing seems like a dream, and one I didn't want to sleep on.

So here's The Fox, photojournalist Paul Patton Jr., son of the original, Golden Age Fox, Paul Patton Sr. He Foxes in order to help his career, as super-people in costumes tend to attract stories to them, and now finds himself in a position where he can't seem to turn that particular faucet off. He's become a "Freak Magnet," which is also, incidentally, the title of this story (And I guess this is just a miniseries, of five issues in length, but boy I hope its indicative of what Archie's Red Circle considers a good creative team going forward).

In this issue he battles Madame Satan, who reminds me an awful lot of a Richard Sala character. She's attractive lady (something Sala excels at drawing) from the neck down, and scary, skeletal, Halloween mask (the other thing Sala excels at drawing) from the neck up. He also fights some thugs and talks to his wife about personal drama. There's a head nod to Watchmen that I didn't really understand (unless it's just a visual wink...?), and a pretty good gag at Man of Steel's expense.

The overall tone is light and fun, and Haspiel's artwork is every bit the treat one might expect it to be. He's great at drawing people throwing and taking punches, and his Fox is  wonderful; the costume streamlining the character to almost pure figure and form, a set of lines with little extraneous detail to distract from his existence as a human body in action (The only features on his mask are his big huge Spider-Man eyes, and his ears, which, like some of the better depictions of DC's Wildcat's, flop around).

There's a two-page prose piece from Haspiel at the back, explaining how the project came to be, and how they created the comic. It sounds like a variation on the Marvel method; Haspiel doesn't just draw it, he plotted and drew the issue, and then Waid dialogued it. There's also a six-page back-up story by Haspiel.

I'd definitely recommend the book to anyone who likes light-hearted, fun, old-school superhero comics with fine, no-frills artwork. Certainly if you like Waid and Chris Samnee's Daredevil, or the FF comic by Matt Fraction and the Allred Army, this is a comic you should dig.

At 24 story pages for $2.99—with a wrap-around cover, and no ads save house ads appearing between the two stories and at the end of the book, rather than interrupting the narratives—this is pretty much a perfect package for reading in the serially published format, too. Although part of me does sorta wish I would have waited for the trade, if only because that might collect all the variants.

When I got there at 6-ish tonight, my shop had the two Haspiel covers (I got the one above) and the Fiona Staples variant, but not the Darwyn Cooke Variant, and Cooke's features a lovely image of the fox running with a skulk of actual foxes through the woods, lovely birch trees in the background.
I like that picture a lot; who knew Cooke drew such nice foxes and trees...?

Saga #15 (Image Comics) Oddly enough, I tend to forget just how much I like Saga between issues of it. Like, it's not a book I'm dying to get my hands on month in and month out, but I always enjoy the hell out of it when I read it, and generally find myself surprised by just how good it is.

For example, this issue, with its posing of our heroes like romance novel stars over a hot pink background, opens with a full-page splash of one of the members of the robot royalty yelling a funny but savage insult at her troops. It ends with a dramatic cliffhanger in which one of my favorite characters who isn't Lying Cat seems like he's about to die (One problem with a book like this? When all of the characters are so cool, you can't bear to see any of them die, which can make it a little stressful), a page that simultaneously includes a revelation that makes what has seemed like a kind of maybe too-precious, cliched-ish story device from the last few issues to have a perfectly reasonable, sci fi/fantasy explanation.

In between, there are board games, arguments, a funny (off-panel) sex scene and good God, sooooo much great art of sexy people and interesting looking aliens moving as if animated through artist Fiona Staples' clean, cool space-worlds.

There's also a character in one scene that is basically a bipedal fox.
That's weird; I only bought and read two comics tonight, and both involved foxes and Fiona Staples...

*I'm still not sure if I want to read Sandman Overture in singles or trade. The Sandman is one of the few comics I have in both formats. I started reading it late—with Sandman Special #1—and so read single issues going forward, trades of the older stuff, and back issues whenever I could find them. Eventually, I ended up with the whole series in trade, and most of it single issues. And given how long it's been since a Sandman comic was published, surely I can wait another six months or so for a trade of the next one, right? But what if everyone's talking about it around the water cooler all week; won't I feel left out...? 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Two not-really-reviews: The Punisher Vol. 1 and New Avengers Vol. 1: Everything Dies

I borrowed these two collections from my library a few months ago, and read them both, with the intention of sitting down to review them at some point. In both cases, I kept putting doing so off—not out of a reluctance to write about them or out of procrastination, but simply because it seemed like I always had something else more timely or more pressing to write about, and thus they kept getting pumped further down the old review pile.

In the case of the Punisher book, I did pick it up and sit before my laptop with plans to review here on my blog one weekend afternoon, but then realized that despite having read it only a month or so before that, I had completely forgotten just about everything in it it (The Punisher grew a beard, I think? And there was a lady in it?).

So instead of writing about it that afternoon, I re-read it instead. And then, a few weeks later, I had once again forgotten just about everything that occurred within the story.

At that point, I just gave up and returned the book to the library. I figured if I could read the same graphic novel twice in the course of a summer and remember so little about it's plot, characters or overall quality, well, that fact was a sort of review in and of itself, wasn't it?
Here's all I remember thinking about the book:

1.) I was conflicted about the beard. On the one hand, Frank Castle has that whole military thing going on, so he seems like he might be the kind of guy who shaves every single day, and he even still makes his bed really well.  On the other hand, as a guy who only cares about killing criminals, maybe a beard would be a nice visual signifier that he puts criminal-killing above all else in his life, even personal grooming. Maybe he should have a gigantic beard like one of those guys in that duck show, long, crazy hair with twigs in it, and maybe some flies buzzing around his head that he never takes time to bathe, because he's just too busy killing bad guys.

2.) I think he wore a goofy Punisher shirt that looks like he bought it from a comic shop's clothing rack; like, it had a white skull/Punisher logo with a sorta wash effect on it, rather than wearing, like his superhero costume (In that respect, it reminded me of the Punisher shirt worn in the second of the three terrible Punisher movies). This seemed like a misguided attempt to make the character slightly more realistic, which is just silly; a Vietnam Vet who has killed 45,000 gangsters or so in a city full of superheroes makes The Punisher maybe the least realistic Marvel character of all. Dude's far below Man-Thing and Ghost Rider and Silver Surfer on my list of Marvel characters that could maybe possibly exist in the real world somehow someday. (Looking at the cover above though, maybe it was the Rucka Woman who apprentices with The Punisher who wore the lame Punisher merch shirt? Hey, I said I could barely remember the book!)

3.) Writer Greg Rucka put that same character he writes into every comic he writes in the book: The extremely competent, extremely tough woman haunted by personal demons and blessed with model good looks. I guess it's cool that Rucka is single-handedly trying to introduce as many "strong female characters" into comics as possible, but it's weird he keeps introducing the same one over and over, only varying her hair color and name.

4.) The Punisher fights The Vulture at some point, and The Vulture is not the old bald guy in green, but a young man with a full head of hair who wears red. All I really remember about this encounter is that I really hate hate hated Brian Hitch's cover for the issue that had the Vulture/Punisher fight in it.

Look at Hitch's Vulture:
He's just, like, a guy. In a red track suit. With some streamers on his jacket. And these streamers allow him to fly, I guess...? Or maybe he has superpowers, and the streamers are just for show? What a dumb cover image.

But it was just Hitch's version of the Vulture. The one inside, the one drawn by artist Marco Checcetto (whom I remember nothing of, so he was neither spectacular nor terrible), had, like, scary eyes and claws and fuller wings and looked like a super-villain monster man.

Did any of you guys make it farther into Rucka's Punisher run than I did, and manage to maintain memory of it? Is it worth starting over again some day, and reading all of it? I kinda want to get to the War Zone conclusion, where I think he fights the Marvel Universe, but not sure it's worth reading too many boring comics to get to it.

As for the New Avengers book, I really rather liked that one, but I let so much time elapse between reading it and considering reviewing it that I felt I'd have to re-read it to do even a half-way decent job of reviewing it, and it wasn't the sort of book I felt like re-reading (Not when I have sooo many other books, comic and otherwise, to read at the moment).

It collected the first story arc or so from the re-relaunched New Avengers book by Jonathan Hickman, Steve Epting and company, part of Marvel's "Marvel NOW!" initiative. It's not really an Avengers book, and it doesn't support its title very well (The more recent Mighty Avengers seems better-suited to the New Avengers title, given that for the bulk of Brian Michael Bendis' eight-years or so on the previous two volumes of New Avengers, they were meant to be the "street-level" super-team...and to have Luke Cage in it).

It's really an Illuminati title, the unofficial name given to the cadre of Marvel smart-guys who Bendis retconned into having been secretly running the Marvel Universe (Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Namor, Dr. Strange, Professor X). But I guess The Illuminati or The New Illuminati or Marvel's Illuminati just don't sound like proper titles for Marvel comic book (I like the sound of the word Superlluminati, though)

Hickman introduces some interesting changes to the line-up, with The Black Panther joining (after flirting with previous incarnations), Captain America joining for a little while until the others realized Cap just isn't an amoral enough asshole to hang with them and, finally,  X-Man/Avenger Hank "Beast" McCoy replacing the temporarily dead Charles Xavier.

The storyline of Bendis' involving these guys that I remember most clearly was an instance that lead into Secret Invasion, which I remember pretty clearly only because it made The Skrulls look like the good guys: The Illuminati detonate one of the Skrull's giant Star Wars ships and kill, like, thousands of Skrulls.

And that's sort of the quite dark gray area Hickman positions the team in. He's come up with a terrible moral dillema for them to face. In order to save the Earth, they must continuously destroy other Earths (wiping out the population of each), given some kind of cosmic thing where parallel Earths keep being drawn toward collision with the Marvel Earth. If they do nothing, both their Earth and the other Earth will be destoryed; if they destroy the other Earth, at least their Earth will survive, but at the cost of another whole planet.

Throughout this volume, they have to wrestle with that decision over and over, but circumstances tend to keep sparing them from having to actually make it. It's an interesting, unique conflict, and one well-suited to these particular super-heroes, some of whom aren't the sort who always find a third way when faced with two bad options (Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic in particular, given their roles as the villains of Civil War).

Infinity Gems, Thanos and, I'm sure, the already in-progress Infinity crossover/event figure heavily in the title's future, but I liked that first volume just fine, and was sorta surprised that I did, having no real strong feelings about the creators involved or the characters as a group (They've generally only appeared in the most talky, least exciting issues of Bendis' books).

I was sorta surprised by Mr. Fantastic's presence though, as he and the rest of the FF are lost in time and space in Fantastic Four and FF, two books being published concurrently with New Avengers, although perhaps they're actually set before or after the events of this title. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Also, if what I heard from the reeds is true, Tom Brevoort has ass's ears.

I would like to draw your attention This is probably the best blurb I've found on the back cover of a comic book in quite a while, the second one down:
"Geoff Johns and King Midas of ancient Greek myth both have a similar trait in common: whatever they touch, no matter how lackluster or trivial, is turned into radiant gold and worthy of attention."
I like everything about that blurb.

I like how overly-complicated the structure of it is. If one wanted to make an everything-Geoff Johns-touches-turns-to-gold observation, it doesn't take quite so many words: "Like King Midas, everything Geoff Johns touches turns to gold." Period. Also acceptable, "Geoff Johns has the Midas touch."

But the writer, whose name isn't given in the blurb and whose name I am not giving here because I don't really want to make fun of him or her as much as I want to point out the out-of-context blurb as something that amused me personally, specifies where the metaphor of the Midas touch comes from ("ancient Greek myth") and then seems to work against the use of that metaphor. Johns doesn't just have the Midas touch, he has "a similar trait in common," a phrase I have trouble processing, with Midas. And here neither Johns nor Midas turn what they touch into mere gold, but to "radiant gold" that is "worthy of attention." Not normal gold, or the sort of gold you can ignore.  The blurb kind of makes me wonder if the writer actually knows the story of Midas.

I also like the fact that the comic book the blurb appears on in a collection of Justice League of America  Vol. 1: World's Most Dangerous, written by Johns, Matt Kindt and Jeff Lemire, and featuring artwork by David Finch (who draws  only parts of three of the eight issues collected, and is merely the first of 16 artists involved, despite the series being sold as a Johns/Finch one). The blurb itself is taken from a review of JLoA #2, one of the issues Finch drew.

I find it amusing that this is the comic that the writer deploys the Midas touch metaphor on because, even allowing for variations in the tastes of different critics, it seems to me that reasonable people who have read more than just DC super-comics of the past three years can agree that it is not a very good comic book. It's not even a very good Geoff Johns comic book. It's not even a very good Geoff Johns comic book about the Justice League.

I think it more accurate to say that with this comic, Johns has taken the original, the perfectly golden concept of the Justice League of America—the world's most popular superheroes and Martian Manhunter team up to fight giant starfish and other threats to big for any of them to handle alone—and turned it into, I don't know, nickel. And then Finch touched it and turned it into lead. (Wait, is lead less valuable than nickel? Because if not, reverse them. I'm just assuming lead is of no real value, as that's what alchemists used to try to turn into gold, another popular, valuable metal-based metaphor. But maybe nickel's actually worth even less. I don't know. I'm a comics critic, not a metallurgist).

But mostly I like that blurb because of the story it conjures in my head. I imagine Geoff Johns waking up and getting dressed one morning, grabbing his favorite Green Lantern logo T shirt and slipping it on, only to find that it turned to solid gold as it fell over this torso. He pulled on his jeans and socks, and each of these became gold as soon as he had them on as well. Now frightened, he reached for his baseball cap, and it too became gold upon his head.

I imagine him walking awkwardly to his desk, weighed down by his heavy, metal outfit, and as his fingers touched his computer keyboard, it too became solid gold. In horror, he realized that he wouldn't be able to write comic books anymore, so long as he suffered from this terrible affliction! He tries to call for help, but as soon as he picks up his cellphone, it's a non-functional golden objet d'art in his hand!

So he rushes into the office to tell Co-Publisher Dan DiDio of what has befallen him, and as he bursts into DiDio's office, the comics executive jumps up to greet him, reaching to shake his star writer's hand before Johns can stop him, and in an instant, Dan DiDio is no more, replaced instead by a solid gold statue of himself!

Aghast at the site of his long-time co-worker and friend rendered lifeless at his touch, Johns' mind reels, and he turns to flee the building. But he hears the voice of Co-Publisher Jim Lee in his ear, "What have you done to Dan?" and feels Lee's fingers closing around his wrist, and before he can even turn around, Lee too is a statue of gold!

Johns stumbles out of DC's offices, probably bumping into one DC editor after another, and runs down the streets of New York, screaming and crying tears that turn whatever the fall upon to gold as well. He runs to the temple of Zeus—surely there's a temple to Zeus in New York City; they've got everything there, right?—falls on his knees, throws his hands wide and looks to the heavens. "Please Zeus, remove this curse from me! It wasn't I who wished for it, but someone from PopMatters! Please, I'll do anything you ask!"

And the head of the giant marble statue of Zeus creaks as it turns to look down upon Geoff Johns, and a voice like thunder rings out, echoing against the temple walls: "Anything?" And as Johns ugently nods, Zeus' voice booms out,  "Very well, but only if you promise to change Captain Marvel's magic word to 'Zasham'...!

"Oh, and also, you must promise to read my pitch for a 12-part maxi-series to do away with the New 52 continuity! You don't have to publish it or anything, I just ask that you read it! I think you'll like it! It involves the Fifth Dimensional Thunderbolt rescuing and rallying continuity casualties like Oracle and the Batgirls and Wally West and Donna Troy, and joining forces with disaffected youth from the New 52 like Anarky and Spoiler who know that something about their universe just isn't right, and ultimately they convince many of the heroes of the New 52 to join them in battle with Pandora, who re-wove continuity to form the New 52, I guess, but you never really explained how or why you know, and then re-set history once more, this time collapsing the New 52 into the post-Crisis DCU, kinda like they did COIE with the various Earths, so you can keep the good stuff from the last few years but get rid of all the dumb stuff, of which there has been so much!

"Oh! And for God's sake, have Azzarello put me back in Wonder Woman! He's got every Greek God except me in it! It's pretty annoying!'

And Johns knows he's not supposed to accept unsolicited pitches because he could end up getting into legal trouble, but he also knows that anyone who could possibly object have already been turned to golden statues, so he ascents, and Zeus lifts the curse and Johns is promoted to publisher, since anyone more experienced than him was turned into a pure gold statue, and while he isn't able to to change Shazam's name to Zasham, publisher and deity compromise and make him Captain Marvel again, and while Zeus' maxi-series pitch is eventually rejected, he and Johns do collaborate on an event comic getting rid of the New 52, but Zeus uses a pseudonym, Z. Alan Smithee.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

DC Universe Vs. Masters of The Universe #2: Things don't get any better

I was pretty disappointed in the first issue of DC Universe Vs. Masters of The Universe, the miniseries in which the two sets of characters that have previously appeared in comic book, cartoon and toy form—most of which I had read, watched and played with as a child—share the same story-space for the length of a comic book miniseries.

That was the issue in which we learned the parameters of the conflict: John Constantine and He-Man's mom vs. Skeletor and Black Alice, for the fate of Earth-New 52! It was safe to assume that things would get better as the series progressed, as they could hardly get worse. But, you know what happens when you make an assumption...

Things do improve slightly on the getting-more-characters-from-the-DC Universe-in-the-book department, but there's no attendant uptick in quality, and the most fascinating thing about the book remains seeing how a creative team with two such rich readymade setttings and casts with the directive to weave them together can come up with something so small, uninspired, cliched and dull.

Read with me, won't you...?

For the cover of the second issue, cover artist Ed Benes returns to a too-often employed motif from his time as the primary artist on the 2006-launched volume of Justice League of America: A villain standing triumphant on a generic plane upon which are littered the prone, unconscious bodies of the Justice Leaguers. Here the villain is the Benes-designed New Look Skeletor, and the knocked-out Justice League is joined by a few knocked-out He-Man guys.

PAGES 1-4: 

Something looks slightly different about the art this time out, but Dexter Soy remains the sole credited artist on the book (although this time he does have a co-colorist, Veronica Gandini). The bigger change in the creative team comes in the writing department. Keith Giffen is no longer the sole credited writer. Here, he's credited simply with the plot, while Tony Bedard (who, like Giffen, is a writer DC seems to regularly turn to for pinch-hitting purposes) is credited with the script.

It's well worth noting that in the very first panel they address one deficiency from the first issue. The never-named black-haired lady that was more than likely Madame Xanadu is now specifically identified as such. The caption in the first panel reads, "GREENWICH VILLAGE, PLANET EARTH: The Fortune-telling Parlor of Madame Xanadu."

The action picks up right where it left off at the end of the previous issue. Evil-Lyn has just transported He-Man and Teela from their home world of Eternia what we now know is Madame Xandadu's place. There, He-Man's mom has been talking to John Constantine about Skeletor, when suddenly the place was crawling with skeleton-headed magic rat monster things.

After a few panels of futile attempts to fend them off, Evil-Lyn and Constantine unite their magical abilities to suck the monsters into something from Spencer's that Madame X. happened to have on her shelf.

To accomplish this spell, Evil-Lyn must dry-hump Constantine:
There's a little exposition, as He-Man's mom explains that she was originally an astronaut from Earth and how she crash-landed on Eternia an fell in love with its king, and the other visitors from Eternia explain that Hordak has taken over there, so they've come to fetch Skeletor to help them fight Hordak off and/or save the DC Universe from Skeletor's plan which, you'll recall last issue, involved him sucking it dry of magic at the behest of a mysterious new partner.

"Where is Skeletor, anyway?" Teela asks, setting up the next scene, which takes place on "THE JUSTICE LEAGUE SATELLITE."

PAGES 5-7:
While the intruder alert goes off, most of the members of The New 52 Justice League fly down the hallway, despite the fact that some of them (Aquaman, Batman, Cyborg) can't actually fly. Ironically, Superman, who can fly, appears to be running down the hall.

That intruder is, of course, the new, giant-sized Skeletor, who coincidentally quotes Shakespeare at the League and powers-up, Dragonball Z-style. When Superman attacks, Skeletor knocks him back and tells the assembled superheroes that he requires "powerful minions," and then shoots a bunch of skeletal faces out of his hands, shouting "Scare Glows...Attack!" 

Let us here pause to consider the Scare Glow.
He was one of the later Masters of the Universe action figures released, in 1987. By that point, I was ten, and my interest in the toys was long-past waning, and the cartoon—which was never very good—was completely supplanted from my imagination by the likes of not only G.I. Joe and Transformers, but newer shows like The Real Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, all of which revealed that just how terrible the He-Man cartoon was, even relative to other 1980s cartoon shows meant to sell toys to little boys (That was also the year I saw the live-action Masters of The Universe movie in theaters, and if ever there was a nail to hammer into a coffin of growing disinterest...)

Scare Glow, like most of the MOTU toys, had a gimmick of some sort to distinguish him. His was that he glowed-in-the dark. He essentially resembled a Skeletor action figure, were Skeletor wearing one of those skeleton Halloween costumes, with the white bones over a black body-suit. He also wore a purple cape, and was labeled "Evil Ghost of Skeletor," which could be read two ways: He was either the ghost of the dead Skeletor, or he was a ghost that worked for Skeletor.

Apparently, the latter is the more popular interpretation, but given how late Scare Glow came into being, he's a blanker canvas of a character than many of the other characters. I'm kind of sorry I never got his action figure. Glowing-in-the-dark is a pretty good gimmick for an action figure, really, and he has one of the better dumb-pun names common among those characters. Looking at the rest of the late-in-the game Masters of The Universe characters (Clamp Champ,  Rio Blast, Extendar, Ninjor, etc), he also stands out as particularly not-as-lame.

The only place I've seen him outside of a toy store aisle or Internet entry, however, was in the first story-bit that appeared in the Masters Of The Universe trade written by Giffen, James Robinson and Geoff Johns. A Scare Glow appears in the first few pages, Johns' contribution, set during Eternia's past.

It was just a skeletal ghost, reducing the character that had until that point existed only in my imagination from a proper character to a creature of some sort, not Bigfoot or The Devil, but a bigfoot or a devil (In toy line terms, Scare Glow wasn't a proper character like, say, Destro from the G.I. Joe line or The Shredder from the TMNT line but, rather, more like Cobra Trooper or Foot Soldier, a name-less minion type of which you could have doubles of and it wouldn't matter, as in your imagination there would be dozens of them anyway).

How would you use such a character in a comic book miniseries entitled DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe...? Would he cross scythes with Batman villain Scarecrow, and the latter would remark upon the strange coincidence of their similar names? Would  he fight DC's heroic ghosts like The Spectre (whose 1990s solo series featured glow-in-the-dark cover gimmicks on more than one occasion) or Deadman, or perhaps Dr. Thirteen, the so-called "Ghostbreaker"...?

Nope. Here "Scare Glow" is just the name of some ghost-things that Skeletor shoots out of the palms of his hands, in order to possess the Justice Leaguers. 

Batman alone has the presence of mind to shout "Computer: Emergency teleport!"

Why didn't Cyborg think of that? Dude's like three-fourths computer!

PAGE 8: 
Meanwhile, in Eternia, a few of the Masters there are looking for  Evil-Lynn, He-Man and Teela. Typical of what we've seen so far, these characters are all incredibly poorly introduced.

The first image of Man-At-Arms this issue features him in silhouette, from the shoulders up, in the background. He appears in three more panels: Another one as a silhouette, in an extreme long-shot; in a tight-ish close-up, seen in profile from the shoulder up; and, finally, in a close-up from the sternum up or so.

Stratos, who also appeared last issue, gets two lines and two panels, only one of which really shows the reader what the character looks like.

A few more characters appear for the very first time here.

Roboto appears in three panels, never getting a full reveal or introductory image (Close-up, medium-shot revealing a good three-fourths of his body, long-shot silhouette). Battle Cat  in two (close-up, long-shot silhouette). Moss Man, a friendly forest spirit/nature guardian that resembles a cross between the evil Beast Man and Swamp Thing (the toy used Beast Man's mold, but coated it in a fuzzy green material that smelled like pine cleaner and collected dog hair and lint like nobody's business), gets two panels and two lines of dialogue; he only appears from afar in silhouette and then in a close-up that only shows us the character from the neck up or so. It looks like he has tentacles on one shoulder, maybe...?

Luckily, Man-At-Arms has a "Horde dimensional transponder" to trace their energy signal, so they can make a rescue attempt.

PAGES 9-11:

Constantine and his group walk into the Batcave. The Batcave! I didn't know Constantine knew where the Batcave was, but I don't know, magic!

There are some interesting reactions to the decor; Evil-Lynn sees the orange-ish red T-Rex and off-model giant Joker playing card and remarks that she likes his style, whild Teela regards a row of glass cases containing uniforms (including a Pre-New 52 Robin costume and Nightwing's New 52 costume...for some reason...?) and remarks, "Let's get out of here. I think he kills kids--!"

Batman stumbles out of a column of...teleporter energy, a Scare Glow still clutching at his cape, and He-Man cuts off the Scare Glow's arm, the rest of it disappearing with the column of energy. Batman is not happy to them there in his secret headquarters, and, in the best moment of the comic, enforces his no smoking policy.

Then Soy draws the strangest images of Batman's cowl I've ever seen:
Some artists—almost all of 'em, actually—draw Batman with white triangle eyes, caused either by the way he mask fits, like a sort of artistic flourish, or by the fact that he has lenses in the eye-holes in his cowl (that's been the case for as long as I've been reading comics anyway; we've all seen comics where he's got night-vision or infrared capabilities in his lenses, right? And sometimes he even has, like, Terminator-style data appearing before his eye on it, via built-in, high-tech computer what-have-you...?

Other artists draw Batman with eyeballs visible in his cowl. It's mostly just Alex Ross who does that these days, and, obviously, the live-action Batmen have all had eyeballs instead of white triangles in their cowls.

But Soy draws the cowl eye-holes big enough to sh ow the skin all around Batman's eyes, and gives him white, pupil-less eyes, as if he were wearing white contact lenses. Only in this one, single image though.

Teela gets in a pretty good jab at Batman, provided you know who or what Hordak is already, and then we finally get to some DC Universe vs. a Master of the Universe.

PAGES 12- 17:

Fight! Superman arrives in the Batcave, his eyes glowing purple. He is now in Skeletor's thrall!
He throws Batman, Constantine and some black shapes so hard that they literally smash through the roof of the Batcave, arc high into the air in front of stately Wayne Manor, and crash back to the ground so hard they crack it.

And they live!

Or wait, wait wait. Now that I'm looking at this scene for the fourth time, I see that the huge hole might have been created when Superman flew through the ground and landed in the Batcave, not by Batman and company's bodies being thrown through the roof of the cave. That would make more sense; if that's what  happened, then it's only remarkable that Batman and Constantine survided that incredible fall.

Or, I don't know, maybe that's not Constantine, but He-Man, and that jagged black bit is meant to be his sword, not a piece of a trench coat. Yeah, that must be He-Man.  Makes sense, given his placement in the next panel.

Shitty art! It sure makes it harder to read a comic book!

(I wonder what that gray bit in the corner of the last panel there is mean to be...? Some part of Cyborg maybe...?)

So anyway, the possessed League shows up, and there are a few panels of some fighting. Teela shoots Aquaman to no avail, and gets flying kicked from behind by Wonder Woman.

The Flash grabs He-Man's mom, and He-Man punches the flash. The Superman returns to the scene and shit gets real.

How real?
Superman—possessed by Skeletor, remember—shoots his heat-vision directly into He-Man's eyes at point-blank range...! And He-Man's okay? I know he's supposed to be super-strong and all, but his eyeballs are strong enough to repel Superman's heat-vision...? That's a lot more strength than I would have imagined He-Man to have, but, I don't know, maybe the fact that his strength is somehow magical (I think; I don't know the origin of this version of the character) makes him more resistant to Superman's powers...? But wait, that can't be right, or else when he kicks Superman in the chest, a "magic" kick should have have had greater effect, right...?

Oh, and also Teela is super-strong too, I guess, as not only did Wonder Woman's kick not kill her, but she's even not being strangled to death when Wondy tries garroting her!

PAGE 18-19:

In a two-page spread, He-Man stabs his over-sized super-sword, now crackling with electricity,  right into the middle of Superman's S-shield, a good foot or two of blade sticking out of Superman's back. With a loud, red, wiggly SKLUTCH, He-Man has impaled the possessed Superman! Everyone else reacts with wide-eyed, slack-jawed surprise, even the possessed Leaguers.

PAGE 20: 

He-Man withdraws his blade, Superman THUMPs onto his back, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern at least seem to come out of Skeletor's spell, and Batman makes a face that looks like its got bits of disgust, anguish and about-to-cry in it, shouting in a red circled dialogue balloon, "What have you done?!"

He's obviously just totally killed Superman forever, Batman, and now DC's going to cancel Action Comics and Superman and Batman/Superman and Superman/Wonder Woman and you're going to have to start hanging out with Shazam or Martian Manhunter now. Obviously.

Or I don't know, maybe one of the three wizards on the scene can magic away traumatic stabbing wounds...? I guess we'll find out next month, because I am not going to stop reading a Justice League/He-Man comic no matter how poorly made it is or how much of a waste of raw story material it may be.
And to think I used to think DC Comics Presents #47 was a lame comic! Look, Giffen and Bedard just took Superman's anxious thoughts from the cover of a 1982 comic book for children, and realized them, in a graphic and gruesome fashion in an attempt to please those same children now that they're adults! It's DC's business entire business model, demonstrated in a single scene of a single comic book.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Comic shop comics: October 23

Adventures of Superman #6  (DC Comics) This issue of the digital-first, Legends of the Dark Knight-style Superman book is even more divorced from continuity than usual. It's essentially a(nother) new origin story for Superman, this one condensed into just 30 pages, and jumping around enough that it doesn't quite seem like writer J.T. Krul's treatment for a Superman reboot movie, but, certainly reads like it could have been derived from it.
Superman stops some alien invaders, goes to the Fortress of Solitude to talk to Hologram Dad and Phantom Zone Zod (the two ghostly Kryptonians arguing over Superman's head at one point), fights off Mongul, who is invading Earth personally (and, in his big fight scene against first the U.S. military and then Superman, acts like a more articulate yellow Hulk in a body-sock), meets Green Lantern Hal Jordan and then goes to Metropolis to get a job and get a name from Lois Lane.

It's not a bad origin, just sort of odd to see it at all, really. (In this telling, Batman and Green Lantern are both around and fairly well known before Superman is even called "Superman," and at one point Superman tells Hal that he's not the first Green Lantern he's ever met).

It's a great showcase for artist Marcus To, though. Beautifully colored by Ian Herring, To's art is as smooth, clean and kinetic as always. His is one of the best Monguls I've ever seen this side of Dave Gibbons, and I probably say this every time I talk about one of these, but nothing really makes one appreciate how great that Superman costume design in like reading a bunch of comics where Superman's wearing a different costume.

Daredevil #32 (Marvel Entertainment) As great as Chris Samnee's cover, of Daredevil standing between a mob of angry villagers and the (or "a"...?) Legion of Monsters is, I kind of which they would have downplayed the guest-stars on the cover, as Mark Waid and Samnee have a sort of surprise reveal of them within the story itself, and spent a decent amount of energy building up towards a reversal.

There's some fun commentary in here regarding race and monsters, fun enough that it more than made up for the uncomfortable weirdness of seeing Waid trying to use a Marvel Universe analogue to the George Zimmerman trial last issue. (This story's inclusion of the monsters alongside the white supremacist hate groups The Sons of the Serpent got me thinking about the nature of racism in the Marvel Universe though. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm trivializing something from the real world in the course of talking about comics, but I wonder if racism would exist, or exist to such an extent, in a world where there were so many mutants, aliens, monsters, androids and other humanoid species like the Atlanteans and so on. I would think the 616 KKK would have so many other people to hate and fear and fight that black folks would be relatively low on their list, given that black people are still, you know, people).

At any rate, I like the way Mark Waid writes Marvel characters. And I like the way Chris Samnee draws Marvel characters. So it was a pleasure to see them do not only Daredevil, but also Doctor Strange and the fearsome fivesome on the cover there this issue.

FF #13 (Marvel) I was about half-way through this issue before I remembered that Matt Fraction was no longer writing it, but that Lee Allred had taken over the book, working from Fraction's plot outlines or something like that (Lee Allred gets a script credit, and shares a story credit with Fraction).

In other words, this is just as good as when Fraction was the sole writer, and perhaps even better (That gag about Uatu's name that Bentley-23 made was a great one. Has no one made that joke before? It seems like a joke someone should have made by now).

In this issue, we find out whether or not the substitute Fantastic Four and the children of The Future Foundation were all terribly killed in that time/space portal accident last issue or not (they weren't), and we discover that Scott Lang had a brilliant-ish plan to remove them all from Doctor Doom's prying eyes  and find them a totally sweet headquarters (They're crashing at Uatu's place, which they've taken over by force using what is totally, definitely the Ultimate Nullifier).

Also, multiple, alternate versions of the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes (!!!) fight the kids of the FF. And it's just as rad as it sounds.

Young Avengers #11 (Marvel) Loki and Noh-Varr get new looks (the former's more radical than the latter's) as the team prepares for a frontal assault on Mother to save Hulking, and Prodigy uses the power of social media to  rally what looks to be damn near every single young superhero in the Marvel Universe to fend off an invasion from an extra-dimensional army (The reveal of that is maybe the most striking image in a comic book that remains full of great art by Jamie McKelvie, co-inker Mike Norton and extra co-inker Kris Anka.

I've grown a little tired of this plot-line (Note to comics writers, particularly Brian Azzarello: Story arcs of 12 issues or longer better be really, really, really exciting if they're gonna be that goddam long), but it seems to be coming to a head and, hopefully, the book will move on to something else soon. McKelvie and company's art is so good though that even when the Gillen's plotting and dialogue fails to completely engage me, the imagery more than compensates.

Zombie War #1 (IDW) According to Joe McCulloch, this is a reprinting of a 1991 effort originally published by FantaCo and Tundra, written by Kevin Eastman and Tom Skulan and drawn by Eastman and occasional TMNT collaborator and creator Eric Talbot. "Eastman and Talbot" were pretty much all I needed to know to want to check this out and, well, it's kind of horrible.

The plot, such as it is, involves an alien using Plan 9 From Outer Space—You know, raising an army of the undead to wipe out humanity. When the alien's ship is downed and he finds himself stranded on Earth among the mayhem he started, he's forced into an uneasy alliance with a female air force pilot, first seen in the nude the locker room.

Much of the story, which is a very fast, very fleet one, with the most of Earth conquered before this first of two issues is even half over, is communicated through news reports. It may have been originally released in 1991, but man, it sure reads like 1988.

On the other hand, Eastman and Talbot. I like the work of both artists as individuals and as a team—perhaps partly for nostalgic reasons, but mostly for aesthetic reasons—and it was great to see these panel-packed pages, with their rough, thickly-inked borders, the hand-lettered sound effects and dialogue bubbles fiercely carved into the paper, and the rough hewn lines of smoke clouds, vapor trails, gun shots and laser blasts (It seems that it's in color though. It really looks like it should be black and white. Or at least more black and white than it is. Here are a few pages of it, if you like).

Arriving so long ago, this predates the current Zombie Age of comics, and it's probably worth noting that Eastman and company's zombies are of a slightly different variety than the more commonplace. They still crave human flesh, and they are still pretty much super-strong, tearing off heads and limbs with ease (One even tears a whole human being in half, horizontally), but they're also capable of speech ("GOOD MORNING FUCKER!!" is the first zombie-spoken dialogue, and from there they go on to taunt opponents and one, wearing the helmet of a Roman warrior, even makes a speech to his zombie troops) and tool use.

I can't really recommend the comic to anyone who isn't already a fan of Eastman and/or Talbot's, as its fairly trashy and uninspired, even within the too-sizable genre of comics about zombies, but I sure liked looking at the pages. Far more than I enjoyed reading them.

Oh, and hey, there's a guy named "Chet" in this. What's with Eastman and the name Chet...? Some comics journalist somewhere should really get on that...

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I reviewed Jeffrey Brown's new Star Wars: Jedi Academy comic/prose hybrid book for kids (and Star Wars fans of all ages) for Good Comic For Kids. Above is the page in which our young protagonist, Roan Novachez, meets one of his instructors: Yoda. My favorite bits involved Yoda's interaction with the students, and the ways Brown chose to depict the communication of the Wookie gym teacher and resident astromech with the students.

Here are two things I didn't mention in my review.

First, I was struck by how racist Roan's comic strip Ewok Pilot scanned to me, as its premise is that a primitive, spear-chucking savage who can't speak space-English is a fighter pilot; I'm positive it wasn't Brown's intention, but imagine its Earth-bound equivalent, like, say, Pygmy Cavalryman, about an African pygmy who joins the British cavalry and the hilarity that ensued. That would have been wildly offensive were it published anytime after, like, the 1940s, wouldn't it....?

Second, I kept wondering how close this was set to Episode III, and if Roan and all his classmates were going to be massacred by Anakin Skywalker shortly after the events of the story.

Elsewhere, I reviewed Paul Pope's Battling Boy for Las Vegas Weekly today. It is a very good comic, and I liked it a whole lot.

If you'd like a second, longer, more thorough opinion, might I suggest Charles Hatfield's review for The Comics Journal...?  I agree with much of what he said, although I did not find the size of the book—typical First Second trade size—to be any sort of detriment. It was manga-sized, or thereabouts, which seemed to fit Pope's pacing just fine (On the other hand, I didn't read that chapter that was previously published in a larger format, so I didn't have something to compare it to the way Hatfield did).

Worth noting? It's a very Kirby-influenced work, with the title character being the son of a character that Pope seems to have arrived at my meshing Jack Kirby's Fourth World hero Orion (and the character's setting and cast) with that of Jack Kirby's Thor (and that character's setting and cast).  So I couldn't stop thinking about Keith Giffen and John Romita Jr.'s Marvel/DC "Amalgam" comic Thorion of the New Asgods, which literally amalgamated those characters together as part of the two publisher's line-wide crossover/event.

These "Ligons" from Hinterkind annoyed me so much. Almost as much as the zebra on top of the skyscraper. Everything else was pretty good though.
And, finally, today at Robot 6 I reviewed the launches of a quartet of the Vertigo imprint's new seriesCoffin  HillCollider/FBP: Federal Bureau of PhysicsHinterkind and Trillium—and I finally got to use a dumb headline joke I've been dying to use for longer than I want to admit.

In other, non-Caleb news...

—When I mentioned Marvel's plans for finally releasing Miracleman serially via over-priced, variant cover-laden floppies the other day, I barely took the time to note that good God that's a lot of variants, and to laugh at how weird Alan Moore's "Written by He Who Shall Not Be Named" credit looked, so I'd recommend Mike Sterling's thorough post dissecting that solicitation and Marvel's apparent plans. Not only is it never not a good idea to check out Sterling's blog (well, almost never), but as a guy who sells comic books for a living and as someone very familiar with the original series (I've never read a panel of it), Sterling's thoughts on the matter of what might be the best way and what might be a not-so-good-way to make that material available for today's market place are probably worthy of consideration.

—And hey, speaking of Miracleman, Tom Bondurant's column at Robot 6 this week is all  about the character and how he's similar and different to Fawcett-then-DC's Captain Marvel, the character he was created to take the place of. One of the striking things I noticed while reading Bondurant's column is that DC doesn't seem to have ever just tried to do Captain Marvel "straight" (Ordway's attempt being probably the closest). Rather, they are always trying to reinvent the character in some way to make him work, but they don't seem to have really ever tried the path of least resistance, despite having had several continuity reboots in which to attempt doing a DCU version of the character as he was originally created. As with Wonder Woman, I really don't see what's so damn hard to "get" about the character, but (again) like Wonder Woman, he seems to be a character the publisher is constantly trying to fix.

—I'm going to have to assume that this post on Comics Reporter, in which Tom Spurgeon solicited his readers to suggest books that are perhaps in danger of going under-appreciated this year (and with only about two months left until we're neck-deep in best of 2013 lists) is a good one, as I personally have only read and reviewed two of the 35 on the list (and I had only heard of, or remember hearing of, maybe a half-dozen or so more, one of which I only remember because someone, I think Spurgeon, ran a picture of its cover before, and that cover features a naked lady, which is a pretty good mnemonic device). Spurgeon offers additional commentary here.

Oh Red Lanterns, you may be weird, unpleasant and poorly-drawn...

...but I just can't seem to bring myself to dislike you either, thanks to images like these.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Wolverine Vol. 1: Hunting Season

This trade collects the first six issues of the latest volume of the Marvel's Wolverine comic book, recently relaunched as part of the publisher's successful "Marvel NOW!" campaign. It's written by Paul Cornell, an inventive writer known for highly imaginative plots and delivering extremely "comic book-y" stories that teeter on the edge of crazy with a completely straight face. It's mostly drawn by pencil artist Alan Davis, an old hand who has been regularly producing slick superhero art since long before I had ever read my first comic book (He's working here with his frequent partner, inker Mark Farmer).

It's a good example of what has made the post-Marvel Now line of comics so successful, from a creative standpoint (although, as far as I can tell, they're doing just fine in sales as well, and still regularly beating DC in their ages-old war for direct market market share).

Good Writer + Good Artist + Popular Comic Book Character = Good, Popular Comics.

The formula here is tweaked somewhat slightly, as so many of the Marvel Now relaunches were, by the fact that the good writer and good artist just so happen to be ones that the average comics reader might not have thought would be a good fit for the character, and the fact that they're leaning hard in a direction that is far from the predominant one for the character and book.

This is Wolverine as superhero, the character somewhat divested from his large supporting cast/s, his unwieldy history/continuity and the emphasis taken off of his personal demons and his bloodthirsty stabbiness. Cornell isn't writing an "Ultimate" Wolverine, of course, and there are explanations given as to why Wolverine doesn't call the Avengers or X-Men for help with this particular conflict, and he makes references to his past, his long life and some of the significant events and people in it, but they are just mentions, organic and natural: If you get them, you get them and, if you don't, the panel or scene, let alone the whole story, hardly demands that you do.

One way of stating just how pure a superhero story this is might be to say that you could take Wolverine out of it and plug in another hero, but while that's true in the broadest sense—Wolverine is fighting some kind of mind-controlling, hive-mind alien life-form that have a connection to a mysterious high-tech weapon—Cornell builds the story around this more-or-less generic superhero threat specific reactions to Wolverine's powers and behavior.

Long story short, this is a Wolverine comic book for people who don't necessarily know, like or even care all that much about Wolverine...while at the same time being an extremely polished comic book for fans of the character as well. It's a Wolverine comic book about Wolverine, not a Wolverine comic book about other Wolverine comic books, if that makes sense.

While it was surprisingly good, two words in that particular order I keep returning to with the Marvel Now books I sample, it was far from perfect, but I like to think that in a perfect world, this would be the base-line for a mainstream superhero comic: Smartly made by highly-skilled professionals trying something new with old, familiar toys in an attempt to reach new readers without sacrificing old ones.

What keeps it from being perfect? Well, it's still a Wolverine comic book, and at the risk of sounding snobby, I think it's safe to say that the most a Wolverine comic book can aspire to being is a perfect Wolverine comic book, not a perfect comic book in general.

Beyond that, some of the individual chapters seemed a little too fleet; they're constructed with beginnings, middles and cliffhanger endings, but sometimes those endings seemed awfully close to the middles, and I imagine that could have made the serially-published books a bit of a disappointment to read (This wasn't a $3.99 comic, was it? Oh God it was).

The bigger problem was that two-thirds of the way through this trade, and this story, Davis disappeared, and was replaced by a Mirco Pierfederici, with a trio of inkers finishing his art (Karl Kesel and Zach Fischer on #5, Tom Palmer on #6). Marvel tried to cover for the fact that there's fill-in art here, by labeling the first four issues as part of a four-part "Hunting Season" arc and the last two issues as a two-part "Drowning Logan" arc, but its an unconvincing attempt; this is all one story, with nothing differentiating the two arcs from one another aside from the fact that the art changes and Marvel labeled them as different stories (a distinction made all the more clear when read in a single collection like this).

Pierfederici and company's art isn't bad or incompetent or anything, but it is quite obviously not that of Davis, which was a good one-third to one-half of the book's selling point (see the Marvel Now formula stated above), and since Davis is around for the first two-thirds of the story, he's there more than long enough to establish a distinct look and tone for the book, which Marvel then blows by having a clearly rushed fill-in artist swoop in (I do hope this wasn't published at the accelerated, more-than-monthly schedule of so many of Marvel's current comics, because, if so, then they reeeaaallly screwed this one up pretty thoroughly, and there aren't any convincing excuses as to why they might have done so).

I did note while reading that Pierfederici's character design was a bit off—he's missing a stripe that Davis has on Wolvie's costume in his chapters—but then, the colorist made a postal uniform red and yellow instead of blue in an earlier chapter too, so maybe they're just sort of rushed all-around in the production of this comic?

The disappointing fumbling of the ending aside—looking at the credits for the serial issues that follow those contained here, it looks like Pierfederici draws #7 as well and then Davis returns after a three-issue break—this was a nice, clean break from the Wolverine comic/s that preceded it (and I really liked those Jason Aaron ones), and appears to be an interesting take on the character with several promising narrative paths to explore.

It's just too bad Marvel can't manage their scheduling better (And that they insist on charging so much for their damn comic books; this is a perfect example of a comic book I'd happily have on my pull-list and buy and read monthly at $2.99, but at $4-a-pop will happily wait to read in borrowed-from-the-library trade).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Marvel's January previews reviewed

Marvel Entertainment has some comics coming out in January of next year. In fact, they have a lot of comic books coming out in January of next year. And if you don't believe me, you can click this link, and you will see that I am indeed correct, and how dare you accuse me of lying about this rather important matter?

I'm almost tempted not to share my thoughts about some of those books with you now. Almost.

• Eisner Award winner James Robinson (STARMAN, EARTH 2) returns to MARVEL, uniting with Steve Pugh (ANIMAL MAN, HOTWIRE, GEN-X) to create a unique, modern day take on the INVADERS.
• The KREE EMPIRE intends to conquer the universe using a weapon that will grant them an army of NORSE GODS.
• It falls to four heroes united by their past—CAPTAIN AMERICA, NAMOR, THE ORIGINAL HUMAN TORCH and the WINTER SOLDIER—who must now face the future and wage war against the Kree to save Earth.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

$3.99? $3.99?! You maniacs! I was really looking forward to adding this title to my pull-list! Welllll, I guess I'll just file it in my "Borrow The Trade From The Library, Someday" bank in my brain. Which is just as well, given how many disappointing Robinson-written comics there are, and the fact that the most recent Pugh art I've seen (in the new volume of Animal Man) hasn't been as good as other Pugh art I've seen (those Christina Ricci: Ghost Hunter comics for Radical, Shark-Man and the first volume of Animal Man).

Well, as a fan of Namor being a dick to other superheroes, I sincerely hope this lasts longer than, say, Fearless Defenders, but at that price point, it's hard to see an Invaders title lasting too too long...

Hey, by the way, where's Toro? Did they re-kill him somewheres, and I missed it, and/or read it and forgot about it...?

“The Trial of Jean Grey”
The arrival of the original X-Men in the present sent shockwaves through the Marvel Universe, but we’ve only seen the effects on Earth. When alien races learn that Jean Grey, host of the destructive Phoenix Force, is back on earth, they do something about it. Now it’s up to the rest of the All-New X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy to save Jean Grey from twisted intergalactic justice! Don’t miss two of Marvel’s biggest franchises crossing over for the first time!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I think you need more than one title to be considered a franchise, actually.

And hey, I didn't realize the All-Original X-Men had gotten new costumes, and that they were terrible costumes! Although I like that old snowman-look for Iceman...

Oh, and yes, I see that there is a ".Now" attached to the number of this particular comic book (as there is to quite a few other comics in this month's solicitations, but I'm pretending I'm not seeing it, and therefore will not be commenting on it).

...“After the Fall”
After the fall of the Inhuman City Attilan and the explosion of the Terrigen Bomb, thousands of people across the globe with no connection to the strange super race have transformed into Inhumans! The transformations have given them powers that are dangerous and terrifying, making them targets. With Inhuman king Black Bolt believed dead, is there anyone for these new Inhumans to turn to?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Sooooooo, they're having Matt Fraction re-do Ultimate X-Men, but set in the mainstream Marvel universe, and with the word "inhuman" replacing "mutant"...? Huh. Okay. 

I don't really see how a Joe Madureira ongoing is the least bit feasible, but maybe this is just a one-shot...? 

Also, there are of course a bunch of variants for this, which I clipped the listings of, because who cares, but the image above is the Milo Manara one. I wanted to highlight it because I love the way Manera draws the female form, even clad in this weird, sheer, body-sock that self-sensors Medusa's nipples and lady bits. I particularly like the super-scary look on her face, and how he makes "long, prehensile hair" look horrifying rather than cute or fun; it looks like she's got 30 cubic feet of giant jellyfish tentacles on the back of her head. 

Hey, who's that big, bearded, hat-wearing guy on Kalman Andrasofszky's cover to Mighty Avengers...? Is Tom Brevoort joining the team? Jeez, they really are making everyone an Avenger these days...




• KIMOTA! With one magic word, a long-forgotten legend lives again!
• Freelance reporter Michael Moran always knew he was meant for something more -- now, a strange series of events leads him to reclaim his destiny!
• Relive the ground-breaking eighties adventures that captured lightning in a bottle -- or experience them for the first time -- in these digitally restored, fully relettered editions!
• Issue 1 includes material originally presented in WARRIOR #1 and MIRACLEMAN #1, plus the MARVELMAN PRIMER. Issue #2 includes material originally presented in WARRIOR #1-5, plus bonus material.
ISSUE #1 – 64 PGS./Parental Advisory…$5.99
ISSUE #2 – 48 PGS./Parental Advisory…$4.99

Okay, this time I did not excise the listings of variant covers, just because I wanted to point out that holy shit that is a lot of variant covers.

I'm...not sure what I think about this series. Like, I've always wanted to read these comics, based on how much they've been talked about, but more in a, "Boy, I wish a trade paperback collecting them existed that I could buy," more so then wishing one of the Big Two would acquire the rights and spend a few years ironing out details so they could...well, shit, I don't even know what's going on here. I guess they're reprinting the originals from the Alan Moore period, at a super-high price point, and with Joe Quesada covers getting in the way...?

Also, what's with the "The Original Writer" credit? I assume that's Alan Moore (although he's not the original writer, since the character pre-dates him by a significant span of time), and that his name has been taken off for some reason, but that's...weird, and I don't really think a writer has the right to remove their name from their own work.

Like, I understand why he might want to, as his name would only help sell this more widely (and before anyone says anything like "Alan Moore needs to get over themselves, do note the continued presence of comics he wrote decades ago in best-selling lists; no Western writer has sold as many graphic novels for DC Comics as Alan Moore has). And I can certainly see wanting your name removed from a media adaptation, particularly when you have a co-creator whose name works just fine in a film's credit sequence, but I don't think it makes sense to remove it from comics you already wrote and are simply being republished.

I guess it's cool that Marvel would be doing that—I assume that's what's going on, but I don't really want to read a 12-part series on The Beat or something to learn for sure—to respect Moore's wishes, but I find it quite weird.

Variant Cover by TBD
Part 1 of “Revolutionary War”
• Marvel UK’s greatest heroes come together for the first time in 20 years to face a threat that could destroy the world.
• Featuring Captain Britain, Pete Wisdom, Death’s Head II, Motormouth and Killpower, the Warheads and a host of British heroes.
32 PGS./ ONE-SHOT/Rated T+ …$3.99

This sounds fun, although I don't understand the numbering. There are two more comics in this months solicits entitled Revolutionary War, and while it sure looks like a miniseries, they're publishing each issue with a different sub-title, a #1 and referring to them each as one-shots, even though each solicitation notes that its "Part 1" or "Part 2" or "Part 2."

The price point makes it a wait-for-the trade book, but I'll certainly be eager to read that trade when it comes out.

Secret Avengers #14
• The traitor at the heart of the group is revealed.
• Mockingbird faces a crossroads that threatens to tear her apart.
• Travel to the past. See the future.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Surely "To MA.I.M. a Mockingbird" would work better, sans the "HOW" wouldn't it...?

Although I'm not sure it's a good idea to include both a literary allusion and a pun in the very same story title...

Issues # 20.NOW & #21 – “NO MERCY” Parts 1 and 2
GHOST RIDER JOINS THE THUNDERBOLTS! General Ross’s Thunderbolts were brought together to clean up problems no one else could…but what about when the problem is ON the team? The seemingly all-powerful madwoman called Mercy has gone too far, slaughtering innocent people to fulfill her twisted mission of mercy. Who can the team turn to to help take down this powerhouse? How about Johnny Blaze, the original Ghost Rider? Can he save the team before it all goes to hell? Or will he lead them there?
32 PGS. (EACH)/Parental Advisory …$2.99 (EACH)

Hmmm, I don't think Ghost Rider is red enough for this team. Get him a new jacket, STAT!