Monthly archives: April, 2006

This Wednesday: Civil War #1 vs. Infinite Crisis #7

Civil War 1Last October, Marvel tried to one-up DC’s Infinite Crisis #1 by shipping House of M #7 the same week. Now DC’s returning the favor by shipping IC #7 May 3, the same day as Civil War #1. And just like last time, DC will come out on top.

On one side, you’ve got the beginning of another overly-hyped Marvel crossover touted as the most important ever but destined to go down as slightly more meaningful than Operation: Zero Tolerance featuring the death of the New Warriors and Captain America getting in an argument with Iron Man.

On the other, the end of the biggest DC event in 20 years featuring Superboy-Prime vs. Superman, Earth-2 Superman, Martian Manhunter, Power Girl and every single Green Lantern and every other DC hero vs. every other DC villain.

Infinite Crisis 7

5.03.06 Whose side are you on?

Putting the ass in ASSBAR

So All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, or ASSBAR, is all kinds of late. Issue #5 has been resolicited for a July 12 release. And here’s the Frank Miller cover to the issue:


ASSBAR indeed.

“The worst thing we can do is have everyone like it.” -Idiot

I just read an article from Wizard #175, about a Marvel writers “summit” regarding Civil War and the Marvel Universe during the rest of 2006. In it, creators including Brian Michael Bendis, Joss Whedon, Joe Quesada, Mark Millar and J. Michael Stracynski are discussing the possibility of bringing a certain character back from I beg to differ.the dead. Wizard’s Mike Cotton writes, “Some argue that today’s fans know the character being suggested as a candidate as a symbol rather than as a person. Others simply long for the character’s return. Still others explain it just ‘feels’ wrong, like a stunt.”

Then Jeph Loeb makes what might possibly be the stupidest (yes, I said stupidest, and spell check didn’t correct me) comment I’ve ever heard regarding comics. “What interests me most about this idea is that 80 to 90 percent of the people think it’s a bad idea,” says Loeb. “People will talk about this for years. The worst thing we can do is have everyone like it.

What?! The worst thing you can do is have everyone like it?! Isn’t the worst thing you could do is write a story so bad that no one wanted to buy it? And isn’t the best thing you could do write a story that everyone loved so much that they all wanted to buy it?

You know what ideas “80 to 90 percent of people” thought were bad? You know what people have been talking about for years? The Clone Saga. Heroes Reborn. Hypertime. Armageddon 2000. Why on God’s green Earth would you think following the formula that gave us those gems would produce a winner when all Cap Wolfthe evidence points to something closer to Cap-Wolf?

Now you know what else people have been talking about for years? Watchmen. The Dark Knight Returns. Kingdom Come. Marvels. Maus. But people don’t talk about them because they shook up the industry years ago.

People talk about them because they’re good stories, because they liked them. And good stories will continue to sell themselves long after the controversy has died down. Ten years from now we could be saying, “Man, Infinite Crisis still holds up as one of the greatest superhero comics of all time.” Or we could be saying, “Hey, remember when Marvel brought back Gwen Stacy a while ago (or Uncle Ben, or Mar-Vell, the only three I think fit the description up top)? Wasn’t that a disaster?”

My first comics

The first comic I read:

I don’t recall which ones they were. I also was introduced by a cousin. He lived in South Korea, and could buy comics there for a dime apiece. The rare times he visited, he’d bring a huge stack and share them with another cousin and I. I vaguely remember some G.I. Joe issues (which were really quite good, at least to a kid) and I’m pretty sure he had the Spider-Man issue with Gwen Stacy’s death.

I then visited the local store on occasion, saving up enough allowance (yep, $1 a week for me too) and buying issues when I could.

The first comic I bought:

Image hosting by PhotobucketI’m really unsure of this one. I have quite a few (in a box back home in western Nebraska) that are from 1989, so I know that was the year I started. One of the first I recall is Amazing Spider-Man #310, which was a pretty unremarkable issue in which Spidey battled Killer Shrike. It was also a Todd McFarlane issue. I thought it was pretty cool, and Mary Jane was hot.

Other early issues include some G.I. Joe (I swear, it was good) though I don’t recall the issue numbers. I really need to dig back through those.

The first comic that had me hooked:

Strangely, I think the one that got me was the exact same one that got Jim. I read that Uncanny X-Men till it lost the cover. I didn’t have the benefit of friends who knew the backstory, so I was forced to buy more issues to learn about all the rich history of mutants.

I was still pretty young, and I think what hooked me most was the idea of mutants, and how my cousin and I could pretend to be them while we spent the majority of our time playing. Not always, but a good majority of the time we spent playing, we were imagining ourselves as mutants.

I almost always would be Colossus. I identified with him for some reason, though I’m not Russian and my skin breaks quite readily. Maybe it was just that he was on the cover of that issue, and it was cool.

The first comic that lost me:

It was the second issue of the Onslaught series. I’d just waded through Age of Apocalypse, which was good if overly large. I didn’t need more gigantic storylines that made no sense. And I didn’t need an evil Charles Xavier.

I had started moving away from comics, and that just sealed the deal. I didn’t pick up another book (and never really missed comics) for many years.

The first comic that brought me back:

Jim and I worked together and were friends through school, and I eventually learned that he read comics. He tried a little to get me to read some again, but I resisted at first. Finally, I went along for a trip to the comic book shop.

Image hosting by PhotobucketI don’t know what I tried reading at first, but I recall being on the fence about whether it was worthwhile to keep on reading. Then I picked up Ultimate X-Men #41, a stand-alone issue, and one that just put me on my ass.

In it, Brian Michael Bendis follows a single mutant whose unfortunate power finally manifests. His ability? To kill everyone near him, unintentionally. He runs away. Wolverine tracks him down, healing power keeping him safe. They chat, and Wolvie kills the boy, though it goes unseen.

It was just a well told story, with strong art. But it was so different from what I’d been seeing when I dropped comics, so much better, that I knew I was hooked again.

My firsts

Following along with the 2 Guys Buying Comics’ “First Week,” here’s my contribution.

First Comic I Read:
Uncanny X-Men #212

My cousins were a huge influence on everything cultural that I liked. They were just as responsible for getting me interested in comic books as they were getting me into Public Enemy. As much fun as I had hanging out with them, when we’d go visit them, I started going straight to their boxes of comics.

I’m pretty sure I started with Uncanny X-Men #212 because the cover looked fun to draw. I’d gone through enough attempts at playing Marvel Super-Heroes with them that I knew who Wolverine was; I knew he was the default favorite character. So I wanted to draw him.

This would have been during the Mutant Massacre, but to be honest, I don’t remember the story at all. As far as reading goes, I really only remember thinking the word “Uncanny” was weird. The appeal to me was the art. I loved drawing, and here was a box full of pictures to emulate. So I remember drawing that cover, and I remember drawing the cover to #213, with the Alan Davis closeup of Wolverine and Sabretooth.

After I drew enough covers, I started reading the insides. After I asked enough questions, I started thinking, “I could get into this.”

First Comic Purchased
X-Men Classics #58

Once I finally made the transition from baseball cards to comic books, I needed to figure out where I could buy them. Unfortunately, the only place I had ever seen comics for sale was Allison’s Drug Store in Auburn. I started tagging along with my mom on the Saturday morning trips to town, and this was the first issue I picked up.

At first I was excited to get this brand new issue of X-Men, with all this stuff about Corsair, the Starjammers and the secret de-orphanization of Cyclops…but it didn’t take long for me to feel a little cheated. First off, I thought this Mignola guy who drew the cover really wasn’t any good — his art was all blocky and didn’t have very many lines. Secondly, I quickly discovered that this was a reprint of an older issue. I felt like, as this small-town drugstore-shopping kid, I was being mocked for my isolation. I was trying to get into their world, and here it was like they were making it as clear as possible that something was going on in the lives of the X-Men, but ha ha, I was stuck in the reprints.

But it was all I had, and until Pamida got comics a few years later, it was all I was going to get. Other than the reprints of the 1970s Ghost Rider, it was really the only series that you could find month to month.

Once I came to terms with its reprint nature, I started longing for the days (and calculating how long it would take) before X-Men Classics started reprinting those issues I’d read in the beginning at my cousins’ house. Sadly, it didn’t make it that far.

First Comic To Hook Me:
Uncanny X-Men #279

I owe my current fascination to a guy named Brandon Bruckner from Norfolk. I met Brandon at Academic Adventures Camp in Peru, Nebraska. He was my roommate one year, and we didn’t get along at all. Then the next year, we were pretty much inseparable.

Brandon loved comics, and he brought a lot with him. He indoctrinated me into the world. I’d had my initial exposure from my cousins, but Brandon taught me everything I thought I needed to know. Between him and Scott Sachs and Jaime Bellmyer, we created a comic at camp called X-Dudes — every bit as derivative as you might guess — but it was the first time I really felt inside this culture.

I read all the comics he brought to camp, and when I came back home, I begged my dad to take me to a comics store. I feel so guilty about it now, but he gave in and drove me all the way to Omaha…so I could buy one issue. Uncanny X-Men #279.

It was everything I’d wanted but didn’t get from my X-Men Classics. I read it and had such a small idea of what was going on, but I felt like I was peeking in on something special. Colossus was returning, and I had no idea he’d even been gone. There were all these characters I’d never heard of. People were wearing these strange blue and yellow costumes, as if the X-Men had team uniforms. Wolverine wasn’t even wearing a mask. I was completely lost, and I loved it.

I came in at a good time I guess, at least in terms of accisibility, because the next time the Brownville Flea Market was in town, only a few months had passed and I was able to get caught up and sucked into each variant cover of X-Men #1. Then Pamida started carrying comics. And I was hooked for several years…until a little thing called Age of Apocalypse annoyed me so much I gave up.

First Comic to Bring Me Back
X-Force #125

I was living in San Diego, and I noticed a comic shop along my ride downtown to work. I stopped in to this store that has since closed, and one of several salespeople approached me and asked if I needed any help. I basically told him I wanted to get back into comics, and I had no idea where to start. He asked me what I had liked before, and I told him “X-Men, Sandman: Mystery Theatre, and Madman.”

He recommended a lot of stuff that I really hated, like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, which I still think is absolute crap. But one thing he pulled for me, based upon my Michael Allred appreciation, was X-Force. He assured me that it had nothing to do with Cable, Shattershot or Rob Liefeld. It was completely different.

It was smart, it was funny, and it was exactly what I was looking for. I had never become so dedicated to a title. I stuck with it after I moved to Lincoln. I was happy to see it become X-Statix, and heartbroken to see it cancelled. I’ve been loving Dr. Strange and Dead Girl’s team-up the last few months. And, no matter how awful Peter Milligan’s run on X-Men has been, I can never forget what it did to bring me back into comics.

My first comics

I’m taking abreak from reviewing my comic stack today in order to join in on First Comic Week (as started by Chris at 2 Guys Buying Comics). I’ve got three books I consider to be significant firsts for me.

AmazSpid314The First One I Read
Amazing Spider-Man #314, April 1989

Back in the day before I had disposable income, there was the library. The Lincoln City Libraries had a suprisingly large quantity of comics, and the branch I always went to even had a subscription to Amazing Spider-Man. I’d check out a dozen issues at a time, getting the same ones I got 6 months ago to read them all over again. ASM #314 was the earliest issue I can recall reading. In it, Peter and MJ get kicked out of their apartment on Christmas Eve. The cover tells us that much. Other than that, I can’t remember a damn thing about the issue. But that cover was burned into my mind for some reason. Maybe my juvenile 6-year-old eyes thought Todd McFarlane’s art was pretty. Oh, to be that naive again.

AmazSpidAnn25The First One I Bought
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #25, 1991

Naturally, because it’s the only monthly comic I had access to, Amazing Spider-Man was the be all and end all of comics for me during my pre-teen days. I didn’t buy comics then because a single 20-ish page story cost me an entire week’s allowance (one dollar). Unfortunately, the local libraries subscription didn’t cover annuals, so I was missing out on pivotal plot points (there’s that naivety again). So when I saw a copy of an Amazing Spider-Man comic I’d never seen before in the racks at Hy-Vee, let alone one with Iron Man, Black Panther and Kingpin on the cover, I had to have it. Of course, it would be two whole weeks allowance to buy the one comic. But simple math tells you that $2 for 64 pages is a much better deal than $1 for 20. To a 9-year-old, quantity is a lot more important than quality.

xmen41The First One That Got Me Hooked
X-Men #41, December 1994

I still remember when I saw the American Entertainment (remember them?) ad in a comic I was flipping through. As a publicity stunt, they were holding a funeral for Professor X, who would be biting the big one in X-Men #41 at the hands of his time-travelling son Legion. I was floored. How could they kill off a character so important to the X-Men legacy, never to return to the land of the living (God, I was an idiot as a child)? I was intrigued. I bought the issue and realized it was the continuation of a story from a comic I had gotten for free in an issue of Wizard (Uncanny X-Men #320). Then I heard about this so-called “Age of Apocalypse” that would be taking placed because Xavier had died before he formed the X-Men. I was hooked. Because Professor X died, I bought every single issue of the Age of Apocalypse, which was quite a lot for my 12-year-old wallet to handle. After the AOA ended, I still continued with Uncanny X-Men, X-Men and X-Man. Then I started buying all the Spider-Man titles. Then Onslaught happened, and I got Thunderbolts. Then Heroes Return Avengers and Fantastic Four. By that time, I was on a downward spiral I couldn’t possibly hope to overcome. I just bought more and more and fell more and more in love with comics. Now here I am spending $50 a week on new comics. Damn you, American Entertainment.

What I bought: April 12, 2006

Battle For Bludhaven 1Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven #1 (of 6)
“As a result of the blast, he’s become some sort of Human Bomb.”

In case you missed the Firebrand reference a few pages earlier, they were a little less subtle the second time. It appears as though the Battle for Bludhaven may just be a way to introduce the new Freedom Fighters. That Father Time guy does look a heck of a lot like Uncle Sam. Hmm… Dan Jurgens’ art here looks a lot better than I’ve seen from him recently (notably in Supreme Power: Hyperion). Jimmy Palmiotti’s inks seem to agree with him. But Jimmy might want to stick to inking, because his writing with Justin Gray leaves much to be desired. 2/5 (Hey! An actual grading scale! Check the bottom for what they mean.)

Green Arrow 61Green Arrow # 61
“And the last thing our country needs is another egomaniacal millionaire in the White House.”

Zing! Just remember that Ollie’s technically referring to Lex Luthor and don’t get your panties in a bunch because Judd Winick is injecting a bit of his own political beliefs into his writing. Green Arrow was the title I was least impressed with of the One Year Later relaunches I tried, but this issue is definitely an improvement over the last. For one, Green Arrow’s actually in it. Of course at this point, Mayor Oliver Queen is a much more interesting character than hippie-Batman-with-a-bow has ever been. 2/5

Nightwing 119Nightwing #119
“This, Mr. Grayson, is where I keep the bodies.”

Unfortunately, she’s referring to mannequins. Dick’s new girlfriend isn’t a mass murderer, just a fashion designer. And what comic book reader doesn’t love reading an issue about a fashion designer? Well, me, for one. This issue was essentially filler after the last one. Dick seems to be acting more like his old self here, but there’s way too much about his new pseudo-girlfriend and the albino twins. If they’re going for the slow burn on the Jason Todd showdown, I’d be all for it, but there’s got to be a more interesting way to fill time. 2/5

Superman 651Superman #651
“I won’t take the power ring, Lois. It showed me the answer itself. It reacts to your thoughts, and if I thought of myself as Superman…”

Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns are doing a great job teaming up on Superman. “Up, Up, And Away!” has become my favorite One Year Later story, although it does have the benefit of coming out bi-weekly. Pete Woods is doing a great job on the art, and it’s a crying shame if he doesn’t get a permanent gig on a major DC title once this 8-parter concludes in a few months. The creative team has made me care about Clark Kent as a character more than I can ever remember carrying about Superman. It has brought to the forefront one of Superman’s long-standing weaknesses, though: his lack of a decent rogue’s gallery. Metallo, Prankster and Toyman? I guess maybe if Lex Luthor is your arch-nemesis, you don’t really need an entire gallery. My, my, that is a lot of Kryptonite. 4/5

Battle Pope 7Battle Pope #7
“We should have left some of them alive so they could help us clean up!”

Battle Pope is not Robert Kirkman’s best work. His usual brand of witty dialogue and storytelling hadn’t quite been honed into what it is today when he wrote these stories years ago (these new issues are re-issued color versions of the original black-and-white ones from 2000). Most of the jokes that succeed are visual gags, like the Pope emerging from his bedroom with clothespins on his nipples. We do see a bit of Kirkman’s style peek through when a minor plot-point from an earlier issue is worked into the story (one of the Pope’s neighbors happens to turn into a monster every once in a while). While the story is average, the art is consistently great and the new coloring by Val Staples is fantastic. In one panel, the onomatopoeic sound effect of an arm being cut of is written in the blood spewing from the wound. Genius. 3/5

Tick 5The Tick: Days of Drama #5
“Into the sunlight, cerebellum worm!”

The Tick is one of those comics that really don’t progress at all. You can read an issue without ever having read another and it makes sense. Sure, it follows its own continuity, but the continuity just doesn’t matter to the story at all. The Tick is a humor comic through and through. It’s not there to tell an engrossing story…we’ve got Infinite Crisis and whatnot for that. Days of Drama throws jokes at you left and right (sight gags, weird phrasing, superhero parodies), and even if only half the jokes work for you, it’s still pretty damn funny. Which is good, because only about half the jokes work. Of course for a different reader, specifically a younger one, the jokes that work might change. Oh, and it helps if you imagine the guy that voiced the cartoon Tick reading the lines. 3/5

That’s all for now. I still have my Marvels to go, but it’s 2:00 in the morning and I don’t feel up to it right now.

0/5: Bad. Not worth the paper it’s printed on.
1/5: Disappointing. It does have some redeeming qualities, but you really have to look for them.
2/5: Okay. Worth the cover price, barely. Not technically bad, but not particularly good.
3/5: Good. The positives definitely outnumber the negatives, but the can still notice the negatives.
4/5: Great. The flaws either don’t exist or the story’s good enough to hide them.
5/5: Classic. It’s clear this will go down as one of the greatest comics ever made.

Legion of Doom’s Worst of 2005- Disappointments

Wow, April 1st and we’re just now finishing up the Best and Worst of 2005. Some may call me lazy for taking so long. Others may call me a visionary for stretching it out this far. Okay, so no one’s calling me a visionary. Sorry for being so lazy.

The first seven issues of House of M. The Internet did not break in half. It did, however, shrug its shoulders and move on to DC’s Infinite Crisis. -Jean-Claude Van Doom

The OtherThe Other: Evolve or Die. I’m a huge Spider-Man fan. And I love mega-crossovers. Yet this Spider-Man mega-crossover just didn’t do it for me. It had tons of momentum after three issues written by Peter David, the the whole thing came screeching to a halt as soon as Reggie Hudlin took over in November. J. Michael Stracynski wasn’t able to get me excited again when he took over halfway into the story. The crossover may have been able to survive single Hudlin issues in between David and JMS issues, but three in a row spelled disaster for The Other. And it didn’t help that the premise was iffy to begin with, and Spider-Man had already emerged from a cocoon (of sorts) with strange new powers a year earlier in Spectacular Spider-Man. -Fin Fang Doom

The Goon. The book has seemed half-hearted all year long. The storytelling that made this book so fascinating in 2004 is almost nonexistent. There’s so much filler – the last issue had pages and pages of letters and responses. And unlike Powers, which has managed to make the letters pages a selling point, The Goon’s was horribly unfunny, unenlightening, juvenile and in a horribly space-wasting format. -Jim Doom