Monthly archives: December, 2006

Meaningless Awards of the Week- 12/6/06

Detective 826Crazy Guy of the Week- The Joker

Paul Dini is writing the best Batman comic I’ve ever read. Even when the issue hardly has Batman in it, it’s still great. In Detective Comics #826, The Joker takes Robin for a joyride through the streets and the population of Gotham City. The Joker is at his best when he’s just being violently crazy for no apparent reason. And that’s what he is here. The Joker probably just woke up and thought “I think I’ll try and torture Robin a little bit today.” So he did. And he was funny as hell while he was doing it. Is there something wrong with me for thinking that?

Crazy Guy of the Week Runner-Up- Starman

Wow, that new Starman’s bonkers. You don’t see a bonafide insane person as a superhero very often. I guess you’ve got the Creeper, but that’s about it. Oh, and this particular crazy guy likes to spout off potentially prophetic phrases jumbled in within complete nonsense. This should be fun.

Artist of the Week- Tim Sale

Jean-Claude Van Doom mentioned Sale’s art earlier this week, and I’ve got to agree it was pretty spectacular. This image of Superman is easily my favorite panel from the issue, and it just happens to be the one Jean-Claude mentioned in his review.

Superman Confidential 2


If You Want To Make an Omniverse, You’re Going to Have to Break a Few Barriers Supporting the Very Fabric of Time and Space

newuniversal 1Last Wednesday, on the way to the comic store, Colonel Doom and I were having a conversation about newuniversal #1. As a relative newbie to the world of Marvel Comics, the good Colonel had never heard of this “New Universe,” which the new series by Warren Ellis and Salvador LaRocca was based on. So, being the good friend that I am, I broke into a long-winded explanation of what exactly the New Universe was.

Quickly, I hit a snag in my elucidation. The New Universe is, as we all know, part of the Marvel Omniverse. It is not, however, part of the Marvel Multiverse. The concepts of an Omniverse and a Multiverse may seem elementary to those of us who have devoted our every waking moment to learning every meaningless bit of comic book trivia we can. However, to those comic fans with any semblance of a life (like Colonel Doom), they are very strange concepts indeed. So I had a little work to do before I could properly explain the great Jim Shooter experiment of the mid-1980s.


He ain’t all bad

That picture right there is of my favorite Warren Ellis book.

“Come in Alone” is what it’s called.

It’s not a comic book, though it’s comics-related. I don’t even think there are any pictures. It’s just a collection of a year’s worth of weekly columns he wrote for back in 1999-2000.

I feel like posting this partially because all of the Legion just beat up on his newuniversal #1 attempt, and because I feel a little bad (not that he needs our support). But it’s also just a really fun read, and more valuable than non-Ellis fans might predict given their feelings on his creative output.

Some of the columns are about how to save the comics industry. Some of those are a little dated, referencing things like internet potential, but they’re still thought-provoking pieces. Some are plugs for little-known indie comics. Some are tales of hanging out with the frightening UK comics author scene. But they’re all fun to read to the point where, upon completing the book, I thought “I am now the world’s biggest Warren Ellis fan!”

Problem was I hadn’t read any of his comics yet, and as hard as I tried, I just never really could get into them (for reasons I elaborated in the previous newuniversal post). He’s a cheerleader for his own work, and you can’t fault a guy like that. But when referencing some of his projects, he’d really talk up the artist he was working with far beyond what was appropriate. I know he’s not going to say “This guy they saddled me with is HORRIBLE! Buy all the issues!”, but still, I felt in some ways like he was the Tony Schiavone of comics.

He’s a talented writer who knows he has legions of fans. You can’t fault a guy for being realistic about his popularity. But if you have interest in the comics industry, and not just comics themselves, I absolutely recommend this book regardless of how you feel about Warren Ellis the comic writer.

Book of Doom: newuniversal #1

It’s Saturday, the sun is shining, the air is wintry cool, and apparently Warren Ellis continues to frustrate the Doomers. How so? Well, of course, it’s our latest edition of the Books of Doom, in which we all read the same book and share our thoughts. And, it should be noted, invite you to share yours.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThis week, the object of Doom is the aforementioned Ellis’ new book, newuniversal #1. For more about it, check out the last Books of Doom post, which has all sorts of nice links that I’m too lazy to post again. I’m going to hold off on my thoughts for the moment, going first to Doom DeLuise, who’s probably waking up right now, trying to figure out just where he is.

He said:

I’d never heard of “New Universe,” so it’s a good thing there was a link to stuff about it on Wikipedia. Now I’m all caught up. I don’t know whose idea it was to try to bring this whole thing back, but it’s a pretty stupid one, as far as ideas go. The actual comic isn’t half-bad, as it’s the standard “It’s the first issue, so a bunch of weird stuff needs to happen to grab people’s attention, but don’t worry about it, because we’ll explain it in the second or third issue with big, long, boring scenes of exposition.”

Well, to that, I say, “No, thanks.” Ooh, a stupid chick got a glowing Mike Tyson-esque facial tattoo! Ooh, a guy with a bullet in his head got a big glowing lightning bolt tattoo on his chest! Ooh, some guy playing grab-ass in a field, who looks like Sawyer from “LOST,” got a stupid glowing tattoo on his hand! Ooh, ooh! Shut up. That’s stupid.

Honestly, I don’t really understand everything that happens in this issue. A white-out gives people super-powers, yes? What for? Why? What’re they going to do now? Where’s the threat?

That’s boring and stupid, and I don’t care about it at all.

Well, we’re 0-1. Now, to Jim Doom, who takes a different angle:

I think Warren Ellis is the one writer in the comic world where, if you made me take the Pepsi Challenge, I would
absolutely be able to pick him out. Every single Warren Ellis book reads the same to me. It all comes off like “I just read this interesting science journal article” or “I just had this interesting dream” and then “I will build a comic book story around it!”

This was no different. Every story is built around an event or a discovery or something so sci-fi. This might seem like I have an inherent bias toward sci-fi, but the gimmick just seems to play a much more central role in the stories he writes. The gimmick is almost a character in itself. Maybe since this observation has come to me, I spend more time looking for it and less time just trying to enjoy the story. I’ll accept that’s definitely a possibility. But I didn’t really care for this.

And I also didn’t care for the fact that the paradigm-shifter was a knockoff of Unicron.

And we’re at 0-2. Since Fin Fang Doom hasn’t sent in his review yet (with luck, he’ll post it later), I’ll end with my take, which is somewhere in between those above.

I thought the book had interesting moments, but was too bogged down with needlessly stupid expository dialogue. There’s a book any creative writer should read called Story. It’s by screenwriter Robert McKee. There’s a good chapter on getting into the heads of the characters to write and imagining what such a person would say in the situation you place them into. I think Ellis would be well served by reading that chapter. The dialogue is either hokey, needlessly scientific or irrational, which was what really took me out of newuniversal.

Another book I can’t help but mention is Ray Bradbury’s collection The Illustrated Man. It’s all sci-fi stories, but they’re all fun and engaging. Why? Because they’re good stories first, and sci-fi second. As Jim Doom said, that’s a big part of what hurts Ellis’ work.

Worst to First: 12/6

You know it’s a good week when the second-worst book is written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Billy Tan. I picked up six titles, a perfect split between Marvel and DC. For those curious, I pick up Image’s Invincible in trade form and I don’t read The Walking Dead because I don’t like zombies, though otherwise I think the book is excellent. Also, somehow I forgot to pick up the penultimate Agents of Atlas. Whoops. To the list…

newuniversal #1

Come back tomorrow, for this is our Book of Doom of the week, and all thoughts will be revealed then.

Uncanny X-Men #481

If it weren’t for the nice bit of Darwin-action at the very end, this book might have finished at the bottom of the list. The writing continues to be interesting, but this was a bit of a lag issue, with not a lot happening. The kind of book that would’ve been compressed into three pages back in the day. Tan’s art was better than the strangely disjointed last issue, though there were a few too many “money” shots of the young Rachel Grey. Umm, Space Porno, anyone?

Detective Comics #826

What’s been great about reading this title is how reminiscent it is of Batman: The Animated Series. That owes to Paul Dini, of course. Here, he gives a typically brief-but-fun Robin vs. Joker story. And, expectedly, it’s impossible not to read the book and imagine Mark Hamill doing a voice-over for the Joker’s lines. The only problem with The Animated Series was that it’s Joker was reduced to the simple trickster of Adam West’s bat-i-verse. Being a kid’s cartoon, Joker could only be mildly threatening. Here, the gloves are off. Joker is vicious as ever, if not moreso, yet is still written in the wonderfully fun way from the cartoon.

Week Thirty-One

Ralph Dibny knows. One of the bigger mysteries in “52,” the identity of Supernova, has been figured out by Ralph Dibny. We’ll get back to that.
week 31

This week, well, heck, if you look at the cover, you’ll know just about as much as I do in regards to what’s going on out in space. Lady Styx’s armada drops these big “Believer Cubes” on planets, destroying their ecosystem. Then, her believers, or “Glorifiers,” go and kill everybody on the planet (well, not kill, but, rather, turn them into “Glorifiers,” as well). Captain Comet’s planet is given this treatment, and he’s strung up on one of her ships, for some reason. Apparently, his mind is too strong to become a drone? I dunno! But, the cover says it’s the “First Death of Captain Comet,” so he’ll be back, right? I dunno! Anyway, the SPACE MADNESS that we’ve been hearing so much about finally has a face in Lady Styx, so we can all focus our anger and fear toward something. She looks like a … I have no wisecracks. She’s stupid looking, and she’s got no nose! Take that, Space Bitch! Lobo and the rest of the space squad are waiting for her. Good-bye, Animal Man. Nice knowing you.

Meanwhile, some stupid stuff happens with Infinity Inc. There’s dissension in the ranks. Big deal.

The main thing that happens this week is that Ralph figures out who Supernova is. He talks to Cassie early on, and she tells him how she thinks it’s Superboy, which Ralph knows isn’t true. Interesting note: Ralph’s drinking, apparently, whiskey from a flask while meeting with Cassie. Well, whiskey or Gingold. Anyway, after meeting with her, he confronts Supernova and tells him to tell Cassie the truth. Supernova asks how Ralph figured it out, and Ralph says that the powers threw him off, but once viewed from the proper angle, he “sussed out the one device that could tie them all together.” Apparently, Superman being out of the picture was the key, or “one of two keys, if you want to be cute about it.”

Let’s figure it out! What do we know about Supernova? He uses light powers, and has the ability to fly and teleport. He can disintegrate stuff and burn holes in cement. He stole the Kryptonite Gauntlet from the Batcave (so he has access to the Batcave and needs the Gauntlet for something). What does he need that for? He obviously knows he’s going to need to use it for something, so, perhaps he has seen the future? Who has the ability to travel through time? Booster Gold, Rip Hunter, Skeets, and a whole bunch of other people, probably. It could easily be Rip Hunter, but does Ralph know him? I don’t know. Some people probably think it’s Booster Gold, but doesn’t that seem to be too obvious? That’s the first thing everybody thought when Booster died in Week Fifteen. It should be deeper than that. If it is Booster, why would Supernova let an alternate version of himself get fried like that?

Screw it. I’ll just wait for them to tell me. What do you guys think? Are you smarter than Ralph Dibny? Who is Supernova?

See ya in seven.

Book of Doom: newuniversal #1

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Howdy. The Doom Crew is returning this Saturday with another installment of the Books of Doom (in which we all read the same book and share our thoughts).

After being all over the place on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #14 last week, we’ll be returning to debut issues with the first installment of Warren Ellis’ newuniversal (yes, it’s supposed to not have a space).

News flash! Marvel’s next big thing is anniversary gimmicks. Newuniversal comes 20 years after Marvel’s big flop, New Universe. You can read more about it on the link to Wikipedia. Of particular interest to me was how the project seemed like a good idea, but budget constraints meant editor Jim Shooter couldn’t bring on as much talent as he’d planned, meaning an inferior product.

Now, we’re getting the often brilliant and ever-interesting Warren Ellis and art by Salvador Larroca, whose style seems to fit well with the plot of a more reality-based super hero-dom (at least, the Previews pages looked good). So, color me excited, and come back this weekend!

Here’s what Marvel says:


Planet Earth. Inhabited by six billion people. People leading ordinary lives, coping with everyday struggles. But on a night like any other, the Earth is rocked by the most startling celestial event ever witnessed by the human race. The White Event. And from its wake, a handful of humans emerge as something more.
Acclaimed writer Warren Ellis (NEXTWAVE) and superstar artist Salvador Larroca (X-MEN) bring you this new universe –
a universe witnessing superhuman power for the first time.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

Superman/Batman Volume 3: Absolute Power

Superman Batman Vol 3By Jeph Loeb (W), Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino (A)

Originally printed as Superman/Batman 14-18. Published by DC Comics. Cover price $12.99.

The Plot: Superman and Batman fight an evil Legion of Superheroes across a multitude of alternate realities to correct changes made to their pasts in order to restore the DC Universe proper.

Strengths: Carlos Pacheco has been a great artist since the first time I saw his work on the final issues of Fantastic Four volume 1. Like a fine wine or an episode of Mr. Show, he’s only gotten better with age. Pacheco has a really great classic take on superheroes that doesn’t seem rooted in a certain time period the way Joe Madureira’s or Rob Liefeld’s art does.

Alternate reality stories are always fun. Seeing how a slight change in the past can dramatically affect the present is always entertaining because it can take characters we know in love in directions we never thought possible, like Uncle Sam as a Green Lantern or zombie JLAers.

Weaknesses: We’ve all read this story many times before. Whether it’s alternate realities, amnesia, hell dimensions or dreamscapes, the basic plot has been done many times before: Superman and Batman forget who they are and have to relearn how to be the heroes they’re destined to become. The settings change and the villains change, but it all boils down to the same thing, and it’s not done well enough here to overcome the formulaic story.

A big drawback to the story is the fact that it’s completely unimportant. The DC Universe is exactly the same after this story ends as it is when it begins. The villains are introduced at the start of the arc and soundly defeated by the end, most likely never to reappear. Superman and Batman are the only ones that remember what happened to them, and neither is dramatically changed by the events of the story. While Public Enemies (Superman/Batman Volume 1) ended Lex Luthor’s reign as President and Supergirl (Volume 2) introduced the new Supergirl to the DCU, all Absolute Power did was tie up the loose ends surrounding the future Superman from Public Enemies, which didn’t really need to be tied up anyway.

Superman/Batman uses dual internal monologue caption boxes running simultaneously: one set for Batman, one set for Superman. Unlike the previous volumes, it became a bit of an issue at times to understand the narration because the length between captions got out of hand. I shouldn’t need to go back a page to remember what Batman had started to say before Superman jumped in, but that certainly was the case more than once.

Grade: C. Absolute Power is fun and pretty to look at, but eventually the charm wears off and you’re left with an unimportant, cliched story that’s hard to get through at times (kind of like Tara Reid). It’s definitely worth a read, but Absolute Power isn’t one of those trades you’ll revisit over and over again.

Meaningless Awards of the Week- 11/29/06

Hero of the Week- Green Lantern

Hal Jordan showed up in three books this week. Kilowog made appearances in two. Guy Gardner got his own Prestige Format mini-series. Even G’Nort managed an appearance without making himself look foolish. It was a good week for the Green Lanterns. Except for those twenty or so people that tried to kill them, that is.

Nextwave 10Artist of the Week- Stuart Immomen, Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #10

I’ve always enjoyed Stuart Immomen’s work, but Nextwave #10 puts a whole different side of the artist on display. Completely within the context of the story (two words: Forbush Man), Immomen draws four mini-stories with four distinctly different art styles. The highlight of the set is the story featuring Elsa Bloodstone, which does such a good job of emulating Mike Mignola’s artwork that I’m really hoping that someday Immomen gets a crack at Hellboy.

Line of the Week- G’Nort, from Guy Gardner: Collateral Damage #1 by Howard Chaykin

“When Abin Sur–previous corpsman for sector 2814–crash-landed on the Earth years ago, it was a matter of inches that made Hal Jordan the ringwielder–leaving Guy out in the cold, turning a self-centered, arrogant ass–into a deeply embittered self-centered arrogant ass.”


Worst to first

It’s been a heck of a week, but since I picked up a ream of comics this week I figured I’d drop some reviews, even if they’re a bit late. So, without further ado, here’s last week in comics, from worst to first.

Batman #659

Wow, what a steaming pile. I mean, really, honestly, this was awful. I spent probably 20 minutes trying to come up with something worse I’ve read in the past two years and nothing came to mind. Heck, it might have been five years. A combination of art straight out of the Kubert school (in the bad way), nonsensical writing and a villain that seems a combination of Leatherface and the Hunchback of Notre Dame led me to drop this book from the pull list.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #14

See the Books of Doom.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #5

Just a little bit off from previous issues. Way more confusing and less WOW moments. But the series has been strong so far, and I can’t say enough about Daniel Acuna’s art. Any book in which Uncle Sam pitches an evil bastard into the moon is solid in my book.