Monthly archives: January, 2007

Best of 2006: Heroes

Black AdamBlack Adam

“My favorite hero of the year was Black Adam. From poking out Psycho Pirate’s eyeballs through the back of his head to tearing Terra-Man in half, he’s kicked all sorts of ass this year. Without him, “52” wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable. There’s just something terribly fun about a hero who’s not afraid to murder people and be an all-around heavy-duty bad-ass.”
-Doom DeLuise

Nightwing (with a qualification)

“Nightwing (through Infinite Crisis).”
-Jim Doom

MadroxJamie Madrox

“Jamie Madrox has been the most interesting character of the year. Or characters, I guess. He’s good, he’s evil, he’s an agent of SHIELD, and he’s schtumping Siryn and; what’s not to love?”
-Fin Fang Doom

“I call a tie between the hero of my favorite book, Madrox the Multiple Man, and the anti-hero of one of my favorites, Jonah Hex. These guys both went from mostly forgotten to returned to glory in 2006, and it didn’t take a mega-event to do it.”
-Jean-Claude Van Damme


“I’m the biggest supporter of Cyclops, perhaps more than I should be, but seeing the new direction Joss Whedon could take him in makes me giddy as a school girl.”


By Frank Miller, color by Lynn Varley

Published by Dark Horse in 1998 as a five-issue series, reprinted in 1999 and 2006. $30

The Plot: It is 480 BCE. Not yet unified, the peoples of Greece stand in the shadow of the Persian Empire, which spreads west under the control of God/King Xerxes, who commands an army of hundreds of thousands. If King Leonidas of Sparta will agree to bow before Xerxes, he will be allowed to retain control of his kingdom with Xerxes’ support. But, because Spartans are general badasses who bow before nobody, he declines. This leads to the famed battle at the Hot Gates, where Leonidas and 300 men face off against the amassed horde.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe Positives: Frank Miller is at the top of his game when it comes to writing and drawing tough guys. Whether it be a grizzled old Batman, any of the Sin City cast or the legendary warriors of Sparta, Miller can lay out machismo with anyone. Here, he has the ultimate tough guy story, and doesn’t waste much space (the book is a really perfect length for the story) in setting up an epic battle and then delivering the goods. Still, he instills his characters with enough personality to allow the readers to worry for their fate. It really seems like Miller originally storyboarded this out for a movie, because the horizontal layout lends every page a cinematic feel. Having seen trailers for the upcoming movie, it really does feel like Miller’s art was pulled right onto the screen.

The Negatives: There is very little to complain about with this book. The price is a bit steep, for one. Also, it’s kind of hard to avoid reading into Miller’s writing. Here, the essential message is a group of free men fighting off an evil army hell bent on instilling their religion and rule upon the masses. Sound familiar? Since Miller has been so vocal about patriotism lately, it’s easy to see a parallel in 300. The only problem is that the message doesn’t quite fit. As much as Miller tries to set the Spartans apart as this free bunch, he can’t avoid that they followed old religions of their own, killed off weak children and maintained control through repression of personal freedom. Even if it was a cultural rather than political control, it was still control. And maybe he didn’t mean for that message to come across, but it’s impossible to avoid now.

The Grade: B+ A strong book from a famed creator more than outweighs the negatives. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if the film can surpass its inspiration.

Book of Doom: Daredevil # 93

Not a lot of new books coming out this week, so we’re opting for a communal review of the first issue in a new arc of Daredevil. In the past months, we’ve seen Matt go to prison, break out of prison, jaunt across Europe and come face to face with Foggy’s supposed killer (which is about as much stuff as happened in all of Brian Michael Bendis’ extended run). Now, Ed Brubaker has the man without fear back in Hell’s Kitchen for the first time in his run. So, a good jumping on point for anyone who hasn’t read this book in a while. Saturday we’ll have the reviews posted, and we welcome you to add your thoughts, or tell us why we’re idiots.

Here’s what Marvel says:


Harvey Award-Winning Best Writer Ed Brubaker and Eisner Award-Winning Artist Michael Lark bring their first year on Daredevil full circle — and it ends with a bang! Matt Murdock returns to the streets of New York, to Hell’s Kitchen, to whatever is left of his life, and to face whatever he must to try to get it back. What is Matt’s future? What has happened in his absence, and what part does Kingpin play in all this?
The only place you’ll find those answers is in the stunning conclusion to “The Devil Takes a Ride!”
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

Hop on!

We might be in danger of losing our comic blog status due to the fact that I think we’re the last comics-based website to mention the big teaser image released by DC last week. There’s a lot of fun speculation and attempted decoding in the forum posts that followed Newsarama’s post.

Well now they’ve presented 20 of the readers’ top questions to DC editor Dan Didio.

Some of the most interesting responses…

Worst of 2006: Heroes

It’s rare that in a category so broad, even two of us will agree on a choice. But a lot of really good heroes had really bad years in 2006, so the five of us were able to pin it down to three. That means those three had to have a level of suck heretofore only associated with characters Reggie Hudlin had written.
Iron ManIron Man

“Ion is nice temptation, the hero who couldn’t shoot straight even with the whole of DC promoting him. But I have to go with Iron Man, who arguably could be picked for worst villain too. At this point, I’m actually hoping they kill off Tony Stark.”
-Jean-Claude Van Doom

“Y’know, as a villain, Iron Man might rank as one of the best of the year. But since Marvel keeps insisting he’s not a bad guy, that makes him the worst hero of the year. From corrupting Spider-Man to beating the crap out of long-time friend Captain America to creating a clone of a thunder god for killing fellow superheroes, Tony Stark has been responsible for some the worst acts of 2006. But he’s still a superhero, apparently.”
-Fin Fang Doom


“How many relaunches does it take to figure out that NO ONE CARES! I’m sorry, Grant Morrison, this was your nadir.”

Nightwing 121Nightwing

“Worst hero, for me, was Nightwing, post-Crisis. I really, really hated that stuff. I’ve worn myself out over the past few months trying to explain to people how horribly they dropped the ball with him after the OYL jump, so I’ll just leave it at that.”
-Doom DeLuise

“Nightwing (after Infinite Crisis)”
-Jim Doom

An Anthology of Graphic Fiction

Since I was a little kid, I’ve read comics. From my cousin’s collection, I grew into a fan of Batman, the X-Men, Spider-Man and G.I. Joe, the usual suspects. But, remote as we were and with only a meager grocery store shelf to choose from, my comic intake was vastly limited. My comics reading followed the same sort of arc as the music I listened to: once I went to college and escaped the entrapment of “All Country All the Time,” my tastes expanded. Still, there was a lot out there that I was missing.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingOnly in the past couple years, as I’ve come into reviewing comics as a real gig, have I started wanting to learn more about the vast world of creators who live somewhere between the newspaper comics page and comic books as we regularly think of them. I mean Chris Ware, R. Crumb, Kim Deitch, George Herriman, Seth and the like. Working mostly in black and white, these folks took illustrated storytelling along strange paths, showing the medium’s capacity in a different sort of light. And when it came down to it, I knew diddly squat about them.

So, both personally and professionally, it was a treat to find An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons & True Stories (Yale Press, $28) in the mail recently. Edited by illustrator/writer Ivan Brunetti, the book is a 400-page compilation of works from the most influential and famed creators in this genre. With generally a few pages for each of the more than 60 contributors, it’s an easy introduction into what people who practice and celebrate this style would probably call “intellectual cartooning.”


The Doomino Effect: Week of 1/24/07

Last week was a slow one for me. I only picked up four comics.

Wolverine #50 was our LOD Book of Doom this week, and I shared my thoughts there. But for those who missed it, I thought the book was weak on content and disappointing in its handling of Wolverine’s past.

Which leads me to another book that I thought was a bit weak on content, 52: Week 38. I have a tough time accepting that nothing happened this week in the struggle between Booster Gold and Skeets, and I could have done with a little less of Renee Montoya dragging the Question around, for example. But that’s one of the problems with telling a story that’s supposedly happening in “real time.”

I’m more interested in where this is going, especially with the Dominators out in space. The Dominators dropped a clue several months back about 52, but it wasn’t in the pages of the DC weekly.

Which leads me to Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes #26, which has consistently been one of my favorite books. Sadly, I forgot to include it in my picks for Best ongoing series of 2006. I started reading the series having never read anything starring the LoSH. I know nothing about the elaborate and conflicting histories of the team. The great thing is that I haven’t needed to read up to be able to make sense of or enjoy the series. It’s just a great read every month.

So anyway, for those who haven’t been following the series, Supergirl showed up in the future after Infinite Crisis, apparently zapped there by way of that time-warping battle in space. And in the past few months, various clues about the current DCU have been scattered about. As I alluded to before, the Dominators muttered something about not forgetting “the fifty-two” several months back; now Mon-El, who I assume is the Kryptonian that’s popped up in the pages of Action Comics, has just been released from the Phantom Zone.

But even though these references to other DC Comics are tied to other stories that are either happening or have happened, one doesn’t need to be reading a bunch of titles to enjoy what is essentially just a great, well-written comic.

Which leads me to X-Factor #15. I’m not the first Doomy to rave about the book, and if there are any of the Legion who haven’t yet, I won’t be the last. Peter David has managed to take a cast of D-listers and make it consistently one of the best books out there simply through strong characterization and dialogue. Madrox was a great mini-series, and his run on X-Factor during the early-90s X-reload was classic; hopefully this series will last long enough for more readers to appreciate how David clearly loves working with these characters and superhero tales in non-traditional superhero settings.

Best of 2006: Villains

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe Joker

“The Joker is the Joker and will always be the Joker.”
— Doominator

“He didn’t really show up a lot in 2006, but when he did, The Joker made quite a splash. He blew up Batman, Jason Todd and himself (although none of them seemed any worse for wear). He killed Alexander Luthor. And he took center stage in the best issue so far of Paul Dini’s amazing Detective Comics run. You gotta love the Joker.”
— Fin Fang Doom

“The Joker stole the show in Infinite Crisis #7, so I have to give it up to him. He stole the thunder of the biggest crossover of the past few years, and, for that, my hat is off.”
— Doom DeLuise

Superboy Prime

“No heel turn caught me so off guard, or was so believable and terrifying, as Superboy Prime turning evil and running amok through the DCU. So often, there’s a villain with the brains in the shadows pulling all the strings who’s actually the frightening one. Alexander Luthor was a conniving, vicious SOB, for sure. But even though Superboy was little more than an attack dog, he packed one hell of a bite. What carried him over through 2006 for me was how Geoff Johns set him up in 52 and Green Lantern as a smoldering powerhouse of rage bottled up in some far corner of the universe, just waiting to exact his revenge.”
— Jean-Claude Van Doom

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThose Civil War guys

“Tony Stark and Captain America. Gotta love when the villain really thinks he’s right and isn’t just evil.”
— Jim Doom

Saw this out on the street today…

(sorry for the low-quality camera phone image)

Worst of 2006: Villains

I’ve opined before about the lack of new blood among the legions of villains in comics. And maybe now we have our explanation for why so few new baddies join the ranks of the Joker, Dr. Doom, Synestro and Orca. In 2006, we had a few new villains appear (and an old one rehashed in a new universe). And they promptly sunk to the depths as the worst villains of the year.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingUltimate Galactus

“I was actually excited about Ultimate Galactus after the cool Ultimate Nightmare mini, which brought the Ultimates and X-Men together for a creepy if nonsensical adventure. Then things got boring. And delayed. And stupid. Credit Warren Ellis for taking a pulse-pounding “world is going to be devoured” tale and bogging it down with so much “science” that the whole thing collapsed on itself. I didn’t even stick around long enough for the big bad guy to show up. So, he may have been pretty sweet, but does it make a sound if a villain nearly devours the world and no one’s there to witness it?”
— Jean-Claude Van Doom

That poo guy from Nightwing

“I’d say that little midget guy who could turn into a big blob of goo, eat people, and poop them out in a hard shell before they also turn into a big blob of goo (from Bruce Jones’ run on Nightwing) may be the worst villain ever thought up. Actually, he may be tied with those two albino Matrix: Reloaded twins from the same run.”
— Doom DeLuise

The Children

“The new villians in “X-Men” come across to me as a joke … the highly evolved blah blah blah has failed to excite me.”
— Doominator

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingGrotesk

“If Robert DeNiro’s Frankenstein monster was a supervillain in the DC Universe, he would be called Grotesk. He would also be the villain in the worst Batman story I’ve ever read, and be the reason I dropped the book from my pull list.”
— Fin Fang Doom