Monthly archives: February, 2007

Book of Doom: Godland #16

Image set out to bring some new readers to their series Godland by putting out a special 60 cent issue this week. It was at least enticing enough for the Doomers to choose it as this week’s Book of Doom. Was it enough to convert us into faithful readers? I’ll let the crowd answer that themselves. (And remember, we sort of care what you think too, so feel free to share your thoughts.)

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDoominator gives the book a B+ and says:

“Godland is strangely endearing. It’s wordy as hell, and the Jack Kirby rip art is a little clunky, but it reads like an old science fiction movie – which I love. It’s like the superhero movie you’d want to watch from back then if they had the right effects, one thing on top of the other. I got the feeling as I read it that it was the book I shouldn’t have liked, but I couldn’t tear myself away from its suspension of disbelief and cheesiness. I might have to pick this up, which is probably why it was only $.60.”

Fin Fang Doom is a little more on the fence:

“I wasn’t really certain what to make of this week’s Godland #16. It certainly wasn’t a typical issue of the series. It was almost like a Godland clip show from what I can tell. It did catch me up on what happened so far in the series, but I’m not sure it gave me a reason to keep tuning in.

DMZ: On the Ground

By Brian Wood (W) and Riccardo Burchielli (A)

Published in 2006, comprises issues 1-5, Vertigo. $9.99

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe Plot: Matty Roth has a well connected dad who’s gotten him an internship with Liberty News, which sets him up as an assistant to a big shot journalist who’s going into Manhattan. This is newsworthy because Civil War (in the very non-Marvel sense) has erupted and the Free State army and the United States army are massed on either side of the island, rendering it a great unknown amid the warring sides. Supposedly it is a de-militarized zone, but Matty quickly learns that to be false when his crew comes under attack and he’s left behind.

This first collection follows Matty as he starts to acquaint himself with this alien version of New York, and starts to report the first news stories out of the DMZ, spreading the realities of war to the outside world.

The Good: As I read through this first volume of the series, I made it about half way through when I realized how unsettled it made me feel. It wasn’t the violence (of which there is plenty. This is war, after all) that bothered me. Instead, it was a sense that I couldn’t get a handle on where each issue was taking me, or where the series as a whole was headed. You’re thinking, “That doesn’t sound like a compliment.” Well, hold on. What I realized is that Wood crafted this first part of the series so well that I, as a reader, was feeling the instability that kept rocking Matty in the strangeness of the DMZ. It felt like falling into a war zone.

As many have pointed out before, Wood has set this battleground amid one of the most hallowed lands of America, which conveys to Americans the pain of war in a freshly familiar way. In a sad way, it’s more gripping to see an apartment-turned-ER filled with wounded American children than it is to see yet another bit of footage of an Iraq bombing or starving child in Darfur. But this book is far too complex to be a simple parable on war. It’s also, as the New York Times stated, a love letter to New York. In the DMZ, Matty sees the city responding with a desperate hope to all the atrocities. All the city’s eclectic sides shine through all the stronger when held against such a bleak background.

On that note, Burchielli deserves a hell of a lot of credit for the success of the book. He does the war scenes well, and gives plenty of uniqueness and personality to each character. For a foreigner (he’s Italian), he nails all the little details of the Big Apple. While there are some nice scenes of the familiar skylines marred with fighter jets and explosions, what Burchielli really does well are the micro scenes – street corners and alleys and tenements all recognizable behind the compost of war.

The Bad: There is very little wrong here. I could’ve used a little more background mixed in with the very personal stories, a little more building of Matty’s character. Some might complain that the trade isn’t printed on glossy paper, but personally, I almost prefer the more textured paper (it definitely doesn’t negatively impact readability). Also, it keeps the cost down, since this trade costs about half as much as similar books.

The Grade: A This is just one of those books that you should read. It’s good. It’s relevant. It’s touching. It’s painful. And, this is just the beginning.

The Wrong Solution

Late books are a problem for everyone. When books ship late, readers get mad because they can’t get their monthly dose of their favorite characters. Retailers get mad because they can’t sell as many comics if the publishers don’t put out as many. Publishers get mad because quite honestly I wouldn’t want to listen to me complain about late comics either.

So what’s the solution to this problem? Don’t be late, of course. But there’s a right way to not be late and there’s a wrong way.

A very, very wrong way.

The wrong way is exactly what DC is doing with Action Comics, Detective Comics and Batman.

Action 846Recently, DC announced that the Geoff Johns/Richard Donner/random Kubert run on Action Comics would be put on a bit of a hiatus. As you may recall, it was originally scheduled to begin with last July’s Action Comics #841, but the creative team was already running behind before they even sent the first issue to press. The trio’s six issue “Last Son of Krypton” arc finally began in October’s Action Comics #844. The third issue is scheduled for release later this month. After that, Fantastic Four writer Dwayne McDuffie is going to write an issue. Then Fabian Nicienza will be writing two issues. Then comes the big 8-5-0, an anniversary issue by a host of creators. Johns, Donner and Kubert will finally return to finish “Last Son of Krypton” in Action Comics #851-853, tentatively scheduled to run from July to September. The key word there being “tentatively.”

WTF?! Is anyone going to care about “The Last Son of Krypton” after a four month of delay which followed a three month delay which followed yet another three month delay? Probably not. And especially not if the two halves of the story are separated by four months of filler. Sure, Action Comics looks to be a on a monthly schedule through the rest of the year now, but the story is going to suffer immeasurably as a result.


What could be worse than Grotesk?

I didn’t read enough books this week to bother with a Worst to First, so you’ll have to settle for a rant. On that note, are the editors of Batman trying to ensure that I never buy this book again? I dropped the series from my pull list to avoid that John Ostrander/Grotesk debacle, but I was willing to pick it up again once Grant Morrison’s run returned from hiatus with this week’s issue #663.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSure, the first part of Morrison’s run was marginal (if fun), but the guy has written good stuff before and seems like he has a good Batman story inside him. And maybe he does, but we sure didn’t see it this week. No, the creative talent and editors deigned to replace an issue of what was supposed to be Batman returning to more carefree ways with a high school goth freak’s poetic ruminations on the nature of the Joker.

Last I checked, a comic book contains illustrations. And no, crappy photoshopped images of creepy clowns don’t count. Also, most comic books contain a plot, or action, or, well, something entertaining. I don’t know who this book is for, but it’s not me. I’m sure Morrison might say to his critics that they’re just too simple-minded to accept a more literary effort, but first, this is freaking Batman! It’s not the Alaska Quarterly Review! Second, I’ve written my share of fiction and read plenty more. This stuff was okay, but nothing great, certainly nothing worth spending $2.99 on.

So, color me confused. But at least I flipped through the thing in the store. If I’d bought it and then realized it was a Trojan horse filled with poo, well, I’d be even more outraged. I’m even able to find something of a silver lining — I’m going to save a decent chunk of change by not buying any Batman issues for a very long time.

The rest of the week’s take was decent but nothing to shout home about. Astonishing X-Men was a lot of setup, though with the expected number of “Joss Whedon is clever” moments. I’m starting to fill with dread that Colossus is biting it again. And I enjoyed this week of 52, even though it also was lots of setup. And, yeah, that’s it. Tiny week, which is a good thing, if you ask my wife.

Week Forty-One

Nothing happens this week. Seriously. Week Forty-One is completely worthless and throw-away. Filler! I could take filler back in Week Thirteen, but this is the point where we’re supposed to be getting into the payoff that all of that filler once promised. For the sake of formality, though, I suppose we can all take a second to discuss what actually transpires this week.52 week 41

For starters, it looks like Montoya’s going to finally become the new Question soon. She does a bit of training in Nanda Parbat, and is left with a question at the close of her story: “Which will have greater rule over you…your fear or your curiosity?” She makes her choice and goes to a cave to meditate, to see who she can be.

Meanwhile, Ralph Dibny does some investigative work that was foreshadowed six months ago (in comic time, not real time), as he shows up at the place they were once holding Professor Morrow prisoner before he was kidnapped and taken to Oolong Island (without leaving a trace to show how). Ralph starts to figure it out, blah blah blah, and eventually steals the Silver Wheel of Nyorlath. From a cripple. Ralph sees this, becomes terrified at what he’s done, and flees with the Helmet of Fate, who claims, “the final hour is at last upon us.” Since it’s only Day 3 of Week Forty-One at that point, I’m guessing that he was being metaphorical. Or, he just meant that the final hour is upon them…in about five days or so. It’s interesting, though. Ralph’s still drinking from that flask (what’s he drinking exactly?), and he seems to be TOTALLY CONTROLLED BY THE HELMET OF FATE. Montoya’s thinking about who she is, Adam Strange is thinking about how to get home, Booster Gold’s thinking about ways to escape Skeets, and, meanwhile, all Ralph Dibny can think about is where he’s going to get his next Helmet fix.

Oh, yeah, I forgot, those space idiots finally run into Green Lantern Mogo this week, and they’re on his planet now. If only they’d been there forty-one weeks ago, they would’ve seen a kick-ass fight between two Supermen and Superboy-Prime. And they’d be home by now. I think they’re finally safe, at long last.

All in all, I just wish something would happen already. There’s no mention of Booster/Rip or Black Adam/Osiris or anybody, really. Ralph Dibny’s still collecting stuff, Montoya’s still afraid of becoming who she’s meant to be, and the space idiots are still lost. That’s all this issue established.

Oh, and on a side-note, if Geoff Jones keeps making Starman say, “52! Ha!” as an out-of-the-blue punchline to a joke in his head over in “Justice Society of America,” I think that I’m going to have to track that guy down and crack him over the head with a wrench. Or beat him to death with a pillow-case full of batteries.

See ya in seven.

Book of Doom: Godland #16

Howdy all! Why do I say “howdy”? I don’t know, just seemed like the thing to say. Our communal review last week was roundly dissed because it cost a relatively absurd $5.99. Time to rejoice, you cheapskates! This week’s choice is issue 16 of the Jack-Kirby-meets-Sealab-2021-type series Godland, which is retailing for the unbeatable price of only 60 cents. Personally, I really love when comics companies push out these special cheap issues as an incentive to hook new readers. The Goon, Fables, Sandman and especially DC’s Countdown to Infinite Crisis have employed this well.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingYou might not ever want to pick up another issue of Godland after this one, but it’s probably worth it to give the book a chance. Heck, you’d spend more if you bought two stamps. And, if you want a primer on the series, here’s another even better deal: You can read the first issue of the series for free right here. So check that out, drop your 60 pennies this afternoon and come back Saturday to give your thoughts.

Here’s what Image says of #16:



In this specially priced issue, the Pentagon is forced to reassess their tenuous relationship with Commander Adam Archer. Is he an all-American hero or a threat to humanity? It’s a journey through the GODLAND saga so far, with an outcome you won’t believe! The proverbial ‘jumping on point’ for new readers. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know you’ve heard it a thousand times, but this time IT’S TRUE! Affordable and informative: what more could anyone want from the ultimate Cosmic Superhero Epic?!


24 pg – FC – $.60

Preview: Salvador (Boom! Studios)

The following preview is interesting to me for a couple reasons. First, and perhaps most importantly, this is a markedly different type of book for Boom!, which I’ve always considered as the Spike TV of comics (which I mean as a compliment). “Salvador” seems to be a much more intellectual and emotional project, as opposed to the type of huge-guns-and-lots-of-death-and-or-zombies type stuff the company has been producing. Will it be a good fit? We’ll see.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingA second point is that the creative team behind this project comes from the world of movies, which to me is just another sign of the popularity of comics as a creative outlet for people from all walks of entertainment. I’ll let you all know more when I know more. For now, here’s Boom’s press release:

BOOM! Studios is proud to announce that the award-winning writer-director-producer team behind the upcoming Warner Brothers film, THE ASTRONAUT FARMER, are launching their next project “SALVADOR” in the world of comic books.

“A savior for DNA discards. He is the salvation for genetic engineering gone awry. As a product of testing, he was born brittle and light as a feather. As a result, he can fly, but is ultimately fragile. The world he loves and desires to save can shatter him to pieces.” The saga of SALVADOR begins in April 2007. The first issue features 22 pages of story content in full color.

“The Polish Brothers began their careers at the forefront of American independent film in 1999 and have never looked back since,” BOOM! Publisher Ross Richie said. “Their debut film TWIN FALLS IDAHO was the toast of Sundance in 1999, and they’ve followed it up with a string of brilliant films in JACKPOT, NORTHFORK, and the upcoming ASTRONAUT FARMER. We just couldn’t be more excited that they’ve chosen BOOM! As a home to one of their projects. It’s a delight to be a fan of someone in film and get a shot now at working with them in comics.”


God the Dyslexic doG

By Brian and Philip Phillipson (W) and Alex Nino (A)

Published in 2006, originally as four issues in 2005, by Bliss on Tap Publishing. $19.95 softcover, $29.95 hardcover.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe Plot: Drop some acid, chase it with a bottle of something staunch and thumb through a pile of texts on mythology, psychology, human history and religion. Then distill it through a most simplistic pun. The resulting dream is going to approximate the experience of reading God the Dyslexic doG. The Phillipson father and son team bring a whole lot to the table, roughly following the adventures of a dog that’s been instilled with the power of God. The villain is age-old Dionysus, who seeks to destroy the world (by setting in motion the Mayan doomsday) so that he can finally die (in a nice twist, he’s one of the few fictional villains seeking to end his immortality). This is just the first part of the adventure, but manages not to leave off with a jarring cliffhanger.

The Positives: I’m a sucker for weird forays into myth, and that’s pretty much exactly the MO here. It’s pretty densely layered with ideas and ideologies, so there’s a lot to chew (metaphorically, of course). But it’s not overly high-minded, delving into plenty of silliness. The Phillipsons clearly are just having a lot of fun with the concept, and it works. (Brian Phillipson wanted to get together for a Q&A but has been too busy with his day job, working on animation for the upcoming Futurama flicks. He says they’re really funny, which is good news for a good show that’s long sat dormant.)

A lot of the book’s success owes to Alex Nino’s art. The pages are filled with these massive splashes of imagery that seems like a marriage between Salvador Dali and Dr. Seuss. There are scientific monkeys conducting experiments on crashed airplanes and weird space stations that play home to warrior turkeys. And Nino’s style fits it really well.

The Negatives: The problems with this book all come from the writing, mostly because it’s so anarchic that it’s hard as a reader to ever get much of a sense of what’s going on. I found myself vacillating between being convinced that this book existed on a plane of knowledge far above my reach and thinking it was just a rambling mess of pseudo-intellectualism all brewed together. Either way, it’s a world without structure, which means a serious lack of narrative strength. There’s a lot of potential in the storyline, but it’s not there yet. Also, and this is a decidedly minor note, but the main idea of the story (a dog that’s a god) kept me thinking back to this Kids in the Hall sketch, which was a much simpler and more effective riff on the same pun.

The Grade: B God the Dyslexic doG isn’t an overwhelmingly great book, but it is decidedly different from everything else that’s out there and it was published (quite nicely) by the creators, so it’s worth supporting (buy it here). I’d say that if you have an interest in this sort of thing (or if you have a serious drug habit), then it’s definitely a book to check out.

The Doomino Effect for the week of Feb 7, 2007

Uncanny X-Men #483 was a whole lot of fighting and loving, with not one, but TWO close-ups of Deathbird’s tongue doing some tongue-loving. Maybe chalk that up to guest-artist Clayton Henry filling in for Billy Tan, who has clearly never seen an actual woman. This was a good enough issue that advances the plot just fine, but I can’t help but feel this is a 9 or 10 part story being told in 12 parts.

Which leads me to 52: Week 40. Lots of fighting and loving, but loving of a different sort, for finally we see John Henry Irons laying the smackdown on Lex and Co., just punching and kicking and hammering his way through Luthor’s goons before getting to Luthor himself. While I was happy to see Steel survive the fight, I wouldn’t have been bothered too much if he bit the dust here, because it would have been a nice honorable way to go.

Which leads me to New Avengers #27. The Civil War scheduling strikes, as a new line-up of the team graces these here pages and we don’t know the outcome of Civil War yet. But not all is spoiled, as we are left to wonder “Just how did the New Avengers line-up come to consist of Cage, Wolverine, Spider-Woman, Spider-Man, Iron Fist, Dr Strange and Ronin II? And what became of folks like The Sentry, Daredevil, Captain America and Iron Man?”

But enough of that, as I’m sure Civil War #7 and that other Avengers book will answer those questions. This issue was about fighting and dying, as the posthumous message from Ronin to Matt Murdock explains where Echo has been since we last saw her. I have to applaud Bendis and Yu, as it was an effective way to deliver a word-based story and a big huge fight without taking away from either. Exposition and ass-kicking are non-stop in this issue, leading up to Echo’s echo of Elektra’s death at the hands of Bullseye.

But speaking of lots of words and exposition, Detective Comics #828 had a little too much of both for me. I normally love everything Paul Dini puts his fingers on, and this was still way better than what’s been in the pages of Batman, but I’m sorry – the excessive marine biology and “But of course” deduction reminded me a little more of the Adam West Batman than the Bruce Timm Batman. I’m still intrigued by where this dynamic with the Riddler is going, and a great storyteller like Dini has earned a few off-months in my book.

Meaningless Awards of the Week- 2/7/07

FNSM 17Book I Was Afraid to Read of the Week- Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #17

I’m not sure if you heard, but Spider-Man’s returning to his black costume this month. According to Marvel, the costume change is happening because something tragic is going to happen to Peter Parker. That tragic event is assumedly the murder of Aunt May or Mary Jane or both, as teased in the last issue of Amazing Spider-Man. FNSM #17 is the first appearance of the black costume post-tragedy. Unfortunately, the tragedy hasn’t happened yet, because Amazing Spider-Man is shipping way late. What are the odds that the first re-appearance of the black costume will reference the reason for the costume change? I’d say pretty damn high. So if I read the issue, there’s a very good chance that Amazing Spider-Man will be spoiled for me, reducing an already depressing story into a downright terrible one. God, I hate Joe Quesada.

Day of the Week- Day 1, 52 Week 40

When DC first announced 52, they promoted Steel as the guy who would be taking on Lex Luthor with Superman out for a year. For 39 weeks we waited, as nothing much happened in the way of a confrontation between the two. On the first day of week 40, the sh** hit the fan. Accompanied by the Teen Titans, Steel storms Lexcorp in an attempt to take down Luthor once and for all. A brutal smackdown ensues that sees the Teen Titans face off against Infinity Inc. and Steel go mano-a-mano with a super-powered Luthor. I can’t say I’ve ever been especially excited by the idea of Steel showing up in any comic I read, but after that fight I really hope this isn’t the last I see of him.

Splash Page of the Week- Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1, by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove

Dark Tower 1 Splash

Downgrade of the Week- Arsenal is Speedy, Justice League Unlimited #30

Whenever you see Dick Grayson in JLU, he’s Nightwing. Wally West is the Flash. So why did Roy Harper get stuck as Speedy instead of the much cooler Arsenal? You’d think DC would want to stay as far away from Roy Harper’s heroin addiction days as possible in a kid’s book.