Monthly archives: April, 2007

Meaningless Awards of the Week- 4/25/07

Artist of the Week- Alex Ross, Justice #11, covers to Justice Society of America #5 and Astro City: The Dark Age Book Two #3

Alex Ross covers 4-25

Y’know, three great covers in any given week would probably be enough to give this award to Alex Ross, but he had to go one better and paint an entire issue on top of it. I may be the only one of the Legion still reading Justice every time an issue comes out, but I’ll be damned if this issue wasn’t just amazing to look at. It was even a pretty good read, watching the Justice League’s master plan to thwart the Legion of Doom (no relation) play out through the issue. Just look at this double page splash:

Justice 11 splash

If only all comics were that pretty. (more…)

New X-Men: Childhood’s End Volume 1

New X-Men Childhood's End Vol 1By Craig Kyle, Chris Yost (W), and Mark Brooks (A)

Published by Marvel Comics. Cover price $10.99. Originally printed as New X-Men 20-23.

The Plot: The student body of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning deals with the immediate impact of M-Day.

The Positives: New X-Men felt the effects of Scarlet Witch declaring “no more mutants” more than any other X-title. While the X-Men were somehow able to defy the odds and only have a handful of members lose their powers, the New X-Men weren’t so lucky. At least three featured characters were de-powered, as well as 90% of the entire student body. After M-Day, there were fewer students at Xavier’s than there were “teachers.”

This allowed the book to look at M-Day from a different perspective than all the other X-titles. Several different perspectives, in fact. There’s the newly de-powered mutant who still wants to be a hero (Prodigy). There’s the de-powered mutant who gets ignored by his still-powered friends (Tag). There are the still-powered mutants that wish they had been de-powered (Wither, Mercury). And there are the rest of the still-powered mutants that have to deal with losing a great number of their friends and classmates. Decimation was a brief boon to the quality of the X-Men books, and New X-Men may have used the event to the greatest advantage.

The Negatives: New X-Men is a formulaic book. Juts like Young Avengers, Runaways and Avengers: The Initiative, it’s about inexperienced super-powered youths being forced to work together as a team for whatever reason. While it’s obviously not a bad formula, it’s only as good as the creators can make it.

Craig Kyle and Chris Yost unfortunately chose to focus on the drama more than the action. I guess I’m probably not the target demographic, but teen romance doesn’t appeal to me that much. At least not when it’s the focus of the book. New X-Men could be a lot more entertaining if (to use a WB analogy) it was more like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and less like Dawson’s Creek.

The Grade: B-. With Childhood’s End Volume 1, New X-Men managed to gain back quite a bit of momentum after a major change in its status quo. It set up a lot of good stuff that will hopefully be played off in future storylines. The rather explosive cliffhanger ending has me hooked in for the next trade, at least.

Superman: Red Son

By Mark Millar (W) and Dave Johnson (A).
Cover price $17.99. Published by DC Comics, 2003. Originally printed as Superman: Red Son #1-3.
Superman Red SonPlot: In as little words as possible, this book raises the question, “What if Superman’s rocket crash landed in the Soviet Union instead of the United States?” There is, however, quite a bit more to it than just that. The first issue takes place in the 1950’s, the second in the 1970’s, and the final one in the year 2000. Superman is used by the Soviet government to realize the full strength of socialism, but his acts are viewed by some as totalitarian and limiting of civil liberties. The main Superman detractor is an anarchist terrorist type who goes by the name of the Batman. I bet you’ve heard of him. One of Superman’s main allies in this is Wonder Woman, who eventually gets out of the game, as it’s just too much for her to handle. Lex Luthor, meanwhile, is America’s top scientist and leader of the movement to bring Superman down. He uses such tactics as creating a Bizarro clone of Superman, as well as enlisting the aid of the Green Lantern Marine Corps, headed by Colonel Hal Jordan (or was it Major? I can’t remember, nor do I care). If you want to know more, you’ll have to buy it. The question is, should you?

Strengths: Yes. The Batman is worth the cover price alone. The way he brings the fight to Superman in the second issue is phenomenal. They make no mention of Kryptonite in this limited series, so Batman has to come up with something even more clever. What could that be? Red sun heat lamps. It’s just amazingly fun. Lex Luthor is also brilliant in his role as, well, duh, Lex Luthor. And, for once, he’s a good guy and stuff. There’s a lot of politics in this baby, and it’s all quite engaging. Sounds like fun, right? What could be wrong with it, then?

Weaknesses: Not much, really. It doesn’t really hold up as a logical Elseworld with the one change being that Superman landed on a Ukrainian farm instead of a farm in Kansas, because you’ve got characters like Jimmy Olson working as a secret agent instead of a photographer. Why would Superman landing somewhere else change Olson’s life choices? There are a couple of little quibbles like that, but, seriously, it doesn’t amount to much other than over-nitpicking. Which is stupid.

Grade: A. I know, I give high scores to most everything, but that’s because I don’t buy a lot of stuff unless I know I’m going to probably like it. The fact that this is one of my all-time favorite books also factors into my grading. Simply put, it’s a great read, and it’s a heckuva lot of fun. Do you like fun? Then you should buy this. If you don’t like fun, well, you’re just kind of weird.

Book of Doom: Fallen Son #2: New Avengers

It’s the Legion of Doom’s weekly roundtable review – The Book of Doom – and this week, for the first in what will hopefully be a regular feature of the Book of Doom, we’ve got a special guest – Matt from Another Damn Comic Blog. This week’s selection is the second in the “Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America” series, entitled “Anger,” which stars The Avengers.

I loved the first issue, so I had high expectations coming into this story. I’ve been very disappointed with Jeph Loeb lately, but #1 was so good that I thought maybe he was rushing through his other work to focus his attention on this series.

Issue #2 left me with mixed feelings. It wasn’t as good as issue #1, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad, because #1 was so good. I liked the approach Loeb took – one team of Avengers deals with their anger over Captain America’s death by taking it out on “the bad guys,” while the other team takes out their anger on each other. One is overt expressions of anger, the other is more subtle.

The problem with this situation is that, in order for the character arc to work, the players had to realize that they were letting their anger get the best of them, and they had to get a handle on it and redeem themselves. That happened with the New Avengers. But the situation with the Mighty Avengers fell flat for several reasons.

First off, they were battling sea monsters. Losing control is less apparent with giant dragons and octopodes than it would be with some powerless street thug, who could easily be beaten far beyond his ability to defend himself or retaliate. It’s much harder for the reader to cast the necessary judgment on the attackers if the victims can’t do much to express a relatable degree of pain or helplessness. If not for a little bit of forced dialog and Namor’s sermon, it would have been completely lost on me that the Mighty Avengers were taking their anger out on anything, much less even feeling angry. It was just absolutely the wrong scenario to communicate their anger had consumed them. So what we were left with was a mundane, disconnected battle paired with a card game. Had the battle been more profound, the contrast between the two situations might have worked better. As it was, I felt bored.

Disappointment aside, I do have to give props for one fantastic piece of subtle storytelling – the type of thing that makes me give every little decision the benefit of the doubt. It’s no mistake that, in the last panel, Spider-Woman’s mask is off. Whether that’s Loeb’s handiwork or a contribution of Ed McGuinness, that was a profound decision, given the context of that particular wardrobe detail and what it came to symbolize throughout the story. If nothing else, great work on that last panel, gents.

Here’s what the rest of the posse had to say…

Q&A with Brian Phillipson (God the Dyslexic doG)

Alert readers will recall that some time back we brought you a review of the collected series God the Dyslexic doG, which was written by the father-son team of Philip and Brian Phillipson and illustrated by indie comics mainstay Alex Nino. It’s a sort of psychotropic adventure through history, mythology and psychology, heading full barrel for doomsday. And at the center is a dog that’s really god. Or maybe not. There’s a lot left open to interpretation and imagination, which is part of what makes the book such a fun read.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCo-writer Brian Phillipson took the time to give our readers a bit of the story behind the story, even though he’s swamped at his day job working on the upcoming Futurama series of films. So, without further delay, Brian Phillipson:

Jean-Claude Van Doom: Most of the first four issues and prequel seem like a setup, establishing this trippy universe and the characters. Yet, the cliffhanger leaves off with the world nearing its end. Do you and your father consider this the feeling out period of the storyline? How much do you have plotted ahead?

Brian Phillipson: The first four issues are definitely a set up for bigger things to come. We wanted to establish this trippy universe first and eventually let the characters interact and play out on it. As far as plotting out goes,we know exactly where it’s going and how it needs to end. Now the fun part comes… the journey to it. From modern day to when the gods were invented is our time line, which gives us a lot of flexibilities and infinite possibilities, story and character wise.

Underlining it all is doG, our hero, witnessing and living through it all.

Signs of ASSBAR

The perpetually delayed state of All Star Batman and Robin is sort of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s nice to know that no matter what, there’s absolutely no chance I’ll read any more of Frank Miller’s spiteful tromp through Batman’s yesteryears. On the other hand, it’s fun to have any excuse to throw out my most famous invention, the acronym ASSBAR.

All that aside, ASSBAR is returning. Apparently. While I’ll remain unconvinced until an issue actually appears on the shelves (alongside a POS Miller alterna-cover), there’s some evidence come to light that a blue moon will graze the sky, snow will fall in hell and ASSBAR will be published. At the Gelatometti blog, Jim Lee has posted pencil sketches of covers for issues five through seven. Judge for yourself.

ASSBAR aside, I’d never heard of this Gelatometti thing-a-ma-jig, but there’s a ton of pencil art on there and it’s pretty cool to look through as a novice-artist.

Worst to First: 4/25/07

How best to describe this week in comics? Well, paltry fits pretty well. I read a handful of books and a few lucky fellas were buy worthy. Also, for some reason my shop didn’t have Crossing Midnight or Shazam, which certainly would’ve helped things out. So, here’s my very brief and more-than-mildly-disappointed recap of the week, from utter detritus to grand champion…

Worst: City of Others #2

Ummm, wow. This book is horrible. The characters all are drawn like the worst of the mid-90s generic crap. The plot is absent. The dialogue and monologues are cringe-worthy. If this book were just this much worse, I would think it was a nicely done parody by the folks at Boom! Studios. Sadly, that is not the case.

Confusing, irrelevant and terrible: Amazons Attack #1

What in the flying Samuel Adams is going on here? I know this may sound shocking, but Wonder Woman has been the most poorly managed character since Infinite Crisis. And no, I’m not forgetting the turdball that was Bruce Jones’ run on Nightwing. Agent Prince, as she’s being called, has bounced between writers with little coherent plot entering the picture. She’s apparently in fed custody now, which has prompted the Amazons to Attack. But didn’t they disappear in Infinite Crisis? How did they mobilize in the middle of D.C. without claiming a single victim, and why then did they randomly decide to whack a couple tourists?

Apparently war is in the air for all our favorite comics publishers. Call me when Gail Simone comes in and we can all pretend the past year didn’t happen.

Jury’s out till Saturday: Fallen Son

This is our Book of Doom. So, as usual, you have to wait to see my thoughts on the matter.

Week Fifty-One

The secret of 52 is that the multiverse still exists. How much cooler would this week’s issue be if Dan Didio hadn’t let that little bit of information spill out all those months ago? 52 worlds. 52 Morrows. Apparently, a year ago, when Alexander Luthor’s hands were tearing open space and time, way out near the Rann-Thanagar Warzone, some heroes saw something. The Garden, as “Skeets” refers to it. Red Tornado made a map. It’s all building up to the fact that there are 52 alternate Earths still left after the events of Infinite Crisis. Not a bad little surprise, if’n you ask me. Too bad they couldn’t keep it as a surprise.52 week 51

Anyway, let’s talk about what actually goes down this week. For starters, Buddy “Animal Man” Baker returns to Earth, much to his wife Ellen’s delight. Starfire also returns to Earth, to give Buddy’s jacket to the missus, only to find that Buddy’s still very much alive. Meanwhile, our third Space Adventurer, Adam Strange, wakes up to his home world of Rann, with newly restored eye-sight. All’s well that ends well. Lobo, meanwhile, returns the Emerald Eye of Ekron to his fish-god, right before he uses it to blast said fish-god into oblivion. Oh, and there’s also a memorial back on Earth for Conner Kent, who died last year in the Crisis. Robin explains the new suit (“they were his colors”), and Bruce Wayne meets up with Clark Kent.

The majority of the excitement this week, though, comes at the end, as all good excitement tends to do. “Skeets” breaks into Professor Morrow’s laboratory in the Rockies to get the Red Tornado head, which contains a map of the Garden I mentioned at the top. Booster Gold and Rip Hunter show up to stop him, and “Skeets” reveals who he really is. After all this time, we finally get a definitive answer as to who Skeets really is. The answer? Mister Mind. I kinda guessed it in the comments section of that old post, but I was still quite wrong. Heckuva surprise, ya ask me. That is a surprise that was literally fifty-one weeks in the making.

All in all, a solid week. Next week is for all the marbles, and I, for one, cannot wait. Don’t let World War III get you down, kids. 52 is still off the hook.

See ya in seven.

An early Spider-Man 3 review…

The biggest comic book movie of the summer is only a week and change away. Spider-Man 3, which may be the last team-up of Sam Raimi and the core cast from the first two films, will be out soon, but Nick Nunziata at provides a SPOILER-FREE look at the flick. Some highlights:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI was having fun and it wasn’t because I was seeing my favorite costumed hero swinging through Manhattan. It was the knowledge that Sam Raimi had eclipsed the high demands of the property and not only embraced the ‘kitchen sink’ mentality of Spider-Man 3 but also made sure that it was clogged with fun minutia. …

Thankfully, what is lost in character development is gained in Big Boss Action! At a point where many viewers may feel satiated, the film decides to throw caution to the wind, babies with the bathwater, and other overused terms and have a truly jaw-dropping sequence where nothing is spared for the spectacle. It’s the best and most truly “superhero” battle put to film and though not one person in the crowd will be surprised how it turns out, the ride there is incredible. …

This is a very good summer movie, proof you can have way too many characters and still pull it off. And yes, Bruce Campbell has his best cameo yet. By far.

For the full review, go here.

The Doomino Effect for the week of Apr 18, 2007

Hello, my sexy dalmatian feminine Cable sidekicks, and welcome to this week’s Doomino Effect.

This week’s line-up will be free of any thoughts on World War III, because that’s what our Saturday roundtable was for. So let’s get started on the rest of the week that was…last week.

First up is Mighty Avengers #2. I seriously wonder if Frank Cho had it in his contract that he’d work on Mighty Avengers as long as he got to draw a naked woman all the time. What a comic geek’s dream! Fighting, explosions, and a naked upgrade from Janet Van Dyne! The big shock here was that Cho got to continue his career as professional 12-year-old-with-no-internet masturbatory resource supplier but he photoshop-copied some panels! Come on Frank! If you’re a red-blooded lady-loving man and you get paid to draw the boobies, draw the boobies! Don’t copy panels! You never know when people will stop paying you to draw the boobies! Someday you’re going to be like “Nobody pays me to draw the boobies anymore. Now I just have to draw them for myself. If only I had drawn all the boobies in Mighty Avengers #2, rather than copying panels. If I had a nipple – I mean, nickel – for every time…”

And Janet should take some fashion tips from this robot. Beyond walking around naked, the robot displays a much better hairstyle. Janet’s closely-cropped locks make her appear much older than she should. When Janet asks the team “Does anyone think that looks exactly like me with worse hair?” nobody answers her because they’re all thinking, “Not really, Janet. That robot is way hotter than you, and not just because she’s naked. And if a hot robot doesn’t convince you to do something with that hair, I don’t know what will. Your hairdo is so bland and conservative that you bring new meaning to the codename WASP.”

But enough with the talk about naked robots and Janet Van Dyne. I’m getting a big kick out of this book. Bendis claimed he was going to try a different style with it, and I’m not really sure what the difference is (other than thought-balloons). It’s a fast-paced, action-oriented, well-written team book. Kind of what an Avengers comic should be.

And speaking of fast-paced, action-oriented, well-written team books, that reminds me of everything that Justice League of America isn’t! Granted, issue #8 was a huge step up from that centerfolded turd called issue #7, but I still just can’t believe I’m reading JLA! I feel like we’re still just in setup mode. And were issues #1-6 so dull that I have no recollection of where this Trident guy (a.k.a. “Karate Kid”) came from? Or did he just show up on Batman’s dinner table?

As much as I just feel like I’m being hazed before getting to a good story (it’s coming, right?) I actually am excited about this crossover between the JLA, the JSA, and the Legion of Super-Heroes. It’s fitting and exciting to my geekiness that the JLA / JSA team-up has to do with crossing dimensions, recalling the earliest days of those teams crossing paths.