Monthly archives: May, 2007


JLA 12

I don’t care how much they look like Doom DeLuise’s dad…the new JLA has never look better than it does on the cover to its twelfth issue. Of course, the alternative was Michael Turner, so poop smeared on a canvas would be a step up.

The Other Side

Howdy there, our little Doom Patrollers. I know you’ll all be crestfallen, but I’m going to be out of town the rest of the week and have no time for the weekly Worst to First roundup. To make up for it, I have a review of the new graphic novel The Other Side, a Vietnam tale that’s out this week.

By Jason Aaron (W) and Cameron Stewart (A)
Published by Vertigo, 2007, originally as five-issue series. $12.99

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe Plot: A story set in Vietnam, how original. That’s what you’re thinking, right? While the source material for thousands of movies and books has been well covered, The Other Side manages a somewhat fresh take by creating a dual narrative, with Pvt. Billy Everette on one side and soldier Vo Binh Dai on the other. It’s clear from the get go (the intro is very Full Metal Jacket) that the two stories are heading toward a head, and much of the interest lies in becoming invested in these two characters and wondering who will live and who will die. Along the way, Aaron and Stewart show a nitty gritty view of America’s ugliest (for now) war as their two main characters begin to see ghosts and hear voices, so traumatized are they by the insanity and violence consuming them.

The Positives: This might sound quite strange for a book that’s very action-heavy, but the Vietnam movie this book reminded me the most of was the documentary Fog of War featuring Robert McNamara’s ramblings on the colossal screw-up he assisted with. In that movie, McNamara slowly unveiled that the major lesson he learned from Vietnam was that the two sides had absolutely no idea what the other’s ambition was, and that the whole effort was essentially a waste of thousands of lives. In The Other Side, that message comes not from the bureaucrats, but from the soldiers. The focus is on how all the atrocities ordered by McNamara (and others) affected those who undertook the operations. That message comes across as especially relevant now, during another war that might not be Vietnam’s peer, but is at least nearly as misguided.

Beyond an engaging and worthwhile message, Aaron’s writing is poetic and haunting. He deftly slides between the two narratives, using the structure to his advantage, where so often multiple viewpoints only muddy the writing. Stewart, who traveled to Vietnam to research the book (more…)

Countdown: Forty-Nine

I think my criticism against Countdown was a tad premature. I really enjoyed this issue. Whaddya say we run through the plot points real quick. Things open where they ended last time, with Killer Croc breaking free and attacking Jimmy Olsen, who pulls a Plastic Man and warps all out of place; The Monitors talk about eliminating universal anomalies; Pied Piper and Trickster convince Mirror Master to let them into the little Rogue supergroup; and Mary Marvel goes where she was explicitly told not to go, only to find an old friend who’s none too happy to see her.countdown 49

I suppose the final few pages were worth the cover price alone. Mary Marvel can’t find Captain Marvel or Freddy Freeman, so she heads to Gotham and finds Black Adam hiding out in an old abandoned building, killing anybody and everybody who dares to enter. And he’s got some weird looking setup, that looks quite a lot like the inside of the Rock of Eternity. If you think about it, it took him about a whole month to figure out how to get his powers back. Captain Marvel must have not been too creative when thinking up a new magic word. Maybe it was “grocery store.” Everybody says that at least once a month.

Seriously, though, I am overjoyed that they included a character that I actually care about into this series, because I was getting quite bored with it already. I find myself getting excited thinking of all the possible things that could come of this surprise appearance. Maybe he’ll give Mary some of his powers, and the two of them will hang out and stuff. I’m also really looking forward to the upcoming Black Adam miniseries that details what happened to him between when we last saw him in 52 and now. Should be fun.

Oh, but they really need to drop this Rogue story, and fast. We already know what they do! It was in last week’s issue of Flash! Stop it, already. I’d rather see Black Adam tear some more rapists limb from bloody limb.

Book of Doom: Wonder Woman #9

It’s that time of the week again. Time to choose this week’s Book of Doom. As you can tell by the title of this post, if you’re one of the types who actually reads headlines, we’ve decided to pick “Wonder Woman #9.” In case you haven’t been paying much attention to Wonder Woman lately, there’s this big war being waged on the United States by the Amazonians, since, apparently Wonder Woman was imprisoned by our government. To be honest with you, I really have no idea. I don’t read Wonder Woman.

Thankfully, there’s a first time for everything, so we can all hop on board and get reacquainted with the only female in DC’s Big Three. So, this week, when you’re at your local comic book shop, toss the newest issue of Wonder Woman onto the top of your stack, and then, on Saturday, come back here to share in the discussion as the Legion of Doom, along with special guest reviewer The Fortress Keeper from The Fortress of Fortitude, takes part in its weekly round-table discussion. Again, we don’t have a table. It’s a figure of speech, people! Anyway, here’s the official word on the issue from DC:

Written by Jodi Picoult; Art and cover by Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson

Acclaimed novelist Jodi Picoult continues her WONDER WOMAN run as America goes to war. As the Amazons invade America, Wonder Woman and Nemesis make an unlikely pair as they struggle to understand why their world has exploded while staying alive! An old nemesis of Wonder Woman’s enters the fray, but even this threat pales in comparison to what the Amazons have unleashed. And when Nemesis makes a dangerous gamble in his quest for the truth, he discovers a danger way over his head!

Minx, the new girls club

When the folks at DC sent over two of the new books from the company’s new Minx line — which is targeted at a young, hip female audience — I wondered what would happen if the books weren’t any good. If I were inclined to give the books bad reviews, would it come across as just the crusty stick-in-the-mud not being able to step out of the perceived place of comics? Or, even worse, would I simply be a charter member of the Comics Are For Boys Club?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketProbably good for everyone then that Minx (at least from the initial offerings) is a true and pure success. Creating a line of comics marketed for the exact opposite type of person than typically reads comics (aside from a small overlap, mostly with manga) is one hell of a risk, and it has yet to be seen whether the move will be a success financially. But, at the very least, DC has created a worthwhile product and one of the best exemplars yet that comic books are a medium, not a genre.

The books we’re discussing here are Mike Carey’s Re-Gifters and The Plain Janes ($9.99 each). Both are slim and sized similar to manga titles. I can’t help but wonder if the design is intentionally structured in the way of those quick-read adolescent girl adventures of yesteryear like The Babysitters Club, et al. The books share several traits (as they do with all Minx books, judging from previews): the main character is a bull-headed teenage girl seeking her place in the world, boys are a major but not life-altering concern, their families are supporting but lack understanding of their problems, and some challenge must be bested by the book’s end. These are fairly generic, yes, but they’re distinctive enough to clearly delineate the target audience.

In case it is not clear, I am not the target audience. I am a guy. My chief concern in high school was being a chubby nerd, and that was years ago. I did not like boys. My main concern going into these books was whether they would be remotely accessible for those outside the demographic. The fact that they are so accessible, then, is their truest success. (more…)

The Doomino Effect for the week of May 16, 2007

Hello, freckled blockheads, and welcome to this week’s installment of The Doomino Effect.

Getting us started is Batman #665. I had stopped reading Batman somewhere a few issues back. I thought the Damian / Ninja bat storyline was stupid, then there was that Grotesk arc, and then I remember an issue with lots of typography. I was like screw that, man. But for some reason I picked up this issue, and much to my surprise, I dug it! I know Grant Morrison is supposed to be a god among comics mortals and whatnot, but like I said, I thought his first arc on this book stunk. There certainly are elements of this book that seem to walk the line between intriguing and goofy, but I loved the characterization of Batman.

The first page, with Batman collapsing from the beating he took, narrated with his internal monologue of “Must – Must be – Must be a better way – to strike terror – into the hearts of criminals.” And then thud. Nice! I also loved “Cop or no cop – you’re on my list.” That’s a man who’s on a tunnel-vision power trip and that’s Batman. I’m also intrigued with the Black Casebook, even if that little turd Damian is involved somehow.

And speaking of little turds, that leads me to Action Comics #849. I touched on most of these issues in the last podcast, but here is a summary of what I hated about this issue:

1. The cover says “A Crisis of Faith!” in the font used for Infinite Crisis and Crisis tie-ins, implying that this is a big event. Abusing such implications in such a deliberate tease is insultingly cheap.

2. It’s a judgmental, condescending sermon against those who are judgmental, condescending preachers with the intellectual strength of a junior high student who just read his first philosophy book.

3. The religion of the Kents and Superman is sold out in order to strengthen Fabian Nicieza’s stupid story. I just can’t believe that DC editorial allowed what could have been such a powerful situation (Superman crossing paths with religion / faith) to be presented in such a heavy handed, preachy self-parody.

Superman: Peace on Earth

By Paul Dini (W) and Alex Ross (A).
Cover price $9.95. Published by DC Comics, 1999.

Plot: Superman realizes that there are lots of hungry people in the world, so he decides to try to deliver a bit of food to everybody in the entire world. From what I can tell, he’s delivering either rice or just plain ol’ grain, which, y’know, to a famine victim is like a steak dinner with all the trimmings. Regardless, the plot is that he flies around the world and delivers this food to all sorts of different countries, runs into a few spots of trouble when warlords don’t take kindly to his efforts, and eventually realizes he needs to show people how to “fish” rather than provide “fish for a day.” Yes, this entire story hinges on a simple cliche, and I’d be a downright jerk-off not to feel all warm and sentimental after reading it. Right? Well, I am a jerk-off, and I don’t feel that way.

The Good: I have really enjoyed everything that Paul Dini has done on “Batman: The Animated Series” and his recent run on “Detective Comics.” That’s the nicest thing I can say about this.

The Bad: Pretty much everything else. Superman plays Santa Claus. And, as much as so many people enjoy his work, I really can’t stand Alex Ross. Let me insert a minor caveat. The only poster in my apartment that’s hanging up is a collage, painted by Alex Ross of the entire DCU, promoting the Crisis on Infinite Earths. And, no, the ladies don’t mind it. One time, a girl I brought home from the bars asked me to name as many characters as I could, and my response was, “Whaddya think I am, some kinda f-in nerd?” Jokes aside, though, he cannot capture motion in the least, and everything he paints has a static, boring feel to it. As for the writing? It’s over dramatic, self-important nonsense, and I felt insulted while reading it. A common complaint of Superman’s character is that he’s boring. This is the perfect example.

The Grade: F. It may have only cost ten bucks, but, seriously, there are so many things you could spend ten bucks on other than this. Please, please, please, don’t spend money on this. A good friend of mine lent me his copy, otherwise I’d be so inclined to give this an F-. Completely and utterly without worth.

Since the conclusion to Heroes sucked…

Anyone else feel that was a Grade A letdown? Me too. Wouldn’t you think that a battle royale between the two “Heroes” with multiple powers would entail them using, uh, multiple powers? Wouldn’t you think everyone would make sure Sylar couldn’t slink away? That said, I’ll still be watching next season.

Now, because I’m that guy, I saved the best for last: Yep, the Joker picture from the upcoming Dark Knight flick. This is awesome. You know, there have been a lot of incarnations of the Joker, and one thing that’s been missing from most of them is a serious dose of the scariness. Like Kramer, I’m scared of clowns. But the Joker is too often the clown you laugh at (or with). Clearly, this is different. Note the scars, the darkness, the hollow intensity. This Joker scares the expletive out of me. Awesome. Photo below.

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Meaningless Awards of the Week- 5/16/07

Uncanny X-Men 486Book of the Week- Uncanny X-Men #486

“The Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire” certainly had its faults. Alternating between Billy Tan and Clayton Henry on art duties was jarring to say the least since the two have such drastically different styles. Focusing solely on Vulcan for a few issues sort of interrupted the flow of the main story involving the X-Men. And while twelve issues make for a nicely-sized hardcover collection, it may have been a few more issues than this storyline needed. But despite these arguable points, “Rise and Fall” delivered pretty solidly in the end.

Major status quo changes only seem to take place when a new creative team is taking over a book. Unless, of course, Ed Brubaker is the writer. He killed off Captain America in the middle of his run on that title (although that one was certainly an editorial decision). He altered Matt Murdock’s status quo by actually giving him one several arcs into his Daredevil run. And now twelve issues into his run on Uncanny X-Men, Brubaker strands half the team in outer space and brings the rest back to Earth. Now instead of one Uncanny X-Men team I’m excited to read about, there’s two. Whether Brubaker decides to follow the Uncanny Starjammers or the remnants of the team that made it back to Earth, I’m pretty excited to see where he goes with them.

Countdown 50Cover of the Week- Countdown #50

Say what you will about the quality of the story, but that cover was just frickin’ sweet. I’d buy anything with a Joker like that on the cover.

Inter-Title Crossover of the Week- “Checkout,” Checkmate #14

What makes “Checkout,” the Checkmate/Outsiders crossover, come out on top in a week that also featured an installment of the huge JLA/JSA crossover, “The Lightning Saga?” It’s simple. That is to say, the crossover is simple, not the answer to my question. Although that answer is also simple, because the answer is both simple and “simple.” Let me start over.

There are three reasons I’ve really been enjoying “Checkout.”

The first is that the crossover is kept simple. Unlike “The Lightning Saga,” there isn’t a cast of over twenty heroes to contend with, and nothing earth-shattering is going on in “Checkout.” It’s a lot easier to have a good story when the writers aren’t trying to make everything overly epic all the time. (more…)

Book of Doom That Time Forgot: ASSBAR #5

It’s our tribute to the notoriously delayed, yet finally released comic books of last week, as yesterday we took on Ultimates 2 #13 and today it’s time for All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder.

I stopped reading ASSBAR after issue 2 or 3 when I just felt offended to be paying money for stupid writing and Jim Lee’s obsession with drawing every woman as a splash-page pinup. I think it was Vicki Vale walking around her apartment in high heels and lingerie that made me question my decision to pay money for it.

Here we are now at issue 5, I’m not sure that much has changed, but I sort of like it. The heroes are acting like some slight variations of idiots or jerks, but I can’t help but appreciate this view of how the JLA could have turned out with just some minor changes. After all, the point of these All Star and Ultimate universes are to re-envision the familiar, and I actually feel like the way these characters are acting – while not at all admirable – is a believable take on their core.

Wonder Woman really is a warrior woman who has never had need for men. Reading her as a hot-tempered jerk was kind of a fun change. Superman’s struggle to be a nice guy when he really can take everything he wants was also refreshing. But man, best of all, it was Batman.

I think we’re all guilty of loving Batman a little too much, because I think we all go through a phase of where we want to be Batman. He’s rich, he’s a ladies man, he has awesome gadgets and he gets to go out and fight crime. But what we often overlook is the fact that he puts on a bat costume and spandex and leaps through the night. There’s a necessity for a certain maniacal side to him that is usually left out of comic books because I don’t think many writers want to treat him that way. If Batman is ever written with any flaws, it’s that he’s too paranoid or too judgmental. Basically he’s too much of a tough guy. But really – think about it. Batman may have some good excuses to do what he does, but ultimately he decides to put on a funny costume and fight crime. Frankly I love that someone is taking the character to the extreme that I really don’t think other writers have had the courage to do.

But then there’s the fact that it’s Frank Miller. Frank Miller can’t write anything without being psychoanalyzed, and a lot of that is probably his own fault. He does seem to have a thing for Superman and Wonder Woman hooking up; he seems to have a thing for aggressive protagonists and excessive violence. All of that stuff can get more than a little tiresome.

But one thing that’s important to note here is that it’s not at all subtle that Batman is crazy. He’s on a power trip. Maybe I’m giving Miller too much credit here, but I think Batman’s going to hit a wall. I’m not sure he’s being entirely glorified, but rather that we will see the shaping of “true” heroes from the chaos that’s about to happen when all these imperfect jerks finally collide.

I’m not saying it’s the way Batman should be written, but I do think that Miller is writing him in the way that most other writers are too afraid to write him, in spite of the fact that it’s just as believable take as the cold detective we get in the mainstream DCU. Whether it’s the All-Star universe or Miller’s celebrity status that allows it to happen, I’m actually kind of excited to read this take on the character.