Monthly archives: June, 2007

Book of Doom: Sinestro Corps #1

Normally, our Saturday roundtable review of a single comic devolves into something of a ridicule-fest. We’ve picked some clunkers in the past, that’s for sure. We’ve also had a few decent disagreements over books. Never before, though, have we all banded together and called a book one of the best of the year. Until now.

This can be best summarized by the following mathematical equation: Sinestro+Cyborg Superman+legions of villains+Parallax+Superboy Prime+evil Kyle Raynor+the Anti Monitor=HOLY FREAKING @#$%#^#!!!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThis was an epic comic book, with wonderful setup and then a final half that just blew the doors off of expectations. Geoff Johns has officially shaken off the post-Infinite Crisis rust. For further praise- that- sounds- like- hyperbole- but- isn’t, here’s the rest of the Doomers:

Doom Deluise:

“Hot damn! I forgot what it felt like to actually get pumped up for a big crossover event. It seems we’ve been treading through a tepid pool of mediocrity for the past several months/year, and I’d say that it’s about time we got something compelling to read from one of the Big Two.

What better way to start DC’s biggest event of the summer than by consolidating the power of five of the biggest supervillain threats in the history of their company. My only complaint would be that maybe, just maybe, it’s too soon to break Superboy-Prime out of his captivity, but that’s hardly much of a complaint.

I don’t have a whole lot more to say about this. I’m f-ing pstyched for the rest of this business! Let’s see some ass-whipping!”

Jim Doom:

“Wow, what an awesome way to kick of this storyline. I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about this. I hate having nothing negative to say, but I don’t know if there were any logic holes or continuity gaps because the story didn’t give me the time or reasoning to stop to think about it.

Like the title to the last chapter in the Lightning Saga, the villain is the hero in his own story, and the righteousness of Sinestro is chillingly perfect (more…)

Worst to First: 6/27/07

I called last week a great one for comics. Let’s just say, this week makes last week look like a bunch of Rob Liefeld pap from 1996. This week is quite possibly the most enjoyable week in comics ever for me, at least. It was simply unprecedented to see so many huge occurences happen all at once, and to have such an amazingly consistent theme. That theme is the return of the super-villains. Pretty much every book through the week sees a mega baddie do something decidedly sinister. This was The Empire Strikes Back. This was the part of Lone Wolf McQuade when David Carradine buries Chuck Norris in the desert and steals his girlfriend and daughter.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWorst: She-Hulk #19

It’s completely unfair to call anything the worst book of the week, especially this one. But, amid some very stiff competition, my first foray into She-Hulk lands at the bottom of the pile. The super-villain here is The Leader, and Jen’s competitor in the attorney biz is defending him with a very clever gameplan. This book was just ball’s-out fun (as Fin Fang Doom has been saying) and is really only held back by the stupid breaking-fourth-wall moments. It distracted from an otherwise amazing balance of whimsy and deep examination of the costs of gamma radiation.

Treading water: Hellboy: Darkness Calls #3

Duncan Fegredo’s imitation of Mike Mignola continues to go over better than expected and we finally see Hellboy do something more than mope around. In fact, he fights an army of skeletons. So how did this not do better? Beyond the aforementioned abundance of awesomeness this week, this series is struggling in my mind because it hasn’t approached the hype. The book’s editor boasted in some early PR that Darkness Calls would take Hellboy to an epic level that he’s never been to before. Yet, three issues in and this series seems less ambitious than its predecessors, with the only big difference being that it’s more removed from humanity than ever.

Finish him: The Immortal Iron Fist #6

Maybe I’m just a bit slow, or maybe I need to re-read this series, but I didn’t really get the intro to this book. Luckily, it didn’t distract from the slam-bang-kapow zip-line ride through the rest of the issue. David Aja’s art hits a new level with this issue. He’s sharp in every panel and gets special kudos for his downright awesome depiction of Heroes for Hire.

This issue is a bit of a tease, one of those typical ones where the big expected fight really doesn’t happen in full, but it’s all in service of changing the direction of the book to something like a much cooler Mortal Kombat (at least, that’s what I’m expecting). And if that is the case, Danny pretty much has to be Johnny, right? One last thought: the writers do a comic book death in a non-tragic and therefore wonderfully delivered way here. Hold the schmaltz, it’s fighting time.

Hold the guns: Daredevil #96

Anybody know the story behind the “guns kill people” icon at the bottom right of the cover of this issue? That aside, this was just another strong mid-arc story from Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, which pretty much guarantees a decent spot in the weekly roundup. However, I had a few hangups. (more…)

Hero Squared: The End?

On the list of really weird press releases, the following ranks up there with Paris Hilton talking about Jesus and working to cure breast cancer. So, apparently, Hero Squared, a very entertaining book from Boom! Studios, is going to come to a conclusion. After almost 10 issues. Wow, what a run…

According to the Boom! intern that sent me the following note, issue #7 is hereby canceled and the series will wrap up with a three issue mini-series. Honestly, it’s a shame, because this book is pretty damn fun. I even ranked it as the best book of the week a few weeks back.

Here’s the release:

LOS ANGELES – It was the book that helped put BOOM! Studios on the map, with fans and critics singing its praises, but co-creators and writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis have announced that HERO SQUARED will soon be ending. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the two Eisner Award winning writers promise an actual ending to the current storyline, something positively unheard of in this day and age, sorting out the tangled relationships between Milo Stone, Captain Valor, Stephie Johnson and Caliginous. (Sloat we’re not so sure about.)

“With HERO SQUARED Keith and I wanted to examine what would happen if you dropped a super hero into the real world,” J.M. DeMatteis said (not that anyone asked him). “No matter how much you layer super hero tales with psychology and philosophy, the story always comes down to two super beings solving problems by dropping buildings on each other’s heads. In Captain Valor’s parallel universe cities weren’t destroyed beyond repair, innocent people didn’t get hurt, and super heroes always came back to life. But due to the events in HERO SQUARED #4 and #5 — with Valor responsible for major levels of death and destruction — Valor’s character, and the tone of the series, changed irrevocably. We realized that the series was heading toward a natural conclusion. So we planned to end HERO SQUARED with issue #9.

“Problem is,” DeMatteis went on (and on and on), “Keith and I are both swamped right now — especially Keith, with that weekly comic he’s doing for Those Guys In New York — so it’s been getting harder and harder to get H2 out on time. And, believe me, when you have a bi-monthly book shipping late, it’s extremely embarrassing. Rather than let the book’s fans down, we’ve decided to do the final arc as a mini-series that we can take our time with.” Asked if the mini spells the end for HERO SQUARED, DeMatteis replied: “We’re hoping that we can return to the HERO SQUARED/ PLANETARY BRIGADE universe some time in the future. That is, if we’re still talking to each other. I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but Giffen is really hard to work with. What a kvetch!”

Umm, sure. Anyway, more on the jump… (more…)

The results are in…

…and we now know the new leader of the Legion of Super-Heroes!

The results (according to Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #31):
Brainiac 5: 7%
Cosmic Boy: 23%
Lightning Lad: 26%
Supergirl: 54%

Congratulations, Supergirl! And may it never be said that superheroes in the future aren’t willing to give 110%.

Book of Doom: Sinestro Corps #1

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWe’re featuring R. Kelly’s favorite super-villain this week on our Book of Doom with Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps #1 (vague reference? Think golden shower/yellow ring). For the second straight week, we’re possibly without a guest reviewer. My excuse is that I spent last week in Seattle and only just got back. Lame? I know.

Now, come on back on Saturday to join in the communal fun as we either love or hate on the summer’s big event that’s bound to have far less impact than it actually should. Or, whether any single issue is worth $4.99. YOUCH!

Now, here’s what those PR folks have to say:

Written by Geoff Johns; Art by Ethan Van Sciver and Dave Gibbons; Cover by Van Sciver

The stellar creative team of the sell-out GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH miniseries – Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver – reunites for an extra-sized Special, igniting an intergalactic war that will explode in the pages of GREEN LANTERN and GREEN LANTERN CORPS!

Hal Jordan has struggled to regain his reputation. Kyle Rayner has suffered great personal loss and reluctantly gained great power. Guy Gardner’s trust in the Guardians is wavering. John Stewart’s unbreakable loyalty soon will be tested. Together, these four men are the Green Lanterns of Earth; but why are so many Earthmen recruited into the Corps? What is their ultimate rolel in the future of the universe? And how will the secret of the rings’ power threaten the Guardians and affect Hal Jordan’s future?

Sinestro was called the “greatest” of the Green Lanterns; now the renegade has vowed to bring terror to the universe he once protected. The worst murderers, thieves and deviants in the universe have gathered into Sinestro’s Corps for one purpose: to instill great fear. Armed with the truth behind Parallax, Sinestro’s intergalactic insurgents strike hard and fast at the very heart of the Green Lantern Corps. The Sinestro Corps is about to change everything you know about the Green Lanterns. Fear them. Everyone else will.

Plus, a 6-page backup story by Johns and Dave Gibbons (GREEN LANTERN CORPS, WATCHMEN) “The Origin of Sinestro”!

DC Universe | 64pg. | Color | $4.99 US

The Doomino Effect for the week of June 20, 2007

Hey kids, welcome to this week’s Doomino Effect.

Starting off this review of segues falling into others is Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America: Spider-Man, the fourth in this series. Following the stages of grief, this one is “Depression” and it stars everyone’s favorite self-doubting moper, Spider-Man.

I really liked this series at the beginning, but I’ve enjoyed each subsequent issue progressively less. It was well-written, and the characterizations were effective and believable. It’s just that with the built-in structure of this series, it seems to be doomed to lose momentum. I guess we’ll just see in a few weeks how Loeb and John Cassaday handle Iron Man and the conclusion.

Speaking of conclusions, that leads me to Justice League of America #10, the conclusion of The Lightning Saga. While this was definitely the most satisfying chapter of this story, I still don’t know if bringing back Wally West was the Legion’s original intent or not. I still really don’t understand probably at least one in every three speech bubbles or caption boxes. Maybe if I re-read it, I’ll get it, but what was the point of Karate Kid not using his force field? These references are so obscure that I think most of the dramatic impact is just lost on me. The one thing I did really like, in which the drama really resonated, was Batman’s admission that he “thought it was going to be someone else.” Welcome home, Wally!

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus: Vol. 1

By Jack Kirby
Published by DC Comics, 2007. $49.99.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe Plot: This all started in 1971. The King, Jack Kirby, co-creator of scores of famous characters at Marvel, jumps ship and moves over to DC, where he’s able to tell his stories his way. Only inker Vince Coletta shares any credit in the ensuing “Fourth World” event, a several years long epic tale of struggle between the good guys and Darkseid. Laid out in the issues of Jimmy Olsen, Mr. Miracle, the New Gods and other series, Kirby spun out a huge amount of content that all tied into this central battle. Relying only on Olsen and Superman as familiar characters, Kirby spun out a ream of new characters: the New Gods, Black Racer, the Forever People, etc. This first volume (three more are upcoming) brings the story to Darkseid’s imminent attack on earth, with the various heroes all clinging to slim hope.

The Positives: There seems to be a sort of standard knee-jerk reaction to either worship Kirby or despise him for being overrated. And while I probably lean toward that latter camp, there are certainly some worthwhile reasons for picking up this book. First, it’s always interesting to see the fruits of a freed imagination. As editor, writer and artist of these books, Kirby could do whatever he damn well pleased. And he really loosened up, throwing out some of the weirdest stuff in mainstream comics. The adventures of Mr. Miracle were more than just tales of escapes (and quite similar to those of the Escapist). They were forays into science and psychology. The interactions of Superman and inhabitants of the Wild Land served as commentary on the crash between hippies and the older, more stoic part of society. Kirby’s imagining of a cloning lab also rings surprisingly true.

As for his art, I liked it quite a lot. The layouts are impressive and (mostly) varied. His faces are easily distinguishable and emotive. Judging from his pencil sketches, I’d say Coletta’s inks did little to boost Kirby’s work. Lastly, there’s something impressive about Kirby taking on such a grandiose and massive project. The compilation reads quite smoothly and shows how well Kirby set up his project and organized it.

The Negatives: At the front of this volume, there’s an introduction by Grant Morrison in which he essentially calls Kirby the greatest thing since a wheel made of sliced bread. He goes on and on about Kirby’s wonderful imagination and ability to spin drama on the page. Understandably, Morrison doesn’t make the caveat that really needs to go along with Kirby’s work: The King’s dialogue is laughably bad, his creations are often silly, his plots are light as gossamer and all the humor is unintentional.

Of the 400-some pages in this Omnibus, you can flip open to pretty much any of them and come across something so ridiculous that you just have to shake your head and wonder if Kirby partook in some of Morrison’s extracurricular activities. The pinnacle of preposterousness is the “Black Racer,” quite predictably a black hero (or villain?) who glides through the air on snow skis (with the poles) and shoots energy. Seriously. A black dude on snow skis from outer space. (more…)

Digging through the dirt

This weekend, I undertook a big project – integrating the randomly-stored comics from my youth into the alphabetized comics I’ve purchased since returning to the life of a comic book reader. I just wanted to share a few thoughts and observations from the dig.

– I liked how, back in the early 90s, it was the norm to have crossovers in annuals (not to mention it was the norm to have annuals). “Kings of Pain” crossed over between New Mutants, New Warriors, Uncanny X-Men and X-Factor in 1991; “Shattershot” was in the four mutant books in 1992; “The Von Strucker Gambit” was in Punisher, Daredevil, Captain America and something else in 1991. Back then, I was at the mercy of whatever came to the local drug store, so it was exciting to be able to read these big crossovers.

– In the early 90s, I think every comic book was illustrated by either Andy Kubert or John Romita Jr. Between the two of them, you’ve got Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, Ghost Rider, Spirits of Vengeance, Punisher, Cable, Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man, and I’m sure I’m missing a few.

– Mark Texeira could make anything look cool. Most of what I bought of his was in issues of Ghost Rider, Wolverine and the Sabretooth miniseries, but he even made an issue of Guardians of the Galaxy look awesome.

– I bought way more Guardians of the Galaxy than I remembered.

– Ghost Rider seemed to have some kind of gimmick about every other month. #15 had a glow in the dark cover (which was cool). #25 had a pop-up centerfold (kind of weird). #28 was polybagged with a special poster inside (do I open it?). So was #31 (yeah). #40 had a weird solid black cover of some kind of different paper (huh?). I stopped reading not long after that.

– Even Ren & Stimpy #1 was polybagged with some insert or another.

– I love watching artists evolve, but I think someone abducted Leinil Francis Yu and took his name. I was amused to see that Wolverine #120 from January 1998 was written by Warren Ellis and Leinil Francis Yu, two names that surely meant nothing to me when I bought it (and I’m not even sure why I picked this up or how picked this up, since I wasn’t even living in the USA at the time). But while Yu’s current work ranks among some of my favorite art ever, he had a pretty stiff and generic style back then. You can see some Whilce Portacio influence in some of the faces, but it was quite clear he hadn’t found a style that was “his” yet.

Book of Doom: Flash: Fastest Man Alive #13

flash 13So the Flash is dead. Oh, wait, Wally’s back, so, no, I guess it’s just Bart Allen that’s dead. Bummer, right? Well, maybe.

This week’s Book of Doom is, obviously, Flash #13, as I have a real knack for picking issues where the main character bites it. First Captain America, and now this. This death that doesn’t matter.

Unlike everybody else, I’ve been reading this series since it launched, and I’ve always just hated it. It’s so boring, but it always promises something interesting in the next issue, so I keep buying it like a sucker. Plus, I’m a gigantic Flash fan. I’ll always prefer Barry, but I just love the legacy of it and the idea behind it. I love the Flash.

But I never gave a warm, wet crap about Bart Allen as the Flash. He seemed like a place-holder, and I got bored quickly with this series, especially since it was so, oh, yeah, boring. And now Bart’s dead. That’s lame. They didn’t even give the kid a chance. They just gave him the character of OYL Nightwing and thought people would buy it. Nobody wants to read about an angsty, mopey Flash. He’s the FASTEST MAN ALIVE. He should be happy about that. The weird thing is, I always really liked Impulse, so this was doubly annoying for me. Bart Allen became a big, boring asshole when he ran Superboy-Prime into the Speed Force.

Here’s what everybody else has to say about it. And, no, there’s no guest blogger this time around, unfortunately, because I’ve been busy as hell at work and drunk the rest of the time. Here we go! (more…)

Good Idea, Bad Idea: Thrice-Monthly Amazing Spider-Man

Last week Marvel announced that it was canceling Sensational Spider-Man and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man in favor of publishing three issues of Amazing Spider-Man every month. I’ve got very mixed feelings about that, so it’s time to dust off an old theme I honestly expected to use more often: Good Idea, Bad Idea.

Amazing 539Good Idea! Speeding up the pace of each story arc.

For those of us who still like to buy comics as single issues instead of trades, there’s nothing that ruins a story worse than having to wait a long time between issues. Last week, Jean-Claude Van Doom and I both pointed to the bi-monthly shipping schedule of Justice as a reason our enjoyment of the series was lessened. Civil War at the very least had some wind taken out of its sails due to its constant inability to meet ship dates. Ultimates II got less and less exciting as issues began shipping once a year. Similar shipping problems hurt Wonder Woman, ASSBAR, Action Comics, Young Avengers, Astonishing X-Men and more.

On the flip side, comics that ship faster than normal can make the story more engaging. The countdown to Infinite Crisis probably seemed more dramatic since a new important issue was shipping almost every week. Part of the appeal of Exiles was that it used to ship 18+ issues a year.

Under the new Amazing Spider-Man schedule, a story that would normally take half a year to come out will be done in two months. The first part of the story will still be fairly fresh in your mind when you start to read the final chapter. That aspect of this change has me most excited.

Bad Idea! Only offering one creative team’s take on Spider-Man every month. (more…)