Monthly archives: June, 2007

X-Men: Engangered Species is All Wrong

I was so upset by how wrong X-Men: Endangered Species was that I was almost angry. Upset about how morally and philosophically divergent these X-Men are from the X-Men of the past 40-plus years. And then I was upset about how upset I was over a fictional reality and characters, but that part will wait.

This one-shot set the stage for what will be a crossover throughout the mutant Marvel Universe this summer and takes up the important task of addressing how the mutant world has changed since M-Day. A young mutant dies, and that event is so significant as to send ripples through “the community” to the point where complete strangers show up because one of their own has died. Tragic really, as something so rare dies so insignificantly, without fanfare. At least some mutants get to die saving the world. He was, completely unceremoniously, hit by a car.

To put it another way, he died like humans die.

Worst to First: 6/20/07

A really good week in comics, and I’d love to dig into it pretty thoroughly, but I’m headed to Seattle early in the morning and still have some packing to do. So here goes a quick spin through this week’s sizeable-but-worthwhile pile…

Worst: The Spirit #7

The “Summer Special” issue means that Darwyn Cooke is on vacation. The first story (about an evil, diamond-thieving version of Britney Spears) is a good idea but about as complicated as a sandal. I’m not saying I’m looking for James Ellroy, but they could’ve tried a little harder. The second is a cutesy piece where everything goes wrong but ends up just right and then a schizo murder mystery that’s way too similar to the first story, but with terrible art.

Near miss: Madame Mirage #1

Top Cow has really been promoting the heck out of this, and it’ll probably sell decent if only for Paul Dini’s writing. Oh, and the huge pair of boobs on the cover… Despite that gratuity, I was willing to give it a shot. We get an interesting setup, with a future world where superhuman activity is banned but goes on behind the scenes in nefarious ways. The titular (get it?) character is a smoky scourge of the jerkwads of the world, ruthlessly killing them.

Like I said, the setup is very good and the writing’s as sharp as expected. The art by Kenneth Rocafort has a different sort of unpolished feel, which really clicks and really doesn’t, meaning serious distractions. Even worse are the page designs, which give the book the light-hearted feel that it desperately shouldn’t have. Sadly, that means I’m probably one and done.

Slight step back: The Brave and the Bold #4

Man, this book is a hell of a lot of fun. It’s so much fun that a HUGE amount of Lobo can’t even ruin an issue. Now that’s saying something. As seen in 52, there’s a way to write Lobo and make him less of the Wolverine caricature that he was intended as, but he’s in full-on annoying mode here. Which spoils his role as foil to the pretending-to-be-innocent Supergirl, who apparently still is hot for Hal.

As those two search for Green Lantern and the book o’ destiny, Batman tries to get himself untangled from an asshole robot (as opposed to a robot’s asshole) and Blue Beetle generally screws up. That last page… wow, this could get even more crazy.

Somber-ific: X-Men: Endangered Species #1

First of all, any big event that you can follow without picking up a billion books (or even a central mini) is pretty cool. So I gave this a shot. Once again, it’s annoying that it took this long for Marvel to realize the implications it had left with that House of M inanity, but Mike Carey sets the tone for the fall-out in a perfectly somber way. (more…)

Book of Doom: Flash: Fastest Man Alive #13

Apologies for the late notice, but I’ve been one busy guy lately. Anyway, in case you are unfamiliar with the concept behind our weekly Book of Doom, this week, you should go out and buy Flash #13, if you haven’t already, read it, come back on Saturday, read our thoughts on it, and share some of your own. It’s a much hyped issue, and also the last one of this short-lived series, as Mark Waid is going to return as the regular Flash writer starting later this year, picking up the numbering from before Wally West disappeared.

In case you don’t want to read this issue and don’t care if everything’s spoiled, well, I already read it, so here’s a hint: Bart Allen dies and Wally West returns.

Still, come back and tell us how awesome it is! Or how much you hate it! Or whatever the heck you want to say! Don’t let me put words in your mouth. Oh, and we probably won’t have a special guest reviewer this week, because I’m way too lazy to find somebody, and I’m already behind. The Legion really should vote me off the island. I am the weakest link.

Anyway, here’s the official word from DC:

Written by Mark Guggenheim; Art by Tony S. Daniel and Art Thibert; Cover by Tony S. Daniel

The Flash must make the choice he was offered at the beginning of “Full Throttle.” And you won’t want to miss the stunning full version of this cover — but you only can catch it when this issue races into stores!

Countdown: Forty-Five

countdown 45Boy howdy, a lot of stuff sure did happen this week in the DC Universe! The Legion of Superheroes from the 31st Century finally made their purpose known in the pages of Justice League of America, one of the biggest characters in the universe died, another returned from the dead, and the JLA got its newest member. I’d be lost if it weren’t for Countdown, the self-described “backbone” of the DCU, where everything that’s happening in all the latest comics is brought to the forefront and given a bit of attention! Oh, wait, what’s that? Countdown doesn’t do any of those things? The Legionnaires are still on the Justice League’s satellite, and nobody knows what’s going to happen next? Nobody has noticed that the aforementioned huge character has died? Remember the past few weeks, when the Flash’s Rogues were plotting something in Countdown? They’re not even in this issue, and their plot has completely run its course in “Flash: Fastest Man Alive!” I guess DC lied to us, since everything that’s happening in the DCU today is not mentioned in Countdown.

Good, I say. If I want to see the Flash die, I’ll read the Flash. If I want to see Wally West return, I’ll read Justice League. Thankfully, this issue of Countdown sticks to its main storylines, focusing on the fight between Jason Todd, Donna Troy, and Forerunner, as well as Jimmy Olsen’s further mysterious happenings, with Monitors aplenty. The issue closes with one of the Monitors interfering in the Forerunner fight, telling Forerunner to stand down. She feels all bad about not completing her duties and stuff, but, apparently, a mysterious shadow-lurker has big plans for her future. Who is this mystery man? Why, no other than Captain Atom, fresh from hanging out in the Bleed for the past few months. Welcome back, guy who turned Bludhaven into a crater!

This series continues to bore me. The problem is, it’s suffering from a severe case of identity crisis. While it wants to keep current events of the DCU in its pages and serve as a “backbone” and all that nonsense, it just can’t keep up with what’s going on. Not to mention, the stories unique to Countdown, like the New Gods bidness and Jimmy Olsen’s mystery, are far more interesting than the boring supplemental filler that graces the rest of this series’ pages. I really don’t think we need two pages of Karate Kid and Starman on the JLA satellite, where they’re doing absolutely nothing, when their storyline just came to a conclusion this very week.

Countdown needs to focus more on what makes it unique, rather than trying to be everything to everybody. God, I sound like an after school special. Don’t do drugs, kids. Well, unless you want to. They’re actually a lot of fun. Hell, I’m high right now.

The World War Hulk Challenge

World War Hulk 1Monday afternoon I broke down and bought World War Hulk #1. I had sworn off the crossover after I was unable to procure a copy of Incredible Hulk #106 for our Book of Doom review. I was sort of crossovered out anyway, and missing the first issue of the crossover seemed like a sign to avoid it altogether. But as you may have read about in this week’s Meaningless Awards, I was rather disappointed with the comics that came out this week. I figured Hulk beating the crap out of a bunch of people would be worthwhile reading.

Turns out, it was. I really enjoyed the issue. Maybe it had something to do with Hulk being an uber-badass. Maybe it had something to do with John Romita’s art, which even Romita-hater Jim Doom enjoyed. Or maybe it had something to do with seeing Tony Stark getting his ass handed to him. Yeah, that’s probably it. Sure, I could be complaining that it took a grand total of three months before the country turned to non-registered superheroes for help, but I’m a little too giddy that Tony Stark finally got what he deserves. (more…)

Doom & Doomer: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHey-o cinemaphiles. Most of the Doomers were asleep at the wheel (or in detox) and missed out on the latest comic book to film. Not I. With a trusty free pass (to another movie) in hand, I grinned and beared Fantastic Four 2, or FFRSS. My apologies for the double colon in the title above. And speaking of double colons, let me introduce this week’s special guest star:: Stan “The Man” Lee!

STAN LEE: I think I’ve had a very conservative life. Someone wants to do a movie of my life now and he’s writing a script, and I said to him, “What the hell could you do? I’ve never been arrested, I haven’t taken drugs, I’ve had the same wife for 54 years — where’s anything of interest to people?”

JCVD: Uhhh… Yeah, Stan. We’re here to talk about Fantastic Four numero dos, you know, the movie based on the comic book you created and wrote back in the day. Yeah, the one with the stretchy guy and the invisible lady and the rock creature. Okay, while you’re getting situated I’ll bring us up to speed. I haven’t seen the first Fantastic Four and I had pretty much nil expectations of this puppy. I was pretty surprised though that it was marginally decent, and definitely worth the $0 I spent. The story goes as such: Sue and Reed are trying to get hitched, but disasters keep coming up. On that note, here comes the mysterious Silver Surfer, who’s digging some mega holes in the ground and turning water to ice. So he’s like Jesus, except shiny and useless. They all fight, Dr. Doom shows up and does evil stuff, Galactus comes along, mega battle, roll credits. A pretty simple little popcorn flick, in my opinion. What’s your take?

LEE: Well, I had to wait for somebody to ask me. Tell me… I haven’t had any comments about it… What did you think? And be honest…

JCVD: Hey, Stan, don’t you remember the part where I just told you what I thought? It was all of five seconds ago. Seriously, did you like the movie?

LEE: Did you hear about my biography?

JCVD: (shakes head) Okay, I see this is getting me nowhere, so I’m going to ratchet things up with a pretty serious assessment. I liked FFRSS better than Spider-Man 3.

LEE: Wow. Maybe it’s because you’re a fan… How do you think the world will feel about it?

JCVD: Well, FFRSS made like $30 million less than Spidey 3 on the opening weekend, so I’d say the world disagrees with me. But I really think that…

LEE: You’re a glutton for punishment! Here you are, back again…

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJCVD: Dude, don’t interrupt me! I know I’m supposed to have blind respect for you since you were alive before comic books existed, but that doesn’t mean you can be rude. So, if you’ll let me continue, I was saying that the big difference between FFRSS and Spidey 3 was the intent of the filmmakers. Both were big, dumb superhero flicks, but FFRSS was just supposed to be a big, dumb superhero flick. Spidey 3 had all these pretenses of high-mindedness, but it totally failed in achieving that level. I was able to enjoy FFRSS for what it was, while Spidey just left me wishing for what it could have been. And, even more, FFRSS relied much less on stupid coincidences for the plot to move along. Sure, there were unbelievable moments, but the plot wasn’t nonsensical.

LEE: So don’t you ever send anybody a check or something in appreciation? You just get half your vocabulary and accept it, you insensitive clod?!?!?

JCVD: What? Nonsensical? That’s not that big of a word. Besides, it’s not like you invented it. I mean, maybe if I said, “Me smash,” or used some ridiculously forced alliteration…

LEE: Simon & Schuster asked me to write an autobiography about a year ago, and I told them I didn’t have the time. I said, “I don’t have time.” We finally compromised, and they got a writer named George Mair — who had written Oprah Winfrey’s bio and some others. So we did it that way, and when I read what he had written, I realized I really wasn’t happy — even though he had done a good job. When you answer somebody’s questions, it’s not the same as if you yourself were writing it — it doesn’t have that flavor. So I rewrote just about everything he had quoted me as saying, so it’s almost an autobiography, actually. I call it a “Bioautography.” It goes on sale in a few days.

JCVD: Hey, here’s a thought. Maybe we talk about the freaking Fantastic Four for like five minutes (more…)

The Doomino Effect for the week of June 13, 2007

Hello friends, and welcome to this week’s Doomino Effect! Did you know the best way to get your doominoes to fall over is to get them really drunk?

Starting off, we have Avengers Classic #1, which – according to the inside back cover editors’ notes – was inspired by the Classic X-Men series. You see, that series included stories from the Claremont days of Uncanny X-Men with backup stories by other creative teams that took place in roughly the same timeline. This series, however, is apparently going to have stories from the beginning of the Avengers series with backup stories that will be all ironic and sarcastic and just plain cute.

I think you can see the problem here. For every person that says Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were geniuses, there is probably at least one person who forgets how much comic books in the 1960s were really awful. Sure, they may have transformed a genre, and maybe their work is a step up from the other brands of awful that were the norm at the time, but I think comics from the 1960s are best left as fond memories and not dug up for all the kids to see just how full of crap the 50 year olds at the comic store really are.

Now, if the double-backup cutesiness was just a special thing for this first issue, I could maybe see this thing going somewhere. But it already lacks two out of the two things that Classic X-Men had going for it, and that eventually got canceled in an era when reprints weren’t readily available and the internet wasn’t really accessible. Probably not a bright future for this comic. What a bummer of a first issue.

And speaking of first issues of series, that leads me to World War Hulk #1. I was pleased with the first two World War Hulk books that came out last month, so I figured I’d give this a shot, and I was really happy with it. I even liked John Romita Junior’s art! I mean, he made Iron Man’s mask smile! There was some fair setup but a lot of smashing and fighting too. Good parts of the smashing and fighting: Hulk showing up with a bloody, beaten Blackbolt. Bad part of the smashing and fighting: the blatant reference to the World Trade Center coming down. The characters did a great job of selling what a huge problem this is, and as long as the rest of the series stays as decent as #1, Marvel can keep cranking out crossovers for all I care.

Meaningless Awards of the Week- 6/13/07

Unlike Jean-Claude Van Doom, I didn’t enjoy this week’s comics very much. Nova was great, Green Lantern Corp was pretty good, and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man was decent. Everything else kind of sucked. So I’m going all negative this week.

Exiles 95Worst Writer of the Week- Chris Claremont, Exiles #95
Ugliest Cover of the Week- Exiles #95

In just a few short months Chris Clermont has managed to take pretty much all of the enjoyment out of Exiles, which for six-ish years now has been one of absolute favorite comics. I don’t understand it. His work on the core X-Men titles was rarely bad and New Excalibur is still a fun title, but his Exiles has sucked so far. Focusing the book around Claremont’s pet project Psylocke, at the expense of all other characters, is probably at the heart of the matter. I’m not even sure Claremont knows the rest of the cast; they certainly don’t act the same as they did when Tony Bedard, Chuck Austen or Judd Winick were writing the title. Claremont has kicked two characters (three if you count the bugs) out of the book in the short time he’s been there, with pretty much no reasoning behind it. He’s abandoned the entire “bugs trying to save the multiverse they put into peril” storyline that has been the backbone of the series since day one. Sure, it’s still a group of six characters from different realities trying to save the multiverse from collapsing upon itself, but there’s really no reason for theses characters to do this anymore. Everyone but these six has given up, for no other reason than they didn’t think it was important anymore. Makes me wonder why I should consider it important anymore. Please, Marvel, get Claremont off this title ASAP. I want to love the Exiles again.

Worst Ending of the Week- Justice #12 (more…)

Q&A: Brad Meltzer

Our impromptu Justice League of America week here at Doomkopf chugs right along with the thoughts of the man pulling all the strings. Yes, Brad Meltzer checked in for an exclusive interview. He’s the writer of JLA from issue 0 to present (his arc ends in a couple months at #12) and Identity Crisis and a whole bunch of books without pictures (apparently there are uncouth folks out there who enjoy such things). Brad shed light on how he got into comics, his writing style and who would win a geek-off between him and Geoff Johns.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFor a review of the trade of Meltzer’s first JLA arc, The Tornado’s Path, click over to here. Now, without further ado, Brad Meltzer:

Jean-Claude Van Doom: I read that you grew up reading the Justice League. Did you ever imagine you might end up writing it?

Brad Meltzer: I certainly wished it, but I never for one second thought it was going to happen. It’s like saying I want to be a baseball player. These are childhood dreams, but eventually childhood dreams fall under reality. Only an egomaniac would ever think he would be able to do that.

JCVD: So, how did you end up getting into comics?

BM: The truth is, this was back when The Millionaires was published, the DC editors approached me when they realized that for four novels I’d been hiding comic book references in my novels.

So, I had to write four books [novels] to do it. That was how it happened. Kevin Smith was leaving Green Arrow. They thought about bringing in somebody else from outside of comics. They said, “You’re a guinea pig.” At that point, it’s just up to your writing. [Meltzer began with issue 16]

After that I wrote this very emotional, character-driven story. And then 9/11 happened. The editors came to me and said, “Before 9/11, people in the fire department were out of a Norman Rockwell painting. After 9/11, we realized these men and women, when they put on their uniforms everyday, they could die.” That’s something we’d gotten away from in comics.

I set out to do Identity Crisis as a small emotional story. I did the whole thing all at once. Then the people in charge saw it and liked it and promoted it a lot. We never set out to create Identity Crisis as we now know Identity Crisis.

JCVD: All your work in comics seems to have a more emotionally driven feel. Where does that come from?

BM: I think, in my novels and in my comics, all I want to make you do is make you feel that it’s true. My goal is to convince you that my lie is absolutely real. I arm you with things that make you think it’s real. I try to write characters that aren’t cookie cutters, I do tons of research. I don’t want to read a coloring book.

I don’t know how to tell any other stories. That’s how I tell my stories.

JCVD: So far, you’ve worked exclusively with DC. Is that where your interest is, or do you see other projects with other companies in your future? (more…)

JLA: The Tornado’s Path

By Brad Meltzer (W) and Ed Benes (A)
DC Comics, 2007, originally as issues 0-6. $24.99

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe Plot: After the Crisis, the year apart, etc., Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman decide to reunite the Justice League of America. As they flip through their handy DCU playing cards, selecting who to invite, a mysterious villain manipulates Red Tornado into giving up his robot body and becoming human. When heroes such as Hal Jordan, Black Canary, Arsenal, Black Lightning, Vixen and others become entangled in the plot, everything heads to a massive smackdown.

The Positives: As you may have read, not everyone here at Doomkopf thinks very highly of this latest iteration of the JLA. As I read the issues as they came out, I offered up plenty of criticism myself. I didn’t have a whole lot of desire to go back and re-read the issues all at once, but when DC sent the trade over I couldn’t really resist. Surprise, surprise, I actually enjoyed the book a lot. The decompressed writing (yeah, it took seven issues for the team to come together) is much less of a problem when reading this as a single unit.

Without that distraction, the book’s successes become much more apparent. Red Tornado’s search for humanity is touching. The villain’s plot is well crafted and a perfect parallel to Red Tornado’s storyline. The interplay between the big three as they plan the team is clever and fun. The fight scenes (of which there are many) all have a slick but spontaneous feel. Meltzer keeps a ton of storylines running all at once, like one of those carnival entertainers with all the spinning plates (more…)