Monthly archives: September, 2007

Countdown: Thirty-One

countdown 31I’m at a loss as to how this series can tread more water, mark more time, and accomplish so little. This is supposed to be a story about superheroes battling supervillains and unseen forces, yet the only long-term threat they’ve established is that Monarch is gathering some sort of army to fight the Monitors, who, in turn, are trying to stop people from disrupting the order of the Multiverse, whatever that means. There has yet to be established a reason for either of these two build-ups, though, so both ring hollow. I mean, the Monitors have been complaining about death cheaters and universe jumpers and anomalies and the like since the first issue, but they still haven’t explained WHY any of these things could possibly threaten the order of the Multiverse, so there’s no clear threat coming from them, and, therefore, no reason to give one good goddamn shit about any of it. The only thing that I don’t understand about this particular issue, though, is why us Americans are spending $2.99 on it and, yet, the Canadians are forking over $3.65. I mean, look at the cover of the New York Times about a week and a half ago. Thanks to our illegal, pointless, fruitless war in Iraq, our dollar is now equivalent to the Canadian dollar. Maybe DC hasn’t realized that yet. Either way, thanks for the price break, guys. If I had to spend $3.65 per nonsensical issue, I’d be right out the door. (more…)

Worst to First: 9/26/07

You thought last week was bad? Out of a measly five books this week, two are getting dropped, one is getting re-dropped and one was an annual that I almost didn’t buy (and probably should’ve skipped). There comes a certain point when I think of what else I could do with $17, and it gets my mind to roaming somewhere far beyond the comic shop. So, now that you’re good and depressed, on to the reviews!

Worst: Killing Girl #2

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFirst, just look at this artwork. Soak it in. You aren’t going to see anything like it anywhere else. Rocketo’s Frank Espinosa comes through with another splash-page-of-the-week and shows a further development of his style with the watercolor-highlighted background. Cool stuff.

However, it pains me to say this, but I thought much of the rest of his work in this issue had an unfinished feel to it. A bit scattered and distracted. But then maybe that’s just my subconcious polluting the art because of the story’s failures. As far as in-the-head-of-the-killer works go, this is a far cry from the classic The Killer, and everything’s just to neat and clean, unnaturally so. Hate to say it, but no matter how much I love Espinosa’s art, I won’t buy a book just for it.

Yawn: JLA #13

There is absolutely nothing original in this book. For further complaints, come back Saturday and take part in our Book of Doom roundtable.

Treading water: Captain America: The Chosen #2

As a protest over the $3.99 madness, I was planning on not getting this book and waiting for the trade. But the folks at my new shop pulled it for me, even though I only wanted the regular Cap series. So I caved.

Speaking of caves, much of this story takes place in one. It’s scary and full of evil Arab caricatures. Ooooh! I’m starting to kind of worry about this series. After the big reveal at the end of issue one, we get a ton of emotional background on the U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, but it’s at the expense of any plot development. Again, even though I really enjoy Mitch Breitweiser’s art, I can’t justify $4 per issue for a story I don’t enjoy.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAlmost awesome: Iron Fist Annual #1

Much like Daredevil #100, this issue did a great job of using the storyline to justify an artist medley in this tale of Danny seeking insider knowledge to help him win Mortal Kombat the Tournament of the Heavens. Particularly great is Dan Brereton’s work, seen above. It looks straight off the cover of a pulp novel, which fit perfectly the pulpy feel of Orson Randall’s escapades.

Aside from this book feeling a little too disconnected from the ongoing plot, what really dropped it in my mind was Howard Chaykin’s art. I know the guy is a legend and does some amazing work, but why does he feel the need to draw everything like it’s taking place in 1989? Holding his version of Danny Rand up to David Aja’s work makes me wonder if Chaykin even read any Iron Fist issues before doing the Annual. On a more positive note, kudos to Marvel for putting a note at the beginning so I knew to read Iron Fist #9 first.

First: Iron Fist #9

Now there’s a segue Jim Doom could love. This book had a pretty good fight, an expanded understanding of the past of the Iron Fist and the return of the Luke Cage and Heroes for Hire plot (though just barely). Nothing spectacular, but on a week like this, it doesn’t take much.

Random complaint: I really, really didn’t like how they included the name of every “attack” as the characters were fighting. It called to mind the bad video games this plot is ripping off, not to mention cartoons like Yu-Gi-Oh. Is it too late to scrap that style, or am I going to have to drop another book?

Don’t Judge This Book By Its Cover

There’s a new Marvel Zombies book out this week. What makes this one special, after the glut of Marvel Zombies-related comics that have been put out since the original mini-series surprised everyone with it’s popularity? The fact that this one has pretty much nothing to do with Marvel Zombies at all.

Zombies HandbookToday, Marvel released Marvel Zombies: The Book of Angels, Demons & Various Monstrosities. It’s a Marvel Handbook featuring, well, angels, demons and various monstrosities that have seen print in a Marvel comic. But aside from the cover and a three-page entry on the subject, nothing in said handbook relates to Marvel Zombies in any way, shape or form.

It’s disgraceful that Marvel would blatantly attempt to deceive their customers by plastering the name of a popular franchise on the cover of a book, when the inside of the comic is something else completely.

I’m sure many comic readers (myself included) don’t always look inside the comics they buy when they pick them up off the shelf at their local comic store. Anybody who buys their comics online would have no way of knowing that this has almost nothing to do with Marvel Zombies.

But I feel particularly bad for the owners of comic stores. I mentioned the book as I was paying for my comics this afternoon, and the owner of my LCS was noticeably dissatisfied when he replied “Yeah, I don’t think that one’s going to sell very well.” Comic shops have to order their books months in advance, and often completely based on speculation. They can’t possibly keep track of what each book is actually about, especially if some of the hundreds of comics produced monthly apparently don’t come with an accurate description. But based on the name recognition of the Marvel Zombies franchise, most comic shops probably ordered more copies of this than they would have if it had more accurately been solicited as “kinda sorta featuring Marvel Zombies.” Now that it turns out this comic has only marginal ties to the Zombies franchise, retailers will probably be stuck with a lot of comics they can’t get rid of.

A few weeks ago, DC released the Justice League Wedding Special, which not only didn’t feature a wedding, but was more accurately Justice League of America #12.5. I didn’t think you could get any worse marketing than that. Turns out, you can. Only instead of cheating themselves out of some sales, this time the publisher is cheating themselves into some sales. And that’s just wrong.

Book of Doom: (In)Justice League of America #13

jla13Hey, everybody. This week’s Book of Doom is going to be Justice League of America #13, the first issue of the series that hasn’t had Brad Meltzer writing it. Many of us, myself included, have been bored to death with this series so far, so let’s give it another shot now that it’s got a new creative team behind it. Apparently, this is the second issue in the current story-arc, but, if you’re anything like me, you missed the first issue thanks in large part that you’re not interested in comics with wedding themes. Oh well! Come back this Saturday to read the Legion’s take on it, and maybe contribute your own in the comments section. Here’s what DC has to say about it:

Written by Dwayne McDuffie; Art by Joe Benitez and Victor Llamas; Cover by Ian Churchill

Don’t miss the debut of the new JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA creative team! The “Injustice League Unlimited” story continues from the JLA WEDDING SPECIAL as a hero is severely beaten by the new Injustice League, forcing the JLA to fight back!

The Doomino Effect for the week of September 19, 2007

Well Tuesday is almost over, so there’s just a little bit of time to get a Doomino Effect in on schedule, so here we go.

Speaking of almost over, let’s start with World War Hulk #4. This was the first issue in this otherwise enjoyable series where I felt like it drug a little. It makes me think maybe they had about four and a half issues worth of story and this was the issue that had a weak story stretched out to fill the book. It was just a lot of fighting, which has been the case for most of this series, but this time nothing really seemed to escalate. The rising action plateaued here, and the unfortunate part is that the resolution will apparently come by way of a battle with The Sentry. I’m tired of Marvel’s repeated attempts to legitimize this character that nobody cares about. Maybe Hulk will fully establish himself as The Greatest Hero in the Marvel Universe and kill the Sentry. And I could’ve sworn that this conversation between the Sentry and the president already happened.

One thing I did like about this issue was the testimonials from people whose lives had been adversely affected by the heroes Hulk sought to punish. When other humans side with the Hulk, not out of morbid fascination or anti-social tendencies, but from the same hurt and thirst for revenge, it adds to the moral ambiguity that drives this series.

Speaking of moral ambiguity, that leads me to Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special #1. As far as the wedding specials go, I liked it a lot more than the Justice League wedding special from last week, but it’s pretty unfortunate – as Fin Fang Doom pointed out – that DC editorial doesn’t seem to mind that their wedding specials completely contradict each other.

Countdown has been telling us for weeks that the big baddies in the DCU were rearing up to attack the wedding, and they did, except they did it in two completely contradictory ways as if they’re in two separate universes. So…are they lazy…or they actually happening in two separate universes? Either way, it’s horribly unimpressive. If we are supposed to be relying on The Multiverse as the culprit for what has appeared to be several months of blatant continuity contradictions, they really need to hint at that. Otherwise, it makes readers think that their creators are being sloppy, thus discouraging an emotional investment in the creations, thus encouraging readers to stop buying.

Independent of the tangential disasters this issue creates, it was an enjoyable stand-alone issue. I won’t get into the flaws too much, because FFD did a good job covering those, but I am glad that Green Arrow is still in Judd Winick’s hands. He really nails that sharp-witted, lovable arrogance in his dialog.

Heroes – Episode One

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHeroes returned last night after a long summer break, and since the show is basically a televised comic book, let’s dissect the sucker like Sylar does brains. Now, I came in to this episode feeling like the show needed to wow me. Last season was mostly strong throughout, but the wheels came off in that last episode, culminating in the pillow fight between Sylar and Petrelli that should’ve been so much more.

Plenty of changes occurred in the dog days, so let’s do a bullet-point style rundown of the good, the bad and the preposterous:

Suresh’s virus hunt – This is just another recycled X-Men plot, something this show desperately needs to avoid. From the Legacy Virus to the ongoing X-Men: Endangered Species storyline, we’ve seen this plenty of times before.

Die, bitch! – Anybody else find it funny that Parkman was hired as a New York police officer only after he needlessly shot someone in a training exercise. No matter that he picked the right person to shoot with his mentalepathy, he could have just not shot either of them. If that’s an in-joke, man was it brilliant. For now, let’s call it quality unintentional humor.

Another Darwin quote? – You have to like how Claire’s new science teacher is leading them through chemistry experiments, then without provocation whips out a Darwin quote that perfectly ties into the Heroes theme. Oh, wait, you have to call that lazy writing. My bad.

Rogue agent – So, not only do we have to sit through the same fricking three Nissan Rogue commercials every break, to the point that they’re drilled in my skull, but we also have a nice sell-out moment of Claire getting a Rogue in the show. $10 to anyone who guesses the company I’m never buying a car from.

Beardo – Personally, I loved Nathan’s new look. Growing that much face-hair in four months is impressive. And it had the added bonus of reminding me of Ron Burgundy after his fall from grace. “Oh, it’s hot outside. Milk was a bad idea!”

A nice twist – Bickering aside, I’ll give the writers credit on their treatment of Kensei, making him British. That and the gaijin reference had me thinking about one of my favorite novels, Shogun. Still, any time Hiro screws something up, you just have to wonder why he doesn’t re-jump and fix things. Quantum Leap made more sense. (more…)


Coming up are some thoughts on the first episode of Heroes, and I thought that while I was at it, I may as well give a quick summary of NBC’s new show Chuck, which plays to the nerds at least as much as Heroes.

The previews actually had me pretty excited over this one, and I need a wingman for Heroes this season. (Studio 60 filled that role last year, first because of my undying love of Sportsnight, then out of macabre fascination.) For anyone who missed the tons of promos, Chuck Bartowski is essentially a Geek Squad guy who “downloads” some top-secret government info into his brain, making him the target of lots of people with guns.

Aside from the expected gaps in logic, the show was fast and fun and barely avoided overdoing the geek jokes. Yvonne Strzechowski, who plays the sexy agent saving Chuck, reminds me of Christine Taylor, the eventual Mrs. Ben Stiller. While not the greatest actress, she gave her character plenty of emotion when it could’ve been played far more straight. It’s just a shame the creative team felt it necessary to stick her in two gratuitous panty shots.

Zachary Levi, who plays Chuck, is the real attraction, though. He has the same dopey charismatic vibe of Jimmy Fallon, but far surpasses that grinning jackass. Levi can actually act, a useful skill in the pictures. The pilot effectively got across that this huge event threw a serious burden on Chuck, which felt believable thanks more to Levi than the writing.

I also liked the wrinkle of having Chuck’s old roommate being the one who pulls him into the spy game. The unanswered questions left by that — Why did he do it? Did he mean to do it? What was he stealing the files for? — and the emotional void left by the roommate’s death are what will keep me watching, at least for now.

Hellboy 2 news

The always worth reading movie web site just posted a really, really interesting set visit report from Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Here’s the link to that.

The fellas at Chud have a longstanding buddy-buddy relationship with Guillermo del Toro, and their man Devin gets a great look at the sequel-in-progress. Here’s a tid bit:

Big is generally a good way to describe Hellboy II, which doubles and possibly triples the scope of the original, while not costing all that much more. ‘I don’t think people are expecting this movie,’ del Toro told me, and I have to agree. If you think Hellboy II is going to be a retread of Hellboy – ie, a smaller, more character driven quirky superhero pulp movie – think again. This is going to be a huge, character driven quirky superhero monsters and mythology movie.

It was the monsters that del Toro felt were missing from the first one, and Hellboy II has some forty-odd monsters in it, ranging from all-devouring CGI tooth fairies to a tadpole vendor that is a man in a giant suit with facial features controlled by remote. I watched as a six foot eight man was transformed into the Tadpole Vendor, and stood in awe as the fully suited monster turned and looked at me, eyes and mouth moving.

In the immortal words of Bob Costas: “You’re excited? Feel these nipples!”

Random Thoughts from 9/19/07

GA&BC Wedding SpecialThe Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special was a fun read, even though it simultaneously acknowledged and contradicted what happened in the JLA Wedding Special from last week. See, in the first Wedding Special, the JLA gets the snot whipped out of them by the Injustice League during Canary and Arrow’s respective bachelorette and bachelor parties, on the eve of their wedding. Not so much in the second Wedding Special, where the wedding takes place as planned with every member of the JLA present and accounted for. Yet the Injustice League that attacks the nuptials just happens to be the same band of second-stringers introduced in the JLA Wedding Special. So DC editorial decided to coordinate a few things (including the joke about Ollie not wanting strippers), but didn’t bother to make sure their two writers weren’t writer conflicting stories? That’s an interesting choice.

Three more comments on the wedding:

1) Thanks to Countdown #32, I saw three different versions of Black Canary’s bachelorette party. I’m not sure I needed to see it once.
2) Hiring strippers dressed like you’re friends and family is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. Thunder was dancing with a stripper dressed like her father. That’s just not right.
3) Umm…[SPOILER!!] couldn’t Black Canary have fought off her new husband with her sonic scream, or maybe her vastly superior hand-to-hand fighting skills, instead of jamming the nearest sharp object into his trachea?

Cap 30Captain America is just awesome. I just don’t think Marvel is putting out a better book right now. I love the book despite (or perhaps because of) the constant presence of that über-asshole, Tony Stark. “You’re making me want a drink, Steve…” Oh, so your alcoholism is Cap’s fault now, Tony? What a dick.

World War Hulk #4 was a bit of a disappointment. I thought we were going to see a whole issue of the Marvel heroes being force to fight each other. Instead we get another Strange/Hulk fight, another Rick Jones/Hulk conversation, and only a few panels of the Illuminati fighting, completely obscured by the bright flashes their staffs create. These flashes of light were all over the place this issue, which makes the colorist’s job a lot more interesting but really means John Romita Jr. got to be a little lazy this issue. The only way I see this mini-series reaching a satisfying conclusion is if during the Hulk/Sentry fight, Thor shows up and mops the floor with both of them.


You almost had me

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI have to give some serious credit to DC Comics for coming up with the title “Wonder Woman Annual #1.” Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right, a nice summary story to help prepare for the inevitably overblown Gail Simone run on Diana’s book?

Let’s see what DC promo says:

Written by Allan Heinberg; Art by Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson and Gary Frank and Jonathan Sibal; Cover by Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson

At long last, the climactic, extra-length chapter of “Who is Wonder Woman?”, the story that launched the WONDER WOMAN monthly! In this arc’s conclusion, the combined forces of Wonder Woman’s transformed rogues gallery declare an all-out war on the amazing Amazon, compelling Wonder Woman to mend fences and join forces with Donna Troy and Wonder Girl if she’s going to survive to answer the question: “Who is Wonder Woman?”

That Heinberg fella sounds vaguely familiar. Seems like I saw his name a while back, maybe in the Sex and the City credits… Wait… Oh yeah! He was supposed to write the Wonder Woman series OYL, except then he, umm, stopped writing.

How very clever, then, to hoist this book upon us, ostensibly a “special” issue. It’s a gift-wrapped turd, and a stale one at that. Well, I guess that analogy doesn’t really work, since turds are much more gross early on. You get what I mean, though.

Seems like DC should’ve taken a hint from Joe Q with that steaming pile of Daredevil: Father and just let the last issue be forgotten to time. (What? That actually came out?)

Well, at least the WW annual costs $3.99.