Saturday, February 28, 2009

Apocalypse Nerd! Or Alas, Poor scans_daily. I knew it well.

Alas and alack, the scans_daily LJ community has been TOS'd, as the parlance goes, "suspended" as in when a TV show goes on "indefinite hiatus"...which means it's g-o-n-e gone.

As you may or may not know, scans_daily was a place where people often not-so-judiciously posted scans of comics panels and pages, then invited all comers to comment at will. Sometimes, posters unwisely posted entire issues or stories, although this was against the rules, and in most cases these posts were deleted or revised. It started out as a "slash-friendly" place where snarky comments were encouraged, but after a year or two, it eventually morphed into a place where there were some serious discussions (and yes, still some less-serious snark) about some of the greatest (and not-so-great) comics ever published. I myself posted (I think) scans five times over there; once, I wanted to get people interested in Tex Arcana; another, someone had asked about Chaykin's Sword of Sorcery featuring Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser. I think I posted that Grandenetti Warren story which I posted here as well, and of course, most recently (just last week!) those Helfer/Baker Shadow pages, which I will repost here eventually. So while I was far from a regular, I did dip my toe in those waters, and note that many of these are no longer in print.

For many of my peers in the Blogosphereiverse, this news has been received with unabashed joy and delight, as if Christmas for them has come early. These nerds are THIEVES , they say, who wrapped themselves in a cloak of fair use righteousness and actually had the temerity to suggest that THEY have actually GENERATED sales of comics from the samplers they provided! Some were indeed bandwidth thieves, and on this I agree with them, because in this age of free image hosts there's no excuse for hotlinking. Some apparently feel like they've been slighted there personally, or haven't been treated with the respect and admiration they deserve when posting or commenting there. Some, I'm sure, are motivated by genuine concern for all the lost revenue that the Big Two have been cheated out of, because as we all know we should always have AOL/TimeWarner and Marvel's best interests in mind when it comes to matters of money. Some, perhaps, are concerned with the huge revenue hit their local comics shops may have sustained because of the apparent multitudes reading comics for free via s_d. I've also seen instances where some have complained of that most awful of awful things, "THE SPOILER", apparently unable to finesse LJ's complicated "LJ-cut" function, which a good 90% of all s_d posts utilized and is designed to prevent the unwary reader seeing scans or text unless they click on a link. Seems s_d was apparently rife with them, although in my infrequent stops I recall usually seeing clear spoiler notices- and why are you checking out a post featuring a comic which you want to read, and are prepared to buy, but haven't yet, especially knowing going in about s_d's rep, and you're that concerned about your reading experience being ruined? Oh well- these are only my impressions, based on the comments, blog posts, and Twits I've read since the extinction level event hit.

Typically, I see both sides here. Yes, it is, in the strictest sense, illegal- and as Steve Ditko would tell you, these scum don't deserve have access to inflict their ill-gotten gains on the honest, hard-working, fair-using bloggers and internet readers out there. Me, I think by and large, s_d was harmless- or at least way down the list of harmful things threatening comics these days. You see, as I've copped to more than once here, sometimes I avail myself of the sites which offer scans of new comics for download- sometimes, if I want to check out a title I'm on the fence about, or if I get interested in one but not to the point where I want to buy it (and believe me, if not for the downloads, I wouldn't buy it otherwise), or sometimes in the interest of having a current title to review on PopSyndicate or here, because I get my comics every other week. Many publishers, like Boom!, make PDFs available for reviewers to DL, and while there is a difference, it's not a great one I don't think. Sometimes, I want to post a page or panel from a comic I've read recently, but frankly, my scanner is buried under a pile of junk in out junk room, aka "office", so it's easier and more convenient for me to DL it. So call me a scofflaw if you will, but know that more often as not I delete these files when I either receive them via DCBS, or get done reviewing them, and in the case of titles like Greatest Hits, Captain Britain and the MI-13, Age of the Sentry, or Incredible Hercules- to name a few- I go out and buy them, pay actual cash mon-nay for them, either from my LCS, the eBay, or even the most excellent Ralph's Comics Corner, whom I recommend highly. Shit, doing this has cost me more money in the long run than I've cost DC, Marvel, or others, that's for sure. Now, true, for every one of me there is probably five that don't, but somehow I don't think I'm the only one that feels this way, and I can believe people when they say that they have been inspired to start picking up this or that title because they read pages from it on s_d. I'm not so cynical that I am prepared to scoff at that just yet.

I, for one, will miss s_d, and I hope they're able to regroup and start anew somewhere else. There were times I got pissed off at the snarkmeisters there, especially when they'd start in on something that meant something to me such as War of the Worlds feat. Killraven and the like, but there were also times when someone would post something that I missed in the 80's or 90's- a hilarious X-Men parody by Kyle Baker that was posted comes to mind- and that made it worth having in my LJ-friends queue. Nobody ever really gave me any shit over there, even though I often went looking for a fight to defend something I liked; and there were some cool people that were knowledgable about comics as well. Many of the disparagers and critics have blogs, and many of these blogs regularly feature pages or panels that allow them to demonstrate to all the readers how clever and amusing they are, as well as how mighty their Photoshop skills are, and to be honest, if there's a difference, to me it's a fine line. Sure, many of the scans posted there may have been illegally downloaded, but how can you be sure which ones were and which ones weren't? Sure, you can be skeptical, but you can't always know for sure. Unless you're conviced you have the sanctimonious high ground, something which I try to avoid.

Either way, this is my two cents worth. And know that I will go to my grave and not be affected one iota either way by the disappearance of s_d in my personal life, it was at least a handy resource to have, and something to read when there wasn't anything better to be found.

ETA: I like Gail Simone's response here, on her CBR forum.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Time once more for FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS! Tonight's frenetic one-panel round-two fracas comes courtesy of Mike Mignola, from Hellboy: Wake the Devil, in which he lays a haymaker on the evil goddess Hecate- one of the multitude of menaces he had to face off with in that epochal miniseries, which saw print waaaay back in 1996.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Comics Friday! Plus various and sundry items I thought noteworthy.

Yes, it's been two weeks already, and I'm due to get a new box from my friends at DCBS. And here be the contents, with any luck. Titles marked with an * were purchased on Wednesday from the Great Escape in Bowling Green, KY, the first time I've visited my comics shop on New Comics Day in at least 2 years!

BLUE BEETLE #36: Here we are, the end of the road, the grande finale for this likable character and his cast. The character, I'm sure we'll see again. The cast, I'm not so sure. And often the cast was the most interesting part of the book.

DIANA PRINCE WONDER WOMAN TP VOL 04: I was remiss when writing about the last collection, only partly out of ignorance; Vol. 3 saw the final issue of Mike Sekowsky's tenure on the Wondy revamp, which I did not realize (didn't own the originals, remember). The stories in this collection are all courtesy of Denny O'Neil, Don Heck, Dick Giordano, and in another Brave & Bold reprint, the dynamic duo of Bob Haney and Jim Aparo. One of the issues collected herein was the waters-testing appearance of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, currently appearing under pseudonyms as magical zombies in Fables, but in 1972 were seen as a possible challenge to Marvel's increasingly popular Conan the Barbarian comic. After that, we got five issues of a title named Sword of Sorcery, which came and went in 1973. Conan ran for at least another decade or two, and then again courtesy of Dark Horse. Yet, I'd rather read one Faf & the Mouser story than five Conans, even though I do love those old Howard pulp stories. Go figure.

HELLBLAZER #252: More scab-picking.

*INCREDIBLE HERCULES #126: About a dozen pages for about a dollar more, and it's also designed as one of those "jumping on spots" we all hear so much about. In story one, we get an origin for Herc that I don't think Stan and Jack had in mind but does hew closely to the Greek myths, and in story two, we find out what happened to Amadeus Cho's coyote pup, which I had wondered about. It's not quite Old Yeller territory, but it does tentatively tug on the old heart strings a bit. Shit, I'm writing reviews, aren't I?

MADAME XANADU #8: Spiffy cover--->

*MISTER X: CONDEMNED #3: More from Dean Motter. Nobody's really paying much attention to this, which is further proof, if any is needed, that it ain't 1983 anymore.

*THUNDERBOLTS #129: Norman Osborne continues to kiss up to Barack Obama. Yelena appears at the end.

UMBRELLA ACADEMY: DALLAS #4: I like the cover to this one, too.

UNKNOWN SOLDIER #5: I'm getting this one, and the next one, then my tour of duty is done.

That's it!

In other things, as I think of them:

Happy Blogaversary to the Incomparable Neilalien, who's been at this for nine years and is still going strong. He's the Cal Ripken of the Comics Blogosphereiverse.

And indirctly speaking of Neilalien, whose Doc Strange love knows no equal, Tom Spurgeon posted an absolutely accurate and very convincing list of seven reasons why Marvel should put out a Doc Strange movie sooner rather than later. I wholeheartedly concur with all of his points.

Hey! Did you hear? The Watchmen movie will premiere in a little over a week! I've seen one early review from a source that I don't exactly equate with Roger Ebert or Mike Clark which was a pan, but hey- lots of great movies, whether or not a box office success, were panned somewhat. The clips I've seen, and I haven't exactly been feverishly lapping them all up as they come out, look like they're sanding off a lot of the edges and missing a lot of nuance- but that's to be expected. Looking at this, I still see respect for the source material, and that's all I ever ask from my comic book movie adaptations. Just don't give me the impression that you're trying to tell people that you're too smart, hip and cool to take a comic book series seriously, and we'll be OK. I'm not so sure that it's possible, in the constraints of a 2 plus hour movie, to capture everything that Moore and Gibbons squeezed into the source material. I decided to reread the singles the other day, and while it's too early for me to really have anything intelligent to say about them (not that I would anyway), I will note that I was very amused by the inner monologues that Moore wrote for Rorschach; having recently reread some of Ditko's old Charlton Question stories (I had forgotten the absolute tone Ditko gave Vic Sage's own inner thoughts), Moore was clearly taking the piss, as our friends from across the big pond say. Or so Vertigo comics writers tell us anyway.

Saying Jog writes excellent reviews is tres redundant, and today's was no exception; he spotlights a book of which I was unaware and which looks like it could be a lot of fun: Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941, out "very soon" from Fantagraphics. It's basically a collection of pre-WWII superhero stories, done by such luminaries as Jack Cole and Basil Wolverton.

I posted a few page scans from the Helfer/Baker Shadow that I'm always going on about to scans_daily a night or two ago, got a decent reaction (Deppey even linked to it! Bet he didn't notice I had posted them...) and I might post more eventually. Check 'em!

And while I'm talking about me, it seems I won the voting in the Friday Night Fights last week, for reposting that Gil Kane GL/Atom panel. I am truly honored! That said, I haven't found anything to post for this week's round yet. Stay tuned, my reign might be a short one!

Hm. Thought I had more bookmarked than that. Oh well. You want links, go visit Deppey or Spurgeon or Heidi or any of the twenty-three gazillion comics news websites. As Dave Fiore so often says, good night friends!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Here I go again with CONFESSIONS OF A SPINNER RACK JUNKIE, that more-or-less ongoing and often overdue feature in which I write shortish reviews of various works of sequential fiction that I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted such reviews upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately February 7 through 21, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide if you're lucky. Or not, as the case may be.

AGENTS OF ATLAS #1: Where the first miniseries kinda danced around the edges of the Marvel U proper, this one immerses itself fully via a tie-in with this whole "Dark Reign" thing, and manages to emerge unscathed for the most part. So far. And since it is a "Dark Reign" tie-in, we get the obligatory Norman Osborn appearance; he's brought in for a dick-measuring contest with the Atlas corporation which unfolds in interesting fashion, reaffirming Jeff Parker's talent for such. That guy's really on a roll these days. Amusing (for every one but him): the fate of Man-Mountain Marko, a quite obscure 70's Marvel badguy who, to be honest, may be (have been) a major player in all things Marvel U for a decade now, but i wouldn't know because, frankly, I havent been paying attention. The art, by Carlo Pagulayan, Benton Jew (!), and Jason Paz is servicable; it lacks the professional sheen that Leonard Kirk brought to the first miniseries, but it gets the job done and is appealingly, rather than appallingly, raw in spots. Good first step; let's see where it goes from here. A-

BATMAN #686: Well, it's Gaiman, so you know it's fanciful fantasy; using some sort of funeral setting, so divorced from reality that it has a (appropriately enough for the Sandman auteur) dreamlike texture, even though we're told at the beginning it is not- it's a weird mix of events and styles from all aspects of all things Bat: the crude early days, the rootin' tootin Forties, the Camp 60's, the grimmer decades that followed. The whacked-out space-faring Batman tropes of the 50's aren't represented, but this is only issue one of two. We just went through a period in which Morrison was supposed to be doing the very same thing, trying to reconcile all the different aspects of Bat-lore from decades past, a Quixotic undertaking if ever there was one, and while Moz succeeded at some level, Gaiman outdoes him at his own game; this is twice as clear and more interesting than any part of Grant's tenure. I just wish I could discern a point to all this imaginary-story stuff. Neil's fortunate to have artist Andy Kubert along for the ride; although he's just a little too close to this side of Jim Lee and his ilk for my taste, he still has enough spark and imagination to stand out from that pack, and he shows a chamelonic streak here as well; I keep seeing subtle references to other artists' styles- a Kaluta face here, an Eisner perspective there, shades of Gibbons, Adams, and others but never once does he descend into Mike Allred-style imitation. I am intrigued by this in spite of myself; I wish that it wasn't so obtuse, and I wish someone with more poetry and less industry in his soul was illustrating it, but on its own terms it works. It may not be another "Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow", like some have suggested, but those don't come along all that often. We'll know more in a month or so. B

THE BOYS #27: Good to have Robertson back, I suppose, but I'm afraid it seems like Grant is stretching this arc out to no apparent good effect; this issue's St. Paddy's Day grousing is earned, I suppose- I can see why it would be galling to true Ireland natives, especially those inclined to be crabby about it, and the gross gag at the end is no less amusing for it, but I really wish Ennis would cut to the chase. B-

B.P.R.D.: THE BLACK GODDESS #2: This storyline rolls on and on, as we at least seem to find out what's been going on with Liz Sherman and precious little else. Good thing I like these characters so much, or I might find myself growing a wee bit impatient with this endless "Impending menace and earth-shattering consequences from frogs under the Earth with skullfaced robots and such" storyline which has been running through this series since 1994 or so. Fortunately, Guy Davis is on hand to make it all look cool. B+

CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND THE MI-13 #10: Reviewed at A-

FABLES #81: Things keep going from bad to worse for our cast, as the evil Black-clad entity brings death, woe, and destruction upon they heads. The way things are going, I fully expect a guest appearance by Matt Murdock. A-

HAUNTED TANK #'s 2,3: This oddball mix of Topper and Three Kings continues to rumble around in the desert, just like the tanks they're all driving, giving us random skirmishes between US and Iraqi troops- except when ghostly Rebel Col. Jeb Stuart and the easily aggravated black Sgt. Jamal Stuart are having verbal skirmishes of their own. This is too heavy-handed in its message, and much too talky by half- and the dialogue is way too disjointed to really leave an impression, other than a general sort of chaos, almost like an Altman flick- if Altman's writers had no command of the English language. Flint Henry's art strives mightily to hold it all together, and whatever storytelling clarity there is here is due him, I think. I really wish this was sharper, or at least a little less obvious, and I wish it would give us an indication that there's a point coming up- but alas, I don't think one is forthcoming. C

HELLBOY: THE WILD HUNT #3: Nice to see an update on what I'm pretty much convinced is the best, and if not the best the purest Hellboy story to date, "The Corpse", as HB reunites with the baby he rescued from a changeling's fate, relatively unscathed- or is she? Anyway, more than meets the eye with her, I'm sure, but once more Mignola is effectively marshaling dire forces to go up against our hero, and I am looking forward to seeing how all the granly plot threads knit themselves together. If they knit themselves together; I remember the last Hellboy mini after all. Duncan Fregredo once more gives us the best Hellboy that isn't by his creator; There just hasn't been enough of his lively work over the last two decades. A

HEXED #2: We pick up where #1 left off, with our heroine "Lucifer" entering a extradimensional world located in the belly of a corpse in order to steal some kind of mystical object from a pissed-off demonic creature of some kind...and then she spends the rest of the issue talking about it. I like the art, Luci is interesting if a bit derivative, and the intensely bright coloring works OK, but I hope things pick up a bit soon. I'm comped, so I can afford to be patient. Others who pay, I'm not so sure. B+

INCOGNITO #2: Even though there remains a nagging sort of "seen this before" vibe to the whole thing, Brubaker and Phillips are so in sync that they make this, yet another rumination on identity and human nature and so forth as filtered through the prism of superhero and b-movie tropes, seem fresh and involving. I mean, holy crap, Phillips is so good at evoking nuance and subtle personality indicators, just via his linework and shading; I still maintain that he's one of the very best illustrators working in the field today, and has been for a long time now. A-

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10: After reading and reviewing #9, I got kinda curious about what was going to happen next. We're still Dark Reigning, so Norman Osborn continues to twirl his figurative moustache, Stark is still striving to get rid of everything and get away, Pepper Potts is left to oversee the dissolution of the whole Stark Industries thing, and this Maria Hill person gets her smoove on with the still-dashing Mr. Stark. Oh, and we get Iron Person armor with tits. This isn't as compelling as some Marvels I've been reading lately, but it does work on a TV series, Lost/24/Heroes kind of level. B-

JERSEY GODS #1: It's as if the Kevin Smith of Clerks and Mallrats collaborated with Jack Kirby on yet another pseudo-mythological Grand Sweeping Epic, but that makes this sound heavier than I intend; it's played light all the way as we meet a young Jersey lady who has terrible luck with boyfriends, and gets mixed up with godlike beings from another world who happen to bring their battle to the local mall. This is obviously New Gods and Eternals territory, but it's enjoyable, and in no small part as much fun as it is thanks to the retro-style Dan McDaid art; it's somewhat Kirbyeque, perhaps reminiscent of some of Darwyn Cooke's attempts at replicating the advertising art of a half-century ago, but that's not really accurate either; regardless, it's quite good and brings this somewhat 3/4 baked concept fully to life. Well worth checking out, says I. A-

PATSY WALKER: HELLCAT #5: Kathryn Immonen frustrates me to the very end on this; after the relatively straightforward #4, she gets a bit scattershot again in the finale- but thankfully doesn't devolve into the chaos of the middle of the run. It's as if she had 12 issues' worth of story (and she probably does, no doubt) but felt as if she had to cram it into five because she would never get any more, and I guess looking at it realistically that's not unreasonable. Still, as a whole, it was a lively, sometimes dodgy read, and it was really enhanced by Dave LaFuente's appealing art and John Rauch's candy-coated colors. I sincerely hope we get more. B+

SANDMAN: THE DREAM HUNTERS #4: A nice tale, with a mostly-satisfying but not especially happy ending, most notable for being brought to life by the as always unique and completely brilliant illustration style of P. Craig Russell, one of the few artists that automatically makes a project worthwhile just because he's involved. A

SOLOMON KANE #5: The appropriately-enough-apocalyptic grand finale, which ends with lots of demon-killin' and fire and stuff. I think Scott Allie really did a good job on Kane's difficult-to-pin-down personality, and I hope that we get many sequels from his pen. Or keyboard. Or whatever. That said, I hope we get many sequels by some other artist; while this Mario Guevara guy was able to bring a crude sort of kineticism to his action scenes, I thought his linework looked scratchy and his figures were inconsistent. Looking forward to the trade collection. A-

SCALPED #25: We're in Ocean's territory in some ways, as a new player (in several manners of speaking) comes to town, to hit Red Crow's casino. I don't think this will end like any Ocean's flick, be it with Frank & Dean & Sammy, or Clooney & Pitt. This particular hustler seems to have some deep mental issues, which manifest themselves over the course of the narrative, and make for some involving, tense reading at times. Aaron and Guera, like Brubaker & Phillips above, are locked in right now and this is the first chapter in what I'm sure will be another excellent, if not particularly pleasant, storyline. A

SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE UNIVERSE: VOL 5: As always, a mile wide and an inch deep, as much Twentysomething relationship drama as it is anything else, and of course NOTHING IN THE WORLD is more important to Twentysomethings than their relationships, unless it's their video games- or so you'd think from nearly every single effing thing you read or see about them. But the not-so-secret weapon, this way this whole thing is redeemed, is by the enthusiastically creative way that O'Malley presents his weird mix of soap, video games, manga/anime cliches, and of course rock band shenanigans; it's so loopy and cheerful (even when the events depicted aren't so much), all drawn in his increasingly confident (bet he's wondering when critics will think he's become accomplished) and unique, ever-so-oddball drawing style that the reader is immediately disarmed and can't help but get caught up in it all. This edition is mostly setup for next issue's grande finale; it's a bit downbeat as well but not excessively so- there's still a lot of action and some humor mixed in with all the "Is you is or is you ain't my woman" stuff. A-

TINY TITANS #13: Aw yeah. Cute. A-

VIXEN: RETURN OF THE LION #5: By no means do I think Willow Wilson is a poor scripter, but this has been as enervatingly by-the-numbers as anything I've ever read, completely devoid of anything that could be interpreted as fresh, different, or unexpected. The bad guys get beat, our heroine reaffirms that yes, The Power Was Inside Her All Along, and she proves herself to the Justice League once more. Cut, print, wrap. The art is as generic as the script, and altogether this is a thoroughly competent, completely unchallenging experience, livened only by Josh Middleton's covers, which have been uniformly excellent and display the spark which this pro forma character spotlight/license perpetuation so desperately lacks. C-

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Black Hat, Gold Key.

From the letters page of the final issue, above is the cover- or so the lettercol suggests- for the upcoming TPB collection of the recent (like it says there) Solomon Kane: Castle of the Devil miniseries, by (as if you couldn't tell) Mike Mignola. I love this design, which is intended (or so I think, it isn't explicitly stated) to imitate and/or pay tribute to the old design of many Dell/Gold Key covers of the 50's and 60's. As someone who enjoyed a great many titles from that imprint growing up, I think it's about 650 kinds of cool. The only way it could look more like, say, an issue of Boris Karloff Presents or Ripley's Believe It or Not is if Mignola had chosen to paint it, rather than go the pen and ink and Photoshop route. I Tumbled this earlier today, but I wanted to put it up here in case you don't follow my Tumblr site. I think Mignola does a smashing Kane, by the way.

Reviews coming soon!

Friday, February 20, 2009


New round, new theme from Spacebooger this time out, and I can't think of a better example of a one-panel punch-out than the one you see above, by the undisputed master of such things, Gil Kane. Found at Strange Ink, and taken from Justice League of America #200, so succinctly summed up by the Amazing Colossal Mike Sterling waaay back in 2004.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

There's something going on here...Mr. Jones.


Gosh, I haven't posted anything for a while...and still don't have any reviews finished yet. I need to get something up here, so I'll just ruminate a bit with you.

I was thinking about something the other day, and one look at my recently-submitted DCBS order, reproduced for your reading pleasure above, confirms it. Please take a second or two to scan the titles...and do you see, perhaps, something missing?

For the first time that I can remember, and honestly, it's not like I've gone back and counted or anything, but for the first time in recent memory, anyway, there are NO MAINSTREAM (non-specialty imprint) DC COMICS ON MY LIST.

And since I've always kinda thought of myself as a DC kinda guy, although when I really look back I've always bought a variety of titles from a variety of publishers, this really freaks me out a bit. Looking at the numbers:

Vertigo: 5 titles. The Vertigo imprint has been my main point of interest for DC books for a long time now actually.

WildStorm: 1. I still just don't get Mysterius coming from this imprint, but what can I say.

Image: 2.

Top Shelf: 1. I miss the days when they'd send me stuff. Such is life as a has-been "luminary of the Comics Blogosphere".

Dark Horse: 3.

Dynamite Entertainment: 1.

And finally...

MARVEL (and Marvel imprints): 7. Seven! I can remember years, especially back in the 90's, that I didn't buy seven Marvel books all year long!

And while I'm not ready to proclaim myself a Marvel Zombie just yet, I am a bit amused/bemused to discover that of all the newish titles I've sampled over the last few months, I'm really enjoying what Marvel has been doing a lot more than I have what the Distinguished Competition has. Both companies are giving us dour, grim and dark, but there's a sour edge to DC's that rankles a bit, or at least drains away whatever entertainment value that can be had, for me anyway. Of course, it's true that of all the DC proper titles I was buying and enjoying on a regular basis, most either ended their runs or have been canceled (Blue Beetle, Manhunter, Catwoman) and I continue to read a couple (that I wouldn't be buying anyway) via...alternative venues... but none have come up to take the discontinued titles' place with me. Much of DC's recent output has been tied in, however marginally, with Morrison's inchoate and mostly downbeat Final Crisis, and that's not really a plus as far as I'm concerned. FC was entertaining, as only Grant can be, and yeah, there were lots of "mad ideas" (that seem a lot like the same "mad ideas" he's given us for well nigh 20 years), and sure, some of the spinoffs have been well done (Rogue's Revenge, Requiem), but it looks more and more to me like a definite misfire, a miscalculation based on the assumption that people will buyinto what Grant's selling no matter how sloppily it's presented. Other high-profile titles they've been giving us lately have also left me cold, such as Gaiman's recent stab at Batman, which is, to be fair, only on part one (and I'll review it eventually, later this week I hope). Perhaps the most consistently enjoyable DC title that has crossed my path, has been, of all things, Tiny Titans- which at least has the virtue of not being so damn pretentious. Perhaps DC could use an influx of new writers, who don't seem to be as determined to depress. Who knows. Marvel, on the other hand, while they've been involved with a multi-issue crossover event of their own (which seemed to be coordinated better, although I certainly haven't read everything involved) and are no less susceptible to the dour and grim as well (mostly via Brian Bendis' hamfisted iconoclasm), have managed to at least mix in some good old fashioned humanism in with the cataclysmic- as titles such as Incredible Hercules and Captain Britain and the MI-13 (both new additions to my pull list) bear out. The character interaction in the Marvel titles I've sampled just seems more engaging, for lack of a better word. You've also got Andy Diggle doing Thunderbolts, which would interest me even if not for the resurrection of Yelena Belova; Daredevil, which inexplicably remains engrossing despite the constant parade of misery that Brubaker sees fit to inflict on poor Murdock every month, and it's been more or less very good for a very long time, and also Brubaker and Phillips' Incognito, which continues their collaborative winning streak. I have also been picking up the recently-concluded Age of the Sentry, a mostly-fun exercise in retro-for-retro's sake, and keeping up with Guardians of the Galaxy, space opera with a 70's kinda what-the-hell feel. I believe the last time I picked up as many Marvel titles on a regular basis would have to be sometime in the mid to late 1970's, I kid you not.

So what does it all mean, Pee-Wee? I hear you ask. Hell, I don't know. Check back in six months, and I might not be buying any of those cited above. But as a phenomenon right here right now on Planet Dave, I think it's quite remarkable. You never know sometimes, I guess.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Tonight's Friday night fracas is a special Valentine's Day-themed one; ringmaster Spacebooger hath decreed that it shall be called Valentine Saturday Edition: Love Tap!, with an emphasis on lovers' quarrels. At first, I didn't know if I was going to be able to come up with anything or not, but suddenly, inspiration struck like a bolt out of the blue, and I remembered a comic I had when I was a kid, in which the Wonderful Wasp found herself needing to battle Giant-Man. Or to be honest, an impostor, "Second-Story Sammy" by name, who (through a complicated series of circumstances) manages to steal Hank Pym's costume and size-changing abilities, then sets out to rob and pillage, oblivious to the story's other menace, a rapidly-spreading plant, which Pym accidentally unleashed and was knocked unconscious before he could do anything about it. Anyway, this leads to the Wasp encountering and having to subdue the bogus GM, and while I suppose it's technically not a "lover's quarrel" per se, it's still Giant-Man versus the Wasp.

Script by Smilin' Stan Lee, art by Capricious Carl Burgos and Devastatin' Dick Ayers. That's what it says in the credit box anyway. From Tales to Astonish #62, cover-dated December of 1964.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Comics? I'm gettin some.

Since I neglected to do this last time, here's a look at the DCBS shipment that they tell me will arrive no later than Friday:


Also, I recently read the first nine issues of CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND THE MI-13, as well as HOUSE OF MYSTERY #10, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN 10, and EMPOWERED 4, and will opine upon them as well. See? Now you have a reason to keep on living!

Oh, and just because, here's the cover to that Scott Pilgrim thing that, in the immortal words of Fred Neil, "everybody's talkin' 'bout".

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Here I go again with CONFESSIONS OF A SPINNER RACK JUNKIE, that more-or-less ongoing and often overdue feature in which I write shortish reviews of various works of sequential fiction that I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted such reviews upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately January 31 through February 6, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide if you're lucky. Or not, as the case may be.

100 BULLETS #99: The standard review: another well-done issue what will engage the already engaged, baffle the uninitiated, and even baffle the initiated upon occasion. I think I'll continue to cut and paste this, actually I won't. I'll actually try to write something for the final issue. I will say that this issue sports the best Dave Johnson cover in a while. A-

BANG TANGO #1: Well, it's got a clever title going for it if nothing else. Sort of an odd mix of Scarface and Take the Lead with hints of Saturday Night Fever, it's not terrible, and Kelly is a good enough writer to make you think it could go places. The art, by new-to-me Adrian Sibar and old stalwart Rodney Ramos, is adequate to the task, although it reminds me a lot of Ernie Colon with attitude. Worth a look, but as with so many of these titles that keep popping up against all odds, I can't imagine who or what they think the audience for this might be. B-

BLUE BEETLE #35: Here in the waning days of this lame-duck book, we get a return of sorts to the one arc which most people who care about this book at all remember with affection, the big showdown with the Reach at the end of John Rogers' stint. This time, a Reach splinter group, wearing the same tech as our boy Jaime (the KDRA, get it? Cadre? Cah-dray? Better than Qadry Ismail, I guess) has been going around the 'Verse imposing peace and order to various worlds (or else), and stop by Earth to invite him to join up in their crusade. Not a bad idea to go out on, and the high school prom backdrop (with more of the delightful Traci 13) is nicely done as well. That said, don't go adding it to your pull list or anything. A-

DAREDEVIL #115: Here we go again with the misery train. Remarkably engrossing, even though DD is really almost a guest star in his own book, what with all the Tarantulas and White Tigers and Iron Fists and Stick-like mentor figures and recycled Millerisms. And oh joy, Kingpin's coming back. Now THAT'S fresh. B+

EL DIABLO #6: Although I liked the art, this never really transcended its second-hand Ghost Rider/Spectre leanings, and thus our boy will now be relegated to guest appearance hell with the Blue Beetle and Kate Spencer, something which none of the badguys in the last six issues could manage, until someday down the road when smart-ass young writer decides to have him cut in half by a dimensional portal a la poor Anima. Hopefully, like Anima, I won't spend money to see it. C+

FINAL CRISIS: LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #3: If Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary give us comic art for claustrophobes, then it can be said that George Perez serves the same function for the agoraphobic among us out there. Only tangentially a Final Crisis tie-in, despite the title (the re-introduction of the Miracle Machine, not much else), it still has a lot to offer the long-suffering Legion fan, what with three different iterations of same running around and shouting and brawling and shooting blasts in every direction, just like every Perez-drawn comic in recent memory, and a lot to offer the Green Lantern fans as well, what with its Last Green Lantern and all the attendant mythology. OK for what it is, but what it is tends to give me a bit of a headache. B

GREATEST HITS #5: In which we discover the big secret about the Mates' outer-space adventure, which they've been hinting at since the beginning. I hope I'm not spoiling it too much when I say it's as if Hunter Davies was the focus of the Beatles' story. Fabry's art is still groovy, fab, gear and boss, but this is really meandering to the finish line story-wise. B+

IMMORTAL IRON FIST #22: A lot of people bailed after Brubaker and Fraction did, and I can't really blame them, but really, as far as I'm concerned Duane Swiercynski has done a good job of picking up the pieces and carrying on. In this, the first new issue of the latest multi-issue saga, Danny and the other warriors decide to visit the mysterious eighth city from which the previous Big Bad Iron Fist-killer came, and of course find more than they bargained for, as they are captured and forced to fight endlessly until they give its ruler "what he wants"- problem is, he won't tell them what that is. A classic tar baby scenario, and it's a good hook on which to hang this epic. Artist Travel Foreman reins in the tendency towards flashy storytelling obfuscation this time out; you can actually see honest to goodness cause and effect when the characters battle. Promising start, and a book which deserves to be kept around for a while. A-

INCREDIBLE HERCULES #125: Maybe it's because alternate-reality stories, especially magic-abetted ones, try my patience, I just didn't get quite the same buzz from this as I have previous arcs; the Ares battle was epic, as was the whole Skrull thing, even though that was tempered by its inevitable connection to yet another company-wide crossover epic event. This arc, though, while set up intriguingly, went off the rail a bit with its resolution even though it was still handled good-naturedly enough to remain entertaining- loved little sight gags like the Harvey Pekar cameo . I'm also a bit concerned that Pak and Van Lente are making subtle changes to the Amadeus Cho character, perhaps in order to make him more likable but I'm afraid it will take the luster off what makes him interesting in the first place, which is to say that unpredictable, dare I say even malevolent, edge he has, in my perception anyway. And where the hell is his coyote pup? (Actually, one of the NYCC Marvel panels addressed that very question). Maybe it's the art; Espin and Henry are prim, fussy and restrained compared to the looser styles we've seen in previous arcs, and that kinda freeze-dries the action when it calls out for something more kinetic. Hardly a deal-breaker, though, and this remains one of the more interesting books coming from the majors. B+

JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER #251: Pete Milligan, that Man For All Seasons, steps up to take his turn on ol' Conjob and gets things off to a good-enough start by giving Johnny a scab-like rash, of supernatural origin of course- which may or may not be tied in to a worker who has crossed picket lines during labor strike nearby- and more importantly, I believe, a new love interest. Where this is all going is anybody's guess, but Milligan (whom I'm surprised hasn't written this character long ago) gets the "voice" down OK and while he's never been a writer that I've found especially interesting over the years, the odd issue of Human Target or X-Statix aside, he may turn out to be a solid if uninspiring choice. We'll see. Giuseppe Camuncoli provides layouts while Stefano Landini does the inking honors; they have a style together that looks like pretty much every Vertigo artist of the last 20 years, with perhaps a sharper edge here or there; competent but unexciting. I really wish that the decision-makers behind the Vertigo imprint would take a good, hard look at their policy vis-a-vis artists; it certainly seems like homogeneity is what they're encouraging, rather than seeking out illustrators with individualistic styles, young talent like Amy Hadley (herself beholden to manga's influence) notwithstanding, and that just seems at cross-purposes with an imprint which purports to be on the "edge". B+

THE MIGHTY #1: Reviewed at B+

MISTER X: CONDEMNED #2: It's as if this series got canceled back in 1984! Of course, I know that Dean Motter did at least two dozen more Mister X stories after Los Bros. dropped out, and other, lesser talents continued the character after that, and I read the majority of them- but you'd never know it because it sure seems like Dean's picking up where he left off when Jalmie and Gilbert bailed oh so long ago; Radiant City's still inspiring suicidal thoughts, the movers and shakers behind the city (and behind the scenes), not to mention organized crime boss Oscar Zamora, are still plotting their machinations for good and ill; the title character is still skulking around looking for documents to help him reverse the negative effects of the designs he had a hand in, and he still has a bitter girlfriend in every other building, it seems. And as I was in 1984 to diminishing effect as time went by, I am intrigued. Motter the artist is quite a designer himself; although I'm not crazy about the way he draws people, they are good enough and he realizes the stylish noir world they inhabit brilliantly. Frankly, I don't really remember much about the post-Bros. issues anyway, so you guys just humor me on this whole "continuation" thing, OK? A-

UMBRELLA ACADEMY: DALLAS #3: All the quirkiness is still coalescing three issues in, and it's quite interesting to watch, which is thanks in large part to Gabriel Ba's art. It's the closest thing to a new Morrison Doom Patrol we're ever gonna get, so we should enjoy it for that if nothing else. A-

UNKNOWN SOLDIER #4: This livens up a bit with the arrival of less-than-benign merc Jack Lee Howl (Howl? Really? Who was his dad, Thurston Howl III?); at least he knows what's going on, who's who and what's what, because as with the situation in real-life Uganda (as I understand it, which isn't much), that remains unclear four issues in. The art is another example of the Generic Vertigo House Style of Illustration and Coloring that I mentioned above; it just tells the story and little more. I've seen raves for this here and there around the ol' Interweb, but sadly, I remain unmoved although I've seen worse. I don't see me continuing to spend my money on it much longer. Guess B.P.R.D.: 1946 was a fluke after all. C+

Saturday, February 07, 2009

No one can withstand the power of Talus the Great!

You may or may not recall this post from last July, which was a continuation of a little quest or search of sorts which I've been passively pursuing for some time now, even before I started blogging. I started reading comics as a preschooler; in fact, I could read before I started first grade (no kindergarten in our rural Kentucky independent school system at the time), and comics were a big reason why, I do believe. Anyway, one of those precious few first comic books that were given to me by my parents and grandparents was Strange Planets #16, which (as I came to find out later via pal Dave) was by and large an I.W. Publishing/Super Comics reprint of February 1952's Strange Worlds #6, published by Avon Comics. And among the stories in this comic was the tale of a young fellow in a far-flung future who ruthlessly came to rule the world with an iron fist. There were others that made an impression as well; one, an extrapolation of the Native American "Maid of the Mist" story, another about a wrongdoer who is haunted by a vengeful totem spirit. I kept and reread the comic over the next few years, but as I grew up, it lost a cover and a page or two and eventually was relegated to a box in the basement, with other damaged comics that I owned as a kid and didn't choose to add to my collection when I actually got around to beginning the hobby in earnest. For a few more years after that, if I happened to be digging around in my parent's basement looking for this or that, I'd see it and look it over and toss it back in. At some point, it got moved, the box that is- my pack-rattish folks wouldn't have thrown it away, I don't think, but the upshot is that I havent laid eyes on the book in a couple of decades, I'll bet. But that one story stuck with me, and I thought if I ever ran across it again I'd like to own it or at least read it again, so I started asking around both here and on the internet, and today, on a site called Beware, There's a Crosseyed Cyclops in My Basement! I finally found it, where someone had put it up for download. I will share it now with you (cleaned up a little in Photoshop, because yellow paper does not make me nostalgic) -from 1952 via 1964, script and art credited to Norman Nodel, here's "The Man Who Owned the Earth":

Rereading it now, for the first time in a LONG time,'s not a great story, I don't think. There are huge holes in the script, and the dialogue is wooden even by early 50's standards. Talos' rise to power is only mentioned in passing, and how he managed to achieve this is glossed over completely. His motivation is unconvincing- we're never really made to understand what drove him to do what he did. For that matter, the resolution doesn't really convince all that much either, although there is precedent for people who realize a lifelong goal finding themselves unhappy after the getting of it, realizing that the pursuit was what made it worthwhile. Still, dude! You've got the world at your feet! If nothing else, chill and kick back with a cold one and some video games or something till you find a new goal! The art is not great either; it's often crude and perfunctory. That is a nicely done pose on the dancing girl on page five, I will say.

Regardless, here it is. I'm a little hard pressed to define exactly what it is that fascinated me so about this story as a child, and can only venture guesses. What do YOU think about it?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

More Final Crisis silliness.

BEWARE OF SPOILERS HERE, in case you haven't read these comics already.

I was just reading Steven Grant's Permanent Damage column, in which he mused aloud (well, in print, but you know what I mean) about the eleventh-hour villain Mandrakk, and the familiarity of the name. And that rang a bell with me, too, because when I first saw the name in the accompanying FC: Superman Beyond #2, I saw this character:

...and yeah, I know this is a panel from Final Crisis 7, but in my mind instead saw THIS character:

Susan Astronomonov aka MANDARK. Am I alone in this?

And am I alone in being annoyed by the bait-and-switch Grant pulled in this reveal, setting us up to think Terrible Dan Darkseid was the Big Bad, but instead shoehorning this guy, in the best "oh, by the way" tradition, in on us? Of course, I meant to mention this in the review below but as usual I forgot. Maybe I should take notes sometimes.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Another Question.

From Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #3. What is up with Superman's hand?


Tuesday, February 03, 2009


While I'm asking obvious questions today, here's another couple. First, check out this detail from some hellasweet Kyle Baker Hawkman pages that he's been kind enough to preview on his blog. If you had asked me beforehand, I'd have said that few artists were less suited for drawing the Hawks than Mr. Baker, but these pages prove yet again that I don't know nuthin'. Unless I miss my guess here, that first panel above sports a pose that is nothing if not vintage Joe Kubert circa 1947. You can see the full page here at right by clicking to embiggen it.

Anyway, while scanning this page two things crossed my mind: Since we can all assume jets kinda go very fast in the sky, not to mention the atmospheric pressure outside caused by this rapid speed, how is it that Hawkman can stand on the wing so calmly, not to mention rip the frigging door off the plane? Yeah, yeah, Nth metal. It enables him to defy gravity, I suppose, but the laws of motion and nature and lots of other physics-type things that I am not conversant enough in to cite as well? Also, his bird buddies can survive the impact of crashing into a jet plane windshield, not only survive but break the glass and not end up as greasy stains?

This is some excellent art, but the events depicted seriously strain my disbelief suspension mechanisms, that's all I'm sayin'.

ETA: which is not to say I'm not looking forward to this; the last time I was this interested in a Hawkman book was when this was announced. Funny thing is, I don't think I bought them all. Guess I was disappointed in that one after all.

Two brief questions about FINAL CRISIS, and an observation or two.

Picture ganked from Dr. K. Can you tell I've been reading his blog lately? He's doing some very fine analysis of that most convoluted of event comics. In fact, I'm seeing a lot of fine analysis of these books all over the Web, which tells me that perhaps I'm just not as sharp on the uptake, and too lazy to make the time to dig deeper. Anyways, here are the questions:

1. What happened to Libra? It could be a pretty obvious scene in one of the spinoff books or perhaps even in the main one, but if I saw his fate, for good or ill, I sure don't remember it. ETA: Thanks to reader Janus, who reminded me that good old Luthor dealt with Mr. Libra in issue #6. That's what I get for posting at work without my comics to refer to!

2. Oracle trashed the internet while all this was going on. Does the post-FC world no longer have it, or at least is it down until people can rebuild it?

And now, the observations.

First, does anybody else think that this is, in some ways, a remake of Flex Mentallo, or at least crafted from that same cloth? I know I stated earlier that Grant is recycling, but the more I read, the more I recognize a lot of the metatextual ideas he introduced so long ago.

Also, I suspect that this perhaps would all be clearer to me if I had read 52 and Countdown, especially all the beeswax with the Monitors, who completely flummuxed me at first in regards to who they were exactly, what they wanted, and why they were there. Eventually, I remembered all the Anti-Monitor stuff from Crisis on Infinite Earths, but as I understand it they had a bigger role in the previous event. Oh well.

Finally, I get the feeling that Grant is sitting back and having a chuckle at all the consternation he's caused, at least judging by the smug and condescending tone he's taken in some interviews I've read lately. That's fine, but he should recall the words of Ian Hunter:

Yeah its a mighty long way down rock 'n' roll
As your name gets hot so your heart grows cold
'N you gotta stay young man, you can never be old
All the Way from Memphis

Not to worry, though, because I'm gonna pre-order the upcoming Seaguy mini anyway. But still.

See? No earth-shattering insight or deep, probing questions here. But hey, I'm maintaining a post-a-day schedule so far for February!

ETA: This is not quite a review per se- here is what I wrote about FC #'s 6 & 7, as well as Superman Beyond #2.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Song at the End of the World meme

Dr.K put it like this:

In Final Crisis 7, Superman finally kills Darkseid by singing a song into the newly constructed Miracle Machine. Morrison doesn't let the reader know exactly what song Superman sings, but instead leaves it up to the reader to fill in this particular gap.

What song do you think killed Darkseid?

Well, it occurred to me when I first read it that perhaps he sang, with his super-voice, the title track to Yoko Ono's Fly, as unlistenable a piece of recorded sound as I've ever heard. And I like Yoko's music, mostly.

But anyway, the next thing I thought of was this:

From, of course, R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)". Well, it seemed appropriate enough.