Friday, September 30, 2005

Favorite Costumes, Day After T.O. Morrow

Previous Favorite Costumes: Jeff Smax - Adam Strange - Deadshot - Blue Beetle - Alan Scott - Mister Miracle - The Creeper - Dr. Strange - Dr. Doom - Iron Man

Red Tornado. Now, I hold absolutely no particular fondness for the character, here. His backstory is absolutely ridiculous. He's a robot, he's an elemental, he's a robot and an elemental. Hell, when he decided to adopt a secret identity, he went with "John Smith." Brother could've picked any name in the world, and he picks "John Smith"? That's just... so lame.

Created by Thomas Oscar Morrow (that'd be "T.O. Morrow" if you didn't catch the subtle joke, there. If you don't find that funny, you're going to find most '60s DC comics to be more humorless than a children's cancer ward, because those guys thought the silly names and talking monkeys were the height of comedy back then) to infiltrate the Justice Society (by, well, he sort of claimed to be the original Red Tornado. Who was a big fat lady with a pot on her head. You can see some flaws in Tom's plan, here) and then... I don't know, probably lead them into an elaborate trap, or something. Morrow, though, has terrible luck with his robots. No matter how evil he tries to make them, he programs in such an amazing sense of free will that they invariably defy their programming and beat the shit out of him. He must've been so jealous of Professor Ivo. After all, Amazo is almost always a villain. Also, his powers are way, way cooler than the ability to make wind.

Later on, it turned out that Tornado was a robot built by Morrow, sure enough, but one imbued with the spirit of the Tornado Champion, formerly the Tornado Tyrant, a horrible wind monster from Rann that decided to turn hero. On earth. Because Rann already had more than enough hero in one-man wrecking crew Adam Strange. When the Champion flew into the robotic shell Morrow was working on, he lost his memory. This makes perfect sense when you figure that the other elementals on earth included a man turned into a swamp monster by way of chemicals and murder and two guys bonded into one body by a nuclear explosion.

Since Crisis, his biggest habit is getting blown up and rebuilt because, frankly, it sucks to be a robot on a superteam. You're totally expendable. Think about it: villains always just capture Aquaman. They never rip his fucking limbs off. Tornado's job is to say something about how he's a robot and then get tore up, at which time someone will marvel at his complexity, put him back together and then promptly forget about him for a couple years.

Anyway, he's here because I love that outfit, not because he's got one of the single dumbest origins ever (and I'm pretty sure he's been retconned now, so that he was trying to join the JLA, not the JSA, but whatever, in three weeks, knowledge of post-Crisis continuity's probably going to be useless anyway). If Morrow's got anything going for him, it's the kind of design sense that says "stripes! Stripes and arrows!" and a color eye that loves to look at things that are the same colors as fire trucks. Look at that guy. Forehead arrow, giant collar, the gloves Aquaman wore in the forties... he's incredible-looking.

Honorable Mention: The Vision. Vision's the exact same character as Red Tornado. Both were built by villains, both ended up turning hero and joining the very teams they were meant to destroy, both have costumes with giant doofy collars. Vision's color scheme's just a little weaker than Reddy's. Plus, I'm pretty sure Vision never got his own Hostess Fruit Pie ad.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Well, it goes like this: the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift, the baffled king composing This Week's Reviewejah.

My other pullbox is like a time machine into last week!

Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #1: Jae Lee gets to draw the Inhumans again, and Marvel runs out of black ink with which to fill in the ridiculous amount of shadows the man tosses about. If you're curious, the Ultimate Inhumans are pretty much the Normal Inhumans, except Gorgon's a girl, Medusa's hair is made of snakes, and Black Bolt wears a dress, for some reason. I still like the Ultimate FF better when Ellis handles them.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #23: How in the Hell did Vision end up a zombie? Cat's a machine, for God's sake, but he's chillin' on a full-page splash of Giant Man threatening to eat some girls. Sue Storm uses her powers in two creative ways, which I'm certain is a first since the freakin' sixties or so. Seriously, though: the population of this earth, so far as we know, is like three people and Magneto. Somehow, the zombies got to Vision, who is not only a robot, but also able to turn intangible. Magneto can create utterly inexplicably forcefields from time to time, sure, but how many times has, say, Wolverine managed to rush him and cut his ass with claws? And that's a guy that's full of metal. I like that I can suspend disbelief on parallel earths, zombie superheroes and Sue Storm's ability to see while invisible but Magneto avoiding zombiedom is where I draw the line. I love knowing exactly where that line is at all times.

Batman #645: A retrospective on the career of Jason Todd. If you don't feel like reading it, find any comic where Jason Todd is mentioned. He was a troubled youth! Batman took a shine to him when he stole his tire! (Which is really, really stupid!) He occasionally indulged in a little of the ol' ultraviolence! He was thought to be dead! Now he wears a silly hat, but has pants, so he sort of traded up, costume-wise!

Doesn't Batman have a giant exploding Rock of Eternity to worry about? Can we get over the dead Robins? Please?

Flash #226: Gah. Man, that read like it should've been a ten page story stuck in the back of an eighty-page giant. Total fill-in issue, but if you'd like to see what happens when Wally West takes a crack at mountain climbing, go nuts; you've found an outlet for your sick fetish.

Ultimates 2 #8: Hey, maybe Hawkeye's alive. Also, now I feel kind of dumb for predicting that the Ultimate Reserves would serve no purpose other than getting eaten by whatever kind of giant space spore Warren Ellis decides Galactus ought to be. Turns out they're still cannon fodder, but they got used earlier than I thought. Plus, now that I think about it, the stuff in the Ultimates right now happens after Galactus shows up, so the whole point is moot, thanks to the vagaries of continuity between books (you'd think the continuity of, what, five whole books would be easier to keep straight, wouldn't you?). Cover totally blows the contents, but it's a million times better than the X-Men Pin-Ups in Lieu of Covers Ultimate X-Men's had for, oh, every single issue.

I'm certain this ends in Ultimate Red Skull, though.

The meanest thing he ever did was, before he left, he went and named me "This Week's Reviews."

Weirdly heavy week, books-I-actually-wanted-to-read-wise.

Young Avengers #7: They didn't use the terrible codenames they mentioned last issue, thank God. There's a decent bit where Spider-Man, Captain America and Luke Cage discuss their semi-unwanted proteges, but, other than that, this one was best described by one of the comic shop regulars: "it seems like they're, you know, trying to start a new story. But it's Marvel. So it'll be a while."

Ultimate Secret #3: I'd stopped even checking when this was supposed to come out, so seeing it on the stands was like seeing the Easter Bunny, as far as I was concerned. Ellis writes easily the most entertaining Johnny Storm/Ben Grimm dialog in years, and his take on Thor is hilarious (he's basically the "cool uncle" with crazy lightning powers). Actually, all the dialog here is really good, as is Raney's art. Here's hoping the pace holds up, because I enjoy the slow build inherent to the Ultimate books if the payoff's going to be something like Galactus and if the build is actually interesting to watch.

Vigilante #1: Pretty sure I bought this by accident. The art's solid, but the story's kind of a dull procedural with a slooooow reveal on the title character. When you finally see his full outfit, you long for the cowboy on the motorcycle. Plus, Vigilante's picked up the Man from Room V's habit of leaving behind his monogram and his characteristic wavy speech bubbles. His verbal ticks, though, are all Spectre.

I honestly don't know why a vigilante would set up shop in freakin' Metropolis. Same with whatever idiots think to themselves "why, Metropolis First National Bank only has one security guard... Superman can't be everywhere..." You're just setting up a humiliating defeat followed by a corny speech followed by jail time.

JLA: Classified #12: Jesus, Warren Ellis writes the creepiest Martian Manhunter ever. J'onn's suddenly decided to bitch about being pulled from his time. Like, a whole bunch. And he won't call Mars "Mars," in spite of his, you know, sobriquet. Anyway, the League works out the origin of the Crazy Green Exploding Documents and literally marches on Washington to confront still-President Luthor. Sadly, their dramatic march means that they miss out on Vegas asploding. Silly League.

Oh, and Oracle has another damn flashback to Joker shooting her. God, Superman's whole planet blew up, and he barely ever brings that up.

...Facedown in the Gutters, bringing you insensitivity towards the... uhm... differently abled since July of 2005. Hey, at least I'm not one of those guys constantly saying things like "people come back from the dead in comics all the time and no one can fix Barbara Gordon's legs?!" I fully accept that she's more interesting in a wheelchair than she ever was in a cowl. I'm just sick of hearing about it.

Anyway, Ellis has a far better grasp on the Fantastic Four and the Ultimates than he does the JLA (except Batman and the Flash. Flash is fully suited to Ellis' science-geekery and Bats sounds natural spouting Ellis crazy-talk). Plus, Butch Guice draws Green Lantern wearing really doofy armor the whole issue. Other than that, the art's nice throughout (excepting the covers. Mother of God, are they done in bloody Poser?). Still, I can't tell if I like this story because it's actually interesting or if it's because I have a giant soft spot for the Morrison era League.

JLA #119: The continuity geek in me is trying very hard to reconcile the events in this with those of the also-shipped-this-week OMAC Project (not to mention the other Infinite Crisis minis). The geek-geek in me (and, probably, Alex Ross, though I doubt he's overjoyed about much of anything, judging by most of his interviews) is overjoyed to see an alive Red Tornado, though I'm not sure when Batman had a chance to fix him, come up with a plan to fight the OMACs and heal up from getting his ass handed to him by Superman, but that's quibbling.

Invisotext: ON!

I think the Watchtower's now tied with Tamaran and the Justice Society Headquarters for Number of Times Blown Up. And somebody with a red cape is evil! It's probably the Psycho-Pirate (his cape is red on the outside, ain't it? Green within, like a jar full of frogs), but he better be explosion-proof, though it could be, I don't know, Monarch? They're pulling out all the stops, after all.

OMAC Project #6: At this rate, DC won't have much of a D-list left come this time next year. Of course, it's not like anyone was clamoring for a Supermen of America mini-series, or anything. And now, my complaints about the freaking Demolition Team appearing in the DC Encyclopedia are moot. And good riddance, honestly. I have to wonder, though: at what point did Brother Eye sit down and think "Fastball's a priority target. I'll let Batman and, like, three Green Lanterns run about unmolested, but Justice League International and, for some reason, Firefly have to die... and soon"? Had Bats not thrown together the most obvious anti-robot plan in the world, I'm sure Jack O'Lantern would've had reason to fear.

There's still a couple... hundred thousand OMACs, in spite of Batman and Drop Dead Ted Kord's best efforts and the whole world knows that Wonder Woman offed Max Lord. Oh, and Mary Marvel's powers still work.

I do like that Hal Jordan had B'Wana Beast in his Rolodex, though.

Sadly, there're more reviews to come.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Got no future, great big past, This Week's Reviews on the rim of my glass.

Magic's dead! Robin's pretty boring! So's Runaways, actually! Honestly, most everything I read was pretty boring! Even BPRD! Stan Lee double exclamation points!!

Robin #142: I like the Veteran, who's more or less a DC take on Ultimate Captain America, and I like his troops, a gang of references to various old war comics characters (Von Hammer's granddaughter, for example), but I also like Robin solving crimes and punching people. Any time Batman characters have to deal with demons (even, God help me, terrorist demons, as seen here), I can't bring myself to care.

I can almost suspend disbelief that Batman wouldn't know about a secret US government operation, but there's no way I can think a man who built a semi-sentient satellite to monitor all his friends didn't notice a terrorist cell that has a mother demon crapping out baby monsters.

The only thing keeping me reading now is the whole disappearing villains shtick, because that's got to pay off in Crisis somewhere.

Mister Miracle #1: I bought it for the art. Pasqual Ferry's got a really slick style. I haven't touched Seven Soldiers as yet, because, as far as I'm concerned, Morrison's incredibly hit or miss when left to his own devices. Seems like the kind of guy who needs an editor to say something like "look, Grant... I honestly have no idea what the Hell you're talking about here."

Plus, as I mentioned when I reviewed Miracle's costume, there's only so many things you can do with the guy.

Anyway, turns out this one's a fun little New Gods story starring the Shilo Norman version of Mister Miracle in a stripped down but still awesome red and yellow costume. There's some question if the New Gods actually exist or if Shilo's just nuts, Granny Goodness shows up with the Female Furies (as a pimp and her wares, respectively, which works way better than it should), Black Racer trades in his skis for something less comfortable, and I'll be back for the next issue almost in spite of myself. If this were an ongoing, I'd be wary, but four issues of Morrison's lunacy dry-humping Kirby's concept diarrhea's well within my limits.

BPRD - The Black Flame #1: I wish they'd drop the pretense of the mini series here and just make BPRD an ongoing. It comes out more regularly than Ultimates or Planetary, anyway. I miss Hellboy and I miss Mignola drawing Hellboy, but Roger and Guy Davis drawing Roger's a pretty good substitute.

The BPRD's been fighting frog-creatures for way too long, though. I need to see some rah rah Rasputin or something, because nameless frogmen getting gunned down and lit afire gets old after awhile. Here's hoping someone hits them with a motorboat, like the opening sequence of Johnny Quest. That'd make my week.

Runaways #8: Apparently, making a Super Skrull's a bit easier than I thought, as we get a teenage one here. Not too much happens here, honestly: fight, chase, denouement. Kind of a downer, really (and now the team's out their only flyer, unless you count the fact that the Leapfrog can apparently talk). I miss Excelsior.

Next issue promises Cloak and Dagger, and that's exciting to me in a way it really ought not to be.

Day of Vengeance #6: Spoilers abound: Shazam's not too bright. His fight against the Spectre goes exactly as well as an issue titled "The Death of Magic" would lead you to think. The Rock of Eternity done blowed up over Gotham, which I'm sure will be addressed in... maybe one Batman book prior to Crisis. Billy Batson can't remember how to say "Shazam," which I'm sure will be addressed in... actually, I bet you five bucks it has no ramifications for Captain Marvel, Jr, over in Outsiders or Black Adam in half the books coming out over the next four months. In fact, we know Adam's powers still work because he's attacking the Freedom Fighters in Infinite Crisis #1. I know he's powered by crazy Egypt gods, but Shazam still controlled the flow. That damn Blue Beetle amulet's in Texas. God, do I ever hope that leads to some kind of Bat Lash, The Blue Beetle situation. Or Black Bison, Blue Beetle. That one's worth it for the title alone.

Oh, and the Seven Deadly Sins are on the loose. That never goes well.

The Shadowpact teleported Eclipso into a "non-decaying permanent orbit around the sun," so I guess Nightshade has an amazing working knowledge of physics. Why she didn't succumb completely to the cliche and just chuck her into the sun is beyond me (well, not really. I assume Eclipso will come into play later so the Atom has something to do. Not like there's going to be a moment during Crisis where Superman will be forced to yell "the Bug-Eyed Bandit has me on the ropes! Only THE ATOM'S expertise can save me now! Ray, where are you?!" so we can get a dramatic "I'm here, Superman! IN YOUR EAR CANAL!" entrance. Actually, now that I think about it, I kind of hope that'll happen. Except he'll fight Chronos, because I'm pretty sure Bug-Eyed Bandit's dead. At least the one Atom fought, anyway).

Oh, and the end of the issue sets up an ongoing series.

I give it nine issues. Of which I will read three.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

To: AICN Talkbackers:

RE: Justice League Unlimited.

For God's sake, it wasn't Skeletor, it was Doctor Destiny.

Also, I don't know how you can possibly complain about a show that's giving you a fucking Warlord-centric episode. Or Deadman. Or Fire. Or Aztek! Did you ever think you'd get a cartoon where Aztek gets lines?

Wah wah, Flash could've just grabbed the gun before Lex Luthor finished saying that he would shoot the Blackhawk. Fuck you. Did you ever watch an episode of Superfriends? Because those guys gave Superman the hardcore stupids every week.

Just be glad you have a show where the Flash can make little whirlwinds with his arms and yell that he's 'just like a helicopter,' because that's as good as you're getting.

I just wish they'd give Hawkgirl a proper costume again, because she's been wearing a tracksuit for, like, a full season, and it's kind of ridiculous.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Carter Hall!

Justice League Unlimited just gave the most concise, simple Hawkman/Hawkgirl origin ever. It even made Katar Hol make sense.

Also, the other episode on tonight had The Key and Dr Polaris. And it was the I Have a Picture of a Magnet on my Chest version of Polaris, which is even better, because that's one of the single dumbest costumes ever, and seeing it move about on a screen is a sick dream I have.

God, I love this stupid show.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Okay, seriously, quick question:

I don't know why I'm bothering, as my previous quick questions have elicited a stunning zero responses, but here goes:

I re-read Crisis the other day, and one thing stuck out at me: what was the point of showing the Angle Man's corpse being discovered by Jonni Thunder and company? It had to've tied into something somewhere, but I was, like, three when this stuff came out and I'm really in no position to dig up proper source materials.

C'mon, somebody has to know.


From Rann/Thanagar #5:

If Avenger shows up, Rann is fucked.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I said "Pigpen, this here's This Week's Reviews, we just ain't a-gonna pay no tolls."

My Ex Machina trade didn't come in, I think chiefly because God said "Jon skipped church this week. Make him buy Rann/Thanagar and All-Star Batman as penance." But I got the second JLA trade, in an effort to get all my Morrison-era JLA issues replaced by sturdier paperbacks. So that's a win, I guess. As for the rest...

Rann/Thanagar War #5: The list of largely inconsequential dead characters grows longer by one. Blackfire apparently learned to fly at some point, because she does it again this issue. I can't even raise the sufficient ire to complain about how boring this one was; that's exactly how boring it was.

These are planets that have either died or disappeared or whatever a bunch of times now. It's like killing Magneto, at this point. Blowing up a planet in the DC Universe has lost all meaning to me.

All-Star Batman and Robin #2: Wow, I'm done with this one. Miller seems to have decided that the way to make Batman new and exciting is to make him an insufferable asshole who manages to blow up a whole bunch of police officers. I mean, sure, he's pretty much an insufferable asshole in the mainstream DC books, but at least he isn't lighting cops aflame with jetwash. He may be aristocratic and paranoid and standoffish, but at least he isn't repeating himself constantly (honestly, he says things that were just covered in his internal monologue aloud, like he was that profoundly irritating Batzarro from right around when I gave up on Superman/Batman).

Calling his life "Hell. Or the next best thing" wasn't that clever the first time, but saying that he was going to introduce Dick Grayson to "Holy Hell. Holy Hell or the next best thing" a page later just grates. And that isn't even mentioning the couple of pages where a shocky Vicki Vale recaps the last issue for Alfred and manages to say "brutal" or "brutally" a dozen or so times.

Oh, and the Batmobile is more or less Doctor Claw's car from Inspector Gadget, turning into a plane halfway through the issue.

Action Comics #831: Gail Simone channels the old Marvel narrators that talked to you for the b-plot of this one, which is kind of amusing, though her Hunter Zolomon quickly devolves into an out-of-character quipster when left to deal with Bizarro. At some point since #828, John Bryne decided that Jimmy Olsen is eleven years old, and draws him as such this issue.

Black Adam's pretty much the only character I still like in this whole mess, and that's... well, it's more unexpected than anything.

Apparently, next month's issue sees Spectre going after Satanus, who no one has even thought of in quite a while, but Black Adam's still flying under his radar. Thank God they have Spectre around to prevent copyrights from lapsing by digging up long-forgotten characters for panel time. Between him and the crowd shots in Villains United, it's like doing a Where's Waldo where I'm looking for, say, Phobia.

JLA #118: Hawkman, while apparently possessing the power to appear in two places at once, lacks basic pattern recognition skills and decides that mind-wiping the extremely unconscious Secret Society of Super-Villains is the way to go ('course, he also managed to not see a painfully obvious double-cross coming over in Rann/Thanagar. Oh, well). Aquaman... fights Despero. Also, he wears a glove over that stupid water-hand. I don't know who Despero's working for (I can't see him and Luthor being on particularly good terms after Virtue and Vice), and if he's just flying solo, it's really weirdly coincidental that he picked now to sic the SSOSV on the JLA. Eh, it's probably Johnny Sorrow, just so the JSA has something to do.

Ultimate X-Men #63: Ah, a Cyclops/Havok fight. The logic that goes into thinking that because they are brothers their powers do not hurt each other is so amusing. On what level does that make any sense at all?

The slow-developing "Colossus is gay" subplot continues to entertain. Everybody seems to be on to it, and I didn't even have to suffer through a "THIS MAKES ME EXTRA-DIFFERENT!" Very Special Issue, thank God.

I'd've never thought that I'd ever like Longshot in any story, but the Ultimate version's pretty neat.

Ah, well, this one's an action movie. I don't expect much from it, and it's usually pretty good. Plus, it's by far the most entertaining read I had this week.

I had to break down and add "Thanagar" to my spellcheck, by the way. That thing must think I'm such a nerd.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Favorite Costumes, Court in the Street

Previous Favorite Costumes: Adam Strange - Deadshot - Blue Beetle - Alan Scott - Mister Miracle - The Creeper - Dr. Strange - Dr. Doom - Iron Man

Jeff Smax. Yeah, he's just an enormous blue guy with pants that match his skin, but I like the notion of sleeves without a shirt. Plus, he's got the tiniest holster ever.

I don't have a real reason for this one, like I did with Adam Strange earlier today. There's no weird naval romance to Smax's costume, no Kirby-style excess, no Ditko lunacy, it's just a solid, creative straight superhero outfit in an age where nobody wants a damn cape anymore.

Also, his chest symbol's a handprint burned onto him by a dragon. How impossibly sweet is that?

Honorable Mention: Duane "Dust Devil" Bodine. If there's much cooler than a bronze armor-wearing cowboy, it's a bronze armor-wearing cowboy with a twelve-shooter.


Previous Favorite Costumes: Deadshot - Blue Beetle - Alan Scott - Mister Miracle - The Creeper - Dr. Strange - Dr. Doom - Iron Man

Adam Strange, Man of Two Worlds.

You know how much cooler manned spaceflight would've been if NASA had thought "the traditional depiction of spacemen is guys with rockets on their backs dressed to fight some kind of Rio de Janeiro version of the Spanish Armada, we should just go with that"? Honestly, Buzz Aldrin is cool, but Buzz Aldrin wearing a hat with a big useless fin on the top is, like, exponentially cooler.

Strange is a great little distillation of about a million early-space-age cliches: a man from earth taken to a world far more advanced than his own (ostensibly because everyone there was an infertile sissy) becomes an adventurer and, eventually, marries the princess. Yeah, so he's pretty much Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers. But did either one of them kidnap the JLA in a ridiculously circuitous plan to stop an alien invasion?

I didn't think so.

Aside from looking like he should be the hood ornament on some kind of absurdly classy 1930's automobile, Strange also managed to get one of the most heroic moments in James Robinson's Starman, appearing on top of a building in full crazy space navy regalia, ready to laser gun the holy Hell out of a whole bunch of people he doesn't know just because they were attacking his buddy, Jack Knight. It could've been anyone coming to the rescue. It's the kind of moment where you fully expect to see Superman fly in and save the day. But it was Adam Strange, man of two worlds, hero of half that many, utterly unknown on earth, flying around 1950's-style and saving the day because he owed Jack a favor.

Adam Strange is awesome.

Honorable Mention: Jack of Hearts. Another man of two worlds. It's just that his character design looks like the penciler was kidding. Like he got the script and said "Jack of Hearts? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard! I'll just draw the guy straight off a playing card, they'll see how stupid this idea is, and maybe put, I don't know, Adam Warlock in this issue instead!"

And the editor was like "why, that's brilliant! Put him on the back burner for twenty years and then have him join the Avengers as a foil for Scott Lang!"

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Favorite Costumes, Day After Tomorrow

Previous Favorite Costumes: Blue Beetle - Alan Scott - Mister Miracle - The Creeper - Dr. Strange - Dr. Doom - Iron Man

Told you I loved the guy. I mean, he looks more or less like a GI Joe toy. Barbeque, I think. One of the firemen/flamethrower guys (a strange dichotomy, I know, but nothing about that show ever really made any sense).

He's got a target on his chest, exactly half as many eye holes as he has eyes, crazy inconsistently-drawn metal shin guards, and wrist-mounted pistols that only occasionally actually look like pistols.

Plus, his real name is "Floyd." Floyd!

Honorable Mention: Taskmaster. I'd've said Deathstroke, but after going to Syracuse for four years, I've kind of gotten sick of blue and orange. Besides, skull heads are neat.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Got me This Week's Reviews, I want you to know

Light week. I did order the second Ex Machina trade, though. So get excited.

Villains United #5:
Poor Monsieur Mallah. He takes, seriously, a hundred bullets here and loses an ear. Cheshire proves that, along with being an expert on poisons, she's also amazing at predicting her own period of maximum fertility. Catman puts together clues that the bizarre sideshow that is the DC Messageboard worked out four months ago. The group of villains assembled to take out the Secret Six includes the original Ragdoll (you know, the one that ended up in Starman? And then joined the Injustice Society? Empowered by Neron? That one? Yeah). The Ventriloquist and Mr Zsasz are in there, too. And Bolt, who's apparently made a full recovery. The thing is, they got Amazo in there. I mean, Amazo and Deathstroke alone should be more than enough to take out freaking Catman and company, but I guess the point is more in the excess than anything else.

Seriously, though, who invited Ventriloquist?

Somebody finally remembered that Vandal Savage would probably be involved in this whole debacle, though, and that's nice.

These minis are getting read more because I'm now concerned that nothing will make sense to me by October's end if I don't keep up with this crap. This one's remained my favorite of the four, oddly enough, I think because I really like Deadshot. Go figure on that one. Plus, in my mind, it's been really easy to beat Rann/Thanagar.

Marvel Team-Up #12: Ah, the Character Says One Thing/Panel Art Shows Another trick is used to decent effect here, even though lying to Dr Strange and Wolverine (who can evidently 'smell' lying) is a terrible idea. Titannus is a bastard, the assembled heroes (who Spider-Man decides must be 'The Champions,' in spite of vocal protests from most involved, save Nova, who thinks of it as a better gig than being a New Warrior) decide to fight him. That's the whole issue. Art's nice throughout, but I honestly don't need to know a villain's whole life story before I see She-Hulk punch him.

Gotham Central #35: Robin's way friendlier with Batman here than he is in his own book. That's pretty much the only thing I can take away from this one. Typical middle chapter that'll read better when I have the whole story handy. It's like watching the middle fifteen minutes of Law & Order, really. It's good, but you've got no real beginning or ending. So I can't much judge.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Stupid Labor Day

Comics weren't in the shop yet due to the holiday on Monday.

Sad faces all around. Because I really wanted Gotham Central. And Marvel Team-up.

Maybe a new Favorite Costume tonight, though, so buck up, loyal readers.

Both of you.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Favorite Costumes, Day The Earth Turned Slower

Previous Favorite Costumes: Alan Scott - Mister Miracle - The Creeper - Dr. Strange - Dr. Doom - Iron Man

Blue Beetle.
Ah, poor, dead Blue Beetle. Like Spider-Man, but all blue. With goggles. Goggles can make up for the lack of a cape and a giant doofy collar. Both are things that no human being could ever get away with in real life.

Think about it. Were you, say, robbing a bank, and someone yelled at you to stop all dramatically, and you turned about and saw that the voice came from a guy wearing a bug-themed cowl with big yellow goggles, I'm pretty sure your reaction would be laughter.

Or, you know, to pull a Max Lord and just shoot the guy right in the face.

I thank God that the antenna ended up being a deco on his mask rather than actual, you know, Tick-style antenna. Because that would just put this one over the top. I can take Mister Miracle's reckless use of lifting belts and yellow metal circles that serve no purpose, I can take Alan Scott's apparent inability to match colors, but antenna on a character I'm meant to take even kind of seriously is crossing a line.

The Rubicon is made of dangly headpieces, and I refuse to cross.

Honorable Mention: Elongated Man. But Elongated Man early on, when his outfit had a great big "E" on it, in case you were shaky on which guy was the Elongated Man and couldn't work it out from the, you know, elongation. That's a hard name to convey with a chest logo.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Oh, Wizard.

There's a two-page spread in this month's Wizard giving me reasons why, after ONE ISSUE, Frank Miller and Jim Lee are the greatest Batman creative team ever.

Number five is "Lee draws breathtaking babes."

You know, I kind of hate this magazine.

Further on, they start grading the Ultimate books by trade. The only Ultimate X-Men books worthy of A's are the first and the one that (surprise, surprise) Bendis wrote. Bendis' run was pretty terrible, I thought, but what the Hell do I know, I don't devote page space to The Top Ten Fly Toon Ladies (page 88. Also, "fly"? These guys couldn't be whiter if they tried). The second Ultimate Fantastic Four trade gets a D, but the masturbatory talkfest that was the first six issues of that series pulls a B? Does Warren Ellis just give a toothier blowjob than Brian Bendis? Is that it? Because there's no way Doom was two letter grades worse than six issues of the fucking Mole Man.

Favorite Costumes, Day The Earth Stood Still

Green Lantern. Well, the Alan Scott Green Lantern, anyway.

Golden Age costumes are the freaking best. Look at how many DC characters are still wearing more or less the same thing they were wearing on V-E Day. Hell, Marvel's still got a few, if you count Being On Fire as a costume. Or Wearing Little Green Swim Trunks And Having Weird Eyebrows.

Or, you know, Being Captain America.

Alan Scott has to an absolutely stone-cold insane costume. I've never understood any effort to update the thing (back when he was "Sentinel," I think because someone in DC editorial suddenly realized there were 3601 guys named "Green Lantern" running around), because this is easily one of the most memorable union suits of all time.

Big crazy purple cape (with green lining, yet!), Mysterious Metal Bangles, Hawkman's boots, Jerry Seinfeld's puffy shirt in a stylish red, and the most obvious chest logo of all time (I rather like the idea of just putting the source of your power on your shirt, like if a fat guy had a picture of Hot Pockets and Mountain Dew right above the Cheeto stains between his nipples. You could look at him and think "he was on the tech crew for his high school production of 'The Miracle Worker'").

Besides, Scott's easily the coolest Green Lantern ever. There. I said it. To Hell with Kyle Rayner, to Hell with Hal Jordan, to slightly less Hell with Guy Gardner. Alan Scott wins.

Honorable Mention: The Flash. Well, the Jay Garrick Flash, anyway. The guy's costume is just a metal hat with wings and a sweater with a picture of lightning on it. Oh, and a pair of pants that'd fit in on the rink of a roller derby. And it's still like the third-classiest outfit in the whole DC Universe.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Favorite Costumes, Day I Forget:

Mister Miracle. Every single one of my favorite things piled on to one ridiculous outfit.

Mysterious Metal Bangles, gigantic collar, some kind of weird-ass space-god weightlifting belt, lots of superfluous little circle-things, and a Mexican wrestling mask.

He looks like a Christmas-themed luchadore, really. El Santo... Claus.

Miracle's one of those characters where you'd have no idea who he was were you given the task of picking a guy out of a group shot with only a name to go by. He's got no big M on his belt buckle, or, say, a picture of Jesus making a pile of fish emblazoned across his chest. His theming leaves much to be desired. But his get-up's awesome, and I'm pretty sure it's why there's an outcry for a Mister Miracle series every couple of years, even though everybody knows there's only so many ways you can plausibly get into a situation where you need to be The Greatest Escape Artist of Three Worlds in order to bust out.

Plus, his name is Scott Free, for God's sake. Scott Free! That's awesome on every level.

Honorable Mention: Eh, let's say... I don't know, Orion? The Honorable Mentions have all been related to the actual picks somehow, but I really can't say I like too many other New God costumes. Alright, I'll go with Barda. Barda is the honorable mention.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Another quick question:

Anybody know where I can dig up a sheriff star like Jack Knight's for less than, let's say, ten bucks? I've seen some that're close, but they're going for upwards of forty (one presumes this is an effort to prevent people from pretending to be Texas Rangers, or something).

I'm trying to put together a Halloween costume here, you see, and while I can build a servicable-looking Cosmic Rod, metalwork is beyond my means.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

I always have to steal my This Week's Reviews from you.

I never thought I'd see the day where I'd have to add "Goddamned" to my computer's spellchecker, but here we are.

Robin #141: Robin's got Peter Parker-level romantic problems now, and God knows I love Peter Parker-level romantic problems. Seems his one-time almost-girlfriend came back from the dead with absurd magic powers with the caveat that she'd have to kill Robin. She doesn't know Robin's Tim. Oh, tragic teenage love.

Anyway, Robin pulls a wacky 1960s-style bait and switch and we learn that Superboy shares Superman's magic weakness, so I guess everything from the Kesel run on Superboy is out the window. You'll recall that prior to, if I'm not mistaken, the current run of Teen Titans, Superboy was actually the result of a cloning experiment involving the DNA of Paul Westfield, Cadmus director, and some Superman DNA, because Kryptonian DNA couldn't be cloned pure, or something. This meant that Superboy had telekinetic power, allowing him to simulate most of Superman's powers, and he had the bonus of being able to blow up machines by touching them, which came in handy when he fought that stupid, stupid Cyborg Superman.

Anyway, he was tested genetically any number of times by different people who all must've been on Lex Luthor's payroll, because they all lied and said he wasn't Superman's clone. And now he's half Superman, half Luthor, a fact that Robin confirmed with a single DNA test. So I guess Batman never thought to test Superboy, even though he was balls deep in paranoia over the origins of the new Supergirl.


EDIT: Cough cough, I was wrong, cough cough. Fine, everybody's vunerable to magic. I stand by my critique of no one noticing Superboy's genetic makeup, however. If Robin can test somebody's DNA (and had a sample of both Superman and Lex Luthor's genetic material handy to compare to) than Batman can. And did. And, given the current Absurdly Paranoid Batman characterization we've been dealing with since Tower of Babel, it's kind of weird that it hasn't been mentioned. Also, how has no one made a Kesel Run/ Millenium Falcon joke yet?

At any rate, aside from the cover (which has stunningly little to do with the contents of the issue, much like almost every Marvel cover of the last five years), this was a fun little read, like it is every month, lately.

Young Avengers #6: "The Wiccan" is easily the worst codename ever. No, wait, "Stature" is. God, I guess the good names really are all taken.

You know, though, I really dig the name "Hawkingbird." They toss that one aside like it's a terrible codename, but they let the growing girl go by "Stature"? Christ, kids these days.

And if that's the biggest thing I took away from a book, you know I was kind of bored.

Not Rann/Thanagar Bored, mind you, but more bored with this book than I was last month.

Ultimate X-Men Annual #1: Hah, I was going to guess that Tom Raney would draw Professor X to look just like Henry Bendix, but I didn't think Xavier'd show up in this issue and didn't want to look silly. But here we are.

We get a nice little standalone issue here, a Rogue/Gambit/Juggernaut story that doesn't turn out well for anyone involved. We also learn that Ultimate Juggernaut had never run into any crazy mystic gems 'til now and his mutant power is apparently "being unstoppable." So I'd guess he's also not Professor X's brother, though he is still named "Cain."

This one felt more essential than the Ultimates Annual, I suppose because it moved forward a couple plot points from the main book, as opposed to introducing entirely new ones.

Batman #644: Apparently, the rest of the Goddamned world read this last week, because I've been sifting through various and sundry fanboy heart attacks for a few days now, all talking about "playing God" and "Leslie wouldn't do that!" and one guy demanding Bill Willingham be fired. I'm assuming anyone who'd be pissed about this one read it already, so I'm not invisotexting anything. Leslie Thompkins, longtime Batman supporting cast member, withheld medical treatment from the Spoiler last year, in effect letting her die.

This is enough to get a million pairs of panties in a bunch, if all the bitching I've read is any indication.

Look, they could've had Leslie freaking shoot Spoiler in the face, on panel, and I wouldn't have cared all that much. Her reasoning was actually pretty sound: she wanted Bruce Wayne to hang it up and stop letting kids dress up in fetish suits to punch purse snatchers in the face while bantering wittily.

Fine, I can buy that. I can't buy her pulling a gun and telling Bruce to shoot her, though, that's kind of silly. And Bruce telling her to never go back to America's a little crazy. Arguably the least-crazy "a little crazy" thing Bats has done in the last few months, though.

And I still don't care about Black Mask. Sorry.

Before I get to the Flash, an aside: Jesus Christ, every time I turn the page and see the terrifying full-page spot for Supergirl with the huge freaking eyes, I get scared. Like, I honestly wince. That shit's like a Child of the Corn, man.

Flash #225: Last issue for Geoff Johns. Which is sad, because this has been a really good run. I've really got no complaints about this issue, actually. Weird, I know. I mean, if anything I figured out how it was going to end a couple pages in, but I was still glad to see things work out the way they did.

Actually, wait, one complaint, I'd love to see Wally solve a major problem without another Flash helping him out. That'd be nice.

But, yeah, overall, good read, and I'm sorry to see Johns go, because, barring a miracle, that's it for me reading the book.

JLA Classified #11: Oh, thank God, a Justice League story where they're all getting along. Where there's no conspiracy or mystery or dissension in the ranks. Where the Justice League coming together won't end in a freaking fistfight between members. Honestly, this could be the worst story ever (it's not, and that helps), and I'd just be overjoyed to read a League-Circa-Morrison story.

Astonishing X-Men #12: I'd love Wolverine if he just showed up in this book. He's got the best line of the month by a wide margin here, and it's been like that almost every issue.

Anyway, White Queen's mysterious conversation partner's revealed, and I'm so, so glad it wasn't Magneto or Apocalypse or something.

Oh, and the X-Men fight Sentinels. It went exactly how that fight has always gone. Those Sentinels sure are clever. God.

Hey, Cyclops has his first real moment of character development in God knows how long by realizing the professor's kind of an asshole instead of doing his usual sucking-the-professor's-unfeeling-dick routine that he's been pulling for, oh, forty years. That was nice.

Runaways #7: I kind of like getting issues of Runaways a week apart. If only there was a way to do that without having to buy it on re-order.

Brian Vaughan must have a love for characters that only pop up in crap like Lethal Foes of Spider-Man ten years ago, because this issue features the Swarm. The Swarm! Nazi scientist made of bees! Wearing a little cape and somehow having eyes and teeth! And a cape! I love the Swarm!

This book could be nothing more than a repository of characters I'd thought at some point or another that I'd never see again, and I'd still get it every month. I mean, I have a reasonable expectation of a Stegron the Dinosaur Man appearance, here. It's like when Gail Simone was on Deadpool/Agent X: a really entertaining story and enough appearances by characters I had every reason to think of as dead that it was like the best Who's Who ever.

I mean, the Swarm! He's made of bees! Your firearms are useless!