Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hastily Drawn Cartoon Theater Presents:

So You Want To Be a Supervillain

Were I a supervillain, I feel like I'd set up shop in Washington, DC. Think about it. There's a comparative dearth of superheroics happening there. The obvious choices for calamitous intent in the upper-right-hand corner of the US are already ass-deep in self-righteous, guilt-driven, over-budgeted douchebags in capes, just waiting for the chance to punch my face right off my body.

If you're in the Marvel universe, you're lucky if you can steal a Goddamn base in Manhattan. There're more superheroes than homeless around there, and I bet about half the homeless were mutants until a couple months ago. Or one J Jonah Jameson-funded experiment away from being a Spider-Man villain. Or one poorly thought-out science project from monsterism. The Fantastic Four live there. The Avengers live there. The freaking Defenders live there. The X-Men live close by. Spider-Man, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Dr Strange... point is, if you're a villain in Marvel Manhattan, you've got some kind of sick sexual fetish for getting hit really, really hard.

Up until a little while ago, there were something like four Green Lanterns living in DC New York (Kyle, Guy, John Stewart... well, powerless, wheelchair-bound John Stewart, anyway, and Alan Scott when he was hanging with the JSA. And that's not to mention the occasions when Jade was shacking up with Kyle, because, well, Jade sucks and is dead. Spoiler alert!). Four guys who either have or had the Most Powerful Weapon in the Universe! That's reason enough to avoid knocking over a bank there, unless you are mostly yellow, made of wood, able to hit someone in the head hard enough to damage his brain or are slightly more clever than your average freelance artist.

I obviously can't hang around Connecticut since there's nothing to rob here except the casinos, and God knows, were we living in a world where supervillainy was a viable career path, there'd be some Native American-themed vigilante, a War Eagle or Proud Wolf or some other Roy Thomas-y Indian brave with rocket tomahawks and a bear sidekick waiting to throw delightfully broken English and punches my way. Plus, the Atom totally lives outside New Haven, and I'm not messing with a guy who can break my brain by standing inside it.

Committing crimes in Gotham City is just a terrible idea. Plus, it's in Jersey, and who wants to live there? Bludhaven's right out, as it's been nuked to cinders and is about to be fought over by the Force of July, and I know I'd rather not have them listed as my archnemeses. Because they kind of suck, you see.

Metropolis, if I'm not mistaken, Delaware, of all places, is full up of Superman and assorted B-listers. And Lex Luthor long since cornered the villainous market there, so what's the point?

Washington, to my knowledge, doesn't have much in the way of a permanent heroic population, which is odd, given that you'd think Captain America would want to hang around there over New York. Sure, the current iteration of Hawk and Dove live in Georgetown, but God's Wrath went and made sure they're not much of an issue anymore and they sucked anyway (honestly, if I ever met a British person who talked like Johns wrote the new Hawk, I'd punch their stereotypical two crooked teeth out their mouths). In the Golden Age, Starman hung out in Federal City, which I'd imagine was a stand-in for DC, but it's since been retconned into Opal City, Maryland, so the city doesn't even have a background of heroism. Whenever something bad happens there, the JLA gets called in and no local heroes seem to report in. I mean, in Earth 2, the only handy JLA members around to fight the Crime Syndicate were Manhunter and Aquaman. They did a pretty good job, all things considered, but still, that'd be the local hero's time to shine, no?

It's high time somebody in a garish mask with themed lackeys and maybe some robots knocked over the Convention Center, is all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Gone 'til November.

Or, like, Monday. I don't know when, really. I'm heading down to DC for a few days, but I haven't actually, you know, planned the return leg of the trip, so it's up in the air as to when I'll return. Anyway, I feel like I have to go to Big Monkey Comics at least the once before I die, so that's on the itinerary. That, and maybe finding work. Comics are more likely.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Pain Of Being Batman's Head

Batman, it turns out, is paranoid for good reason. Between his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 and the fiftieth issue of the same series, he takes thirteen blows to the head, most of which come from behind. I'm not counting normal punches and kicks here, either (though he gets his fair share of those, too), just blunt trauma from objects ranging from miniature railroad cars to the butts of pistols. Hell, he takes eight hits in the same panel, a montage of low-level thugs drumming his noggin with all manner of things, including what appears to be a gavel. One goon has two sausage-looking implements in his hands, raised over his head, ready to play a drum solo of brain damage on the Dark Knight's no-doubt already fetus-soft skull.

Had Batman's speech centers not been disconnected by the boot to the jaw, I'm sure he'd be politely asking them to work the body for a change.

Virtually every fight breaks down the same way. Batman will attempt a spear, dropping his head and shoulders and running into his opponent (Robin later adopts much the same tactic, though his height means he ends up hitting most goons in the legs in a rugby-style tackle). He will then stand up, swing his arm in front of him as if celebrating picking up a spare and his wild gesticulation will result in one or more thugs being knocked unconscious, somehow. At this point, four or five further goons will appear from parts unknown, most sporting suits bearing patterns that only a madman would even attempt to draw (Kane's penchant for dressing characters in plaid or herringbone is insane, I tell you. How those patterns would remain consistent from panel to panel is beyond me, considering how often Batman appears without a chest logo). Batman will then make short work of them while saying things that barely make any sense until the Smartest Goon in the Room blackjacks Bats from behind.

Batman will then wake up in a deathtrap, escape it and then either kill the villain of the month outright or stand idly by while said villain dies tragically. In the case of Dr Death and Professor Hugo Strange, he either kills them outright or stands idly by while they die twice. It's good to know that the laws of Comic Book Death were in place by the summer of '39.

The point is, Batman's formative years were littered with Hal Jordan-level head trauma and people sneaking up on him. You'd think everybody was out to get you, too.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A Survey:

Does anyone else confuse Joe Kelly with Joe Casey, like, all the time? Is that just me?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

What would you think if I sang This Week's Reviews, would you stand up and walk out on me?

Superman #226/Action Comics #836: Supeman, This is Your Life Parts 1 & 2. Joe Kelly and about twenty-odd artists run through piles of random Superman backstory. Some of it seems to be Kal-L thinking about what he'd've done if he was in Kal-El's shoes, so it's kind of hard to tell which Superman we're dealing with at a given time, or if any of this is actually happening at all. It's sort of confusing, unless I'm reading the whole thing wrong. However, the scenes that work work well, and it's always nice to see the JSA at HUAC, even if Super-Hitler isn't involved.

If Infinite Crisis doesn't put Golden Age into continuity, I'll be sad. I kinda get the feeling I'm going to end up sad.

Oh, by the way, of the six Society members being asked to unmask, three don't wear masks at all. Just thought that was odd, like Wonder Woman was going to pull off her face and reveal the Crazy Old Man That Runs The Amusement Park and tell Congress she'd've gotten away with it, were it not for, you know, those meddling kids.

Runaways #13: A Molly Hayes solo story. Cute as a button and a little sad. Every now and again, Vaughan does more to characterize the Runaways as kids than have them say shit about how they don't trust adults, and it's always great to see that happen.

Deadgirl #2: If you don't enjoy the first page of this, I hate you. This book reminds me of the current arc in MTU, since it's a whole bunch of people I never, ever thought I'd ever see in a book again. I mean, Scott Lang? That poor bastard got cannon fodder'd so unceremoniously, I actually felt bad for him. He got blown up as a plot point! Like he was Tamaran!

She-Hulk #5: I think I said this last issue, but, God, I hate Greg Horn's covers. Whatever, though. The book's back on track as a weird way to examine all the random crap in the Marvel Universe that Bendis doesn't feel like using after spending the last few months mired in time travel. So that's good. Or maybe I just like seeing the Awesome Android. I don't know. I'm easily swayed by things like that. Last issue for Juan Bobillo, though, which is unfortunate. He brings a lot to this book, and I hope the new guy's even half as good.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #27: Oh, God, time travel. Reed finally comes up with a way to fix the Thing, but it's time travel, and that can't possibly go right because... well, when does time travel work out the way it's intended to? Ever? Since the story's called "President Thor" on the freaking cover, you pretty well know exactly what crazy unintended consequence mucking about with time will have going in, so the issue ends up being a reasonably fun ride to a known conclusion. But, hey, Ultimate Super-Skrull. And we'll be back to Ultimate Status Quo in two issues instead of six.

Ultimate X-Men #67: I'm under the impression that this is a placeholder team, filling in until Singer comes in, which is kind of depressing, since Kirkman's done more in two issues than Bendis did in six and I'm pretty sure Singer's arc will be an exercise in underwhelming me. Ah, well. Chuck Xavier's totally going to get some next issue, by the way.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bizarro Why I Can't Hate Geoff Johns

An anonymous poster on the Absorbacon brought up an interesting point today. To wit:

Explain to me how Murmur and Double Down are Flash villains? They're fricking Batman villains from a guy who wishes he was writing Batman instead of Flash.


I started writing a response, but it got very long. Well, too long to be a comment, anyway. So buckle up, this'll be a big one, guest-starring links to Those Who Ride the Lightning.

I've got the whole Geoff Johns run on Flash because, if you don't think about it very hard, it's a decent straight-ahead superhero book and Scott Kolins's art is fantastic. It's not without its problems, though. The biggest, I think, would be that Johns crapped about a dozen new characters on the book, most of whom really kind of suck.

The opposite problem's true of his Teen Titans run. Where Flash has a ton of new characters introduced with almost none of them sticking, there's not a one original character introduced in TT. There're a few revamps (Raven, Ravager, Hawk and Brother Blood) and one return-trip from Comic Book Limbo (Jericho). It reads a bit like fanfic, hitting every single thing you'd expect if all you knew about the Teen Titans was that they fought Deathstroke, Brother Blood and Trigon.

But back to the Flash. Mark Waid did a pretty good job of eliminating Wally's immediate post-Crisis supporting cast, which left the Flash with his wife (who was, as Waid pointed out at every possible juncture, Wally's "tether"), the Rogues and about ten people who could also run very fast.

Johns immediately threw Flash into an alternate world created by the Mirror Master, where he ran into a new Rogue named Plunder. Plunder has a gun and a Decepticon-style forehead crest. He poses as much of a threat to the Flash as any other guy with a gun would, since bullets go slower than Flashes. Wally then faces Brother Grimm, a new character with the feel of the most ridiculous Silver Age imaginary stories.

Soon thereafter, Wally runs into Keystone's oldest beat cop, Fred Chyre, and his partner, Julie Jackam. Julie's apparently one of Wally's ex-girlfriends from back in the day, never mentioned previously. Anyway, she has a kid by the Weather Wizard. Yep.

Julie's killed by a cult that's devoted themselves to offing people the Flash has saved so as to... uhm... well, they have magic knives that pull lightning out of them and... yeah, it doesn't make much sense. They're led by a guy named Cicada, who suffers a grievous lack of bug theming, all things considered. Beyond his initial story, Cicada serves no purpose other than appearing in prison scenes to say creepy things about how he worships the Flash. Cicada has managed to, prior to this story, establish a gigantic cult, housed underground, made up of hundreds of people willing to kill in the name of the Flash. No one has noticed this cult, who wear themed uniforms and carry knives shaped like lightning bolts, prior to their Great Big Killing Spree. Remember that for later, because Inexplicably Well-Established Things is a theme.

Oh, and Julie's kid is adopted by Iris Allen, who had inexplicably lived next door to Julie when they both called New York home. He's of no consequence, except for the fact that he's another example of Weird Power Internalization, as he can screw with the weather, but only when Weather Wizard is in town. And, even then, it probably won't come up.

Chyre and a detective name of Jared Morillo helped Flash stop Cicada, since a man who can move at the speed of light really needs a hand dropping a hundred year old man with a knife. Morillo was left with a metahuman healing power by the fight.

Meanwhile, Goldface, a former Green Lantern villain, established himself as the head of the Keystone City unions.

Iron Heights, a prison on the outskirts of Keystone that had apparently been there for years, unmentioned by Flash and all the Rogues, popped up next. It had been there long enough that Pied Piper, who'd long since gone straight, had been incarcerated therein at some point. Locked up there were a number of established Rogues and a few that we'd never seen before. Among that second group were Girder, a giant made of rapidly rusting metal, Double Down, a poker player with a pun name ("Jeremy Tell." Oh, the clever) who'd been cursed by a magic deck of playing cards, Fallout, a radioactive former power plant worker with another pun name ("Neil Borman") and Murmur, a crazy former doctor who hates the sound of speech and looks like a mime working at a fetish shop.

Murmur, through flashbacks, is established as the first criminal Barry Allen put away as a forensic scientist. He uses a virus he created in his prison cell out of his own blood to nearly kill all the non-supervillains in Iron Heights, which may top the Joker's virus-making abilities demonstrated in Last Laugh in terms of sheer improbability (actually, no, nothing will ever top Last Laugh for improbability). After this story, he's portrayed as a muttering lunatic with a knife and is no physical threat to the Flash.

Again, the reader is forced to accept that a bunch of characters and a location have existed for some time without ever having shown up in a book. This happens again when Blacksmith is introduced. She's Goldface's ex-wife and she runs a giant underground criminal network called the, uhm, Network. It's very well-established, complete with a giant headquarters and robot guards. And no one's ever noticed it. According to Blacksmith, it's existed for fifteen years, which means it predates freaking Superman in current DC chronology. That's a Hell of a big pill to swallow.

At one point, there's a splash page of the cops looking at photos of all the Rogues. There're seventeen on the board and fully half of them are Johns creations. You've got Girder, Murmur, a new Trickster (he's a lot like the old Trickster, except younger and massively annoying), Peek-A-Boo (she wanted to be a hero, but stole a kidney. Also, her teleportation abilities blow things up around her, which sort of prohibits heroic-type activities. And she's wearing rollerblades, which is just unforgivable), Tar Pit (Clayface, but made of tar, pretty much), Plunder, Double Down and Cicada.

Girder is redundant, as the role of Big Strong Guy in the Flash's Rogues Gallery has long since been filled by the far more awesome Gorilla Grodd. You will never, ever be able to replace a psychic, talking monkey with a former construction worker made of metal.

Murmur and Double Down, as stated at the top of this entry, are total Batman villains. One's a psychopathic killer with an incredibly predictable MO, the other has magic playing cards tear off his skin and fly around at people. Double Down at least has a halfway decent thematic link to the Joker and the Royal Flush Gang (by the way, who created the current RFG? They suck beyond reason). They'd be, like, Ratcatcher-level Batman villains, but at least a fight between Murmur and Bats isn't over a tenth of a second after it starts.

Plunder came from a mirror universe where he was the Best Shot in the World to a DCU where Deadshot's the Best Shot in the World, Deathstroke can take the whole JLA and Merlyn is almost a legitimate threat even though he has a dumb name and uses a bow and arrows.

By contrast, Johns threw in a new Zoom, a former Rogue profiler who somehow gained time-related speed powers by blowing up the Cosmic Treadmill. Zoom's legitimately cool and a threat to the Flash on a physical level, as he can move just as fast if not faster than Wally without tapping into the Speed Force and is genuinely crazy, which is nice. Gregory Wolfe, warden of Iron Heights, ended up being a fairly interesting character, as well, but a vast majority of the supporting cast come off as one-note, generic and pretty boring.

'Course, this doesn't even get to how much I hate the whole "speed-learning doesn't stick unless you're Impulse, and even then, it only does as of Teen Titans #1 and never before then because I swear to God if Johns didn't write it and it wasn't published before 1990 it doesn't exist" retcon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Nothing Says "Love" Like a Sai to the Chest

Ah, Valentine's Day. If nothing else, it makes for a fantastic excuse to run the episode of the Simpsons where Ralph Wiggum is in love with Lisa, as my local Fox affiliate is doing right now. It also gives me a flimsy pretense to write a post about the love lives of those far more fictional than I.

Dating and superheroics don't go together particularly well. There's the immediate problem of the lingering threat of doom (or Doom, if you're in the Fantastic Four) hanging over your head at all times. There's also the secret identity thing, that lends itself to all sorts of lies and situations where your significant other is left thinking things like "(Villain X) could've killed me, and my coward of the boyfriend is nowhere to be found! Thank God (Coward of a Boyfriend's Heroic Identity) was here to save the day," which can end in an unfortunate love triangle involving yourself.

Oh, and that whole deal where villains will invariably kill you to get at your boyfriend. That's a pretty big downside.

Take Daredevil, for example. He dated Elektra and how many times has she died? Karen Page picked up a drug addiction, went into porn, contracted AIDS because that's how Kevin Smith rolls, cleaned up her act and took a hit meant for DD. Heather Glenn drank her way to suicide. Typhoid Mary was crazy because Matt accidentally threw her out a window. And then he slept with her before trying to send her to a nuthouse. Black Widow, Soviet freaking super soldier, managed to get herself kidnapped by Bullseye solely as bait for DD.

Since Spider-Man is incapable of having a villain that doesn't have some kind of tertiary relationship with him, his Aunt May nearly married Dr Octopus (and the Vulture. At different times, obviously) for... some reason. His old-school love interest, Betty Brant, ended up marrying a guy that was thought to be the Hobgoblin up until his death. Later, she learned karate, bought an uzi and started a personal war with the freaking Foreigner. Gwen Stacy died, but not before getting a lovely Tryst With The Green Goblin retcon and some twins that aged awfully quick considering Franklin Richards has been a toddler since the late 1960s. Mary Jane had a kid stolen from the freaking maternity ward by the Green Goblin, who whisked it away into comic book limbo.

Beast Boy (speaking of characters that haven't aged properly since the sixties...) went on one freaking date with Terra before she was revealed as a traitor to the Titans and killed by many large rocks. Since then, his character traits were amended to include "hates Deathstroke because he's convinced Slade turned Terra against him."

Robin's dated the Cluemaster's daughter, who was pregnant by another guy and a masked vigilante, to boot. She eventually took over Tim's role as Robin, lost the job, accidentally started a massive gang war, got tortured by Black Mask and was finally killed by the greatest of all Bat-villains: Dr Leslie Thompkins. His rebound girl was a mobster's daughter who died in a shootout only to be resurrected by Robin's magical nemesis, Johnny Warlock, in a ridiculously circuitous plan to kill the Boy Wonder. And his first girlfriend's father ran afoul of the KGBeast.

It's not the same thing, but it's worth noting that Charles Xavier dates a space alien. I wonder if that ever comes up in conversation. Like, if he's playing whatever the nerdy version of poker is with the other big muckity-mucks of the Marvel Universe and they start talking about their girlfriends. Reed Richards has Sue Storm, a hot blonde that inexplicably loves him even though he's borderline autistic, pompous as Hell and routinely almost gets her killed. There's no way he doesn't brag about that once he gets a couple drinks in him. The girl, not the "almost getting her killed" part. Black Bolt probably draws crude little pictures of him and Medusa doing all sorts of squicky things involving her prehensile hair and his "Master Punch." Tony Stark has slept with half of California. The female half. Chuck's just left saying "I... totally have a girlfriend. She's... she's from space. She's an empress! Of an interstellar empire ruled by avian creatures! You don't know her!"

And then Thor goes "verily. The Odinson doth bet thine girlfriend is hot" while stifling a laugh in his beer stein.

This Can't Possibly Be True, Can It?

For some reason, I found myself reading Apocalypse's entry on Wikipedia. Under trivia, they list this:

"A little known fact is that Apocalypse was created as a last minute replacement for the Owl, a Daredevil villain who original X-Factor writer Bob Layton wanted to use as X-Factor's main villain. When Layton was removed from the book and replaced with Louise Simonson, she requested that the last page of X-Factor #5 be changed to a shadowy figured named Apocalypse, as Simonson wanted a new character to be the main villain for the book."


Now, I don't fully trust Wikipedia, as I could go in and edit that to say that Apocalypse is a potato named Francis who grew up on the moon and have it sit to be quoted as fact until someone noticed, but this seems just ridiculous enough to be true. How fucking cool would the last twenty-odd years of X-Men history be if they were fighting The Owl? His powers are gliding, looking like an idiot and being assaulted by the blind.

Anyone ever heard this before and can corroborate? I'd really love for this to be true.

DC is the New Denmark

BATMAN TO TRACK DOWN BIN LADEN

I've said it before, and it's never been more true: This can only end with fire. Batman versus Al-Qaeda. Think about that for a second.

The only question, really, is how juvenile a revenge fantasy this is going to be.

Oh, Frank Miller's writing? Well, at least juvenile revenge fantasy is right in his wheelhouse.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Why I Can't Hate Geoff Johns

The comments thread from This Week's Reviews is alight (well, as "alight" as anything can be with five total posts, three of which are from the same guy) with criticism of Geoff Johns for his multi-issue buildup of a plot point that turned out to be bitterly underwhelming (why in the Hell would Superman have a freaking Phantom Zone arrow, anyway? In what situation is an arrow a better solution than the giant beam a Phantom Zone projector... uhm... projects?), and I find myself unable to defend him. That story went freaking nowhere.

However, Johns is riding on eternal goodwill from the first arc on Teen Titans. Specifically, one page:
The first five or six issues of the book consistently has one of the best-written Robins I've ever read. Tim Drake comes off as capable, conflicted (this is right around the period when he wanted to tell his father he was Robin, leading up to Tim's short retirement and the career of the Steph Brown Robin, remember) and smarter than the three veteran Titans. Okay, maybe not smarter than Cyborg, but certainly more on the ball than Starfire and Beast Boy.

"You just lied to Starfire?!" "I lie to Batman." That's fantastic. Everybody's supposed to be scared of Batman. That's the point of Batman. Tim Drake lies to him. Therefore, Tim Drake has no fear. Of anything.

He fights Deathstroke in the same storyline. Granted, this is pre-Identity Crisis, so it's not the Deathstroke that took out the Satellite League with a laser pointer, but you've got to give the kid credit.

Point is, Johns writes a really good Robin. And that, for some stupid reason, lessens the blow of subplots that fizzle into freaking nothingness. But, hey, the Stupid Blue Arrow fixed Doom Patrol chronology... somehow. Got to pat it on the back for that, at least.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

DC Clearly Loves Me and Wants Me To Spend Money

COMICON.com PULSE

Morrison on Batman and Dini on Detective? If those aren't the best Goddamned books I read on the weeks they come out, I'm quitting comics forever.

Morrison's absurdly capable Batman was one of the highlights of his JLA run, right up to the bit in the first arc of JLA Classified where he had Bats fly off in a freaking Bat-UFO. Dini's Batman: The Animated Series is, without question, the purest form of the character in any medium. I really can't think of any other writers I'd draft in a Fantasy Editorial League to do Batman.

New Logo!

Yeah, instead of new, you know, content, we here at the Gutters have decided to dazzle you with style. Or whatever that is up there.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

You're sick of me, I'm sick of you, let's pull off and This Week's Reviews

JLA #125: Jesus, and I thought Flash had a disappointing finale. Batman and Green Arrow continue their months-long bitchfest, Black Canary and the girl version of Shaman from Alpha Flight bicker over Ollie because he's apparently very desirable and the Key talks directly to the reader since that's the best possible conclusion to a ten year old book. Here's the thing, though: had Crisis of Conscience run on a monthly schedule, wouldn't the League breakup have fallen this month? Sure, it'd screw up Catwoman's plot a little, and I'd imagine they were aiming for this series to end on number 125 instead of 119 for symbolic reasons (or because they want the new number one to be a technical #500), but nothing interesting's happened here for six issues. Same with Flash. Could've added like three pages to the end of #225 and called it a day.

(An addendum: I was just checking if the new layout worked on the archive pages, and came across my review of #123:
God, just duck this one. It's obviously going to end in a Green Arrow/Batman fight, but it's taking a long, boring, Key and Manitou Raven-centric route to get there. Besides, unless you get off on hearing two rich white guys debate the merits of having a superteam, you've got to be getting sick of hearing either Ollie or Bruce's side of this stupid argument.

(I still don't get why Ollie isn't on Bruce's side on this one. JLU had it right: Ollie was on the League on Batman's orders, to keep the more super members "honest." He was afraid of heroes in numbers. Hell, he argued on behalf of Cadmus at one point. An aging Lefty shouldn't be arguing for all-powerful conglomerations of people who can piss lasers, God damn it.)

I genuinely fail to see why I read the next two issues when it was clear I knew exactly what would happen. I am a fool.)


Robin #147: Wait a sec, lemme do Teen Titans first.

Teen Titans #32:
Alright, a solid two-thirds of this issue is the Superboy/Superboy fight from the last issue of Infinite Crisis with shakier art. According to the Hot List This Week in the back, this was slated to come out the same week as IC#4 (I like that the cover indicia puts this issue in March, but no one could be bothered to swap in a current Hot List). Last issue featured a fight mentioned in passing in, I think, IC#2. I'm going to blame the lateness on the delay during Liefeld's two fill-in issues, since blaming Liefeld is fun, but God, they've got to get it back on track sooner or later.

However, our long national nightmare is over and old-school Doom Patrol chronology is back on the table, thanks to Mia's plot-point arrow and some truly crazy comic book science. I mean, science so screwy Johns doesn't even take a crack at Pseudo-Sciencing it. And he had the Chief handy to do just that. Whatever, though, I'm just glad Gar Logan has a freaking origin again.

Also, if Raven's leg is in the right position, the top of her boot looks like a featureless Batman head.

See? Even got cheekbones.

Robin #147: See, I usually review these in the order I read them, but I forgot that Teen Titans is a magic portal to a few weeks ago and that this book is apparently bimonthly or something. Maybe I got the last issue very late, I don't know. This issue and the one before it both take place after TT#32, which is nice and confusing.

Not a bad issue, really, though the assembled Titans still don't reference the lack of Bart (one imagines it's because speedsters disappear all the Goddamn time and have a thing for returning at the very last second nary the worse for their travels ((see Flash falling out of the timeline at the end of Chain Lightning only to pop up in time to help save the world in World War Three, Max Mercury's entire career, Barry Allen's persistent inability to stay in the future for more than a couple days without feeling the need to check on Wally, Jay Garrick punching Johnny Sorrow and then landing in ancient Egypt, et cetera et cetera)). And close that other parenthesis, too.) Cassie spends most of the issue complaining about her powers weakening. Mia's put over as being shockingly capable and seems to be hitting on Tim, which would lead to yet another Peter Parker Love Life problem for Robin.

Which is always good, as far as I'm concerned.

Oh, hey, actual spoiler warning:


...I'm serious, if you don't want Robin spoilered, skip on down to the Thing review.


Actually, wait, you know full well they're going to get the cure to Superboy's condition. Anyway, the remaining Titans find a shelf full of vials filled with a glowing green liquid marked with a Superman logo, which they assume to be just what they're looking for. After fighting for a while, they get out of the Luthor-built, Brainiac-infested lab with a single vial intact and use it on Conner. Robin then calls up Luthor (don't know which one, but I'm presuming Crazy Powersuit Lex), which clears up the utterly insane level of intel Tim had on this lab the last couple issues, anyway. But Lex says something like "that cure only works once. If you ever use it again, it'll kill him." Okay, fair enough. But, then, why make a fucking shelf-load of it? Just in case you need to kill Superboy at some point in the future but can't quite finish him off after beating him to the point that his body starts cannabalizing itself for energy? Perhaps I think too much.

The Thing #3: Not as fun as it could be. And it's amazing how jarring thought bubbles are to me now. Daredevil pulls one of those "I am talking..." "but completing my sentences in a cloud above my head" deals a couple times this issue and since I haven't seen that happen in, well, years, it's a bit weird. Especially since one of those occasions is him thinking about how his heightened senses allow him to tell when someone's lying, on the off chance that somebody reading a Thing solo title guest-starring Constrictor and Nighthawk is a new reader, unfamiliar with Daredevil. Yeah, every issue is, anecdotally, somebody's first comic, I just have a hard time imagining that somebody's first comic is the third issue of Thing. Call me a cynic.

Bulleteer #3: I've been getting some of the Seven Soldiers books and not reviewing them, since I figure the parts'll make more sense when taken in light of the whole. I just thought I'd let you know that I am, in fact, reading some of Morrison's mad epic.

Ultimate Extinction #2: I really like Peterson's style on this. Looks like scratchboard. There's more build up and more than half the characters on the cover fail to appear inside, but Ultimate Misty Knight's growing on me, Ultimate Jeanne DeWolfe makes an appearance (possibly her first, but I don't read USM, so I could be wrong), Ultimate Silver Surfer is really quite creepy and Ellis writes the best teenage Reed Richards ever. Not that there're many vying for that title, really.

There's a very good scene with Cap where he actually talks like someone from the forties. I love when that happens.

Limited Time Offer:

MC Goldie Wilson, former housemate of the staff of both the Gutters and the Drudge Siren, has his EP up for download on his Purevolume site. That's a savings of something like five dollars, available to you until Valentine's Day. Download it if not for you, than for the thirteen- to sixteen-year-old girl in your life, since they seem to love Goldie and his antics. Nothing says "love" like pop-punk rappers named after supporting characters in Back to the Future, after all.

I'd suggest getting at least Spring Break 1871 and Hairodynamics, veritable pinnacles of... whatever the Hell weird genre you'd classify this as.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Some New Links

New, improved sidebar. Now featuring Comics Should Be Good, Kalinara's Pretty, Fizzy Paradise, the aptly-named Yet Another Comics Blog and a link to my freaking MySpace page. Yeah, I'm a good couple of years behind all the cool kids. See, the state of Connecticut's enacted something of a holy war on MySpace this past week, which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it being a sweeps period and the abstract threat of kids meeting sexual predators online being easy ratings for news shows, and I had to see what the big deal was.

Anyway, I have like eight friends, but one of them's Warren Ellis, who has to count at least twice as much as a normal person. Because he wrote fucking Nextwave, that's why.

Friday, February 03, 2006

You can drive to Riverside and get one, too, and then you'll have an ape drape and This Week's Reviews

Robin #146: More or less an issue of Teen Titans. That's not a bad thing, as Willingham writes a good team dynamic and McDaniel is better off drawing flashier things than he usually gets to do in this book. The kids are dealing with the aftermath of Superboy-Prime's flip out over in IC #4, which has left Superboy in a state of rapid decay (and Kid Flash missing, but they don't mention that, for some reason). Robin makes some Superfriends-level leaps of deduction and decides that Lex Luthor must've made a cure for Conner's condition and they head off to an underground lab located somewhere outside St Louis, I guess.

Over the course of their search, Speedy brings up her HIV-positive status, as she has done in, I think, every single appearance outside of Green Arrow, because her character traits are as follows: Spunky. Former prostitute. Has HIV. Worked out Green Arrow's secret identity. Shoots arrows. (By the way, how hard is it, really, to figure out who Green Arrow is? She pulled it off because she met GA and Ollie Queen on the same day and figured no one else could have a beard that stupid, but, seriously, is there a character with a secret identity that gets referred to by his first name more often than Ollie? Maybe Kyle Rayner, but there has to be thousands of dark-haired guys named Kyle in New York City. How many Olivers with Van Dykes live in Star City?

I actually think more superheroes called Wally West "Flash" when his identity was public than call Ollie "Green Arrow" now.)

Anyway, Speedy asks the team, in all seriousness, to keep an eye out for a cure for AIDS in the lab. Which got me to thinking: That's not really unreasonable. I mean, after all, they live in a universe where Ray Palmer, motherfucking physicist, worked out a cure for a virus from the future that infected the entire world's population in a matter of hours by hanging out inside Babs Gordon's lymph nodes for about twenty minutes. It's a world where Jay Garrick, vaguely defined scientist, whipped up a cure for the Frenzy virus by looking at a blood sample. Sure, this is really close to people going "Steel can build armor that puts him on par with Superman but he can't give Oracle some crazy robot legs? Bullshit!," and I know that the HIV is pretty much the only thing that makes Mia even kind of interesting, but on an earth with teleportation technology and Mr Terrific and doctors that can see in the dark and men that can see brainwave activity by squinting and guys that can walk around inside genetic code, you'd think they'd have disease pretty well licked by now, no? Just makes me think that the Atom has some really screwy priorities.

The Thing #2: It really is a wonder no one's ever kicked Arcade's ass to death. How the Hell do you get away with kidnapping so many heavy-hitters so many times without getting killed? Anyway, Dan Slott thinks reality TV is silly, just like he thought seriousness in comics was silly in GLA: Misassembled. She-Hulk's a better book overall, but I'll let this slide because I really enjoy Constrictor for some stupid reason and love the Thing.

Batman #649: So, wait, Red Hood captured the Joker, beat him severely, patched him up, let him loose on the Royal Flush Gang in time for his appearance in Infinite Crisis, recaptured him and beat him severely again for a little while before this issue opened? Wow. I thought maybe this whole Red Hood thing was happening a little while before the Crisis started up, but it's apparently concurrent, since this issue ends with Bludhaven getting Dr Strangeloved.

(By the way, I'm kind of glad to see Bludhaven go. I can't take city names with weird punctuation in them, like they're metal bands. It's like Dick Grayson was living in Dokken, for God's sake.)

What's the deal with Batman not just, like, tying Black Mask up and leaving him at the police station? Leaving him in the middle of a tiny minefield just strikes me as ridiculous. I realize Bats has more pressing issues (he's over in Nightwing and Infinite Crisis and he calls up the Veteran in Robin, finally assuaging the weird feeling I had about Batman not knowing about a secret military unit led by an apparent immortal), but Black Mask is all kinds of wanted, no? And Jason's not doing anything until Batman shows up, anyway.

Ultimate X-Men/Fantastic Four #2: Three pages are drawn by Leinil Yu. Now, he's a good artist and all, but his style's so very different from Pasqual Ferry's that it's incredibly jarring. Still, it's a fun little story, even if it does seem to take the Ultimate Mad Thinker and Ultimate Awesome Android off the playing field. Heh. "Ultimate Awesome Android." That's a level of hyperbole even Stan Lee would frown upon.

Marvel Team-Up #17: Reed Richards utterly crushing the hopes of Gravity was funny enough that I'd buy this issue again. It's a quiet issue, establishing the League of Losers as more of a team and showing them adapting to the World of the Future (apparently Kirkman's 2099 continuity from a while ago). There's a page with Terror and Sleepwalker talking that's freaking amazing in light of the fact that no one on earth gives a damn about either character. It just goes to show that any character can be made interesting. Even X-23. Marvel Team-Up: Filling me with hope for seventeen issues.

Gotham Central #40: Eh, if Gotham Central was always all about Montoya, this would've felt better. As it is, I'm looking for all the other characters to get some kind of send-off I probably won't ever see. I did, however, enjoy the fate of Red Herring Corrigan. That douche.

I also got the Essential Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe because I remember it being the best thing ever when I had a few issues of it about eighteen freaking years ago. I'm about halfway through, and these are the things I have learned:

In the Marvel Universe, maps of Europe contain the original location of Attilan, Latveria, the cave Don Blake found Thor's hammer in and Transylvania, but no Portugal. There is no Portugal.

Cyclops' brain is a gateway into a world of non-Einsteinian physics and his eyes are not eyes, per se. In fact, many characters have abilities that hinge on physics that would make Einstein drink himself into a coma.

El Aguila is awesome. I hope he's one of the 198 mutants that still have their powers, because the Marvel Universe has a grievous lack of Zorro ripoffs who shoot lightning from their swords.

Ant Man retains his mass when he shrinks but regularly rides on the backs of flying ants, meaning that those ants can carry about a hundred eighty pounds through the air. I have no idea how I've managed to kill so many of them, since they're clearly some kind of master race with strength beyond comprehension. (Edit: According to the Wasp's entry, items shrunk by way of Pym particles retain their mass but are not subject to 'gravitons' in the same way they are when full sized, meaning they can weigh whatever the Hell they want, I guess. Which is exactly the kind of bullshit pseudo-science that makes the comic book world go 'round. Also, Doctor Doom "independently discovered" Pym particles, which he no doubt calls "Doom particles," as is his custom.)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Off-topic but noteworthy.

The Drudge Siren finally has an actual news story about Jodie Sweetin, the subject of my blatant traffic grab of a few month's gone.

Turns out she was on meth. In case you were wondering what she was up to since, say, 1995, the timeline seems to be high school, college, wedding, crippling meth addiction, intervention/impromptu Full House reunion, rehab and then an appearance on today's Good Morning America.