Tuesday, May 30, 2006

You know what?

I liked X-Men: The Last Stand.

Granted, some of it didn't make much sense, but it's based on the freaking X-Men. Sure, Storm should've been subbed out for Cyclops and they could've dropped the whole Rogue/Bobby/Kitty subplot, but it was a solid, faintly ridiculous action movie with a pile of underdeveloped, dangling subplots, and what's your average X-Men comic but a solid, faintly ridiculous action story with a pile of underdeveloped, dangling subplots?

And it was a million times better than Daredevil.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The World Proves Ain't It Cool News Has Exactly No Power

Box Office Mojo > News > 'X-Men' Marvels with Memorial Record

As near as I can tell, roundabouts eighty thousand copies of X-Men sell a month, with about the same number of copies of Uncanny moving, too. So around a hundred thousand people buy X-Books, to the tune of about three hundred grand. The movie made a hundred and three freaking million dollars between Friday and Sunday and another seventeen-ish million on Monday. Unless those hundred thousand X-Men readers went to the theater a hundred and fifty times apiece, there're a whole bunch of people who tripped over themselves getting to the movies this weekend to see something based on something they don't read.

I just find that surprising, since I'm pretty sure the entire Goddamned free world read The Da Vinci Code, and that only cleared seventy-seven million its opening weekend last week.

Who are these people and why don't they read comics?

What's a pederast, Walter?

Imagine my disappointment when I learned that Jesus and Dracula did not appear in the same story. Hell, symbols of Jesus freak Dracula out, imagine the amazing fight the two could wage if they were to meet in person? Dracula would burst into flame or maybe start crying!

Oh. Oh, that's the Aquarian. My bad.

You could see where I'd get confused, there.

Anyway, it turns out we're dealing with two stories here, one of which I won't even talk about, as it's Doctor Strange in his short-lived hideous coat that sort of looks like his real costume era as written by the deadly tagteam of JM DeMatteis and Marv Wolfman. Souls will be discussed, at length, in purple prose. That's all you need to know.

That's the backup piece, anyway. Leading off is Larry Hama writing a Hulk/Spider-Man/Random SHIELD LMD/Aquarian story men dare call "Breaking and Entering."I'm so glad one of the cops had the presence of mind to let me know that the Hulk is, in fact, on a rampage. I don't think I've ever leaped off of anything while yelling why I'm doing it, and that's proof enough for me that I don't exist in some kind of comic book universe. The ability to spout expository dialog while narrowly avoiding imminent death is a trait shared by every citizen of a comic book city, from the smallest child to the occasional animal gifted with power of speech.

(Sometimes, if Chris Claremont is involved, they'll provide exposition aloud while an invisible, omniscient narrator gives us similar information. You know, like a panel where Wolverine is popping his claws and saying "time to do what I do best! Cut things up with my unbreakable claws!" while the narrative caption says "the shortest, feistiest X-Man unsheathes his impossibly sharp adamantium claws." Just in case you couldn't gather all that from the, you know, picture.)

That, and a talent for creating rope-like strands of saliva swung between upper and lower jaw. That cop up front looks like he just now realized he was playing a key role in some sort of horrible Japanese pornographic video. Were he in the next panel, he'd be yelling something expository about how embarrassed he is while running away.

Hulk, if you were wondering, is planning on breaking into the Avengers Mansion. He's looking for some of Tony Stark's files, as he's convinced these can save his life. See, he's been slowly dying since he was split into two Hulks back when he fought Onslaught and... God, 1997 sucked. As for why Hulk doesn't just jump through the roof or say "hey, I'm technically an Avenger sometimes" and walk right on in, well, we wouldn't have a fight then, would we?

Since the lion's share of the Avengers are off being written poorly inside a glowing blue ball created by Franklin Richards, care of their mansion falls, for some reason, to SHIELD. They're defending the place with Mandroids piloted by LMDs, since that saves them the trouble of having to pay field agents, I suppose.

They're also arming their men with cell phones borrowed from Zach Morris. God, look at that thing! Is he calling in an airstrike against Charlie? I mean, to put that in perspective, that yellow thing is a robot designed to appear human piloting a suit of armor capable of fighting the Avengers. They have that level of technology and yet they've succeed in making the hand-held phone larger. Is that what the LMD department does when they're not banging out extra Jake Furys to run the Zodiac? "Fury says he wants a phone he can ride to work in. Just take all the specs we've got and multiply them by... let's go crazy and say nine. Oh, how's work going on the pistol that shoots cannonballs?"

Instead of merely hurling his brobdingnagian cellie at the Green Goliath, the LMD stands idly by while all of his friends are mercilessly beaten to death until half of his own limbs are removed by force.

Spider-Man shows up because his name's on the cover. He chats up the Hulk for a bit, filling time before the main event pops up.Spider-Man's reaction to the Aquarian's sudden, improbably coincidental appearance is about right. What would you say if Jesus Christ, visibly stoned, magically appeared in the middle of a conversation between you and a twelve-foot-tall green monster? Survey says: "Uhh--."

Incidentally, I can't imagine bothering to show up to seminars on world peace in the Marvel Universe. Is there any problem solved there without somebody getting punched in the face at least a little? The X-Men can't go to Denny's without it being part of some Machiavellian scheme to wipe mutantkind off the face of the planet, Reed Richards keeps on discovering new universes that want to blow up Manhattan for absolutely no reason, the Cold War ended about fifteen minutes ago, a European country is actually run by a guy whose last name is "Doom..." Shooting for world peace on a planet where being beaten up by a guy named "the Shocker" on your way to work is surprisingly likely seems to be aiming a little high. And no one's going to take you seriously with those giant sleeves. God, Cher wouldn't wear that.

"So don't fuck with The Jesus."

After this, a Doombot appears pretty much out of nowhere, downloads the Avengers data and gets beaten to itty-bitty pieces. Aquarian wanders off to his peace conference, Hulk bounds off, furious that he couldn't get his information and Spider-Man bitches some more, even though he gets to go home and plow a hot redheaded supermodel.

I hate Spider-Man so much.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

This Week's Reviews house you hauntin' tonight?

Teen Titans #36: Niles Caulder is exceptionally creepy. Mal Duncan seems to have picked up Black Bolt's powers (What If... Black Bolt Was Black?). Also, Tony Daniel has taken to having Beast Boy change shape in a big poof of yellow gas, which makes him look like some kind of crazy photo-negative Nightcrawler. Not that great an issue, but probably worth it for the first couple pages, wherein Caulder is drawn screaming all his lines for no apparent reason.

Hey, I found it funny.

Battle for Bludhaven #4 (of 6): So, uh, when is this taking place? Over in their own book, the Titans got Cyborg back online and headed off to New York to fight the Brotherhood, as near as I can tell, over a weekend. Kid Devil was wailed on something fierce by Plasmus in that fight, so they went to hang out with the Doom Patrol, which brings us to this week's issue of Titans, anyway. The Titans here include Cyborg, so it's post-him-waking-up, but Kid Devil's okay and lacking a giant scar on his chest, so it's pre-him-getting-Plasmussed. Apparently.

Tiny window, there.

Gray and Palmiotti have an absurd amount of radiation-themed characters hanging out in Bludhaven, with the Nuclear Family (I swear to God, the Nuclear Family) joining Captain Atom, the Atomic Knights and the Nuclear Legion. It's kind of hard to tell if it's clever or ridiculous. I'm leaning slightly towards "ridiculous," if just because the recap page has over thirty headshots on it.

Daredevil #85: Man, what I wouldn't give to read some freakin' happy Daredevil. Well, I wouldn't really give all that much, honestly, but still, Daredevil's been a huge downer for about twenty years. Would it kill him to buckle some swashes?

He's still in jail, except now he's got the Punisher for company, and Frank Castle is the more pleasant of the pair even while beating up a thug.

Which isn't to say it's bad. It's actually quite good. Lark's art is, as always, darned good, and Brubaker manages to make a story that could be the biggest cliche ever pretty snappy and interesting. No small feat, considering how easily this could've turned into Rorschach's whole second act in Watchmen.

X-Factor #7: So I have a hard time telling Cyclops and Daredevil apart when they aren't in costume. Doesn't come up that often, but there you go. Cyclops shows up here to talk to Siryn and I honestly thought "wait, you're in jail" for a couple pages before somebody said who he was.
And then I felt a little silly.

Absolutely worth it for Siryn's reaction to her father's death and the video he sent her. I'm probably the only person on earth who likes Banshee, though, so talk that with a grain of salt.

By the way, I'd friggin' kill for Ryan Sook's schedule. And, you know, his talent. But his schedule, mostly.

Birds of Prey #94: Far less Prometheus than the cover would lead you to believe, but at least somebody called him on getting beaten by Catwoman and then fading into B-list villain obscurity.

Oh, and my Huntress Is a Different Person Now theory was finally laid to rest, with Huntress having a flashback to fighting Prometheus when she was in the League. Curses.

Catwoman #55: Wildcat is awesome.

...I mean, other stuff happens, but Wildcat is awesome.

Secret Six #1: Long set up for last page introduction that I thought was kinda telegraphed, but the opening is fantastic, as is all the dialog. Ragdoll, in particular, is probably the best thing ever.

Nextwave #5: "Cover your eyes, go back to Avengers Mansion, and make my dinner." Captain America said that. In a comic with killer koala bears. And the Celestials. Oh, Jesus, I love this comic.

52 #3: I guess Ralph was... traveling all this week. And the Question was hiding between panels. But, hey, Terra-Man shows up. So you've got that going for you.

Gone, gone, oh hopes of a hit

Arise Nick Cage with skull all lit!

Ghost Rider Tease (video/quicktime Object)
(via Screenhead)

I'm not usually one to damn a movie before I see it, but unless the phrase "Sci Fi Pictures Presents" appears ahead of the titles, that does not look good.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why I could never be a supervillain:

I'd be way too confused whenever a superhero finished their internal monologue aloud like that.

Since the wording's a bit hard to read, I'll transcribe:

SPIDER-MAN (THOUGHT BUBBLE): Flash froze the m-melted slag into my suit's j-joints-- armor's become a full metal straight jacket...

SPIDER-MAN: ...so we're getting back to basics!

Now, I don't think I've ever been quite cold enough to stutter in my own train of thought, so that's a credit to Thermite's amazing abilities, I guess. Spider-Man went to the James Robinson School of Elocution, which accounts for the emphasis on such funny places.

Thermite, by the way, was actually thinking "did I let the cat out today?" before yelling "NO!" after realizing that he was going to return home to an apartment reeking of cat pee. That's why we're so rarely granted access to the innermost thoughts of thugs: their lives are hopelessly mundane.

Spider-Armor Always Sucks

Web of Spider-Man #100 marks the end of a truly painful story dramatically titled "My Enemy's Enemy." Earlier, we, the loyal Web readers, had been introduced to Blood Rose, a mysterious masked vigilante who was killing various and sundry goons in an attempt to fill in the power vacuum left by the Kingpin's departure from New York. Also vying for the top spot on the New York ladder of crime were the New Enforcers, who we'll get to in a minute, and the Foreigner, who is a crappy villain and a jukebox hero.

Spidey, as is his custom, is stuck in the middle of all the infighting.

We open on Spider-Man confronting the Vanisher, de facto leader of the New Enforcers since he gets the most lines, as the latter teleports two of his crappier henchpeople away. Vanisher has a cough, which is either a plot point (Hell, he probably had the Legacy Virus) or an opening for Spidey to make a joke about how Telford's going to have to get it looked at by the prison infirmary. Since that's where he's headed, see, after he gets beat up.

Anyway, Vanisher's no fool. He trades out Blitz and the Eel in favor of the Dragon Man, a Dreadnought and the Super-Adaptoid. Why he ever bothered hiring extra help when he had three robots that had previously fought the Fantastic Four, Iron Man and like half the Avengers to standstills, respectively, is beyond me, but I suppose he thought there was strength in numbers.

Spidey dispatches the robot trio in three or four pages, making use of my personal favorite Hero Is Outnumbered But Clever! tactics: baiting two villains into a head-on collision (which can be easily modified into tricking two villains into shooting each other).I desperately need to try this in real life. I can't imagine it works half as well when you aren't trained by, like, GI Joe, but it's worth a shot.

Fearing angry letters from hardcore Marvel Zombies ("To whom it may concern: Your lack of respect for the Super-Adaptoid is troubling and shows and obvious dearth of research on your part. Super-Adaptoid is the height of AIM engineering, and simply colliding with a far inferior Hydra android would never stop him, as erroneously shown on page 6 of Web of LIES #100. Please rectify this grievous error, or risk losing a loyal reader forever!"), writer Terry Kavanagh has the two robots start sparking and glowing after plowing headlong into each other's arms. It seems, and I'm quoting Spider-Man directly here, that "conflicting Hydra and AIM technologies must've created an energy feedback loop between Dreadnought and the Adaptoid."

Which is precisely the same reason you can't keep a PC and a Mac in the same room. Damned energy feedback loops, always looping fedback energy.

Spidey tags Dragon Man with a Spider-Tracer and the three robots run away for no readily apparent reason other than to move us into the B- through D-plots.

Blood Rose was revealed to be Richard Fisk, son of the Kingpin, in the issue prior. Problem with that was the fact that Richard Fisk had be thoroughly disposed of and tossed into a river sometime before. The apparently dead Richard was actually the real Richard's friend, Alfredo, who had undergone plastic surgery to look like the actual Richard so as to run New York's underworld in the absence of the Kingpin and the true heir to the Kingpin's empire. Alfredo had washed up on the shores of some vaguely tropical island where he was nursed back to health by one Dr Kevin Trench who is, in actuality, the vigilante Nightwatch. Alfredo stole one of Nightwatch's power gloves (I love the Power Glove. It's so baaaaad) as well as a motor boat and headed back to New York. You got all that?

Here's Gauntlet, also known as "Richard Fisk," also known as Alfredo McIDon'tThinkHeHadALastName, recapping things more concisely than I. And also crashing his boat for some reason.
The dock was right there. He could've just tied his boat off and climbed out. Silly Q-list Spider-Man villains, always being more melodramatic than necessary.

Now that we've gotten that mess out of the way, we cut to an alleyway helpfully labeled as "out of the very night itself," wherein Nightwatch, in New York to find his stolen glove, is beating the Hell out of some generic thugs. If you don't recall Nightwatch, God bless you, that means you can play a fun game I like to call "Who Was Nightwatch Ripped Off Of?"Oh, Marvel, way to stick it to Todd McFarlane. You sure showed him.

Nightwatch floundered around for a while, generally muttering grim things while standing on rooftops, as is the wont of Spawn ripoffs the world over. The last time I remember seeing him in a Spider-book was at the tail end of Maximum Carnage, where we saw him muttering grim things while standing on a rooftop with Morbius. Anyway, he needs his glove back so as to fix the temporary asymmetry of his costume. And also because it has potential that could be FATALLY UNLEASHED.

Cut to: Peter Parker working on some stupid science experiment. If you've ever read Spider-Man for any length of time, you've seen this bit a million times before. Peter's pouring chemicals while thinking about the Vulture or the Shocker or Aunt May being sick and that distraction causes him to inadvertently blow his little chemistry set up. This time around, post-explosion, Pete decides to use the ESU science lab for his own personal gain and whip up another batch of web-fluid, as well as "some kind of edge against this new coalition's heavy metal front line." That's seriously the longest dramatic pause in history. It's positively Shatnerian.

While Peter feverishly pounds out a new batch of web fluid and his ONE BIG STONE (my God, to WHAT could he be referring?), Nightwatch, Gauntlet and Blood Rose all head towards a house on the "edge of Manhattan." Blood Rose has run a "computer trace" leading him there, Gauntlet has used... I don't know, a magical Fisk-detecting tool and Nightwatch can sense his pilfered glove's "subtle energy surges." It doesn't really matter how they all got there, really; it's all just an excuse for a bench-clearing brawl.

Blood Rose gets the drop on the three robots from earlier, using vaguely-defined pseudoscience to turn the Adaptoid into "a giant magnetic pulse generator," which is apparently "an android's own worst nightmare" (I'd've thought electric math classes where they realize they're naked, but I guess it's magnetic pulse generators). With the three of them taken off the board, Rose is jumped by the remainder of the New Enforcers and everything goes bee-aye-en-aye-en-aye-ess. Let's take a look at this lineup, shall we? Vanisher's up in the back. He's useful strictly as transportation, if nothing else. On the ground, from left to right, you've got Thermite, Plant Man, the Eel, Blitz and Tangle. A real murderer's row. Rhino couldn't get nights off this particular week, I guess.

Now, you've already got Dragon Man, who breathes fire, and the Dreadnought, who shoots fire and ice, so Thermite's all kinds of redundant. Especially since you'd actually have to pay him, unlike the two robots. And you can't ride around on Thermite's back and scare people.

Plant Man and Tangle serve, as near as I can tell, the exact same purpose: they both use vines to tie people up. Plant Man's more versatile in theory, I guess, as he could also grow you a salad.

Blitz punches people really hard, but, again, you've got the damn Dragon Man. The Eel shoots lightning, giving him the only unique offensive power on the team.

Point is, whoever was recruiting here did a bang-up job. Got a real varied lineup.

Anyway, Spider-Man has been hiding in the shadows for God knows how long waiting for a proper line to come in on. He gets it, albeit awkwardly, when the Eel says that "Plant Man and Tangle will immobilize [Blood Rose] long enough for Blitz to--" Which is, obviously, time to yell "Clear an extra-wide path for... blah blah blah Spider-Armor blah." Once you give Spider-Man an opening, you can't shut the guy up. Incidentally, he's lying about the "Steel Spider" thing: the armor's made of a new webbing compound, which Pete whipped up during his earlier night-long dramatic pause. Why it's shiny, I'll never know. Why Spidey keeps referring to it as being metal, I'll never know. Damn if that webbing isn't versatile, though.

The very shiny Spidey makes short work of the Enforcers, until Thermite freezes him, at which time comic book science catches up with Pete.That's a law of Comic Book Physics, right there: Intense Cold Makes Armor Brittle and Extremely Breakable. There's the Iron Man Corollary to that law, which states that the above is null and void if you are, in fact, Iron Man.

De-armored, Spider-Man, with an assist from Nightwatch, finishes off the Enforcers and catches Gauntlet and Blood Rose, leaving him with two Richard Fisks and ending probably the only Spider-Man anniversary issue that doesn't recap his origin or somehow include the Green Goblin.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A side note:

I often wonder how bitterly disappointed people are when they're pointed here by Google and find absolutely no useful information about gutters.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The wonders of alcohol and soccer

After Arsenal lost the Champions League final to Barcelona, a man showed up at my local comic shop angered and a hair drunk. His team had lost and Manhunter had been canceled. Thanks to a baffling combination of righteous anger and disposable income, he decided that he would do what he could to rectify the situation he felt he had more control over: he bought the next three issues of Manhunter for every single person with a pullbox.

True story, hand to God.

Thanks to the Gunners having to play a man down from seventeen minutes in, I get free comics. That's a total butterfly flapping its wings in Africa and starting a fire in the Amazon situation, right there.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Top Fiddy

I blame The Great Curve:

3:Lex Luthor
4:Robin (Tim Drake)
5:Jim Gordon
6:Alfred Pennyworth
7:Oracle (Last four: Batman would be the most annoying character in history were it not for his supporting cast)
8:Green Lantern (Alan Scott)
9:Jack Knight
10:The Shade
12:Ted Knight
13:Lois Lane
15:Flash (Jay Garrick)
16:Mr Terrific (Michael Holt)
18:Robin/Nightwing (Dick Grayson. Tim Drake beats him purely on my own sentimentality)
19:Mr Mind (a freaking mind controlling worm? I dare you to make less sense)
20:Flash (Wally West. Jay's way cooler. Five spaces cooler, apparently)
21:Plastic Man
23:Black Manta (he's patently ridiculous, and I sort of love him for it)
24:Martian Manhunter
25:Captain Cold (the man has an ice gun, and he fights the Fastest Man Alive? His real superpower is hiding those giant balls inside those eskimo pants)
26:Black Adam (if Captain Marvel was ever written interestingly in my lifetime, maybe he'd be here)
27:Harvey Bullock
28:Perry White (if he doesn't know Clark Kent is Superman, he's the worst reporter on earth; if he does, he's the best boss ever)
29:Wesley Dodds
30:Mr Miracle
31:The Atom (Ray Palmer)
32:Starro the Conqueror
34:The Spectre
35:Booster Gold
37:Robbie Reed
38:Amanda Waller
39:Green Lantern (God help me, but Kyle Rayner. I was raised on Morrison-era JLA, okay?)
40:TO Morrow
41:Jonah Hex
42:Enemy Ace (I defy you to design me a better hat than the one he wears)
43:Hugo Strange
46:Metron (if just because knowing that him showing up means that things are about to get ridiculous)
49:Deadshot (don't even bother asking me why)
50:Mr Mxyptlk

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Maybe it's my not-so-inner geek...

But the Superman Returns spot that just ran during The OC was really, really good.

Yeah, I watch The OC. Shut up.

And when I go there, I go there with you. It's This Week's Reviews

Liiiiiight week.

Shadowpact #1:
You know, I really like Bill Willingham's art. I don't know how long he can keep up this monthly one-man show, but it's good stuff. I like the tone; it could've been ridiculously dark, given the subject matter, and it's not, which is nice. Besides, I can't not recommend a book with Rex the freaking Wonder Dog in it.

Robin #150: Robin busts David Cain, the Living Batman Plotpoint from Bruce Wayne: Murderer and father of the former Batgirl, out of jail. He also fights ninjas. And a boomerang-related subplot is introduced. Freddie Williams continues to perform capably on art, but I was hoping for more bang in a hundred-fiftieth issue, if just because years of reading comics has lead me to expect a ton from arbitrary anniversary issues. That's more my fault than Beechen's, though, so I can't hold it against the book.

52 #2: I'm thinking about just reviewing this every four issues (you know, once a month), because I kinda get the feeling not too terribly much is going to happen per issue. The highlight this time around was Will Magnus hanging out with TO Morrow, but that could be a strictly personal thing, as I think TO Morrow is pretty awesome.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

We're the Anachronauts!

Near as I can tell, the events of Infinite Crisis #7 take place in less than a day. 52 starts at some point soon after the New Earth was created. The image to the left is from six days into the 52 year.

Now, I can't say I read too many Superman books, so maybe that Superboy statue was chilling in Metropolis before the crisis, I don't know. The way I'm understanding it right now is that somebody built a monument to Conner before the fires were out. Which is pretty awesome, actually. Especially when you figure that most of your speedsters are out of commission and it's not made of glowing green energy, so unless, like, Terra banged it out, someone had to go to considerable trouble to get it built that quickly.

Or, you know, the timeline could just be really, really screwy. I mean, this is a universe that would have you believe that Zero Hour happened a little over a year ago and that Jack Knight was Starman for about six years (the ghost of his brother visited him once a year, by his own admission, giving a decent means to clock how much time was going by) even though Jack made his first appearance in Zero Hour and had retired before Hourman had even joined the JSA and said that only a year had passed since that wacky, wacky crisis in time.

Ah, Hell. Best not to think about it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Super-Lame Dream Journal!

Due in no small part to some kind of flu-y mystery illness that has left me even more idle and useless than usual, I slept for something like thirteen hours last night. At some point in there, I had, unsurprisingly, a dream.

I dreamed I was a superhero. A really, really shitty superhero. I was The Pedestrian.

I swear to God. The Pedestrian. I had walking-based superpowers. Like... walking. And not driving. To fully immerse you in the ludicrousness of this, I have provided an artist's interpretation of what I was wearing while in my crime-fighting guise. I'm fairly sure the logo was designed by my subconscious to emulate a boot's treads, and who am I to argue with my subconscious?

Anyway, like any self-respecting young man with a silly name and negligible combat abilities, I was hanging out with Captain America. We were in the woods for some reason known only to dream logic and there were some goons that had just committed a crime. They were trying to escape, and Cap told me to stop them.

I go "fuck you, man. You're the war veteran, you fight them." Through the time-tested art of patriotic speech, Cap convinces me to take on the thugs. I recall doing one of those patented Golden Age Robin low-leg spears to take a guy out before kicking him while he was down, at which time the Falcon appeared to finish off the rest of the group.

And then my alarm went off, I noticed I was running a fever, and I called out sick from work before falling asleep for another six hours.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

But we're talking kings and succession; This Week's Reviews can't be caught unawares

Bear with me, I'm sick as a freakin' dog.

Captain Atom: Armageddon #8 (of 9): I've read maybe two issues of WildCATs ever, back when Lobdell and Charest were on the book, so my exposure to Grifter is limited to that and the character as written by Warren Ellis in WildCATs/Aliens and Stormwatch. I'm sure if I read more of him, I'd find him to be a tired Gambit retread or a Wolverine clone or something, but thanks to the fact that I've only seen him in about five comics ever, I think he's sort of neat. I mean, he's just a regular guy running around a comic book universe where even the Batman analogue has superpowers, which means he makes for a decent point-of-view character and, God help me, I sort of like his costume, even though it may as well have a chest logo that says "HI, I WAS DESIGNED IN THE EARLY NINETEEN-NINETIES." Or maybe "I WAS THE FIRST SKETCH JIM LEE DID WHEN HE CREATED GAMBIT."

Anyway, if this Cap Atom series were a buddy cop movie, Grifter would be the slightly grizzled veteran who Plays by His Own Rules. Or something. That analogy is terrible. I'm sorry. Suffice to say, Grifter's been in this book quite a bit.

While this still feels like it could've been a six-issue mini instead of a niner, especially in light of the fact that we know Cap makes it back to the DCU somehow since he's in a big vat over in Battle for Bludhaven (uh... spoiler!), this issue really kicks things up. Pfeifer plays the Authority more or less as villains, which works way too well considering how generally nice they all were originally. Honestly, I can't see the Authority as written by Ellis acting like this, but it's decidedly in-character for the team under Millar and What'sHisFace McWroteTheBookRecently. They've become total douchebags, Midnighter in particular.

Kinda get the feeling that things look grim for the WildStorm Universe as we know it, though.

Battle for Bludhaven #3 (of 6): The swamps outside Bludhaven are, apparently, less like the swamps of New Jersey (more or less where I think Bludhaven is) and more like the swamps of, say, Louisiana or the freaking Amazon or something. Robin is rocking some kind of proto-mullet. Also, it didn't really occur to me until just now, but Superman told the Titans to help out in Bludhaven only to have Freedom's Ring kick them out soon thereafter. An entire year goes by. The Titans go off doing whatever it is they're doing during 52 and then decide to come back? Jerks.

She-Hulk #7: Starfox is a rapist, kind of. Falco and Slippy are stunned.

Will Conrad turns in some really solid art, there's a great big with a Hydra agent in love with Starfox, and Hank Pym gets the line of the month with his response to being asked to be a character witness in a sexual assault case ("a character witness in a sexual assault case? Me?!"), but the whole rape in comics thing is old and, honestly, kind of weirds me out.

Superman #652: Pete Woods is back on art and Superman's back in costume. His outfit now has the new movie's raised chest logo (which I virtually guarantee will be flattened out in nine-tenths of Superman's future appearances. Like, you know, on the cover of this very issue) and weirdly long sleeves. The bits where Clark is re-learning his powers are fantastic and the last couple pages are just beautiful. Actually, on the whole, it's a very good issue of a very good story. Kinda underlines how random Superman's rogue's gallery is that he's up against a newish Puzzler, Hellgrammite, Riot, Bloodsport, Live Wire and Silver Banshee here, though. Silver Banshee exists in my head as the go-to female Superman villain, and I know next to nothing about the character beyond "yells to kill people" and "is kind of neat-looking."

52 #1: I really like Booster Gold. The guy just tries so hard and fails so often that it's endearing, somehow. And I know that, were I a superhero, I'd be covering myself in corporate logos, too. His chunks of the story are quite good, as are Steel's. It's always good to see Steel, a character that is, without question, the single best thing to come out of Superman dying. Same with the Question. I mean the "always good to see him" part, not the "best thing to come out of Superman dying" part.

I'm kinda weirded out by Ralph Dibny suddenly turning suicidal, since he seemed to be pretty okay at the tail end of Identity Crisis and when he popped up in JLA, but, hey, his house got blown up. Sure, I don't know how many souvenirs he could've had handy considering his apartment was all kinds of lit on fire back when Sue died, but I'll roll with it.

I like the format and the idea here. We'll see if I'm sick of it by, like, September.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I'm a whore

God help me, but I kind of like DC's 52 site. I know, I just made fun of Marvel's countdown timer-thingie, but that's got no entertaining content and just exists to let you know when a book's shipping (which is actually kind of risky, now that I think about it. What're the odds that every issue will show up on time? The likelihood of that clock being made a liar seems alarmingly high). DC's effort may include a similar countdown, but it's also got a bunch of weird things to look at.

I'm a sucker for fake sports teams and banner ads for Cadmus, I guess. Maybe it's just me, but I'm happy to know that Opal City has a basketball team and they're handily defeating the Cavaliers.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

This Week's Reviews now as I'm swimming through a symphony of sound

Teen Titans #35: Mammomax is in both the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the Brotherhood of Evil. Because every Evil Brotherhood needs a man-elephant, I guess. It's in the by-laws. Anyway, Ravager's kind of crazy, Robin's still trying to clone Superboy, the Brotherhood's trying to clone a body for The Brain (so Brain and Monsieur Mallah can "live happily ever after." That plotline really weirds me out, by the way), every time cloning is mentioned it is in bold type denoting importance or something, and the Doom Patrol... patrols doomily. Oh, and you can say "Christ" in the context of "Christ. Who is he?" in a DC book, in case you ever feel the need to do such things.

Action Comics #838: Pete Woods is credited on the cover, even though he didn't do the book. Renaro Guedes did, and it's damned good work, if I do say so. Clark Kent fights Intergang, Jimmy Olsen totally has a crush on him, and, in a SHOCKING TWIST, it looks like Superman's powers are coming back. Luthor and Toyman are totally stealing this story, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Marvel Team-Up #20: Shockingly little teaming-up going on, considering the title. Captain America fights some AIMies and a random guy gets the Ringmaster's Cosmic Cube ring from the book's second arc. Mostly set-up, but still fun.

Detective Comics #819: Man, all the villains getting whacked lately and Killer Croc's still around. I hate Killer Croc. Anyway, I'm way more into the backup story with Jason Bard, as I find it kind of awesome the Orca was married and occasionally had Firebug over for coffee. Don't know which Firebug, exactly, but he apparently made really good coffee. I like knowing that villains have lives beyond eeeevil.

Infinite Crisis #7: Looking at the cover, Perez sure did pick some weird match-ups for the fight scene. Nightwing punching out Scarecrow I understand, but Robin fighting Bizarro seems a hair, I don't know, one-sided, even with Steel thrown in the mix (great to see him back, by the way). Batman's beating on Black Manta while Aquaman fights Bane - maybe Batman yelled something ridiculous like "ARTHUR! CASTLING!" and they traded partners. And, hey! Lady Quark's alive and shooting Generic Energy Blasts at Dr Light. Man, if my last name was "Light," I don't know if I could resist the urge to name my kid "Bud" or "Miller."

Moving into the book itself, we learn that Mr Zsasz now wears a wee little domino mask, presumably to hide his identity from those that won't remember hundreds of tally marks scarred into a shirtless man's flesh, Electrocutioner and Brutale were apparently outside of Bludhaven when it went all 'splodey and Bane, much like a professional wrestler, makes use of a known commodity for a finishing move: his very successful backbreaker. Also, for having the Most Powerful Weapon in the Universe, the Green Lantern Corps sure do make for great cannon fodder.

Spoilers here on out:

I think the biggest story here is that the Green Lantern from the freaking Tangent Universe is sitting on a beach in the DCU (the, uhm, object, not the character). Leastways, I think that's what it is. That's kind of awesome. I like the idea of Jay Garrick being the only Flash, but I also read the new Outsiders in the shop and I've heard all that "the Flash who's the Flash in the new Flash #1 won't be the Flash for long" stuff, so it's obviously not going to stick long.

There's a two-page spread of a whole bunch of heroes flying at me at the tail end. In that, we see that Raven has a new costume, and it's not an improvement. Martian Manhunter has a new costume, and it makes him look kinda like a green Regis from that Sliding Albion arc of Authority. Which... isn't a good look for him, really. Green and gray don't go all that well together.

There seems to be a new Black Condor. THANK GOD. I mean, I almost boycotted comics for the six months that name was out of circulation. Metamorpho's still wearing smart black slacks. Six of the Seven Soldiers show up. The Marvel Family looks weeeeird, as does Dr Mid-Nite. Kalinara will be happy to see Sand running about, all alive. Jay Garrick and another Flash show up, so forget everything that happened like two pages before.

There's also a new Batwoman, and Starboy shows up to fulfill the prophecy of him being the Starman after Jack Knight.

Oh, and there's some Lobo. Lobo. Superboy failed to kill the nineties completely, I guess.

There're a few really minor retcons. Nothing worth getting up in arms over, really, but if the whole outcome of this is Batman's killer having been caught, an off chance of an in-continuity Young Clark Kent Superboy and Wonder Woman being a JLA founder (does that mean she replaces Black Canary or was there in addition to her?), it's a damned long way to go to get there.

Well, that's that. We're all set for a sequel. Wake me in twenty years, when the current crop of fifteen-year-old antisocial comic book readers take over the industry and decide to shake things up again.

Never give kids cigarettes in the greater Metropolis area.

Superman will throw your ass into orbit.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Shameless Self-Promotion

Just finished up the first issue of Inertia City Blues. And now I'm whoring it to you because I'm all about providing free entertainment for the shambling masses.

Here's a teaser for the eventually-upcoming second issue:
Communist monsters with enormous mustaches! A man armed with giant needles! A character called "Johnny Science!" I take myself seriously.

Monday, May 01, 2006

It's even dumber when you try to explain it!

Nick: ok. when you have a second i still have no idea how jason todd is not dead. no rush, but it gets to me.
Me: Oh, God.
Me: This takes some doing.
Nick: nevermind then
Me: A'ight, you know anything about Crisis?
Nick: i know that not having read it, i think i have it decently summed up in m'head
Me: Because this involves Ra's Al Ghul's Lazarus Pits and a Superboy from an alternate earth punching the walls of reality.
Nick: i got the lazarus pits from hush. dont know nothin bout hole punching.
Nick: and do you mean crisis on infinite earths or infinite crisis
Me: End of Crisis, Alex Luthor, the son of the good Lex Luthor from the anti-matter Earth-3 where the Justice League was evil, used his retardedly vague powers to take the Superman of Earth-2, his Lois Lane and the Superboy of Earth-Prime to some kind of heaven situation.
Nick: ha. okay im with you that far
Me: Alright, Alex Luthor decides that they saved the wrong earth at the end of the Crisis.
Me: And he starts trying to prod Superboy into busting them out of the little dimension they're in.
Me: Superboy punches the walls of the dimension so very hard that it starts to effect the reality of the universe.
Nick: superboy can just "do" this, im assuming
Me: Yeah, he's Superboy from when Superboy could shoot rainbows out of his fucking hands if he felt like it.
Nick: word
Me: So Superboy punches the wall, and all the sudden Jason Todd survived the explosion, but the change isn't retroactive: he's still beaten to shit and in a coffin.
Me: He digs his way out, amnesiac. Al Ghul finds him and trains him to fight Batman at some further date.
Me: Talia, for some reason, Lazarus Pits him and springs him from Ra's, so Jason's fully healed and slightly insane.
Nick: huh.
Me: Yeah.
Nick: wow.
Me: So, when Batman was fighting Hush in the graveyard and Hush took off his outfit, revealing Jason Todd, it briefly actually was Jason Todd, before Clayface took over for him.
Nick: so then the fake jason todd from hush was clayface, or the villain Hush is someone totally different
Nick: or both
Me: The fake Hush was Jason Todd and Clayface.
Me: Hush was Tommy Elliot because Jeph Loeb is kind of a shitty writer.
Nick: word. ok.

That was so very confusing. I don't even know if I'm totally right - I had to've fudged something somewhere.

Sheep go to Heaven, Hitman went to Hell

You think John McCrea of Cake ever gets mail meant for John McCrea of Hitman, or vice-versa?

I kind of hope so.