Quit Harshin' on the Comic Relief (and More!)

Just a quick one today, partially because I was slack on the reviews this week and so am appending them to this post and partially because I think that I'm going to save some of the things that I was thinking about this week for a future theme week (that's right, we got plenty of those suckers in the works. Just wait and see).

What I was thinking about was the poor neglected state of the comic relief character in comics. Derided (Bouncing Boy), abused (Blue Beetle), written out of continuity (Bat-Mite) or given a dose of grim 'n gritty (poor ol' Speedball), the comic relief character is not doing so well in current comics. This is a shame, I say, because done right a comic relief character can serve to take the starch out of even the most determinedly serious crusader for justice, something that some heroes (*cough*batman*cough*) sorely need from time to time.

And so I give you one of the very best comic relief characters ever, Mr. Johnny Thunder, a guy who has had virtually all of the above happen to him (I don't know about you but I reckon that Alzheimer's iss about as grim and  gritty as it gets). Back in the day, though, he was a force to be reckoned with, a bowtie-wearing sap who was too stupid to remember that he was virtually omnipotent with the help of his mystic pink thunderbolt. A guy whose idea of a good disguise a cap and gown, red hair and a black moustache, because the point of a disguise is for them not to recognize you, right? Johnny Thunder filled the role of the stupid but well-meaning doofus better than virtually anyone since, and for that I salute him.

But if you need any more proof that Johnny Thunder was comic gold, just check out his finest moment, from All-Star ComicsI No. 23, the first appearance of the Psycho-Pirate:

Eeee! Keep on buffoonin', Johnny Thunder.

And now:

John Buys Comics and Sends Geoff Johns Some Mixed Messages

Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time No. 3 (of 5)

Man, every time this comic comes out I’m just going to gush all over the place. I know that I have a lot of love for a lot of comics but I think that if I were able to compel everyone who reads this to pick up just one book then it would be this one. And this issue is self-contained enough to read by itself! Buy it… buuuuuuuy iiiiiiit…

And just in case my amazing powers of suggestion/persuasion aren’t enough, I’ll get you up to speed: Atomic Robo, brainchild of Dr. Nikola Tesla, is scrapping with a Lovecraftian horror that transcends time. So Lovecraftian, in fact, that it spent the first two issues possessing the head of HP Lovecraft himself, which is something that I have yet to see Cthulhu do. Having defeated the creature in 1926, Robo and some of his Fightin’ Scientists now have to fight a smarter iteration of the thing in 1957. Trust me, it’s delicious: terrific dialogue, crazy monsters, beautiful art, cheap 1950s gas… The Clevinger/Wegener/Pattison/Powell team are a comics-making juggernaut.

Buuuuy iiiiiit…

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps No. 2 (of 3)

This is the comic that I specifically requested from DC and then completely missed when the first issue came out last week. I’m so good at this. Well, since I won’t be seeing issue numba 1 for a week or so yet I’ll just ignore its existence long enough to talk about this’un.

Yep, it’s a good time, just as I’d figured. It’s always fun to check out the backgrounds of some of the crazy aliens that are always flying around in the background of any scene of Lantern-on-Lantern violence. This issue we’ve got Red Lantern Bleez, the skeleton-wings lady (question: Red Lanterns are basically mindless rage-bags, so who creates those nifty custom costumes?), Orange Lantern Blume, the keen giant head that Larfleeze is all the time siccing on folks and… Carol Ferris.


Bad Geoff Johns! Carol Ferris has been a Star Sapphire for about 700 years already and this story contains nothing new or the least bit fun. I’m interested in this comic for crazy tales of crazy aliens, like I said above, not a pre-established character talking to a ring for eight pages. Seriously, this could have been edited down to about two pages (or possibly three panels: “Carol Ferris, joint the Star Sapphires!” “No!” “But if you don’t, Hal Jordan gonna die!” “Okay then!”) and stuck in any issue of Green Lantern or Green Lantern Corps from the last year. Or serialized over eight issues - it’s not like Carol is doing anything else in the DCU. Stop advancing your plot in my stand-alone! Whine! Complain!

Other than that, good comic.

Gotham City Sirens No. 2

SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGEMENT: Well, there’s more T&A in this issue, fer sure, if I’m counting that against it. Which I think I am, because my cynical side claims that the T and the A are two of the major reasons that this comic is being produced. But there’s a lot of Harley Quinn, and I even liked her in Countdown. Does that balance? Even if it’s mostly her T and her A? Guh.

Anyway, here I am getting caught up on ideological issues when I should just settle this on the concrete evidence of the paper artifact in my hands. Well, how is it, Johnathan? Enh. It looks nice but the plot is pretty unenthralling, to say the least. I liked Catwoman’s lie about Batman’s identity and I like the Grey Hoodie Gang as minor antagonists but the main bad guy is Hush (minus 50 points) who is masquerading as Bruce Wayne (minus 7 million points for needlessly complicating things in the Bat-family books just as they seem to be running smoothly) and if there’s any one villain that should have been killed off by now, it’s Hush. Black Lanterns? Anybody?

Hey, maybe it’ll get good someday but I’m not willing to stick things out. So yeah, I’m saving four bucks next month.


Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds No 5 (of 5! Woo!)

Heee! Final Crisis is complete! In the most awesome way possible!

Man, forget drawing every Legionnaire over the course of the series, I think that Perez might’ve done it in this issue alone. This is definitely a fantastic effort by everyone involved, and Johns has managed to clear up all of the lingering loose ends regarding the Time Trapper, Superboy Prime, Superboy Regular, the Legion and its place in the various multiverses…

And speaking of the multiverse, the implication of all of the alternate Legions showing up is that they all exist out there somewhere - even the 5 Years Later Legion, which some were speculating that the Action Comics Adult Legion had retconned out of existence. Hooray for inclusiveness!

And hooray for three Brainiacs 5! Hooray for the ultimate fate of Superboy Prime! Hooray for stopping while I haven’t really spoiled anything!


We Kill Monsters No. 1 (of 6)

There are a lot of small comics companies doing a lot of nice work lately, for which I am highly thankful. Of all of these, Red 5 Comics might just be starting to pull ahead of the pack in my eyes. To begin with, they have Atomic Robo, which you may recall me gushing at length about earlier. And now here comes We Kill Monsters.

I can't say what it is about a comic where two auto mechanic brothers discover the existence of a race of blue-blooded, three-eyed monsters and start fighting them with pickup trucks and shovels and the mutated arm that one of them has acquired. Oh wait - I did say it. Blue-collar monster fighting by a couple of well-written characters, yeah. Plus the art and the colours are loverly.

Oh, and there's a romantic subplot shaping up, if you're into sappiness. Not that I am. At all. (sighhhh... they look like they'll make such a nice couple...)

The Life and Times of Savior 28 No. 4 - Still liking this, but remind me never to read it last. This is a damn depressing comic at times.

Green Lantern No. 44 - Zombie Martian Manhunter Vs. Green Lantern and the Flash! Highly enjoyable! Terrific ending! Scar vomits more than ever! That last one was not a point in the comics favour!

Dethklok Versus the Goon - Well, I love Metalocalypse and I love The Goon, so how could this go wrong? Well, it didn’t, but it didn’t go completely right either. Everyone was acting on character and there were some good lines and the expected massive bloodshed. It just didn’t… mesh. I think it’s the fact that Dethklok was wandering around in the Goon’s world without adopting his art style, which is just rude, not like that nice Hellboy character who visited a few years back. So: good enough but not as good as I’d hoped.

Invincible No. 64 - Kirkman you crazy bastard. Good show.

Batman: Streets of Gotham - I'm playing catchup on a lot of fronts, it seems. Just read the first two issues and they weren't bad, thhough I'm sad to see that this is where that Hush malarky started up. In any case: it's a good look at Gotham as a whole, with alla its crazy vigilantes and villains and crazies. And the Manhunter backup is really super fun. Hooray for the return of Jane Doe!

Action Comics No. 879 - Good stuff, same as always. I just want to note that the Captain Atom backup is great! It makes no sense but I know that it will eventually! I love that sort of thing!

Wednesday Comics No. 3 - Upside-down Batman! Dr. Canus! Pa Kent's facial expression! Java's inquiry! Strange Adventure! Future Flash! Two separate alien insect monsters! And all the rest! Definitely enough delight for my dime.

Superman/Batman No. 62 - A couple weeks late on this one but I'd just like to pipe up and call it a fun little story.

Good night everybody!