John Bought Comics, Honest

I've had a terrible tendency lately to let the slightest bit of business on a Thursday evening derail me from writing those reviews that I do, but I will battle against those procrastination impulses with the only weapon that I have: brevity! Yes, by telling myself that it will take less time than usual, I have broken free from the shackles of immobility! Huzzah!

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES COMICS: Well, the Superman/Batman No. 75 super-sized special was a bit of a bust. I have never seen Batman do less in the course of a comic. I realize that it is heavily implied that he schooled Brainiac 5 with his mad detective skills, but honestly, as much as I love the Legion, Batman should always explicitly show them up. Being from the future does not give you any sort of advantage over the MF Batman, kids. I did like the Kryptonite Luthor as a villain and the various back-up pieces were fun, but my heavens was this a dull read.

By Contrast, I couldn't be more happy with the Legion of Super-Heroes ongoing, currently at number 4. Huge cast having space adventures? Check. Plots that build off of the series' past rather than merely rehashing it? Check. Quislet? Check. Let the good times roll.

BATMAN COMICS: What a week! Detective Comics No. 868 was just solidly entertaining - Joker imitators and Batman imitators having a war in the streets is nothing but entertainment - but Batman No. 702 was a revelation, quite literally. To whit: about half the time when I finish a Grant Morrison yarn I have the feeling that I'm missing important details, and as much as I liked Batman RIP/Final Crisis/The Return of Bruce Wayne I definitely had that feeling about a million times. This comic made that feeling go away. Mostly. For the Batman parts. It's a joyous feeling.

SUPERMAN COMICS: As I said last time, Lex Luthor in Action Comics is a fantastic time. It will keep me reading at least one Superman book even if variable-speed Walking Superman (well, I assume. He's already about a fifth of the way across the US, right? If it took him a month to get that far, then this should be over by Christmas! But probably not. He'll probably slow down soon) breaks my spirit. Not only does it look great, but Paul Cornell is writing Luthor as the evil mastermind that he deserves to be, something that not everyone can do. 

Meanwhile, Superman: Secret Origin No. 6. Well, as I said way back when this started, I agree that Superman's origin was probably due for a tweaking and the first four issues of this series did a pretty good job of that. And then the last two tied Superman's past in to the present that was the storyline that ended almost three months ago. So not only does this issue tie Superman's origin into a plot that is now over but it helps establish the antagonism of a character who is now dead, whoo hoo. On the plus side, it reminded me that no matter how much I loathed the General Sam Lane subplot in last years Superman comics, in retrospect it was much better than the current bumblepiggery.

ROBERT KIRKMAN COMICS: Invincible and Science Dog and Guarding the Globe in one week? and they're all really fun? This cat is on fire! I'm going to use the word trifecta! It's a total trifecta! Yeah!

Seriously, though: I really enjoy these comics. 

CODEBREAKERS TP: I could never find the second issue of this series, so this is a complete godsend. If you missed this in single issues then I must encourage you to check it out: it's essentially an action movie starring crypto nerds. Bonus: the main dude has grey-sides-and-back Reed Richards hair and it is amazing. If I weren't going to end up with an amazingly receded hairline I would aspire to hair like his.

And... done! Apologies for the horrible sentence structure but you can't argue with laziness. And laziness is my super-power. I'm the god-damn zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

When John Buys Comics, That is not News. But When Comics Buy John...

Hello again. You may notice that it is a day two days later in the week than usual, as holidays traditionally interfere with the delivery of comics in a way that snow/sleet/rain/etc. wishes that it could exert over the US Mail (it is at this point that, were this a stand-up comedy act, some wag would begin heckling, probably on the topic of my reviews not ever being on time any more anyway. And then burly men dressed as Bouncing Boy would toss him out on his ear). I offer no apologies, but will give a small pirate figure to the first person who sheds a tear in my presence over this fact. He has lived with me for a year, you see, and it is time for him to move on.

The Anchor No. 2

The week that the first issue of this came out I got distracted by a moth or something and didn't get around to posting anything. This is a shame, as it was a really neato comic and I bet that I could have gotten quite loquacious about it. Luckily, issue 2 is also neato.

The Anchor is similar to characters like Atomic Robo and Hellboy, being a big dude who solves monster-related problems through the liberal application of violence plus the occasional very clever idea. This specific iteration of one of my favourite archetypes is distinguished by a couple of things: first by the fact that he is less a wise-cracking smartmouth than an introspective monkish type and secondly by the fact that he is kind of two guys. See, he exists both as a monster-fighting strongman here on Earth and simultaneously as a spiritual being who guards the border between Earth and Hell. Oh, and any wounds that the latter takes are expressed on the former, leading to a number of panels where wounds spontaneously burst forth on his chest and so on. It's a good basis for a comic about monster fighting - being God's appointed warrior or whatever generally works out pretty decently as a motivation, for example.

Issue numba one featured a fairly generic ice monster ravaging Iceland (though the Anchor defeating the thing by having his Hell-body pick up a flaming demon, thus causing his Earth-body to burst into flames, was way neat), but the centaur wood-god thing in this issue is far more creepy - hopefully the trend continues. Not that I wouldn't be freaked out if a giant frog/ape thing made out of ice was rampaging down the street, but knowing that and being a bit creeped out by what's on the page in front of me are two very distinct things.

Also, the Anchor stone cold rips out his own beard with one hand, which is BAD ASS.

Batman/Doc Savage Special (One-Shot)

If you read any DC comics at all then I’m sure that you’ve noticed the previews for this comic in the back of, like, everything for the last two or three weeks. What with my fondness for the pulp magazines and so forth I must admit that I was intrigued. What I managed to completely miss was that this special was serving as an introduction to a whole pulpy-style sub DCU, and from what I see here, it could be really cool.

According to the teaser info at the back, this First Wave (is this the name of the universe? That’s not a very good name) is going to feature a lot of adventurer and vigilante types of characters - you got your Batman, your Doc Savage and his crew, the Avenger, the Blackhawks, the Spirit… I got a little bit of nerd-rage over some of the changes that they looked to be making but then took a step back and realized that I was being an idiot. Even if I don’t agree that “the only way to make EBONY WHITE work is to make the character a brash girl.” that ain’t no reason that it won’t work.But seriously, Ebony has been written successfully as a non-brash non-girl at DC Comic within the last year.

This could be really cool if it's done right, you guys. As far as I can tell, the closest thing to a super-power in evidence is going to be the Avenger’s face-molding ability, and there are autogyros and dirigibles and also cell phones and computers. I feel like there’s high potential for a major confrontation in a long-lost temple, with the villain wielding a steam-powered, back-mounted device that harnesses etheric waves and maybe also controls an ancient stone robot. If there manages to be more than four or five issues without basically every regular DCU character making a sly cameo, that is (you know, like Bruce Wayne charters a flight somewhere and the pilot is Hal Jordan and then they team up to fight some non-magenta racketeer named Sinestro. Not that that couldn't make for a fun story, but it would really take away from the whole reinvention of the DCU angle. It'd be like Tangent Light)

As for the issue itself: Good intro. Looks great, does a great job of establishing the world and its synthesis of 1930s and present day technologies and aesthetics, has a lot of socks to the jaw, etc. Doc Savage and Batman are actually Doc Savage/Superman and the Shadow/Batman, and the relationship between the two very nicely reflects those that bind the four, both in terms of inspiration and historical interaction. And really, who hasn’t wanted to see Batman wielding twin .45s from time to time? (Oops, I caught a few reviews of the book after writing that and evidently not everyone does want to see that, at least partially based on the ridiculousness of a man devoted to the pursuit of not killing having guns. But who says that this Batman doesn't shoot to kill? It would totally work with the whole pulp thing, you know it would.)

So colour me intrigued, I guess. I’m very interested to see where this goes.

Batgirl No. 4 - Ah ha! I knew that this series could be fun! Batgirl and Oracle cracking wise at each other is great, and Stephanie’s completely un-Bat-family style of fighting crime (well, maybe not completely, but she does fall over a lot more than the rest of them). I am so very glad that the whole “trying to talk the new vigilante out of vigilanting” period has passed and we can get down to some good old-fashioned crime-stomping. Now hopefully there won’t be an appearance by Cassandra Cain around issue 10 in which she demands the Batgirl mantle back because of honour and all that bullplop.

However, if Misfit shows up in that role then I will be delighted.


And best twist ending to a comic in a long time. I’m highly eager to see how this wraps up.

Hellboy: the Wild Hunt No. 8 (of 8) - As I’ve said before, one of the great pleasures of the Hellboy family of titles is the changeability of the whole thing - from the very beginning there has been no such thing as a status quo, though the degree of change that occurs in each story arc has been increasing over the years. Back in the day, you might get one or two crazy revelations per storyline, with maybe one character being added to the cast or killed off or such. Nowadays, well… I personally was knocked on my ass at least twice during The Wild Hunt.

Okay, that's it for this week, as I've been super busy and haven't even read half of what I bought. Okay, substitute "eating out a lot and playing Fallout 3" for "super busy".

John Buys Comics

I’m a bit out of sorts today, so forgive any lameness in the ol’ writing.

Chew No. 1

They had me at the house ad. A couple of weeks ago, Image slapped an ad for Chew on the back of… something, probably Invincible, and I knew that I’d be buying it. Standard detective fare doesn’t generally turn my crank, but show me a book where the investigative role is filled by something oddball (a dinosaur in a human suit, a fictional character who has emerged from a historical novel, a gang of computer nerds in a camper van, etc.) and I’m a pretty easy sell. There’s something about the mystery genre that benefits from the addition of strangeness. This is probably why I like Detective Chimp so much.

In Chew, the oddball investigator is one Tony Chu, who is ‘cibopathic’, meaning that he receives psychic impressions from virtually anything that he eats and therefore that he doesn’t eat much of anything at all. Tony’s world is slightly different from our own (outside of the psychic power thing) in that the US government’s response to the non-starting bird flu epidemic was to ban chicken. So: the story opens with hungry vice cop Tony Chu staking out a chicken speakeasy. I would be sold on this book already, so if you’re not, I don’t know what else to say.

This is another one of those terrific creator-owned books from Image that I’ve been loving so much recently. John Layman’s written a pretty great intro to the setting and characters here, with a throwaway mystery to showcase the amazing gustatory detection of Mr. Chu. Nice pacing, good characterization - heck, you really get a sense for the plight of a justice-seeking, eternally-hungry grump. Rob Guillory’s the guy on art and colour and is extremely well-suited to the book, particularly in his command of facial expression and body language. Likewise, he lays down some highly appropriate and super evocative colours. See? This is the lame writing thing kicking in. It was great: the art was great, the colours were great. The story was great. The premise is great.


Secret Six No. 10

Woo! Now this is what I am talking about. The past nine issues of Secret Six have been great and all but have featured the Six in what is basically a heroic role - they’re after the Get Out of Hell Free Card but so are a lot of much less savory people, or they’re killing potential child-killers or whatever. The point is that they weren’t doing anything that, say, the Outsiders wouldn’t get up to but the methods and dynamics that came into play were different because the people that were doing it were amoral villain types. Now, not that I had anything wrong with that setup - I’d be pleased to read more adventures of the Semi-heroic Six - but it’s really quite refreshing that this storyline revolves around the team signing up with what are very clearly some bad bad dudes and that the choice is not how they will go about achieving their reasonably good ends but exactly how evil they are prepared to be; how compromised they are going to allow themselves to become for the sake of a job. Moral ambiguity, yeah!

Superman: World of New Krypton No. 4

Heh, I just noticed that this sucker doesn’t have an “of 8” or what have you after the issue number. Clever ploy to obfuscate the exact length of this “World Without a Superman” dooflappy? Don’t worry: even if it is, Dan Didio will spill the beans on Superman’s return to Earth well in advance (if he hasn’t already, that is). As with Jersey Gods, I’m really enjoying this ongoing look at the workings of an alien society, all stitched together out of the Kryptonian history that’s built up over the last seventy years (“Ooo, a Byrne-style Kryptonian! And an allusion to the old story about all of the black people on Krypton living on an island!”). Seeing the Green Lanterns interacting with this new society was a good time, though I’m a bit confused - over in Strange Adventures folks are having a hard time raising Oa on the space radio due to all of the craziness happening with “Prelude to Blackest Night” stuff. Is this happening before that? After? I’m normally pretty willing to look the other way on minor continuity gaffes but if this book synchs up with that crossover just in time for a bunch of Black Lanterns to show up I may slowly raise one eyebrow.

You know, just this week I was talking about Mon-El’s space-explorin’ Daxam vs. Sodam Yat’s xenophobic Daxam and wondering which one Mon-El came from in current continuity. Like, is he a sociological anomaly or did someone forget to recon him? Judging by Yat’s reaction to hearing about him, my questions may soon be answered. Yay, closure!

Batman and Robin No. 1

Terrific! New Batman! Basic Batman! Fighting guys, detecting, gadgets! Sure the team is Dick Grayson and Damien but so what? Batman and Robin chase down a guy named Mr. Toad in their flying Batmobile - this is enough for me.

Morrison’s doing a helluva job here: he’s unleashing some of his trademark weirdness but it’s focused and channeled into making the bad guys suitably freakishly weird for a Batman yarn. Meanwhile, Dick Grayson is easing into the Bat-role and Damien is happily not just a one-note spoiled brat. He’s a good addition to the Bat-team, that Damien. I’m sure that Tim Drake would have fit quite snugly into the role of Robin in this series but there have been a veritable legion of stories featuring Nightwing and Robin palling around. I certainly hope that Tim has some role in the Bat-books but this Damien thing is definitely pregnant with story potential.

Good job, DC. I was extraordinarily skeptical at first but it looks like you pulled it off: you broke down Batman and then killed him off in a very heroic manner while still leaving open the possibility of his return, you churned up Gotham and established the status quo with the whole Battle for the Cowl brouhaha and you started fresh with a new Batman and Robin without having to resort to retcon or reboot. I mean, if any character needed some sort of massive change and was more resistant to it thanks to the baggage surrounding him then I can’t name ‘em, and only one really shitty series in the bunch!

Oh, and Quitely’s art is both great and very much contributing to the fresh feeling of the whole thing. I’m foregoing my normal cautious optimism for the full-blown, rose-coloured, glass-half-full, uncut real stuff. Don’t break my heart, guys.

Jersey Gods No. 5 - I like this comic so much - I wish I had new good things to say about it. It’s still astonishingly fun epic/cosmic Kirby-esque but not Kirby-derivative stuff, full of action and fun. Much like the best Kirby stuff, I want to find out more of the history of the gods of Neboron, so I’m happy to see that the historical backup story is returning next issue, especially as the story looks to be moving to Earth for a time. Important Question: when Fusion and Union join… what the heck do they call themself?

Strange Adventures No. 4 (of 8) - Nothing new to say, really. Still a fun comic; still all spacey. The most impressive thing about this issue was the backup story, which supplied Lady Styx with an origin and thus made it possible for me to give two craps about her. Seriously, she was almost painfully generic before. Is there hope for her now? Possibly.

Irredeemable No. 3 - We get a little closer to the reasons for The Plutonian’s breakdown and turn to wicked evil. There’s no sign of this comic losing momentum, folks. Now: can I figure out what’s going on before it’s explicitly spelled out for me?

Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! No 2 (of 6) - Well well well… I was liking this before and I like it even more now. I was expecting a steady slide into desperation and hardship for old Mr. Human Flame but it looks like he’s in for more a roller coaster ride, which is great! ZOOM! The depths of degradation! ZOOM! The heights of joy! ZOOM! Back down again! Plus (and he’s on the cover so it’s only a semi-spoiler) General Immortus, who doesn’t get used enough, and Condiment King, who definitely doesn’t get used enough. It absolutely makes sense for a world full of superhumans to have super-losers, and Condiment King is possibly my fav’rit.

Okay, I have company so this is it. I might write more about this stuff later so I'll list what else I bought this week. If you really care what I think, come back in a day or so. Maybe.

I did it! Compulsive behavior, yay!

Captain Blood No. 1

It’s a good sign when an adaptation makes me want to read the original work. Okay, I guess sometimes it’s because the adaptation is so bad - Postman the movie, I’m looking at you - but in this case I just want to check out the aspects of the story that had to be left out in order to fit the comic book format.

If you have an irrational fear of black and white comics, I guess that you should avoid this one, but I also thumb my nose at you. Michael Shoyket is the man on art here and his style is looking goooooood sans colour. Actually, this might be one of those “sketch variants” that I hear so much about nowadays (uh, that Tiina mentioned that one time last week, rather), as the art is uninked as well, so don’t blame me if you buy a copy and it’s all colourful and stuff.

Issue numba one deals with the rise of Captain Blood, from soldier to doctor to slave to pirate. Blood is an interesting figure, a learned and complex man who doesn’t look like he’ll be ravishing wenches any time soon. Matthew Shepherd does a fine job on the writing/adapting front - another reason that I want to check out the original: to check out which of those two arts he is practicing more. Neal Stephenson fans take note that the events of Captain Blood take place at about the same time as the Baroque Trilogy. Look, it’s Jefferys, the hanging judge! Anyone? Am I the only one who’s read that damn series?

Werewolves on the Moon (versus Vampires) No. 1 (of 3) - I passed up a zombie western genre-mash comic this week because it didn’t look entertaining enough to justify the six dollar price tag, so how could I pass up a comic about Werewolves vs. Vampires on the Moon for only three-fifty?

This is a pretty great comic. The jokes are good, the drawings are suitably amusing without being flat-out goofy and everyone involved is absolutely unapologetic about the premise. Of course werewolves want to get to the moon. Of course the vampires that are already up there aren't too happy about it. Yay!

Dead Run No. 1 (of 4) - Not that this isn’t a tremendously lazy way to describe things, but this is like Transporter plus Mad Max. You’ve got a tough-as-nails, cool-as-ice courier saddled with an unwanted female companion and attempting a nigh-impossible task in a post-apocalyptic wasteland while being stalked by deformed thugs in jury-rigged vehicles. It’s exactly as good as it sounds. Uh, which is pretty darn good, if you’re me. And I am.

Astro City: the Dark Age Book Three No. 2

Man, Astro City. I didn’t really get to say too much about this when the last issue came out due to, you know, life (my girlfriend is wonderful and tolerant and never gives me grief about my hobby or the time I spend on the blog, but there’s only so much reading and writing about comics that I can do in an evening without feeling like a big dumb neglector. Someday I will get a big grant and spend all day doing this stuff, if I can finally catch that dang leprechaun). I love Astro City, unconditionally. I love the Alex Ross covers (Alex Ross plus new characters equals great) and the extensive and eternally-unfolding history and all that. The only time that I was ever glad to hear about someone getting mercury poisoning was in the context of that being the reason for the long hiatus in this comic. Man, that sounds bad. Okay, I wasn’t glad that Kurt Busiek was poisoned so much as that there was an external reason for the disappearance of Astro City and that it would return. Maybe I should edit out the poison part of this review.

Astro City: The Dark Age has been a damn good time - as I mentioned last week, it’s both a trip through a portion of the history of Astro City and an examination of themes and trends in the comics industry itself, as the innocence of the Silver Age(nt) gives way to the darker, more violent days of the late Seventies/early Eighties. Busiek’s been focusing on the people on the street rather than the heroes and villains for a while now, so you get to piece together the histories of fascinating characters like the Apollo Eleven bits and pieces at a time while following the perilous history of brothers Charles and Royal as they seek vengeance for their parents’ deaths. Blah blah blah. It's good! I want to convey that it's good and I'm just running my mouth (fingers) off. Rah rah rah!

Atomic Robo: the Shadow from Beyond Time No. 2 (of 5) - Remember how happy I was about this comic the last time? It’s still just as great as I said in every way, except that HP Lovecraft’s head is now a giant monster, so he’s not babbling so much. IN ADDITION: these great things occur: a) since Lovecraft’s head is now a giant monster there is a giant monster running around wearing a human body like a little hat. b) While fighting the Lovecraft-beast, Robo has a highly entertaining father/son-style phone call with Nicola Tesla. c) Lightning guns. d) A backup feature that takes the form of a fairly hostile article about Robo and that I hope continues in a future issue. May Atomic Robo have a long and glorious life.

The Muppet Show No. 3 (of 4) - Man, this just keeps on being great. A Gonzo-centric issue, with a couple of decent songs and the usual high joke quality. This is the issue that really underlines the love that Roger Langridge has for these durned puppets, which is probably a big contributing factor to the quality of this series. Also: there’s a Generic Pig Muppet on the cover, near Gonzo’s cape on the left. I have an irrational fondness for Generic Pig Muppets, so hooray.

Seaguy No. 3 (of 3) - This is where Grant Morrison is putting all of the weirdness that he’s not using in Batman and Robin. Is it confirmed that he planned Seaguy as a three-part tale? I mean, it could easily end here but I can definitely stand to have more of this. What the heck is going on? What’s with Mickey Eye? Wait and see, I guess.

John Buys Comics During Wolverine Week

Hello all. It's me, Johnathan, with the Wolverine Week edition of John Buys Comics. Uh, it turns out that I didn't buy any comics that feature Wolverine this week, so instead I'll be adding a bit at the end of each review that highlights any particularly Wolverine-reminiscent aspects of the comics involved. Yeah! Thematic!

Nevermore No. 1

This might be properly titled Dean Koontz's Nevermore, but the copy I have here omits the "'s" part, so I have no idea. Maybe they thought that it was too mid-Nineties of them to call it that, or maybe they didn't want to step on American McGee's toes.

I have to admit that I've never read anything by Dean Koontz. Not for any good reason, just an instinctual avoidance of books where the author's name is as or more prominent than the title (elitist! cries my inner agitator). My girlfriend says that she found him readable at age fourteen, so I'll use that as my opinion until I find some way to form my own.

Anyway, this is a decent comic. As you may have guessed from the multi-globed cover there''s some pan-dimensional travel involved and I'm a fan of that sort of thing. It's handled pretty well... not as well as that episode of Star Trek with Evil Goatee Spock but as well as the average episode of Sliders. As you can see, there are no super-hero-esque costumes, so I had to identify the characters as Big White Guy, Big Black Guy, Bigger White Guy, Little White Guy and The Girl. So it takes me two or three issues to learn the characters' names, so sue me.

Wolverine Moment: All of the characters get a chance to talk tough on page one. Little White Guy is the toughest but The Girl and Big White Guy get the best lines.

Mister Universe (One-shot)

 I must admit to some confusion.

I read Mister Universe. I liked the art, I enjoyed the dialogue, etc, etc. I don't have any sort of idea, though, what the thesis of this comic is supposed to be.

The plot concerns a teenage(?) boy who enjoys comics. A lot. He likes them enough that his parents are concerned for his sanity and call in the shrinks. But are they wrong to begrudge him his imaginative refuge? Is he a mental defective for his devotion to the titular Mister Universe? I haven't a clue. I'm tempted to say that the kid is the one in the right because he lives in a comic book but then again this isn't 1963 and it's perfectly possible to write a comic book that attacks the process of reading super-hero comics.

Bah. I don't know. I liked this book on one level but it didn't even leave me with enough information to make up my own mind. It was just some story, I don't know.

Wolverine Moment: Precipitated a Very Serious Discussion about the role of mind-bending drugs in medicine with my girlfriend, much like the talks I used to have with my friend Todd over whether a true super-hero would kill (Wolverine, Punisher examples).

Conan the Cimmerian No. 10

Seeing as how I managed to mention Robert E. Howard in each of my last two posts I figured that it was time to pick up a Conan comic and see how they were doing with the old fellow. Turns out I snagged a comic that takes place smack dab in the midst of a story arc, and one based on one of my favourite Conan yarns, "Black Colossus".

I think that I might like this comic more if I hadn't read the original story. By which I mean that I like the originals enough that an adaptation can't really hope to compete - new Conan stories would be more well-received by my brain than adapted ones unless the adaptation is flawless.

That said, this is a pretty decent book. The art is good, with Conan's facial expressions being a high point. Also, he has his own speech balloon style. Negative points for the absence of giant snakes, without which a Conan story just doesn't seem complete.

Bonus! a "Two-Gun Bob" comic about the life of Robert E. Howard! I thought I'd seen the last of these (excellent) things after the end of the (excellent) Solomon Kane series!

Wolverine Moment: Conan chops off some dude's fingers for stealing a drumstick off of his roast... lizard? rat? squirrel? Beast.

Mr. Stuffins No. 1

I heard about this a couple of months ago and thought “A teddy bear secret agent, eh? This is either going to be pretty awesome or pretty terrible.” Turns out: pretty awesome!

Exactly how a teddy bear secret agent comes to be is a bit of a plot point, so I won’t spoil. There aren’t anthropomorphic toys everywhere or anything like that, not that that wouldn’t make for a decent comic if done right, like a technothriller version of Kingdom of the Wicked.

Actually, I’m having trouble thinking of things that happened in this book that I can talk about without spoiling, so I’ll just say that the characterization is excellent. Kids: well-written. Parents: well-written. Bullies, rebellious teens, villains: check check check.

Wolverine Moment: Mr. Stuffins and Wolvie have a lot in common. This bear wishes that he had adamantium claws. He interrogates a pink bunny and you know that he’d be doing that thing that Wolverine does with his fist under a guy’s chin, where he talks about decanting his claws into the guy’s head? You know the thing I mean - he’d be doing that.

Battle for the Cowl: The Underground

Huh. This is an interestingly in-betweeney installment in the saga of the cowl-battling. It’s kind of one of those “state of Gotham” comics that I was whining about last week but manages to tie into the actual plot more than, say, the Man-Bat story did.

This issue deals with the seamy underbelly of Gotham City; it checks in on all of the gangs and the random criminals and such. Black Mask and Two-Face and the Penguin are all going at it tooth and nail while everyone tries to figure out how Black Mask managed to cheat death or if it’s a totally different guy under there. Actually, I’m wondering less about that and more about when Harvey Dent is going to put on that Two-Faced Batman costume from the promo ad. Probably soon, as he’s acting pretty crazy.

The homicidal Batman puts in an appearance, guns a-blazin' but his aim isn’t very good - at least this guy has a better costume than Azrael-Batman did back in the day. And speaking of good costumes, the Riddler is in this one! He gets tasked to track down Black Mask by the Penguin and basically sets up Gotham Sirens while doing so. I like this good-guy detective Riddler, especially as compared to the super-homicidal version that was running around a few years ago. I lied about the costume though - this is one of the worst suits I’ve ever seen him in.

Wolverine Moment: There’s a lot of car-smashing in this comic. I seem to associate Wolverine with vehicular collateral damage.

The Muppet Show Comic Book No. 2

This is a good comic and I am very happy about it. It’s always a bit wrenching when something you loved as a child (or later) is adapted into something awful but that didn't happen here, thank heavens. The Muppets are putting on a show, there are backstage hijinks interspersed with skits and such and that’s it. There’s no attempt to make the Muppets hip and trendy, no slavish devotion to the TV show’s guest star-centric format, funny jokes and Pigs in Space.

Man, there was nothing bad here: I wasn’t too sold on the comic’s version of Statler and Waldorf in the first issue but this one clinched it - I suppose that constant heckling is harder to work into a comic format, which I can understand. Fozzie has a crisis of faith in his abilities and ends up telling one of the best Shakespeare jokes ever. Rolf looks absolutely adorable.

Wolverine Moment: Waldorf has a dark secret! From his mystery-shrouded past!

Superman No. 687

I sorted through this week’s stack of comics at my girlfriend’s house, which is why she keeps coming up this week. She offered up all kinds of helpful commentary, mostly along the lines of “Yep, the women are pretty busty in this one too.” This comic caught her eye, though, as Superman is pretty much the only super-hero that she has anything invested in, so I got to explain that Superman wasn’t actually in the comic with his name on the cover and that it was nevertheless a good read. I don’t think that she bought it, but it turns out I was telling the truth. Much like what’s going on in all of those Battle for the Cowl books, this issue is sort of a rundown of what’s up in Metropolis now that Superman’s off being an army guy on New Krypton. Only in one issue instead of ten or fifteen one-shots.

Mon-El is still settling into his roles in the Science police and as Metropolis’ defender, Zatara is a dick and there are villains all over the place. Lots of promising groundwork was laid - here’s hoping it all pays off in future issues.

I was going to say that my favourite part of this issue was that the Untouchables showed up, because I love those guys, but I think it might be that cover. Check it out: there’s a tiny little reflection on the Guardian’s helmet in addition to the one on his shield. That makes me so happy for some reason.

Wolverine Moment: I’m pretty stumped here. Uh, the Guardian is really old, just like Logan?

Sherlock Holmes No. 1

I love Sherlock Holmes, folks. Sherlock Holmes stories are terrific - I reread them every couple of years and don’t get tired of doing so. That said, it’s really easy to write him badly or only half-right. Like… that Brave and the Bold episode with him and the Demon. Holmes was too much of a dick and too sloppy with his deductions (not that I didn’t enjoy it - it was a cartoon, for heavens’ sake. It just wasn’t the best Holmes). Anyway, Leah Moore and John Reppion write a good consulting detective: not an ass but not given to social niceties, fond of Watson instead of browbeating him all the time, etc. For that matter, they write a good Watson: not stupid, just not a relentless deducting machine. The art (Aaron Campbell) is suitably lovely as well, though I’m a bit disappointed that Inspector Lastrade looks nothing like either a ferret or a bulldog.

And there’s a very compelling mystery! I am very intrigued! Hooray!

Wolverine Moment: Well, after all: Sherlock Holmes is the best there is at what he does.

Green Lantern No. 40

More Orange Lantern fun as the Guardians head into the Vega system. I must say that I like this Larfleeze as the reason for the Green Lantern Corps staying out of Vega - it always seemed like guys like the Citadel and the Spider Guild would have went down like a wet tissue if the Corps had stepped up.

But I went on about all of this Lantern stuff last week. I shan’t bore you with a repeat performance. In brief: we get to see a bit of how the Orange power works in this issue and I’m still interested. We’ve only got the Indigo Lanterns to go and there have been no duds yet - all of the various Corps have an individuality that both distinguishes them from one another and makes me want to read more about ‘em. There’s a Tale of the Orange Lanterns at the end of this book that was pretty fun - I swear, if DC started putting out a book that was just Tales of the Various Lantern Corps I’d buy it every month. Those things are a hoot.

Wolverine Moment: This is starting to get hard… okay: one of the Green Lanterns is totally defiant of authority, in a gruff way.

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds No 4 (of 5)

Hot damn! Took a while but this one was worth it, what with the super-duper concentrated Legion-ness on every page. Bart Allen is back, as of the end of the last issue, and kicking plenty of Superman/boy Prime ass. There’s lots of great interaction between the alternate versions of various Legionnaires, particularly the Brainiacs 5. Er, Brainiac 5s? Brainiac Fives? I’m kind of sad that the Legion of Super-Villains doesn’t get more face time but what can you do? It’s a bigger-than-average book already and filled with lotsa plot. Heck, there are two whole dramatic reveals, including one that makes me unsure about how I feel about (see Comments Section).

Once the last issue of this comes out (in August?) I’m going to read ‘em all again. I think that I’ve been losing some of the threads and also want to check whether it actually ties into the regular Final Crisis. This and Rogues’ Revenge were definitely my favourite parts of the whole event, in any case.

Wolverine Moment: I don't know, Timber Wolf? Probably Timber Wolf.

Was Superman a Spy?

Hey hey hey! This is a more-words-than-pictures-style book by Brian “Comic Book Legends Revealed” Cronin. I just bought it last night so I haven’t really gotten a chance to read it yet but I’ve been enjoying his bunking or debunking of the urban legends of the comic scene for a couple of years now and can’t imagine that the transition from computer  to paper will make the contents any less delightful. Plus, the back cover blurb claims that there are a passel of new legends inside, so hooray for that. I’m a big fan of buying the book form of things that I enjoy on the Internet. If the DCU version of Johnathan managed to avoid getting Anti-Life Equationed during Final Crisis when the Internet got infected then you can bet a dollar that he was reading some Perry Bible Fellowship or the like in convenient book form. And now this lovely (did I mention the cover? The cover is very nice) volume can go on his “in case of event-related interweb failure” bookshelf!

Wolverine Moment: As I said, I haven’t read most of it yet. Pages 143 to 159 are devoted to the X-Men, though, so I bet that it’s in there.

John buys comics: April 1, 2009

Battle for the Cowl: Man-Bat

I have decided to buy all of this 'Battle for the Cowl' malarky so that I can warn people if it sucks. I figure that there are going to be about a fifth as many issues to buy as there were of Countdown and at least this time i have a reason beyond simple masochism.

This was... okay? I like a Man-Bat story as much as the next guy, but there have been better. I don't know, I guess I have to get a better feel for this whole event to know whether it had any bearing on things or was just a feebly tied-in filler. 

Keywords for the villain (I won't spoil who it is if you don't already know): discount chains and poorly-explained motivation.

   Irredeemable No. 1

BOOM! Studios have only entered my radar comparatively recently, but they're making a good impression. I love me some good in media res superhero tales with lotsa made-up continuity, and between this and Caped they're doing a damn fine job of feeding the particularly nerdy monkey on my back.

 Good new characters, good takes on the ramifications of a super-powered lifestyle, an Afterward by Grant Morrison If you like that sort of thing. Good show, Mark Waid.



Strange Adventures No. 2

I haven't been following events in the far reaches of DCSpace as closely as I probably should have in order to be reading this, but I like it anyway. I like Adam Strange, I like Bizarro and I like Captain Comet (I especially like the pulp detective-esque Captain Comet of recent times as opposed to the 1959s throwback of before).

The only real drawback is that Lady Styx is tangentally involved, as I find her about as interesting as mud. 



The Flash: Rebirth No. 1

This was very good! I have hig hopes for this comic - Geoff Johns has been writing 'em like I like 'em for a while now and It's hard to go wron with the Flash. Not to say that it can't be done, but it doesn't look like that's what's happening here.






 Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye No.1

Oh thank heavens.

I liked Seaguy a whole lot - it was chock full of intriguing Morrisonisms to delight the senses - but it didn't really work as a stand-alone book. It definitely suffered for a sense of incompleteness. Hooray, though, as Grant Morrison has managed to get DC to go ahead with Part 2!

I just hope that any further parts of this story don't require a Crisis of some kind  to be written for Morrison to get the clout together to make it happen (aw, i don't know if it's true or not but it sure is a compelling little story, yes?).  

Other comics I read this week: Jersey Gods (good, Kirbyesque!), Dead Romeo (bad, long-winded!), Greatest Hits (Good ending!)