Podcast - Episode 115: Best of the Rest

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We thought we'd give some of the OTHER comic book publishers some love this week. We don't hide the fact that this is primarily a superhero podcast, and that our first love is superhero-based comic books, but there are so many great comic book publishers and Dave is on the front lines of seeing what they are putting out each week, so we thought we'd check in. Most of them publish superhero books too!

Here's that delightful article about the drama that went down on the Jeremy Renner app. I'll miss that crazy app.

Thanks for listening!

John Buys Comics: John Buys Comics

Not sure why, but I just caught up on some stuff that I bought up to two weeks ago. Well, I'm pretty certain about why I caught up on it (I like comics and thus read them all the time) but why there were about six unread issues from each week remains a mystery. In any case, don't explode with surprise if something from a while back creeps into this here episode of JBC.

More Flashpoint Miniseries!


Why It's They're Here: Partially because I seem to be reading all of the tie-ins on this one (I fully intended to skip some of these thangs, but they all seem to feature just enough of my preferred characters to entice me into laying down the dollars) but mostly because they've been flinging out some pretty fun (if super-grim) twists and turns and alternate universe hooba jooba.

Non-Spoiler Summary: You know... alternate universe stuff. The world is changed and everything's different because of one little difference in the timestream.

The Very Best Thing About It: [BIG FAT SPOILERS IF YOU ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT FLASHPOINT SPOILERS] Despite the fact that this whole event is kind of stupid, there have been some neat alternate universe things going on in these books: Jimmy Olsen ending up as Cyborg's Pal in a Superman-free world; Evil Magic Dr Thirteen; skinny, kept in the dark his whole life Kal-El; Martha Wayne as the Joker to Thomas Wayne's Batman. There's a lot of neat ideas here that are perfectly-employed in such a consequence-free setting. Plus, Barry Allen having to be horribly electrocuted twice to get his powers back was inexplicably hilarious.

The Very Worst Thing About It: Reverse Flash Messes With Regular Flash Through Time Japery was an irritating plot in the Flash's own comic last year. Revisiting it here is agonizing - will the Flash dig deep and overcome his foe yet again? Probably! Reverse Flash is one moustache and one top hat away from tying Iris West to a train track in order to get the deed to an orphanage with an oil well underneath it and it is slowly killing me to read.

Who Made It: So many people.

Michael Moorcock's Elric: The Balance Lost


Why It's Here: Because Elric, that's why. Ye Eternal Champion, albino style,  is one of the most entertaining tragic figures in fantastic literature.

Non-Spoiler Summary: In the classic Moorcock mode, the balance between Chaos and Order is getting out of whack and it's up to the variously tragic incarnations of the Eternal Champion to make things right. Featured Champeens include the titular Elric (murderous, mopey, albino magician-king and last of his people), Corum Jhaelen Irsei (maimed, mopey prince and last of his people, plus my fave Champ), Dorian Hawkmoon (Not quite as mopey - the one I know least about) and newest incarnation Eric Beck (hipster, game designer, albino).

The Very Best Thing About It: I haven't read all of the Moorcock-inspired comics out there, by any means, but I have read a lot and this issue captures a lot of the requisite themes better than most. Possibly because everyone involved wasn't incredibly high during the entire process, possibly for other reasons. Plus there are lots of neat Chaos critters that have the same creepiness that Guy Davis' designs often do.

The Very Worst Thing About It: No Oswald Bastable.

Who Made It: Chris Roberson, writer. Francesco Biagini, artsman. Stephen Downer, colours. Travis Lanham, Letters.

Tiny Little Reviews:

Mystery Men

Why I'm Keeping This Short: Because the second issue came out one or two weeks ago - this is one of the books that fell through the cracks for some reason. But still, David Liss and Patrick Zircher have done an excellent job of creating a Pulp-era Marvel comic, complete with brand-new (and well-dressed) heroes and villains. There are three issues to go and I shall be getting them all.

Secret Six No. 35

Why I'm Keeping This Short: Secret Six is a known quantity and a proven excellent comic. Too bad it looks to be ending in a coupleof issues. But Gail Simone don't shiv: she's taking Bane's excellent character arc to what should be an epic conclusion. Glee!

Moriarty: The Dark Chamber No. 3

Why I'm Keeping This Short: I'm running low on time. Briefly, the premise of this comic is that Professor James Moriarty managed to kill Sherlock Holmes on Reichenbach falls, and, his life having no meaning without a worthy adversary to challenge him, abandoned his criminal empire and sank into obscurity. Now, years later, a mad plot threatens London and Moriarty takes on the role of (anti) hero in order to save the day. Plus: one of the best depictions of Dr Watson I have ever encountered.

John Buys Comics Yet Again

Incorruptible No. 1

You know, I was just thinking about how long it had been since I declared a SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGEMENT.

Honestly, I hadn’t expected to have to with this one. Irredeemable has been entertaining me fairly consistently and I figured that Mark Waid would be able to flip the concept without straining too hard, but this all seems a bit forced.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the skinny: Irredeemable is about the Superman-esque Plutonian turning evil and effing up the world, while Incorruptible is about the, I don’t know, evil white Luke Cage-esque Max Damage going over to the good guys.

Some of it definitely works, particularly the idea of the super-strong, invulnerable dude who fights crime despite the law’s objections simply because they can’t do anything to stop him. Plus I like the name Max Damage. On the other hand, Max’s former henchmen deliver more bald-faced exposition than I can comfortably overlook. The first page of the thing reads like a poorly-written Wikipedia entry on the guy.

And then there’s the manner in which Max goes to the good, which is totally, from rejecting his under-aged girlfriend to burning his ill-gotten gains. As the polar opposite of the Plutonian’s descent into genocidal debauchery, I guess that unrelenting purity is it. In terms of interesting character traits… meh, I could use a bit more moral ambiguity.

Eh, we’ll see. This is precisely why the SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGEMENT system was created.

Batman 80-Page Giant No 1

How could I resist an 80-Page Giant, long-lost child of the Silver Age (except for that one fifth week event a few years ago)? And a themed one at that!

Gotham City is blizzarded up and as per usual things are going all to hell. You got Batman and Robin vs. looters, Alfred doing a lady of the evening a nice turn (oh, that Alfred), Catwoman in a nice-looking but slightly odd (no I’m not going to specify, mleh) tale of theft and old folks, and so on.

Gotham’s ever-swelling vigilante ranks grow by two or three in this issue, with stories featuring the Saint of Orphan Alley and Veil (oh wait, I guess that she appeared during Battle for the Cowl and retroactively during No man's Land. Well, I don't actually care.) This means that I can now think of at least ten or twelve Gotham crimefighters off th top of my head, which further means that there have probably been three to five times that number over the years. That's a troubled city.

My favourite is the Commissioner Gordon/Mr Freeze story. Because I like seeing villains have a good time now and then.

Silver Streak Comics No 24 (wink, wink) - The Next Issue Project is one of my favourite things ever. Paul Grist is at this point one of the few people who I would consider not avoiding for fear of inadvertently fawning. Damn that man - how did he get so damned entertaining? Damn!

Green Lantern Corps No. 43 - Red/Green Lantern Guy Gardner is a Black Lantern-killing machine! Why the hell aren’t all of the Lanterns doubling up on rings? I may have to start a pool about this - how many issues until the various Corps realize what a good idea it is.

Power Girl No. 7 - How much did I enjoy this? Very, very much! Vartox of Valeron, Silver Age Superman pal, returns to the DCU after long absence. He’s a macho jerk vain enough to own a space ship in the shape of his own head, and he’s looking to woo Power Girl! I don’t know that it’s always the way to go but by GOD do I enjoy it when an old goofy character is brought back without being modernized. Shine on, Vartox!

Streets of Gotham No 7 - Humpty Dumpty, yeah! What a great character when written right - all poignant and insane. Between Dini’s writing and the Nguyen/Fridolfs art team, this is a fantastic appearance by the big round dude. Also, the rest of the issue is pretty great too. I really wasn’t expecting to like Streets of Gotham so much when the latest batch of Bat-titles started but hey, colour me pleasantly surprised.

Batman Confidential No. 39 - Dammit, why did I buy this? I assure you that the conclusion was just as stupid as the rest of this story. At least I read it early and didn’t leave myself in a bad mood.

The Last Resort No 5 - OVER! Was this supposed to be only five issues? Was it unexpectedly cancelled? Why does it feel like about three issues were compressed into this one(possibly via some sort of mechanical contrivance of fearsome aspect)? I swear that issues 1 through 4 had a nice, steady pace. Bah, bah I say.

Oh Man. John Bought Comics and Hates to Waste Words

 Well! Here I am again. I’m a bit put out at myself, as I’d really wanted to keep up a regular update schedule on this blog. This weekend defeated me, however, what with the play that I was in coming to a close and the deluge of foodstuffs associated with the Thanksgiving weekend (I did get to hang my niece upside-down by the ankles for a few hours, so who am I to complain?). And with the fact that I am kind of lazy. But I had written most of this already and damn it, my opinions deserve to be fired onto the Internet, right? I still owe one post, though.

Back on track with me then: here are some extremely late reviews:

Final Crisis Aftermath: RUN! No. 6 (of 6)

And so the first of the Final Crisis Aftermath series ends. Honestly, I’m not too sure how I feel about the whole thing. I really enjoyed the self-centred asshole aspect of the Human Flame, and I had a good time with the bit where he was getting more and more powerful and screwing over everyone who got in his way, but right about the point in issue 3 or 4 where he jumped out the window and messed himself up I was kind of hoping that he’d go into some sort of horrible spiral that led him back to where he had started, only with everyone in the world hating him and he could end up a horribly-broken cyborg living under a bridge and feeling sorry for himself. The route that they did take (spoilers, I guess, though you probably saw this coming at the end of the last issue. If you read the last issue - not sure if I’m the only one reading this series or not) wherein he just gets more and more powerful and ends up defeating himself by his own hubris, well, it’s just not as emotionally satisfying to me, though that last panel was cute. Hey, at least he’s still alive at the end, so the opportunity for him to wind up under that bridge still exists.

You know, I haven’t been mentioning the covers on this series, but they’ve been fantastic, every one. Who did these things? Kako, eh? Kako, you’re magnificent. Aw, griping aside, this has been a pretty solid time. God job, folks.

Planetary No. 27

Jumpin’ Jehosephat! I know that the fact that it’s been about three years since the last issue of this came out is going to be a highly popular element of any review of it and so might be something to avoid lest I be tiresome, but I nevertheless must exclaim a little bit. That is a long-ass time, three years. That’s a tenth of my life, and one hundred thousandth of my projected lifespan, assuming my scheme to get me a fusion-powered robot body comes to fruition.

I have to admit that this is a bit of a bittersweet ending for me, as Planetary is one of the series that really initialized my transition from being a nerd who liked comics to a full-blown comics nerd. On the one hand it’s going to pretty great to sit down and read the whole series end to end, while on the other, it’s basically time to admit to myself that there just won’t be any more Planetary in my future, barring the occasional special.

As for the story itself, well, as you know (and if you don’t know, well… you had three years) last issue dealt with the schooling of the Four. Having beaten the end boss of the comic, Elijah Snow has turned his attentions toward the matter of his missing friend Ambrose Bierce, lost lo these many years after being shot up by some dudes. It’s a wrapping-up issue and it works well with the rest of the series and all, but I’ll probably enjoy it more at the end of a long evening of reading Planetary by a roaring fire than in the temporal isolation that this release was nestled in. So that’s what I’ll do next time I have a long evening free and a roaring fire, I guess. In the meantime, I shall enjoy that superfly foldout cover.

I… I foresee a purchase. It’s… it’s whatever equivalent to Absolute Planetary they eventually put out. The buyer, I can see his face *gasp* it’s me!

Irredeemable No. 7

I need an acronym or a euphemism or something like that for when I read an issue of an ongoing series and really enjoy it but have either nothing new to say or fear spoilers because all of my thoughts about the issue revolve around plot elements. HNNTS/FSTRAPE? Naw, too consonanty. How about a non sequitor? Okay, if there’s a non sequitor instead of a review then the comic has continued in a favourable direction.

*ahem* The dachshund is the noblest of dogs. His ability to fit under any standard furnishing assures that your floor will remain forever free of crumbs and edible debris.

R.E.B.E.L.S. Annual No. 1

Hey, an annual!

It’s not just my fondness for the Legion of Super-Heroes or for its child L.E.G.I.O.N. It’s not just that Vril Dox is the most entertaining total bastard in comics and not that Tony Bedard is just knocking him out of the park, writing-wise. Hell, it’s not just that this series has managed to tell its own story without a hint of getting drawn into Blackest Night or any other such malarkey (and done so while looking damn good, to boot). All of these are terrific reasons for me to love R.E.B.E.L.S. but what is primarily on my mind right now is the fact that Starro the freaking Conqueror has finally gotten an origin story, one that neither invalidates any past appearances by the giant starfish nor precludes future starfishery He worked so well as a giant starfish who just showed up without reason and rained super-hero on super-hero fight scenes down on things for so long and with such panache that if the decision had been left up to me I might have decreed that he be forever origin-less. Shows what I know, I guess.

And good call on making Starro the Conqueror a multigalactic barbarian warlord. If there’s one archetype that’s going to have staying power, it’s got to be the barbarian. I guess that theoretically they could become next year’s pirates or zombies but I reckon that a lot fewer people are comfortable running around with their shirt off than in a puffy shirt. Plus it’s harder to get the dialogue right.

I Sell the Dead

I very much picked this up because of the title, and because the EC-style cover was so nicely realized. Turns out that inside was an engaging yarn about a couple of grave robbers who have drifted from digging up corpses for anatomists to selling various undead or otherwise unusual corpses to a variety of strange customers. Why yes, I do enjoy the undead, thank you. And lovable rogues? Loveable corpse-stealing rogues? Delightful.

And then I got to the end and it turns out that this is a… comic adaptation of a movie based on the concept for the comic? Is that right? I have no idea. I do know that I could stand to watch a movie featuring 19th-century misadventures in zombie-napping. And featuring Ron Perlman, yet! Only trouble is I don’t think that my ladyfriend will go for it, being no fan of such horror-style tomfoolery. Maybe if I play up the whole anatomist angle, tell her that she should watch it in order to get a sense of the sort of things that her pathologist forebears had to go through in order to have a lot of corpses to learn from?

I’ll let you know how that goes. (Update: it worked! Now we just have to use our powerful mind-beams to compel the people responsible for distributing such things to show it here and we’ll be set!) (Second update: wait, IMDB says that this came out last year. Maybe I can rent this? I have no idea what's going on any more)

Batman Unseen No. 1 (of 5)

You know, I could get very used to this. Since Bruce Wayne is dead, the majority of his appearances are places like Superman/Batman or Batman Confidential, which work in short arcs, or else in miniseries like this. Do you know what that means? I’ll tell you what that means: a lot of stories in which Batman fights dudes without a lot of extraneous bullshit. Not that it’s not possible for extraneous bullshit to creep into these stories - Widening Gyre seems to be more bullshit than Batman - but with ties to the ongoing DCU the Batman is able to shine of fail on his own.

So: Batman Unseen. A story about Batman vs an invisible man with the not-quite-as-bad-as-some-Silver-Age-names-but-still-groan-worthy moniker of Nigel Glass. The art’s by Kelley Jones, and looks just as moody and interesting as in last year’s Gotham after Midnight (man, I should pick up that trade. I never did finish getting that series after missing two of the 700 or so issues). You got Batman worrying about not being scary enough, you got Harvey Bullock investigating a weird crime, which is always fun to watch, and you got a very crazy and very fun invisible guy, who kind of looks and talks like the Mad Mod.

Now: the question is will Batman make himself invisible in order to be more scary? Will we have an invisible, crazy and buck-naked Batman running around? Oh what fun!

Batman and Robin No. 5 - Gah! Dangit, the Red Hood is evidently Jason Todd. Again. I guess that I can get behind that as long as the whole “Batman Reborn” mandate is followed and the guy gets straightened out once and for all - no more half-assed plotlines where he comes back and tries to be a badass and nobody takes him seriously (or takes him way too seriously) and then he seems to die. Just… establish some sort of status quo for the guy that isn’t terrible and I’ll be okay.

But as long as Jason has to be around, I’m happy that Morrison managed to sneak in a joke about the phone-in that killed him in the first place.

Strange Tales No. 2 - Not only does this issue have a super-delightful, super-weird Iron Man story by Tony Millionaire and not only does it have a whole lot of great Thing moments, but I think that it might have given me my Hallowe’en costume for this year. Wait and see, I guess.

Sherlock Holmes No 5 (of 5) - Man, I’m usually decent as far as figuring out mysteries is concerned. Really, I should have read the first four issues again before cracking this one. I don’t think that I would have figured everything out but I might have gotten a bit closer than I did. Basically, I got Watsoned. Hopefully there’ll be more Holmes from Leah Moore and I’ll have a chance to regain my honour.

Man, Holmes just has the sassiest look on his face on that cover.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels No. 4 (of 5) - This was a pretty good week for comics set in the Victorian period, wasn’t it? Just wanted to note that I love the electro-prods that the Heliotropic Brotherhood of Ra cart around in the Hellboy comics, even though they never quite seem to get the voltage right. Seriously, every time these guys show up they get their asses handed to them (see The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings, in which they are beaten up by a demon monkey). Some quality technology nevertheless.

Red Tornado No. 2 - How creepy was the fact that the Red Torpedo’s controls were all behind her boobs? And not, like, sticking out, either, so that a hollow space was needed. Totally flat. Why did T.O. Morrow build giant hollow boobs that flipped open and had circuits and stuff underneath? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

Doom Patrol No. 3 - You know, I’ve been wavering back and forth on this title, but I do believe that this issue has sold me on the whole thing. Something about this issue was just right for the task of selling me on the way the characters are being… characterized. It took a while to come through but these are definitely the original Doom Patrollers, although of course the passage from the 60s to today has left them kind of creepy, particularly the Chief, who is one decapitation away from being the Vertigo incarnation reborn. Dare I hope for a humbling? All this and the return of Rita Farr’s unsettling use of her power to grow just part of herself - always very weird and terrific.

As for the Metal Men, I like them, too! Especially if the whole thing where Copper is very forgettable goes away soon!

Strange Adventures No. 8 (of 8) - Was… was this whole series just to straighten out a few characters? That’s it? Nothing happened? What the hell? And why did everyone who got a new costume get a creepy thong? Argh! Boo! BOOOOO!

Sweet Tooth No. 2 - When approaching a horse from behind, it is important to speak to it, or it may kick you.

Dangit, I think I missed an issue of Jersey Gods.

Other news:

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts to make the workday fly in recent months, and I feel this extra-strong urge to plug a few. Super Future Friends I have mentioned before, but I will again because it is delightful. Also good but way more nerdy is the Legion of Substitute Podcasters, which may not be for those who cannot find a place in their hearts for at least one member of the Legion of Super-Heroes (Shrinking Violet, maybe? Quislet? Come on). But man, War Rocket Ajax. I almost want to warn you away from it. Not that it’s not good - to the contrary, it’s consistently entertaining - but with every single episode I listen to I find out about something that I had no idea about and feel an immediate need to own. It’s like Chris Sims and our own Dave have hatched a plot in order to bleed my wallet dry. Well, I'm on to you. And now, I'll... plug your show. Damn it, I'm bad at revenge.

Also noteworthy: I got a Dear Dr Capitalism email pointing me toward this video that has been created for the song 'Aquaman's Lament' by the Motion Sick. Say what you will about the man (for instance, say that he is a horrible zombie) but he has some pretty decent moves, I reckon.

5 or 6 days late, I remain,


"Come Out To The Coast, We'll Get Together, Have A Few Laughs..."

A few months back, when Boom! Studios announced their plans for a Die Hard comic book, I did a post about the perils of licensed comics. This week, the first issue of Die Hard: Year One was released, and it only seems fair that I follow up on my initial blatherings to see how they did. Die Hard is not only one of my all-time favourite movies (my girlfriend Hillary and I make a point of watching it every Christmas, and usually one other time throughout the year as well), but probably one of my favourite film franchises as well—the only entry in the series I don’t like is the second one (I'm even in the minority of folks who think Live Free or Die Hard was actually pretty awesome). The adventures of John McClane are very near and dear to me, and I was pretty wary of seeing the character mishandled in a new medium. Fortunately, after some consideration and a second reading, I find I enjoyed Die Hard: Year One #1 quite a bit, and I think subsequent issues will smooth away any trepidations I had about the debut issue.

It’s July 4th, 1976, and rookie beat cop John McClane is patrolling the streets of Manhattan in preparation for the Bicentennial celebration. As McClane tries to maintain order among the various tourists and pickpockets, some sort of scheme is brewing across the city. We aren’t given too much of the big picture yet, but it seems to involve a couple of crooked cops, a pretty young coed named Rosie who’s new to the Big Apple, a rich jerk and his shrewish wife, a creepy guy named Ira, and a hilariously mulleted and butt-cutted jogger. It’s a slow build, to be sure—mostly, we get quick introductory vignettes, and a few conversations to indicate that it’s all connected somehow. A pickpocket scam involving a female flasher and her male accomplice seems to mirror the larger plot, as the aforementioned Rosie is apparently being paid to wear some kind of revealing outfit as a distraction from...whatever the caper turns out to be, I guess.


The pacing of this first issue may seem positively glacial compared to most comics these days, but keep in mind that a comic adaptation of the first Die Hard film probably wouldn’t have much happening in a first issue either. I imagine Hans Gruber and his team would be just pulling into the Nakatomi Tower’s parking garage around the 24-page mark. I enjoyed the slow setup, though. The shuttling back-and-forth between the various parties was well handled, and I’m interested in seeing what the larger plot turns out to be. Presumably, some sort of daring robbery made to look like a terrorist attack is usually how these things go, right? Comics veteran Howard Chaykin (who, like McClane, would have been a rookie himself around the time this series takes place) handles the scripting duties here, with maybe a few too many narrative captions—most of the characters’ backstories and personalities are explained by an omniscient narrator, which you don’t get a lot of nowadays. Still, it sort of weirdly adds to the period setting—after all, this is how comics were written at the point the story takes place. There is some fairly off-putting misogyny on display here—one of the corrupt cops blithely slaps his wife around, while rich cad Walden Ford threatens his wife with a shocking comeuppance if she brings up the word ‘divorce” around him again—but, this isn’t a huge surprise, since a) it takes place in what might charitably be called “a simpler time”, and b) it’s written by Howard Chaykin, who is kind of notorious for writing about that sort of thing. Stephen Thompson’s art brings a lot to the whole package as well; it’s a bit reminiscent of Michael Gaydos or John Paul Leon (who, along with Dave Johnson and Jock, provided one of the three variant covers) in its practiced roughness. He does a great job with the period setting’s vehicles and hairstyles, and his Bruce Willis likeness isn’t too shabby either. He takes the actor’s look and makes it his own, rather than just tracing stills from his movies and drawing a cop uniform on him.


Maybe I’m being too forgiving, because I love the franchise so much. Or it could be that I was bracing myself for an outright disaster. It could even be that my love of 1970s New York as a setting is colouring my judgment (on my day off last week, I watched Across 110th Street and Saturday Night Fever back to back, by way of example). Maybe it’s just that slick Dave Johnson cover. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed Die Hard: Year One a lot more than most of the superhero comics I read last week. Let’s hope the second issue is better than the second movie!

John Buys Batman Comics. And Also Some Other Stuff

Man. There was a lot of Batman this week. And ever since I started reviewing on a regular basis there is nothing I can resist less than a Batman-related comic book. Except for Gotham City Sirens.

Batman and Robin No. 3

Man, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are a great team. I have heard it said that there will be a Quitely-free arc on this book in the near future and it will be very interesting to see how it stacks up against these first few issues in terms of how much I love it. I remember that the Frank-less issues of New X-Men weren't as delightful to mine eyes as the issues before and after them but I also remember thinking that the art on those issues was "actively bad" as opposed to "not sublime". How about it, DC? Can you provide a fill-in artist who isn't terrible?

Anyway, this issue provides plenty of examples of how well these two work together. Professor Pyg's pre-surgery psych-up/disco dance/psychotic break? Hot damn. I don't know of too many other artists who could put pictures to those words so well. I think I stayed on those few pages for five or six minutes. Heck, between Pyg and that Alice dame in Detective the bar is getting set pretty high in terms of the madness level of the Gotham City criminal element. Pretty soon guys like Firefly, with their garden-variety manias, are going to look like chumps.

The... character involved in the last-page reveal is another good example: an interesting Morrison concept, fantastically-realized by Quitely. My imagination is tormenting me with images of how other artists might have portrayed... that character, I love it that much.

I've been reading a lot of Batman recently, as I said earlier, and most of it has been decent, but precious few are providing me with as much glee as this here book. Hooray!

King City No. 1

Okay. Okay okay. Okay okay okay. I can do this. I can't do this. All of my summarization glands have dried up.

No, I can do it. King City is the best kind of crazy. Brandon Graham had, it seems, about a hundred neat ideas and took maybe half a dozen of them (utility cats, a city full of spies and spy hotels, and blah and blah) and deployed the rest of them liberally as vending machine concepts and street flavour and incidental character fun. The result: exactly the kind of comic that I like to devote half an hour or more to, which is good because it took at least that long to take a signifiicant portion of it in.

So there's this guy named Joe and he has a cat and he steals a key and is operating in this huge crazy cool town. There's a girl he'd rather not meet and some guys who wish him ill and that's all that I've managed to piece together yet but I'm already completely charmed. From what I've been able to gather through doing absolutely no research, some of King City has already appeared elsewhere but this series will mark its first complete run and that's terrific for one reason: it will be coming out very regularly if the publishing spirits are kind. Oh Typesetules, oh Shipontime, hear my plea! Do right by me!

The Red Circle: The Shield One-Shot

Okay! Thus concludes the introduction of the Archie Comics heroes to the DC Universe! Kind of!

I was waiting for all four issues to come out before commenting on this, because sometimes when I don’t wait I end up making an idiot out of myself (for instance, when I asserted that the killy Batman in Battle for the Cowl couldn’t be Jason Todd because hey, there’s a new Red Robin series coming up!). Now that it’s done, though… for a series with the avowed purpose of introducing characters to a universe, there was surprisingly little in the way of interaction with that universe in the course of the various issues. Like, none. No JLA fighting Starro on the teevee, no Web running into the Manhattan Guardian in one panel on page 10, nothing. There’s a guy in this issue who mentions how all the American super-heroes should join the Army, but he names no names. Now, this is probably a purposeful attempt to settle the characters into their own interconnected portion of the DCU before having the JSA stop in for a guest appearance, but dropping a few names now and again might have been nice. Ah well, looks like there’ll be a couple of ongoing series, so we shall see how this plays out in them, I guess.

As for the issue, well, it was just fine. The Shield is hardly the most distinct of super-heroes, despite his long pedigree. Generic superpowers, patriotic theme, war casualty-rebuilt-as-supersoldier? Check check check. The potentially interesting part of this iteration of the character is going to be the fact that he’s working directly for the Army, which is usually a role for psychotic assholes, though I have absolutely no idea how it’ll be handled here. The character was sympathetic and interesting for the first three or four pages, until he got blown up. After that, and well into his transformation into the Shield, he got a bit emotionally flat. Wait and see, I suppose.

Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special No. 2 - Pretty meh, I gotta say. The whole ‘massive military conspiracy’ plot that has been running through the Superman family of books has been in a holding pattern for a while now, and though this issue and the ones featuring the ugly-ass half ‘n half characters on the front seem to be designed to get the whole thing rolling again I may have lost a bit too much interest to care. At least there’s a wee little Odd Man shout-out, and on a week that saw me thinking about him, for some reason! Oh this madcap life of mine!

Superman No. 691 - As I said, it looks like they’re starting to ramp up this conspiracy storyline. Is anyone else being reminded more and more of Legends the longer this goes on? If they manage to work Brimstone into the plot somehow then I will regain interest a lot more quickly, as gigantic fiery wrestlers are just neat. Wait, does Death of the New Gods mean no more Brimstone ever again? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Flash: Rebirth No. 4 - I was pretty enthusiastic about this series and then I got less so and then I was positively grumpy about the whole thing. Now? I guess I’m okay with it. It doesn’t look like Johns is going to kill Max Mercury, and I can get behind that, but he hasn’t yet made a good enough case for Barry actually needing to be back. I was actually kind of hoping that he’d go back into the Speed Force at the end of Final Crisis, as it would have been quite tantalizing and fun to have him appear only in times of great peril, like a fast red Phantom Stranger. You could stretch out the explanation of why it was happening for years!

Batwoman in Detective Comics No. 856 -  Dang, yo. This is another of those quality Batman-related comics that I was talking about earlier. So nice-looking, such a high level of villainous craziness. Plus: an octopus man!

The Muppet Show Comic Book: The Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson No. 2 (of 4) - Gosh, is that a long title. Ah, but it's for a good cause, with lots of Beaker-abuse, rat abuse and general battering of felt to delight the senses. The various mysteries that are the theme of this miniseries are providing me with much joy.

Sherlock Holmes No. 4 - My brain feels a bit pummeled, as I'm not at home right now and so can't refer to the previous issues but can't escape the feeling that I should be able to figure at least part of the mystery out. Gah! Ah well, it's still a damn fine comic. Tune in next month to see if I figure it out before Leah Moore tells me whodunit.

The Unknown No. 4 (of 4) - I was all set to grump about how the mysteries of life and death hadn't been solved and how there'd better be more of this series and then the ding dong dang house ad at the back just shut me right up. Guess I'll just hold my tongue until next month, won't I?

Green Lantern No. 45 - Lots of great Corps vs Corps fun here: Sinestro Corps vs Star Sapphires! Red lanterns vs Green Lanterns! Blue vs Orange! Everybody vs the Black Lanterns!

ZOMBIE WATCH: Pariah, Planet Xanshi, Loads of dead Sinestro Corpsers, Qwardians and (hooray!) all of Larfleeze's victims.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink No. 4 (of 6) - This series was my least favourite of the four, butt I do believe that it's growing on me. I honestly hope that yon Tattooed Man makes it through with his life, tattoos and newfound heroism intact. Man, though, the characters in this have some terrible names. Not birth names, the kind you choose for yourselves. Twisttedd? Crim$o? Phat Diamond? G-Filter? SYNcK? Is it because they're all in gangs? Do gang folk not know how to name themselves well?

Wednesday Comics No. 8 - With four left to go, a quick rundown: Metamorpho, Strange Adventures, Supergirl, Deadman, Flash and Kamandi: going strong the whole time. Sgt Rock, Metal Men, Demon/Catwoman, Batman and Green Lantern have been perfectly serviceable. Teen Titans has gotten much better, possibly due to some art tweaking and possibly because it took a while to get up to speed. Wonder Woman has also gotten better but is still very very tough to read (but featured a really neato version of Etta Candy). I grossly underestimated Hawkman, it turns out, though elaborate joke or not, that first comic is still kind of painful. And Superman... I reckon that the only hope for this comic is for the next four installments to be one long alien-wrassli' exhibition, and that is way unlikely.

Batman: the Widening Gyre No. 1 (of 6) - I've never read any of Kevin Smith's comic work, did you know that? Most of it came out while I was in my poor times, when I would basically buy Astro City and one or two other titles and then eat crackers for supper. And I'm addicted to Batman comics, too. So I ignored the mockery of my blogmates and that of the dog that they had gotten from somewhere and bought this. And it ain't bad, really. It's too late for me to really articulate things, so I'll subject it to the ol' SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGMENT treatment later. Oh, but K. Smith is going on the big list of People Who Can't Write the Demon's Rhymespeak. Because he can't. The rhythm is all wrong and there are too many near-rhymes.

Anyway: good night all.