John Buys Comics Like They Are Hotcakes That Are Going Out of Style

Hit Monkey (One Shot)

What a strange little comic.

I bought this pretty much on a whim and due to an abiding love for odd characters, but honestly I was expecting something along the lines of Mr. Stuffins: a funny-style book where a lot of the humour was generated by taking a tough-guy role and filling it with an adorable-style character. Instead, this is more akin to… I have no idea what. It’s somewhere between a Kurosawa film and Hinterland Who’s Who, if that makes any sense, which it won’t if you’re not Canadian.

Basically, I wasn’t surprised by the fact that I enjoyed this book but am almost in shock over the fact that it was actually so good. It’s good enough that I’m not letting myself write any spoilers, people! And that’s hard!

Human Target No. 1

Man, I can’t believe that I’ve become one of those “no TV” guys. I did it completely on accident, I swear. I still download Death Comes to Town every week, regular.

But I am a guy without a TV, and so I miss stuff like the fact that there’s a Human Target series on Fox. I literally just found out on the ISB yesterday. And even though Sims was giving the show a hard time about not actually being about a guy who disguises himself as other guys, you know, like THE HUMAN TARGET does, I was a bit interested. I picked up the comic of the show based on a comic.

Bleah. If ever a comic read like a TV show, this is it, all glib one-liners and tough talk. (not like a comic book at all, no sirree) Quiet, parenthetical aside. This is teevee-style glib dialogue and it doesn’t belong in a comic book. It just serves to underscore the fact that this version of Christopher Chance is just some Transporter-like glorified bodyguard. Too bad he doesn’t have a gimmick to make himself interesting like I don’t know dressing up like his client and having identity problems

Double bleah.

Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom

So I guess that it has now been conclusively proven that I cannot resist any comic that involves HP Lovecraft having Cthulhu Mythos-style adventures, especially if they’re adorable. I managed to hold out for about five minutes before finally putting this one on my pile, but it was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

But really, how can you go wrong with a story that involves a young, huge-eyed Lovecraft reading a magical book and being transported to a regular-style fairytale land in trouble which he, as the kid from another land, has to fix. It all works quite well, both as a young-person-having-an-adventure romp and as a Mythos tome.

And of course, tentacles abound.

The Unwritten No. 10 – No specific reason, but this was the first issue that felt to me like the series was going to be around for the long haul. This is a very good thing and basically exactly what I’ve been wishing for the last year (ish).

Invincible Presents Atom Eve and Rex Splode No 3 (of 3) – What fun! I miss Rex.

Batman and Robin No. 8 – Now this is proper Morrison writing: jam-packed with ideas and on the very cusp of losing you without actually doing so, with at least one idea per issue that makes you shout out “Of course!”

Daytripper No. 3 – Oh man I just got that it’s the same guy in every issue. I’m freaking out, dude.

Solomon Kane: Death’s Black Riders No. 2 – I’m trying to follow the Hellboy Protocol on these Solomon Kane series and not just go “Omigod you guys this issue was awesome just like the last eight and Solomon Kane shot another dude in the face!” every time one comes out, but this issue Allie and Guevara managed to incorporate the terrific little Kane story “Rattle of Bones” into the ongoing narrative and with aplomb, so I must use this space to praise them mightily. I raise my imaginary glass to ye, comicsmen!

Action Comics No. 27 – I demand more Kryptonian mythology! Well done, everyone.

Booster Gold No. 29 – Wait, first Metal Men, now Blue Beetle? Stop being cowards about things, DC. Keep the backups going, you jerks. Putting a little message in the last page doesn’t make things cool between us over this.

Adventure Comics No. 7 – Ugh. Bad call making the first issue under a new creative team a tie-in to Blackest Night. I’ll reserve the right to do a SECOND MONTH OF JUDGEMENT on this one.

R.E.B.E.L.S. No. 13 – Even if this series weren’t great every month, the drawings of Despero’s head regrowing a tiny little body would make it totally worth buying.


In a Surprise Upset, John Buys Comics

Welcome back to the 21st Century, where the comics aren’t perfect but they’ll always be a hell of a lot better than those of the 90s. In aggregate, I mean.

A few items from last week:

Citizen Rex looks to be a good time. I’ve always liked Los Bros. Hernandez and a new series from them is just dandy. It’s not too fresh in my mind, though, so I’ll expound further upon the release of issue no. 2.

Well, Tales of the Corps was a bust. Look, guys, the math is easy: 8 corps divided by 3 issues times about a million characters equals a series chock-full of stories about, say, that cat that Atrocitus has riding around on his shoulder. My tally shows two stories about background characters (Red Lantern Whatshername, Orange Lantern Giant Head Guy), two stories about important characters who haven’t been around forever (Young Mongul, Saint Walker), one introduction (the Indigo Tribe) and two stories about decades-old characters who have been thoroughly examined many times before (Kilowog, Carrol goddam Ferris). Oh, and no Black Lanterns at all. Booooooooooooo. Regardless of the fact that I enjoyed the Kilowog and Young Mongul stories, why the hell are they here? All I wanted were 7 stories about crazy aliens with crazy ring-based powers, plus maybe a yarn about a zombie Vibe going breakdancing or something - heck, if you’d given me just one or two more looks at the minor Lanterns I wouldn’t have even complained about your bullshit “Director’s Commentary”. I really shouldn’t have been bored for as much of this series as I was.

Two things that I will not be bitching about: Thomas E. Sniegoski and Dark Horse put out Lobster Johnson: The Satan Factory, a pulp-style novel featuring everyone’s favourite pulp-style Hellboy character. As you may know, I love me some old-school pulp action, so this was a treat. Sniegoski has done a bang-up job on replicating the flavour of a team-style book like Doc Savage or the Shadow without overusing pulp clichés. Like the pulps of old it was a fast, fun read.

And of course, Beanworld Book 2: A Gift Comes! came out last week. This volume consisted entirely of comics that I hadn’t been able to track down, so I had a joyous time reading it. There’s a lot of exposition about the history and ecology of the Beanworld, and I was left very excited for the new material that is due out this Fall. I think that I may expound on my love for this series in a separate post some time but in the meantime I shall once again use my astonishing hypnotic abilities to compel you to pick it up. Doooooooooo iiiiiiiiiit…..

On to this week:

The Hangman (One-Shot)

Oh boy, the first of the Red Circle characters to sidle their way into the DCU proper! And it’s the Hangman! Who I don’t know very well!

As I recall, the Archie Hangman was the Comet’s brother and was a standard vigilante type in the Batman style, only his suit was pea-green. This ain’t that guy (and there’s a question: is DC intending to bring all of the Red Circle characters into the fold? I sure hope so). This Hangman is a Civil War-era doctor, reborn as a spirit of vengeance and protector of the innocent.

Now, I know that the DCU already has two or three guys that match that description - the Spectre, Deadman, maybe Ragman - but this variation on the theme could work. For one thing, the Hangman isn’t quite sure who he works for: could be Heaven, could be Hell. For another, he looks pretty cool and DC doesn’t really have much in the way of Old West style characters running around. Actually, he only kind of looks cool. I like the costume, but the messy, dirty-looking art suits the Civil War battlegrounds better than the latter-day stuff. Also… the Hangman has the physique of a steroid-soaked early-Nineties Image character and it doesn’t suit him. I mean, if you’re going to have a character who is supernaturally strong and impervious to harm, why not stick with the weedy book-learnin’ physique that his alter ego already has?

Other than that, though: not bad. I look forward to the rest, particularly The Web.

Doom Patrol No. 1

Well, well, well. The comic that I’ve been waiting for has snuck up on me. And how was it? Not bad, not bad. I’m going to hold off for now and SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGEMENT it next month.

And why do I feel so ambivalent? Eh, I don’t know. It’s not like there’s anything glaringly bad, just a collection of things that I like and things that I’m not so sure about. Let’s list them!

The good: The Doom Patrol as agents of the government of Oolong Island. I sure do like the idea of a scientocracy and it’s nice that this one survived the end of 52.

Negative Man and Robotman are looking good. I particularly like the more mummy-like look that Larry’s bandages have, especially as compared to the bondage gear look he was sporting under Byrne.

Looks like there are going to be plenty of crazy science-villains.

Niles Caulder is his delightfully bastardly self.

The not so sure: Is Caulder too bastardly? Even in the Morrison era he had some humanity buried under his cold exterior.

Elasti-Woman looks terrible. Maybe that costume will grow on me, but I doubt it.

Casual character kill-off, eh? And super-duper telegraphed? Bah.

It is the first issue, so I can’t really say that they’re not using all of the characters that they could, but I’ll be keeping an eye on that. If you have an expanded Doom Patrol you might as well use it, right?

So, we’ll see. On the other hand, the Metal Men Backup was terrific. Seven neurotic robots plus crazy adventures plus nosy neighbours equals good times. The book is worth my nickel for them alone.

Young Lovecraft: The adventures of a young HP Lovecraft, as promised on the cover, done in a comic strip style and with a distinct hint of Calvin and Hobbes, if Hobbes were a ghoul. I like ol’ Howard P. to an unreasonable degree, so I can’t really say if this book will appeal to everyone, but like Unspeakable Vault (of Doom), Young Lovecraft succeeds in mixing goofy humour with macabre source material. Of course, also like Unspeakable Vault (of Doom) the occasional joke falls flat due to wonky translation, but chubby-headed Lovecraft is adorable enough that I can forgive. For the faint of heart: there are a few boobs. Watch out.

Saga of Solomon Kane - Somehow, Dave knew that I would be buying this. Possibly it was because I bought every issue of the recent Dark Horse series. And then the trade paperback of the same series. And also the old Marvel series (well, he gave me those, but I would have bought them). And the original stories, which I then declared to be some of the best pulp fiction of all time and a million times better than Conan, much as I enjoy him. What can I say, I love reading about Puritans fighting ancient evil and sometimes Frenchmen. If someone ever makes a god Solomon Kane movie then I will see it twice. (Oh great. Now the Dark Horse web site tells me that there's another Solomon Kane collection coming out in December. Guess who's going to buy it?)

Irredeemable No. 5 - Remains entertaining, as the Plutonian gets all creepy and seldom-seen hero Volt gets some time in the sun. I’m still pretty interested in learning the cause of the Plutonian’s change of alignment (Lawful Good to Chaotic Evil, my heavens!) but it’s becoming more of a mystery story with every issue, so I’m willing to sit back and gather me some clues.

Jersey Gods No. 6 - Barack and Zoe go house-hunting! Barack meets the future in-laws! A mysterious new villain appears on the scene! All this and a new installment of “Tales from the Great War”! Man, Jersey Gods is one of the comics that just consistently brings me joy, on both a cosmic-super-hero and drama-laden-romance level. And next month: a fashion show!

Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! No. 4 (of 6) - More hijinks of the Human Flame. I find myself hoping that the big dumb asshole survives this series, but I’m not sure that it’s going to be possible, given the speed at which he garners enemies. In other news, the last page of each issue of this series has been a great segue to the next, and this is the best one yet.

Chew No. 3 - Chu falls in love! With a savoscrivner, which is yet another excellent new mental power that John Layman has given us. Good show, sir! This is another one of those series that delight me every month. Even though there’s lots of barfing.

Secret Six No. 12 - And a series that I enjoy makes it past the magic number without being cancelled! Celebrate in the streets! Dance! Pat a dog! I was going to harp on about how the Secret Six/ Wonder Woman fight at the beginning of this issue was unnecessary, since none of them actually killed Artemis, but in retrospect I guess that they figured that she might not believe ‘em, which is reasonable. Highlights: lots of boxer short fun, some bullets & bracelets and Gail Simone building on established DCU banshee lore instead of just making up something new.

Astro City: Dark Age Book Three No. 4 - So Astro City is going monthly, hooray! As much as I’ve enjoyed The Dark Age, it’ll be nice to have it finished and see some other stories after a couple of years with this one.

Absolution No. 1 - It ended up on the bottom of the stack this week, so it doesn’t get much text. Luck of the draw, I guess. Absolution’s about an officially-sanctioned super-type named John Dusk and features his slide into moral ambiguity. It looks good and might just be worth following but be warned: this one’s not for the kiddies - it’s fulla blood, guts and brains.

Well, good night everybody. Read more comics.

Gone Fishin'.

This one goes out to Car Pool Keith, my twice-a-day friend, who has been talking about going fishing since January, who is probably fishing right now and who will likely be talking about fishing until next January. The man knows how to stick with a hobby.

So: we're all familiar with the concept of the comic book character who has hunted all there is to hunt and so must move on to hunting people, or super-heroes, or super-villains. Manhunter, Kraven the Hunter, the Hunter - all of them have a little of the ol' General Zaroff in them. But hunting isn't alone, no sir. The fine sport of fishing has made its impression on the funny books as well.

Now part of me wants to dismiss this as the comic book equivalent of the tendency for comic strips to feature lots of golf jokes. A sort of "write what you know and you'd rather be doing" kind of thing, I guess. But then the part of me that wants this post to have a cohesive theme speaks up and reminds me to say that I now think that it's more like fishing is the stunted little brother of hunting, that it may not have pith helmets and charging rhinos but, by god, it's going to make do with hip waders and wide-legged stances and lots of puns involving the  word hook! Fishing can matter, dammit!

Sometimes, fishing is just a means to an end. Here we have "Crusher" Crock, the Sportsmaster, dressing up like a fisherman in order to steal things. This is his schtick, though - heck, that mask is his only real costume. The next time he appears, he might be a baseball player or a water-skier or a dartsman.

Still, Sportsmaster's bewadered magnificence is imposing enough to dissuade folks from trying to interfere as he hooks him a big one. I think that the potential of fishing is evident:

Here's some fishing froom DC Special No. 13:

The Fishermen of Space are a trio of spectacularly dumb aliens who are gathering specimens of terrestrial life to take back home. They use weird claws for hooks and, because they are big dudes, fish for great big things. Things like buses, or ships:

Or airplanes!

The Fishermen of Space don't even know  that they are fishing for humans, really. They just scoop up the biggest moving things that they can find, and I guess the whales were all astute enough to submerge once the giant claws started dropping from the sky. It is likely that these big dumb alien bozos are representing the sporting nature of the comic book fisherperson, though, if only because I have to assume that if they were scientists they might use a more efficient means of gathering their specimens. No, these guys are almost certainly cracking open a few giant brewskis and telling stories about the Miscellaneous Moving Object That Got Away once they get back to their mothership.

Sometimes, fishing for people becomes a lesson in cruel irony, as in this tale from Strange Adventures No. 21, wherein a young scientist and his wife set out with rod and reel to prove that there are living things of some sort at the bottom of a toxic volcanic lake. In a shocking twist ending, however:

The fisher becomes the fishee! Don't worry, though, he gets away. The poor fish-man is left to live his days in a haze of constant regret:

Note, however, that the fish monster is careful to use a rod and hook when attempting to catch a human. This is very important, and is a bit of a mistake. Humans aren't quite as dumb as fish, after all, and you just can't be certain that they'll manage to impale themselves on any barb that you toss out there, even if you put a hamburger on the end. The Fishermen of Space had the right idea there, what with their claws and all.

No, this fish monster is strictly an amateur, the equivalent of a kid with a bent paperclip tied to a stick with a length of twine. If you want to see some human-fishing fish monsters who have it all figured out, man, you just take a gander at Flash v1 No. 119, wherein the Flash and Elongated Man both get to take a shot at figuring out whatever became of some vanished scuba divers:

In an overly-complicated scheme, the fish-monsters capture the divers, put them in a tank in their underwater city, and fish for them with pieces of meat. As I recall, the one who caught a diver got to use him as slave labour.

Note, however, the specialized human-fishing equipment. You reach for the steak and a noose slips over your wrist - seems a bit more plausible than expecting the ol' hook to work. My main question is where they got that steak. Also, how was the diver going to eat that steak? His whole head is encased in diving apparatus, after all - shouldn't he be trying to get out of the water so that he can beat up the fish-guy and take the meat? Not even the Flash thinks to try that though, or even the radical strategy of reaching around the noose to grab the steak.

But this is all pointless exploration of a very tenuously tied-together bunch of examples without an examination of the pinnacle of the fishing-in-comics characters; fishing's equivalent of Kraven the Hunter and Aquaman's most logical nemesis:

The Fisherman!

The Fisherman just takes his theme and runs with it. He's got the waders and the suspenders and he does everything with his hook. He makes his entrances on giant sea monsters! Heck, when he first appeared he was even more into the whole thing:

He had a cape made out of a net! His little hat (since revealed to be an alien parasite of some kind, which kills one of my jokes) is the same colour as the rest of his costume and makes him look a bit like a lobster! Hell, even the caption-voice calls him "bizarre", which is a pretty tough distinction to achieve as a villain in a 60s DC comic.

Clearly, this is a man who has tasted all that life on the sea has to offer. He has fished everything from the gentle sardine too the majestic basking shark. He has tracked the elusive king krill to its lair and emerged the victor. He has ridden the mighty manta ray and feasted on anenome and scorpion fish and sea squirt. Truely he is the ultimate fisherman. But where to go once you reach the top? What do you fish for once you have fished all of the fish that there are to fish?

Yep, you start fishing for people. Remember how I was talking about how people won't just grab onto a hook, even if you put a something delicious on it? Well that's just the kind of challenge that the Fisherman likes. And if getting to fish for people means that he runs the risk of getting shot four times in the back and killed?

Well, I guess that that's just the final proof that the most dangerous fish of all... is Man.

It's okay! John Buys Comics is here!

Battle for the Cowl: The Network (One-Shot)

This was interesting: Oracle and what is essentially Bird of Prey II: This Time With Dudes! vs Dr. Hugo Strange, who is setting the new Batman (meaning the Batman who is supposedly Jason Todd but almost certainly isn’t and oh look he’s on the cover of next week’s Battle for the Cowl No. 3 and I don’t think that it’s Jason Todd) up for one of his famous messed-up psychological tests: three kidnapped people (crack mother, old old lady and escaped murderer claiming innocence), two of whom will be killed once the first one is rescued. Also, he’s taking bets on the side.

I liked this. I like the “Oracle with a team of people” dynamic that went away with Birds of Prey (and how long did it take Barbara Gordon to “find herself” anyway? A week?) and there’s a nice sense of the Gotham criminal underground that you don’t often get in Batman stories but that makes sense - why not form a community? Solidarity in the face of oppression!

I feel like bitching about some of the characterization but I’m not awake enough to be the angry nerd yet. Eh, Huntress lost some of the not-psycho calm that she had picked up over in Birds of Prey but at least it fit the story, for what that’s worth. I kind of wish, though, that they’d chosen to play Ragman as the loveable schlub from Shadowpact rather than as the standard creepy supernatural character who calls people “child” and such. Misfit was good, though, and it looks as though her Dark Secret has not been forgotten, so if this spins off into a series of some sort, hopefully she’ll be there.

Groom Lake No. 2

Huh. I skipped the first issue of this because it had a smoking Grey-style alien on the cover and looked like something from a university poster sale, but the partially-skeletonized puff dog on this one managed to pull me in (ag, it's the B cover - why is it so hard to find pictures of B covers? The A cover is even more poster sale). Actually, I’m kind of glad that I did it this way, as the first issue by itself is okay but the first two issues taken as a pair are a pretty decent read.

This is neat. It’s the sort of story that… you know when you have a serious set-up (in this case an X-Files-style alien/government conspiracy) in which most of the cast is playing it serious but then a couple of off-the-wall characters are dropped into the middle and it ends up being funny and plausibly actiony at the same time? This is like that, if skewing toward the funny side of things. Sure, there’s a party-alien, but he has a legitimate reason for being so. If I’d only read the first issue I might’ve complained about some of the characters being too tough and world-weary and attitudey all the time but it actually works quite well to balance out the wacky. Nice writin', Chris Ryall!

And good art, Ben Templesmith! Why are your square-headed women so appealing? Whatever the reason, I like it. All of the characters are super-distinctive and interesting and the colouring job is beautiful and odd.

Oh, and there’s even a decent explanation for alien rectal/genital probing! Finally, my questions have been answered!

Demon Cleaner No. 1

(Written before reading this) I know nothing about this comic - I bought it because books about people fighting demons (see Hellboy, Killer of Demons, etc.) are usually a good time. The Weird Rocky Horror-style lips on the cover are kind of weirding me out.

(Reading…) Hey, this is pretty good! As I figured, the Demon Cleaner is a dude who runs around offing demons who have escaped from Hell and not (as I had secretly hoped) some sort of maid service for the damned. Demons make great villains, by the way, even better than Nazis, as the occasional Nazi can turn out to be just misled, whilst demons are pretty much the definitive bad guys. And they can generally come back again after you kill ‘em, too, which makes for a good antagonistic relationship. Miles Gunter wrote this one and did a good job with his bunch of entertainingly assholey rich people who gathered to eat demons for their medicinal value and (oh the wit) ended up biting off more than they could chew. The demons are pretty good too, especially the one who must inhabit organic matter in order to have a body - look out for the watermelon-demon, aiee!

And it looks real pretty, too. It appears that Antarctic Press is classifying it as a manga but to mine eyes it occupies the same Art Deco-descended niche as Darwyn Cooke’s work on The Spirit. Anyway, it looks nice and the monsters are cool and nicely kinetic. Also, Victor Santos draws a nice skeleton. And! This is two comics in a row with really nice mood-enhancing colouring.

Final Crisis Aftermath: RUN! No. 1 (of 6)

Okay, so my initial reason for reading Battle for the Cowl was a semi-masochistic impulse to take a bad-comic bullet for the LBW team, but that’s not working out because one the whole I’m enjoying them. Therefore, I’m going to read all of the Final Crisis Aftermath books as well. I actually have no idea if they’re going to be good or bad or what - the mess that was Countdown and the other books leading up to Final Crisis (generally - I kind of liked Salvation Run) has left me cynical about this sort of thing but on the other hand I really like the Aftermath focus characters. On the third hand, I liked them as Morrison characters, so I guess we’ll see how well someone else ends up writing them. We’ll call it cautious optimism for now. Anyway, as previously detailed I like the Human Flame, so let’s see how a series about him getting his comeuppance for being the kind of douchebag that films someone’s death on a camera phone goes…


All right! This was exactly what I was hoping for: the misadventures of a total dick. The Human Flame is the most unrepenetant asshole in the DCU, I think. If Sturges and Williams can keep this going for six issues it’ll be a hoot. Basically everyone is after this guy - the heroes, the villains, the Kyrgyzstani Mafia, possibly his tiny daughter - and he just keeps compounding things by acting like a bigger and bigger douchebag. Also: the return of that one uncostumed guy from his debut! Also… is Firestorm a white guy again or was that a colouring error?

Power Girl No. 1

Okay, this was great. Power Girl has had it bad for a while but if this series continues in this vein then she’s in good hands. I bought the cover pictured here and I swear, not for the boobs (though they are impressively colossal). Rather, for that fantastic facial expression and for “It’s okay! Power Girl is here!”, which is pretty much the best catch phrase ever and I hope is employed frequently.

Anyway, good writing job here - Power Girl is forceful without being the cranky-pants that she was in the old days. This Power Girl is no more likely to appreciate Wally West grossly hitting on her than the Justice League Europe version but, I don’t know, wouldn’t be as abrasive about it? Does that make sense? Basically, I like her as a character as much as ever but now I could probably have a conversation with her. Aha! I’ve worked it out: Power Girl now has a sense of humour!

One very good thing about this comic is the reintroduction of PG’s Karen Starr identity. For a while, what with all of the origin revisions and such, it was just one writer after another tearing down aspects of her character: she wasn’t Kryptonian, then she ditched her secret identity, then she was Atlantean for a while and then not Atlantean at all, etc, etc. It’s nice to have her as a cool businesswoman with interesting employees and an apartment and so forth. Also, her insane cat shows up for a couple of panels. Also also, Ultra-Humanite.

Jersey Gods No. 4

Oh man, this is such a good comic. When I read the preview back in... where the heck did I read that preview? in the back of an issue of Invincible, I think. In any case, all I was expecting was a comic about Kirby-esque gods and in-law jokes, which would have been great enough. This, though... Dan McDaid and Glen Brunswick have put together one hell of a comic. It manages to capture that great excessively weird epic quality that Kirby god-stuff had (in Thor or New Gods, take your pick). I mean, it's easy enough to whip off a plot about some ineffable cosmic being with metal gauntlets and dotted powers but hot damn! There's a very cool story taking shape here, with big 'ol flashbacks to the god-history of the past and everything. And the fashion-focused  Earth plot is good too, though I expect that it's going to require some godly intervention soon.

Of course, my absolute favourite part was the meeting of Fusion and Union, who obviously knew who each other were but still felt the need to shout "I am Fusion!" and "I am Union!"

The Zombies that Ate the World No. 3 (of 8) 

You know, at this point there are so many zombie comics floating around that I wouldn't necessarily grab a new one but this has two things going for it right off the bat: a great title and Guy Davis, who draws such pretty pictures that I would be into at least the first issue of anything he cared to put his pen to. Lucky for my easily-led brain, this is an entertainingly weird tale of a world where zombies and humans live together in a weird, dysfunctional society. This issue: focus on the Belgian! Andd I can't find the cover!

Fin Fang 4 Return! (One-Shot)

Okay, so acedemically i know that there are good things going on at marvel Comics that aren't just a portion of some giant crossover. Still, I'm having a hard time shedding my anti-Marvel reactionary stance. Rachelle keeps suggesting stuff, so maybe someday...

This, though... the Marvel Monster Group (or whatever) comics from a few years ago were fantastic, and the Fin Fang Four were the very best. And this? This is a comic to buy and treasure and dig out when you are at your very lowest point and yyou need to remember that the world contains pure unadulterated delight. And the stories inside are arranged by delightfulness! By the time I got  to "How Fin Fang Foom Saved Christmas" I was basically vibrating with joy! Giant monsters and also Wong forever!

Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time No. 1 (of 5)

I really like coincidences. For instance, I once read a webcomic and it mentioned someone I went to university with and then the next week I realized that the blog I was reading was by the same person's brother and then the next week I found out that she was in Halifax and we went out for Eggs Benedict. How can you not enjoy a world so full of interestingness?

In a far less personal way, I was a fan of both Atomic Robo and 8-Bit Theater before I realized that Brian Clevinger wrote both of them. I guess that "being unobservant" isn''t much in the way of coincidences but still: neat. Atomic Robo is basically the perfect Johnathan comic, except for the absence of forty to sixty years of continuity. Just wait, though.

This new series looks to be just as great as the prior two. It takes place in Atomic Robo's formative years and features both Charles Fort and my old friend H.P. Lovecraft  (in a delightfully frenetic and... Lovecraftian role). One issue in and I'm delighted. I have no doubt that the next four will be just as good (the Free Comic Book Day Atomic Robo was my favourite free comic book of all).

Astro City: Dark Age Book Three No. 1

Ag. This is my last book of the day - I must stop arranging these things by anticipation. If you truely want to know what I think about this after reading it check back on Friday.

(Bah, this edit is happening on Saturday) I love Astro City. Astro City is consistently what a comic book should be. A super-hero comic book, that it. And you might not agree, as is your right (but I will look askance at you). It's like Kurt Busiek sneaks into my room at night and listens to my disjointed sleep-ramblings about my comic-related hopes and dreams and then sneaks home and writes this. Fascinating and still-evolving continuity? Check. Interesting and novel characters with intriguing motivations? Check. A crazy-interesting multi-volume story that is also an extended metaphor for the shifting fates and trends of the super-hero comic book industry? Yep. Unalloyed delight? Double-check.

So this issue features Charles and Royal, the Odd Couple-ish brothers at the heart of The Dark Age on their next step on the path to vengeance during the troubling 1970s and 80s in Astro City. We got Cleopatra and Pyramid and all kinds of interesting things going on but as usual it's background to the more personal stuff that's happening. Royal's in training as a henchman for Pyramid, which is great, as henchmen are fascinating.

Astro City, my friends. You can't beat it, I swear.

Aha - we’re starting to come to some comics that I’ve talked about before. Maybe I’ll just do a little blurb about things like that instead of the whole shebang, unless something big happens, of course. Or maybe if they come out really sporadically. Or if I like them a lot. Okay, sometimes there will be blurbs and here’s one now:

Strange Adventures No. 3 - More fun with DC’s space heroes. Still a good time but I reckon I’d be getting more out of it if my knowledge of alla this stuff was more complete. As usual, it’s fun to buy a comic with the same name as the store I’m shopping at.

Irredeemable No. 2 - Woo! Still great! This issue follows Kaidan, a neato super-hero with a very cool power (and an adorable costume in the flashback that starts the issue) as she seeks out info from rogue hero The Plutonian’s girlfriend. I’m really digging this series - looks like it won’t just be the standard tale of possession by an evil spirit or what have you but a really interesting look at what could drive someone so good and so powerful to be monstrously evil. With lots of terrific characters, to boot!

The Life and Times of Savior 28 No. 2 - Another very interesting examination of the superhuman condition, this time looking at Savior 28, an ultra-patriotic type who turns to the way of pacifism and gets assassinated for it. Well-told and well-drawn, and I think that maybe it’s based on the original “let’s kill Captain America” plot as detailed in Was Superman a Spy? (I read it! It’s good!) and here.

World of New Krypton No. 3 As I said last time: this book keeps on being good and I like it. This time there’s more Labor Guild Civil Rights Movement action and possibly the first time Alura hasn’t acted semi-insane for more than a panel or two. Kal-El just keeps on showing up the Kryptonians on the morality front, too. I’ll bet a dollar right now that most of the population of New Krypton end up back in a bottle by the end of all of this, though.

Killer of Demons No. 3 (of 3) -  Fun! Dave wrote about this one a couple of weeks ago and what he said still stands. Looks like this one is  going to keep on , maybe in a series of miniseries or a regular series or something. Featuring: Heaven and Hell signing what is perhaps the most unbalanced pact ever!

Seaguy No 2 (of 3) - What? Grant Morrison has written something delightful and perplexing? Has the world gone topsy-turvey? Bull-dressing is the best sport ever, is what I say. Viva El Macho!

The Flash: Rebirth No. 2 - Ag! This is very interesting! Don't kill off all of the speedsters, Geoff Johns! Otherwise... carry on.

Sleep well, champs!

Johnathan Munroe's John Buys Comics

Oracle: The Cure No. 2

Hmm. I'm not too sure about this series. I mean, it's basically Oracle vs Calculator, which was among the best subplots of Birds of Prey, but this Oracle isn't quite as interesting. Maybe it's the fact that this is a distinct series - some of the character that was built up over the course of n issues had to be discarded in order to keep people who didn't read those issues but are following Battle for the Cowl in the loop. So Oracle spends some time being stoic about her paralysis and gets mugged and kicks the muggers asses and gets mistaken for an agent of the real/male Oracle. It makes me wish that this were just a crossover sneaking into a series that I read, much as I normally dislike that.

Eh, it's an okay book. Honestly, the whole Battle for the Cowl thing has been okay so far: better than the average crossover if not as good as a well-written regular series. Cons: lots of cheesecakery (yes yes: some of you will consider this a pro, but if I want that I'll go looking for it) and the whole thing seems like it was written by someone who doesn't know as much about the Internet as prior Oracle scribes. Babs Gordon having to look up who Charles Babbage is? Not knowing what the DCU equivalent of Second Life is? Ha.

The Phantom: Generations No. 1

The Phantom appeals to me in theory: line of adventurers stretching back hundreds of years and doling out justice in a purple union suit, whoopee! So much to read, so little time, though: the only time that I've ever read the Phantom was as a part of a 1980s team called Defenders of the Earth, with Flash Gordon and Mandrake the Magician, I think. Their battle cry wasn't "Liscenced Properties Assemble!" but it should have been.

Anyway, this series looks intriguing - actually, a lot of Moonstone's upcoming stuff does (okay, not all of it. MILF Magnet?). The first issue takes the form of entries from the very first Phantom's journal with accompanying pictures. The art (let's see... Pat Quinn) is good stuff - it'll be interesting to see it in a panel-based format, if that's the way they go with later issues. The writing (Ben Raab) turned out to be good. I wasn't sure at first, as the early pages are slightly drowned in archaicisms. Also, there's a big Norseman with a halberd and no attempt was made to de-bright-purple the Phantom's suit, which I appreciate. I'll be picking up No. 2, if that means anything. (huh. Turns out that there is a whole Phantom series out already by Moonstone. How'd I miss that?)

American McGee's Grimm No. 1

I know next to nothing about American McGee. I don't, for example, know whether he is the one that sticks his name in front of the titles of his projects. Heck, I haven't even played any of his games. Well, we had a copy of American McGee's Alice when I was in university but nobody had a computer that would play it unless we turned the graphics down to Virtua Fighter levels, which detracted from the dark reimagining. Anyway, it's a shame that all I have to judge him by is this comic. Heck, he didn't even write it (unless he is also this "Dwight L. MacPherson", possibly for tax reasons). Bah. I know that it's a tie-in to a video game (to the extent that the Grimm character gets what look to be in-game hints throughout the comic) but that's no excuse. From what I gather, American McGee's Grimm is about taking the happy-go-lucky fairy tales of today back to their gross and violent roots. This is an interesting concept, I admit. BUT! It is neither interesting nor clever to then try to do the same thing to comic books by essentially ignoring anything that has happened artistically or naratively in the last forty years. Grimm drops into a meeting of Sixties-esque villains and makes them dark and spikey and then takes them off to kill super-heroes. That is not subversive, Grimm - that is what we call The Early Nineties. Bah.

Johnny Monster No. 3 (of 3)

Speaking of The Early Nineties, remember Image Comics back then? Home of spikey violence and questionable plotting? How happy am I that it eventually became this neato home for creator-owned comicing (and they still have a little spikey violence if you like that sort of thing, don't worry). Now you got stuff like Invincible and Killer of Demons and Johnny Monster, which is a fun tale about a guy who fights creatures that resemble Sixties Marvel monsters and who secretly was raised by them and works to keep them safe rather than killing them like his fellow monster hunters. You got monsters and fighting and tentacle beasts and a little moral about communication. I'd check out a second series.

The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft, Chapter 1

There's an interesting trend in recent years toward writing tales where those who write about the fantastic end up in fantastic adventures themselves. I have a novel somewhere in which Arthur Conan Doyle battles secret cults and Lovecraftian horrors and a few years ago I read a decent little comic about Charles Fort... battling Lovecraftian horrors. Well, now it's Lovecraft's turn to battle his own horrors, which should please Doyle and Fort. And it's good! H.P. is written (by Mac Carter) super-well: he's properly awkward and verbose, he has trouble with women and his aunts are creepy. The art is fantastic - check out the crazy-good, hyper-kinetic scene in the jazz club! Tony Salmans draws the Twenties astonishingly well - he both conveys why flappers are so appealing and that they weren't all ephemeral waifs.

This is a damn good comic, folks. There's plenty for a Lovecraft nerd like me to get all geeky about but it stands up on its own as well - I think that "tentacle monsters vs socially awkward writer in the Twenties" is a pretty universal plot by now, right? There hasn't been too much creepy craziness yet but I'm certain that both the art and the writing are up to the task. And I'm pretty damn pleased that they didn't go the easy route of making Lovecraft a gun-totin' Teddy Roosevelt-esque he-man, as amusing as that might be. Save it for the Robert E Howard comic, guys! Highly recommended - and hey, it's another Image Comic!

Green Lantern Corps No. 35

More Green Lantern fun. I'm pretty fond of the Corps and now of the Corps-es (and in this series, there are plenty of corpses) - having a superteam where everyone has the same abilities and thus cannot be defined solely by their powers leaves a lot more room for neato personalities. Or for countless weird aliens to bump off in an indiscriminate manner, true, but I think that this series manages to fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. The whole buildup to Blackest Night is being handled pretty damn well, I reckon, even though Dan Didio and others have been flinging spoilers to the winds for more than a year (oh look, an ad for Blackest Night toys! And there's a character that hasn't appeared in the comic yet! I sense... a spoiled dramatic reveal!) so it's more like when you watch The Sixth Sense again - you spend a lot of time admiring the mechanics of the storytelling process rather than the story itself. Not that the story isn't great - there's a giant snake in this one! And a dramatic reveal!

R.E.B.E.L.S. No. 3

Another story dealing with craziness in DC Outer Space. Vril Dox (aka Brainiac 2) has been ousted from L.E.G.I.O.N. again and is hopping around the universe gathering a team in order to reclaim his robot space police force. He's got a brainfull of information sent into the past by Querl Dox (aka Brainiac 5) in order to ensure that his ancestor lives long enough to spawn a little Brainiac 3 and continue the bloodline, though I thought that that was already taken care of back in the L.E.G.I.O.N '9X days with his dictatorial kid Lyrl Dox. Eh, what do I know. As usual, there are plenty of links to Legion of Super-Heroes future-continuity, now with more justificacation than ever thanks to the aforementioned brainfull of information. And of course he's acting like a total bastard, being Vril Dox. A magnificent bastard!

Plus: Omega Men, gratuitous robot head smooshing and a dramatic reveal!

Mysterius the Unfathomable No. 4

Speaking of bastards, though Mysterius has a more endearing sort of bastardry than Dox does, this series continues to be great. This issue: a really cool new character with a neato history and a smart plan! And not necessarily 100% evil! There's lotsa delicious moral ambiguity in Mysterius - Jeff Parker ain't no Objectivist, that's for sure. Also: "tall and paunchy" and "short and curvy" are underused body types in the funny books. Aw, I won't go on and on about this one - there's a relevant interview just a few posts away, after all. The writing is great, the art is great... definitely a series to check out.

Mini-review: Action Comics No. 876 - good times, still a solid comic. Nightwing and Flamebird were a neat little part of the Silver Age Superman Family and I've been glad to see them return.

Good night.