"John Buys Comics!" he exclaimed.

Hellboy in Mexico


I have no idea when I first encountered the idea of Hellboy spending some time fighting monsters in Mexico with three luchadore brothers. It may have been as recently as last year in the Hellboy Companion or it might have been hinted at in a letters page back in 2002. The exact date is, in fact, immaterial because I have been craving this so hard since whenever it was that it felt like forever ago.

And now it’s here! And it’s good, as all Hellboy one-shots are. I think that it’s a natural law, as-yet unquantified by our science. It’s not terrifically deep, of course, but who needs deep, especially when the other series in the Hellboy universe are concerned with portents of doom and the deferral of monstrous destiny. As much as I love all of that, sometimes it’s nice to sit down with some old-school monster-punching action.

That’s not to say that this book is only about punching. There’s enough abridged exploration of loyalty, friendship and vengeance here that it could have made a fair-sized miniseries. But it didn't have to be: everything is there and everything is fantastic. The punching and assorted moves that I no longer know the names of (early 90s Johnathan is slightly ashamed of this) are executed with admirable skill, even when not compared to books in which fight scenes are mere bundles of unresolvable limbs. It is wonderfully and abundantly clear what each character is up to in this book.

izombie No. 1

There’s a pretty good chance that you caught the preview for this that was floating around the last month or so but just in case, here’s the skinny: it’s written by Chris Robeson and drawn by Michael Allred, and it’s about a girl who is a zombie, but not the corpse-lookin’-lurch-around-the-countryside type, just a bit pale, a bit dead. The catch is that unless she eats a fresh human brain each month, she will become the lurching and mindless sort of zombie. To facilitate her pursuit of brains, Gwen (that’s her name) works as a gravedigger.

The preview also set up the fact that there would be mystery-solving in this comic, as Gwen must placate the echos of the people whose brains she eats, absorbed during that super-gross process. What I did not know ahead of time was that this was going to be a girl detective kind of story, complete with Sixties-era ghost sidekick, nerdy were-dog love interest and crypt HQ! Even if I hadn’t read old Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon adventures throughout my formative years, I would be all over this.

I don't really know what else to say. If fun writing, Allred art and plucky supernatural girls solving mysteries isn't enough to get you interested in this one then I guess that we're very different people.


How happy was I to see this collection? SO HAPPY. I used to have access to the individual issues of this comic but then lost them in what can only be described as a messy roommate divorce. What fun to have them again!

Superf*ckers is an incredibly satisfying book, essentially about what a group of super-powered teenagers would probably really be like, and while it’s certainly not what I want to encounter when I pick up an issue of Legion of Super-Heroes it’s nonetheless very cathartic to read about over-indulgence, petty politicking, mind games and misfiring hormones in a similar context. I was a pretty innocuous teen, but I'm pretty certain that given the chance and the powers I'd have been smoking grote and engaging in ethically questionable behaviour just as readily as Jack Krak or Orange Lightning.

All the old clichés get illustrated, Kochalka-style: tryouts, super-romance, disgusting sidekicks, too many rules. I think that it gains a lot by being adorable and brightly-coloured as well - not having to waste energy on being grossed out and offended leaves a lot more for delighted clapping and squeals of glee.

Sparta U.S.A. No. 3

THIRD ISSUE RECAP: Sparta is a town in… another dimension or a fantasy land or the future, I’m not sure. Or maybe someplace else. Wherever it is located, it appears to be a football-obsessed small American town. Look a little closer, though, and there are a lot of strange things about the place, like the fact that its citizens are encouraged to get ahead by any means necessary, up to and including murder, as long as they don’t get caught. The people of Sparta don’t know anything about sexual reproduction - their babies are delivered on a semi-annual basis by the Maestro, their sinister blue Governor. And nobody leaves town because they’ll probably be eaten by yeti.

The hero of the book, Godfrey McLaine, has left town and learned about the birds and the bees and so forth, and now he's come back in order to free the people from the Maestro. So far this has involved getting his ass handed to him by the entire town (who just wanted to watch football, dammit), but he subsequently formed a militia out of the only people in town willing to have more faith in him than the Maestro: all of his former lovers.

Having written this out I now realize that it is all very strange. I assure you, however, that it is strange in a good way. Every issue has more yeti than the last!

Brightest Day No. 1 - Nobody said "Brightest Day", so one point to them.  

Batman and Robin No. 12 - Good job, Grant Morrison. You caught me completely off-guard.

Astro City: Dark Age Book Four No. 4 - Holy poo! Dark Age is done! Not that I didn’t enjoy it but it must be said: I am incredibly excited to read some

Orc Stain No. 3 - Fully half of this issue reads like a video game, in the best possible sense. That is, not like most comics based on video games. It’s like… like when you’ve been playing a game for a while and you’re on a level that’s giving you some trouble and then suddenly you just nail it. You fly through the level like it was nothing. That is exactly what the action in this book felt like to me. Astonishingly good.

Secret Six No. 21 - Hey, Dwarfstar! Always good to see someone keep on being a super-villain even after the series they started out in was cancelled. Also: there is a joke in this issue that is so good/bad that I guffawed, though subsequently I learned that it was impossible to explain to someone who doesn’t read comics, no matter how fast you talk or how many times you assure them that what you're talking about makes sense.

Batman Confidential No 44 - My, but that Sam Keith story was interminable. It’s good to get back to reading short, unconnected Batman stories. Hey, check it out, it's the second-best zombie from Return of the Living Dead!

Cat Week: The Future is Terrified of Tigers

During my extensive research into the Thirtieth Century and its irrepressible superteens, I have read of many terrifying encounters between future-man and future-beast. In a tomorrow filled with a near-infinite variety of life-forms, humanity appears to have reverted to an almost Medieval state of horrified fascination with the creatures that exist in the wilds of the galaxy. Curiously, though many of the most feared animals of the future resemble nothing that has ever been seen in our time, a special dread seems to have been reserved for those beasts that resemble the Terrestrial tiger. Witness the dreaded tigerram:

Admittedly, nobody is doing much dreading in this sequence, but keep in mind that El Mustacho there is the greatest hunter in the galaxy. Even his most feeble prey has got to be the sort of thing that would go through a regular person like a hot knife through space butter, right? Or was the Hunter merely taken in by the tiger's fearsome reputation? Other future-folk seem to place great stock in the impressiveness of the beasts, after all:

See how Jungle King not only tries to impress his way into the Legion with his ability to tame the dreaded borlat, but also plays up his manly jungle image by wearing a tigeroid skin singlet. Judging by Sun Boy's reaction, his ruse succeeded, but unfortunately for Jungle King he was far too much of a sap to capitalize on his good first impression.

Oh that poor chump. Never turn your back on a borlat, even if they can be defeated with light.

Meanwhile, how does Superboy attempt to impress a futuregirl named Xynthia?

That's right: he subjugates a bird-tiger, and it really seems to pay off! It is perhaps with a mind turned toward this success and not toward the failure of Jungle King that our final example came up with his disastrous idea. I speak of Beast Boy, one of the oft ill-used Heroes of Lallor:

Seeking to impress his people at the Heroes' first public appearance, Beast Boy demonstrates his power by transforming into a gurn! And what is a gurn?

A gurn is a two-headed borlat, evidently. Kind of a let-down, but Beast Boy's exhibition really had an effect on the audience, leading the dictator of Lallor to exile him and his whole dang team for fear that their popularity would end up toppling him from power (and after they're exiled, they come under the influence of Jungle King's evil brother! Eerie stuff). Such is the fear that is generated by a two-headed, six-legged tiger in a future it never made.

But the tragedy doesn't stop there:

Yes, even after the Heroes of Lallor managed to return home, poor Beast Boy was viewed with suspicion and fear. "Once a tiger, always a tiger." was the common opinion, and as stupid  as that was it managed to drive Beast Boy into madness, isolation and ultimately getting eaten by a little blue critter in order to save a little girl. So I suppose that the moral of this post, if there is one, has to be


It's just good sense.

Hip-happy Heroes Part 6: The Futuristic Finale!

Hip-Happy Heroes comes to its inevitable conclusion with the tale of the proudest fatty of all: the indomitable Bouncing Boy!

Bouncing Boy, aka Chuck Taine, is a special case, as he didn't just become fat, he started out fat and got fatter. In fact, Chuck was one of maybe ten fat guys left in the far-off and evidently calorie-conscious world of the Thirtieth Century, and possibly the only one who wasn't a decadent crime-boss or corrupt politician. No, Chuck was a simple delivery boy in a blue suit:


Even the moost brilliant scientist has a fatal flaw, however, and this one's was his extreme frugality. More specifically, his tendency to put top-secret formulae into old pop bottles instead of investing in proper transport containers.

He probably should have spent a bit more money on his delivery guy, too, instead of hiring Chuck. See, Chuck is the stereotypical fat guy, which means that a) he has no self-control, and therefore is unable  to resist stopping off at the robot fights on his way to deliver the fluid.

b) He can't go fifteen minutes without a snack of some kind, so he buys himself a pop from a vendor.


And c) he's just a bit stupid. So not only does Chuck pick up the wrong bottle, he, like Jimmy Olsen before him, manages to drain the whole foul-tasting thing before he realizes that he's probably just poisoned himself.


 Happily, this all takes place in an origin story, so not only does Chuck gain the power to turn into an even fatter guy and bounce around instead of staying the same size and dying, but he isn't fined and/or jailed for destroying an important scientific discovery. Presumably he was fired, but that just paved the way for him to join the legion of Super-Heroes and eventually marry a girl who could split into two. So... good job on the gluttony, Chuck.

Of course, the saga of Bouncing Boy doesn't end there. As is the fate of most extremely silly characters, ol' Chuck was somewhat... despised by a fair number of people. And so, the Matter-Shrinking Projector was deployed.

Suddenly, Bouncing Boy was no longer a fat guy who could swell up like a balloon, he was just a skinny guy with a bad haircut. As was always the case in such situations, he was immediately (mostly) booted from the Legion and started devoting all of his time to picking up chicks.

"There we go." said the writers, dusting their hands, "No more fat guy troubles for us." But! The show was not yet over. I'm not sure if Bouncing Boy fans started voicing their displeasure or if a fat guy in the Legion was just right somehow, but the idea wouldn't go away.


The forces of irony must have had a hand in making Superboy the second Legion fatty, considering his terrible behavior when introduced to Iresa: during the terrible reign of Dynamo Boy he was given a two-panel dose of Bouncing Boy's power before being summarily booted from the clubhouse.I don't think that he learned anything from it, but it sure was fun to watch.


Not long after, the entire Legion was imprisoned by arch-fiend Nardo, and the intrepid Matter-Eater Lad attempted to eat his way to freedom. Captured and due to be executed, he was saved by Superboy, but the strange interaction of ray-gun and Kryptonian youth caused a curious change in the lad from Bismoll:

Yes, the curse of Bouncing Boy had struck again! Now the boy who was dinstinguished by his constant eating was morbidly obese! Oh, the humour!

Finally, though, during the Legion's struggle with the villain Evillo (the man so determined to get his point across that he dressed like the Devil) the universe righted itself:

Evillo's chief scientist, a man with a lot of issues to work through, acted as a deus ex machina to fix all of the Legion's physical defects: one-armedness, excessive fat, fat deficit, etc. Finally all was right with the world. Worlds. Galaxy-wide planetary federation.

So for those of you keeping track, Bouncing Boy started out fat, got fatter through the effects of something that should have killed him, got skinny through the influence of something that probably shouldn't have done what it did, briefly got fat again (not pictured) thanks to some crazy ray and was finally restored to his old self for good by a semi-insane scientist with an upside-down face. What fun!

Now and forever, friends, HIP-HAPPY MEANS PLUMP!





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,


Super-Human Delinquents of the Thirtieth Century: Vibrex

Hey there! It's time to inaugurate another new feature here on Johnathan Saturdays. For a couple of years now I've been doing reviews of the Super-Human Detritus of the Thirtieth Century, said detritus being people who tried and failed to get into the Legion of Super-Heroes and occasionally people who got in and were subsequently kicked out for being evil. Now, I have a few more of those things that I can do, but Silver Age Legion rejects are getting a bit thin on the ground. I thought about expanding the definition to include villains but it just didn't sit right, so here we are: Super-human Delinquents of the Thirtieth Century, featuring all of the future's most strange and incompetent bad guys. First up: Vibrex, Master of Vibration!

Vibrex showed up in Legion of Super-Heroes No. 267, in a backup story set just after Mon-El had been released from the Phantom Zone and inducted into the Legion as a full member and not just a Sad Reservist. Everyone is hanging around the Clubhouse being cool and talking about how cool they are when they receive news that there is trouble on the space elevator (the space elevator is the coolest mode of future-travel there is, bar none) and they all rush off to look into it. Mon-El is excited to participate in his first Legion mission that doesn't involve beating up a robot Lex Luthor.

Oh no! The sentence that Mon-El didn't get to finish was indicating that he didn't believe that this assignment was going to be any trouble, but there is trouble after all! trouble in the form of a poorly-dressed super-villain!

Oh lord is he poorly dressed. That thing where his torso is a different colour than his limbs? All I can think of when I see that is "action figure whose arms and legs come off." He's practically a He-Man character, and not one of the good ones, like Buzz-Off. No, he's... he's that robotic elephant firefighter guy who squirted water out of his nose. Also, that's a terrible colour scheme. And you don't need a 'V' on your forehead if you have one on your chest.

Mon-El's not intimidated though, and - oh lord, the stripes go all the way around. This guy put a lot of effort into this costume, didn't he? He thinks that he looks fantastic, like the indie dude I saw last month who had the ironic tight jeans and the ironic jeanjacket-over-cardigan and the ironic pedophile moustache and the ironic Seventies haircut and it all came together no make him look like a badly-dressed guy with terrible hair. Actually, Vibrex is worse, because Mr. Indie was at least piling proven methods on top of one another to form a mess, while our blue-limbed pal here is just flailing wildly in the  fabric store.

Oh, shoot. I already told you his name, didn't I? Sorry for ruining your big moment, Vibrex. Really, though. You're not much of a planner. You sneak onboard the Space Elevator to steal some ore, armed only with your vibratory powers (obtained when he "...flew my unprotected cruiser into a deep space radiation field..." which is, incidently, another well-thought-out plan) and no evidence of superstrength (to carry the ore) or flight (to get off of the Space Elevator before it docks) or any thought to how to get away once he gets to the end of the elevator cable, because it's an elevator and he can't land it anywhere but at the regular landing area, which presumably has some sort of security.

Vibrex gets the upper hand quickly, using his vibratory powers to cancel Mon-El's anti-lead serum and shut off the other Legionnaires' flight belts, but shows his colours again immediately by completely ignoring the super-heroes that he just dumped out into space. Mister, if you're dumb enough to turn your back on three super-heroes after doing nothing more deadly to them than throwing them out of a door that's four kilometres in the air then you deserve this:



















Anyway, I have more pictures of Vibrex but you know what? It's all the same. The guy was a loser, through and through - he ain't appearing in Legion of Three Worlds, that's for sure.


When Vibrex wakes up, tell him he's NOT APPROVED.

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.