Various Stuff n' Such


So here I was, all set to write a cranky post about how much I disliked a certain high-profile comic book movie that opened this weekend. But honestly, folks, life’s too short, and I’d rather spend the time gabbing about stuff I enjoy. So with that in mind, here are a few random tidbits of comic booky goodness from last week’s offerings:


Other Lives, by Peter Bagge: The Hate-meister returns to cranky form with this original Vertigo graphic novel about four interconnected losers—a writer who despises his racial identity and is haunted by a past act of plagiarism, his fiancée, whose vicarious internet life begins to blur into her real relationships, an online gambling addict desperate to cover up his crumbling domestic life, and a would-be government agent/national hero who lives in his mother’s garage. Fans of Bagge ‘s most famous creation, Buddy Bradley, can draw a straight line to Vlad (Vader) Ryderbeck, the self-loathing, slow-burning, expletive-spewing, booze-swigging antihero at the heart of Other Lives, who discovers that the self-created false identities people hide behind—both online and in real life--are not just a product of the internet era, but in his case at least, a generational affair. Bagge’s rubbery, cross-hatched caricatures may not be for everybody, but there’s truly nothing else in comics like them, and they are perfectly suited to the grotesque lives, both real and imagined, that they depict. The surprisingly violent conclusion is strangely unsatisfying, but the repeated jabs at the characters’ cartoonishly sad-sack lifestyles and the equally ridiculous internet fantasies they retreat into are what stays with you after you’ve finished reading.


The Flash #1, by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul: DC has taken a lot of flack for bringing back Silver Age mainstay Barry Allen—fair enough, considering that most of their current readership grew up reading the adventures of his protégé, Wally West—but here’s the thing; having Allen as the Flash in a new number one issue makes sense because he’s the easiest version of the character to explain to new readers. Hit by lightning, showered by chemicals, Fastest Man Alive. There you go. Sure, he’s got tons of baggage if you start factoring in his death and rebirth, his stint as a married father in the distant future, and all that other crap, but this first issue wisely sidesteps all that, focusing instead on what I hope will set this series apart from the previous run (see what I did there?): the fact that Barry Allen is a police scientist, so he is actually going to be solving mysteries instead of just running around fighting bad guys. Manapul’s art is just as lovely here as it was in his short-lived stint on Adventure Comics, and I hope he’s in it for the long haul. This is a fun, accessible, great-looking debut, with one of those cool two-page teaser ads at the end (like the ones Johns did for Legion of Three Worlds and Sinestro Corps) for an upcoming event called Flashpoint. I have no idea what it could be about, but it looks cool. Let’s hope DC doesn’t water it down with a kajillion crossovers, but who am I kidding? Of course they will.


Kill Shakespeare #1, by Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col, and Andy Belanger: I know Johnathan already covered this IDW book and its fascinating shared universe, where the Bard’s most famous creations join forces to destroy him, a few days ago, but I wanted to throw in my two cents as well. This is a very cool, original concept, executed with terrific skill and style. There are a lot of comparisons to be made to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen being thrown around in regards to this series, and that’s a pretty big compliment in my book. The premise may be a bit intimidating to anyone not well versed in Shakespeare, but it’s a lot more accessible than you might think at first. For instance, I haven’t read Richard III, but I recognized the hunchbacked, shriveled-armed monarch as soon as he appeared. You could just look at Kill Shakespeare as a simple adventure story framed by a larger literary backdrop if you like, one with witches and pirates and ghosts, and you’d enjoy it just as much. Belanger’s art is detailed and stylish as well, just as impressive in moments of quiet dread (like Hamlet’s father’s ghost appearing from the mists) as it is in action scenes (such as the first issue’s big set piece, a pirate attack on the boat carrying Hamlet to England). And the creators are Canadian! Really, you have no excuse to miss this. 

Always Bet On Black.

So, I think it’s fair to say that I liked Blackest Night #1 a lot better than my blogmates here at LBW (with the exception of Tiina who, to my knowledge, hasn’t read it yet). However, I should qualify this by saying that I am also a huge horror movie fan who occasionally likes it when two of my favourite genres—superhero stuff and scary stuff-- cross paths. In any event, Blackest Night is not a book for the squeamish. For a superhero comic, it almost certainly goes too far in terms of guts and gore (one of my biggest beefs with Geoff Johns’ scripting, but more on that in a bit). Still, as a crazy cosmic horror story, as well as the culmination of a few years of build-up in the pages of Green Lantern, I was very much into this creepy, ominous first chapter that takes the revolving-door aspect of death in superhero crossover events to a horrifying extreme.

Geoff Johns’ writing has made Green Lantern my favourite monthly series of the past few years (eclipsed all-too-briefly by Johns’ stellar run on Action Comics), and, in re-reading the entire series over the past few weeks, I realized that this might now be the longest I’ve regularly bought a title since Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, which shows just how short an attention span I have for ongoing monthly books. I started buying the series, starring a character I really had no great emotional investment in other than “hey, I had the Super Powers toy of this guy”, for the artwork of Carlos Pacheco. However, by the time Pacheco left the series, I was caught up in the thrill of a good monthly superhero book, one with a cool lead, an interesting supporting cast made up of old favourites and new characters, exciting story arcs that built nicely on their predecessors, and slow-boil subplots that were expertly teased out months ahead of coming to fruition. The addition of Ivan Reis as the new regular artist with issue nine sealed the deal.

Now, the regular monthly team of Johns and Reis have moved over to the eight-issue Blackest Night miniseries, which has gone from being a Green Lantern/Green Lantern Corps crossover to a DCU “event”, with several tie-ins, spinoffs, and the like. Blame the surprise success of the Sinestro Corps War crossover, which I think caught everyone at DC off guard. Blackest Night was first teased at the end of that crossover, and the past two years of the monthly GL titles have been laying the foundation for it with a brewing conflict between the different Lantern Corps (Yellow, Red, Orange, etc.) and the behind-the-scenes machinations of Scar, a traitorous, disfigured Guardian of the Universe. As such, I’m not sure how accessible Blackest Night will be for non-readers of GL, although the first issue does a good job on the recap. The zero issue made available for this year’s Free Comic Day didn’t hurt either. Anyway, by the issue’s end, a swarm of Black Lantern rings have made their way across the galaxy and are finding their way onto the hands of beloved dead heroes, transforming them into hideously undead Black Lantern Corps members eager to add the still-living heroes of the DCU to their ranks. 

Obviously, comparison to the Marvel Zombies franchise is inevitable. That series, though, began as a kinda-dumb joke born out of former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter’s nickname for devoted Marvel fans. The joke got old fairly quick, but the two most recent MZ series, by new creative team Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker, have rejuvenated the idea by crossing the book’s alternate universe into the regular Marvel U. In any event, the emphasis in MZ has been on gross-out humour, where Blackest Night is doing its best to be straight-up terrifying. There’s nothing remotely funny about the scene where the Black Lantern rings revive every fallen member of the Green Lantern Corps, or the scene where rotting, reanimated Ralph and Sue Dibny murder two of their old pals and transform them into Black Lanterns like themselves. Some might argue that there’s nothing remotely fun about it either, but I’m not sure that “fun” and “suspenseful” are always meant to be one and the same. I mentioned Johns’ penchant for crazy gore earlier, and how I think it’s a weakness of his—no monthly superhero book should be as disgusting as Green Lantern sometimes gets, especially issue four’s gut-crunching cliffhanger (you know, the one where the new incarnation of the Shark has a whole guy's mashed-up body crammed between his jaws). I’m not sure why he feels it’s called for, and a book like Blackest Night provides a perfect vehicle for his nastier impulses to run rampant. The only reason I can look past it is that he tends to balance out the nastier stuff with unwavering heroism from his leads. One of the things that made the conclusion to the Sinestro Corps War so satisfying was the fact that Hal Jordan made a point of arresting Sinestro, even though a new edict from the Guardians now authorized the use of lethal force. It’s this insistence on stalwart heroism in his lead characters that, I think, places Johns a cut above cynical gore-meisters like Mark Millar and Warren Ellis; where those scribes seem to revel in writing books where so-called “heroes” casually execute their opponents, Johns’ protagonists never even consider it an option.

Speaking of protagonists, another thing I’m enjoying about Blackest Night is the fact that, to my knowledge, this will be the first ever DCU crossover event to be headlined by the Hal Jordan and Barry Allen incarnations of Green Lantern and the Flash (both appeared in Final Crisis, but their roles were much smaller than they are here). This should, I think, make for an interesting dynamic, given that their deaths played such major parts in past DC crossovers. This choice of protagonists is no coincidence, since the larger idea behind Blackest Night seems to deal with the nature of death and resurrection in superhero crossovers. Barry Allen’s ultimate sacrifice in Crisis on Infinite Earths opened the floodgates for killing characters off as a selling point, and everything came full circle last year when he was resurrected in Final Crisis. Clearly, it’s not enough to kill characters off to sell comics anymore—now you’ve gotta shock everyone by bringing them back to life. And that’s where Blackest Night comes in, I suppose.

The artwork by Ivan Reis must be mentioned as well. It’s been very exciting to see his already-solid art on the monthly GL series evolving to this point. He’s like Bryan Hitch before he discovered photo reference, at ease drawing simple conversations or epic-level double page spreads. Check out the scene where Hal uses his ring to create constructs of every other hero who has died since Barry’s sacrifice. It’s a terrific group shot of dozens of fallen heroes, showcasing Reis’ ease at dealing with a large and varied cast (it’s also an eye-opener for Barry, and for the audience—it’s suddenly very clear what the real legacy of Barry Allen has been, at least in terms of what sells comic books). I hope DC hangs on to Reis for a while to come, since this book should rightfully make him a superstar.

The Sinestro Corps War set the bar pretty high for these kind of cosmic epics recently, and I hope Blackest Night can live up to it. Having its status elevated from a mere Green Lantern storyline to a full-fledged DCU event might hurt it, since the Powers That Be like to sow the seeds for the next crossover in the pages of the current one. Editorial interference aside, Johns has clearly had this one in the works for a while, and Reis has shown that he can crank out quality pages on a timely schedule. These guys are off to a good start, anyway, and I’m alternately looking forward to and dreading what issue two has in store.

Oh, and, like Rachelle and Johnathan, I also could have happily gone my whole life without this image:

“I’m your boyfriend now, Batsy!”

This Week's Haul: Mommy, why is that man licking Batman's skull?

Blackest Night #1

Ok, so I finish reading this week's Wednesday Comics and I am all smiles about Kyle Baker's Hawkman (that thumbs up and smile?! Seriously!). Then I read Blackest Night and...maybe I didn't read these things in the correct order.

Wednesday Comics fills me with love and happiness when I read it. I love those characters, and you can tell that everyone writing or drawing the comics loves them too. And then Blackest Night was just so...messed up.

SPOLIERZZZZZ!!! If you haven't read Blackest Night yet, and don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now.

I have been looking forward to this since it was first announced, and that was like two years ago. I loved The Sinestro Corps War, I love Geoff Johns, I love Ivan Reis and I love Green Lantern comics. I don't want to judge too harshly after one issue, but was very reminiscent of the kind of comics I don't like. It was a lot of over-the-top, nineties-style dark sensationalism. And I know that it's silly to accuse a comic book of being sensationalist, as if they are supposed to be something else, but this just seemed like, y'know, Carnage or Spawn or Knightfall. I felt like it was aimed more at the barbed wire Superman symbol tattoo set, or those who might wear this t-shirt, or this one, than at those of us who love superheroes. I'm not against dark in my comics, or character death. That's not really my problem here. I liked Identity Crisis and Final Crisis, and I am sure that from all the darkness in Blackest Night there will be great moments of heroic triumph in future issues. But isn't there a better way of getting to it than zombie Ralph and Sue Dibny?

Also: skull-licking.

I will doubtlessly be buying and reading the entire series, but for now I am going to say that the beginning was way over-the-top and, for me, disappointing. The whole thing made me want to grab all my Showcase Presents books and hug them.

Wednesday Comics #2

Last week I declared Superman to be the winner, more or less, of the first issue of Wednesday Comics. This week it falls far behind thanks to an abrupt scene change to Superman and Batman engaging in one of their usual rooftop chats about Superman's humanity (or lack of). As much as I love those two hanging out, it was pretty unoriginal. This week I felt the strongest comics were Metamorpho, Supergirl, Hawkman, Batman and Kamandi. The Deadman page was really hot looking, too.

Super Friends #17

DC Kids tries to cash in on the Obama comics craze with a cameo that never really calls the President by name, but you know it's him. Then they go back in time to stop Chronos from turning the nation into the United States of Chronos. Oh, Chronos. It's always something with you.

Hey, the second trade collection of Super Friends came out this week too! Buy it for your kids!

All Select Comics #1

Michael Kupperman does a comic for Marvel! He wrote and drew the back-up in the 70th Anniversary comic that revisits some of Marvel's Golden Age characters. Kupperman does a hilarious short comic about Marvex the Super Robot, which is followed by a couple of Golden Age Marvex reprints (which are no less absurd than Kupperman's parody). Absolutley worth buying for the Kupperman comic alone, All Select also features a pretty neat Blonde Phantom story by Marc Guggenheim that is more like illustrated prose than a comic.

Captain America #601

This was amusingly called a very special issue of Captain America on the cover. It was very special because it is drawn by Gene Colan, but based on these first page panels, I thought it was because Bucky and Nick Fury were finally going to make out:

This issue is sure to be a hit with teen girls because it is jam packed with vampires. Man, as if WWII didn't suck enough, Cap had to fight vampires too?! There must have been times that he wished he didn't volunteer for the experimental super soldier serum.

Rasl #5

I was going to just buy the trades of this, but since the issues are only coming out three times a year I decided I couldn't wait that long. Rasl is awesome. And Jeff Smith seems to getting all of his years of writing PG comics worth of frustrations out by having the characters do it a lot in this series.

Nexus: Space Opera Conclusion

I'd say it's a rare week indeed when we get a new issue of Rasl AND a new issue of Nexus. Sadly, this is the end of the road for Nexus, at least for now. It started with a great first issue a couple of years ago...and then a reprint of Nexus's origin...and then the second issue...and then another reprint of the origin...and then a Manga-sized collection of the first issues of Nexus...and now this double issue that collects the final two issues of what has turned out to be a 4-part mini-series. Oh well. As per usual, this issue of Nexus is beautiful and fun.

Angel: After the Fall vol 4 HC

Aw man. Like it isn't embarassing enough for me to be buying these hardcovers, they go a slap this cover on the newest one. Gross. I could not get it in my shopping bag and away from judging eyes fast enough.

I haven't read this yet, I just want to point out how bad the cover is.

This Week's Haul: Superman looks good in a uniform.

A bit of a light week for me, but an awesome one nonetheless.

World of New Krypton #2

I would say that the awesome Gary Frank covers are a tease, but I actually really love Pete Woods' art. So it's win-win. And you know what else? Greg Rucka and James Robinson are doing a great job of writing this series! It would be a lot of fun to dive right into Krypton as a writer (or two) and really develop it as a place. What we have learned so far is that Kryptonians are dicks, which only further proves that Superman owes a lot of his awesomeness to Ma and Pa Kent.

Also, I really like Superman in that soldier's uniform. Rrrrow!



Wolverine: Weapon X #1

Jason Aaron returns to Wolverine writing! Yay!

I would not normally buy a comic with 'Weapon X' in the title, or even 'Wolverine,' but if Jason Aaron is writing it, I will buy a comic called "Azrael and Cable: Dark Reign Battle for the Cowl Countdown Arena Fathom." I really would.

Fortunately, I instead got to read this comic about Wolverine killing dudes. Lesson learned: do not try to mug Wolverine on a subway.


Batman Confidential #28

The only bad thing about this comic is that it's the last one in an amazing three-part story. Seriously, if anyone asks why I love Batman, or even comics, so much, I am just going to hand them these three issues (or, if DC is clever enough, the eventual trade of this story).

Batman is awesome in this story, the Riddler is awesome, and there is a brand new Bat-villain. Impressive all around! Plus amazing art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan. We need more Batman comics like this one!


Green Lantern #39

Mmmm...delicious citrus-flavoured Lanterns!

We are formally introduced to yet another Lantern Corps in this issue, the avarice-ridden Orange Corps! These guys are total assholes.

Green Lantern is consistently one of my favourite comics each week. I have really enjoyed every part of the long build-up to BLACKEST NIGHT, which I expect will be very rad.


Secret Six #8

Even without Nicola Scott on art this month, SECRET SIX was totally rad. First of all: Deadshot in a suit. Secondly, he and Scandal were gettin' romantic (not with each other). Thirdly, there is a TINY TITANS parody at the end of this comic!

 I also really like that this kind of counts as a Wolverine cover? Like all those Wolverine covers that Marvel is doing all month?


Showcase Presents: The Doom Patrol


Ever since Showcase Presents started I have been waiting for this one for two reasons:

1. I haven't read much Doom Patrol because it only is available in expensive DC Archive books;

2. This is exactly the kind of comic that should be collected in a black and white Showcase book. This is fun reading.

My favourite thing about that cover: none of them seem to be looking at that gorilla with a gun. There is something more interesting on that screen off panel!

 Things I bought but haven't read yet: EXILES #1 and SUPERGIRL: COSMIC ADVENTURES IN THE 8TH GRADE #5. Looking forward to them!


John Buys Comics, the Saga Continues

Battle for the Cowl No. 2

Okay. So Batman is (dead? missing? a caveman?)and everyone even vaguely associated with the Batman franchise is running around Gotham and some of them are dressing up like Batman and some or all of the inmates have been sprung from Arkham Asylum (again) and Commissioner Gordon has to deal with an unsympathetic new DA who doesn't cotton to vigilantes (again) and there's a gang war brewing and the Batmen are fighting and one of them is really homicidal.

Way to reset the franchise!

This isn't actually a bad comic, but it ain't anything especially new. It kind of reads like a better-written-and-drawn Knightfall or Knightbat or whatever part of that whole interminable series of comics was the birt where Azrael was the Batman.

However (SPOILERS, the rest of this sentence contains SPOILERS), way to try to tell us that Jason Todd is the murderous, unrepentant Batman and then show him fighting side-by-side with Robin as Red Robin in DC Nation. THAT DOESN'T GIVE ANYTHING AWAY AT ALL. 

World of New Krypton No. 2

You know, I've really been enjoying Superman for the last year or so - I must admit I was slow to notice that Geoff Johns was doing some neato things and really didn't start reading the Supes until the Legion and Bizarro arcs of Action had hammered the point home. One of my favourite things about the stories that have been happening since then is the fact that I have been regularly saying  "Augh, what? No, that's a terrible idea!" when I find out the next plot twist and then I read the comic and it's great. I'm really hoping that things keep on in this mould regardless of eventual creative team.

World of New Krypton seems to be delivering. Enlarging the inhabitants of Kandor? Having them make an artificial planet on the other side of the sun? Having them all be assholes? These are terrible ideas that I love. Seriously, this is great. This vision of Krypton is entertainingly alien and flawed without being the dour, frilly Byrne version, which never quite struck a chord with me. Plus, Zod.

Plus, Thought Beasts.

Thought Beasts! 

Green Lantern No. 39

Speaking of terrible ideas that make for great comics... Seriously, if someone had told me about this whole multi-Corps thing two or three years ago, well, I might have gotten excited, but I'm hardly typical. Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps have been consistently great for quite some time now, though, and the process of meeting the various Corps has been a big part of that. Jerkass Sinestro Corps? Villainously fun! Crazy, blood-spewing Red Lanterns? Gross and fun! Blue Lanterns, one of whom is basically an elephant? Also fun!

The Orange Lanterns, my friennds, do not disappoint. I will be looking forward to the next installment of this little saga eagerly.


Secret Six No. 8

It's date night for the Secret Six!

I enjoy this comic so much that it's going to get cancelled soon, I just know it. I'm sorry everyone. I'm sorry Gail Simone - you did such a good job writing such immoral, homicidal characters and making me care for them that my curse is sure to kick in any month now.

I can't think of much to say that isn't spoiler-ific, so I'll just point out that everyone is extra-delightful in this issue.



B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess No. 4

Hmm. If you were a follower of Paul and John Review you might have caught on to the fact that I am a big fan of the Hellboy comics and all of their various spinoffs and so forth. It's true, all true. I love horror comics and mysteries and mythology and people punching things that maybe they shouldn't and monsters and good writing and weird characters. To various degrees, these comics deliver on all of those. I am highly, highly in favour of Guy Davis as an artist on B.P.R.D. - his style is so far removed from Mignola's that there is no question of him being a style-copier and so his art can be apreciated on its own merits. His art is great! Also, Dave Stewart is a fantastic colourist.

Okay, so now that that's out of the way I promise not to do it every time I buy a Mike Mignola comic. Maybe I'll weigh in at the start of every mini-series, I don't know.

As for The Black Goddess, it's been highly satisfying so far. Last issue was the one that really made me sit up and go "Hot damn!" but this one - as per the cover, left - has lotsa dragons and frogs and little tidbits of information about the evolving story. That's one of my very favourite things about these series, by the way, the fact that they are a part of a very long story in which things have the potential to and frequently do change radically in the course of an issue or two. I can't deny I love the types of comics that have essentially maintained a status quo for sixty years, barring the odd Bat-Hound or two, but the act of reading a proper, evolving story fills me with delight. 

Okay, that's it! Oh, I also bought Booster Gold No 19 this week but couldn't think of much to say, other than that it was a decent read but that the events of the issue could have been handled in about two pages, except maybe what Rip was doing. It felt like trade paperback padding.

So long, folks.


This Week's Haul: Flash Back!

The Flash: Rebirth #1

I have made it pretty clear that I will buy anything that Geoff Johns writes, so I was pretty excited about this. Plus, I really enjoyed Green Lantern: Rebirth, so I was hoping that this would promise to be as good. The first issue of the story of Barry Allen's return starts with some blood spashing all over the page, just in case you forgot that Geoff Johns is writing it. It also features lots of "Welcome Back" parties and parades being set up in various locations on the same day (because, y'know, The Flash can make it to all of them no problem. Cute!). It also features a lot of Barry chatting with his old pal Hal Jordan, which I loved.

It's a very exciting first issue and I can't wait for the next one!

JSA #25

And since we're talking about Geoff Johns anyway, this is the penultimate issue of his very enjoyable run on JSA. It's also the finale of a pretty exciting Marvel family story featuring Crazy Black Adam, Crazier Isis, Slutty Mary Marvel, Powerless Billy Batson, and Pissed Off Shazam.

Speaking of the JSA, I highly recommend Johnathan's recent and important posts about whether or not the member of the Golden Age Justice Society would make the Legion of Super Heroes. I was laughing my ass off reading it, and my husband was like "what are you doing?" to which I had to reply "reading Johnathan's post about whether or not members of the Golden Age Justice League would be admitted into the Legion of Super Heroes...which is NOT AS NERDY AS IT SOUNDS!" Anyway, check them out here and here.

Jonah Hex #42

In this issue, young Jonah Hex is put through a merciless, abusive involuntary Batman-style training regimen by his crazy drunken father to toughen him up. As we all know, it worked. But that doesn't make it right.

Or does it?

Either way it makes for great reading!

I love how nearly every issue starts with some dudes who are like "Say your prayers, Hex, because you are going to die now." And I'm all like "Oh shit! Those guys are totally going to die SO HARD!" Good comics.

Captain America Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1

Holy hell. This was awesome. In general, I really love Captain America's origin story. And I really, really love Marcos Martin's art. But even I was surprised at how awesome the two things combined turned out to be. This is a definite must-own, people.


X-Men First Class Finals #3

Ok, the main story was really great and everything as usual, but I have to totally freak out here about the long and awesome Colleen Coover back-up story. She totally draws the most adorable Man-Thing ever! Check it out:

Pride and Prejudice #1

I didn't actually buy this or read it, I just flipped through it. I just want to say this: what if Colleen Coover had been the artist on this?

Awesome, right?

Other things I read this week: Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #3 (A rare treat! A perfect kids superhero comic, I say. If only it came out faster!), Amazing Spider-Man #590 (it's got the Fantastic Four in it!), and Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius: April Fools (hilarious!).

Things I haven't read yet: Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil #3 (I forgot to buy it! Drat!) and Jersey Gods #3 (I just realized I haven't read issue #2 yet! Smack!).