Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Everybody's Linking For The Weekend

This is a special, mostly San Diego Comic-Con edition!

SDCC: Marvel is making a bid to take all my money. (The Eternals AND The Knaufs? Come on!)

SDCC: Image Founders have panel, Valentino and Larsen say next to nothing so as not to be associated with MacFarlane, Liefeld.

SDCC: DC makes a bid to take all my money.

SDCC: DC makes another bid to to take all my money.

SDCC: DC once again attempts to take all my money.

Dark Horse gets into the action of making a bid to take all my money.

Furthermore, Dark Horse is also trying to make me get a profile on MySpace.

rob! @ The Aquaman Shrine sez: Oh, I've wasted my life.

And for the final Dark Horse-related piece of news, I think I am going to need to be more like The Poor Little Rich Boy to afford all these comics!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fair Trade -- JLA: New World Order

JLA: New World Order.
It's a weird thing, but a good portion of the current crop of "super-writers" in the comic book world do not appeal to me. Brian Michael Bendis made me give up reading Avengers after many years (and giving him two and a half years to win me over). Mark Millar's work leaves me feeling cold and uninvolved in the story. And I never cared really for the television shows written by J. Michael Straczynski or Joss Whedon, so it's not surprising that I don't care for their comic work, either.

Very often a writer who falls on that list is Grant Morrison. He has a legion of devoted fans, especially online, who praise everything he does as genius and blast those who criticize him as philostenes. Well, maybe that's a bit of an overstatement, but Morrison's rep is pretty untouchable online, to the point where he is his among his most vocal critics. I first read Grant Morrison back when he was penning Doom Patrol under the Vertigo imprint, and my first impression was that it made no sense. For my benefit, I was 12 at the time. Looking back on it now, it certainly is understandable, but no less weird. A lot of his work reads like the journal of an egomaniacal seventeen year old Honor student, quick to break out the big words and unusual sentence structure to demonstrate just how far superior his own brain is to your own. His New X-Men seemed to me like one big joke, with Morrison laughing his way to the bank.

And yet... he does pull out some gems. I really enjoy All-Star Superman, he helped turn 52 into a big hit, We3 is one of the saddest and most heart-rendingly strange comics of all time, his work on Animal Man is off the charts creatively, Seven Soldiers challenged the idea of what an "event" was, and, yeah, Doom Patrol may be a little bizarre, but it's pretty cool. And I had always heard good thing about his run on JLA, which restored the title to its former "World's Greatest" glory after the rise and decline of the "franchise" days in the 80s and early 90s.

So when I was at Barnes & Noble looking for a gift for my father, I couldn't resist picking up the first volume, priced rather nicely at $7.99.

Our story starts fast, with a new group of super-powered "heroes" arriving from space. The Hyperclan promise to bring about paradise on Earth, fixing all of the problems which the Justice League of America seems unable -- or unwilling -- to address. In a show of tremendous power, crops are seeding throughout the Sahara, and public opinion of the JLA begins to sour. Superman doesn't trust Protex, the Clan's leader, but his motives appear to be benevolent. That is, until an attack on the Justice League satelite and some disturbing information about how the Clan is operating forces the new team -- composed of heavyweights Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, GL (Kyle), The Flash, and the Martian Manhunter into action. (Don't worry, Aquaman shows up too, but he needs a little, how shall we say? Convincing.)

The story itself (and thus, this trade) is short and sweet. In four issues, Morrison crams in not only the new threat of the Hyperclan, but ingloriously ditches the old team, unites the neo-classic group, throws down countless action sequences, fleshes out his take on the characters and their relationships, reveals the true threat, has the big blow-off, introduces the new HQ, and even has time for a little philospophizing at the end. Tales like this work for the Justice League, and Morrison has little problem with either the pacing or the juggling here. There's no reason to have issue after issue of people standing around a table -- these are action heroes, and Morrison and Porter are well to the task, with each character not only having their own voice but little traits which help define them for readers of all experience levels. The bickering between Wally and Kyle is classic, and comparing that to their interplay years down the road in Identity Crisis is thought-provoking (to me, anyway). Furthermore, Morrison is not afraid to show these characters at full power -- ALL of them. When Aquaman dominates his enemy's mind by telepathically tapping into a part of the brain which evolved from marine life, the Aquafan in all of us stands up and cheers.

All in all, for folks like me who made a point to watch Justice League on Cartoon Network every week, and find the title in it's current state to be a little, well, lacking, I cannot recommend this trade enough. It's fast, fun, and full of energy, and best of all it's not even 10 clams. It may not convert you over to being a Morrison-worshipper, but it delivers a ton of bang for not a lot of bucks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What Looks Good?

Be sure to check out the shipping list and the comic book shop locator!

As you can see, there's entirely too much neat-looking stuff coming out this week.

Batman #666 -- Not usually a Morrison fan, but this concept sounds really fun.

JSA Classified #28 -- Maybe I am the only one asking, but where the heck are Jakeem and Thunderbolt, anyway?

Matian Manhunter: The Others Among Us TPB -- Not picking this up, I'm going to hook up my friend Adama and get his singles instead. Woo, Martian Manhunter!

Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter v.1 -- DC continues to impress with it's varying and wide array of Showcase volumes. Woo, Martian Manhunter!

Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #32 -- Bedard had a good setup last issue, so I have high hopes for this installment of the "Search for Cosmic Boy."

Superman #665 -- Gotta look at this one, the solicit says its a "Countdown dossier," whatever that means.

Wonder Woman #11 -- At this point, I want to see how Amazons Attack! ends so I can know the setup for when Gail Simone comes on board.

Annihilation Conquest: Star Lord #1 -- Two words: Rocket Racoon!

Heroes for Hire #12 -- Ahh, Heroes For Hire... keeps me entertained and saves me money by recapping big events like Civil War and World War Hulk. Pure Bronze Age goodness. (Also: Moon Boy.)

Iron Man #20 -- Previously, a poorly conceived and executed crossover took over the title... again. This at least has an interesting setup, and this book has been generally good since the relaunch.

Marvel Adventures: Iron Man #3 -- For those of you who don't get enough Iron in your diet, try this easy-to-digest format.

X-Men: First Class v.2:no.2 -- The original X-Men get no love as a general rule, so this series is a total blast.

Futurama Comics #32 -- Soon, I'll be able to have my Futurama fix on television again, but there is something partly quaint and partly awesome about these comics.

Star Trek: Year Four #1 -- The Space Between ran hot and cold, but I will give this TOS first issue a try.

So what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What I Read This Week

Annihiliation Conquest: Quasar #1 -- We knew from the start that the new Quasar (nee Phyla-Vel) would play a big role in AC, so I was eager to see how her mini would play out, especially in light of of the Prologue. The verdict: pretty cool. At first blush, it doesn't have the mystery of AC: Wraith or the action of Nova, but it has a bit of both mixed together: What is the mysterious voice speaking to Phylla from the Quantum Bands? Who is the savior she has to find? And will there be any Kree space left to save by the time she completes her quest. 3/4s of the way through the first issues of AC and everything still has a nice sheen on it, and this issue does nothing to negate that, even if it doesn't polish it up too much. Worth reading for a break from Marvel political comics.

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #54 -- We found out not too long ago that once again, Aquaman is on the chopping block. Which means that we only get 3 more issues of Tad Williams' fast and funny take on the new undersea hero of the DCU, and hopefully that is enough time to finish everything he has in mind. The pace doesn't lessen here, as Cal Durham and company investigates why GeneTech was trying to obtain DNA from Aquaman, Tempest journeys to the mysterious Leah to learn about the Thorny Crown, and AJ and Lorena check out Tri-Dent Industries. Oh, did I mention that they tangle with the HUMAN FLYING FISH?! Plotlines go in all sorts of directions as more mysteries are unveiled and a surprise villain checks in. The fight between AJ and the H.F.F. is a doubled edged sword: on the one hand, it's great to see someone like H.F.F. made out to be a threat (even if he looks ridiculous... at least that's a plot point), but on the other hand it also demonstrates who low-level (power-wise) the new Aquaman really is. Still, there's a ton of interesting stuff going on right now, and it seems to be building up to something, so I just hope that Williams and McManus have enough pages left to finish things up. And, yeah, possibly bring back the real Aquaman, but that's just snarky of me.

Legion Of Monsters: Morbius -- This sadly marks the end of the Legion of Monsters one-shot series, at least for the time being, but at least it goes out with a little bite *groan*. The first tale stars Morbius, of Living Vampire fame, and details the anti-heroes attempts to waste away and die. Hrrm. The second tale stars Dracula and his kin Lillith, and is suitably filled with machinations and intrigue in addition to blood-letting and dismemberment. Both tales are very solid Marvel Horror, and fun to read, but not much more than that. That's not a dig; given the space provided these are both very nice shorts. The slick, lush pencils Finch turns in for the Dracula tale are a harshly beautiful contrast with Gaydos's washed out Morbius work. And both Cahill and Cebulski have good outings, creating distinct voices for their respective characters in a very tight page count. Obviously, given a full length, these would be more involved, but for this format I have no complaints.

Seeing as this is a comic book blog, I will now make an arbitrary ranking of the eight LoM stories. With 1 being the highest,
1. The Living Mummy (Satana)
2. Werewolf By Night (WBN)
3. Monster of Frankenstein (WBN)
4. Man-Thing (Man-Thing)
5. Morbius (Morbius)
6. Dracula (Morbius)
7. Satana (Satana)
8. The Zombie (Man-Thing)

And honestly, other than the Zombie story, I liked all of these. Horror fans should definitely check these out. And join me in pestering JoeQ to make this an ongoing anthology.

All-Flash #1 -- Wally West is back! So is Mark Waid! So screams the hype for this special, which bridges the gap bewteen Flash: The Fastest Man Alive and the return of Flash v.2. And appropriately, it deals with the fallout from that last series, with Wally tracking fown Inertia for the murder of his nephew, while the other Rogues hit the deck. The art is a bit uneven (a given, considering the number of artists), but Karl Kerschl's pages look fluid and dynamic -- a must for a Flash artist. Waid knows how to write Wally with his eyes closed, so that's not really a problem either. There is some controversial stuff in here, though. First off, when the Rogues beat Bart to death, there was a lot of backlash (rightly so) about making the Rogues into murderers. But Waid attacks that head-on here, as the Rogues immediately turn on Inertia and realize that killing a Flash is a big, big mistake. I suspect that is not the last we will hear on that subject, either. The other issue is how Wally deals with Inertia once he catches him. Perhaps taking a page from Hell Labs' "Ironic Punishment Division," there are some critics who think that Wally would never be this cruel, even to his nephew's murderer. I disagree -- the way I see it, this is the only prison which Inertia cannot escape from. (Thematically, I flashed back to the end of the first Zoom storyline Johns scribed.) A solid launchpad, even if I don't think that F:TFMA needed to go anywhere. We'll see where the ride goes from here.

Justice League of America #11 -- For all the hype he had coming in, I don't think anyone can really proclaim Brad Meltzer's run on the new JLoA to be a success. The initial launch went on forever, then the crossover with Justice Society was uneven and somewhat slapdash in places. He may not be suited to being the regular JLoA scribe, but Meltzer is not a bad writer per se; witness, this comic right here. A 22-pager featuring only two characters, some really claustrophobia-inducing pencils by Gene Ha, and a lot of dialogue. Red Arrow and Vixen are fighting for their lives when a building they were evacuating collapses on top of them and into the Potomac River. This leads to a bit of survival horror mixed in with a pretty interesting character development as well as a peak inside one new Leaguer's head. The whole thing comes together very nicely (there's a bit where the creators "play with the frame" which I totally marked out for), but it's a serious case of "too little, too late" for Brad. A pretty good read but nothing heart-stoppingly amazing, either.

The Brave & The Bold #5 -- Batman is transported to the 31st Century and then fights Karate Kid in mid-air... that pretty much sums up this issue in a nutshell. I have no idea what else is going on, but the idea of Batman managing to elude and cause lots of grief for the entire Legion in the future is far too amusing for me to pass up. Not knowing the rest of the story hurt my enjoyment of this comic book quite a bit, but the parts I did like were still pretty cool. If you're not reading The Brave & The Bold regularly, you can skip this one.

Action Comics #852 -- When I first got into reading comics, once I got past my initial "ZOMG X-Men and Image RAR" phase, I collected Superman. Back then, of course, there were four monthly Superman titles, which essentially functioned as 1 weekly series. Eventually, I drifted away from the titles (mostly because of lack of funds, admittedly, due to newer stuff catching my eye), but I have always retained a soft-spot for Big Blue. So every now and again I will check out an issue of his two remaining series. Action has been on a seemingly non-stop fill-in schedule for the past year, what with Johns and Donner Phantom Zone story seemingly stuck in, well, the Phantom Zone. So it seems we have another fill-in here, but it's a multi-part fill-in which also crosses over with Countdown. Got all that? Well, all you really need to know is that Jimmy Olsen's the star here, and Mister Action has superpowers now. Busiek touches on what Johns is doing in the "main" story as well as working in parallel with Countdown to create a fun story about hero worship and heroic motivations. Walker's art is lively, and Busiek can write Superman stories as good as anyone. Definitely a fun pick up. In the same vein...

Superman #664 -- ...Busiek also pens this tale, another installment in the ongoing (and also delayed, but not nearly as much as Action, partly because of how the fill-ins had been handled) "Camelot Falls" storyline. Arion, the ancient wizard from Atlantis which all good DC buffs should recognize, thinks that Superman is derailing the natural progress of the planet, and wants him eliminated, invoking a mind-control spell to try to turn the public against Big Blue. But Supes is more prepared than Arion -- or, seemingly, anyone else in the world -- realizes. Pretty much one long fight, but with a little bit of Busiek world building in there to beef things up, plus a few guest stars, including the Prankster, who has rapidly climbed the scale of awesomeness for Superman baddies. I don't have all the parts of this story, and I am seriously thinking of either tracking them down or picking up the trades -- assuming the fill-ins are in there as well. But all told, this issue and Action Comics are both high quality and enjoyable Superman comics, and easy buys for any Superfan (err... wait) out there.

The Pick of the Pile is All-Flash. Waid's work with Wally West still holds a place near and dear to my nerd-heart, and the return of both of them at once is to much for me to overcome.

So what did you read this week?

Monday, July 23, 2007


I hate to do this.

I mean, I really hate to do this.

I started ths blog because of the universal chant of "If you don't agree with what someone blogs about, make your own!" And you have no idea how much I enjoy updating this blog and having an outlet for my hare-brained and cockamamie thoughts on comic books.

But, alas. Not only has my work picked up considerably, but now my access to the site from work has been restricted. My normal procedure was to write my updates in a Text file during breaks, then upload here. So obviously that's not possible now. I'm going to try to work out a new procedure and get back to updating. But for a little while, updates will be sporadic. And for this I apologize.

But the Bunker will return. This I vow. Thanks for listening, folks.

PS: Rick, thanks for the new banner. Rest assured I will use it in the future in some capacity!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What Looks Good?

It's that special time of the week again! So take a look at the Shipping List from Diamond and head on down to your Local Comic Book Shop and check out the best bets for the week!

All-Flash #1 -- Mark Waid was Geoff Johns back when Geoff Johns was still selling crappy unlicensed T-shirts at a mall. The more things change...

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #54 -- Tad Williams brings a sense of urgent fun to the preceedings here, and maybe, just maybe, we can all hope for the obvious?

Shazam! And The Monster Society of Evil #4 -- If this is not the basis for the new "Earth-S" or Earth-5 or whatever, then that is going to be a really big missed opportunity.

Annihiliation Conquest: Quasar #1 -- Remember when all the Quasar fanboys got hot that Wendell didn't have a prologue last year? Well, looks like that's been addressed! Oh, wait... nevermind. Still, looks pretty swank.

Legion of Monsters: Morbius -- I am of mixed feelings here. I am sad because this is the last of the LoM one-shots. But I am happy because its MORBIUS AND DRACULA RAAAR!

Monster Attack Network -- Pretty much, if you put the phrase "Monster Island" in your solicit, you have my attention.

So what looks good to YOU?

Side Note: Looks like posts are going to be sporadic for a while... work has reared its ugly head. Hopefully I can work something out in the next few weeks! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fair Trade -- Showcase Presents: The War That Time Forgot

Showcase Presents: The War That Time Forgot

When I first saw the first wave of Marvel Essentials back when I was in college, I really fell for the idea of inexpensive, bulk, black and white reprints of classic material. And as I eagerly tore through each volume of Essential Iron Man and Essential Avengers, I couldn't help but wonder: why did DC do the same thing? Obviously there was a demand for this format of trade paperback, and DC had a really varied and diversified offering back in the late 50s and through the 60s, including plenty of "genre" comics which are not well represented today, including Western and War. So when DC finally announced their competing format, I was very happy to see Jonah Hex and Haunted Tank amongst the early editions, not to mention Unknown Soldier following closely behind. But never, ever, could I have predicted this.

I mean, it's soldiers fighting dinosaurs. Every story. Every issue. Think about that.

Star-Spangled War Stories did feature some other, more standard War comics inside its anthological pages, but for this collection, the entire focus is on the "War That Time Forgot" feature, with a smattering of recurring characters, and quite a few anonymous grunts, ending up tangling with prehistoric beasts "from the dinosaur age!" By the way? Get used to that phrase. You're going to see it a lot.

For sheer inanity and Silver Age oddness, this is a hard volume to top. Beyond the basic concept, which is pretty out there in the first place, you have such elements as the Flying Boots, a trio of brothers who are also a circus high-wire act, or the G.I. Robot, long before a similar character took over the pages of Weird War Tales. There's a strange group called the Suicide Squad (!), consisting of various men who seem to all have it in for one another in addition to the enemy, including Mace and Morgan, who have a few starring roles towards the end. There's even a few adventures with a giant, friendly albino gorilla, Dino, the Baby Dinosaur, and G.I. Caveboy. G.I. Caveboy. To call this "unusual" is the understatement of several centuries.
Battle of the Dinosaur Aquarium! STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #107
But that's not say it's bad, because it most certainly is not. This is, for the most part, entertaining stuff, with outlandish creatures and a crazy rendition of the US Armed Forces. Bob Kanigher could write war stories like nobody's business, and on these tales he seemed to be just cutting loose and having fun. The art, mostly done by Ross Andru, but with some Kubert mixed in there, is clean and creative, with most of the beasties given some unique traits to differentiate it. The sound effects are superb, crackling and vibrant, and also are very useful at highlighting the difference between modern and classic effect work. And, individually, the stories are not bad especially considering that this is Silver Age DC.

Notice I said individually. The problems begin to show up when you read the stories in fairly rapid succession, like I have. The repetition of not only basic plot but also of phrases and elements starts to drag the reader down from the grin-inducing silliness. I suspect that this was due more to the fact that "War That Time Forgot" was a feature in an anthology, so every two months you'd not only get your dinosaur fix, but also some more staid fare as well, so it wasn't hitting over the head like it is here. It gets to the point where you start dreading reading the phrase "Mace and Morgan -- who hate each other more than the enemy!" or "Blockbuster from the dinosaur age!" again and again, and the stories start to bog.

The Dinosaur Who Ate Torpedos!  STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #123
But ultimately, I cannot hold that against this volume too much. It's not the material's fault that it is best read spread out, and not condensed. One could purchase this trade, and spend a year reading stories out of it, and would probably enjoy it more than I have pounding it out in a month or so. If you've grown bored with what's sitting on the racks of your local comic shop, you will get a good deal of mileage out of Showcase Presents: The War That Time Forgot, with which you can shut off your brain and dream about tossing "lead pineapples" at "tank crushers" from, that's right, "the dinosaur age!"

Monday, July 16, 2007

What I Read This Week -- DC

(Okay, there's a Wildstorm in there, too.)

Detective Comics #834 -- Wrapping up Dini's little two parter Joker/Zatanna story, one gets much more of a "Joker" vibe here than from Morrison's recent take on the character in the junior title. There's no way to rectify the two that I can think of, but you know Morrison, he gets a free pass. Be that as it may, this comic is quite nifty, with Batman using his detective and punching skills, Joker concocted a depraved and insane plot, and Zatanna casting spells and wearing a top hat -- so pretty much everyone is covered. While the deal with the Joker was entertaining (including revealing how he got from here to there, so to speak), the more interesting aspects of this story to me was the damaged relationship between Batman and Zatana. As I said about the last issue, whatever you may think about Identity Crisis, I really like seeing the fallout from it being directly dealt with, rather than just through subtext and innuendo which less-intense fans not scouring boards and blogs would miss. Here, Dini lays it all on the line, and more over, even lets the characters grow from the betrayl and start the healing process. All in all a very solid Batman story, and if Dini wants to stay on here (even with the fill-ins) for the long haul, I for one will be a happy reader.

The All New Atom #13 -- Sword of the All-New Atom? Why not! I mean, Bug-Eyed Bandit showed up last issue, so all bets are pretty much off. As Ryan Choi gets dumped off by Chronos in the deep, dark, and undeniably tiny section of the South American rainforest which hosted Sword of the Atom, he becomes embroiled in a political and spiritual crisis made all the more difficult by the fact that he has no idea what anyone is saying. Amidst the natives, fantasy weapons, and "giant" repitles, is there any chance of, you now, actually finding Ray Palmer? A lead-in of sorts to "The Search For Ray Palmer" proper, I have a sneaking suspicion that this was more entertaining than the actual "event" will be. Simone continues to weave the Atom's (dubious) history into these new tales, creating a sense of depth to the stories which helps the reader identify more with Ryan. The fact that this is also a very funny comic book works in its favor, too. Hopefully the upcoming Countdown tie-in/crossover won't hurt the momentum too much, though I am torn as to whether I would prefer the plotline about Palmer to be resolved over in Countdown, which I don't read, or here. On the one hand, it would be nice for Countdown to truly be the "spine" of the DCU, but on the other hand, I actually would like to read the story and see how it plays out in the title which is most effected by it.

All-Star Superman #8 -- A Bizarro Bizarro? That's just one of the problems Superman has to deal with while stuck powerless on Bizarro-World. Nevermind the Injustice League of America, or trying to get the masses of this strange backwards world to even understand what he is saying! Pretty enjoyable, but not as fun as early issues in this series. The reader has to work too hard to comprehend what any of the Bizarros are saying to really ever get into the story, unfortunately. Quietly does a good job rendering this backwards and backwoods planet, but I have maintained from the start that his people are too poofy (a criticism I leveled at his work waaay back when New X-Men was first being hyped all those years ago). If you're collecting A-SS, then by all means pick this one up, but if you're just casually into it, then you can pretty safely pass on it.

Justice Society of America #7 -- First all the uproar was because, ohmygod, Citizen Steel has a penis! And we all know that comic book superheroes cannot have penises. It's not allowed. So the issue finally hits the stands and now the brougha is, ohmygod, "They" got rid of his penis! "They" are always doing things like this, you know. In any event, it's not true; the only difference between the piece of artwork solicited and the cover is the lighting. The colors on the cover seem darker and more muted compared to the art DC originally provided, but the shape and form are identical. So yes, Citizen Steel still has a penis, as do the majority of people freaking out over it. Your penis is your friend, folks.

Anyway, with all that said, this is a pretty righteous piece of comic book fiction right here. Johns gained some notireity during his run on Flash for breaking up his bigger arcs with single-issue "Rogue Profiles" focusing on characters like Captain Cold and Mirror Master. He takes the same approach here, only focusing on a hero for a change. The two previous Steels (before John Henry Irons, anyway) had pretty crummy lives, and this one is no different, but in the span of 22 pages Johns makes us feel for the isolation and pain of young Nate Heywood, then shows us that deep down he is a lot braver than we all figured. Power Girl shines, too, and it's not for her cleavage this time, either. Eaglesham's art is uneven; at one point while reading this issue I thought there were two pencillers. A rush to make the deadline perhaps? In any event it's not too distracting and doesn't take away from a very solid and very well-constructed story. All this, plus Johns also follows up on "The Lightning Saga," and lays the groundwork for upcoming stories in other series, namely Action Comics. All in all a real pleasure.

Friday the 13: Pamela's Tale #1 -- Take a stroll down memory lane, as we visit the time around the very first Friday the 13th -- and earlier. Turns out that Pamela Voorhees, who we all thought was just Froot Loops from the "death" of her son Jason, had a little help before that. It's not canonical, but it's pretty fun for the old school F13-heads out there like myself. Honestly, I have no idea why this was spun into a miniseries instead of being ongoing, unless the issues were in the can when the decision was made and this is just a way to get the material released. Which, now that I think about it, is probalby pretty accurate. This is the kind of stories I thought we should have gotten in the ongoing: shorter tales exploring different corners and aspects of the F13 world (same goes for NOES, which did a better job of it). I'm always on the lookout for horror comics, and while this licensed fare is not perfect, it's satisfying enough for 4-color gorehounds.

Pick of the Pile for the DCs is Justice Society of America. Between the great insight and origin of one Citizen Steel to the setups for the future to Starman and Superman eating sloppy joes, this comic book has it all. Highest recommendation.

What I Read This Week -- Marvel

Nova #4 -- "Annihilation Conquest!" Woo! As everyone knows, the one thing better than epic space operas is sequels to epic space operas! And, as everyone also knows, Marvel is not one to let a sequel go untold! So here we are, thrust back into the cosmos with Richard Rider, with another war shaping up. As Nova responds to countless emergency signals from the Kree Empire, he finds himself in over his head very quickly, as the Phalanx tries to nuetralize him enough to make him one of their Chosen, just like one of his bedfellows from the Annihilation War. But will Richard's involvement end before it even begins? Nova is a good title, even if so far it has shuffled from one event to the next -- opening with an epilogue to the original "Annihilation," then moving onto an "Initiative" tie-in which was more of a coda to "Civil War," and now onto "AC." But DnA make it work, so I don't mind the little banners at the top of the cover each month. It's amusing how much Nova's situation has changed in a year; this issue is sort of a funhouse mirror reflection of the first issue of Annihilation: Nova. Also amazing is how strongly his "new" status quo as the Last Nova has stuck, so that when it changes, we feel like it's something pretty deep. Space and Cosmic fans: Buy this comic book!

Annihiliation Conquest: Wraith #1 -- Of the four "AC" prologues, this is the one with the least known about it: a new character with unknown motivations and origins. Javier Grillo-Marxuach, with Kyle Hotz on pencils, weaves a mystery story around this new arrival, and asks a lot of questions. What does he want with the Kree? Why do the Phalanx fear his technology? And how did the Phalanx know about him in the first place? The last page reveal is a great nod to those who read the first "Annihilation," and coupled with another character's appearance in Nova should fuel additional "Who can you trust?" speculation among readers. So far, the event is off to a solid start, with two more prologues still to bow. But I haven't been this interested in a Marvel story since, well, this time last year. So that's leaps and bounds of improvement over the ambivalence I feel towards the rest of their main line of comics.

New Excalibur #21 -- I always feel like I have to defend myself or apologize for reading this series. "New Excalibur?" people say to me. "You actually read that?" I usually say something along the lines of "Well, I was a big fan of the original Excalibur, so this sort of thing appeals to me." Which is true, and not too much of a cop-out on my part. And yet, that does not placate the critic. The usual follow up is "But... Claremont? Really? You actually like Claremont?" Which, again, makes no sense to me -- when I say the same things about Bendis, Millar, or Morrison, I get shouted down, so obviously different people have different tastes. But you know what, to hell with all of that: I like New Excalibur and if you don't like it, then *gasp* DON'T READ IT! The stuff hits the fan here, as Albion's plan to plunge the UK into a pre-technology state comes to fruition, and Excalibur and some unexpected allies have to try to help as many people as they can and try to stop Albion and his Shadow Captains. Penciller Jeremy Haun is pretty tight with his linework, and looks good, though I am not really familiar with his work outside of here. Claremont's working towards a big payoff, as the story elements introduced here date back to the launch of the series (I'd say "Remember when Albion and Lionheart popped up in that one issue, then vanished?" but since no one would remember it except me I will refrain). When it's all said and done, this is a comic book for fans of Chris Claremont, and for those of us who remember when "Claremont on X-Men" was seen as a boon and not a joke. Yeah, he's not a modernist, but sometimes the old methods still work, and this is one of those times.

Pick of the Pile for the Marvels is Nova. It's got action, drama, betrayl, universe-building, and an eye-popping last page, all in 22 pages. That's the kind of econony I can get behind!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Everybody's Linking For The Weekend

Well, I am at work today, which stinks. But you know, when you've got a nice big cup of coffee, Helloween on your MP3 player, and some fine and dandy comic book links, everything's kosher! Have a good weekend everyone!

DC announces a new web-based imprint, Zudacomics.com. Looks very interesting. Here's what Publisher and former Justice Society scribe Paul Levitz has to say.

Also: Creators respond to the Zudacomics.com press release. Personally, I think I am going to withhold an opinion until I see some more details and the contracts.

Marvel editor Tom Brevoort on the botched launch of one of my favorite recent Marvels, New Invaders.

Kevin Church shows off his sweet Kirby warez.

I'm not one to link to Comics Should Be Good!, but this post about Grant Morrison Criticizing Grant Morrison just amuses me.

Rick uncovers this interesting site about the religious affiliation of comic book characters.

Finally, both Dave and Chris bring the pain.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Legendary Comic Book Heroes

I was reading New Excalibur last night when I came across a two-page spread for the upcoming Legendary Comic Book Heroes line from Marvel Toys (formerly Toy Biz). Color me impressed!

I don't keep up on toy news very much anymore, so these were new to me. There's some weird choices in there, but you know what I am jonesing for: Judge Dredd!
Even more insane is the fact that JUDGE DEATH is there as well!
Death's Back!
I'm very psyched about those two toys. Judge Dredd is a personal favorite of mine, even if 2000 AD is hit or miss from the "finding it to purchase" aspect in the US. Hopefully there will be a third wave featuring Shadowhawk!

4 Color Cinema

Ghost Rider

I've never been a big fan of Ghost Rider. When I got into comics, it was Danny Ketch who rode the big chopper with his head on fire, but neither Danny nor Johnny Blaze (either with or without his Hellfire-spittin' shotgun) ever did that much for me compared to other Marvels. So when it was announced that Blaze would be the next Marvel hero to make the transition to the Big Screen, I wasn't terribly impressed.

And now that I have seen the film, in its extended version, I remain not all that impressed.

It's not bad exactly, as all the requisite elements are there. We have Johnny, a troubled and downright weird guy played with obvious enthusiasm by Nicolas Cage. We've got the super-hot Eva Mendes playing Roxanne Simpson, who doesn't have a lot to do except look pretty and help the plot advance -- so she's a success. We've got an fairly interesting villain in Blackheart, a rudimentary story (stop Blackheart from getting the MacGuffin), and some admittedly cool special effects. But it doesn't ever really come together into anything other than those individual parts.

Worse yet, it drags. Perhaps it's because of this extended DVD edition, but for a film about a guy who rides a motorcycle, things certainly do plod along rather lazily. There's some standout scenes with GR tearing up the streets or driving up the sides of buildings, but they are too few and far between to generate any sense of urgency or momentum.

There are some good points here. As I said, the effects are tremendous. Ghost Rider looks absolutely amazing, and the Hellcycle is no slouch, either. Cage is clearly having a lot of fun playing one of his childhood heroes, and Blaze, as a character, is better for it. But the performance is almost too off-kilter, and one begins to wonder if Cage is just screwing with us or if Blaze is supposed to be this loopy. Wes Bentley's Blackheart is about as well as the character can be done on film without being a riff on Maelbolgia from Spawn -- same goes for Peter Fonda as Mephisto(pheles). And Sam Elliot's turn as the Caretaker might ape every "grizzled old mentor" cliche in the book, but he does it with such panache that we don't mind too much.

In the end, though, those strong points cannot outpace the fact that the film is just not that exciting. And for a comic book movie, especially one starring a dynamic character such as Ghost Rider, that's one sin that's just unforgivable.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Characters I Like -- Black Lightning

I was thinking about who to spotlight this week when my fellow blogger Rick over at Black Lightning Limited announced that he was going to be on a bit of a hiatus while tackling some real-life work. The obvious inspiration hit me, so here's a look at a character who has more upside than a Wide Receiver in the first round.

Black Lightning

Black Lightning, in his original look.
Jefferson Pierce, AKA Black Lightning, has a very unusual real-world origin. Initially, DC was set to publish a new series starring a character named the Black Bomber, who would be their first Black solo star. There was one problem here -- the Black Bomber was actually a racist White bigot who transformed into a Black hero. The first two stories evidently revolved around the Bomber rushing to help an innocent in danger, only to discover (to his dismay) that they were Black! Eventually, clearer heads prevailed, the Bomber was shelved, and DC brought in Tony Isabella to salvage the series. Isabella, pretty wisely, declared the character unworkable, and created Black Lightning as a last minute replacement. And boy, are we glad that he did!

Lightning is often compared to Marvel's Luke Cage, their first Black character to star in a solo title. Outside of that historical connection, though, the characters are as different as night and day. Cage was an escaped convict, living under an assumed name to avoid the police. Pierce was an Olympian and teacher, a well respected member of the community. Cage dared not return to his home neighborhood lest he be recognized; Pierce came back to the very high school he graduated from. Both Cage and Lightning spoke "jive" style, but Jeff's was an affectation, part of his heroic disguise (this was later retconed to be the case for Luke as well, ironically). And most importantly, while Luke Cage created his persona of the Hero For Hire to finally take something back from the world which he felt had wronged him in so many ways, Black Lightning defended the streets of Suicide Slum to protect the innocent from the vile inroads being made by gangs, drugs, and corruption. Black Lightning wasn't out to line his pockets, he was out to take out the garbage.

The good ole days of the DC Explosion!  BLACK LIGHTNING #9
And therein lies Lightning's main appeal. In a sort of superhero twist of Welcome Back, Kotter, Jefferson Pierce sees himself in the kids he teaches, and sees all the potential pitfalls facing them. He managed to escape the ghetto, but with The 100 pushing dope in every alley and muscling in on every corner, what chance do they have? And so he dons his costume and puts his life on the line every night. This is a hero in the same mold as Superman and Batman, who unfortunately has never quite caught on to the same level as even B-listers like Green Arrow.

There's more, as well. In a universe where most of the heroes got along pretty well with each other, Black Lightning rejected an invitation to join the Justice League, saying that he couldn't be hopping around the world when Suicide Slum needed him right here. He's a character who sticks to his guns and sticks to his ethics. Even to this day, despite a recently-patched-up setback thanks to a storyline from Green Arrow, Black Lightning is a hero one can emulate and look up to.
BL in his second, badass costume.  BLACK LIGHTNING v.2 #1
Currently, Black Lightning is a member of the new Justice League of America, finally joining some 25 years or so after he turned them down. He had a key scene in the hugely popular Infinite Crisis, and was recently the star of a story in Outsiders. We're finally getting an official Black Lightning toy -- even if it is with his new, shaved head look, and there is a Black Lightning: Year One miniseries on the schedule. With this high-profile gig, hopefully the PTB at DC will realize that this is a character with his best years ahead of him -- a character with literally unlimited potential, with the drive and grit of Batman, but with superpowers to mix things up. Black Lightning is primed to hit the big time, if only DC doesn't drop the ball.

This is Black Lightning, and he is a character I like.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What Looks Good?

We're back to a normal week (relatively speaking), so the new comic books are out on Wednesday. So check out the Shipping List from Diamond and work your personal conveyance down to your Local Comic Book Shop for some sequential art and text!

Friday the 13th: Pamela's Tale #1 -- Talk about your throwback! This two-issue series relates the history of the original F13 maniac: Jason's mother Pamela! And everybody loves F13!

Justice Society of America #7 -- With "The Lightning Saga" finished, we can get back to the actual JSA storylines now. That is to say: I want the new Steel, dammit! I've been looking forward to this ever since I first saw the cover (OMG LOL BBQ wang *lulz*... idiots... ).

Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters TPB -- Hrrm. I might put this on the "wishlist" for next month, since I can't afford it at the moment. I wasn't too impressed with the preview in Brave New World, but I have heard good things.

Devil Dinosaur by Jack Kirby Omnibus -- When you think of Jack Kirby, you probably think about the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and various bands of bombastic space gods. But don't forget Devil! If I can't afford Uncle Sam I have no idea how I'll afford this!

Annihilation Conquest: Wraith #1 -- Woo! It's Annihilation time again! Marvel is giving me a reason to care about their product!

Nova #4 -- See what I said for Wraith? Repeat it here. I just hope they get their shipping schedules on track for one-prologue-a-week like the original.

New Excalibur #21 -- Just as inpenetrable as Metzler's Justice League of America, but with 75% less first-names-used-in-costume. I don't expect anyone else out there to like this title. Honest.

So what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Discount Bin Finds

Damn, J'onn.  Just... damn.  JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE #1
Justice League Task Force #1-3 -- One of the venerable classics of the DC universe, rarely has there been a time when there wasn't a Justice League title of some sort on the stands. From the original series, to the Giffen/DeMatteis reworking, to the franchise branding of the 90s, to Morrison's return of the Big 7 to the current series, there's always something out there with DC superheroes sitting around a table. But none of the eras are truly as odd as the mid-90s.

Right around the time of Superman's death at the hands (fists) of Doomsday, there was a lot of shake-ups going down involving the League. There were 3 titles: Justice League America, Justice League International (formerly Europe), and Justice League Quarterly (which were a popular idea at the time). Into this mix was thrown this series, Justice League Task Force, which promised a rotating cast of characters picked for each mission. It got worse in 94, when International and Quarterly were cancelled in favor of Extreme Justice, which was one of those tremendously bad ideas with which one is left to simply shrug and say "It was the 90s."

In any event, the first three issues of Task Force deal with everyone's favorite Martian, J'onn J'onzz, being recruited by skeevy UN rep Hannibal Martin to put together a strike force made up of Leaguers but without official League presence. The Manhunter from Mars pulls in an eclectic group: old Detroit-League pal Gypsy, fellow founder Aquaman, the Flash, and, taking Batman's place, Nightwing. Their mission: infiltrate a South American republic and stop the rebel freedom fighters from toppling the government of the US-allied dictator. Too bad they don't know that a certain benefactor has provided the rebels with a "death wave generator" device, which they intend to use on the capital!

Poor Gypsy, stuck behind Nightwing's crazy legs.  JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE #3Sounds heavy, right? Well, being as these were published in 1993, not so much. There's a strong play at being relevant and weighty, but in the end it's little more than an excuse to get the team together to bicker and argue their way through a mission. It's also not just a little cliched -- it's South America so of course there's a drug lord with a lush private estate -- and characterization consistantly takes a backseat to guys getting chin-checked. Don't get me wrong: Michelinie has a good handle on the characters and writes solid action. But those looking for philosphical debate should seek elsewhere. The point here is the spandex and the fighting, which, considering the fact that the title says Justice League, sounds right to me.

Sal Velluto's art is typical of DCs from the period, trying to be a little more ostentatious but generally more low key than their Marvel or Image contemporaries. And honestly, for a few bucks you could do worse than the story here within. It's a fun concept, and there's not a lot of tacked on baggage before things get chugging. I enjoyed these a lot more than I expected I would, and maybe that's partially because of when I got into comics. But DC fans who are old enough to this period with any fondness at all will not be disappointed by these comics, and you can probably find them pretty cheap.

Monday, July 9, 2007

What I Read This Week

I'm so far off my normal weekly reading schedule. The holiday this past week threw a monkey wrench into things, as did my parents coming to visit me and my fiancee for most of the week. I'm mostly caught up, though, so here's a smattering of comic books for your perusing pleasure.

Wonder Woman #10 -- I was never much of a Wonder Woman fan until Justice League began airing. Sure, I liked the old TV show when I was younger, but I never knew much about her or had all that much interest in the character. After JL, as well as her little appearance in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, she started to interest me more. Jodi Picoulot's arc, despite taking place smack-dab in the middle of Amazons Attack! and re-using Circe, is actually pretty darn good. It's interesting for an outsider (not an Outsider, they're coming up later) like myself to read these self-questioning thoughts WW is having, since they echo what the new reader is asking. This issue is mostly a running fight, a given considering the events of the previous. But by the climax, there's an interesting character twist between Diana and Hippolyta which brings to the forefront a trait which was key to Wonder Woman's original creation: compassion. Very enjoyable overall, even with the art being a little varied for my taste. I never thought I'd read Wonder Woman, much less enjoy it. Worth checking out. (And no, I cannot believe that this is how Picoulot's run is ending. The mind boggles...)

X-Men: First Class #1 -- The lone Marvel I read this past week, at least it was a good one. Fresh off the surprising miniseries and entertaining special, Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz return with more old-timey stories about the most forgotten era of X-Men history. This particular issue is a fangirl's dream: Marvel Girl, under the isolating and harsh pressure of being the only female at Xavier's School, is arranged to be a "shadow" to the Invisible Girl! Not only does this setup allow Parker to explore young Jean's personality and sense of isolation, but it also is a perfect excuse to have him write the Fantastic Four, which is worth the purchase price alone. The original X-crew was an odd bunch in an odd time, struggling to find their footing amongst the supremely more popular FF and Avengers. But with this series, they come to life in relatable and fun ways. This remains the best mutant comic book on the shelves, and one which even burnt-out former X-Fans like me can enjoy without worry.

Outsiders #49 -- The finale of "Checkout" happens here, proving that 6 part storylines play better in 3 months than in 6. Anyway, while the Royals of Checkmate move their pieces around the board, its their agents and the Outsiders who are in harm's way. It's more of the same as previous installments, as the field team gets to fight with Chang Tzu's defense systems, but now with the added threat of the fact that everyone's now sitting in North Korea. *gulp* I'm a bit annoyed that DC decided to spoil the outcome of next month's Five of a Kind miniseries with the house ad revealing the new lineup. I mean, that pretty much answers who Batman chooses, doesn't it? And on the same track: Catwoman? Huh? At least Martian Manhunter is in there, and let's face it, J'onn J'onzz rocks the party which rocks your body. As to this comic itself, pretty fun Outsiders tussle, with a nice advertisement for Checkmate in there as well. A nice crossover which didn't challenge the brain too much, but provided plenty of brawling and posturing -- typical when you have so many Type-A's kicking around. Should be interesting to see where Outsiders goes from here.

A Nightmare on Elm Street #8 -- It's been a while since the last issue of this came out (that whole Aztec dream-demon story), but as this is a one-shot before the book goes into "specials only" mode that's not a problem. Our tale focuses on a young man who spends entirely too much time working at Burger Heaven, a fast food restaurant with a weird religious theme to it. In fact, he's even started dreaming about the place! Needless to say, as this is a NOES book, that's a bad sign. Anyone who has ever worked fast food (like me) will get a kick out of this gory and funny story. This is what I was expecting when Wildstorm initially anounced the series -- short, self-contained horror with a little Krueger touch. The nature of the Nightmare franchise allows for that, but I guess the appeal of such a series was limited at best, especially in this day and age. Still, horror fans should be satisfied. The last panel is gruesome and hilarious all at once.

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #53 -- Finally! A big shout-out to the crew at Borderlands (Hi, Stan!) who tracked this down for me despite Diamond doing their best to make sure it didn't happen. Tad Williams' old school-meets-Infinite Crisis story rolls on, with Artie Joe and Cal Durham being held prisoner by Black Manta. I'm inclined to give the thumbs-up to any comic book which stars Black Manta, but he really does shine here; Manta takes the role of the audience, blasting "Aquaman" any chance he gets and constantly reminding him that he's not the "real deal." His Ozymandius-esque comment about not giving away his master plan was great, too. McManus's art remains cartoony but at this point it has grown on me, and it reflects the tonal shift following the writer change. This title remains fun and vibrant, moving from one plotline to another as quickly as the shifting tidal waters. I literally have no idea where we're going next. I am not as turned off by SoA as some other bloggers, but I have to admit that if this series starred the original Aquaman, it would be even better. The last page provides some hope, maybe?

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #31 -- I picked this one up on a whim. Blame the cover, with it's "everybody flying at ya" imagery and "The Quest Starts Here!" copy, coupled with a lot of LOSH exposure for me over the last few months, what with "The Lightning Saga" and the cartoon and what-have-you. This is a good "jump-on" point, as the team reloads following the Dominator War and things get geared up for the next story. There are some confusing bits, but with any team book that is bound to crop up, so I can't hold that against this comic too much. No real action, but there's some good setup for future action, which hopefully will come to fruition very soon (preferably with Lightning Lad going to town on some poor sap). Time will tell if the series can build upon this foundation, but this issue was interesting enough for me to check out the next one at the very least.

(Also be sure to check out Matthew's Legion Abstract!)

I also picked up, but did not get a chance to read The Collected Normalman. Wow, I go years with only a smattering of Shadowhawk, then two Valentino strips in less than 2 months. Its like I'm in a funhouse mirror or something!

Pick Of The Pile: Some really good comics this week. Wonder Woman had action and pathos, and was kind enough to save me from having to spend money on Amazons Attack!, but Aquaman was more fun to read overall, so it gets the nod this week. Williams is telling an interesting "fish story" there, and if it goes where it looks like it might go, we're all in for something very interesting in the next few months.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Everybody's Linking For The Weekend

Scipio brings the comedy.

Kevin Church presents: Weaksauce! Also, this strip from The Rack is grin-inducing.

Rob! shows off the most profound Hostess ad in the history of time.

Bully shows that Iron Man and She-Hulk do have something in common.

And finally, Chris Sims demonstrates that you can't keep a good Kang down.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

What Looks Good?

Thanks to the holiday on Wednesday, this is a special Thursday edition of what looks good. So check out the Shipping List from Diamond and head down to your Local Comic Book Shop and get some new reading material!

What looks good to me this week?

All New Atom #13 -- When this title fires on all cylinders, it's one of the most enjoyable DCs out there. Hopefully this "Countdown" tie-in won't change that.

All-Star Superman #8 -- I'm not a big fan of "Ultimate" this or "All-Star" that, but I readily admit that I was 100% wrong about this series. If the mainstream Superman comics were like this, the comic book world would be a happier place.

The Amazing Transformations of Jimmy Olsen TPB -- I'm not going to be purchasing this because of a dollars and cents standpoint, but man, does this look great. Jimmy Olsen has the kind of life we all wish for!

Detective Comics #834 -- Finishing the second part of the Zatana storyline, Dini is pretty much automatic at telling sweet little Batman stories, and this is no exception -- especially given the previous cliffhanger!

Jonah Hex #21 -- I never would have thought this underrated series would last this long. I'm very rarely disappointed when Hex goes riding in.

Outsiders #49 -- The finale of "Checkout" and last issue before Five of a Kind and the reboot/relaunch. This storyline has been old school (for me) fun and the future looks very interesting for the crew of misfits.

Collected Normalman TPB -- Remember what I said about Jimmy Olsen up there? Take that, double it, and you have how I feel about this trade. This may be my tradepaperback purchase for the month of July.

Creature From The Depths -- This sounds very cool, so I will have to see if I can get my grubby mitts on it. I mean, you guys know how I feel about horror anthologies, right?

Interestingly, no Marvels are coming out which interest me this week. Maybe if so much of the product wasn't geared around getting articles in the New York Times it might be more appealing. Or, you know, if they were better written.

So what looks good to YOU?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Holiday Blogging

No blog today, just wanted to wish everyone a happy, fun, and safe Indepence Day here in the United States. To everyone not in the US, happy Wednesday! I'll be back tomorrow with a look at what is coming out this week, then some links for the weekend. Take it easy!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Characters I Like -- Spear

One of the tropes of the Silver Age which carried over into the Bronze Age (and to a degree, even into the early modern era as well) was that each hero, no matter how high or low on the proverbial totem pole, had his own gang of baddies whom he would regularly tangle with. Sure, everyone might throw down with Doctor Doom from time to time, but month in and month out there was a subset of villains who our favorite crimefighters might interact with. One of my favorite Marvel characters is Luke Cage (same name syndrome), and he, like everyone else, had his own set of foes who he would face down. And today, I'm taking a look at one of his coolest, if not exactly enduring, enemies.


Spear preparing to rip #$%@ up, POWER MAN #34

Spear started out as a mysterious man in the shadows terrorizing Dr. Noah Bernstein, the man who created the Power Man Process, which made Luke Cage into the skull-breaker we all know and love. Turns out that the good doctor had tried an earlier prototype of the PMP on Spear's convict brother, wh owas suffering from a brain tumor. Needless to say, things took a turn for the worse, and Spear, like pretty much anyone who was wronged in any way in a Marvel comic from 1962 until about 2001, developed a costumed identity with which to get revenge.

As far as gimmicks go, Spear is pretty well covered. He has a high powered speargun (natch) which he uses to launch various types of spear-like projectiles. Since he apparently has the same armorer as Hawkeye, Spear's arsenal includes his normal trident like spears, plus explosive spears, gas-filled spears, napalam spears, and message delivering spears. And his speargun was powerful enough that he could hurt Cage with it, a mean feat considering that Luke normally laughed off bullets.

Spear had another odd quality -- his costume was seemingly designed twice for the same appearance. Inside the pages of Power Man, he sported his yellow, orange and purple duds, but on the covers, it was a green and purple ensemble that he rocked.

Spear rips off the Melter's costume, POWER MAN #33

In the end, Spear (along with his other brother, the brutish wrestler named Mangler) only appeared for one storyline in the pages of Power Man (#33-35), then disappeared. Why he has never popped up again is a mystery to me. His costume needs a little freshening, but Spear always struck me as a character who would make a good hired gun, especially against characters who aren't near the top of the superhero food chain -- he'd get a good fight from Daredevil, or Captain America, for instance. Creators and fans bemoan the lack of good villains in today's comic books, but I think that there are plenty of foes with lots of upside if you just look.

Personally, I am hoping that he pops up at some point in Marvel's current Heroes For Hire series, which is a haven for characters like Spear. Because, let's face it -- Shang Chi fighting Spear would be undeniably awesome.

This is Spear, and he is a character I like.

(I obtained the top image from the most excellent Appendix To the Marvel Universe -- check it out!)

Monday, July 2, 2007

What I Read This Week

Well, between preparing for family coming in from out of town for Independence Day and some shipping snafus from the fine folks at Diamond, I unfortunately did not get the chance to read, or purchase, all of the comic books I wanted this week. But, I did get some of them, and actually had time to even read some, too!

Checkmate #15 -- Part 5 of "Checkout," and the final part taking place in "Checkmate" unfolds here. While Chang Tzu/Chung Zhu/Egg-Fu begins his gruesome research, the remaining Royals must negoitate their way through a politcal minefield to recover their team. Lucky the Outsiders have no such qualms. This is a slower paced issue, with a lot of focus on more Checkmate-specific stuff which is somewhat obscure to me. Still, Egg-Fu's reseach is cruel and upsetting without being stomach churning or gory, and you feel for those under his knife. I got a weird Unit 731 vibe from these scenes, even though the nationality is wrong. The last page cliffhanger is basically spoiled by the solicit for Outsiders #49, but its sill enjoyable. This crossover has been fun reading in a "last decade" sort of way; nothing Earth-shattering or hugely intelligent, but a good excuse for some action and a good buildup to the upcoming reformat of the Outsiders. Hopefully the finale will not disappoint. All in all, a good pick-up, with some interesting groundwork being laid for the future of both teams.

JSA Classified #27 -- The conclusion of Tieri's Wildcat story bows, with the Sportsmaster (who seems really young considering how long he has been kicking around) trying to clean up his balance sheet by taking on the entire JSA. Sounds impossible, you say? Well, stranger things have been known to happen! Tieri has a very good voice for Wildcat, a gruff voice like the one which might belong to a cool uncle who gave you your first beer and Playboy. There's action aplenty as well, and let's face it, Sportsmaster is both funny and interesting a concept for a villain. I like this series as it gives little side stories and insight into players we normally only see in a team environment. Plus, hey, two issues and the story's done, I can dig that, too.

Legion of Monsters: Satana -- The third "LoM" one-shot, this comic features a lead story with cover-girl Satana, the Devil's Daughter, plus a back-up starring N'Kantu, the Living Mummy. The lead story is fun if lightweight; Satana is never a character I took all that seriously, but if this is her status quo in the current MU, then I am all for it. Robin Furth, best known for working with Peter David on the "Dark Tower" offerings, writes Satana pretty much as I would imagine -- that is, if a member of the cast of Sex & The City were a soul-stealing succubus. The first page is a nice homage to the first Satana story, which was amusing. The backup is the real star here, as Jonathon Hickman's fully integrated art and story create a sort graphical design take on a comic book. This is something I would call a "graphic novel," as it is not sequential art, but the art and story are inseperably linked together as one entity. The story holds up as well, with lots of history and mysticism, as a series "Nightly News"-esque info boxes, including one which partially reproduces N'Kantu's OHOTMU entry. Buy this comic for the second story -- the headliner's just tasty gravy.

(At this point I feel I should reiterate that I want Legion of Monsters as an ongoing Marvel horror anthology.)

Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #14 -- The Avengers travel to a far-off land to help a village stand up to a group of rampaging warlords. Oddly, the solicitation for this involved the Agents of Atlas (yay) and KANG (YAY!), but neither of them show up... scheduling snafu? I was keyed up for the Conquerer and this failed to deliver him. Still, this is fun, fast-paced, and severely lacking in characters standing around being serious, this is the kind of comic book which you used to look forward to when you were a kid. Me, I still do, so what does that say. Marvel readers burned out on politics could do a lot worse.

Infuriatingly enough, Diamond still has shorted the shop on copies of Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #53, so I still haven't read it. Curses!

Pick Of The Pile: It might have been harder had I received all of my pulled comics, but of the ones I read, I have to give the nod to Legion of Monsters. The Satana story is nothing special, but the Living Mummy story is worth the price of admission, even at 12 pages. Very cool all the way.