Thursday, August 28, 2008

Holiday Hiatus

I am going to be out of town for the long holiday weekend, so no Weekly Dose this week!  I hope everyone has a good weekend and I will see you guys back here on Tuesday!

Everybody's Linking For The (Early) Weekend

With a holiday coming up, I decided to post these early!

Rick starts things off with this awesome Captain Carrot letterhead!

rob! has an interview with J.M. DeMatteis about the end of the Justice League of America as it used to be.

G Kendall takes a look at when Pete Wisdom and Kitty Pryde started getting it on, so to speak.

Take an tour of International Martian Manhunters with your guide, Frank.

And finally, Happy Birthday to Jack "King" Kirby, via Sims.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Looks Good?

It's been a hard work week so far, but somethings can always perk you up: hazelnut non-dairy creamer, theater tickets on a Tuesday, and brand spankin new comics.

Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge #2 -- Captain Cold, Heat-Wave, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, and Trickster are in a bad place, but who will get to them first?

Justice Society of America #18 -- With a god of the Third World striding across the planet, what good is the Justice Society?  

Nova #16 -- Well, the GOTG tie-in ended up being good, so I am slightly less apprehensive about this one.

Caliber #5 -- Maybe as a whole series this will make more sense.  Please?

Halloween 30th Anniversary Special -- Hefty price tag, but I am a big (big) fan of the original so I will give it a look.

So, what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not Blog Ex?

We're back with another installment of my seemingly non-existant series focusing on my personal favorite X-Men related comic book series of all time.  Now, you want to see a real X-Fan?  Go check in with G Kendall over at Not Blog X.  That guy is a beast of a blogger, a guy who knows his stuff and has mutie knowledge the likes of which to make your head spin.  For sure.  (I'm not just blowing smoke here, either.  I wish I could leave comments easier -- I'm behind a firewall, its a long story -- because NBX is one of my absolute favorite comic blogs and I so rarely get to leave him feedback.  So if you are reading this man, keep up the good work!)

Excalibur #62

Of Birth, Death And The Confused, Painful Bit In Between
Credits: Alan Davis (Script), Alan Davis (p. 1-9, 14-22); Mark Farmer (p. 10-13) (Pencils), Mark Farmer (Inks), Joe Rosas; Dana Moreshead; Mike Thomas (Colors), Chris Eliopoulos (Letters).

Alistaire Stuart wakes up after being kidnapped last issue, and finds himself in Cloud Nine, the headquarters of the R.C.X -- the Resources Control Executive.  He is being held by Nigel Orpington-Smythe (codenamed Peter), the head of the RCX.  Peter apologizes for any injury his Seraphim, one of his Warpie groups, may have caused, since he meant no harm; Alistaire is not in the mood to hear it, as it was Peter who framed his sister before her murder by Jamie Braddock.  Attacking Peter, Alistaire is then subdued by the Advocate, Peter's personal Warpie bodyguards, each with simple codenames such as Salt and Shrew (when you have 400 parahumans to keep track of, Peter explains, you try to keep things simple).  Alistaire says that Peter is going down, as he contacted Excalibur before he was taken, but Peter informs him that contacting Excalibur was part of the plan, as the RCX wants to capture them, too.

Meanwhile, while Phoenix/Rachel drifts in deep space, the only members of Exalibur still in Great Britain (Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Cerise) investigate Alistaire's kidnapping, and are attacked by the Seraphim, who also have simple names.  Cerise and Shadowcat are quickly taken out, so Nightcrawler plays possum to gain entry into Cloud Nine.  

Briefly we check in with Meggan and Brian on vacation.  As Meggan takes an early morning horseback ride on the beach, Brian flies up to her... only to fall into the ocean, unable to fly.

Back at Cloud Nine, Peter informs Alistaire of Excalibur's capture, and leads him on a guided tour of the facility.  When they spot Micromax undergoing several "tests," Peter informs Alistaire that both FI6 and WHO have been absorbed into RCX, so they are "on the same team."  Right then, a Warpie named Beetroot is being rushed by for medical attention.  A psychic, Beetroot makes mental contact with Alistaire, revealing how the RCX took him from his parents, but put him with a new "family" with the other Warpies at Braddock Manor.  But when the "nice lady" Betsy and her brother "The Captain" left, the experiments began, and all little Beetroot could do was cry and cry.  Alistaire, reeling from Beetroot's death, lashes out and punches Peter, only to be knocked out by one of the Advocate (Aberdeen Angus, a cow-man).  Peter orders medical treatment for Alistaire and an autopsy for Beetroot.

Nightcrawler then makes his move, attacking the Seraphim and using his judo skills as well as his agility and cunning to trick them into defeating themselves.  During the ruckus, a door is opened releasing the Serpents, a viscious group of Warpies who could not be controlled.  Seeing his friends in danger (including a sense of connection to Cerise he hadn't felt previously), Nightcrawler fights furiously, unleashing all of the rage he normally keeps well in check.  Peter comes upon Nightcrawler right as he defeats the Serpents, and points out that not only is Nightcrawler trespassing, but all three members of Excalibur are illegal aliens (literally, in Cerise's case), and places them under arrest.

Commercial Break
There is an advertisement for an aftermarket NES controller which promises to "breathe new life into your NES," with the anthropomorphized controlled blowing into it's cable, which is connected to the NES.  Yeah, it looks really, really bad.  You all know I am not one to scream that everything is suggestive, but this just over the top.  I may have to scan this one.

Continuity Notes
The Warpies go all the way back to the Captain Britain Monthly series, having been an after-effect of the machinations of Mad Jim Jaspers.  Peter had previously been seen congratulating Excalibur for helping with the train derailment back in issue #42.  This is the first true inkling (other than the jokey bits at the party) of Cerise and Nightcrawler's relationship, of which I was always a fan.

Creative Differences
I am not sure that this counts, as the pages pencilled by Farmer constitute Beetroot's flashback, and serve a good purpose in the story, so I am guessing this was planned from the start and not a fill-in job.

Another good issue, but typical of the Alan Davis stuff, there is a lot going on in a seemingly simple issue.  We have the main Warpie plot, the Phoenix and Brian subplots, the introduction of the Cerise-Nightcrawler plot, the reintroduction of Nightcrawler trying to keep himself in check, the dissolution of WHO and FI6, plus a literal army of bright and crazy looking characters.  At least Widget doesn't pop up!  Peter and the RCX make for good villians, and Davis gets a chance to flex his creative muscles in coming up with all sorts of weird Warpies to throw in, including the hard and rough-skinned Pumice, the paralyzing Cyanide, the concentration-cancelling Peanut, and of course strong cow-man Aberdeen Angus.  Davis' art is his usual smooth and graceful fare, although when Nightcrawler starts to lose it, you can see the energy level start ramping up, which is nice.  Farmer's pages are more harsh, with lots of strong reds and purples and blacks in the coloring, giving the flashback a real unearthly tone.  Like most of the issues from this period, you are not getting the whole story in this issue, but it gives enough background and has a strong enough cliffhanger (Excalibur, you are under arrest!) that it is satisfying enough as a single.  Davis definitely has my interest in the main plot at this point.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What I Read This Week

Batman And The Outsiders #10 -- Chuck Dixon finishes his run on the Outsiders with a tale about extra-terrestrial horror in the middle of Gotham City.  The strong action-adventure plot comes off the rails, however, with the weird resolution, as the Outsiders seem very quick to jump to the conclusion of Batman's death.  It feels shoehorned in to accomodate the concept of "R.I.P." if not the actual execution of Morrison's story.  The plot of it -- that Batgirl is Batman's "insurance policy," and that the other Outsiders are not happy with that -- makes sense, but the way it is expressed here is just muddled.  Be interesting to see what Tieri does with this.  Lopez's art is, as typical, quite nice, esepcially his 5 O'Clock Shadow-sporting Dark Knight.

Guardians Of The Galaxy #4 -- A Secret Invasion tie-in, of sorts.  It's got Skrulls in it, but it doesn't really reference the invasion of Earth, but I guess it's close enough.  Anyway, after the recent rash of security breaches at Knowhere, the Council is growing tired of the Guardians not following their protocol.  And to add another pile of fun, a bombing suggests the presence of one or more Skrull infiltrators inside the haven.  Will the paranoia and mistrust tear the Guardians apart before the holes in space get a chance to do it?  Being a tie-in-in-name-only helps this issue out tremendously, as the basic "Skrull paranoia" plot works just fine.  Some new revelations on how Quill brought the team together as well as the inner workings of Knowhere help build the title, while more interaction between Rocket Racoon and Cosmo is always a treat.  DnA and Pelletier continue to turn up the quality on this cosmic comic.

Iron Man #32 -- The conclusion of "With Iron Hands," and, to a degree, the end of the "Director of SHIELD" era.  With twin threats -- one from his past and one from his present -- bearing down on him, Tony Stark must make the decisions and then execute them lest the tiny former Soviet republic of Kirikistan be turned into nothing but smoking rubble.  Some have called this an "inventory story," which makes no sense since it is in four parts.  It's a story, you know, the reason why we have solo titles and not just event comics.  Anyway, Stuart Moore delivers a solid final chapter in his tale, mixing both plots together satisfactorially and telling a compelling story of Tony Stark, Director of SHIELD.  The title shifts to featuring War Machine for the next few months, and then will be cancelled and relaunched as a solo series for Rhodey, which I am happy about.  But this series was a superior comic month in and month out, especially after the Knaufs took control.  When Civil War ended, I was concerned that the new direction would be a flop, but instead it was a homerun.  But like so many of Tony's new directions, this one only lasted as long as it suited Marvel, and not the story.  But that's alright, because the stories themselves are still great fun and aren't going anywhere any time soon.

Flash #243 -- "Fast Money" wraps up, as does the main subplot for the first thirteen issues worth of the revitalized series as Tom Peyer and Freddie Williams II finish up on the title.  In Gorilla City, the West family has just suffered a terrible blow, but Wally must still face the menace of Grodd, or else the suffering will only continue!  A pretty good resolution to the story arc, which went in all sorts of unexpected directions from the somewhat commonplace (for The Flash) beginning.  It's not the best story I have ever read but enjoyable, and Peyer has a good grip on Wally.  Which is why, of course, he is leaving the title.  Oh well!

The Pick Of The Pile is Iron Man.  The two DCs this week seemed shorter and less complex than the two Marvels, and of them,Shellhead's mag was just slightly better.

So what did YOU read this week?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Everybody's Linking For The Weekend

Via Rick: I wonder what kind of letters Ravage 2099 got back in the day.

BONUS GAME! Rick sez "Superman is a playa."

Adama's trick arrows keep getting stranger and stranger.

Those readind my blog will recognize this issue of Justice League of America which rob! is showcasing.

BONUS GAME! rob! brings it triple-style in this post, with tattoos, fact files, and kneecaps!

And finally, take a trip back to the 90s that never happened for the Martian Manhunter.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Weekly Dose Of Weird!

Oh no!  They say he's got to go!  WEIRD WAR TALES #32

Weird War Tales #32 -- You know, I don't recall there being any giant monsters in World War II.  That's something I would have remembered.

I. "My Enemy, The Stars" -- A private blows off his buddy's horoscope reading, but twice in a row it proves prophetic.  After spotting a huge column of Nazi hardware rolling towards him, the private is hit, and soon starts to imagine that the constellations themselves are coming to his aid, smashing the German armor.  He awakes in the morning to find a field of destroyed tanks, but neither his unit nor any other takes credit for it.  The stars saved him... and he was rewarded with the Silver Star.

II. "The Day After Doomsday" -- In rural Britain, nothing much seems to change... except when radiation from wars of men seep into the groundwater, causing the humble farming couple who drink from their well to shrink and become chicken feed.  Don't worry; the chicken's will get their's soon enough, what with no one to feed them.

III. "A Glutton for Punishment!" -- During the Crusades, a harsh, greedy and portly Christian Commander is approached by a ghostly Saracen, who makes a devil's deal with him: for his soul, the Commander will never go hungry, and will never die unless he asks to.  Continually wounded and maimed as he drives his men harder and harder towards Jerusalem, the Commander is finally abandoned and then left for dead after the Saracens attack with Greek fire.  Reappearing to collect the man's soul, the Commander spits that the Saracen is breaking the deal by letting him die, so the Saracen bows... reattaching the Commander's hands to his thighs and leaving him, so if he wants to eat, he'll have to rely on the pity of others.

IV. "Mission Into Madness!" -- 3 OSS men land on a tiny Japanese island.  Two distract the soldiers encamped there, while the third sabotages some computer equipemnt -- namely the controllers for the robotic soldiers the other two were distracting!  There's no computer that can match the human brain... for now.

Overall Weird Factor: 4 (out of 5).

A superior issue this time out.  All four of the features have an aspect which stands out, and they are all very different, making this a fun read.  The first feature, with the stars themselves descending from the Heavens to fight the Nazis, is quite striking in spots, and the third feature looks almost like something Graham Ingels would have done for The Haunt of Fear.  The two shorts are both well done, especially the last one which really does throw a twist in there (the use of "tiny Japanese island" in the opening narration is a major misdirection).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fair Trade: Tor V.3

Having been introduced to Tor only very recently (pretty much when I stumbled upon that same Dial B For Blog post about the DC Explosion which introduced me to the awesomeness that is Beowulf, Dragon Slayer), I was unaware of the rich history Joe Kubert's hero from the time of "one million years ago."  I just thought it was a short-lived DC series about a caveman.  Boy, was I wrong!  And, while this is the third volume of three hardcovers collecting Kubert's body of work on the character, this book (checked out from my local library) does a lot to expand upon the mythos of the character and my knowledge therein.

This volume begins with the first issue of the DC Explosion series, which itself was a reworking of Kubert's comicstrip proposal.  But this is not some simple panel swapping: Kubert created full page tableaus for his strip panels, formatting the story with not only a comic book design sense but also adding plenty of new art and information to digest.  The story, involving a young Tor running into a strong youth from another tribe, is incomplete here, but is a tempting introduction to the lush world Kubert created.  (I have all six issues of the DC series, so I am not concerned about the story being "incomplete" at the moment.)  The light and somewhat washed-out coloring, clearly a product of the mid-70s, helps the overall look of the issue, even if its on substantially better paper.

The bulk of the volume is Kubert's four issue Tor series from Marvel's "Heavy Hitters" line from the early 90s (a choice I applaud, since DC could have easily just reprinted their own series and left the Marvel work out).  This story is a very important one in the history of Tor in that it was the first to introduce really fantastical elements.  Sure, Kubert had bent the truth a little bit by having some dinosaurs appear previously, but it clearly was meant to be the last remnants of the thunder lizards -- well past their heyday and trying to hold on in the face of Man.  But this story introduces a tribe of scaly, lizard-like Men, whom Tor encounters when he witnesses them sacrificing a young woman to their gods of thunder and fire deep within a volcano.  The girl survives, thanks to Tor's help, and the two are soon embroiled with both the lizard Men and their strange reptilian god, as well as fighting the Hairy Men who murdered Tor's father and took over his tribe.  This series originally appeared on glossy paper, so the deep colors and moody inks Kubert employed are transferred perfectly.  The story is exciting and visceral -- the kind of stuff one would consider for a Tor screenplay, if such a thought wasn't too outlandish to consider.

Also included are some short backup stories, as well as sketches and thumbnails from Kubert's roughs on the Marvel series, with notes from the artist.  There's also a great foreword by Roy Thomas, and an introduction by Kubert.  The book itself is oversized, which really lets the reader study the detail work which Kubert pours into each page.  The fact that the entire book is Kubert's work makes for a consistantly beautiful primitive world, filled with creatures both familiar and alien, but all believably so.

If you are interested in trying some heroic stuff which isn't your typical Superhero or S&S fare, then definitely see if you can pick up a copy of this volume, or one of the two previous ones.  I know I am hunting them down, much as I sought out the original DC series, and am eagerly awaiting the next two issues of the current DC series.  Tor is a classic of the 4 Color world which should appeal to most comic book fans, and this volume, despite being the last in it's line, makes for a good introduction.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What Looks Good?

Kids in my home state are starting back at school this week, but never fear!  Break out of those "Back to School" grumpies with some solid 4 Color therapy.

Batman And The Outsiders #10 -- Which threat to tackel, extraterrestrial or terrestrial?  What a choice!

Flash #243 -- Can Wally save his reputation and his daughter at the same time?

Guardians Of The Galaxy #4 -- Why is this is a "Secret Invasion" crossover?  This book was doing just fine by specifically not touching the "main" Marvel U.

Iron Man #32 -- Sadly, the last issue of this excellent title which will star the titular hero before the changeover and then relaunch for War Machine.  

So what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

4 Color Cinema

Batman: Gotham Knight

Since about the time I was in the fifth grade, DC Comics has always had a solid, well-established foothold in the world of cartoons and animation.  Springing up as the show that would not die (Batman: The Animated Series, although it is always amusing to note that the show was simply called Batman until Fox decided to advertise it as such), and continuing in various forms and formats over the years, the "DCAU" as it is commonly referred to has moved in a new direction in the last few years, pushing more into DTV (or as some technophiles like to say "Direct to DVD") feature films.  The titles released under this new umbrella (Superman: Doomsday, Justice League: The New Frontier, and Gotham Knight) have all had unique art direction and visual styles, setting them up as discrete, individual films rather than as a series adaption or continuation.  Knight ups the ante even further, by bringing in six seperate styles to the film, with each one handled by a different creative team and animated at a different studio.  The result is a sort of "jam" film or psuedo-anthology, with six smaller features adding up to one larger story.  The overall effect, though, is more uneven than anything else, leaving all but the most hardcore viewer disappointed.

The story is roughly that of the intermezzo between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, as Gotham City continues to suffer from corruption and crime, even as Batman emboldens the citizens and takes the fight to his opponents.  The first vingette is "Have I Got A Story For You," a twist on the classic tale of several kids exchanging thoughts on who or what they think Batman is.  This leads directly into "Crossfire," where officers (Crispus) Allen and Ramirez must escort a prisoner to Arkham, and wind up in (natually) a crossfire between Sal Maroni and the Russian mob.  Batman gets some new technology in "Field Test," in the form of a small electromagnet which can redirect small arms fire, but the test turns out to be a failure during a mission.  "In Darkness Dwells" finds Batman in the sewers of Gotham chasing Killer Croc, only to end up face to face with Scarecrow and his strange brainwashed cult of homeless.  This encounter leaves Bats physically and mentally beaten-up, so he flashes back in "Working Through Pain" to his time in India learning to manage and control his pain.  Finally, Batman must overcome his injuries to stop the assassian Deadshot, who is gunning for Lt. Gordon.

The main problem I have with this film is it's episodic nature which leaves most of the segments unfulfilling.  "In Darkness Dwells," for instance, teases us with Killer Croc only to gives us literally less than a minute with him, since he is not the "purpose" of the segment.  In a similar vain, "Field Test" feels completely unrelated to the other segments, and is almost like a "fill-in issue" in the middle of the movie.  The animation is hit-or-miss for me, but I am not an anime fan so I am not the target audience.  This technique worked better in The Animatrix, which was all "side stories" and didn't try to be a larger narrative.  That method might have been a better choice than the "sum of the parts" technique used here.

The voice acting has always been one of the strong suits of the "DCAU" and that is no exception here.  It's great to hear Kevin Conroy as Bats and Bruce again, and the juxtaposition of his voice and Bale's grumbling in the theatrical films is alarming.  Jim Meskimen evokes Oldham's Gordon without aping him, and his Deadshot is menacing and dangerous.  And who can forget vocal madman Corey Burton, who plays both the Russian and Scarecrow to great effect.  (Interesting side note, evidently Martha Wayne is played in flashback by none other than voice director Andrea Romano.)

On the whole, I didn't care for Gotham Knight.  It didn't serve either of it's primary functions, which would be to first entertain me, and second to get me to want to see The Dark Knight, so I have to deem it a failure on those levels.  But, as I have said, I am not the biggest Batfan in the world, and my taste for anime is very, very limited.  So I am probably not the best litmus test for this film, given it's very specific genes.  If you really like Batman, or enjoy anime and the different art styles, then this may appeal to you.  But it sure didn't appeal to me.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What I Read This Week

Captain Britain and MI13 #4 -- Hey, you know Doctor Who?  That show that used to be popular and then got cancelled and then came back and got even more popular, on both sides of the pond?  Everybody likes Doctor Who, right?  That would explain why this series is trying so darn hard to be Doctor Who.  After the really unethused reaction I had to the first issue, I said I would give it the first storyline to win me over, and it I have done that, and now am dropping the title.  Disappointing.

Tiny Titans #7 -- It's Titans in Space as Starfire is called home to clean her room!  But will her friends get in trouble for being away from home for days on end!  Plus, the debut of the Tiny versions of the Brain and M. Mallah!  The extra this month is a pinup page by Franco, which is a nice change of pace.  Very fun as usual, with a really funny cameo by some members of the Justice League.

The Pick Of The Pile is a no-brainer with Tiny Titans.  Some folks may enjoy the "Excalibur-via-Cardiff" take in Captain Britain, but I am not one of them.

So what did YOU read this week?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Weekly Dose Of Weird!

If Helloween did the soundtrack to The Haunted Mansion, it would be the best theme park ride in the world.  GHOSTS #108
Ghosts #108 -- This looks like something out of The Haunted Mansion. Then again, that moon makes it look like a Helloween album.

I. "A Chance!" -- (Framing Story) Squire Shade introduces us to Charlie Davis, professional wrestler on his last legs. Charlie will try to win the deciding fall by living out three very different lives...

II. "Trick Or Treat!" -- A biker named Brute and his gang bust up a graveyard, including prying a decorative head off of a mausoleum. Turns out the tomb belongs to the caretaker, who has been searching for the diamonds his brother hid herein. The bikers steal the head and rough up the caretaker, who is then egged on by his spectral brother to go after them. He does, and retrieves the head... not noticing the diamonds spilling out of it. Lose one for Charlie.

III. "Iconoclast!" -- A paranormal debunker is in the middle of northern Idaho is put on to a local haunted house. When the spooks inside seem all too real, he is able to disbelieve them into disappearing -- along with the entire house as well. Charlie wins.

IV. "The Face Of Truth" -- A research professor discovers how to seperate the body and soul, but his jealous administrator tosses him in the device and claims the work as his own. When his colleagues want proof, he shows them the device -- with the dead professor inside! What looks like a hoax is revealed to be true when the professor's spirit reaches through the device and kills the administrator, who takes the secret to his grave. Charlie didn't do so well.

V. "Brain Cells" -- In a story seemingly unrelated to our poor grappler, two criminals and a corrupt police officer blast off a prison asteroid, only to run into a strange being of pure energy. Explaining that his people learned to leave their physical bodies behind to travel great distances, the being teaches the fugitives the trick and they whisk away to the being's home planet -- which is without war, poverty, or crime thanks to chemical brain treatments. Wanting the formula to control other men's minds, one of the criminals steals it, and the three blast off as energy to their ship... which has been found by the police, who are disposing of the seemingly dead bodies. The cop and the younger crook manage to regain shape, but the older one who had stolen the formula finds himself destined to remain non-coporeal for the rest of time.

VI. "A Chance! (part two)" -- (Framing Story) Charlie is pinned, and loses his last shot at glory. But, he swears, this is a new opportunity, and this time he will make something of himself. Squire Shade ominously adds "The Beginning."

Overall Weird Factor: 4 (out of 5).

The writing must have been on the wall for the title, which would would last four more issues. The framing device is very odd, but unique at least. The fifth feature, with it's bizzare hard-left turn into science fiction, and the third, with some lovely Johnny Craig art, are the best segments.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What I Read This Week (A Little Late)

There's a lot of these, and my time is short at the moment, so this is a special "ES" edition -- that is, "Extra Short."

Final Crisis #3 -- I am really enjoying this series for it's depth and really unpredictable twists and turns.  The cliffhanger in this issue is one of the best ones I have ever seen in an "event" comic like this one.  

Hawkman Special #1 -- Hawkman has to face the perils inside of his own mind if he has any chance to survive.  Starlin has some definite ideas for the character of Hawkman, but it's a bit uneven on the whole.  I'll put more detailed thoughts over on Being Carter Hall.

House of Mystery #4 -- Fig learns what the "locals" do to unwind in the House, while exiled witch princess Daphne tells the tale of she and her white tiger bodyguard Floyd deal with the "real world."  Great fun in a very Vertigo manner.

Storming Paradise #2 -- The invasion plans begin to form up as the Allies bomb the Japanese beachfronts, and then the potentially most bloody landing ever takes place.  Harsh historical fiction, which should satisfy War comic fans.

Tor #4 -- Escaping from the subterranean tentacled beastie Tor and the female ran into last issue, it's out of the frying pan and into the fire -- then pack into the the frying pan.  Kubert's caveman epic is so timeless that it doesn't matter when he created it, the quality never slips or wavers.

War That Time Forgot #4 -- The GI Robot loses his diefied seat, while Colonel Jape finds himself under an apparent mutiny.  This series alternates between rip-roaring and slightly goofy, and this issue is the latter.

Invincible Iron Man #4 -- Tony Stark tries to put together a plan of action to deal with the rapidly mobilizing strikes of Ezekial Stane, while Pepper Potts recovers quite surprisingly from her injuries.  More of a quiet issue than the last few, but still pretty good.  Remains second-place to the senior title, which is of course why the senior title is changing format.

Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #2 -- Tony meets up with Elsa Bloodstone as Fin Fang Foom is reborn in Sin City.  Very pretty Granov digi-painting covers a pretty lightweight story.

Venom: Dark Origin #1 -- It's a trip down memory lane as Eddie Brock has to deal with hsi desire for fame, his anger, his cowardice, and the pursuit of the "truth."  I really didn't care for Eddie being portrayed as a coward, and while the cartoony artwork was unexpected, it is not exactly out of style for the character.

The Pick Of The Pile is Final Crisis.  Obvious, perhaps, but sometimes the obvious choice is the right choice.

So what did YOU read this week?

What Looks Good?

Twisting your knee in a charity sumo wrestling match and then travelling to southern Texas will really put a crimp in your blogging style, let me tell you.  Luckily I can get some new material pretty easily.

Millenium TPB -- I got your Secret Invasion right here!

Tiny Titans #7 -- I can always count on this title to perk me up each month.  Such consistancy is a good thing.

Captain Britain and MI:13 #4 -- What is the fate of the United Kingdom, and of our titular hero, in the Secret Invasion? Oh I'm a-flutter with excitement.

So what looks good to YOU?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Everybody's Linking For The Weekend

In honor of the 2008 Olympic Games, Adama shows us how Green Arrow shows his support.

G Kendall presents the end of the Age of Apocalypse... for now.

Via Rick: Plastic-Man and ... Tarzan?!

Did Aquaman return in Final Crisis #3? Sure looks that way to me! Thanks for the post, rob!

Frank has a really, really suspect Martian Manhunter story for us.

And finally, some insight into the contemporary history of Superman.

I'm going to be out of town on business for the beginning of next week, so I will see you guys towards the end, either Thursday or Friday. Have a good one!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Weekly Dose Of Weird!

Witching Hour #13 -- I don't blame the guy.  If there was a spider with a human skull on my nose, I'd be freaked out too.

I. (Host Segment) -- The Three Witches have guests for their New Year's Eve party; namely, Cain and Abel, whom they entertain with tales of terror, each in their own method, only to be met with critique.  Later, the party is crashed by the Mad Mod Witch from Unexpected, of all people.

II. "The Maze" -- Schlub Harold Martin Beedle cannot remember who he is or how he ended up in this strange labrynth, only that a strange voice continually goads him onwards.  Finally, he is given his reward: a large block of cheese, as the lab rat of a pair of aliens.

III. "The Accursed Clay!" -- Scultper Arthur Delano, rejected by all the museums, runs across a stranger who offers him magic clay with which to sculpt four statues.  Sculpting his first statue, he finds that he sculpts the face of a man who drowns the same night.  The second night, he sculpts a man hit by downed power lines, and the third, a man hit in the head by a meteorite.  Refusing the sculpt the final piece, the stranger returns and forces him.  Delano sculpts the stranger's face, who thanks him as he expires -- being a wizard cursed to wander the Earth until your visage is duplicated forever as a house for your soul will do that to you.

IV. "The Rush-Hour Ride of Abner Pringle!" -- On the night of Paul Revere's ride, a fourth ride, Abner, falls off his horse and sleeps for almost 200 years.  With a little prodding from our host Cynthia, Abner awakens and tries to warn the thoroughly 70s people of Concord that the British are coming.  With the police trying to commit him, Abner flees, and manages to knock himself out on the same tree... just in time to miss the massive British army marching into town.

V. "'The Witching Hour Mistree' By Egor" -- (Text Story) A pretty princess locked in a castle in a bog by a wizard is rescued by the "nobell" prince and his trusty (but rusty) blade.  Upon fighting through the dangers of the bog, the prince pulls the stake from the vampire princess's heart, just as the full moon turns him into a werewolf... "and they ate happily ever after."

Overall Weird Factor: 4 (out of 5).

This one is just strange on all sorts of levels.  Cain, Abel, and the Mad Mod Witch show up for no real reason, but it's funny to see them all interact.  The first story has the extra added weirdness of a mini text commentary running in the bottom gutter.  The cover, which is not even close to anything inside, is the creepiest part of the issue, though.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Aquaman Needs YOUR Help!

You guys may have seen this link previously, but please click on over and Save The Aquaman Hoodie!  I'd prefer a Commander Steel one, but this deserves to get made!

Retro Review: Zero Hour

Time itself seems to be unraveling.  Or, more to the point, vanishing, from the past forward and the from the future backwards.  The Time Trapper finds himself, well, trapped, then a time-displaced Wally West seemingly runs himself into oblivion trying to stop the wave.  Even Pol Manning (AKA Hal Jordan) cannot contain the awesome force as it churns through the centuries.  Back in the present, alternate timelines seem to be converging -- Barbara Gordon stalks the streets of Gotham as Batgirl, and there's a seemingly infinite number of Hawkmen all coexisting together.  The cause of all this chaos?  Extant -- formerly known as Hawk.

Waverider of the Linear Men rallies the troops, taking teams all over the world to stop the entropy wave before it completely wipes out all creation.  But as more and more time falls victim to the wave, everything seems lost and hopeless -- especially when the true villian, Hal Jordan, makes his presence known.  Jordan, fresh off of going crazy in "Emerald Twiglight" and destroying Oa, has a plan to snuff out all time... and recreate it, only better.  A world where Coast City was never blown up, and the heroes didn't have to suffer such great hardships.  Who can stand up to the well-intentioned madness that has possessed the greatest Green Lantern of all time?  And if they do manage to stop him, what shape will the entire history of existance be in afterwards?

I'd love to give a better synopsis of the story, but I am unable to do so.  I don't mean I can't sit down with the issues and try to type out everything that happens.  I mean I cannot make heads or tails of more than half of this stuff, and if I try to, my head is going to hurt even more than it does already.  Zero Hour was the first big DC Event I ever read, and it didn't make any sense at the time.  Guess what?  It doesn't make a whole lot of sense now, either!

I'm not entirely convinced that anyone short of Dan Jurgens --who wrote and penciled the series, with Jerry Ordway on inks -- himself can truly identify just what the heck is going on in this series.  It's very steeped in the "now" of the DCU (that is, the DCU of 1994), and that is a problem for sure, but it goes beyond that.  The story jumps back and forth like a jack rabbit, leaping from one partially-explained plot point to another with a reckless abandon that leaves the reader bewildered.  Towards the end it devolves into one skirmish after another, as Waverider and the other heroes jump from second to second trying to avoid being wiped out by Parallax's Entropy Wave (which would make a cool name for a Super move in a fighting game), but it's just mindless after a while.

There's some stuff which stands out.  Barbara Gordon's return as Batgirl is great, for one thing, because her motivations ring true.  What makes this timeline any more "real" than her own?  Why should she have to die just because "she doesn't belong here?"  The "last stand" of the Justice Society is memorable as well, if only because it ended up being the basis for the JSA revamp a few years afterwards (although it is interesting to note that part of Zero Hour's supposed purpose was to phase out the Society, and wound up making them more viable), as well as setting the stage for Robinson's Starman series.  The foldout timeline of the DC Universe in the last issue is pretty cool, too, even if a lot of it no is longer valid.  And of course the whole insane reveal of Jordan as the big bad, though I know ticked off his fans, stands as a memorable and critical part of the history of the DCU and of the character's personal chronology -- just ask Geoff Johns.

But beyond that, Zero Hour as a whole is a jumbled, confusing mess.  One gets the feeling that Jurgens had an idea for an awesome 12-part epic that got shrunk down into five issues, because nothing is given enough time to percolate and develop, and whole thing just collpases on itself very quickly.  As if to add insult to injury, a lot of the changes introduced herein were themselves summarily wiped out during Infinite Crisis, so it doesn't even have a lot of historical significance going for it at this point.

Do yourselves a favor, and skip the headache on this one.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What Looks Good?

The heat the last few days in South Carolina has been practically unbearable, even hitting triple digits.  Hopefully it's cooler where you are!  Luckily, we can all chill out with some fine reading material from our local comic shop and beat the heat.

Creepy Archives HC -- I won't be buying this one, but man, all these hardcovers of the classic genre mags are very, very cool!

Final Crisis #3 -- Let the nuking begin!  

Hawkman Special #1 -- Carter Hall gets a solo story in the middle of Holy War, and this might lead to a solo series?  Color me intrigued.

House of Mystery #4 -- When I say that reading this gives me Sandman flashbacks, know that I do not say that lightly.

Showcase Presents: House of Secrets v.1 -- See what I said about the Creepy HC?  Goes for phonebooks, too.

Storming Paradise #2 -- Quite possibly the most thought provoking concept for a miniseries in a long time.

Tor #4 -- All Kubert, all the time, this one just screams quality.

War That Time Forgot #4 -- This may be "The Book That Everyone Forgot" but I don't know why, because it's pretty darn cool.

Invincible Iron Man #4 -- Soon to be the only Iron Man series.  This one is good, but the senior title was better, so I am going to go be an annoyed Iron Fan for a bit.

Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #2 -- When did the first one come out?  It's Granov, so that is to be expected, but still.

Venom: Dark Origin #1 -- Is Eddie Brock going to reclaim the title of Venom?  Or is this going to be more revisionist stuff?  We'll see.

Man, another big week!

So, what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Becoming The Hawkfan

Today, it gives me great pleasure to launch my second comic book blog: Being Carter Hall.

Inspired by rob's Aquaman Shrine, Frank's Idol-Head of Diabolu, Adama's Dispatches From The Arrowcave, and Rick's Plastic-Man Platitudes, I present my own character-specific blog, focusing on the Aerial Ace himself, Hawkman, and his partner Hawkgirl.

The difference, though, is that I am just getting into collecting Hawkman -- so you'll be able to follow along as I build up my Hawk Fan cred!  So hopefully you'll click over and check it out.  Thanks!

Unbridled Capitalism: Galactic Quest!

As Adama reported, my wife and I spent the weekend in Atlanta.  In addition to sampling the traditional Atlantean (?) traditions such as the Coke Museum (mmmmm Fanta Exotic...), we also took a trip up I-85 to Galactic Quest, wherein the awesome economics of the Quarter Bin came into play!  They also had all of their back issue stock at a cool 50% off, so needless to say, it was on!

Iron Man: Not a single Shellhead solo issue in the Quarter Bins, but I did take advantage of the back stock, snagging issues #283, 287, 291, and Annual 15, plus Force Works #4.

Flash:  The Fastest Man (Men) Alive had a good run (no pun intended), with plenty of neat stuff at 4/$1.00.  From Volume 1, I got #326-327 (featuring the Flash being voted out of the Justice League!), while Volume 2 netted #3, 144, 147-148, 150, 166-167, Annual 1, Annual 11, and Annual 13.

Power Man & Iron Fist:  Sometimes I think that discount bins were invented for this series, as I have gotten pretty much every issue I own of it from them.  I picked up #59, 74, 87, 117-118, and 124.

Furry Underpants Crowd: Some really neat stuff in the cheap box, with Arak, Son Of Thunder #22, the double-sized Warlord #100, and oddest of all, the Free Cerebus special, a sort of "Saga of Cerebus" compilation from 1992.  From the back stock I grabbed Conan & The Demons of Khitai #4, finishing off the series I got 75% at HeroesCon.
Other Stuff: You never know what you are going to find in the discount bins, as any comic book fan knows, and this time was no different.  Two of the strangest things I have ever come across were Marvel Two-In-One #21 (featuring Doc Savage!) and The Thing #31 (featuring Devil Dinosaur: The Movie!) -- two issues you'd never think to track down on their own but look like a lot of fun!  I'm pretty sure the MTIO issue is one of the ones that cannot be reprinted, as well.  (Heads up, Rick!)  I also found the awesome Fate #0-2 (you'll recall that Fate is a Character I Like), Wonder Man #1 from his ongoing (ditto), Sgt. Rock #419 with an amazing Kubert cover, and Hawkworld #1 (from the ongoing) -- that last one will become more important for reasons that will be revealed shortly.

All in all, a very productive trip!  Coupled with all the stuff which Adama had picked up for me at the Atlanta Comic Con a few weeks back, and I had a big ole pile of 4 Color Goodness to take back to South Carolina.  Now if only I had the time to read all of it...

Monday, August 4, 2008

What I Read This Week

Justice Society of America Annual #1 -- Last time in Justice Society of America, Gog sent Power Girl back to Earth-2!  But this is not the Earth-2 we all know and potentially love.  Who is the Justice Society Infinity, for one thing?  And why does Power Girl not remember how she "left" this world in the first place?  Johns and Ordway are game here, with Johns seemingly really pushing for a strong subplot for Power Girl as well as a way to address the new Earth-2 createsd in the wake of 52.  Ordway's pencils are nice in a classic sort of way, but don't always jive with the modern coloring techniques applied to them.  I was disappointed that this was the start of a mystery moreso than a homecoming, but at least it is an intriguing mystery.

Joker's Asylum: Two-Face -- Two-Face meets his opposite number in a man scarred in a remarkably similar manner to him, but instead of becoming a criminal, the man has become a respected member of society.  Harvey, of course, won't stand for this and sets up a social experiment of sorts to determine the true nature of the man, and by extension of Man himself.  Excellent "done in one" by writer David Hines and artist Andy Clarke, which does a great job of encapsulating just what the character of Two-Face is all about, both his neurosis and his philosophies.  The art is evocative, and really well suited to a dark, mean-spirited story like this one.  Fans who recently became interested in Harvey Dent via The Dark Knight will enjoy this story, as will more seasoned Two-Face fans like myself.

Project Superpowers #5 -- The Dynamic family moves to quash the return of the Superpowers on national TV, but the gambit backfires, forcing them to break out a different tactic -- swaying the public opinion.  The main problems with this title as I see it are that the characters which I am interested in -- who have some spotlight this time out, at least -- are not the ones which Ross (and thus Jim Krueger) is interested in telling stories about, so my interest wans as the series goes on.  The art, by Carlos Paul, remains very nice, and I am going to stick with this series until the end, but it's going to tale a big uptick in entertainment factor for me to continue with any of the spinoffs or sequels.  

Caliber #4 -- In what is becoming a theme, the art here is gorgeous, but the story is a big mess.  Very confusing (where did the trapped miners come from, exactly?) and hard to follow overall; I am hoping a read-through of the entire series will be more enlightening.

The Pick Of The Pile is Joker's Asylum, which barely edged out JSoA.  Being self contained almost always helps an issue out in my book, and this issue did so in a very satisfying manner.

So what did YOU read this week?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Everybody's Linking For The Weekend

Starting off, Rick finds that What If?'s letter column apparently asked that age-old question.

Save the Aqua-Hoodie!

Scipio sure is happy about SDCC.

rob! takes a look at a real Aqua-Classic.

Ever wonder how Frank got a hankering for Our Favorite Martian? Wonder no more, as all is revealed!

And finally a HUGE CONGRATUALTIONS to Lil Bones on the birth of his daughter! Aww she is soooo cute! (Now, Bones, remember: Start off with Finger and Sprang. Not Miller or Moore. Got it?)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Weekly Dose Of Weird!

Also, that has got to be the worst wrapped mummy in the history of time.  JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY v.2:no.16
Journey Into Mystery v.2:no.16 -- Okay, I am willing to look past the leisure suit, and even the girl evidently wearing a cvoat as long as her skirt, but heels? Heels?

I. "The Man Who Said 'No'" -- Bascombe is very rich and very cruel, enjoying sending ants tumbling down hills after they struggle up. When an old friend asks for funding to finish his cellular formula, Bascombe tells him "no." Going to his friend's house to gloat, Bascombe accidently activates the formula when it is struck by lightning, and he is shrunk -- to the size of an ant, and subjected to his own brand of torture by a young child.

II. "The Rag Doll!" -- Fred and his family have to move away after his father dies suddenly, leaving them penniless. His daughter wants to keep her precious ragdoll, a guft from her grandfather, but Fred refuses. The doll, naturally, shows up at their new house, and seems unwilling to go to the trash heap. Fed up, Fred rips the doll apart, finding all of his father's hidden money.

III. "The Old Man's Secret!" -- An American travels to Tibet to find a man who knows the secret of immortality, who lives in the mountains with his son. Tricking the younger man into letting him take his eldery charge, the American thinks he has stolen the secret -- only to discover after an arduous trek back to civilization that the young man was the father and the old man his son.

IV. "The Thing In The Jungle!" -- Adventurer Cliff Morgan travels to Africa to find a mysterious temple -- but when he finds it, he sees that three other men have also found it! The temple, it seems, is not a temple, but actually a spaceship sending out subliminal messages to rescue the crew of another ship which crashed on Earth years ago! But Cliff knows he is not an alien -- so what is he to do? Beg off and risk getting attacked, or board the ship and kiss Mother Earth goodbye?

V. "Inside The Mummy Case" -- Museum guard Joe is spellbound by the thought-projections emanating from a sarcophogus, telling him that if he comes at midnight and presses a button on the tomb, he will recieved a priceless jewel. The curator tries to stop Joe, saying the mummy inside was a hypnotist and a magician. The men struggle, and in the fight the button is pressed, revealing not a gem but a deadly booby trap instead.

Overall Weird Factor: 1 (out of 5).

This is another Marvel Weird comic with a mummy on the cover which just doesn't live up to it's hype. Makes me wonder if I would have bought these with any consistancy if I was alive back in the 70s. Anyway, the real standout this issue is the fourth feature, which is just strange, and the fifth, which has some really nice Joe Orlando artwork.