Friday, October 31, 2008

Weekly Dose Of Weird

The Vault Of Horror #17 -- Here's a guy who needs to try the Schick® Quattro® shaving system!

I. "Terror On The Moors!" -- American tourish Jim Ryan is hopelessly lost in a British fog, so he comes around to the estate of Andrew Claymore, and is given food and a place to sleep.  He hears bizarre shrieks and growls, but can find no evidence of what they are coming from.  The next morning Jim is told by the butler Evers that Mr. Claymore is dead, and they must creamte the body as soon as possbile.  The urgency is due to Mr. Claymore's only son, a feral beast who recently has developed a taste for dead human flesh!  Stymied by the rainy weather, the two men cannot get the body creamted, and the beast attacks -- killing Evers, devouring parts of his father, and setting the mansion ablaze, from which Jim barely escapes.

II. "Baby... It's Cold Inside!" -- Barton Gordon, desperate for work, takes a job as superintendant in an apartment building owned by the strange Marcus Kingsley, who has a sickly pallor and keeps his apartment below freezing!  As winter turns to spring and then summer, Kingsley installs industrial chillers in his apartmentm, turning it into a meat locker.  But when the electrical systems fail, and Gordon is unable to repair them, Kingsley melts away to a putrid black ichor -- for without the freezing cold, his body could not live, having had his cancerous heart removed from his body and surviving on sheer willpower alone.

III. "The Beast Of The Full Moon!" -- Tom's financee June runs to his side after another werewolf attack in their village.  Tom suspects his brother Andrew, who was bitten by a supposed werewolf on a trip to Corocoa.  Laying in wait for the beast, Tom manages to stab it in the right paw.  The next morning, Andrew's right hand is wounded.  Confirming his suspicions, Tom lays a pit trap for the werewolf, and tracks it that night.  Pulled into the pit, he struggled for his life until a shot rings out... fired by Andrew!  He has killed the werewolf... who was really June!

IV. "Voodoo Horror!" -- George Barker travels to Haiti and has a voodoo statue of himself made -- a statue that will age instead of him, as well as reflect all of his sins and misdeeds.  Barker lives on for years and years, looking as young and strong as ever, when he eyes the pretty young Jean Frank.  George threatens her father into forcing her to marry him, and once again he comes out on top.  The years continue to go by, the statue growing uglier and uglier.  When Jean tries to get rid of it, George slaps her and locks it in the den.  He underestimates her resolve though, as she finds the spare key, and cuts the bust in half with a machete -- and George's head at the same time!

Overall Weird Factor: 4 (out of 5).

I figured an EC Comic was appropriate for Halloween.  And, as is typical with most ECs, this is a superior effort, even if it lacks a lot of the more, ahem, colorful elements which the books were notorious for.  All four of the features here are pretty straightforward, but they are all well produced and entertaining spook-fare.  "Baby," with very nice art by Graham Ingels, is the best one this time out, if only for the really gross-out ending and his op-art style Old Witch.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, folks! We'll have an EC-stra special edition of the Weekly Dose Of Weird later today, but for now, let's have fun with an episode of Tales From The Darkside!

Have a happy and safe Halloween folks!  And remember, teens, tonight is THE night for you to finally have sex in your house while your parents are out... just watch out for large, calmly walking guys in spray-painted William Shatner masks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Randomness: "Zero Month" Promotional Flyer

You'd be amazed what you can come across cleaning out all your junk from when you were a kid. Case in point, this promo piece for the "Zero Month" gimmick spinning out of Zero Hour. Judging from the card stock and the fold, I believe this was stuck between pages of a comic as an insert, but I don't remember for sure. It's really amazing to me to look at the kinds of books DC was pushing back then, everything from Deathstroke, The Hunted to R.E.B.E.L.S '94. Most bizarre to me are solo series for both Damage and Gunfire. Even more bizarre is that I liked Gunfire based on his appearance in Showcase (either '93 or '94), but had decided to go with Fate instead as the new title to read after Zero Hour -- a decision I do not regret!
I count four dead guys on the right hand side.Primal Force?  Anima?  Gunfire?!

I have more like this, so get used to this feature for a little while, nyah!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What Looks Good?

Even here in beautiful South Carolina it has gotten pretty chilly the last couple of days.  So maybe you should curl up on the couch with a good (comic) book or two.

The War That Time Forgot #6 -- This series has been delayed a little bit, but since I am the only one reading it you haven't heard many complaints.

Captain America Theater Of War: Operation Zero-Point -- The Knaufs AND Mitch Breitweiser on Captain America?!  I am so there!  (I wonder if we will get a Commie-Smasher 50s Cap book out of this series at some point?)

Marvel Apes #4 -- The epic (ep-ook?) conclusion!

Captain Action #1 -- The #0 issue as well as the comic book novella were both quite nifty, so I will probably check this one out.

Project Superpowers #7 -- The first act of Ross's new old superhero universe draws to a close.

So, what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Discount Bin Finds: Wetworks v.2

Comic book fans of a certain age most likely remember Wetworks, Whilce Portacio's supernatural-themed Image title.  More accurately, most remember the title's enormously delayed launch.  Initially supposed to be part of the inital Image launch, Wetworks was continually pushed back and put off -- the delay beginning due to Portacio mourning the death of his sister and growing from there -- until it became a common joke in the pages of Wizard.  "Will Marvel ever get their act together?  Sure, right after Wetworks #1 ships."  

The series eventually did launch in 1994, two years after it's first solicitation, and had a respectable if unremarkable run of 43 issues before it was cancelled in 1998.  The title lay dormant for nearly a decade until being revived under the WildStorm imprint once more, this time at DC.  This is the series will be looking at here.  

The basic gist of Wetworks betrays its 90's origins.  The Wetworks team, lead by the towering Colonel Dane, is a para-military strike force who became bonded to golden symbiotes which protect them from damage.  Dane and his crew use their considerable arsenal of heavy weapons to battle against non-human foes, including the various Vampire Nations.  In practice, this usually translated to Dane (and other tough-sounding soliders such as Grail and Dozer) getting into firefights with monsters.  Fun stuff, if not exactly "top shelf" comics.

The new series picks up some time after the old series ended.  Dane is still fighting monsters, but with a new crew: the reformed vampire Persephone, AKA Red, who uses her sword with deadly efficiency, the mysterious Ab-Death, a strange, golem like being, and the returning Mother-One, the team's cybernetic co-ordinator.  They initially have to deal with the invasion of Vascar, an uber-vampire who has escaped from Thea Mater, an alternate world populated by fantastical beasts.  Vascar is not only more powerful than any vampire the team has ever faced, but his presence threatens to upset the uneasy truce between humanity and the Vampire Nations and plunge the Earth into unholy war.

Much like the original series, Wetworks is a fun action title but otherwise nothing all that special.  Portacio's art has a high energy, highly cross-hatched 90's style, but he really seems to be in his element drawing his own creations.  Unfortunately, he is not on the series all that long, leaving at issue #6 (though he does handle the covers for a while longer).  Similiarly, Carey's handling of the characters is more grounded and less mega-macho than the older book, but he too leaves, after issue #9.  The team who comes on after that point, DeMatteis and Gomez, have an interesting take, with an entire city taken over by a vampire army, but the writing apparently was on the wall at that point.  The main problem the title has is a lack of reader engagement; it's well written and fun as far as the action goes but it doesn't make much of an impression.  The second volume of Wetworks is a great example of a modern take on a 90's action property, and has plenty of gunplay and setpieces to keep you entertained, just don't expect to remember all the details when it's finished.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What I Read This Week

Final Crisis #4 -- Well that was worth the wait!  A month after the Anti-Life Equation was "broadcasted" to the entire planet, Earth lies in shambles, with the remaining heroes scattered across the globe.  But wherever brave men and women are opressed, a resistance will begin to take shape.  Morrison and Jones deliver the goods, even after the extended delay between this one and the the third issue.  There's lots of ideas crammed every which way into this comic, like a Kirby comic, and really, I guess that is the point, right?

Final Crisis: Submit -- I made the mistake of reading Final Crisis before this one, which spoiled it, unfortunately, so definitely read this one first.  Anyhow, with the world as we know it gone after the deployment of the Anti-Life Equation, and with bands of Justifiers roaming the streets, the unlikely pairing of Black Lightning and the Tatooed Man are thrown together in a battle for survival.  Having Morrison write this tie-in helps a lot, since the tone is very close to the main series, giving it a sort of Final Crisis #3.5 feel to it.  Matthew Clark's art is good enough but his storytelling is unclear in several spots.  This would have been better if it had come out a few weeks ago, but it's still good.

Tiny Titans #9 -- Monkeys!  Be a superhero long enough and you will be turned into a simian of some kind; it's the law.  Also, witness the historic first meeting and The Brain and Brian-, err, I mean, Psimon, plus the debut of The Tiny Tiny Titan and his family!

Unknown Soldier #1 -- Doing a complete 180 from the previous title, this Vertigo title is thoroughly violent and unsettling, as we follow Dr. Luanga Moses, a Ugandan who has returned to his home country to tend to the masses of displaced people living in squalor, caught between the Ugandan Army and the Lord's Resistance Army.  What do the terrible nightmares he keeps having mean?  And who is the voice inside his head urging him to act on them?  This clearly is a different take on the Soldier, letting us get to know the man behind the bandages, something the old series never did.  It's also more of a political book, which is unavoidable in this day and age with this character.  Dysart and Ponticelli do a good job of capturing the horror of the state of Ugandan and Dr. Moses' situation, and makes for compelling storytelling.

The Pick Of The Pile is Final Crisis, without a doubt.  This series just brings it.

So what did YOU read this week?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Everybody's Linking For The Weekend

Rick gets us started with this neat letterhead from Weird Western Tales.

BONUS GAME! Neal Adams on Batman and the Creeper!

Lilbones finally has a candidate I would support.

rob! decies to come clean with his beef against The Big Red Cheese.

Mini Marvels? No, the Martian Marvel, as seen in this sketch by Chris Giarruso, presented by Frank.

And finally, my friend Joe should just fork over his cash now, because we have Vikings Vs Werewolves!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Weekly Dose Of Weird!

Nyah!  He-Man!  WEIRD WAR TALES #61
Weird War Tales #61 -- Man, I tell ya, Skeletor's really hanging in there. That or the Red Skull spilled bleach on his head.

I. (Introduction) -- Death welcomes us to the final frontier, where he is the only one who can truly "win" the struggle of war.

II. "Mind War" -- Commander Aaron Haley and his first mate June defend Earth against the Troahians by using a "ment-scan" device to create ships and soldiers from Haley's own mind. Dogged by his wily Troahian foe, Haley takes the fight deep into enemy territory, tricks his opponent and blasts him to pieces. But the battle will never truly be over, for Commander Haley is trapped in his own mind, reliving the same hallucination thousands of times over, held in a Troahian mental facility years after the fall of Earth.

III. "The Mercenary" -- Meet Dave. Dave is a workaday mercenary in the year 3002, leading his crew below the gilded Upperworld to the remains of Lowerworld. Dave and his crew hunt down the vermin who refused to be Subtracted from the population with the Finalsleep, and so the mercenaries have to go on S&D (Search and Destroy, natch) duty. Dave's crewmate Ben wants to cut out for lunch, but chow is the last thing on Dave's mind, cornered and ambushed by an army of Lowerworld dwellers, his anti-radiation mask gone and cut off from his crew... going to be late getting home tonight, Dave is.

Overall Weird Rating: 4 (out of 5)

Ah yes, the infamous "you only brought 6 dollars to the Con" issue of Weird War. As a themed issue (a trend promised to continue in the letters page by editor Paul Levitz, now the publisher of DC Comics), this is very enjoyable. The science-fiction stories are a change of pace from the ghosts and skeletons which traditionally star in this series. The introduction has a great rendition of Death in a space suit by Howard Chaykin, who also handles the art on "Mind War." Very worthy issue if you can find it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Looks Good?

What a way to come back after a business trip -- filling out expense reports, catching up on email, and buying my weekly fix.

DC Universe Halloween '08 -- Last year's was pretty, uhm, not good, but I may check out this season's offering.

Final Crisis #4 -- Man, I have been waiting for this for so long, I can almost taste the sweet, sweet insanity.

Final Crisis: Submit -- Black Lightning!  The Tatooed Man!  Why the heck not?

Tiny Titans #9 -- Monkey Time!

Unknown Soldier #1 -- The classic DC War character gets reborn in modern day Ugananda, Vertigo style.

Wow, all DCs this week!

So, what looks good to YOU?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hiatus... Yet Again...

Hey everyone, heading to DC for a few days for work.  I'll be back Wednesday night so I hopefully will have some stuff for your enjoyment on Thursday.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Washington DC, huh?  Does Themyscira still have an embassy there?

What I Read This Week

I swear, all this travel makes my Monday posts longer and longer!

Batman And The Outsiders #12 -- MUCH better than last issue, let me just say that right off the bat.  With the Black Glove out to destroy everything Batman holds dear, the Outsiders are in their crosshairs.  As I said last week, who will survive and what will be left of them?  Still kinda light but much more readable and much more about the Outsiders than last time out, with a cliffhanger which seems to sending the team into dire straits.  Fun comic.

Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge #3 -- The stuff hits the fan in rapid succession as the Rogues fueds with Inertia, Zoom, and Libra all come to a head in rapid succession.  Serves as both a side story for Final Crisis, which is cool, as well as a sort of prologue to Flash: Rebirth, which is even cooler.  Let me just add that if any other writer did this to Zoom I'd be filled with geek-fury, but since Johns did I am in awe.  

Flash #245 -- Speaking of the Flash, what is Wally do when his life appears to falling apart at falling apart at the seams?  "Limited" to the speed of sound once again, will the Flash be fast enough to save his family?  We've pretty much confirmed that this is the last storyline for this version of the Flash comic, and it's been pretty good stuff, so I can't complain too loudly.  But I am a sucker for the Flash so I may just be more prone.

Justice Society of America #19 -- Gog's herald, Magog, now exists on New Earth.  Does this mean that the bleak future of the Kingdom Come world is destined to happen?  Will the JSA be shattered by the clash of beliefs within it's ranks?  And what about Power Girl's gambit to get off of Earth-2 and back where she "belongs?"  Johns and Eaglesham create traditional superteam drama seemingly without effort.  This title is easily as good as the best Avengers stuff I have ever read, juggling multiple plotlines and characters with ease.  

Guardians of the Galaxy #6 -- Secret Invasion may not hold much interest at all for me, but stories like this, which take the basic building blocks of the big event to make something palatable and entertaining is what I can get behind.  With a Skrull infestation on Knowhere, and everyone stuck on board, "Who can you trust?" takes on a whole new meaning.  Marvel fans owe it to themselves to check this title out.

Hulk: Monster Size Special -- Now this was worth the $3.99.  Four stories -- a long feature, a backup, a two page comedy strip, and a text story -- involving old Jade Jaws and the monsters of the Marvel universe.  Oddly, this is also sort of a European tour for the Hulk, as he finds himself on The Continent for the majority of the book.  A fun sort of throwback to the days of the Marvel monster magazines, and a highly recommended purchase for monster-crazed kids (and kids at heart).

Iron Man #34 -- Continuing the "War Machine: Weapon of SHIELD" story, Rhodey first deals with Skrulls in orbit, then heads down to a Russian firefight between the invaders and the Winter Guard.  I like how Crimson Dynamo becomes the de-facto leader here, since over in Hulk it was pretty clearly established that Red Guardian was in charge.  Be that as it may, as a preview of the upcoming War Machine ongoing, this is a lot of fun, and pretty much what I expect from such a title, so it gets a thumbs-up.

Halloween: First Death Of Laurie Strode #1 -- Set after the events of Halloween and Halloween II, Laurie Strode tries to return to a normal life in Haddonfield, IL.  But we all know that there's somethings you can never recover from, and the police never found a body of the Boogeyman known as Michael Myers in the fiery tomb where she last saw him.   DDP's Halloween stuff has been a good fit for me, and this issue did nothing to change that.  Not a lot of horror just yet since we are in the set-up phase, but I like the tone and look of the series so far.

The Phantom #25 -- "Checkmate," the finale!  With all of the pieces in place, the Phantom's enemies make their final move to overthrow the Wakandan government and take the first steps to controlling all of Africa.  But are their motives political or is there something else in mind?  And how can the Ghost-Who-Walks stop all of this chaos in time?  Rip-roaring adventure which was worth the delays in production.  Moonstone's modern approach to the Phantom continues to deliver a mix of contemporary comic book realism mixed with classic face-crushing.  I hope they collect this story as a trade.

Secret Six #2 -- High above the streets of Gotham, Catman and Batman rumble, while the other members of the Six break into Alcatraz Prison to collect their assignment.  But the mysterious man in the box has other plans for them, and they are not good.  I felt cold from reading this comic.  I liked the interaction between Batman and Catman, but the main story didn't really do it for me.  For budgetary considerations I am probably going to drop this, which stinks because I liked the previous stories.  Maybe I'll get the trade instead.

Invincible Iron Man #6 -- Has Zeke Stane defeated Tony Stark?  What do you think?  Good blowoff to the first story in what is shortly to be the only Shellhead solo title on the stands, but after six issues I can safely say that this title is designed not for Iron Fans but for newbies.  I say this because every element and turn of this issue was 100% predicted by yours truly, from the cliffhanger resolution to the denoument.  It's not bad, not in the least, but it's not exactly ground-breaking stuff here, either.

The Pick Of The Pile was a tough one to call as there were a lot of good and varied things to choose from.  But, keeping with my tastes and interests, the pick goes to Justice Society of America, which I could just read over and over and not get tired of.

So what did YOU read this week?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Everybody's Linking For The Weekend

Frank rocks out with Roh Kar, Lawman of Mars.

Rick knows that I dig me some Jack Kirby Captain America (and The Falcon, too)!

I haven't read this one yet, but I think Lil Bones is right on: you can't go wrong with the Hulk fighting Frankenstein's Monster.

Kendall G takes a look at Days Of Future Tense, which I have never read.  At some point I will have to fill in the Ellis run on Excalibur, but not right now I don't think.

And finally, Kelson has some info about Brea Grant, who plays the speedster Daphne on Heroes.

Have a good weekend folks!

Weekly Dose Of Weird!

Horrific #6 -- I swear to Hashut, these kids with their piercings just get a little crazier every day.  How are you going to get a good job looking like that?

I. "Jack The Ripper" -- Reporter Gerald Williams is working with Inspector Norquist of Scotland Yard to capture a ghoulish killer who seems to be the spirit of ole Jack.  After one false arrest, Williams finds the Ripper's notebook, then lays in wait with Norquist to capture the fiend... who turns out to be Norquist himself.

II. "Night Owl" -- Fred Martin spends entirely too much time at the bowling alley for his wife Marjorie's taste.  When she makes him cut it down to one night a week, he conspires with his friends to get Marj interested.  Only their plan goes too well, and Marjorie ignores the house and her children since she is at the alley every day and every night.  Finally fed up, Fred confronts Marj, who throws her bowling ball at him.  Avoiding the attack, Fred retaliates with a knife.  The next day, everyone at the alley is glad Fred got Marj to stay home for a change, but it seems he is still taking his wife out bowling.  Well, her head, anyway.

III. "Sorcery" -- Text Story.  Regarding the nature of "love potions," and their psychological effect on those who receive them.

IV. "Death" -- After spending twenty years in prison for stealing his father's savings and driving him to his death, embittered Barry Victor pays his twin brother John a visit.  Murdering his brother by agitating him and then stopping him from taking his heart medicine, Victor assumes John's identity, and steps out to go to theatre.  Narrowling avoiding getting hit by a taxi cab, Victor goes to the show to find himself in Death's theater, with his own misdeeds played out on stage again and again and again, for all eternity, with the curtain never falling.  Seems he didn't quite dodge that cab.

V. "Pen Pal" -- Rodney Crane is a successful businessman who begins to receive strangely threatening letters signed by a Mr. Mord (French for "death.").  The letters pile up, until he sees his secretary Janet working late.  Suspecting her to be the author, Rodney murders her and dumps the body.  The next night, a strange premonition makes him tail his wife Miriam, who he finds stepping out with his friend Steve.  Convinced now that they are the culprits, he kills them and buries the corpses.  But the next morning there is another letter... and Rodney is in an asylum, where Miriam, Steve, and Janet all bear witness to their insane friend, trapped in his own mind after writing himself his own death threats.

Overall Weird Factor: 2 (out of 5).

Horrific was one of several short-lived titles from the early 50s by publisher Comic Media, which is now in the public domain.  The series is clearly influenced by the ECs of the period, which were well established by the time this issue was published in 1953.  Most of the stories are pretty standard, although the second feature, with page after page of bowling and domestic dispute, is pretty strange in it's own right.  It's also worth noting that the cover (by Don Heck!) is not even remotely related to anything inside.  Horrific would last for 13 issues before it got the axe.  

You can download Horrific and other public domain Golden Age comics at

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Discount Bin Finds -- Our Fighting Forces #147

I will readily admit that up until a few years ago, I was not at all interested in War comics.  Not until I got active in the comic book "blogosphere" did I start to really take notice of the genre.  Sure, I knew about Sgt. Fury and Sgt. Rock, and I think I was vaguely aware of the Haunted Tank (from The Power Company if nothing else), but that was about it.  So I blame my fellow comic book bloggers for getting me interested in what has rapdily become a favored genre of mine.

I picked this particular example up for a dollar at Borderlands one day while back issue shopping, and it's a pretty good example of War comics of the era (that is, the mid 70s, being published in 1974).  As you can tell from that Neal Adams cover, the featured stars are The Losers, one of those no-brainer concepts which holds up really well to this day.  And I'm not even talking about the Vertigo re-imagining from a couple of years back -- I honestly and without any reservations think you could take the Losers concept (a team of outcasts/weirdos/rejects/loners from the different branches of the service thrown together as a sort of strike force) and update it to modern times and tell good stories with it.  It doesn't matter that Captain Storm has a wooden leg or that Johnny Cloud can sometimes approach "Injun country"-esque dialogue: the core idea is solid and timeless, and as a result the stories hold up pretty well.  (Further evidence of the solidity of the concept and this group need look no further than the first chapter of DC: The New Frontier, which will be featured at some point.)

In any event, our feature story finds the Losers in North Africa shortly after the departure of Ona in the previous issue.  While Gunner has a nightmare about the team being swallowed up in a sandstorm, Sarge rouses the younger Marine back to reality.  The team is trying to hook back up with Allied forces when they come across a British unit having breakfast out in the open in a valley, with no lookouts.  Needless to say, a German patrol opens fire on them, leaving all of the British dead save the commander: Major Oliver Cavendish, a movie star known for making potboiler war pictures.  Cavendish talks to his fallen lads like he is in one of his movies, drawing concerns from the Americans.  Assuming command of the group (since, by code of law, he is the highest ranking officer), Cavdenish orders the team to attack a German scout motorcycle, but the Losers advise against it -- it's only a scout, and they are not prepared to handle whatever firepower it is scouting in front of!  

The Major blows them off, and opens fire on the cycle, alerting the other scouts as well as the main German forces.  The Losers are able to hold their own for a little while, but they are soon outnumbered and taken prisoner.  It seems that the German commander has plans to ransom their big-name captive!  Led through the camp (which happens to be showing a Cavendish "epic" entitled The Glory Road), Cavendish makes a foolhearty grab at a heroic escape, getting himself killed in the process, but amazingly enough allowing the Losers to shoot their way out and escape.  Cavendish's dying words end up mirroring that of his character in the film as the camp burns in the night.

We also get a nifty short about a British tailgunner Corporal on his first raid, as he is introduced to the panic, fear, excitement, and ultimately horror of the skies as he tries to keep himself and his crew alive amidst the German flak and fighters.

Our Fighting Forces #147 reminds me of a line which Bobby Reed on Dial B For Blog once said about War comics in general: "The truth is that glorifying war has long been the inclination of Hollywood, and the true face of war has been shown better in comic books, particularly Silver Age DC comic books, than anywhere else (except the novel)!"  Obviously, the feature story plays on that element of glorification very openly, with Cavendish as the bewildered and out of touch actor who thinks that war is an opportunity for grandeur.  The backup strongly supports this statement as well, with our Corporal passing from being eager to gun down his enemy to breaking down at the death of his crewmate.  And it's in this manner that I think the War genre has grown on me.  Certainly there is an element od Adventure in these stories.  But they are not blind to the fact that War really is Hell.   In a recent interview with Joshua Dysart, author of the upcoming Vertigo Unknown Soldier revamp, he states that he (as a pacifist) had to come to grips with updating a series which presented war as an adventure.  And while I understand his point, when I read that response I thought, "But the Soldier already does that."  It might be over-stated and sometimes over-the-top, but it's there, and it's here as well.

The Losers tale is written by Bob Kanigher with John Severin on pencils and inks.  Let's just say that Bob is in his element both with lambasting the gloryhound as well as the Losers' incredulous reactions, which Severin's rough-hewn but still eye-pleasing art does a great job supporting.  The backup is by Steve Mitchell on script and Ken Barr on art, and has a nice look to it.  The backups from the DC War comics of the era -- sometimes tied together under the OSS headliner but also frequently just one-shots like this -- were by their nature quick and dirty, but this one is still worthwhile.

Anyone looking to get into the later era of DC's War output would do well to check out this period of Our Fighting Forces, before Kirby came on.  Because while the Kirby stuff is good, it's also a little bit deviated from what we got here, which is right in the "sweet spot" of what a later-Silver/early-Bronze Age War comic should be.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What Looks Good?

Well, hey, I'm in town on Wednesday this week, so I figured I'd head over to my local comic shop and check out their wares.

Batman And The Outsiders #12 -- Who will survive and what will be left of them?

Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge #3 -- Yeah, I think we'd all read an ongoing Rogues book by Johns and Kollins.

Flash #245 -- What will Wally's fate be as he runs towards his title's conclusion?

Justice Society of America #19 -- See: Gog perform acts of kindness!  See: Citizen Steel probably do something ill-advised!  See: Hawkman get royally pissed off!

Dear Dracula -- Awwww.  Just in time for Halloween.

Guardians of the Galaxy #6 -- There was a betrayl last issue which absolutely must not stand.  MUST NOT STAND!

Hulk: Monster Size Special -- Ole Green Genes versus the Frankenstein Monster.  Definitely in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

Iron Man #34 -- The War Machine prologue continues as Rhodey informs the Skrull Empire to, ahem, "bring it."

Halloween: First Death Of Laurie Strode #1 -- I liked the Anniversary Special so I may give this series a try.

The Phantom #25 -- Finally!  How will the Ghost-Who-Walks fight his way out of this situation?  Or is it trult "Checkmate?"

So, what looks good to YOU?  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not Blog Ex?

Be sure to check out Not Blog X for G Kendall's daily devotional to the entire line of X-Men comics from the 90s!

Excalibur #63

Credits: Alan Davis (Script), Alan Davis (Pencils), Mark Farmer (Inks), Glynis Oliver (Colors), Chris Eliopoulos (Letters).

Kylun, about to meet up with his family in Scotland, is attacked by Warpies and brought to Cloud Nine on Peter's orders.  Back at that facility, Peter explains to Excalibur that he knows that they do good work, and harbors no ill will towards them, but by British law they are criminals and thus are under arrest for their own protection.  He goes on to explain that the RCX is studying a bizarre phenomena where "parahumans" like mutants or the Warpies destabilize -- meaning that they lose their powers, revert to a human-like form, and then die.  Peter knows that Excalibur will help, and thus has Nightcrawler (with a new costume created by the Warpie Silkworm) take a spin in a simulator not unlike the Danger Room to calibrate their sensors with an adult mutant to study the Warpies with.  When he finishes, Nightcrawler is informed that he too is suffering from the destabilization, and has less than a month to live.

In deep space, Phoenix runs into Death, and is forced to confront what it means to siphon the life-force of the unborn, and how to reconcile that with having a human host.  And then we look in on Brian and Meggan, still enjoying their holiday in the British countryside.  Brian's strength begins to return, as Meggan comments that the "light" in his aura has also returned.  Brian demands to know what she means, but before he can get answers, the Seraphim show up to take them into custody.

Continuity Notes
Nightcrawler receives his new costume, which is more of a grey than blue-black, and does not feature the "V" on his chest of his original look.  He also shows off some of his lesser-known powers, including sticking to surfaces and blending into shadows; it is batted around by the RCX's lead scientist that this means Kurt might be the offspring of two mutants.  Kurt, would later be revealed to be the son of Mystique and Azazel, both mutants (of a sort).

A much simpler issue than the previous one, with the majority of the action taking place in the present as Peter elaborates on the RCX as well as the genetic destabilization plague.  The letters page is already talking up "Days Of Futures Yet To Come," so I am guessing that Davis was content to simply tie up loose ends and tell the remaining stories he had on his plate for the team by this point.  Not vital, but fun for Nightcrawler fans, and the sequence with Phoenix and Death (which features Death taking on a new form in every panel) is interesting reading.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Weekly Dose Of Weird!

Ward Burton, possibly?  GHOSTS #111
Ghosts #111 -- The Burton Method? Which Burton? Tim Burton? Corey Burton? Jeff Burton, maybe?

"The Burton Method" -- Psychologist Professor Burton has devised a device which projects a patients deepest barriers and defenses as imagery, allowing them to view the obstacles and overcome them. Showing that his insecurities play out as a sword and sorcery tale, the Professor fends off the criticisms of his colleagues who think he is doing this for personal gain and to make "The Burton Method" famous. The Professor laughs them off, until suddenly the muscle-bound projection of his mind bursts from the view screen and stabs him dead -- a product of Burton's own deep-seated death wish being achieved by overcoming the mental barriers preventing him from doing it himself.

"The Last Kung-Fu Movie" -- Kung-Fu idol Lee Cheng falls to his death from a Hollywood penthouse after drinking a spiked drink, given to him by his producer to help settle his star's nerves. When Cheng's wife begins to ask questions, she too is killed. Missing their star, the producer and his lackey splice outtakes of Cheng together with body doubles to produce more films, all of which are blockbusters. After his sensei sacrifices himself, Cheng's reanimated corpse rises from his grave, takes vengeance on those who killed him, with the producer ending up dead in a noose of his own film.

"Shrieeeeeek!" -- Harland Frigby sets a mousetrap in his house, and ends up catching one in it -- alive. His wife Alice takes pity on the creature, and lets it go outside, but Harland lets the neighbor's cat in the yard to kill it. On his way to meet with his mistress, Harland is visited by the now-literate talking ghost of the mouse, who threatens to terrorize his family unless Harland takes care of the mouse's wife and children. Harland refuses, thinking the ghost will haunt his wife and send her to the nut hatch, allowing him to be with his mistress. But the mouse haunts the mistress instead, who looses control of her car, then hits and kills Harland. With his mistress herself being committed, Harland is left with an eternity of being haunted by the mouse -- a ghost haunting a ghost.

Overall Weird Rating -- 3.5 (out of 5).

A very good issue for the later days of Ghosts (this being the second to last issue). Then again, any comic book which features a kung-fu zombie will get a thumbs-up from most readers, I imagine. Also amusing at the titles of the kung-fu "epics" they produce, including Kung-Fu Krippler, Kung-Fu Rabbi, Kung-Fu Kretin, Kung-Fu Disco, and my favorite, Gidget Goes Kung-Fu. They just don't make em like that anymore!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hiatus (Again)

No, you're eyes are not deceiving you, I did post the What Looks Good? a day early this week, because I am going to be out of town!  I came into work yesterday to discover that I am going to Chicago... today!  I should be back Thursday night, which means you, my faithful readers, will get your Weekly Dose Of Weird as well as some snazzy links this week, at least.  So, until then, take it easy!

What Looks Good?

Everybody could probably use some good news, so turn off CNBC or Fox Financial and get some 4 Color Relief -- this is one bailout which won't destroy your paycheck.  Well, not totally, anyway.

Secret Six #2 -- The side of the DCU you love to hate!

Two-Face: Year One #2 -- You know Gotham City has problems when Two-Face has a real chance to be elected DA.  Not Harvey Dent, but Two-Face!

Invincible Iron Man #6 -- The finale of Stark's war with Ezekial Stane.  Will the cliffhanger be resolved in the exact manner I predicted?  Watch and see!

Iron Man: The Dragon Seed Saga TPB -- Want some classic Shellhead?  Then look no further!  This volume collects a story involving the Mandarin, ancient China, and Fin Fang Foom which is loads better than it has any right to be.

So, what looks good to YOU?

Monday, October 6, 2008

What I Read This Week

House of Mystery #6 -- Well, Fig is not gone, which is good.  But she, Harry, and Ann are heading into the labyrinthine basement of the house, which is very, very bad.  Does this hold the key to escape from the House?  Sturges and Willingham continue to deliver, this time featuring a tale about Ann's tumultuous love life on the high seas.  This series really does remind me of Sandman in the way it is building it's own mythos slowly but surely.  Also features a preview of the new Unknown Soldier, which looks about the only way a reinvention of that series could look in 2008.

Tor #6 -- Tor and his two companions set out to return to the other side of the mountain, and Tor's homeland, but the road is fraught with peril of all sorts.  Will they survive the treacherous climb?  The best DC miniseries in years concludes in suitable fashion here, with more adventure and danger, and the classic inconclusive ending which I was glad to see, given the material.  Kubert's caveman is truly timeless, as are his gorgeous page layouts and compositions.  If you missed this one, buy the trade, folks.

Marvel Apes #3 -- Marty Blank, AKA The Gibbon, has fallen in with the outcast heroes of the ape world: hope he suvives the experience!  As the twisted history of the alternate world is explained, Gibbon forms a plan which can save everything... if it works.  There's a lot of dislike for this series floating around the internet, and personally I don't understand why: it's a fun and funny comic book, and I think only the most cynical Marvel reader would rail so hotly against it.  Be that as it may, I enjoyed this one a lot, as Kessel weaves a sort of What If? tale for the back history of the Ape World, which is compelling enopugh that you almost forget that the characters are all simians.  Almost -- because Ramon Bachs never lets us forget.  The backup, featuring the Watcher, takes some potshots at Secret Wars II, and is silly but ultimately slight.  Still, eager to see the conclusion of this one.

Venom: Dark Origin #3 -- Eddie Brock is down in the dumps.  He's lost his job (thanks to Spider-Man), been exposed as a fraud (thanks to Spider-Man), and his wife is divorcing him (thanks to Spider-Man).  All that's left is to take his own life -- until the fateful arrival of one who shares Eddie's pain, grief, and rage.  And thus Venom is born.  After stumbling with the first issue, Wells and Medina have hit their stride here, as the marriage of Eddie and the symbiote is finally seen on-page for more than a handful of panels, as well as the origin of the massive, toothy grin.  This is a series for established Venom fans, but between the skewed POV and the crazy, over-the-top art (a throwback to the Venom miniserieseses-es of the 90s), that's a pretty obvious point.

Nova #17 -- After cleverly wrapping up the cliffhanger from last time (in the Mighty Marvel Manner, I might add!) Nova heads to Project PEGASUS to check on his little brother, where he runs smack dab into Darkhawk!  PEGASUS is under siege by the Skrulls, and Darkhawk has been fending them off so far, but even with Nova can the heroes hope to keep the top secret technology contained within from the alien invaders?  More slam-bang sci-fi from DnA and Alves as the Skrulls try to bust their way past security Aliens-style.  Plus, Darkhawk!  Every Marvel fan who is of a certain age likes Darkhawk, whether they admit it or not.

Project Superpowers #6 -- The Green Lama is organizing all of the returned heroes for one big strike in the Middle East, but the Dynamic Family is ready to stop them, with the help of their shadowy benefactors, with a trap that will stop the Superpowers dead in their tracks.  My interest is waning quickly with this series, which has a lot of great ideas but no clear plan on using them.  I'll get the final issue of the opening series to finish it out, but I am not on board for thier universe at this point.  Even Sadowski's art is starting to get sketchy.

The Pick Of The Pile was Tor, slightly edging out House of Mystery.  Just too much quality in Tor for the Vertigo book to overcome.

So what did YOU read this week?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fair Trade: Cruise Ship Edition

On vacation with my wife, I managed to get some reading done, as we both enjoy laying out on the pool deck and enjoying a good book.  Of course, the majority of mine were of the 4 Color variety.  

Superman: For All Seasons -- Jeph Loeb and Time Sale present a story of Clark Kent's coming of age in Smallville as well as Metropolis, in a sort of "Siegel And Shuster Meet Rockwell" take on the Man Of Steel.  Poignant and touching, with several splash pages by Sale which really drive home the emotional hits.  I picked this up right before my wedding (like, a few hours before) and was glad I did, as both myself and my wife (a Smallville fan) really enjoyed this one, and it's palatable enough for even casual fans to enjoy.

Dr. Fate: Countdown to Mystery -- I had started buying this series as single issues but ultimately had to drop it due to financial reasons (as well as a real, palatable disinterest in the Jeanclipso backup stories), so I knew what to expect from the beginning of this trade.  But the late, great Steve Gerber was never one to be predictable, and this story is the most creative Dr. Fate story I have ever read -- maybe the most creative Dr. Fate story ever written.  Justiano's art is well suited to the mystical and everyday goings-on, as well.  The last issue, written as four potential endings by four different writer friends of Gerber after he died, are all plausible in their own way and all a little sad, given the homages to one of the greats.  This one is a definite pick-up for DC fans.

Hawkman: Allies & Enemies -- You'll see the issues contained in this trade featured over on Being Carter Hall, but by way of a review, this is a another excellent volume of Geoff Johns and David Goyer's re-invention of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, mixing new elements and old concepts to create compelling, satisfying superhero comics.  And Rags Morales can draw the Hawks any time he wants to, as far as I am concerned.  I may be biased, but this was a tremendously cool book.  Plus: The Gentleman Ghost!

Murder Me Dead -- David Lapham's love letter to film noir is every bit as stark, harsh, and unblinking as the cinematic genre.  When socialite Eve Kroft is found dead in her home -- an apparent suicide -- it sets into motion a complex series of events for her ambivalent widower Steven, a jazz pianist, as he deals with the guilt over her death, the suspicions cast upon him, and the reappearance of an old school chum which drives him to seek out his high school sweetheart, who now runs with a rougher crowd.  Lapham's artwork is clean and simple, a perfect medium for the complicated, shady characters who inhabit it.  The story is pure noir, from the opening mystery to the downbeat, non-resolution ending.  I found this one on the cheap last year but this is a tremendously engrossing noir mystery which I heartily recommend to genre fans.

(Things are still hectic here with getting caught back up with work and the house, so I am hoping to be back on a normal schedule soon.  Sorry for the inconvenience, folks!)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What Looks Good?

Well, it's a good thing I didn't end up buying too much duty-free stuff on the cruise, because other shopping matters need my attention.

House of Mystery #6 -- Our presumptive main character has left, so what does the House have in mind now?

Tor #6 -- The finale of what has quietly been one of the best miniseries DC has produced in years.

Marvel Apes #3 -- Things couldn't get any more insane than they were last issue.  Can they... ?

Venom: Dark Origin #3 -- Eddie Brock may be Anti-Venom now, but some of us prefer the classics.

Futurama Comics #39 -- Science Fact!  (As far as you know!)


Since I didn't get last week's books, here's what looks good from them, too!

Abe Sapien: The Drowning TPB -- The cool scaly guy from Hellboy in his own solo adventure.  Sounds good to me.

Nova #17 -- Enter: Darkhawk!  Aw yeah!

Project Superpowers #6 -- We're approaching the first climax, so things should start building up right about... now.

So what looks good to YOU?