30 September 2007

Batman/Judge Dredd: Judgement On Gotham (DC, 1991)

Hoo-yeah! This was one inter-company crossover that I couldn't wait to get my hands on when I first heard of it back in 1991. Two of my favourite nutcases together in a team-up book? And they're going after Judge Death? And the three main people involved in this book are Alan Grant, John Wagner and Simon Bisley? I've died and gone to nerd heaven.

Story: Judge Death, the Dark Judge who theorises that life itself is illegal, dimension-jumped his demon self to 1990s Gotham City and immediately starts killing upon arrival. A time waster, he is not. Batman appears on scene and since he's Batman, he takes down Judge Death pretty quick by putting Death's host body on fire forcing Death's essence/soul/whatever to flee down some dark Gotham alley. Batman, while investigating the charred body, presses a button on the dimension-jump belt and is transported to Mega City-One where he meets up with Mean Machine Angel and Judge Dredd. And the fun begins.

A whack to the jaw worthy of a Bahlactus sucker punch, an arm twist and Batman goes down like a rookie. But Bats gets his own back while being interrogated:

Meanwhile, back in Gotham, Judge Death has teamed up with the Scarecrow and they go to a heavy metal concert. They're in Gotham, they're looking for some fun killing spree, why not a concert? Lots of fresh meat there.

By this point, Batman has managed to escape Dredd with the help of Psi-Judge Anderson and together they jump back to Gotham just in time to see Judge Death and Scarecrow killing and gassing everyone at the concert. They fight, Judge Dredd dimension-jumps in the nick of time to help the good guys and the bad guys lose.

This crossover sold so well apparently that Dredd and Batman met up again another two times. I did not get the chance to read those subsequent meetings but from what I heard their second and third books together weren't very good. Hunt down Judgement On Gotham in the bargain bin if you can. It's a fun read and just might get you interested in 2000AD's Judge Dredd if you aren't interested in him already.

By the way, one of the funniest thing in this book was when the Scarecrow sprayed some of his fear gas on Judge Death and the dark judge started hallucinating. What is Judge Death afraid of?


29 September 2007

Shout Out: Every. Issue. Ever

First, it was Maxo's blog. Now it's Zhinxy's turn to get a Shout Out from me for her blog, Every. Issue. Ever. She wants to review every single appearance of Batman in comics. Yes, she's insane. And I love her for it.

I actually stumbled upon her blog when she left a comment at the great Bahlactus' domain of awesomeness. So I went to check it out and loved it immediately. Go checkitout yourself, whydon'tcha?

DC Wants To Kill Off the New Gods? Che-yeah, Right!

Hmm, this lady, she has some good points re: DC's move to kill the New Gods. Ragnell calls BS on this.

28 September 2007

Friday Night Fights: Sucka Punch Round 1

This is it! After a two week hiatus, Friday Night Fights is back! Our fighters are ready, the ring has been cleaned of all the blood from the previous bout and Bahlactus awaits. LET'S GET IT ON!....

(Due to the space-time continuum anomaly paradox whatchmacallit, my Friday Night Fight is actually half a day earlier than most of the other contestants. But no matter. All this means is that my fighters get the ring all to themselves.)

Mark Grayson. He has superpowers. He inherited those powers from his father who is from another planet. He has also just found out that his father is actually not a very nice person. So, what would you do?

Okay. I understand he's upset and all but dude, the man's your dad. Show some respect. Even if he is a megalomaniac from the planet Viltrum.

Well, see? See what happens to kids who disrespect their elders? Especially if their elders are so much better at kicking ass than they are.




And Mark Grayson a.k.a INVINCIBLE learns a lesson from his old man. And that lesson is: Just because I'm old doesn't mean I can't wipe my ass with your face.

From Invincible Ultimate Collection vol. 1

When Dazzler Met Galactus

When Dazzler was first brought to meet Galactus, she found him hard at work and didn't even notice her....

She also thought he was very dismissive....

Turned out, Galactus needed Dazzler to capture and bring back his runaway herald, Terrax.

He was very commanding, she thought, but quite insulting to her. Galactus needed her help but he wouldn't speak to her directly? What the hell?

Well, she completed her mission. It was scary but she did it. Back in Galactus' ship, Dazzler stood silent as Galactus looked at her like she just broke wind or something...

But what she didn't know, was that even the G-Man can lay back and relax once in a while. Who would've thought Galactus knew how to chill out? All that is missing is a pipe in his mouth. And maybe a good book like Terry Pratchett's latest.

I'm just getting ready for Bahlactus' Friday Night Fights in a few hours time.

26 September 2007

Shout Out: Great Caesar's Post

I've just discovered that my humble blog has been seen fit to be linked by at least one other comics blogger. Yay me! So in return, I'm giving a shout out to MAXO and his blog Great Caesar's Post. Thank you for helping me push forward my dastardly plan to destroy the minds of young 'uns by telling them about comics and stuff. Dr. Wertham must be spinning. Good.

Go check out his blog. I've also linked it with some other blogs there on the right of the screen. It's not just a quid pro quo kinda deal. Great Caesar's Post is a good place to waste your precious time. Go check it out. And check out the others too.

Starfire Seems A Bit Lost, Guys

What is Starfire on about? No one asked her if she needed to sit down and relax.

Oh, and these two guys...?
They are so staring at her boobs.

25 September 2007

Bahlactus Invites You To A Sucka Punch!

This Friday night (or early Saturday morning for us Malaysians), Bahlactus awaits. There's gonna be a lot of arse kicking, ear biting and intestine pulling. Are you ready? Don't tell the cops.

Oh, I'm so psyched.

Ending A Marriage Marvel Style

So it looks like the marriage is getting retconned out with a memory wipe. Oh sure, there're some fans out there hoping for the impossible, i.e. let the old coot die*, but the smart money has always been on the end of Peter's marriage to Mary Jane. Especially with Marvel's Joe Quesada going on record saying he thought the marriage was a mistake where telling good Spider-Man stories was concerned.

Eh. If this thing doesn't sell, Marvel will probably bring her back.

Spoiler from Rich Johnston over at Lying In The Gutters.

*Yes, I called Aunt May an old coot.

23 September 2007

X-Men First Class: Tomorrow's Brightest (Marvel, 2007)

As I've stated before, I love Jeff Parker. He writes fun stories. When I see his name in the credits, I can be sure the story between the book's covers will be good, family friendly and fun, fun, fun. Sometimes you just need to get away from all the post-Civil War angst that is currently de riguer at Marvel right now. Sometimes a bitter and cynical comics fan just needs to get away from reading all about the paranoia, the heroes bitch slapping each other and figuring out who the hell else is a shape changing Skrull. What happened to the tried and true tradition of kicking monster and alien butt? We want to read those kind of stories sometimes. Throw in a talking ape as a guest star? Jackpot! That's why I heart Jeff Parker.

X-Men First Class: Tomorrow's Brightest collects the eight issue mini series by Parker with pencils by Roger Cruz. It focuses on the original X-Men lineup of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Angel and Beast back in the days when they were still students at Xavier's School for Gifted Children. It's not set in the early '60s though. As far as I can tell, First Class is pretty much non-canon and if it is, it belongs to a whole different canon than the Marvel Universe. But really, who cares? Why should we care why the X-Men here are still in their teens? They're drinking at a coffee place...this cannot be 1964! Is this an Ultimate book? Or a Marvel Adventures book? Seriously, who cares? If you're the kind of person who insist that all superhero comics must belong to a strict, one-universe continuity, then you probably won't enjoy this book. X-Men First Class is for those of us who just want to sit back and waste our time reading crazy stupid fun stories and to hell with the rest. And this book has eight issues of crazy stupid fun stories.

All the stories here are self contained, done-in-one-issue kinda stuff. The mutants meet up with Dr. Strange, they battle the Lizard in the Florida Everglades, have a slight misunderstanding with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch and meet up with Thor among other adventures.

But my favourite is issue 8 with a special appearance by:

GORILLA MAN! I like him so much I must type his name in bold and in capital letters. He's just that kind of character. Besides, it's a given that a comic will increase in quality when there's a talking ape in it. It's just the way it is. The X-Men seek his help to find Professor X who has gone missing somewhere in the Congo.

X-Men First Class: Tomorrow's Brightest. Good stuff.

21 September 2007

Batman: In Darkest Knight (DC, 1994)

Back in 1989, DC published a non-canonical book featuring Batman in Victorian-era Gotham hunting down the serial killer Jack the Ripper entitled Gotham By Gaslight. Written by Brian Augustyn and pencilled by Mike Mignola, it was the first 'ELSEWORLDS' book (though it wasn't labelled as such) to come out from DC's offices. The Elseworlds imprint enabled DC to come up with "alternate-worlds" stories for their characters without messing with the fanboy/girl minds about how it all fits in the DC continuity. Because that's what comic fans do. We may not be able to organise our personal lives but Goddammit, we want our favourite fictional stories to be in the proper order, mmm-kay?

Gotham By Gaslight proved to be so successful that DC was churning out Elseworlds stories like it was going out of fashion. A few were actually quite good but inevitably, most were just dreary. Batman: In Darkest Knight was one of the dreary ones. Yeah, this book is definitely not a good read. God, it was all kinds of awful and it was written by Mike W. Barr who does not worship at the altar of Awful Writing, I'm sure. Maybe he needed some quick cash that day and wrote this shit up over the weekend.

In short, it could be called, "What if Bruce Wayne became Green Lantern?". Instead of Hal Jordan, Abin Sur's ring found a despondent Wayne sitting in his manor trying to figure out how to give some whup-ass to criminals without getting his ass whupped in return.

Now, empowered by the Ring, Bruce.....aw, the hell with it...here's the *cough* plot: Wayne as the new Lantern of sector 2814 is ordered by the Guardians to go to Korugar and detain rogue Lantern, Sinestro. Sinestro is banished to Qward, gets a Yellow ring, goes back to Gotham, figures out who this new Green Lantern is, kills Jim Gordon, kills Joe Chill, gets an outfit that makes him look like the Joker with Spock ears and Sinestro then turns Harvey Dent into Two Face.

Meanwhile, the Guardians are not pleased that Bruce refuses to follow orders. So they appoint three individuals as new Lanterns to bring down Wayne (or to help him, I can't figure out which. Eh.): Clark Kent, Barry Allen and Queen Hippolyta.

They fight Sinestro but the bad guy escapes. Bruce goes off to space to chase him. The End. Oh yeah, Sinestro kills Alfred.

Apparently, this Green Bat is now part of the DC canon after what happened in 52 so they're re-releasing all the Elseworlds books which had characters who will appear in the upcoming Countdown: Arena hullabaloo. Lantern Batman, Gaslight Batman, Commie Superman...they're all gonna be there. But even if you're a Batman and/or a Green Lantern fan and you never picked up In Darkest Knight, please don't start now. The problem with this book is that there's nothing new here. Rehashing the histories of familiar characters and just adding a twist to them does not a good story make. Hell, even if you're not familiar with Batman's origin I still won't recommend this book.

Spend your money on the latest issue of Horny Biker Sluts
or something. 'Cause IDK is just a big yawn-fest.

20 September 2007

Get Your Hands Off Me, You Damn Dirty Bat!

This was the original cover art for DC's Superman/Batman #40 by Dustin Nguyen:

The editor probably went, "Urm, yeeeaah...I don't know. Can you move his hand away from the breasts? Batman doesn't cop a feel, know what I'm saying? Think of the children, Dustin."

So, this is the new cover:


The hand's gone. Probably feeling her butt cheeks now.

Thanks to Brian Cronin who argues that "Comics Should Be Good"

19 September 2007

Whatchoo Talking 'Bout, Willis?

I'm not sure if the person who is writing the monthly comic solicitations for Marvel either love or hate the X-MEN: FIRST CLASS comic. This is the excerpt for issue 7:

“Huh. We done got our powers back.”
“But they’re outta control.”
“Guess we’re gonna be breakin’ a buncha stuff.”


Issue 6's was weirder/funnier though:

"Hey Cyclops, you seen my powers anywhere?"
"Ay-ay, where my wings go at?"
"Dag, I'm all havin' to lift up my coffee with my HANDS, yo."
"Dang. We cold done lost our powerz."

Say who the what now?

Issue 5's was okay in comparison:

My X-Men! Have you reached the area where the Hulk was reported?
Excellent! Containing him will win favor in the public eye for all mutants.
"Yeah... speaking of mutants, would you rather us go fight Magneto? Or how about Juggernaut! Ooh- The Blob, let us fight the Blob!"
This mission isn't going well, is it?

X-Men: First Class #5 solicitation

X-Men: First Class #6 solicitation

X-Men: First Class #7 solicitation

18 September 2007

SUICIDE SQUAD (1987) (part 2)

In this here part 2 of my Suicide Squad pimpin’, I’m gonna highlight to you readers of DEM’S GOOD READIN’ (all three of you) some of the outstanding issues of the series. A bit difficult because John Ostrander’s plotting and scripting was so crazy fun that practically the entire 66 issue run was a classic. So I gotta narrow it down a little bit. Okay, let’s do it! By the way, if you missed part 1, it's over here.


This would be in everyone’s favorite issue of Suicide Squad. The Squad vs. Batman and the Squad wins. No shit, they do. See, Batman is pissed off that the Squad exists. He disagrees that unreformed super crooks are given an early parole if they complete and survive their missions. So he plans to expose the Squad’s existence.

But old Bats must have had an off day or something because his presence was detected by the guards.

Damn! We in trouble now!” You said it, Mrs. Waller. Batman compromised the Squad. That’s a cue for some sweet panels of whup ass. First up, it’s Duchess:

Next up: Deadshot

Now, Batman later reveals that Deadshot pulls his shots around Batman. Why the hell for, Deadshot? Just kill the man and your rep’s secured. Batman seems to be telling the truth as we see here:
Scratch one Deadshot. But it ain’t over yet. Col. Rick Flag still wearing his Day-Glo yellow vest stands between Batman and the main exit.

It must take confidence for someone to go out and fight Batman while wearing what Rick Flag is wearing. Bright yellow in a maximum security prison. Crazy, dude. Still, props to Flag for going three panels with the Bat before getting whammed. Most people don't even last a panel. But you know how the Squad finally stopped Batman? Amanda Waller threatens to expose Batman’s identity.

What the hell? Fingerprints? Seriously? Batman is supposed to be the world’s greatest detective and he got taken down like a punk. In the letters pages in issue #14, there was a full flame on by the fans and Ostrander admitted he goofed. Ouch. But hey, issue #10 is still awesome!


It's like the ex-lover who refuses to go away: The JIHAD's back! And they're attacking Manhattan.

The Manticore’s back too. And this time, his face is bullet proof. So how did the Duchess handle this guy?

He got whacked by his own tail!

There’s a new Jaculi but Deadshot takes her down easy. Sure, with Batman, he pulls his shots. Anybody else, he takes them down.

And Captain Cold shows that his ass is just as bad as the rest.

"Hell is cold! And sucker...I am CAPTAIN COLD!" Wasn't he a joke in the FLASH comic? Well, he's bad ass here.

I don't know why but I find that panel hilarious.

Issue 23 was an INVASION tie-in but that’s not why I picked this one out (though it has all the action you expect from a typical issue of Suicide Squad). This is why:

First appearance of Oracle!

When Alan Moore had the Joker shoot and cripple her in the pages of The Killing Joke, Barbara Gordon was already considered an expendable character. It was Ostrander and Kim Yale who thought that she could be revamped as an information broker of the DC Universe. Oracle appeared occasionally in the pages of the Squad but it wasn’t until issue 49 that she joined Task Force X.

Yeah, that's right, kids! That hot babe in the wheelchair you see in Birds of Prey had her humble beginning in little ol' Suicide Squad. Bow to the glory that is Ostrander and Yale!

SUICIDE SQUAD #26. Rick Flag goes on an unauthorised solo suicide mission to Qurac and plans to finish the Jihad once and for all.

Well, at least he isn’t wearing his yellow vest anymore. That ninja body suit is much more sensible.

And they all die. This issue made me sad. And I was quite irritated when I heard that John Ostrander plans to bring Flag back from the dead in the new mini series, Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag. Okay sure, I know this is just the comics and dead characters come back to life all the time. Marvel brought back Bucky for damn’s sakes! And they managed to pull it off. But Flag’s death wasn’t a marketing ploy like Superman's. It was actually quite poignant. And it lived up to the book's name. Anyone could die, no matter how 'regular' a status that character seems to have. I’ll be looking forward to finding out how Ostrander plans to bring back Flag. Make it good, man! I, of course, will get the trade because that’s just the way I am.

So yeah, those are just some of the outstanding issues of the Suicide Squad. There are a whole lot more: the death of Dr. Light (yes, that Dr. Light back when he was a wimp). The resurrection of Dr. Light (probably the funniest issue in a non-funny comic series). There’s the Phoenix Gambit storyline, that massive crossover with Checkmate. I’m telling you, Suicide Squad was pure gold. It’s too bad DC cancelled the Showcase reprint originally scheduled for November of this year. It would make a great tie-in with the current mini series. Maybe they’ll release it together when the trade for Raise the Flag is released next year or whenever.

17 September 2007

I Be Pimpin' SUICIDE SQUAD (1987) (part 1)

As I write this, the first issue of a new Suicide Squad mini-series has just hit the stands and has inspired me to write something about the 1980s Suicide Squad. That and I didn’t know what to write for the blog this week. So I thought, “Hey! Suicide Squad! The best comic DC published in the late-80s. Let’s tell the kids today about that cool comic.” So here it is, kids.

Suicide Squad was first introduced in the pages of LEGENDS, a six-issue series which had the sole purpose of nothing more than acting as a launch pad for upcoming titles. Suicide Squad was one of those titles.

The premise is simple. The Suicide Squad is a secret government group tasked to accomplish politically sensitive and suicidal missions as all get out. The Squad is mostly made up of super villains who are given a choice: go on the mission, complete the mission and if you survive it, you get a full pardon. Sounds simple enough, right? Yeah, but the name’s Suicide Squad.

When we first see them in #3 of LEGENDS, the newly-formed squad is preparing for their first briefing by their boss, Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller.

The Wall takes no shit from nobody.

By this time, the more astute of you may be thinking, “Wait a minute, man. These guys are crooks right? So who’s to say they won’t escape in the middle of the mission?” Gotcha covered there, buddy.

We will see later on if any of the Squad’s members were stupid enough to try and see if Big Momma was bluffing. But now, their first mission:

Holy crapola!

Suffice it to say, they succeeded in bringing down their target in the end. Fast forward about four months later and the Squad gets its own book. Yay!

I have to admit, that cover sold me to the Squad even more than their appearance in LEGENDS did. There’s nothing like floating heads on a black background that shouts “Instant hit series!” to me. And that tagline? Hell, I don’t know what stopped me from buying 10 copies.

Plotted by John Ostrander, the same talented guy who wrote LEGENDS, this first issue was mostly a build up to the Squad’s first mission in their regular series. Apparently, some super powered terrorists called ‘The Jihad’ have attacked what looked like to be a generic American airport. Except that it’s not:

Damn, that’s hardcore. They killed their own people for the sake of a product demonstration.

If issue 1 was the build up, issue 2 was the execution. The Squad’s bringing the battle to the bad guys’ lair before they could attack America. Bad news is the Jihad’s HQ is called Jotunheim, a crazy ass structure built into the side of a mountain.

Good news is they have a couple of undercover agents within the Jihad and one of them is Nightshade who can teleport in and out of anyplace like nobody’s business.

And the fun begins....

Deadshot gets to pair up with the Jihad’s Manticore, a guy who’s half lion and half scorpion or something. He’s also Greek. Manticore isn’t much of a people person and sleeps alone at the bottom of an elevator shaft:

Okay, so that didn’t work. Maybe Deadshot shoot try shooting him or something. No sense calling yourself Deadshot if you decide to just go ninja on your prey and kill him with an elevator shaft while he’s sleeping. Deadshot thinks so too and tries to take the Greek freak down face to face.

The other members of the Squad don’t have much trouble with their targets. Captain Boomerang, a longtime Flash fiend, is given the task of hunting down yet another speedster, the Jihad’s Jaculi.

I like what Ostrander did with Boomerang. The man’s a jerk and a killer and Ostrander never shied away from that fact. Later on in the series, Boomerang is used a lot as comic relief but in this issue, he’s a total bad ass. Still, if you can’t handle a middle aged Aussie guy with trick boomerangs then you don’t really deserve to live.

Oh yeah, remember the tagline on the cover of the first issue? The only Squad member to die is Mindboggler and even that was due to Captain Boomerang’s treachery.

See? Boomerang is a total dickhead.

Another Squad member, Enchantress, makes short work of the bad guy’s digitally engineered genie.

Basically, for a terrorist organization, the Jihad isn’t up to the Squad’s standards. They get their asses kicked big time. On their own turf too. Even Col. Rick Flag, the Squad’s leader, manage to subdue Rustam and this is a guy who can create a fiery sword from his fist. All Rick Flag had to do was just bitch slap this guy with his automatic!

There’re a few more fight scenes in this issue but you get the idea. Squad goes in, Jihad gets screwed, Squad flies home. Between that, there’s a double cross on both sides, some sweet kung fu fighting and the Squad’s own helicopter backup piloted by weird voice commands:

We smooth. Peel


Anyway, these first two issues of Suicide Squad totally blew me away. I got what I expected and then some. Up to that point, comics was all about the good guys doing good things like helping old ladies cross the street and knocking out that month's megalomaniac. The Suicide Squad ignored all that shit and gave us stories of intrigue that might just occur in the real world (if the real world had people running around in the night wearing yellow vests and killer boomerangs) while at the same time not forgetting that they are part of the DC Universe.

John Ostrander was at his peak then and he didn’t waste any time with pages and pages of the characters just standing around doing nothing. His job was to tell a good story from page 1 and he did just that. Luke McDonnell’s pencils I wasn’t too keen on. He wasn’t bad. Far from it. I just didn’t like his style. The people he drew looked stiff sometimes. Fortunately, he was inked by the alliteratively named Karl Kesel and he can make anyone’s pencil drawings look good.

It was a great comic that never achieved the sales that it deserved. Not enough boobs, I think. After a 66 issue run, the Squad was cancelled, a fact that I'm still bitter about today. Seriously, I felt like Chris Crocker. Damn you, fanboys!

Next: part 2