31 October 2007

I'm getting me some culture, dawg!

I'm busy watching Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Hamlet. Which should explain why I haven't been posting anything comic book related stuff these couple of days. It's four hours long and I don't have that much of a free time in any given day. So I'm watching it in 30-40 minute increments whenever I can. I think I'll finish it by Friday at this rate.

But my favourite is still Branagh's version of
Henry V. Oh, look! A young Christian Bale! He gets killed off-screen by French knights at Agincourt. Damn you, French Knights! I fart in your general direction!

29 October 2007

"Daddy, why are you looking at the naked cartoon ladies?..."

For an all-ages comic, the Harley and Ivy limited series sure shows off a lot of flesh. There was that prison beat down worthy of a Bahlactus Friday Night Fight in Costa Verde. Then there's this shower scene in the women's wing of Arkham.

I, for one, am all for women's shower scenes in my comics. Because I'm creepy like that.

To find out why Ivy is pissed off and to see more of Harley and Ivy goodness, get the Batman: Harley and Ivy trade. Wherever good books are sold. And some bad ones too.

26 October 2007

Friday Night Fights: Sucka Punch Round 5

That was Poison Ivy getting some seeing to courtesy of a Costa Verde prison guard. Oh, you think her best pal ever, Harley Quinn, is just gonna stand there and do nothing? No way, sucka!

Guard, meet plunger.

Meet plunger again.

And for the third time, "Hello!"

Bahlactus doesn't need no plunger. He already owns your ass.

25 October 2007

Houdini: The Handcuff King

Tells the story of one day in Houdini's life. Specifically, 1st May 1908 when he attempted the suicidal but so utterly cool escape from handcuffs while sinking down the freezing Charles River in Massachusetts.

Is it any good? Eh, it's not bad but it's nothing to write home about. Perhaps I was expecting just a bit more but at 82 pages there isn't much you can tell, I suppose. Houdini prepares for the day ahead. Goes on a jog, inspects the river, gives an interview over breakfast, meets up with a new employee, goes to the bridge where thousands of onlookers are, erm...onlooking, buys time before jumping because his wife hasn't arived yet (the writers speculate that some of his tricks were accomplished with the help of his wife), jumps into the river, escapes and surfaces. The end.

If anything, this is a story about how Houdini achieved success through public relations and brilliant marketing. After all, this was before the days of film and television. You wanted to be entertained? You had to leave your home and buy tickets at the box office to watch a play or a magic show and there were a lot of plays and magic shows. Houdini ensured his popularity by giving free public performances like the bridge jump depicted in this book, correctly guessing that if the public was thrilled here they would pay to watch him at the theatre at night.

Unfortunately, the way the story is told in this book is less thrilling than it should be. It makes a good introduction to Houdini to someone who doesn't know who Houdini was but as an entertaining graphic novel, it falls short. It is telling that I found the introduction by author Glen David Gold and the panel discussions at the back of the book much more interesting than the story itself.

A good academic book, nothing more.

24 October 2007

Rowling Outs Dumbledore

It seems everyone's gay these days:

J.K. Rowling, author of the worldwide best-selling Harry Potter series, met some of her American fans Friday night and provided some surprising revelations about the fictional characters who a generation of children have come to regard as close friends.
In front of a full house of hardcore Potter fans at Carnegie Hall in New York, Rowling, sitting on the stage on a red velvet and carved wood throne, read from her seventh and final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," then took questions. One fan asked whether Albus Dumbledore, the head of the famed Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, had ever loved anyone. Rowling smiled. "Dumbledore is gay, actually," replied Rowling as the audience erupted in surprise. She added that, in her mind, Dumbledore had an unrequited love affair with Gellert Grindelwald, Voldemort's predecessor who appears in the seventh book. After several minutes of prolonged shouting and clapping from astonished fans, Rowling added. "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy."

The rest of the article here.

19 October 2007

Friday Night Fights: Sucka Punch Round 4

She should have bet on Bahlactus. You should too.

Great Moments In Comics History No. 3: Superman Does Porn

Hi! I'm back from the holidays and it's time to dust off the cobwebs from this here blog. So let's go with the third instalment of Great Moments of Comics History (the first is here and here's the second).

This time, it's Action Comics #593 by John Byrne and in this issue Superman and Big Barda starred in a porn movie. Mr.Miracle was a bit upset when he found out.

"Scott! That's your wife! She's dancing provocatively in a sewer!"

However, it appears that Big Barda was actually under the psionic control of Sleez, one of Darkseid's minions who was exiled to Earth after Darkseid thought Sleez's actions were getting too depraved even by Apokolips standards. That's like Hitler telling Himmler to chill out and stop gassing all those prisoners. Anyway....

If Yoda ever joined the Dark Side and became a pimp, he would so totally look like Sleez. So it appears that Sleez went into the superhero porn business (a lucrative but risky venture) in order to make oodles of money to form an army. It was never explained why he needed an army, though. Perhaps he wanted to go back to Apokolips but really, when you can control the minds of others including superheroes and force them to star in porn movies and make mucho dollars, why do you need an army? He's not very smart, this Sleez.

But before we get to see any hot action, Mr. Miracle crashes in to save his wife's honour and maybe Superman's

I like the looks Superman and Barda are giving each other. We were doing something, weren't we? It was weird but kinda fun, wasn't it? I don't remember much, Barda, but I have such a hard on. And Mr. Miracle's face? Priceless. He's wearing a mask and we can still see a pouty face.

"Until we meet again, Superman....(after I've made sure my wife is in another dimension)".

10 October 2007

Why You No Post, Khairul H.?

I'll be away for about a week so to all you three people who visit this blog, thanks for dropping by but there'll be no updates for the time being.

See ya next week! Ciao!

08 October 2007

God Help Me, I Think Dark Mary Marvel is Hawt!

I don't know why but Mary Marvel's psycho bitch look in that first panel there makes her look strangely attractive. Maybe it's the rain. And looks like the new Eclipso went to the "Emperor Palpatine School of Elocution".

From Countdown #29 (DC, 2007)

I Know How She Feels....

...because the state MARVEL books are right now, they almost drive me to the bottle as well. Good thing they have the Marvel Adventures line. Oh, and X-Men First Class and erm...Runaways.

Judge Dredd Hates Comic Scalpers!

Yeah, in Dredd's world selling old comics is illegal. This is why:

Click and drag to embiggen

"After one or two, kids gets so they can't give it up. Then the price goes up and up..." Ain't that the truth, Ruth? Thank Heaven for Judge Dredd. He knows how to take down these lowlife scum....find out where their hideout is and shoot them. He is the Law, citizen!

From Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01 collection

05 October 2007

Friday Night Fights: Sucka Punch Round 2

So I thought I'd continue my mad monkey love for anything Maze Agency today while at the same time showing Bahlactus what I got for tonight's fight. Part 1 is here

Gabriel Webb likes to talk. Because he's smart and all, especially at catching murderers....

Murderer 1 - Nerdy writer 0

He even falls for the old "murder suspect runs around corner and hits you with a plank" trick.

Murderer 2 - Nerdy writer 0

He even gets sucker punched off panel.

Looks like he's 0 for 3

Bahlactus wants to know if you're too scared to see the other fights.

04 October 2007


I absolutely love The Maze Agency, let me tell you. If I ever had to choose one comic series that I had to save if my house was on fire, I would choose Sergio Aragones' GROO THE WANDERER. But if I could choose two comic series to save, it would be Sergio's GROO and The Maze Agency. Spider-Man, Batman, Justice League and the rest of the 'spandex brigade' can go to hell. I'm saving the Maze.

Created and written by fan favourite Mike W. Barr, The Maze Agency featured the crime solving duo of Jennifer Mays and Gabriel Webb. She owns her own private detective agency and he is a struggling true-crime writer. Together they solve crime mysteries, usually but not always involving murder, within the space of 26 pages. Take that decompression loving comics writers! Mike Barr also claimed that this is the first detective series in comics that plays fair with the readers, i.e. the reader sees every clue that Mays and Webb sees and part of the fun for the reader is to solve the case before the duo.

Since it featured 'normal' human characters who solved crime with their brains and not with super powers and did not wear capes and masks, this comic was largely ignored by the sweaty comic reading masses. It would have gained more attention if either DC or Marvel had shown any interest in it but according to Barr, the Big Two passed on the book since it wasn't a superhero comic. Fortunately for Maze Agency, the '80s saw the advent of the independent comic publishers and the book found a home with COMICO. It didn't last long though. COMICO cancelled it after just seven issues. Bugger.

But it did introduce me to the delicious pencils of Adam "I draw cheesecake like nobody on Earth" Hughes. The cover of issue 1 up there was what sold me to the series. Though it was Alan Davis who designed the characters (he gave Jennifer the cute forelock), it was Hughes who came in as penciller when Davis pulled out. Rick Magyar's inks made the pictures even more prettier to look at.

Adam Hughes didn't stay for long, though. Maze Agency had a slew of pencillers who came in to pick up the slack like Joe Staton, Mary Mitchell and Rob Phipps but none became the book's regular penciller (Phipps was the longest: four issues). Hughes did come in and pencilled a couple of issues when the book found a new home, this time with INNOVATION, but a book with no steady penciller will see its sales hurt especially if the original guy was so good at it. Add to the fact that Maze was already a non-superhero book with a small following published by an independent publisher in an industry that favours heavily on DC and Marvel and you can smell the stinking stench of the word "cancellation" a mile away.

Indeed, after seventeen issues with INNOVATION, The Maze Agency ended (by the way, I just realised I only have sixteen of the INNOVATION issues. My collection is incomplete! How could I miss it? Did it really come out? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?). Mike W. Barr brought it back under yet another independent publisher in the late 1990s but I had already dropped the comic collecting hobby by then. I never saw those issues and I don't know how long it lasted. Probably not very.

Recently, IDW brought back to print the trade collection that collected the first five issues (the Barr-Hughes-Magyar issues) and it is still available on Amazon. Strangely enough, they also have the second and third trade collection but they are listed as "currently available". Can't this book ever catch a break?

I highly recommend the still available first trade or if you're feeling adventurous, go dig through the bargain bins and who knows, you might just find most if not the entire COMICO & INNOVATION run of The Maze Agency. Then pass it around to your friends and show them what they missed when they were reading X-Force.

03 October 2007

Kid Superheroes Say The Darndest Things...

Batman. World's Greatest Detective. Terrible Contingency Planner.

From Blue Bettle: Road Trip collection (DC, 2007)

01 October 2007

Currently Reading "Justice Society of America: The Next Age" HC

It's 10 am, Monday. I'm at the office. I know I should be doing something work-related but screw it, I'm reading me some comics. Just finished the hardcover collection of the rebooted Justice Society of America in JSA: The Next Age by Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham. I love it. It's got Wildcat punching Vandal Savage in the back, it's got Wildcat's son running away from Vandal Savage and he's furry (the son, not Vandal Savage). And Nazis killing people at a family picnic. Bad Nazis. Also, Power Girl. Can't go wrong with Power Girl.

Johns writing isn't bad (although a Confederate racist super villain called 'Rebel'? Seriously?) but what I like about this book is Eaglesham's pencils. We get so many bad artists in so-called top of the line comics nowadays, it's quite serendipitous to look at pictures by someone who can, you know...draw.

Slightly disappointed that it only collects the first four issues, though. For USD$19.99 (USD$13.59 at Amazon), I'd expect at least a couple of issues more. If you think this is highway robbery, you can always wait for the softcover but I'm not sure if DC will release this in softcover. The relaunched Green Lantern title is still only collected in hardcover.

This is a good albeit short superhero comic. Bring on the second collection.