27 December 2007

They Came, They Saw, They Left

How did you, dear reader, manage to find this blog? How did you know this blog exists? Via Bahlactus perhaps? Or maybe a link from another comics blog like Every.Issue.Ever or Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep or Great Caesar's Post?

Well, here are some words and phrases people have used while 'Googling' and they stumbled upon this blog as a result:

"naked cartoon superheroes" - please be specific. Do you want naked Spider-Man or naked Green Lantern? Aw, who am I kidding? You wanted to see Wonder Woman and She-Hulk doing the
nasty, didn't you? Sorry for the disappointment.

"naked cartoon dc characters" - well, at least now you're a bit specific. You just want characters from a particular company. I admire your taste. DC does have them some lovely cheesecake.

"naked batman cartoon" - I don't swing that way, man. [SEINFELD]Not that there's anything wrong with THAT![/SEINFELD]

"naked daddy comic" - Eeww. Let's not go there.

"Superman Big Barda Porn Movie" - Uhm, yeeeeaahhh. I really, really hope this guy was looking for Action Comics #593 where Byrne wrote that great story which I featured
here. Because, you know, if he was looking for an actual porn starring Superman and Big Barda.......

"lady fights on friday night smackdown" - I really owe a HUGE thanks to the great Bahlactus for this. I get increased traffic every weekend because of that guy.

"angelina ass shots" - Yes, I have (so far) a couple of entries entitled " gratuitous ass shots" and yes, they were written so that Google would direct horny guys to my blog and be disappointed.

"hulk dice" - Is this some gaming accessory I never knew existed?

"Superheroine catfights" - Nope. Not yet, fella. Maybe in '08 I'll feature some. Oh wait! I have that Ms. Marvel Civil War trade, don't I? One superheroine catfight coming up....soon...ish.

"Baroness Cobra Torture" - Which linked you to that
G.I. JOE annual I wrote about. Did you like it? Huh, did you? Yeah, Baroness was only mentioned briefly and I focused on the ninjas instead. It's G.I. Joe, ya freak!

"Shenna the She-Devil naked 2005" - because God forbid we want to see her naked now.

"Old Wonder Woman naked" - I think this person has a Grandma-complex. And again...Ewwwwwww.

And that's it for this year. I'm gonna take the next 4-5 days off from writing anything here and I'll see you again in 2008. Ciao!

26 December 2007

Hitler Gets Banned

Sorry for the brief silence. No, I was not on Christmas vacation or anything. I don't celebrate Christmas. Yes, I'm one of those heathen ignorant infidels you read about in the papers. I just took the opportunity to catch up on my reading and dvd watching, among other things.

Let's prolong the holiday cheer by watching this video of Hitler. Yay!

That didn't come out right.....let's prolong the holiday cheer by watching this video of the German film, Downfall, but with modified subtitles. Yay!

And here's Part 2

It's Hitler and Nazis. It's always okay to make fun of Hitler and Nazis.

21 December 2007

Doctor 13: Architecture & Mortality (DC, 2007)

Doctor 13: Architecture and Mortality is a comic that nudges its elbows in the ribs of the mainstream superhero comics, mainly those published by the Big Two companies, and tells them to stop taking themselves seriously. At one point, Doctor 13 sarcastically implies that a talking Nazi gorilla is as likely as an American super-soldier with a shield. Yeah, as if.

I like it. The story is fun, it features obscure DC characters and the art is crisp and clean. I enjoyed it and like most books I like, it is far too short. I like the fact that I don't have to know any of the characters and it was still enjoyable to read. Well, I recognised the ghost of General Stuart from the Haunted Tank comic but the others? *shrug* You could have told me that they were new creations and I would have believed you. Well, what else can I say? I like the dang comic. I like it and so should you.

Oh, all right.

Doctor 13: Architecture and Mortality is one of those comics where they try to show the reader that, "Look! Comics used to be fun and can still be fun! You don't need rapes and deaths and broken backs to have a good story. Screw Watchmen and Crisis on Infinite Earths. Let's have more silly stories, yay!" I get the feeling that writer Brian Azzarello was writing the stuff that he probably grew up reading; a nostalgia trip where a fanboy who is now working in the industry is trying to right the perceived wrongs of said industry. "Mainstream comics from the past 20 years raped my childhood so I'm setting things right", kinda thing.

Doctor 13, a professional sceptic, reluctantly finds himself in an adventure with a French-speaking caveman, a small boy who can answer any question in return for a dime, a vampire, a ghost pirate, a ghost of a Confederate General, a member of the Legion of Substitute Heroes, a talking Nazi gorilla and Doctor 13's own daughter (who has magical powers but don't tell the doctor, okay?). Their quest is to find out who The Architects are and they are revealed to be the builders of the DC universe who have decided that these rejects of the DCU don't deserve to exist and must be wiped out of continuity. Except for Traci, Doctor 13's daughter. They're letting her live because she's hot. Doctor 13 defeats them by simply not believing in the power of The Architects. However, it is the reader who wipes them all out of existence in the end by turning the page. Very meta. Very Grant Morrison-ish Animal Man with a bit of his Doom Patrol beautiful surrealism thrown in.

Its brilliant writing is made even more enjoyable by Cliff Chiang's nice atwork and Patricia Mulvihill's solid colouring. Doctor 13 is laden with sight gags (I never expected to see Harry Flashman from the Flashman novels to appear in a comic book. Selling used superhero cars no less), puns and wit that made me re-read it immediately just to see whether I missed any the first time around. And of course, if I read it again Doctor 13 lives once more...until I reach the last page of course.

20 December 2007

Great Moments In Comics History No. 4: Frog Thor!

Mentioned briefly here, I thought I'd elaborate more on the time Walt Simonson got out of bed and told his editor he wanted to turn Thor into an amphibian.

Simonson's run on Thor was the bestest and funnest run of Thor adventures I ever read and seeing how I never read any Thor comic before or after the Simonson run, clearly my claim means absolutely nothing. But it would take a truly bad, bad person with a heart of coal to dismiss Simonson's work on Thor. C'mon, to turn a Nordic Thunder God and a card carrying member of the Avengers at that, into a frog? You come up with a better idea.

But even in amphibian form, Frog Thor (Fror? Throg? Kermit?) is no slouch in the kick ass department as these rats find out:

That is one bad ass frog!

But a frog besting some rats tend to garner attention even in New York, and Frog Thor's exploits caught the attention of some wino with a magical flute living in the sewers. What do you mean you don't believe me? It's in issue #364 of The Mighty Thor, dang you! This guy plays his magic flute and alligators, yes, frickin' alligators!, come to his aid. Simonson had one too many the night before when he wrote this I think.

So what happens next? Find out yourself. These issues and more are collected in Walter Simonson THOR Legends volume 3.

Suffice it to say that this strange episode in Thor's life gets the DEM'S GOOD READIN' award for Great Moments in Comics History. Take a bow Walt Simonson!

(Click on 'Great Moments' in the Labels down there to see the previous three entries)

18 December 2007

Marvel Tales featuring SPIDER-MAN #170-#172 (Marvel, 1984)

Remember when Spider-Man comics had good stories to tell? Yeah, it's been a while. I haven't picked up any of the core Spider-Man titles for more than ten years now and what with the hoopla of 'One More Day', I doubt I'll be returning anytime soon to the one character that made me decide to seriously collect comics way back in 1984. Did I say, "I doubt"? Well, anything can happen in the future but it is telling that since I returned to reading superhero comics in 2005, albeit in trade collection format, none of the books I bought have been Spider-Man titles other than the Marvel Adventures hardcover, that Mary Jane Loves Spider-Man hardcover and some collections of the good ol' times when he was fun to read (i.e. anything before the Spider-Clone saga). A bitter former Spidey fan, am I? You think?

Which brings me, in a rather roundabout way, to today's blog entry. Marvel Tales Starring Spider-Man #170 was the first comic in 11-year old Khairul H.'s comic collection. It wasn't my first superhero comic. I don't remember what my first superhero comic was but Marvel Tales #170 was the one that, after reading it, made me decide to visit the neighbourhood grocery shop to wait for this title every month and thus became the first comic in my humble comic collection.

I remember picking this comic up and thinking that it featured a brand new story. Hey, I was 11! Cut me some slack here! The cover had the blurb, "Dedicated to YOU, the great new Marvel breed of reader!" That's me, I thought at the time. I'm a new great new Marvel breed of reader. It spoke to ME. It took a second reading to make me realise I was actually reading a reprint of a Spider-Man story first published in 1965 and that Marvel Tales is a title used to showcase classic Marvel comics for a new generation of comic readers. No wonder the characters wore somewhat out of date clothes, I remember thinking. Hey, I may be 11 but I was already quite a hip fashionista, baby. Anyway, the fact I was reading a reprint didn't bother me. I was already hooked.

Issue #170 turned out to be the first part of a three part story (A serendipity. I probably would not have been a loyal reader if I started reading with #171, for example. The back issue boxes? What back issue boxes? I bought the comic from a grocery, for Heaven's sakes!) It opens with Spider-Man attempting to stop a gang of masked crooks from escaping with radioactive materials. How exciting was that? First time reading a comic book and I was already treated to some superhero action on page two. Spidey fails to stop them however and leaves the scene wondering together with the reader what the heck was that all about. In the meantime, Peter Parker gets himself enrolled into college and finds out his Aunt May is dying (gee, nothing new there). Issue #170 ends with Round 2 of Spidey versus masked henchmen of mysterious evildoer. Bad guys escape again and I couldn't wait for issue #171 arrive.

One thing that I noticed while re-reading this issue is the compressed style of writing. Check out this page for example:

In just nine panels on one page, a new reader unfamiliar with the book can do some catch up, at least with the supporting characters. One, the grouchy guy is J. Jonah Jameson. Two, he's the big boss. Three, he's also quite impatient. Four, Foswell is his top reporter. Five, his secretary is called Betty Brant and Peter is her boyfriend. She also doesn't think too much of Jameson. Six, she's torn between two men in her life, Peter and this guy Ned and seven, she suspects that Peter is hiding something from her.

All that on just one page. Back then, Stan Lee and co. wrote comics like their lives depended on it. If this scene was written in today's comics by certain writers, all that information would have been spread across pages.

Issue #171 and Spider-Man is a pissed off superhero. It is revealed that Aunt May who fell ill and was dying in the last issue became that way due to radiation in her bloodstream and it's all Peter's fault. A much needed blood transfusion from nephew to auntie in an earlier issue is now threatening her life. I would have thought that the irradiated blood would give May Parker the proportionate strength of a spider as well but no, Stan Lee chose the 'knocking on Heaven's door' route. Besides, Aunt May in superhero tights? Yikes!

With the help of Doctor Connors (a.k.a The Lizard on his off days), Spider-Man discovers that there's only one kind of serum that has any hope of helping his aunt and wouldn't you know it, it has just been stolen from the hands of the courier who was supposed to deliver it to Doctor Connors. And it was stolen by the same hoods from the previous issue. Damn, if it isn't one thing, it's another. It turns out that they are working for a mysterious bad guy who calls himself the MASTER PLANNER. He's been ordering his men to go and steal radioactive materials and new fangled chemicals which are all part of his dastardly plan to rule the world. And who is this MASTER PLANNER?

Oh, it's him.

Cue fight scene between Spidey and Doctor Octopus that ends with Spidey trapped under what looks like a very heavy piece of machinery and Octopus' secret hideout has a leak in the roof. Oh, didn't I mention his hideout was under the sea? Well, it was. And it had a leaky roof.

And finally, this is it. Spider-Man is trapped under tons of steel, the serum that could cure his aunt just inches away from his grasp and seawater is leaking through the roof. Issue 172 of Marvel Tales was and still is ten kinds of awesome. Just look at that cover. It had no word ballons and just one blurb, "The Final Chapter", to entice the potential buyer. In fact, the cover would have been better without that blurb. Just the image of Spider-Man trapped under all that steel, trapped in that claustrophobic environment with water pouring in, pouring onto his head. To an 11 year old who has been following this story for the past two issues, I couldn't wait to see how he escapes from this trap. And boy, did it deliver. Check out these panels:

Yeah, you can do it, Spidey. You can do it.

That's it! Work those biceps!

Screw the strain! You got a sick aunt who's counting on you!

Yes! Yes! You're almost there! C'mon, Spider-Man!


Hot damn! I was never a big fan of Steve Ditko's style (and I'm still not a fan today) but those panels were breathtaking. Twenty three years later today and they can still generate excitement in me. I want Spider-Man to get out and escape so he can help his aunt. I am there rooting for him on every panel and wishing he doesn't slip on the pool of water or lose his grip or anything. Now this was what I used to read comics for. Pure unadulterated suspense, action and good ol' super heroics.

The wall-crawler escapes just in time before the roof collapses and after punching his way through the remaining few of Doctor Octopus' hired help, he hands in the serum to the doctors at the hospital. Aunt May recovers, Peter is happy and I became a new loyal reader of Marvel's in general and Spider-Man in particular that lasted for about ten years before that dang Spider-Clone storyline ended it all.

Good times, gooood times.

These issues, along with the entire Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run on Spider-Man, have been collected in the The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus volume 1. I highly recommend this huge volume if you're even slightly interested in Spider-Man. As I write this, the Omnibus will be going through a second printing as the first edition sold out mighty quick (well, the third Spider-Man movie was doing its run so that must have helped sales of the book). As mentioned above, I'm not so hot on Steve Ditko's pencils but he was the first Spidey-artist and he did design the look so from the historical perspective, his contribution cannot be denied. And Stan Lee's writing? Well, it's Stan Lee. Verbose where it needed to be and full of action where action was required.

16 December 2007

Out Of Context Sunday: Is That A Banana In Your Pocket Or Are You Happy To See Me?

(click picture to embiggen...you sly dog, you)

Shazam is happy to see Superman. Shazam is very, very happy. Superman, not so much. He's scared shitless.

From JUSTICE #5 by Jim Kueger, Alex Ross & Doug Braithwaite

14 December 2007

Friday Night Fights: Sucka Punch Round 12

Don't mess with Santa, kids! He'll kick your ass!

Out of context panels are from Amazing Spider-Man #314

That's it for Friday Night Fights this year, next bout will begin 4th January. In the meantime Always Bet On Bahlactus.

Here's the rest of the blog.

12 December 2007

Terry Pratchett Has Alzheimer's

Got this news from Written World. Apparently, Discworld author Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with "a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's". He's not quitting yet but, well, you know...to have this hanging over your head.

All I gotta say is....Aw, Fuck.

Paul Kidby.com has more.

The Thing: Idol Of Millions (Marvel, 2006)

This collects the entire eight-issue run of Dan Slott's The Thing in his third solo book (or is it fourth? There was another Thing comic back in the '80s and Marvel-Two-in-One was a Thing team-up book. So let's stick with three). It ran for eight issues not because it was a limited series but it was cancelled way too early due to low sales. What is it with mainstream comic fans? Don't they like funny stories in their funny books? It would be wrong to say that tongue in cheek stories have no place in a monthly superhero comic because that would not explain the success of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League International over at DC twenty years ago. It also does not explain the Marvel Adventures line with its old school take on the Marvel heroes. Sure, the M.A. books are targeted at the younger set of comic fans but I have a feeling that the over-thirty year old comic geek loves it as well. I just have to look in the mirror to confirm that fact. Besides, Dan Slott had a phenomenal success over at She-Hulk with the same brand of writing that he did here with The Thing. I honestly don't know why this book failed. Not enough leggy babes, perhaps?

The premise of The Thing: Idol of Millions came from JM Straczynski's idea of making Aunt Petunia's favourite nephew a multi gajillionaire. Finding himself with more money than he knows what to do with, the blue-eyed Thing tries to do good with his old neighbourhood, Yancy Street, by building a Youth Center. All this in between dating a movie star, getting kidnapped by Arcade, fighting the Trapster and Sandman and trying to win back the heart of Alicia Masters.

Dan Slott can write. That isn't exactly as easy as it sounds. All writers can put words in several characters' mouths at the same time but more often than not they all end up sounding the same. With Slott, each character has his/her own voice. That's talent right there.

This being a superhero solo book, of course there are notable guest stars within the pages. Spider-Man pitches in to fight against Trapster and the Sandman while Iron Man, Nighthawk and former bad guy, the Constrictor, all give Thing a hand in defeating Arcade's Murderland Island. But these guest appearances do not distract us from the star of the book and if you want to see action, don't worry, Thing goes clobberin' in every issue. Even when he's out taking care of the Richards' children there's still some costumed villain trying to ruin his day.

Art by Andrea Divito is perfect for the first five issues but for the remaining three issues, Kieron Dwyer takes over and his work is a bit of a letdown. Still, it doesn't take away much from Slott's strong writing overall and the very last issue is a hoot with Thing hosting an all-superhero poker night.

This is a book with great stories with great (Divito's) to so-so (Dwyer) art and is perfect for all ages. It is unfortunately out of print (well, Amazon doesn't have it in stock) but you may get lucky at a brick and mortar shop. That's where I found my copy.

10 December 2007

The Flash, volume 0: Wonderland (DC, 2007)

DC has finally seen fit to go back and collect Geoff Johns' very first story arc as writer of The Flash and with this trade all of Johns' Flash stories have been collected (seven volumes total, collect them all!). This trade collects issues #164-#169. I don't know why they didn't release this as Geoff Johns first volume of Flash, choosing instead to go with #170-#176 (Volume 1: Blood Will Run)* but whatever. I'm glad it's finally collected.

The Flash, volume 0: Wonderland sees Wally West trapped in a mirror world where superheroes exist but they play for keeps. After the defeat of this alternate world's Teen Titans (sans a Kid Flash) where only Robin survived, the adult heroes decided that only they should be allowed to fight the criminals and to hell with due process. Any masked criminal they can find, dies. In this world, Barry Allen is still a scientist but he was never doused with chemicals that would turn him into the Flash. No Barry Allen Flash and no Wally West Flash in this world. And Jay Garrick's long dead. Also, no Speed Force for 'our' Wally to tap into so he's a normal man running from the law at normal speed. He soon discovers that Captain Cold and Mirror Master are also trapped in this dark and unfriendly world. How did all three end up together in this strange world and with a powerless Flash, how do they hope to escape back to their own world?

Wonderland may at first look like a typical "hero in an alternate world" storyline but Johns turns a typical run off the mill plot into one with a couple of twists and turns. Without giving away too much, it's all an elaborate act of vengeance. Yes, Mirror Master had a hand in Flash's exile (trapped in a mirror world? Kinda obvious) but no, it wasn't his idea. The main baddie is someone new but when I first read the story, I thought Geoff Johns dug this guy up from some old Flash comic. Such is Johns reputation for using old plot points and old characters and giving them a fresh look that anyone who hasn't been reading the book for years and years would probably be fooled and yes, I was fooled. But in a fun way. Well done, Mr. Johns.

The entire collection is a quick, fun read and the art by Angel Unzueta (pencils) and Doug Hazelwood (inks) is very good though they went for the lantern-jaw look for Wally which always makes me giggle like a pre-pubescent girl whenever I see it (I'm easily amused, what can I say). This trade is a must have if you're a Geoff Johns fan and you collect every thing that he has written. For those who are collecting his Flash run, Wonderland is of course a no-brainer addition.

*According to Amazon, Flash volume 1: Blood Will Run, which is out of print is scheduled to be made available again in early 2008. Good news for those of us who missed the book the first time around.

09 December 2007

Out Of Context Sunday

They're gonna leave him for Wonder Woman? And her lasso? Yeah, if it was me I'll go quietly as well.

Booster Gold awaits his interrogation from the Amazon princess in Millennium week 7 by Steve Englehart and Joe Staton.

Millennium (DC, 1987)

Millennium was DC's first limited series to be published weekly but it's pretty much forgotten by the comic books fans nowadays. It wasn't until 52 was revealed to be a weekly limited series that the memory of Millennium was brought back from the deep recesses of the minds of those who were there when it happened. And we all thought the same thing, "What, again? For 52 weeks this time? Who do DC think they are? The British?"

Millennium had two things about it that was hyped back in 1987. That it was a weekly mini-series and that many of the supporting characters in DC's comics turned out to be traitors working for the series' enemies, the Manhunters.

Written by Steve Englehart with art by Joe Staton and Ian Gibson, the Millennium was about ten people on Earth who Herupa Hando Hu, a Guardian of the Universe, and Nadia Safir, a Zamaron, have chosen to become the new Guardians of the Universe. The old Guardians decided to leave the guarding of the Universe to someone other than themselves after the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Instead they chose to pair up with the all-female Zamarons and see if having sex all day and night is as great as what Hal Jordan has been telling them all those years.

And they found that Hal was telling the truth. Celibacy, hell! I'm calling me some booty!

Except for Hu and Safir. They decided to channel their energies by appearing on Earth and calling for an impromptu superhero conference and inform the heroes of their search for the chosen ten. That's right. Herupa Hu and Nadia Safir are not doing it like the rest of their brethren because they have an important mission. Plus, they. are. just. good. friends. Okaaay?

Superman asks the two why the 'spandex brigade' was called away from their busy schedules just to hear this announcement. Herupa Hu explains that their mission is fraught with danger. He tells them of the android Manhunters, who the blue skinned Guardians created to safeguard the Universe long ago. But something happened to their programming and they rebelled against the Guardians. They were quickly defeated and the surviving Manhunters ran and hid in distant worlds to lick their wounds. In the meantime, the Guardians established the Green Lantern Corps who are made up of sentient beings (including one huge frickin' planet).

After hiding for billions of years, the Manhunters are now ready to exact their revenge. They discovered the secret identities of most of Earth's heroes when they intercepted the Tome of History, a golden satellite the Harbinger (the Monitor's former assistant. Go read Crisis of Infinite Earths if you don't know who she is) launched into space. That's right, folks. She recorded everything she could find out about Earth's heroes and then launched the records into space. As a memoriam to her former mentor. Not making sense much? It was nothing more than a plot device to explain how the Manhunters knew where to infiltrate on Earth of course. There would never be such a huge deus ex machina from DC ever again until 'Superboy-Punch'.

This led to the revelation at the end of the first issue of Millennium where the heroes find out that their colleagues, their bosses, their friends, their relatives and in Wonder Woman's case, one of the Greek Gods, were actually agents of the Manhunters.

The premise of the first issue made it interesting enough for the teenage me to hop on board and pick up each issue as it came out every week. I mean, what's not to like? It was the year's superhero team-up crossover mega event from DC (even though I did not pick up any of the tie-in comics that I wasn't already buying), it promised a story of cosmic proportions, it featured an enemy I was not familiar with at the time so I was curious and DC promised that the characters we were familiar with could turn out to be sleeper agents of the bad guys.

Boy, was I duped.

The 'traitors' were mostly throwaway characters who were introduced just before the crossover started, like Flash's estranged father and Karin Grace in the Suicide Squad. These were people who the readers didn't care as much because they weren't as yet fleshed out by the time they were revealed to be traitors. So when it was revealed that they were agents of the Manhunters, hardly anyone cared. Other, more famous 'traitors', were actually mind controlled like Lana Lang or substituted by an android double like Commissioner Gordon. In other words, not much happened to the supporting cast status quo. I bought into the hype and thought there were gonna be company-wide repercussions. I was young and naive, that's my defense. Although, one Manhunter sleeper agent did manage to fool everyone and got away with it:

Yes, Nancy Reagan was a Manhunter agent!

The ten 'Chosen' people who were to become the future Guardians of the Universe were revealed to be an Australian aborigine, a bigoted South African, an Iranian woman, a Russian, a Chinese, a Japanese, an effeminate Peruvian man (I'm not sure but I think he was supposed to be gay but DC was too chicken to go with it and so they just made him campy...this was 1987, gay wasn't cool yet), an Afro-Caribbean lady from England, Hal Jordan's friend Tom 'Pieface' Kalmaku and the super villain the Floronic Man. By the end of the series only six remained. The Iranian and the Russian were killed, the South African refused to join any group that had non-white people in it and Pieface Kalmaku changed his mind. The 'New Guardians' were supposed to be launched with their own series but unfortunately they never captured the interest of the readers, their own comic ended after just twelve issues. I never read the 'New Guardians' so I can't say why it didn't last but their appearances in Millennium itself didn't make me care. All I wanted to see was the heroes fighting the Manhunters. The Chosen for the most part were just sitting there with Hu the Guardian and Safir the Zamaron getting New Age-y lessons. And at the end of the mini series when they finally received their new powers and costumes, my reaction was, "Who? Oh yeah. Those guys. So who were they again?". And I believe that was shared by many others who read the mini series.

As for the Manhunters, they got their metallic asses whupped by the good guys, most of it happening in the tie-in comics so I missed a lot of action since I didn't care for most of the titles that tied in with the mini series. Today, the Manhunters seem to be making a comeback with the Sinestro Corps but back in Millennium they were potrayed as all talk and no action. Okay, they were the bad guys and they had to lose but for a billions of years old android army who have infiltrated almost every aspect of the superheroes lives, they went down too easy.

In the end, Millennium, failed to deliver. The interesting premise in its first issue was letdown with a weak follow up in the remaining seven issues. And Steve Englehart failed to make the readers care about the New Guardians. That's why no one talks about them today. Ambush Bug has a better chance of coming back than these guys. Wait, wasn't he in 52? See? Neither Geoff Johns nor Grant Morrison care about the New Guardians. And those guys try to bring back every obscure character who ever appeared. That's gotta be a bad sign.

Millennium. Get it cheap from the back issue boxes if you still want to read it. Don't expect it to be collected 'cause I doubt that's ever gonna happen.

07 December 2007

Friday Night Fights: Sucka Punch Round 11

For more awesome Sucka Punches, visit Bahlactus

To see more of this blog,
click here

Oh, and by the way...

06 December 2007

Gratuitous Ass Shots In Comics No. 2

High time we had another one, I thought. The first one was here.

Tell me that's not gratuitous. Go ahead, I dare ya!

Murder On The Orient Express (HARPER, 2007)

Well it had to happen I suppose. Agatha Christie's crime novels have been adapted into a 'comic strip' (seriously, that's what these books are labelled as: Agatha Christie Comic Strip. Maybe they thought 'graphic novel' was too pretentious). Having read a lot of Dame Agatha's murder mysteries, especially the Poirot ones, I was naturally curious to see whether they manage to adapt these whodunits into comic form. At the time of writing, there are about eight comic adaptations already out there but I have only read Murder on the Orient Express for now.

My opinion of the book: Eh.

Longer detailed critique: It's not bad. But it's not good either. It's only forty four pages long while the source material had over three hundred pages. Sure, a comic book can use one or two panels to describe the scene visually what would take a prose novel a couple of pages at least, but even so forty four pages is way too short. The main problem is the layout of the pages. Each page is crammed with eleven to twelve panels(!) reducing each panel into small, tight, mostly rectangular shaped, spaces. The artist, Solidor, hardly has any room to maneuver in such limiting conditions. Most of the time you can hardly see his beautiful artwork because they're obscured by the word balloons, necessary in a comic book admittedly, but it could have been better if he was given just 6 panels per page instead.

It's simple really. Less panels per page means bigger panels per page which in turn means more room for the pictures and the words. But that would have increased the page count which naturally would lead to an increase in price and maybe that's why they went for the "cram-everything-within-forty-four-pages" strategy. Pity because Agatha Christie deserves better.

The purpose of adapting her novels into comic book form was to generate interest (or rather, more interest, since her books are still very much in print and are still selling) among the kids. However, if MotOE is anything to go by, the kids would probably give Agatha Christie novels a pass. I would recommend to just dive straight into her novels and enjoy them in all their wordy glory.

A couple of pages from the book:

Crowded panels! Eyes hurting!

05 December 2007

Batman: Death and the City (DC, 2007)

This is the second trade collecting Paul Dini's run on Detective Comics (with Stuart Moore filling in with a two parter), collecting issues #827 to #834. I like Dini's run on 'Tec so far. Most of the stories Dini wrote are done-in-one-issue deals which is such a rarity in superhero comics nowadays and are such joys to read. Of course in a series where Batman is more of a detective than a costumed adventurer, the mysteries are quickly solved and that new character introduced on page two is usually the one who did it. With only 22 pages available to tell a story, compression is key and Paul Dini pulls it off.

Not that he doesn't write a multi parter story now and then. The last two issues in the trade feature Batman teaming up with Zatanna when her former stage assistant dies onstage during a performance by magician Ivar Loxias. Ivar was rescued by Batman in a story collected in the first trade of Paul Dini's Batman run, Batman: Detective, but you don't need to get that collection to enjoy this one though it's better if you do, even if just for completeness' sakes.

Other stories include the return of the puppet Scarface, this time with a new Ventriloquist after Arnold Wesker was killed off in the 'One Year Later' storyline. This new Ventriloquist is way hotter looking than Wesker but is no less crazier. Probably even more crazy.

Yup, totally loony.

Stuart Moore pitches in for a couple of issues about a suicide bomber named Vox who wants to destroy Wayne Tower because, y'know, it's there
. Well, actually because Vox wants the foreign occupation of Iraq..er, sorry...Jalib to end and he's gonna blow up Wayne Tower to show he's serious. You know, by now everyone should know that Batman is the de facto guardian of Gotham City, right? So why do they still go there to cause trouble? Why not destroy a building in Boise, Idaho? Better chances of surviving with all your teeth intact over there if you're a costumed villain.

Anyway, I don't read individual issues of comics anymore, as well you know if you ever read my profile, so I don't know if this Jalib terrorist story is explored further in future issues of Detective or the other Batman books. In this trade, Vox goes against Robin and meets up with Batman towards the end only to choose suicide instead of incarceration.

Since Paul Dini write stories that are pretty much self contained, this collection is perfect for the casual reader or the new reader who doesn't know where to start when it comes to Batman. Although as I've stated above, it's better to collect the first Dini Detective trade as well which is still widely available as I write this.

All ages comic?: It's safe enough for the kids though it may be a bit too noir and violent for them. Or am I being patronising?

Favourite story: Kind Of Like Family which features Harley Quinn turning the tables on Scarface and Ventriloquist (yes, they appear twice in this trade collection)

Art chores by Don Kramer and Andy Clarke (pencilers) and Wayne Faucher (inker)

04 December 2007

Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four: Silver Rage

I have mentioned before my platonic man-love for Jeff Parker and everything that he writes. Just click on his name in the 'Labels' below to see me gush like a scary stalker fanboy on two previous reviews (I can link them in this here post but I'm lazy tonight). Anyway, Jeff Parker is known as the guy who writes those fun, not in continuity stories for Marvel and probably the only writer in comics right now whose stuff I have no problems giving to my kids to read without censoring them first. He does it again here with Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four: Silver Rage which collects the four issue limited series of the same name.

The plot: an alien race, the H'moj, has chosen Earth as their new home and the human population as their new host bodies. That is how these alien creatures survive and evolve -- by searching for an inhabited planet and grafting themselves onto the planet's population until they decide the planet is no longer suitable and they move on. The H'moj see their actions as a favour to the local inhabitants of each planet they colonise since they're oh, so advance and just need bodies, that's all.

So naturally the heroes beat the crap out of them. Or at least try to.

Silver Rage is a lighter version of a typical Galactus vs. FF story. The H'moj even have an alien who volunteered to be the H'moj's advance scout in return for sparing his planet but this guy doesn't soliloquise like the Silver Surfer. YAY! There's nothing like a self pitying alien on a surfboard to bore the kids to sleep.

Jeff Parker gives us what we expect from a good Spidey-Fantastic Four team up. Ben Grimm clobberin'? Check. Spider-Man and Johnny Storm interacting with each other? Check. Reed Richards trying to figure things out? Of course. Sue putting up force fields? Yup, it's all there.

And the Impossible Man pops up (heh) early on in the story but gets killed fighting the aliens. To say anything more would be spoilerish....oh, all right...it's the Impossible Man, he can't die. He doesn't turn up again until the last page but his DNA help resolve the crisis.

This is a straightforward action adventure story with aliens and guys in spandex hitting each other. It's fun and a quick read and you don't need to know anything about the characters to enjoy it. Perfect for the kids. Pencils by the late Mike Weiringo is perfect for this book. I was never a big fan of 'Ringo but that's only because I think his style is more suited to fun, breezy stories such as Silver Rage. The first time I saw his stuff was when he debuted in DC's Flash and they were putting Wally West through the meat grinder at the time. Dark, brooding stories and Weiringo's drawing style do not mix. My opinion.

Also, Doom has a cameo and the best two lines in the entire comic:

"The Four! Wretched Curs!"

He doesn't care what century he's in. Doom will always speak like he's in a Renaissance Faire.

02 December 2007

Out Of Context Sunday: Armageddon Out Of Here!

Black Panther decides to let the white dudes duke it out with Galactus. You wanna mess with a planet-eater? Be my guest, fool! Brutha's going home.

From The Fantastic Four: The New Fantastic Four hardcover collection by Dwayne McDuffie and Paul Pelletier