29 July 2008

Young Watchmen! LET'S GO!

Brian Hughes had the image below posted on his blog, AGAIN WITH THE COMICS, and I swear I almost lost all faith in humankind when I thought Warner Bros really did commission a "Young Watchmen: Animated Adventures" series. Don't do that us, Mr. Hughes! Damn! It's too early in the morning for me to have a heart seizure!

Though if you think about it...Animated Watchmen, for the kids..hmmmm. What? Hate the idea? Bah!

28 July 2008

Ladies & Gentlemen, The Incredible Hulk!

Because sometimes you just need to see the Hulk break Bambi's neck.

23 July 2008

Marvel Adventures Really, Really Need To Be Collected In Non-Digest Format

Covers like this:

and solicits like this...:


Written by PAUL TOBIN
Penciled by ALVIN LEE

KLAW'S GOOD OL' COUNTRY REVIVAL: When Klaw, the master of sound, forms a country and western band, Iron Man, Spider-Man and the Hulk decide to investigate. Unfortunately, the Hulk gets hooked on Klaw's mournful music and, wanting to solve those cliché-ridden problems Klaw so beauuutifully sings about, starts returning every lost (and not so lost) dog to its owner, insists on driving a pickup truck, and goes in for some very extreme "Hulk-style" relationship counseling. While this draws a lot of media attention to Klaw's band, it's the Hulk (dang it!) getting
all the press, making an irritated Klaw VERY jealous. The fight is ON!

32 PGS./All Ages …$2.99

...are reasons why I sometimes feel that I should go back to collecting monthly comics. The heart shouts "YES!" but the brain whispers "Dude, No!" and wouldn't you know it, the brain wins.

I just wish Marvel would hurry up and collect their Marvel Adventures line of comics in hardcover format like they do with practically all their other books that are more than two weeks old. Surprisingly, only Marvel Adventures Spider-Man has received this treatment (and it has that cute
Goom speaking gangsta story) and even then it's just the one volume. Where's the rest, Marvel? Come on! I, for one, am not gonna pick up the digests. Please don't ignore your "I'll-just-wait-for-the-trade" customers. We need loving too!

If It Wasn't For Snell, I Would Not Have Remembered

Yeah, I didn't even realise that this lil' blog of mine is already a year old. In fact, the anniversary was 11 days ago and I forgot. And the only reason I remember it today is because snell over at Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep mentioned the anniversary of his blog. So, uhm, thanks snell. And congratulations!

22 July 2008

Great Moments In Comics History No. 6: Lezzle Pon

Just wanna chime in and just repeat what most fans have already known for several months now (hey, I don't buy floppies anymore so I'm always late): The Sinestro Corps War is damn bloody awesome! Lots of punching, kicking, zapping and not really introducing anything new by the story's end. Oh sure, there's all that new spectrum of Lanterns, but really, what the fans wanted was the illusion of change and this storyline delivered.

I particularly like this one scene when Guy Gardner is infected by a microscopic member of the Sinestro Corp called Despotellis. This parasitic bastard doesn't need a ring to kill you. It just swims in your bloodstream for a few hours and you'll melt from the inside. Nice.

So how do you fight a virus?

By siccing a super-intelligent smallpox virus bent on revenge on it, that's how!

21 July 2008

In Lieu Of Actual Content...

...let's be thankful that comic writers no longer have their characters describe what they are actually doing at the moment because I find that damn irritating.

Tomorrow, some actual content like reviews and whatnot. Maybe. Can't promise. I got other stuff to do too, you know?

By the way, I have yet to see Dark Knight at the cineplex. I'm weird like that. Also, friends who have seen the movie have told me that they overheard quite a number of people say things like, "Man, I can't wait for Dark Knight 2!" and "I wonder if they'll make a sequel" which I find extremely hilarious for some reason.

15 July 2008

All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder HC vol.1 (DC, 2008)

Well, I liked it! This is how a half-insane man who goes out at night dressed as a flying rat would really behave. Kicking ass, killing perps and smashing the faces of corrupt cops, dry humping a female vigilante in the rain, manhandling his manservant and totally kidnapping a pre-pubescent boy and making the boy his ward. Hell, yeah!

Does this book have a plot? Yes. Dick Grayson's parents were killed by an assassin's bullet while they were performing their trapeze act and that led to Dick Grayson becoming Robin and finding out the Joker was behind the hit. Meanwhile, the Justice League (Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern and Plastic Man) mope around trying to figure out what to do about Batman. Also, Barbara Gordon tries out her new Batgirl costume and Black Canary jumps Batman's bones at the docks because apparently watching Batman kick people's faces makes her all horny.

Also, everyone calls him the goddamn Batman. Even Batman calls himself the goddamn Batman, goddammit!

Some panels of awesome in this collection:

Batman laughing maniacally while jumping off a rooftop:

Superman running across the Atlantic, not realising yet that he can fly:

Painting the entire room (and themselves) yellow as a precaution against Green Lantern:

Alfred (yes, that is Alfred) letting off some steam in the gym:

There are others like the six-page fold out of the Batcave, Wonder Woman calling a man a "Sperm bank" and then verbally ripping Superman a new one and of course, the violence. Oh the violence. This Batman slaps anyone he doesn't like and he doesn't like anyone at all. Forget the mainstream DC Universe Batman. All-Star Batman is batshit insane and a bit of a dick....and I love him for it. I also laughed out loud while reading this book and I think I was supposed to. C'mon, all you guys who have read this book, did you take it all seriously? Really? I thought it was Miller's piss take on Batman and I found it funny as all get out.

I only wish Frank Miller and Jim Lee weren't so slow with turning in their stuff for this book. At this rate, we probably won't see the conclusion to this storyline for another couple of years!

13 July 2008

World's Finest (DC, 1990)

It was only by chance, while surfing the 'net, that I discovered DC had just released a "Deluxe" edition of the 1990 3-part mini series, World's Finest by Dave Gibbons, Steve Rude, Karl Kesel and colourist Steve Oliff. Either there wasn't much publicity done by DC or I was just looking at the wrong places for this book to go under my radar. Probably the latter. Anyway, I remembered that I have this mini series so I dug it out and read it again for nostalgia's sake and maybe write a few words about it here.

After I turned the last page of Book Three, I figured either it hasn't aged well or my memories are playing tricks on me. Because I remember loving it the the first time it came out. What's not to love? Two of DC's biggest icons teaming up to fight their respective arch enemies, Joker and Lex Luthor. But I was surprised to find that after reading it again, 18 years later, the book did not satisfy. The older me is much more harder to please it appears. I blame Dave Gibbons' writing.

World's Finest plot requires too much explanation. There's a mystery about a Fagin-like character who used to employ orphans as his well trained thieves but he's dead now. No, he's not. Yes, he is. No, wait...somebody's dead but we're not sure who. Then for some reason, Lex Luthor wants to spread his empire to other cities so he buys up property in Gotham. At the same time, Joker wants to see the sights in Metropolis. So the two villains cut a deal and trade bases of operations for a month. Also for some strange reason, Superman and Batman feel that they too need to trade cities to pursue their respective enemies. Why? Why couldn't Batman stay in Gotham and chase Luthor while Superman remain in Metropolis and take care of the Joker? The pretext given so that Dave Gibbons could put the heroes in each other's cities is that Superman was humiliated by his first encounter with the Joker and Batman too felt played by Luthor. So they figured better to move to an unfamiliar city chasing the villain they know instead of staying home and be humiliated by the villain they don't. Sorry but I just could not buy that.

There were missed opportunities, I feel, when Gibbons failed to portray the differences in style between the two heroes and even between the two bad guys. What we get instead are caricatures of the villains. Joker the grinning maniac and Lex Luthor the cold, calculating businessman. Yawn inducing? You betcha!

The only good thing about World's Finest is Steve Rude's art. You can't go wrong with "The Dude" and the alliteratively named Karl Kesel inking. But pretty pictures cannot save a book if the story is boring as this one is.

Not recommended, sadly.

Out Of Context Sunday: Oh, You Did Not Say That, Girl!

Did Babs Gordon just call Ironside a wheelchair case?? Classy, Batgirl. Real classy.
Of course, years later (or the week after, in DC Universe time) Barbara Gordon herself became a "wheelchair case". Karma is one angry bitch, aint she?

From "A Clue...Seven Foot Tall!" by Frank Robbins, Gil Kane & Murphy Anderson. Reprinted in Showcase Presents: Batgirl vol. 1

09 July 2008

Cancer Wins Again...

Loaded with work these past two days and to top it all off, tonight my aunt finally gave up and said, "Aw, to hell with it! I'm 71. You want me? Come and get me, sucker!" After more than a year of fighting, she finally succumbed to the cancer in her colon. But hey, 71 years old. She had a good innings, as the British say. So I don't feel like talking about comics tonight. No, I dont think I'll go AWOL from blogging for a month like the last time someone I knew died from cancer.

Apropos of nothing, here's a picture of Lando Calrissian:

Lando can't get cancer. Lando would bitch-slap a cancer cell if he ever saw one. That's just how he rolls.

07 July 2008

The Joker: Devil's Advocate (DC, 1996)

The Joker: Devil's Advocate is a little known gem of a Joker story. I say little known when compared to, say, Killing Joke. It's hardly mentioned when Batman/Joker stories are discussed which is a pity because I feel it's quite a good story featuring Batman's premier villain. It's also a pity that the graphic novel is out of print but try the back issue bins and discount bins the next time you walk into a comic shop. You never know. Of course, there's always EBay.

Anyway, Devil's Advocate. A rash of deaths have occurred in Gotham City and were caused after the victims licked the back of stamps featuring some of the great comedians in American entertainment history. The victims all have the morbid Joker grin on their dead faces and after the Joker is captured by Batman and Robin while attempting to rob the vault of the Gotham Post Office, the D.A. decides to pin all the deaths on Joker and ask the jury to give him the death sentence. The jury agrees and Joker is brought to Blackgate prison to await execution. There's only one problem: the Joker insists he's innocent of this particular crime and Batman agrees. So it's a race against time for Batman and Robin to find the real murderer and save his deadliest foe from the electric chair.

Did I say race against time?

The Joker actually wants to go snap, crackle and pop as soon as possible because it's all about the limelight, baby. Too bad Batman has to stick his nose in it and clear the Joker's name. Turns out the real murderer is some guy who wanted to get rid of his wife. Yeah, that's it. He wanted to get rid of his wife. Oh, wait. Should I have given a spoiler warning at the beginning of this paragraph? Eh, I didn't spoil anyone's surprise. The story isn't about who really killed all those people.

This story is all about the Joker. The investigation to clear his name by Batman is more of a sideshow and it seemed to me like writer Chuck Dixon was more interested in showing the reader how Joker coped in a real prison (he had never been in one before as he was always sent to Arkham Asylum with the rest of the crazies) than he was in showing us how Batman solved the mystery. Even the big clue that led Batman to the murderer was discovered by chance by Robin while helping his girlfriend's uncle move stuff. Yes, really.

Still, that is not a complaint. I've always been wary of Joker stories. He is so overused as a foil to Batman that there aren't any surprises anymore. The formula has always been the same: Joker escapes, plans a themed crime, Batman stops him in time and then the Joker either escapes or ends up in Arkham again. Lather, rinse, repeat. But Devil's Advocate at least attempts to show a different aspect of a Joker story. Instead of trying to hunt him down, Batman has to save his arch enemy from a state sanctioned death. And the beneficiary of Batman's hard work won't even help because he's actually looking forward to a death that is promised to be high in ratings! No wonder Robin and Commissioner Gordon wonder why Batman even bothers (something about justice yada yada yada).

Of all the old Joker stories that DC is making available again in time for the Dark Knight movie, they seemed to have missed this one. It's worth your wile to hunt down this original graphic novel and have one of the better written Joker stories in your collection.

One of my favourite panels featuring the Joker in Blackgate Prison:

He no like dem harmonica music, do he?

05 July 2008

G.I. JOE #109 (Marvel, 1991)

This was it. The issue where Larry "Da Hama" Hama went and actually killed seven Joes. Good guys died before in G.I. Joe but they were always the supporting cast: the Soft Master, the Hard Master, that girl who dressed up as a bear...Cindy something. But Joes? Joes were damn near immortals, man! You can throw them off a transport plane over Chernobyl without parachutes and not only will they survive and walk away with nary a scratch, they will come to your house and let Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow do their crazy ninja juju on your body while the rest of the Joes burn your comic collection and piss on your XBox. That's just how they roll. But Joes dying on the battlefield? That's crazy talk!

Well, #109 of the Marvel G.I. Joe was when the crazy came to town. In the real world at the time, the United States was in the midst of Operation: Desert Storm and Marvel thought that some of their comics should reflect world events as well. Personally, I hate it when that happens. Comics are fantasy books and should stay that way. If I wanted "real" stories, I go watch CNN. I read comics to escape from the real world for a few minutes. But Marvel thought it would be ridiculous for a book featuring an elite commando team not to address the events in the Middle East so off the Joes went to "Trucial Abysmia, somewhere in the Middle East". The Joes were there to kick COBRA out of Trucial Absymia but some of the Joes went and got themselves captured by evil twins, Tomax and Xamot. The twins however aren't sure what to do with the prisoners so they contact Cobra Commander in New York City (because that's where all despotic wannabes hang out).

Now here's where it hits the fan. The head snake tells the twins to "get rid of the Joes" and that is misinterpreted by Tomax and Xamot who thought that they had to kill the Joes. What the Commander meant was to release them...he wasn't being nice, he just didn't want the rest of the G.I. Joe team ultra-mad at him if the twins kept any Joes prisoner. Yeah, well, too bad the Cobras in Trucial Abysmia heard wrong.

First to go was Doc who volunteered to stick his head out of the pit to see if the coast was clear:

And Doc's death went on to confirm what African-Americans have long believed, that in fiction, a brutha is always the first one to die.

His death was quickly accompanied by three others: Thunder, Crank-Case and Heavy Metal.

The surviving Joes manage to climb out of the pit and subdue the big ass Cobra with the big ass gun. Resident Joe martial artist Quick-Kick even has time to go psycho bizzaro on the two Vipers left behind as token guards by Tomax and Xamot:

The remaining Joes climb on board a Cobra tank and try to head back to the Emirate of Benzheen (probably a stand in for Kuwait in the Marvel Universe) and just when you thought they could kick back and open a can of Yo Joe Cola, this happens:

Scratch out Quick-Kick, Crazylegs and Breaker. Only Lt. Falcon, Cross Country and old man Duke made it alive out of this mess. And this was the beginning of the end for G.I. Joe for me. Before this they had truly crazy awesome stories and while their Middle Eastern adventure still delivered, it was just too close to real life for teenage Khairul H. to appreciate it. This comic was cover dated February 1991 so it must have been out in January of that year and real life folks from both sides of the conflict were still being killed and shot at at the time. Though I'm neither American nor Iraqi, I still felt disgusted at the whole mess and reading a fictional story loosely inspired by actual events made me gradually turn away from the comic book as well. Looking back it was just as well. Just over a year later, the G.I. Joe comic became "G.I. Joe starring Snake-Eyes" and when an ensemble team book changes it title to feature its most popular character, that means the book's in trouble. Marvel canned the title soon after. By the way, Snake-Eyes did not feature at all in this issue. He's on the cover because he sells.

Check out when G.I. Joe was still cool here or the "silent" story from G.I. Joe Annual #3 or even an issue of its spin off title, G.I. Joe Special Missions.

04 July 2008

Well, I'm Not Giving Doom Force For My Kids To Read Anytime Soon...

Doom Force, DC's piss take on Marvel's mutant books and Rob Liefeld has one particular scene that sticks out in my mind: Count Anton Zero chastises his sister for wearing something that doesn't reveal enough of her flesh.

So she comes back with this:

That is just wrong on so many freaking levels.

03 July 2008

It's Funny 'Cause It's True

From the 1st July comments page of Chris' ISB. Specifically comment no. 25:

Nick Davidson Says:
The reason why comics suck today is probably the same as the reason why music was much better ten years ago- the Goggles Of Nostalgia edit out all the crap and preserve the good stuff. Well, that and standards for sales are a bit lower now.

When the original Marvel Transformers comic was canned it was selling about 500,000 copies a month in the US and 90,000 a fortnight in the UK. The current IDW one sells 20,000 and is considered a strong seller. This is why the world still has Tarot.

01 July 2008