24 November 2008

Beetle Bailey: The First Years 1950-1952 HC (Checker, 2008)

Looks like Fantagraphics started a trend in the American comics industry when they started collecting Peanuts strips in chronological order and wrapping them between hardcovers. Every classic comic strip from Dick Tracy to Popeye to Dennis the Menace to Pogo has been or will be collected for fans and new readers to enjoy. Thanks to the folks at Checker Book Publishing, Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey is the latest cartoon strip to be collected in hardbound format.

I used to read Beetle Bailey in the local rag back when I was still reading the local rags and whilst it was occasionally mildly amusing, most of the time it was just lame. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I picked up this book collecting the first two years of Bettle Bailey's 'life' and I'm glad I did. This book is a treasure and its present incarnation is just a far paler shadow of what it used to be.

I was surprised to discover that the strip did not begin with Beetle already in the U.S Army but instead in college. In fact it was the Korean War that prompted Mort Walker to shift locales and make Beetle a private at Camp Swampy where he has remained ever since. It is in Camp Swampy that we are first introduced to the regular supporting cast of the Beetle Bailey strip: Sarge (thinner here), General Halftrack, Cookie and Casanova wannabe, 'Killer'. Walker and his readers didn't know it then but all these characters would still be featured in the strip 50 years later.

Beetle Bailey's adventures are the same then as they are today: he puts his hat over his eyes so he can sleep undetected, tries to pick up girls and basically survive Army life while doing as little work as possible. So why is he so not funny today? Honestly, I don't know.

Also included is brief biography on Mort Walker and some rejected strips including one where Beetle's eyes are revealed.

All in all, this is a very good collection and I hope to collect any and all future collections up until the 1970s strips. That's when the strip jumped the shark, in my opinion.

21 November 2008

Friday Night Fights: KA-POW!! round 2

Three days ago, we were shocked to discover here in DGR that not only was Dredd taken down by a punk with mad martial arts skills, Dredd was taken down by a punk with mad martial arts skills called Stan Lee! Stan Lee got away then but fool must have forgotten to take his smart pills because he came back to Mega City One.

And Dredd wants a rematch. It is on, boyo! Though Stan Lee gets first crack on Judge Dredd with the old 'kick-them-through-the-restaurant-signboard' maneuver...

...Dredd quickly comes back and whapps him one with a right hook.

And then just for shits and giggles, he makes sure the poser stays down with a good crunnkk upside Stan's face.

In Mega City One, police brutality is the law! Much like Spacebooger on Friday Nights.

From Judge Dredd Case Files 11 trade paperback by John Wagner, Alan Grant & Barry Kitson

19 November 2008

Bush Gives Medal to The Man

Stan Lee gets a medal from the National Endowment for the Arts. Congratulations, sir!

Suck it, Ditko! Suck it hard!

18 November 2008

Dredd Doesn't Know Kung Fu

Swede has been getting too big for Clubland. Time to cut him down to size by 'Iron Fist' here. Too bad Judge Dredd was patrolling nearby. No problem, just throw some shurikens at his chest.

Dredd can give as well as he can receive...

...but this new guy is just too good, Drokdamnit!

So who was the mystery assailant who took down the baddest Judge of Mega City One?

Stan Lee?! Dredd got served by a punk named Stan Lee!!

So will we, Dredd. So will we.

From Judge Dredd Complete Case Files 10 trade paperback.

14 November 2008

Friday Night Fights: KA-POW!! round 1

It begins again. Only this time, Friday Night Fights has a new home. Bahlactus has left so all ass kicking will take place at Spacebooger's place.

DGR's contender: The Incredible Hulk. He KWOMS
that sucka Marvel so bad, boy actually yelps like the dirty dog that he is!

From Incredible Hulk #246 or the Heart of the Atom HC collection, whichever you prefer. Bill Mantlo & Sal Buscema, the talents.

Well, At Least I Have the Trades

Well some sucky news...DC will cancel Blue Beetle with issue #36. I wasn't shocked when I heard it. This book has been threatened with cancellation practically since it's first year. DC did everything they could to boost sales: guest appearances by Batman and Superman, included the book in the mega popular Sinestro Corp War, giving Beetle a guest appearance in The Brave & The Bold and making him one of the Teen Titans. DC did everything they could but sales just would not jump.

As a wait-for-the-trade guy I admit my disappointment is hypocritical. If I loved the book so much why wait 6 months for the collection? Okay, I give you that. BUT, there are way more readers out there who buy the monthly comics than there are us "wait for the trade" people. I'm not blaming anyone (though it looks like I am) but if they had picked up Blue Beetle and see what a cool, fun comic it is along with their usual Batman or X-Men comics then maybe, just maybe DC would have had more faith in the title. But it's a business and at the end of the day they look at the numbers and the numbers stink.

What attracted me to this new Beetle? Well, for starters Blue Beetle is an Hispanic teen named Jaime Reyes (that's "Hey-me" Reyes and not "Jay-me" Reyes). Most superheroes can trace their ancenstry back to when the Anglos met the Saxons and they live in fictional places like Keystone City, Gotham, Metropolis and Atlantis. Jaime lives in the real city of El Paso, Texas. Plus, Jaime didn't become a superhero to avenge his parents' death or to right the wrongs of the world. In fact he wished he never picked up the damn blue scarab in the first place but now that he did he's making sure he'll put it to good use...while making some mistakes and some tough decisions on the way. Far cry from the uber-perfection of the more established superheroes who never seem to put a foot wrong. Long story short, Jaime Reyes could be one of us and the last time comic book readers could say that was when Lee and Ditko created Spider-Man over forty years ago!

Oh well, all this is academic. It was a fun ride while it lasted. I still have the trades if I ever miss reading his adventures and I recommend everyone who never picked up the book to read the trades. Four books so far, with the final fifth volume no doubt coming out next year.

Adios, Jaime. See you whenever.

And don't get me started on Manhunter...

13 November 2008

Hulk: Heart of the Atom HC (Marvel, 2008)

Remember the time when Greg Pak wrote that cool storyline where Hulk was blasted off into space by Iron Man and Reed Richards because they didn't want him to go rampaging all across the Midwest ever again but unfortunately the shuttle the Hulk was in veered off course and landed on an inhabited planet with warring factions and he quickly became the leader of the losing side and kicked the butt of the ruling class, appointed as the new ruler, fell in love, got married and then lost everything to a bomb because one of his new friends betrayed him? Yeah, Heart of the Atom is actually nothing like that.

It shares some similarities, though, but instead of outer space the Hulk travels down to microscopic level where he discovers the existence of a medieval-like civilization. The inhabitants embrace him after he shoos away some rampaging creatures that look like wild boars from destroying their castle. Plus, they also have green skin so they immediately accept Hulk as their own. If Spider-Man had saved them instead of the Hulk, they would probably shoot their arrows at him. Bastards! Anyway...

Hulk is brought to Jarella, Empress of this microscopic world, who orders her three sorcerers (two of whom are called Holi and Moli, I kid you not) to make the Hulk understand their language so that they can communicate. Not only did the magic spell work it also resulted in the Hulk having Bruce Banner's intelligence as well. One quick marriage with Jarella and the defeat of a jealous would-be usurper later, the Hulk is happy in his new role as King but this being Hulk, happy things don't stay too long. He is soon snatched back into the regular-sized world leaving behind a distraught bride who has no idea why her new husband grew to ginormous size.

Hulk visited the micro world a few more times over the years but it would end the same every time: something would compel him to leave his wife and her sub-atomic world. Things get really interesting when Jarella is transported back to Earth along with Hulk and she ends up getting killed. No, that's not a spoiler. You know things won't end well with her the moment she set eyes on Hulk. It's a given. It is also when Sal Buscema took over pencilling chores and I like his rendition of Hulk with the ever gaping mouth and spittle. Sal Buscema's Hulk never, ever looks dumb. He's just very angry and that's the way I like it.

Heart of the Atom collects all the relevant issues (11 in all) plus What If? #23 which asked what if Jarella hadn't died. All in all, it's a good collection on an often forgotten part of the Hulk mythos. No doubt it would claim credit for inspiring Greg Pak's Planet Hulk story (heck, the inside cover flap of the book practically said so) but there's nothing wrong with that. When you have been telling stories of the same character practically non-stop for the past 40 years it's kinda hard to come up with something new and fresh. Just read the back issues for ideas and try to cater it to the modern audience. Every writer does that. If you've read Planet Hulk and thought it was great, read Heart of the Atom. Greg Pak obviously did.

Oh, by the way, the cover above is the cover of one of the issues collected within and not the cover of the collection itself. The hardcover has dark green lettering on a black background and it didn't scan well. At least not on my cheap scanner.

12 November 2008

Seconds Out...

Just warming up before this week's opening Friday Night Fights at the new ring over at Spacebooger.

Page from Bat-Manga, as if you didn't know.

11 November 2008


This is what I'm thumbing through right now:

One of the reasons why you should get Bat Manga: The Secret History of Batman in Japan:
Batman vs. intelligent ape = Gold, in whatever language.

06 November 2008

Just Finished Reading Ms. Marvel vol. 5: Secret Invasion HC (Marvel 2008)

Five hardcovers on and I think I'm about done with Ms. Marvel. I still cannot bring myself to empathise with the character. Her siding with the pro-registration Republican-Avengers during that little misunderstanding called the 'Civil War' probably didn't help either. Maybe the problem with volume 5 is that it ties in with Marvel's annual mega event which hasn't been released as a one book collection yet as of this writing. For someone who waits for the trade, I only have a vague idea of what is going on in Ms. Marvel: Secret Invasion.

Tony Stark thinks Ms. Marvel is a Skrull so he sends SHIELD Agent Sum to take her down. Unfortunately, Stark sent Sum to the wrong Ms. Marvel (that is to say the real, human Ms. Marvel). Fisticuffs ensue. The collection ends with her big fight with all those Skrulls in Manhattan and her discovery that the Extra-Super Skrull was a Hydra project which adds more confusion that won't clear up until I read the Secret Invasion trade when it comes out.

The artwork by Melo, Benes and Coelho is the saving grace for this book. Ms. Marvel has always been saved by the artwork. If it wasn't for the cheesecake I would have dropped it two collections ago. It's not a bad comic. It's just a passable comic. Efforts by the art team could make me raise it to being a good comic but only just.

04 November 2008

Go Out And Vote America!

Y'know, a Captain America-Batman ticket would totally rock.

From Captain America: War & Remembrance trade paperback collecting Roger Stern's and John Byrne's nine issue run on Captain America

03 November 2008

It's O.K. To Hurt Gorillas When They're Nazis

Context: Hellboy has been captured by a Nazi scientist and has left Hellboy in the "care" of a cyborg Nazi ape. Nazi ape has been torturing Hellboy with electrical shocks when somebody switched off the supply. Nazi ape knows what's coming next...

Hellboy takes down a cyborg Nazi ape while mouthing off the sound effect himself. It's like that Onomotopeia guy in Kevin Smith's Batman story. Aw, go look him up yourself. Hellboy: Conqueror Worm, written and drawn by Mike Mignola is just all kinds of awesome!!

The Conqueror Worm trade is still widely available or you can just wait a while, save some cash and wait for the oversized hardcover 'Library' edition coming soon next year. The
Volume 1 is already out. So is Volume 2. Every discerning fan of comics needs to have these babies in their collection. After all, volume 3 will have Hellboy punching a Nazi Gorilla in huge, huge panels! Also, a guy named Lobster Johnson craps in his pants when he has to shoot a horde of the undead in a derelict Nazi castle.

A question all of us wish we could ask at least once in our lifetimes.

02 November 2008

When A Talking Duck Met A Vampire Cow...

Really this thing should have been posted sometime, oh I don't know, before Halloween maybe but with real life responsibilities and sheer laziness DGR has been kinda quiet in October. Mea Culpa. I even missed what looks to be the final Friday Night Fights ever.

So anyway,

Apparently, Bessie the cow was bitten by Dracula (or at least a vampire in a cape, anyway) and for the past 300 years have roamed the world as an undead bovine to seek revenge.

Good thing Bessie was a Christian cow, huh? Wouldn't have worked if she was kosher.

And that's the end of Bessie the vampire cow. Brought low by a talking duck. I think we can pretty much agree that the late, great Steve Gerber was a comic genius right? So go get the Howard the Duck Omnibus sharpish. His next of kin will appreciate the royalty checks.