A post is coming up on what's going on blog-wise for this month, but for now, Newsarama is bursting to tell you something about Dan Slott and John Romita Jr's six-issue arc beginning in Amazing Spider-Man #568:
The storyline, according to ew.com, will also feature Eddie Brock, Venom, Norman Osborn, Green Goblin and Mary Jane Watson.
Mary Jane Watson! MJ!

MJ is coming back to Amazing!

Couple that with Jackpot appearing in this year's annual, and that makes for a very anticipatory, if not gleeful, friendly neighborhood blog. Maybe I can start picking up Amazing without breaking down in tears now.

Kidding, kidding, I'm kidding.

I hide in the bathroom before I start breaking down in tears.

Bird-Watching: Big Barda vs. Security Guard!

For a female, Gail Simone's writing is actually kinda testosterone-charged.

To be sure, this is on the basis that -- on the average -- stories about emotions and relationships are for women, and stories about explosions and fighting are for men -- on the average, may I remind you.

Taking this into account, Simone writes more like a man than a woman. In Secret Six, Birds of Prey and what have you, she's historically written long story-arcs that are plot-driven over character-driven with lots and lots of explosions. Although she never fails to give strong character moments, her stories have a history of big fights and widescreen action.

And truly, there is no greater example than. . .
the Mexican-Security-Guard-Big-Barda SAGA

(in four panels)

DING-DING-DING! Let the head-hitting commence:


But the trash-talking must end. . . as the wall-breaking begins!


The mighty MEGA ROD vs. the witless NIMROD: who will win????


But then Big Barda blasts out a blow to break the brainless blowhard!


And that, ladies and gents, is how you beat up a security guard when you're a New God.

Scans taken from Birds of Prey #100, by Gail Simone and Nicola Scott. This is the issue where the Birds raid a Mexican prison and free Tabby Brennan. This also had a cute little back-up feature with Black Canary and Sin.

More bird-watching over here.

Cover to Cover CONCLUSION: Birds, babes and --wait for it--

--Pinocchio! That's right; today we review Birds of Prey #117 and Fables #72. You can find the rest of the week here and here, but come here to see it conclude!

Fables #72
by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham

The two-part "Skulduggery" ends here, as Cinderella: Super-Spy, safely delivers Pinocchio to the Homeland, with an explosion here and there.

What can I say about this issue? I'm not so sure. It's really gearing up for the Big Thing That Will Happen -- the war between the Adversary and the Fables.

This issue ran like a James Bond spy story, and at the end, battered and bruised, Cinderella rests well knowing that she did her job and did it well.

This issue was standard spy action, much like the first, and I should probably catch some trades other than the first and third before I can really talk about this.

You don't need any background reading to appreciate this though:

Fables 72

Yurf! This scene is smart to boot, because this is Cinderella, the lady legendary for losing her shoe!

Also, there was a "free" preview of the upcoming Vertigo book, House of Mystery. The premise is that everyone's stuck in a bar, so they pass the time by telling stories. Vertigo characters pop in like Kid eternity and Swamp Thing and Bigby Wolf, and it's all narrated to us by the waitress, which is a really cute technique.

The preview is a little disjunct, but it sounds like a nice book to commit to. On the art side, Luca Rossi looks a lot like Tim Sale, except the inking is much sharper and the coloring is a bit darker.

Birds of Prey #117
by Sean McKeever and Nicola Scott


It's like an apology from McKeever for how he played around with the characters in the beginning of the arc: Barbara was broody; Misfit was angsty; Helena was (kind of) too gentle, and also, Superman was a jerk.

But here, this issue redeems EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG IN THE UNIVERSE.

The Big Fight happens here, with the Birds facing a metahuman gang in Platinum Flats. McKeever does the fights here very well -- fights are on occasion opportunities for gratuitous punching, but they should really be opportunities for characterization.

Like for example, Misfit is spunky again!:
Birds of Prey 117

And here's an awesome beat for Huntress. Mrs. Simone set her up as "the chick who really hates criminals but is really soft for everyone else," and McKeever hits it here:

Birds of Prey 117

Tony Bedard was really smart about this as well, in a stand-alone Birds story featuring Huntress. In it, the "criminals" were just a couple of high school students, and the better side of Helena wins out. He's a guy who really understands our Birds.

To get back to the issue --and this is the most important part-- Barbara apologizes for being a jerk to Misfit!

Birds of Prey 117

The birds win out in the end, and Oracle decides to move her base to Platinum Flats. The epilogue, of course, involves a little shadowed figure called Tabitha Brennan.

Aaaaaand cue the suspense for next issue, but right now, I'm just glad that I read this one. If I have some free time, I'm gonna talk about Tony Bedard, and why I think you should pick up his Birds next month.

Cover to Cover pt2: "Excuse me, Wally, as I consult my magic bracelets."

Aaaaaand we're back with part 2. You can catch up here at part 1, in which we review Ultimate Spider-Man 121 and Scooby-Doo 131.

Today, Justice League of America #20 and Hack/Slash #11 are up on the review block.

Justice League of America #20
by Dwayne McDuffie and Ethan van Sciver

I haven't read any of the previous 19 issues, but from what I've heard,
they've been exploitative art-wise and shallowly tied-in writing-wise.

This one is neither, but I still feel underwhelmed. Wonder Woman's all, "Hey Flash, ever since you became a family man, you haven't given the JLA too much attention," and then Flash is all, "Aw man, Wonder Woman. I'll do patrol duty next week then." And then they beat up the Queen Bee.

That's really the issue, and I feel kind of underwhelmed here. There's no real impetus for the Flash to make the decision that he does, and
the superhero fare here is really, really standard, with alarmingly low levels of characterization.

I regret jumping onto JLA with this issue, and I don't think next issue will be better, because Benes returns on art.

Just so I don't leave you sour though, here's a great series of panels:
Artist Mr. Van Sciver is amazing though, in the storytelling and the panelling and the expressions.

"Excuse me, Wally, as I consult my magic bracelets and communicate with the JLA." Hah!

Hack/Slash #11

by Tim Seeley and Emily Stone

That is such a nice cover. You may recognize its artist, Jamie McKelvie, the guy who did Suburban Glamour!

A lot goes on in this issue, but that's by no means a bad thing.

Cassie continues looking for her father, until a dog from Hell starts looking for his master, who is Elvis.

Let's get some backstory here: in Hack/Slash Elvis sold his soul to Hell for immortality. He also has to sacrifice some virgins now and then to keep his talent. This story was one of the first arcs in Hack/Slash, and yes, it was awesome.

Elvis was about to sacrifice Cassie and a stripper named Georgia to a bunch of tentacle-raping gods, until through some quick measures, Elvis himself ended up getting tentacle raped.

It's hilarious.

So Elvis had a dog for a pet in Hell, and the pet is now on Earth looking for him:

hack/Slash 11
"I will save you master! I will not let these Earth ones keep you trapped on that fuzzy plate!"

Ah, it's comforting to see Hack/Slash back to humor, but it's also interesting to see how the writing has evolved. It's much smarter here, because the slasher villain here is actually sympathetic, and Cassie lets him do his murderous thing. I feel an experimental vibe going on with the writer here, and it'll be interesting to see how Cassie gets fleshed out further, in terms of her father, her sexuality, and so on.

Hack/Slash 11

I can say without sarcasm that this issue may very well be the best of the series so far.

Cover to Cover pt1: Spidey gets a B minus (now with 54% more tentacles!)

Holy crap, this week was huge for me. Either I'm literally twitching from the comics we're going to talk about this week, or I shouldn't have drank that sewer water the other day.

Apparently, this week is "try a new comic" week, so we're not going to have one "panel by panel" feature with one"cover to cover." No, we're gonna have approximately none of the former, and not one, not two, but three of the latter.

Three! That's how many fingers you'd have if you had seven less!

Three! It's one more than the number of crayons in my stomach right now!

Three! That's the number of small children whose milk money I had to steal for this week's comics!

Ahem, sorry there. Let's just stop the insanity now and review homicidal mutants with tendrils sticking out of their arms. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about --

Ultimate Spider-Man #121
by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen

This was a stand-alone issue, and ever since Stuart Immonen got in on art duties, I've been itching to stop reading Ultimate Spidey in trades from the library.

And I made a great decision. This issue was smart, in that it captured an idyllic Spidey story: one in which Spidey's life and Peter Parker's life are constantly intertwined. Whether it's saving Aunt May or stopping a crime, or trying to talk with MJ until Dr. Doom attacks, Spidey's the kind of guy who's living everywhere.

Here, Omega Red attacks the Daily Bugle -Jonah in particular- for slandering him and ruining his career as a supervillain. This is in follow-up to an issue with Bendis and Bagley (I think it was when the Silver Sable arc was starting up).

Spidey of course, intervenes, but the better part is how Peter uses it as an excuse for a school project!

Sigh. Bendis really gets Spidey's voice and Peter's wit, and the teenage histrionics that happen here, and MJ's and Peter's relationship (they share ice cream!!!!) and the intermingling of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, and the superhero action, and the teenage dialogue.

Whew. Immonen rocks the pages too. I love his sense of anatomy, and although I think he draws Jameson as too youthful, he just nails the expressions everywhere.

I'm really glad I jumped onto Ultimate Spidey this week, and you'd do yourself a favor to as well.

Scooby-Doo #131
by Scott Cunningham and Scott Gross

So what if it's a kids' comic? Kids' comics offer all sorts of things, some of which include:
  • accessible stand-alone issues
  • nostalgia
  • second-string characters that don't get used too often in the mainstream comics (ie: Harley Quinn)
  • nostalgia
  • kids' comics don't get caught up in (often, but not always) exploitative marketing strategies, such as over-hyped events.
This week, I got this one for Earth Day. It just makes me happy that comics can be explicitly about higher ideals. Comics aren't just for entertainment; they're for awareness as well. Another example would be Neil Gaiman's Death talking to us about AIDS protection, and a legendary example would be the team-ups between Green Lantern (the conservative) and Green Arrow (the liberal), as handled by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams. I love stuff like that, and hope I can get the trades someday.

But since this issue is geared towards kids, it's more simple. If you're not caught up in the Scooby formula, here it is:
  • Rich/greedy/EVIL person, in an effort to get MORE money/fame/whatever, dresses up in ridiculous costume/operates ridiculous machine to scare everyone/everyone
  • Everyone is STUPID and the person succeeds for a while, until
  • Scooby and the gang use science and logic and empiricism and a MONSTER CHASE MONTAGE to discover that it was all a ruse.
  • It's basically about the triumph of human logic over human superstition.
The "villain" here is the head of a chemical company, who chases people away from his factory, so he can continue pumping chemicals into the water. His name is "Mort Chemicals," and you may recognize his first name as a transformation of morte: death. Y'hear that, kids? Pollution is death! Death!

Ahem. Sorry about that. There're also two other stories: one involving a fashion show and a neat-o documentary-style expose on the color red and its meaning to some Native American tribes.

The Earth Day story ends as every story should: with a pun!
Oh, the puns

Or, as Scooby would say, "rith a run! Rooby-rooby-rooooo!"

Ah, nostalgia.

We're gonna cover all sorts of things (okay, fine, two sorts of things) next time, from the Justice League of America to Hack/Slash.

Whooo-hooo! Rocket style!

You may have missed it, but here at Newsarama, they made an announcement about Guardians of the Galaxy:
. . . Marvel is adding another cosmic ongoing to their line-up, this time resurrecting Guardians of the Galaxy as a team book featuring sci-fi heroes and concepts spinning out of the Annihilation: Conquest mini-series. . .
New series are always exciting, but you know why this one is particularly so?

from Nova #9

Cosmo: the telepathic astro-dog!

He first appeared in issue number eight of Nova. In the subsequent issue, they teamed up to fight a bunch of space zombies.

Cosmo zombies

The zombies were actually space-type Avengers who'd been infected by the space villain Abyss, and it was their job to protect Knowhere from Abyss. They of course, fail, but Nova and Cosmo fight them off and defeat Abyss!

Cosmo spasiba

Take it away Cosmo!

Rocket Style!

I'm probably going to get Guardians of the Galaxy, just so I can see what's going on with Cosmo, Gamora and Drax. Nova has always had a great supporting cast. The only thing is, I wonder where Cammi is. You know, the Cammi from Annihilation: Drax?

Queen Killer Conclusion!

I'm sure we all know how Zinda Blake became Queen Killer Shark (pirate pearl of the pacific!) in Birds of Prey issue number 115. Subsequently, through the power of ass-kicking and !friendship!, she reverted back to Lady Blackhawk and regained herself.

Now that that's over with, I think it's time to step back a little, to see exactly where McKeever is coming from.

I think it's time to have ourselves a little silver age nonsense (c).

But let's hold on here. Can we really call it nonsense until we have. . .


. . . a punch in the face!

Blackhawk 228

And needless thought bubbles!


And ridiculous plot resolution!

It's ridiculous, I know. Ridiculous and glorious at the same time. If you don't like McKeever's handling of the Birds, it could be much, much more chees--

--GAH! I hit my head. . . I'm kayoed!

What was I talking about? Hm, whatever, just enjoy this last panel from Blackhawk #228, the Blackhawk's very last issue. It's also the last issue in which Zinda Blake returned to us as Lady Blackhawk - pilot porter of people through ports!

Fables #71: Girls just wanna have guns

Time and time again, I'll find the guts to try a book that I've only read from the library or only heard from hearsay.

Oh look, here they are, in:

Fables 71
Fables #71

by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham

What if the legends of Aesop and Grimm lived and hid secretly in our world?

The answer is this book, Fables, in which the "fables" try to reclaim their homeland, Fabletown, from an unknown invader, the Adversary. Meanwhile, the humans, or "mundys" (short for mundane) live ignorant of them.

Strong enough premise, right? I've read the first three trades for this or so, and it hasn't disappointed me, so I thought I'd check out last month's issue.

Here, Cinderella (the spy!) goes to Argentina to get a "package." She meets up with some people who end up kidnapping her:
Fables 71

Note the little heels on the right side. They are so adorable. Those lined the borders of each page, alternating from (white heel in black circle) to (black heel in white circle), depending on the panel. It helped create the feeling that we're reading a fairy tale.

Fables 71


Cinderella kills her kidnappers and gets to the "package," who turns out to be Pinocchio, the long-nosed wonder!

Since their transportation arrangement went under, Cindy and Pinocchio have to get to a hotel.

There, Hansel (who's a villain!) takes Pinocchio in order to understand the war plans that the Fable community has for the adversary.

Cindy takes a seat, looks down, checks her watch: the assault for Fabletown has already begun. Cliffhanger is GO!

That's the issue. According to this wiki, Fables is predominantly crime fiction, which I'm not exactly a rabid fan of. I would've liked to see more "fantasy" here than "crime," but it's always good to broaden your horizons right?

I'll be getting next issue (coming out next week!) which concludes the two-part "Skulduggery," but if I'm not too excited for the series, I think I'll take a look at The Exterminators.
Anything you wanna say about the series? Maybe you read it with much more background knowledge than me, and you can enlighten me? 'cause I'm very much up for that.

New York, New York

Over here, a Very Awesome bLogger called Occasional Superheroine talks about a recent Adam Hughes DC promo from New York Comic Con:

DC Women promo

It is, if I may add, gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous, and you can find this from Adam Hughes' website, which is where I took this picture.

Something that bothers me though, is the way some people react to it. They criticize it as putting women in a strictly glamorous and un-heroic position or as an incompetent and unlightened attempt to empower women.

Why criticize this? To what end?

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that; everyone's entitled to their own opinion. It's just it bothers me on a personal level. Why is it that anything involving women has to be so scrupulously analyzed? Sometimes a cigar's just a cigar, and there isn't the need for quasi-feminist disdain. A lot of times there may be, but not in this case I don't think.

The women are stunning; you can tell who's who without their costumes (mostly. It took me some seconds to figure out Donna Troy and Harley), and the expressions on everyone are just great.

And that is what you call beauty. If it needs to be scrupled anywhere, I think it has to be on how awesome it is.

Anyways enough of that. According to Hughes' site, it'll be a promo for the 2008 convention season, so I hope I can get my hands on it for WW Chicago.


Cover to Cover: This is your DOOM!!!

Catwoman came out this week, but, for some reason, not Birds of Prey or Hack/Slash. This has utterly shattered my universe, because the three have historically come out together. My schedule is hopelessly annihilated, but at least we got the conclusion to Annihilation: Conquest!

So, short of Birds and Hack, Catwoman #78 and Annihilation: Conquest #6 are on the review today.

Catwoman #78
by Will Pfeifer and David Lopez

I thought that Catwoman would be off the Hell Planet by this issue, and I was both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised.

Unpleasantly in that I was wrong. Pleasantly in that the story here's very well told nonetheless.

Back on the Hell Planet, Catwoman makes a "non-aggression pact" with Hammer and Sickle. The two of them are so deliciously Communist; I love how Sickle is making constant references to the inevitable revolution that will overtake the capitalist world.

And then Cheetah attacks Catwoman! The fight is great, in that we get to see Catwoman being AWESOME, and we actually get to see her put good use to the cigar that the Joker gave her back in issue 75 or so.

There's a side-story with Slam Bradley too, in which Slam looks for what happened to Catwoman. I'm not exactly sure who he is, but I know that his son was the father of the baby in OYL. Most importantly, though, he introduces us to Interrogation 101:
[when interrogating] Make them fear you, then make them love you. Then make them drunk.
A really fun and smart issue, although I can't help the feeling that I'm better off waiting for the trade.

Four out of five pseudo-lesbionic covers.

Annihilation: Conquest #6
by Abnett, Lanning, Raney and Alves

I haven't been keeping up with the miniseries itself, but I've been reading enough to understand this issue:
  1. Rocket Raccoon and his wild gang of space marauders damage the babel spire that's trapping Hala in Ultron's grasp. They lose a few friends tragically.
  2. Ronan the Accuser is about to sacrifice Hala for the sake of the Kree Empire -- until Nova and gang come blazing forth!
  3. They open the barrier to Hala and kill Ultron's current body, Adam Warlock, only for Ultron to transfer his consciousness to a bunch of Phalanx sentries to form a Megazord! Go go mega Ultron!
  4. Adam Warlock's soul returns to him via the Quantum Bands.
  5. A furious battle winds up in Wraith trapping Ultron (so he can't transfer his consciousness to another body), so then Phyla-Vell delivers the deathblow to Ultron!
Ultron's DOOM

(epilogue) With the Phalanx conquered and Ultron destroyed, Peter Quill starts thinking about a ragtag band of proactive defenders to prevent anything like Annihilation or Annihilation: Conquest from happening again. Guardians of the Galaxy is go!

Well, this issue was awesome. Kick-ass characters, kick-ass moments, kick-ass fights, kick-ass dialogue. And I'm jumping on in the very last issue.

The only complaints I have are:
  • Phyla's killing of Ultron wasn't as awesome as Nova's killing of Annihilus. Considering that Conquest is excellent in and of itself, though, that's still a compliment.
  • I really don't like Tom Raney. All that slick coloring doesn't cover up the fact that he could definitely sharpen his faces and his anatomy. Cases in point:

You do not draw anyone's, much less Peter Quill's, forearm that thin when everything else is that huge.


And Super-Skrull's face isn't that flat, and his forehead isn't that long.

All things considered though, I am definitely looking forward to Guardians and I'm kind of really interested in the relationship between Rocket Raccoon and Groot, and Mantis and that other guy.

Dammit Annihilation, I just can't quit you!

A friendly neighborhood message from Coot's Bluff, Alaska:


Elderly awesomeness brought to you by Keith Giffen and Mitch Breitweiser in Annihilation: Drax the Destroyer.

Supergirl + Drew Johnson = a superb couple (special interactive edition!)


In Supergirl #28, artist Drew Johnson really shone through in a) his panelling, b) his style, c) his promptness, but most importantly. . .

. . . d) his expressions!

For the twelve of these panels, can YOU identify the correct expression on Supergirl? Label the twelve panels according to these ten choices:

A - thoughtful
B - sly/cocky
C - angry/condescending
D - determined
E - confused
F - cute!
I - remorseful
J - __________ (make your own label)

1)Supergirl 28___2)Supergirl 28___3)Supergirl 28

4)Supergirl 28___5)Supergirl28

(reproduced for YOUR convenience!)
A - thoughtful
B - sly/alluring
C - angry/condescending
D - determined
E - confused
F - cute!
I - remorseful
J - __________ (make your own label)

7)Supergirl 28_8)Supergirl 28_9)Supergirl 28

10)Supergirl 28

(reproduced for YOUR convenience!)

A - thoughtful
B - sly/alluring
C - angry/condescending
D - determined
E - confused
F - cute!
I - remorseful
J - __________ (make your own label)

12)Supergirl 28

I'll get you started: the answer to 2) is G - GETTING PUNCHED IN FACE!

According to my answer key, you use each of the ten choices at least once (yes, even choice J). There will be some overlap, as some panels depict the same expression.

I'll get my own answers up at the end of the week Friday, but you guys should totally feel free to prop up your own opinions.

So that means don't be shy! If you think a particular expression is more fitting than one of my own choices -- speak up! The comments section (yes, we do have one) is there for a reason after all!
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