DC's Final Crisis: STOP! You must be supercool to proceed.

As we count down to the New Year, we also count down to . . . the FINAL CRISIS!

That's right kids, my library got in the miniseries that we all called "confusing." and "overly reliant on continuity. I want a sandwich." What's my verdict? Am I too confused and in need of a sandwich?

Final Crisis
by Grant Morrison and a mess of artists

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: There was a war and evil won! The New Gods died and were reborn into hip reverends, tiger-dudes and Alpha Lanterns! The evil ones succeed in bringing the end of the 52 worlds, and it's up to the DCU's greatest heroes to save us!

The Flash must outrun Death, the Black Racer! Death can't run greater than the speed of light, but here's a Flash fact -- Barry Allen can!

Superman must rise into the 4th dimension, cross universes and do battle with the vampire of 52 universes to obtain the elixir that can't be brought back to save Lois -- all in the space between her final heartbeat!

WHAT I LIKED: It's billed as a tale of what happens "when evil wins," and yeah, the world really does get taken over by Darkseid's Anti-Life Equation. It's kinda awesome to see how everyone, from Green Arrow to Green Lantern, deals with it, and near the end the JL tower is the only refuge from the Anti-Life Equation.

Morrison takes every high concept from the DCU and throws it at you! Can you handle it?

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I believe there was a scheduled delay in the single issues. If this is so, why do so many artists fill in for JG Jones? That's kind of disappointing to see.

The plotline gets pretty thick and bramble-y. I couldn't tell it to you myself, but the fights are pretty great, and the concepts are pretty great. For a major crossover event, it could've done worse (Secret Invasion), but I think it's better than DC's recent stuff (Infinite Crisis).
EXTRAS?: Included is the miniseries Superman: Beyond and the one-shot Submit. Superman: Beyond is totally insane and trippy and a great read. Submit, eh, not so much. These two are sandwiched in between issue 3 and 4 of Final Crisis. There's a small sketchbook at the end of it from JG Jones.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Final Crisis is the story of "the last story" and the story of "when evil won," and it fulfills that to the tee. If you wanna blow your freakin' mind at what Morrison packs in here and see superheroes being superheroes, Final Crisis is highly recommended.

O Tannenbaum

Merry Christmas!

Andy Diggle's Thunderbolts: Where did it go wrong?

You guys are probably aware by now that I am a large fan of Thunderbolts. I have been, ever since Warren Ellis's stupendous run on the series, and it was just as outrageous during Christos Gage's run during Secret Invasion. When Andy Diggle took over, he brought a new cast of T-bolts, and a bombastic running start that involved our President Obama himself.

And then, well, he just treaded water until he finished. Let's look at this disaster a little more in-depth, and the future of the title.

Thunderbolts #136 was the last issue of his run. Previously, he'd added more and more Tough Characters to make the Thunderbolts seem like a Bunch of Tough Guys who do Tough Things, except he didn't give them any personality. Is that one guy without the shirt Scourge? No wait, that's the guy with the trench coat and hockey mask right? Oh no, isn't he Mr. X?

So basically, Mr. Diggle placed a bunch of people on the roster and did nothing meaningful with them. DISAPPOINTING, DUDE. You didn't do your predecessors any justice.

Hey Natasha Romanova! Can we pass a health care bill within Obama's first year in office????

YES WE CAN! And this is coming from a Russian guys. YES WE CAN.

Next up is Thunderbolts #137, an over-sized filler issue from the Rick Remender. I don't really know the guy, but he writes a great story with Power Man crusading through Thunderbolts Mountain, taking out each T-bolt one by one for his brother, Iron Fist. And then he poops out Ant Man with his bowels of power. It's a wonderful, insightful story about brotherhood, friendship and pooping out miniature people.

The next issue is Jeff Parker's start on the title. You guys should recognize him by now. He does a great job at illustrating how AWFUL the T-bolts are as a team, but the characters still need work.

Jeff Parker, don't fail me now.

Reading the Goon vol. 2: Good ol' Charlie Noodles

Do you hear that? That small whisper in your ear as the wind gets colder, drier. You can maybe make it out, if you listen closely.

That sound is. . . comics.

The Goon vol. 2: My Murderous Childhood
(and Other Grievous Yarns)
by Eric Powell

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The Goon and his pal Franky fight a gang war against The Preacher's zombies and other paranormal ghosties on Lonely St.! The Goon gets molested by a sea creature! Franky eats too much blueberry pie! The two get kidnapped to Hobo Jungle! Dr. Hieronymous Alloy tries to take a hit on the Goon! Can you handle it????

WHAT I LIKED: You might notice that we're actually skipping volumes, because the last volume we went over was volume 0: Rough Stuff. I don't really have a good reason to do it other than I felt like it, and want to see how the continuity holds up in one skip.

And guess what: the trade holds up very well! Eric Powell keeps up his wonderful format of storytelling -- each issue is its own self-contained story, and some issues are even "double-sized" or "triple-sized." Powell keeps up his unique sense of humor and even delves a little into The Goon's past as a kid.

Some issues are interspersed with material such as shorts, or even mock ads to pad out the page length. It's great! Powell even takes the time to frame a flashback story -- using live action photographs! Powell approaches the stories very creatively, and that totally rocks.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: This trade has an ending!

EXTRAS?: There are some concept sketches for some new characters here, as well as an inside look at some of Powell's art and a couple of unused covers before The Goon switched publishers.

FINAL THOUGHTS: When you really get to the end of it, The Goon's a fun comic with a lot of heart. I can't recommend it enough, and I can't wait for the library to get volume 3!

a scan from Jack of Fables: Tortoise and Hare!

I love you so much. From Jack of Fables vol. 1: The (Nearly) Great Escape.

Amazing Spider-Man #606-607: Let's get it on

Amazing Spider-Man #606-607
"Long-Term Arrangement," by Joe Kelly and Mike McKone

Joe Kelly and Mike McKone team up to bring back the Black Cat post-Brand New Day! You may have noticed the fairly juvenile solicits for the two issues.

When all's said and done though, the arc was pretty darn good. Kelly brings up a throwaway villain from the good ol' Marvel cache, and really plays on the intimate relationship that the Black Cat and Spider-Man has. It makes for some great dialogue, and you can tell that the two really do have a lot of affection for each other.

McKone does an excellent job! He totally could've gone cheesecake and showcase Black Cat's butt or boobs, but he didn't. The fill-in artist at the end, Moriah Benes, doesn't do the same though. What a classy guy. I love how dynamic he makes Spidey's poses, except -- in several instances, it looks like he's drawing a teenage Peter Parker!
Look bub, this isn't Ultimate Spider-Man, okay?

All in all, it's a competent, exciting, funny, fun story with a great twist ending. Cheers to the people responsible for it.

Here's more McKone stuff.

That is insane, dude.

from Amazing #600 :

. . . and suddenly I have this urge to move to the East Coast! Strange. Which is why I'll be in Boston from the 16th until Christmas. Some posts will be out. Take care and stay warm!

Spidey and the Tentacle Monster

Another Mighty
Marvel Masterpiece from Stan and Steve!

Spidey meets an all-new, all-horrible foe!

Greater than the Lizard's scales! More terrible than Doc Ock's shades!

Not even we know how to get outta this one, webheads!

Wouldja believe -- tentacle attack? Quick! Use your spidey-sense!

Hurl your body into the blazing fire!

From Amazing Spider-Man #37, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

The JLA'S number 1 enemy. . .

. . .is of course, without a doubt. . .

tooth decay. On this dread evening of all hallows, sweet tooths and skanky costumes, please be safe! And have a frightful, fruitful, Halloween guys!

From DC's 52, by several wonderful people. This is volume three.

Gotham City Sirens is filmed before a live studio audience. Hey look! There's Power Girl's cat.

This week I did not get any comics, but you know what? I got some last week and the week before that, so let's not leave them all by their lonesome.

Power Girl #5
by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner

I have been hanging on to this title since issue 1, if you're curious. It's a nice title and all, and it's pretty fun too, but it's just so hard not to see Power Girl as another one of DC's generic super-heroes. Even when you add way hot alien party girls to the scene, Power Girl is pretty generic. So much of her dialogue is just a simple grunting word!

Although I totally dig that Palmiotti and Gray make an in-story reason to showcase Power Girl's sexy, sexy legs (20% more hits, here I come!).

Despite the title, this comic isn't about Power Girl or her boobs. It isn't even about the perv who's totally stalking Pee-Gee. Not really. It's about funny sight gags, and goofy jokes here and there, with Power Girl on the side. As always though, Amanda Conner totally rocks the title with wonderful expressions, with that "Whoa." panel up top, for example.

Anyways, Power Girl as a title: it's not great, it's not good, but it's fun-er than your average DC comic book.

Gotham City Sirens #4
by Paul Dini and Guillem March

Surprisingly, this comic contains more than just Catwoman's boobs or Poison Ivy's butt. It also contains Harley Quinn's legs. It also contains an actual story with some pretty sweet art. The inking has really stepped up since issue 1; it's a lot tighter with more detail. March has kinda toned down the cheesecakiness of his pencils, yet he's retained Poison Ivy's "I don't need gravity." hair, and does some great facial expressions, especially with Joker. It's the best of both worlds!

So yeah: Harley hooks up with Hush, who's masquerading around Gotham as Bruce Wayne, which pisses off Joker. Naturally, both of them try to kill her. It's like some weird sitcom love triangle! Oh that Harley. What will she get into next?

I expected Joker to get a bigger, you know, fanfare in returning to a Bat-title, but no such luck. He's treated a lot here like the 1960's Cesar Romero "I'm gonna wreak may-ay-ayhem in Gotham and you can't stop me!" Whatever.

All in all, a fairly entertaining issue which gets me excited for the next one. You couldn't ask for more.

The Goon Vol. 0: EAT HIS FACE!

The Goon Vol. 0: Rough Stuff
by Eric Powell

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Take one sleazy Depression-era city with all its squirrel-sized rats, mob wars, rough-and-tumble bunch of dirtballs and add ZOMBIES and demons and whatnot. Need I say more?

Okay, well, THE GOON is one tough guy with his pal Franky, and he's A GOON for a mob boss called Labrazio. He fights turf wars with The Priest, a zombie who reanimates the dead as well as the Feds. All in the first three issues of Eric Powell's first miniseries THE GOON!

WHAT I LIKED: The humor is pretty great! A good portion of it's over the top, but hey, we're dealing with ZOMBIES here. Vampires, werewolves and the occasional demon-possessing-my-child come into play too.

Not only that, there's also a little mystery about the Goon's past: what's his real relationship with Labrazio? And so on.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Some humor might come off as flat. Franky running over people, for example. It's also a lot of information in three issues, so that might get some people winded.

EXTRAS?: Oh man oh man, there are so many extras here. Powell talks about the evolution of THE GOON, several concept sketches, a few pin-ups, and the original THE GOON comic strips that appeared on thegoon.com! Pretty impressive.

FINAL THOUGHTS: A pretty good outing, and the art gets even better as Powell refines his style. The Goon creates a world for itself, and thrives in it, so it can only go up from here.

Because YOU demanded it!

This is it! You asked for it on day one, then howled for it a day after! But I wasn't gonna show my hand! I was a tight-lipped, teasing Tina!

But enough is enough! Something's gotta give, and that something is me! I gotta give the people what they want, and what they want is

A Clark Bar

by Necco©

The packaging is red, white and navy blue. Can't go wrong with those colors. There's a big bad CLARK that dominates the bar, and really, would we have it any other way? The packaging tells you all you need to know, and nothing else: the company, the candy and the net weight. So really, this is a candy that doesn't need any flash to sell itself! It absolutely screams "I am made from a company that is over two centuries old."

There's a label underneath the "Clark" that says, "Chocolatey Coated Peanut Butter Crunch," and boy, they aren't lying! The chocolatey coating reels you in, but the peanut butter crunch is the main attraction! It's not really a crunch like a wafer (Twix), but more like the crunch that comes with crystallized sugar (Butterfinger). It packs a lot of kick in it, and you might bite your tongue without even knowing!

So, when all is said and done, and eaten, where does the inexorable Clark Bar fit into today's world candy equation? I wouldn't say it's your average family household candy bar, like, say a Twix or a Crunch. Nah, it's a little too crunchy for that, a little too wild, even after two centuries. A Clark Bar isn't the kind of girl you go out with to the drive-in for a good old flick and snacks at the lobby. No, you go out to the drive-ins with a Clark Bar to totally mack out with.

The Clark Bar

Fine Candy Since 1847!

Serials for 9-16: Vampirella and Thunderbolts

Hah! How long has it been since a weekly review? I haven't even bought any new weeklies in a while, partly because everything costs too much, and partly because I've been tourist-ing for a while.

I missed the second issue of Doom Patrol when it came out, as well the fourth issue of Gotham City Sirens, and you know what? I'm not really all that worse for missing out on them. Doom Patrol's been getting one-upped by its back-up feature, and Sirens #4 was a filler issue anyways!

That's why I didn't get those at all this week. I got some other stuff, like
by Phil Hester and Daniel Sampere

It takes a lot of guts to make an issue $1.99, especially if you're an indy publisher, so I think that kinda risk deserves a chance. I picked up the first issue of the four-issue mini, and it's not half bad. Vampirella the character is revamped into Vampirella the urban myth.

Naturally, a host of demons plan on opening a gate to hell, and it's up to Vampirella and the gang to stop them! Literally, the one thing new about the story is how the humans frame it. The woman up top is a women's social worker "marked" by Vampirella ten years ago, and her husband is an architect taken over by demons so that he can open the gates to hell. I smell a clash of the sexes!

I've never read a Vampi comic before, but it's pretty hilarious that Vampirella, this huge sex symbol, is finding herself in this one character who's a women's social worker. I was a little amused that they made the cheesecake in-story -- Vampi dresses up as a librarian and "marks" the social worker in the Georgetown Law Library! Pretty clever, guys. I also like that demons can possess you by feeding you cooked bits of your fellow human. That is insane.

Okay dude. You know something's up when your contractor has a weird growth on the side of his neck, glowing green eyes and blue flesh. Come on, guy.

by Andy Diggle and Miguel Sepulveda

The story itself is standard Andy Diggle: make a few twists, a double-cross and an action scene! It's exciting and all, but there are some action scenes that are way too fanboy-ish (stopping bullets by spinning your sword really quickly? This is not a video game.), and, at times, legs look like they're in the middle of yoga when they really look like they should be kicking.

At the end of the issue, Norman Osborn shoots Nick Fury in the head???? Three times???? Then they tell you to check out Secret Warriors #8 "for another perspective"????? Forget that. To be honest, the only part that really brought this issue to standard was Black Widow's hair.

It's so pretty!

Surely you know, a Phoenix is reborn -- only to be reborn again!

Just in case you wanted to know, I had a great time on the West Coast. I spent a great deal of it touring the University of California in Berkeley, and doing general tourist-y things.

I figured it'd be a pretty good way to get back to the blog by following up on the sequel to Phoenix: Endsong! So here's

X-Men: Phoenix - Warsong
by Greg Pak and Tyler Kirkham

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Pak takes another crack at the Phoenix entity's saga, with the Stepford Cuckoos this time! And Weapon Plus! Is it up to snuff? Does it work as a sequel to Endsong?WHAT I LIKED:

WHY I DIDN'T LIKE IT: Ehhhh it's kinda hard to get into the story, when they're introducing these people who are meant to be "Oh hey it's that one guy from that one comic," except it turns out to be "Oh hey, I've never read anything with these people before."

The series in question is Grant Morrison's New X-Men, and the details include the cuckoos, Dr. Sublime et al, and if you haven't read it, you'll probably get confused. It kinda sucks.

EXTRAS?: Cover gallery of two variants, with a bio on the Cuckoos. Thankfully, no concept sketches from Kirkham, because I have an extreme dislike for his barbie doll style.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I figured I could pick this up on the strength of Endsong, but I was pretty darn mistaken! While Endsong also relied on a background in New X-Men, it didn't take the story to a place where it was entirely dependent on it. Warsong is a pretty bad book in my, uh, book.

Rock on, public education!

Oh wait. So you're telling me school isn't out now?

Right, rightrightright! Today is labor day, and a great deal of you crazy kids start school the next day! Many of my university pals started already 1 or 2 weeks back, but I still have a little less than two weeks to go myself. But anyways, today isn't about me. It's about you!

Good luck!

It's Kirby's birthday!

Jack Kirby! You know, the guy who co-created Captain America, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, the Hulk!


Times like these I wonder why I got into this fandom.

This is what I get for reading this. You have been warned people!

It used to be that you could take a comic book and read it. And your hero/ine(s) would go on a harrowing adventure, see all kinds of crazy people in a wacky environment, punch a few bad guys in the face and then come out with a quip at the end.

Those days are gone. People write for the trades now, so you'll barely be lucky to get a story done in four issues. These days comic books aren't worth the paper they're printed on, and you need to buy a trade if you wanna get any kind of story.

So, basically, why buy singles these days? It's a really tough question for me, and it only gets tougher and tougher. I'm limiting myself to a single comic book each week, but even that just doesn't feel right. I can't tell if I'm picking up singles out of habit these days, or if I actually do enjoy it.

Who am I kidding? Comic books weren't made for me -- my generation doesn't even like the stuff! It's anime, and manga, and for a very good, very sensible reason: they actually get their money's worth. Three, or even four dollars for 22 pages that barely go anywhere? No wonder people are paying 10 dollars for 200+ pages of story! I go to conventions, and most of the people are middle-aged men with heaps of disposable income trying to recapture their youth. Why did I get into comic books in the first place?

So that is my rant for today. I didn't feel like making a throwaway sight gag/bad joke, so please sit on that for the weekend.

Thank you.

Power Girl #4: The adventures of Busty Airborne Lass!

I know I said I'd drop the book, but the 8-page preview was so charming that I couldn't help myself. Check it out yourself!

Busty Airborne Lass #4
by Palmiotti/Gray and Amanda Conner

Surprisingly, they manage to fit quite a lot into here. Power Girl goes on a night out with Terra, deals with a throwaway villain, worries about her corporation, and goes looking for real estate. I'm pretty impressed with the pacing here, but that's about it.

Beyond the adorable first seven pages, nothing else about the story is really remarkable. It's like they're just going through the motions, trying to flesh out Karen Starr as a character without really trying to do anything interesting. LIke the last issues before it, this comic is really about the art.

It's so expressive! I love Amanda Conner's cartoon-ish style. It's like you can tell what the characters are thinking, just by looking at their faces! Even the cats!

So this was a short week for me. I intend to make all weeks this short if not shorter, because I am totally on a budget.


What happens when you BOSH Spider-Man in the noggin?


Clearly, little white stars emanate from his head. Ouch. From Peter Parker, Spider-Man, by the brilliant team of Paul Jenkins and Mark Buckingham.
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