Home again, home again

Tra la, tra la!

Or rather, home again for an evening and then back to University! Oh well, such is the life of the ever-popular comic book blogger.

I tell ya, nothing like an excursion to another city to really get a sense of your own! New York is packed in so tightly, everything is dirty, and you can't walk around without getting a shoulder to the face or a honk in the horn!

All things considered though, New York, New York, it's a helluva town. You got Times Square, you got Central Park, you got a genius train system, plus -- everything is so closely packed, you only need to walk to get around Manhattan!

And that includes getting to comic shops. Thanks to Forbidden Planet, I managed to keep up with my weeklies -- and then some --, so hopefully we'll get to those once I am settled in for new Spring quarter classes at University.

A little note on NY comic book shops: I was lucky enough to go to two. St. Mark's is a small little dive that you might not notice when you pass it, but boy when you go in, they use that space really well! The little comic holders are set up poorly, so that you can't see the full cover and you bend it slightly when you pull it out, but aside from that, this is an OK comic shop. I just wouldn't frequent it on a weekly basis.

Forbidden Planet
, on the other hand, has an enormous space, but it is just so jam-packed with customers that you'd definitely get a shoulder in the face. They have a countless amount of merchandise, action figures, obscure trades. Heck, you should see how much of a comic book they order, they must get a ton of customers! The space, though, is certainly more inviting than St. Mark's.

A little bonus is, you get 10% off your entire purchase (even periodicals/comics!) by showing them you're a college student! hooray for higher education!

I didn't get a chance to get to Midtown Comics, but hey, when I get back to NY, you can bet it's on my list.

Local comic book-ers in Chicago:

With movies like Iron Man, the Dark Knight, and most recently Watchmen, it seems like Hollywood's been having a little comic book fetish right now!

And hey, while we're at it, why not include some smaller titles? I am, of course, talking about Josh Elder's Tokyopop book, Mail-Order Ninja. As the Chicago Tribune describes, it too is getting involved in the Hollywood machinery!

(Click the link, and you'll even see them mention my school, Northwestern University! Hah!)

Mail-Order Ninja involves a ten-year-old boy ordering a ninja -- through the mail! There are two volumes as far as I know, and I found them both at a local library.

It is a spectacular and fun read, and most importantly, Josh outlines in the article that this'll be a movie made for the kids -- not the bunch of middle-age males that made up most of the revenue for the excess present in Watchmen.

Josh has also worked on some Johnny DC stuff, and he was at last year's Windy City Comic-Con too! Here's the two of us being irrevocable geeks awesome:

And hey, while I'm at it, let's look at some more Chicago comic book-ers!

Tim Seeley works for Devil's Due Publishing. He's done a book with Jesus kicking the snot out of zombies. He's also doing a book called Hack/Slash. I kept up with it for awhile, but then it stopped being a fun parody of awful 80's horror movies, and it started getting serious and pretty mediocre.

Mike Norton is an artist! His most recent work is Green Arrow/Black Canary, and I really think he's been improving after his run with the inimitable, ineffable Judd Winick. I haven't been really keeping up with it, because writer Andrew Kreisberg is telling a heck of a decompressed story.


yay blog fodder!

Ah! My files!

So, it turns out a hunk of my images are .gif's, which waste lots of space lots and lots quicker than .jpg's.

That is bad.

So, I will be spending a crapload of time clicking that little "File > Save As > .JPEG" on my laptop at New York, assuming I will be internet-less.

The good news is, though, I'm delving into some old images that I'd saved earlier! Yippee!

From an old, old issue of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, back when Sean McKeever and Takeshi Miyazawa were working their magic.


It's about time! You asked for it from the very start of this blog, and it's finally here!

The last chapter! The Final Countdown!

52 Vol. 4
by quadrillions of people


WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Well, if you don't know what it's about by now, go check out the first, second and third volumes. For you latecomers though, the gist is that, for 52 weeks, DC decided to put a hiatus on the Big Three - Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman - and instead tell a weekly comic about DC's other heroes.

It really rocked. This volume concludes the 52-week epic.

WHAT I LIKED: This is why comic books are made. There's one scene where Captain Marvel says "Shazam! Shazam! Shazam!" over and over, calling the thunderbolt from the sky over and over, and then grabbing that thunderbolt to lay the smackdown on people, while phase-shifting from Billy to Cpt. Marvel! That is insane!

Plus, you have that really cool cover with Will Magnus shooting bullets of the Mini-Metal Men at Egg-fu, and then you have the Religion of Crime erecting pits of fire across Gotham, and you have the Planet Green Lantern Mogo stopping Adam Strange's ship from tumbling into a K-type Sun, and you have Booster Gold travelling back in time to see Ted Kord pre-death, and then you have Mr. Mind trying to devour the universe. . .
Well, suffice to say, this is why comic books are made!

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Some of the endings for the arc are kind of underwhelming. Steel's confrontation with Lex Luthor left me "meh." So did Renee Montoya's takedown of the Religion of Crime in Gotham. Ralph Dibny's arc too. It's just that they were formulaic and predictable, or so voncoluted that you'd have to remember the details of the past trades.

The biggest irk, though, is the severe plot twist in Black Adam's arc. I just really find it unfair that he can't catch a break. I mean, he gets a wife, a new brother, a new family, a new life! And then these guys take it all away. I really don't see the need to make everything so dark and grim and gory as they portrayed it here. I don't want Black Adam to get angry and wage war on the world. I just wish Black Adam could have a happy life. Jerks.

Art-wise, this isn't pretty good either. Joe Bennett was one of the foundation artists in early 52, but he only shows up for 2 issues or so here, which really disappointed me. Some of the artists here aren't the best.

EXTRAS?: You have 13 issues for 20 dollars! It's amazing, because most trades these days, are 6 issues for 20 dollars! Even more, after each issue, you have page's worth of comments from the writers, and sometimes sketches, cover sketches, or script excerpts! The 52 trades truly excel in the extras department.

And the Metal Men are a really cool concept! I'm thinking about picking up Keith Giffen's Doom Patrol reboot this year, which will have Metal Men back-ups in them.

Read all my reviews of DC's 52:
Volume 1: issues 1-13
Volume 2: issues 14-26
Volume 3: issues 27-39
Volume 4: issues 40-52 

sleepy time is nice

If it's good enough for Spidey. . .

. . . then it's good enough for me! For spring break, I will be going, of all places, to New York City with my family! Here's hopin' the Big Apple doesn't run over this keen little midwesterner.

And the blog? I have some backlog stuff that'll be comin' out, with a special trade review on Monday. I will definitely review weeklies if I can get my hands on wi-fi or haul butt to a computer in the City So Nice They Named It Twice.

Hah! From Ultimate Spider-Man, issue #51 or so, by Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley.

Hey Killer Croc!

I seem to have misplaced my watch, couldja tell me what time it is?

Thanks man! I was really hungry too.

From Tony Daniel's Batman: Battle for the Vowel Cowl.

Hi Annihilus! What's shakin' with the blog? Please don't eat me.

So, whenever I do reviews, I rarely post the covers, and sometimes it really makes a review more readable to look at the cover.
I don't post the cover in order to save image space, because I'd be going through images pretty quickly, especially on a comics blog.

Of course, Annihilus! To somewhat remedy things without actually remedying them, I'm going to have deal-ies where you can click the title of the comic and see an image of the cover with the description.

Hm? Uh, Right Annihilus. Marvel has relatively permanent links to their singles, so you can find issues as far back as Spider-Man during Civil War, three years ago. Isn't that just amazing? DC, however, recycles their links, I believe, so three months or so from now, this link may not be a link to the adorable Tiny Titans #14.

Image Comics's site, though, looks like it got drunk and barfed out HTML everywhere, which is why I used my local comic shop's site for Bad Dog #2, in the previous post.

You got it man! Just remember now, Annihilus, even though the title is white and not the regular blue underline font, I hopefully remembered to link to the comic book's cover there! Wave your mouse over the title and watch it turn into a little pointy-hand -- just like magic!

"Every iota of you disgusts every iota of me."

Kids, the comic today involves mature stuff, so if you don't know what a "skinhead" is, please don't let this blog corrupt you! Neo-Nazis are bad, bad people, and their ideals are bad, bad ideals.
Today's comic is 25 pages of story for $3.50. The only ads are house ads, and most of them are after the story. Make of that what you will. You can find the first issue here.

Bad Dog #2
by Joe Kelly and Diego Greco

So Joe Kelly's new comic has survived to see a second issue! Awesome.

To catch you up, Bad Dog is a comic about two bounty hunters, Lou and Wendell. Wendell is a fat troll-like guy who calls everyone godless heathens while cussing every other word. Lou is kind of a tragic werewolf. Milk cartons, of all things, make him really sad, because there are always the "Have you seen me?" dealies with children's faces, and most of the time, there's never any point in looking for the kids, because they're dead by the time you find them, or worse.

This issue kicks off with domestic "bliss" where Wendell tries to cheer up Lou and fails, but the consequences are hilarious.

Later, they take a bounty hunting commission for -- you won't believe it -- neo-nazi white supremacists! Wendell chose them on purpose, because he knew that beating on some skinheads would cheer Lou up. Awwww. There's a brilliant two-page splash where Lou and Wendell have fun with picking on the guys. The panels are framed as polaroids, the kind you'd wanna put in a photo album!

Eventually, one of the guys escapes and gets ahold of their massive artillery collection. What I found funny but sad was that they had different racks of guns labeled "Mexican" and "Black" and "Asian." Eventually, everything goes awry, and Lou and Wendell botch their job.

The ending is really cute, but in a melancholy way. I really enjoyed the issue, but I'll warn you: you need a good sense of humor to deal with the raunchy, outrageous stuff in this part-social satire, part human-commentary romp in America's backside.

ALSO: there are a lot of cusses and innuendoes, so kids, STEER CLEAR of this!

Miller on the Mind

Frank Miller, that is.

This past week, I read 300 in the University Library.

Then I (re-)watched Sin City.

And these things are just brilliant! I know I've been making fun of Miller for his crappy (but hilarious) crap, but we really ought to take some pause at the great stuff this guy put out.

Sin City is a mastery of the film noir genre! You have the femmes fatales, the hard-boiled, lone detective, the corrupt, polluted politician/police officer. Society is perverted in Oldtown, where the hookers are the law, and not even the police and the mafia dare to intrude on them. Justice is perverted, as the "heroes" of each story take the law into their own hands, and issues their own brand of justice. Every scene is delicious, whether it's gory, twisted, demented or just a wonderful one-liner!

"It was a lousy night in a lousy part of a lousy town."
"An old man dies. A young girl lives. Fair trade."
It's tough. It's gritty. It's suicidal. I love it!

And 300 is 300. It's barely historical fiction, but that's the point -- we glorify the past to make it more memorable, and 300 is a story about the glories of the past, and its heroes.

And et cetera. I really ought to study now.

Gabba Gabba Hey Tony Daniel!

You are pretty awesome at giving criminals expressions, man.

You know who you should work with? Frank Miller.

From this week's Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1, by Tony Daniel and Tony Daniel. Whattaguy.

No comics today?

Nope. None.

I wanted to get Green Lantern's conclusion to "Rage of the Red Lanterns," but it was sold out. I wanted to get GA/BC #whateveritwas, but I just didn't feel like it. I was thinking about getting World of New Krypton #1, but I don't wanna get let down again (See my reactions to New Krypton).

Call it comic book malaise, call it scrooqesque stinginess, call it Aunt May's homemade wheatcakes, call it whatever you like, it doesn't matter!

I have finals next week, and a ten-page paper due, so I am screwed!
Consider this a pseudo-hiatus for a week and a half, so in the meanwhile, chill with Chris Giarrusso's Hawkeye:

I will still chime in, just not on comic-review-wise.

Justice Vol. 2: Superman is the best neighbor

Ahhhh Mondays! The start of a new week, but today -- the continuation of one! Today we are following up on Justice volume 1 with

Justice vol. 2
by Jim Krueger, Doug Braithwaite and Alex Ross

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The villains of the DCU all have the same nightmare, in which Earth is destroyed, and the heroes can do nothing about it. They undertake a plan to save the world, and incapacitate all the heroes. That was the first volume. This second volume involves the resurgence of the superheroes, and their return to glory. The third volume, presumably, involves them saving the world.
WHAT I LIKED: This volume is a call-back to the awesomeness of the Golden Age. You have one panel with Hal's ring converting his being into electrical signals to keep him alive. You have Captain Marvel hurling Superman into the Sun to get rid of the nanites that Mr. Mind implanted in him. You have the Flash racing around the world so quickly, that Superman sees him leaving in the East, and coming in the West at the same breath. You have Batman and Wonder Woman marvelling at the key to the Fortress of Solitude.

This is a glorification of DC's superheroes, and why comic books were made!

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Plot still pretty decompressed. I appreciate that Krueger wants to take the time for each person, but do we really need to undergo four issues to save Aquaman?
Mind you, this is just me complaining/being stingy, because the plot is still a fun ride to read page by page. I just think the series would've been better published altogether, and not in parts like this.

EXTRAS?: There's an intro by Doug Braithwaite, and at the end are some files from "Batman's private casebook." It's a collection of bios (in Batman's voice!), along with Alex Ross's sketches. For some reason, the bios for Superman and Toyman are cut off. I'm lookin' at you, quality control!

FINAL THOUGHTS: What a thoroughly awesome comic book trade. I was under the impression that this was a 12-issue maxiseries, but apparently not. Hopefully the story concludes in next trade, which I don't think the library has. Crap.

Spider-Man: hero to at least fifteen or so people!

Herein we conclude Joe Kelly's two-issue arc on Amazing Spider-Man about America's youth, and how organized crime is affecting it, and where good ol' webhead fits into all this!

Amazing Spider-Man #576
by Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo

So, Spidey confronts Hammerhead and tries to defend some children from his attempts to recruit them into Mr. Negative's gang.

There are a couple tussles, the first of which Spidey is battered senseless, but he comes out on top in the end.

And more importantly, the issue highlights Peter Parker's faith and optimism in the world. Even when his roommate - a police officer - calls the kids "animals trained for war," Peter goes out of his way to show the kids that there's more to living than working for Mr. Negative. A broken jaw and dislocated hip out of his way, in fact! A hero is more than someone who punches the right person at the right time. A hero gives hope to the world, and that is how Joe Kelly portrays Spidey.

Kelly's signature insane sense of humor comes out in the comic too, and no one could have done the grittiness-yet-goofiness better than Chris Bachalo. This was truly a fantastic arc!My only complaint is that Norah Winters tells Peter to go on a date with her at the end, except we don't hear anything more about Norah in future issues, or at least thus far as I've read. If you're gonna get rid of his marriage, at least do something with his bachelorhood!

"She's tore up from the floor up, I heard."

I am going to tell you about an awesome issue of Amazing Spider-Man.

Splash pages in the right places! Exposition in the right places! Signature raunchiness that only Joe Kelly could write! Gruesome action scenes that only Chris Bachalo could draw! Just enough Spidey action, with enough nods to Peter Parker, the man behind the mask!

Amazing Spider-Man #575

by Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo

If you couldn't tell, I really liked this issue.

It's about organized crime. It's about youth culture. It's about crime reporting.

And most importantly -- it's about where a little science nerd who dresses up as a spider fits in all this!

I really loved this issue. Peter is sent by Frontline newspaper co. to cover a science expo, and there he meets a kid.
(Note the date-- that's the day of the release of Amazing Fantasy #15!)

The kid, though, gets caught up in gang life (the new "gangsta with no r" wave of gang life -- not the old, "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse" gang life). Hammerhead, however, is new and improved, thanks to Mr. Negative's operations on him, so he goes through the Bronx recruiting young members to Mr. Negative's way of gang life.

Inevitably, Spidey gets involved, and the results are devastating. At a slum in the Bronx, Spidey gets his jaw broken, a hip dislocated by Hammerhead -- all in front of a group of children, and no one could draw this as well as Chris Bachalo. I've railed on the guy before, but he really nails down the tone of this story!

The story ends in the next issue, and I really like the introduction of the new character, "Norah Winters," one of Peter's staff partners at Frontline.
Which is to say, this comic book single is awesome.

Who's Watching Watchmen?

So, the Tribune has given a review for Zack Snyder's "Watchmen"!

The general consensus among the blogosphere seems to be that it is a faithful adaptation of the comic books. What else do you say? Not much else, right?

Luckily, this is why you get reviews from outside of the blogosphere, because the Tribune offers a non-fan perspective:

There are worries that it won't appeal to the non-comic-book-fanbase, and the article even brings up the long-standing concerns that comic books have appealed more "among older men but but less among teenage boys and men in their 20s, and still less passion from women of any age."

I don't really know what to say to this. Well, my dorm here is certainly excited about the midnight screening. Call it a hunch, but I think these people aren't "older men" but rather "teenage boys (and some girls)."

We all know that "The Dark Knight" performed fantastically. Alan Moore adaptations (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta) haven't done so well if I recall correctly. Frank Miller's kind of received warm reception thanks to "300," and I don't know about Sin City, but that movie was fantastic.

I don't think I'll be watching Watchmen anytime soon, but how about you guys? What do you guys think of the public reception of a thoroughly comic-book-y comic book movie?

What a dirty, dirty man!

Honestly, Metallo!

With a fine, upstanding mustache like yours, I expected better from you than this, this brutish display of public indecency! Who do you think you are, brazenly baring your manly chest for all of God to see?

Corrupting America's youth you are, you dirty, dirty man.

What did the banana do when he saw the sundae?

From Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo's Amazing Spider-Man #575. Quite a while back. Unfortunately, I won't be able to review comics for this week, but I am certainly thinking of talking about this comic book.

Justice vol. 1: Why DC's Gods suck

Ahhhh, what better way to kick off the week than with a handy trade?

This week's is

Justice vol. 1

by Jim Krueger, Doug Braithwaite and Alex Ross

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Jim Krueger tackles the superhero archetype with Alex Ross's paints over Doug Braithwaite's pencils. He deals distinctly with DC heroes, because he questions what roles that these Gods have in our society -- why do they simply reinforce the status quo, instead of using their gifts to effect actual change for the world? .

Instead of just catching petty criminals, why doesn't, say, Superman use his microscopic vision and heat vision to isolate and terminate cancer cells? Why doesn't Ray Palmer shrink food down, so that it's easier to ship to other worlds, and then grow it back up? As Joss Whedon put it, these guys are Gods, and they ought to use their gifts for greater purposes.

WHAT I LIKED: First of all, well, that's a pretty awesome premise there, and you won't find a lot of other comic books to actually deal with this idea -- that superheroes can actually change the world for the better.
This is where the villains come in too -- they decide to use their powers to make the world a better place. Toyman makes prosthetics for children in war-torn places, while Captain Cold creates a massive iceberg in the desert, bringing water and life to the area. There are other sorts of examples too, and it seems like they're all working in concert.It's pretty awesome, and it's a total inversion of the superhero-super-villain dynamic.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: It's a little long and drawn-out. As the villains are improving the world, they're also covertly striking at, well every individual of the Justice League, and a lot of time is spent telling the downfall of each of them. In fact, this volume ended on a cliffhanger, and doesn't tell a full arc at all.

This first volume had six issues, but the plot's only really begun to kick into first gear. Not really much for 20 dollars, I'd say.

EXTRAS?: There's an introduction by writer Jim Krueger, on the nature of superheroes, and then there's a little bit of Superman giving us a short bio of some members of the JLA. It's cutesy. After the story, we get some "Private files from Bruce Wayne's Batcomputer," which is a nice touch, but it's just Batman giving us a bio of some other characters. Afterwards, there's some of Doug Braithwaite's sketches/layouts, and some Alex Ross too. It's pretty gorgeous.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It pretty much sucks that volume one doesn't even tell a full story, but there's certainly a lot of potential for what it ended on. I know the library here has volume two, so hopefully it'll get back on the shelves in no time.

Personally, I'd never pay 20 bucks for something like this, and I think DC should have just published the maxiseries in its entirety, in one piece, instead of breaking it up in half like this.

All in all, a very strong start of the story, that puts all our heroes in crisis, that plays on a larger scope, and uses beautiful art to tell it.

hey that's pretty cool

So, since we are all about New Krypton this week, I thought this was pretty appropriate: DC has caught up with the modern world, and released a video trailers for its sequel, "World of New Krypton."

For some reason, Newsarama doesn't let you embed the video, and I checked DC's impenetrable site, and couldn't find the video, so I had to settle for just linking it. See, DC, that's something you could do to improve.

All things considered, it's a pretty good trailer! By all means, you should click the link. It certainly got me excited about "World of New Krypton," and we all know how much "New Krypton" disappointed me.

Maybe it'll actually tell the story that "New Krypton" should've told.
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