It's Kirby's birthday!

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


Celebrate!

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.

The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire!



Uh, seriously guys. We gotta get out of here. From Amazing Spider-Man #601.

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.

QUESTION:

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



ANSWER:


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

Surely you know: a Phoenix dies -- only to be reborn!

It's very, very rare for me to review a trade from my own collection. I usually get trades from the library, simply because they're free, they're new to me, and they're easy. Also, there's the fact that, you know, I actually paid cash money for the trades in my collection, so there's a good chance that I already approve of the trade on sight. Doesn't make for a fair-sided review, does it?

But this doesn't exactly apply when I was just getting into comics. Hence, I ended up buying stuff like

X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong
by Greg Pak and Greg Land

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Marvel wanted to give a last story for the Phoenix, and saw fit to give reins to screenwriter Greg Pak, and fan-favorite, semi-photorealistic penciller Greg Land. He tries to tell a story of power of love against an omnipotent cosmic destroyer of worlds.


This was before Pak and Land hit FAME status, before Pak's World War Hulk, and Land's "Dude you trace porn," to give you some sense of where this story belongs and when it was told.

WHAT I LIKED: Land is still Land, so even if he traces here, he traces some pretty darn pretty faces for Jean and Emma, and lord knows I have a small fan crush on both of those X-dames.

It works on the Emma/Scott relationship, and it's kind of a wake-up call, "Hey Cyclops. Stop being all angsty, and get over Jean. You have a totally hot telepath who turns into diamond in front of you." And you know what? It works. It works pretty darn well.


WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: So sure, Land knows how to draw/trace a pretty girl. He doesn't know how to do it consistently though. One panel, Jean has one face, the next panel, it's like she went and got a facelift! Frustrating, Land. Frustrating.

Also, the nature of the Phoenix is really confusing. First, it needs Jean's corpse to corporealize itself, but then Jean separates herself from it, at which point it manifests a form by itself, without her help? And at one point it even possesses Emma? I really shouldn't think about this, so I won't.


EXTRAS?: Maybe 3 or 4 pages of sketches from Land, and a collection of the variant covers for the miniseries. The variants were just differently-colored versions of the original retail covers, so not very exciting.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was supposed to be something of an "endsong" for the Phoenix entity, and it's a pretty good one. It's a little annoying that there's a nod to its sequel though. Phoenix is like Freddy Krueger; it's always back for a sequel!

There are some pretty unprofessional-looking sound effects that clash with Land's hyperrealistic style, but it's a product of its time, which is about. . . 5 years ago. All in all, an exciting, emotional Phoenix story. What more could you want.

I survived comic-con, and all I got was this lousy wristband. And some comics. And some toys. And some. . .

So this year, instead of getting the regular badges-on-a-string to wear, participants instead got a wristband. If you lost them, you were plum out of luck, but luckily, they held up pretty well! Not only are they waterproof, they survived a few bites from my friend's dog.


So, really -- badges? We don't need no steenkin' badges!


This is what the little floor piece looked like, finished. I feel honored that, at last, Nick Fury's shining beacon of light is depicted on graphic art.

And this is what I got. Mostly Spidey stuff, with some miscellaneous Marvel stuff. I got two DC books: Grant Morrison's We3, and the first volume of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol. I got some Green Arrow singles, and finally completed the six issues of Brad Meltzer's Archer's Quest, that I originally started two or so years ago.

Most of the trades were $5 from one particular dealer, but I could not find any good deals for Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol or Animal Man, so I didn't bother purchasing any Animal Man, and only bought the bullet for a 50% off Doom Patrol. I had a list, and did not follow it at all. I didn't expect to get so much Spidey stuff!

I tallied it all up, and the pile retails for ~$240. I end up paying about $74 for the pile! I love five dollar trades, and I wanted to tally that up to make me feel better.

So, yes, no, was the 'con a success? There's an uproar from the more seasoned bloggers that Wizard World is faltering and failing to get with the times, but I got a good haul, took some cool pictures, covered the costume contest, and had a great time! Thank you Wizard World, for having me, and thanks to all the people who made this possible. And above all --

Thank you, box of Cheez-Its! You were there for me through thick and thin, man. I don't know what I'd do without you.

Never have nerds been sweatier -- or happier!

I love costume contests. I love the spectacle of it; I love the
energy; I love the fan interaction there. That's why I love Wizard World's contests, but before every contest, everybody runs around and takes pictures of costumes that they like. It's really fun!


It's GALACTUS, Devourer of Worlds! He is holding a Silver Surfer action figure, and telling him to find worlds to devour.


Green Arrow and Black Canary, together at last! The Black Canary was a man who dressed up, to hilarious effect. Never have fishnet stockings been sexier. Rowwr! I believe the Green Arrow also appeared last year; this time around he had an Errol Flynn mustache!



I could not believe these guys when I first saw them! The Sentinel Mark V and Optimus Prime towered over everyone! It was insane. Optimus could move his arms, and the hands were set up so the person could control Optimus's fingers! I even shook his hand. Check out the slideshow for more on that; it really is a phenomenal costume.


Marvel vs. DC! Arghhhh!

And then the contest began! This time, The Diffusor was there to moderate everything -- apparently the winner from Stan Lee's "So You wanna be a Superhero. . . True Believer!"


I don't know him either, but all the costumers were supposed to go up the stairs, do their stuff, and then strut down. A little problem with this was that people were going up and down the escalators constantly, blocking the costumers! It made good shots tough.


Marvel Zombies The Thing plus Wolverine. These costumes were pretty creative! The Thing had a pretty sweet homemade mask covered in blood, and Wolverine even had the Wolverine 'do.


Optimus actually had a light-up chest that revealed the Autobot Matrix of Leadership! Pretty cool stuff.


Adam Strange! He was the guy standing in front of me for a while. He actually had velcro-attached, LED-equipped rocket packs! He yelled something like, "I was a middle-aged man when this started!"


This wasn't part of the contest, but a Mario was holding a Yoshi plushie up the escalator. Too adorable!

Later on, the Diffusor made a very interesting note about how a horde of fans tended to whip out their cameras, only when scantily-clad women came in costume. It really didn't help the stereotype (=sweaty, horny fanboys). Later, he also pointed out how hard people work on their costumes, for a few minutes of attention and gratification. He pointed out Hawkfirl's wings.


That is a pretty sweet pack of wings.


This was a really cute duo! Ash was all excited, but Pikachu crossed her arms and refused to get in the Pokeball! Too cute.


I managed to get a non-bad photo of the X-Men group. They were a latecomer who, as they were walking up the escalator, saw the contest and decided to fill out a form and enter! Good times.

So, the contest ended with people getting prizes.The decision process wasn't as exciting as last year's, mainly because the audience wasn't the judge. Apparently, there was an invisible panel who judged costumes by -I believe- effort and time investment. Appropriately, Optimus and the Sentinel marked high.

My feet were very tired by then, but it was pretty fun. I also had a lot of Cheez-its that day.

Just a reminder: This was a mere fraction of the costumes there. If you'd like to check out more, go swing by the slideshow! Funfunfun.

TOMORROW: I scramble whatever other photos I have and try to turn them into a farewell post to Wizard World. Be there!

Wizard World Chicago Comic-con '09: Now that's what I call a convention!

If it weren't for my stash of apples, Cheez-Its, gum and Chinese food, I may not have survived. Unlike last Wizard World, I went each time for the three days, mostly without any geeky friends to accompany me! I could've fainted from exhaustion there! I just want us all to take a moment to contemplate how horribly awry our lives would be without the wonderful blogging tour de force that is me.


Okay that's enough!

The great thing about conventions is the interaction. You can interact with other fans who are just as, if not more geeky than you; you can interact with all sorts of celebrities that play in your favorite things, and even with your favorite creators!

Now let's sit in front of a lifeless computer screen alone for ten minutes! Oh yeah.

As soon as you enter the lobby, you find the one guy doing a HUGE art piece on the floor. There were pictures of him at all the other cons with different floor pieces, so he must be getting commissioned by Wizard or something.


He was doing the cover art for Ultimate Comics Avengers #1. This is the first day I got him, so as we go along, we'll get to see the final piece!


This is what the exhibit hall looks like on Friday, a typically slow day. Unfortunately, Marvel/DC did not have any promo booths this year! It seems like Wizard lost the sponsorship!


Tonner had a booth, which is always nice to see. The convention exclusives this time around were Black Canary and (Jim Balent catsuit) Catwoman.


Doesn't Joker's hair look sooooo weird? It's nice to see Harley and Ivy together though.

Something I noticed this time around was how video games wedged themselves a little more. Strangely, Westwood College (of which I've never heard) even had a booth exclusively so geeks could get their game on!

Really guys. This isn't helping the stereotype.

Another booth was from a group called NYJedi.

They even had sparring space! It was pretty sweet.


There were two celebrities I wanted to see: Edward James Olmos, who plays Admiral Adama on Battlestar Galactica (I have a friend who's a huge fan), and Margot Kidder.

Margot Kidder! She played Lois Lane in the Christopher Reeves Superman movies! She's aged so well, and she's so friendly! I would have gotten a picture with her, but it costs a heck of a lot.

Oh Mrs. Kidder. You are a fine lady.


WHERE IS THE REMOTE??? Hilarious.

I'd show you some of my haul, but this post is really pushing it. I wanted to make it to some panels, but I, uh, got lost. Maybe next year?

Now, if you like, you should totally check out the slideshow! It has a lot more pictures than the ones I used today. Just a note though: I intend on using some of these for tomorrow, so if you don't want to spoil yourself, then exercise some self-control!

Tomorrow: we cover the costume contest! Yippee!

Wizard World '09 starts today!

Or "Chicago Comic-con." Whatever.

For obvious reasons, I will not be here today, but you can expect a buttload of pictures when I come back! Leave a message if you like!
Wheeeee! Now to get ready for a two-hour train ride that is 20 miles away from metropolitan Chicago! I just can't wait!

Now that's what I call fanservice!

Sometimes you're looking for a good comic with lots of drama that just sucks you right in!

And sometimes you just wanna see a giant lady explode a military helicopter with her bare hands.

Oh yeah. I think you know what I'm talking about.

Doom Patrol #1
by Keith Giffen and Matthew Clark
Metal Men back-up by Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire

I have had minimal exposure to the Doom Patrol, but I picked this up on Giffen's strengths, as well as the Metal Men back-up.

So basically, the Doom Patrol is a group of unfortunate superheroes who have emotional problems out the wazoo. All their powers were acquired by freak accidents, and they get wrangled up by a wheelchair-ed guy who claims he'll turn them from "freaks" into "heroes." He is a total douchebag.

As soon as the first page, you are dropped into an intensely confusing action scene, and then later, there is an intensely confusing death scene. I had to read the blasted thing a couple times over to understand it. The art is competent, but there are some points where I'm not sure what it's trying to convey. The panelling is set up in Giffen's "six panels per page" system, and it's put to clever use in the dialogue between Bumblebee and Rita, but maybe Matthew Clark needs some time to adjust to it.

After the couple of times, I'm fairly confident in all the character traits. You have the totally snarky jerk of the team, the vain drama queen, a guy with a leader complex, et cetera. I don't know if this can make good comics, but I sure hope it does. I've heard great things abotu Grant Morrison-era Doom Patrol -- incredibly wacky and high-concept situations and adventures -- and I hope Giffen can deliver likewise. Other than that, the real draw of the issue was the Metal Men back-up!

It is so fun! Not only that, the Metal Men are more aware of who they are now, and how they interact with their teammates!

I feel like this could be a direct sequel to Bob Kanigher's stuff! Everybody feels the same, but now they interact with each other so much better! I love it.

The thick-headed Lead, timid Tin, obnoxious Mercury. . . it's so good to see these guys under Giffen/DeMatteis's pens and Magquire's pencils! The guy is known for his facial expressions, and I love that he is giving these expressions to a group of robots! Maguire really makes their "Responsometers" come to life!


One last thing: the story takes up a mere 10 pages, but I feel it was a much more satisfying story than the 22-page Doom Patrol. They even used 10 panels each for two pages! Insane!

Cover to Cover: JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION!

I was expecting to get the next issue of Bloodrayne: Prime Cuts today, but my local shop either didn't have it, or sold out of what copies they had. This is all fine by me, because Wizard World is coming this weekend, and I am ready to attend all three days!

But that didn't stop me from getting some other stuff! Here they are:

The Amazing Spider-Man #601

by Mark Waid and Mario Alberti, backup by Bendis and Quesada

POP QUIZ!


This is the face of a man who:
  1. had a hard day of work, and can't wait to get his nap on in his favorite hand chair!
  2. is really, really hungry right now. SO hungry he could eat an entire hand!
  3. is one finger short on his left hand. Say, the one in front of him looks mighty appealing. . .
  4. is trapped in a burning building, and getting overcome by the smog!

This is the body language of a woman who:
  1. is rehearsing for CATS!: the musical.
  2. JUST LOST HER CONTACTS! Nobody move!
  3. can't believe she forgot her hair pin today! THE HORROR.
  4. is trapped in a burning building, and getting overcome by the smog!
So yeah, the art was pretty bad in some particular points. In general, though, it was serviceable, but let's just say that I'm glad that Mario Alberti isn't coming back to Spidey.


When it comes to the Peter/MJ relationship, I expect to be taken for a ride, but this issue did not provide, except for an incredibly tasteless joke about Peter Parker and one night stands. This is not the stuff of a Spidey soap opera guys. While Waid does take the time to show us that MJ remembers Peter's secret. . .. . . the issue doesn't amount to much else. At the very best, this issue was serviceable. At the worst, it wasn't up to snuff for an issue of Amazing.

After the wonderful issue that was #600, color me disappointed.

Thunderbolts #134

by Andy Diggle and Miguel Sepulveda

Andy Diggle is really taking his time isn't he? The guy can write, but man, he takes up way too much space to tell one slice of information. It's really not cost-effective.

In this issue, Songbird tries to assemble the old Thunderbolts. Nice, if you've been keeping up the T-bolts for four years. I haven't. Also, there is a surprise plot-twist cliffhanger. That's kind of it to this issue.

I'm kind of waiting for something important to happen here, and a little disappointed at the pacing. Hopefully next ish doesn't do the same.

Also:

Suction cups? Seriously? I think it's pretty cool that Songbird can make "solid sound," but you are pushing the line here Mr. Sepulveda.

Suction cups?

TOMORROW: I review Keith Giffen's debut on DOOM PATROL! Was it a swing? Was it a miss? Was it maybe even a line drive? Will I use more baseball analogies?

Hang tight, true believers!

Common criminals. . . defeated by a single whim!


Hahaha.

Note, Spidey says "ha'g" instead of "hang," because of his allergies. What other superhero has to fend those off while fighting a gang of robbers! This's why I love Amazing so much.

Empowered Volume 2: Proper ballgag use

As I always say, Where's the beef? one good turn deserves another, so Empowered vol. 1 deserves

Empowered vol. 2

Written and drawn by Adam Warren

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Artist gets commissioned to draw fetish pin-ups of tied-up, gagged girls. Artist gets annoyed, decides to write OEL (original english language) manga satirizing it. Develops into. . . actual. . . story?

See volume 1 here
.


WHAT I LIKED: Last volume involved very snappy short stories. Here, we get more development! We get some backstory, and some longer adventures involving Empowered's supporting cast (ie: her boyfriend's dark past, or her best friend's attempt to fix her reputation. . . we even get Empowered's last name! It's Miss "Powers")

Not only that, we have Warren's talent at Totally Making Fun of Normal Comic Book Conventions. Yes.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: It might be me, but I think we might be getting more cuss words (they're censored though). This is probably inappropriate for younger readers. There are also various forms of intercourse, both discussed and shown.

EXTRAS?: The Extras section isn't so big this time, but that's not unprecedented.FINAL THOUGHTS: A good, run romp through the unfortunate events of Empowered's life. We delve a little deeper into everyone's backstory, but most everything is still treated with irreverent sarcasm.


I thought at one point in a story near the end, that this one moment would turn out to be heartwarming, but it just ended up in Emp getting tied up and gagged. I hope to see actual touching moments in volume 3, if I can get ahold of it.

Oh, by the way, you can find a fantastic preview at Dark Horse's site. It's so clever!
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