Thursday, March 30, 2006

On 29 March, 2006

As it turns out, preordering things is an excellent idea. See, I preorder FANTASTIC FOUR. Didn't expect to get a copy of this month's issue, though. But I did. So this week's visit to the comic shop was like Christmas.

A very well-balanced week, universe-wise. Three Marvels, three DCs, and one indie.

Annnd... Since this blog's still in the experimental stages, I'm trying a new format on for size!

Reading music: Serenity soundtrack.

Style: Haiku review (clearly inspired by Scipio)

--Warning: Possible spoilers ahead--


Sandman and Trapster,
Unhappy pawn shop owner,
Time to clobber, Ben.

Escape Civil War.
Pull Dan Slott's Thing for peacetime
Comic book goodness.

Fantastic Four in fine
Form. Who can heft the hammer?
Could Doom be worthy?

Good guys, bad guys, and
Explosions.* Stop! Hammer time!
(I could not resist.)

Big talking prologue.
Ethical intrigue and war
Approaches quickly.

Namor's in a snit and there's
Trouble brewing, natch.


Depowered Super-
Man team-up with Hawkgirl and
Hal. Not a bad read.

Super Lois Lane.
Her major feat, enduring
Others' machismo.

Confusion, they name
Is Green Lantern. Bad start
For a new reader.

Super Real Graphics

Extreme parody
Best comic boardroom ever
Hard to wait 'til May.

*Ultimate Showdown lyrics.

Week's most memorable moment: Genuine "aww" moment from the last page of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #3.

Tentative checklist for 5 April, 2006:

Friday, March 24, 2006

On 22 March, 2006

--Warning: Possible Spoilers--


Okay, I admit, I picked up BLACK PANTHER #14 mostly for the cover. The previews looked good too, though, and they didn't lie. This is a fun, fast read, and Storm is quite spectacular. Not much of a cliffhanger, though. What will Ororo's answer be? That question has pretty much been answered, hasn't it?

Make no mistake, SHE-HULK 2 #6 is a dramedy. Dan Slott is taking a fairly serious tone with this arc (appropriate, given the subject matter). There's a lot of romancing, and nothing has been resolved in terms of the two love triangles. I really don't want to spoil this book for anyone, so... no plot details. But this is an awesome book, and this issue would be a great place for new readers to jump in, what with the new arc and new artist.

Wow. Quite a bit of courtroom drama this week. I never quite expected to see more of it in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #530 than in SHE-HULK.

So it goes. This wasn't a high-excitement issue, and the subject matter is again serious. The arc should finish off with a bang, though, given the cliffhanger.

Thankfully, they quit with the Editors' notes after the third page...

Loved the first page Q & A section of NEXTWAVE: AGENTS OF H.A.T.E. #3. Hopefully they'll make the primers a habit. Started a little slow what with the uberdirty cop, but it did pick up. As expected. The giant gun contraption tops the giant telephone contraption. And Dirk Anger kind of reminds me of the boss in The Office, if Michael Scott were completely psychotic.

"Beware of Skrulls bearing gifts" is good advice any day, I'd wager. Thank you, ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #28, for the tip.


Can it be? Have I found not one but two DC comics I actually... enjoy? Wow. Good week, this. (On a side note, I seem to be gravitating towards the female solo titles. Odd.)

I think HAWKGIRL #50 is actually my favorite so far. At the moment, it's more horror mystery than superhero.

CATWOMAN #53 was nifty, too. Very dark. Gotham is always dark, isn't it?

IDW Publishing

SUPERMARKET #2: The story just keeps getting better, the mystery deeper. The humour is great, too, between a "Grill Bill vol. 2" restaurant (complete with red-splattered yellow color scheme) and an Aryan Nation-style Swedish porno gang. Wow.

Notes and Rankings (Best to Worst)
*Time and place have stayed pretty much constant, so from now on, no more redundancy. Music this week was the Liz Carroll & John Doyle album In Play, which I, regrettably, never got signed.

It was very hard to rank these, given that I rather liked all of them!

3. SHE-HULK 2 #6


Panel(s) of the Week: A tie between this panel from NEXTWAVE #3 (and proof that Chris Sims apparently has way too much influence)...

...and this panel from CATWOMAN #50 (because who can resist Batman wielding a teddy bear?)

Monday, March 20, 2006

On DC and Marvel

The first computer I ever knew was a Mac. An Apple IIE. It was a nice little computer that came to be a fixture in my brother's room when my dad upgraded to an IBM. My brother and I had a great time with that little Apple. Sure, we learned about the IBM, too, how to access stuff like Carmen Sandiago and Bolo Adventures using DOS. WordPerfect, too. But we spent a lot of time on the Apple, playing Gertrude's Puzzles and a text version of Zork. I also came close to mastering Aquanoid. Well, as close to mastering a computer game I ever come.

Nowadays, I use Windows-based PCs at work, school, and home. Guess it was kind of inevitable, given that they're everywhere. That has a tendency to give me this odd little feeling of inferiority, this feeling that, gosh, I should be using a Mac. Or, at the very least, a Linux-based PC.

But I don't, because PCs are what I'm now comfortable with. So it goes.

Now, I bring this up because I feel approximately the same way about the DC multiverse. Surely, the first superhero I ever knew of, as an American, was Superman. Surely it was. I mean, I don't remember, but the odds are excellent.

The first superhero I probably knew of was DC, but eventually I ended up learning about Marvel characters, too, through X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons. Oh, I watched that Batman cartoon as well, but it was awful dark. X-Men was easily my favorite. (And I still have a soft spot in my heart for Rogue.)

I drifted away from DC, from Superman and Batman (neither of whom I ever cared much about), and found my comfort zone in the Marvel universe. At least, when it came to superhero fantasy, I did. (Mind, this was back when the only comics I ever read were the daily strips in the newspaper.)

But I still feel that odd feeling of inferiority, as someone who prefers Marvel over DC. (It's baseless, but it's there.) Which is why I'm trying out a few titles. Just to see. If only to learn what all the fuss is about. It's not easy to get in the right mindset, but nobody ever said it would be easy. Who knows? While I can't see reading DC over Marvel (anymore than I can picture myself trading in my Dell for a Mac), maybe I'll find some part, some pocket of the DC 'verse that I enjoy, that I can feel. Or maybe not, it's hard to say. All I can do is try. Next on the agenda is HAWKGIRL and CATWOMAN. The previews look interesting. That's a good sign, right?

Heck, today is full of good signs. You see, I'm typing this on a Mac.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

On 15 March, 2006

To my dismay, none of the indie comics caught my eye this Wednesday, and I would have ended up with a prodigious stack of unadulterated Marvel superhero fun if it weren't for the fact that I promised myself I'd try out some DC. Did last week, but that was a dismal failure. T-- assured me that the One Year Later DC comics would be a good starting point for a layperson.

(By the way, I'm finishing up this post the evening of St. Patrick's Day, after a dinner of corned beef and cabbage, and an awesome concert by Liz Carroll and John Doyle. No drinking, but I am tired and a wee bit heady. Best holiday in recent memory, though.)

--Warning: Possible Spoilers--


Okay, Marvel. I love the NEXT WAVE DIRECTORS CUT, and I'll get to that in a minute, but first, one thing. Next time, please stick your previews at the end, okay? I don't care how exciting or nifty SQUADRON SUPREME might turn out to be; right now, it looks indescribably boring. Think about it. On one page, Ellie's killing Broccoli Men with a guitar, and the next... Boom! Some new superhero team I've never heard of. Pretty much anything is going to look bland juxtaposed with Ellie's guitar fight.*

Now, I already had this issue, but getting to see a comic book script in its entirety was a bit of a novelty. And Ellis' commentary alone made this worth buying. Here's a gem: "H.A.T.E. is like S.H.I.E.L.D. if... well, if you were as drunk as I was when you came up with this." Ellis also offered the Serenity cockpit as a visual reference for the Shockwave Rider, and declared "Pus Tsunami is my new band name." Does the man read Dave Barry? All the more reason to love this guy.

*Note: I really did write this before reading Chris Sims' "Week in Ink." He beat me to posting it, though. *sigh*

Demerit points for Hank Pym joke, but otherwise, GENERATION M #5 was an amazingly cool ending that really made the story. And made me want to read more of Sally Floyd in June, if only to see whether she and Warren are going to hook up.

SPIDER-WOMAN ORIGIN #4 is making me look forward to the conclusion to this mini-series as well. In a good way.

It seems Marvel is ending FOUR (nee MARVEL KNIGHTS 4) at issue #30, which made FOUR #28 that much more bittersweet. Mostly bitter. I loved this stand-alone. The first part had Sue helping (in spite of a bad gut reaction) an employee deal with an abusive husband; the second had Reed fulfilling his promise to a man dying of cancer. The third, tension between Sue and Reed. And it was all very nicely done, sensitively done. Lovely art, too. Something tells me this series will be going out with a bang.

RUNAWAYS #14 served to remind me of where I started reading this series. Or, rather, where I didn't start. And that I really ought to be reading Volume 1, just to catch up. Still managed to be great fun, though, especially the video game scene.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #529 is in its second printing, and on a whim I picked it up. Fun. Why have I not been reading SPIDER-MAN? Ohh, right. That "The Other" storyline I heard absolutely nothing good about, and the need to limit my comics reading. My pull list has only been growing, which is kind of scary. Nevertheless, I may just ride out this arc.


It's funny. This week I realized how much I've been taking for granted, at least in terms of background knowledge. Picked up BIRDS OF PREY #92, and apart from some knowledge of the setting, and recognition of the Ventriloquist (I used to watch the occasional Batman cartoon) and Oracle, I knew nothing.

When I first started RUNAWAYS, from somewhere in the middle of the second volume, it didn't take me long to pick up the characters. Okay, the names took a little longer, but the characters themselves, their personalities, were easy to learn. At the moment, I can't imagine not knowing who Molly Hayes, Gertrude Yorkes, Victor Mancha, etc... are.

I'm using RUNAWAYS as an example because, well, they're a super-hero team I was introduced to through comics alone. Just like BIRDS OF PREY. Maybe it's that the characters in the latter are well-established. Yes, that's probably it. Time to hit Wikipedia, and to give it time.

GREEN ARROW #60 was a weird echo of the issue I tried last week. And I'm still not enthused about the Emerald Archer.

Made a special Thursday visit to the comic shop for ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #2. It was the last one on the shelf, too. Got lucky. This issue is an improvement over #1, and I didn't feel like a complete idiot reading it! Rather looking forward to the number 3. Go figure.

Notes and Rankings (Best to Worst)
*All read Wednesday and Thursday evenings to a CD called Celtic Harpestry. Not the best choice of music for a week of superhero titles, but okay just the same. I'm ranking these in two groups, because it's really not fair to be grouping the DCs in with the Marvels when I feel so differently about the two multiverses.

3. RUNAWAYS vol. 2 #14
5. FOUR #28


Panel of the Week: From RUNAWAYS vol. 2 #14, memorable if only for the presence of Old Lace.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Connectivity Game -- Theme Songs

I started a character theme song thread at my comic shop's forum a while back, and while it didn't get very far, I've been wanting to continue the game on my own. I'll only be using my own connections from that thread, nobody else's. And while I might eventually reprise the analyses of the Bon Jovi songs (in more detail), I figured I'd start with something new.

Character: Johnny Storm (a.k.a. Human Torch)
Theme song: "I Know My Love."
Traditional Arr. by Paddy Moloney, performed by The Chieftains in a team-up with The Corrs, on Chieftains albums Tears of Stone (RCA 1999) and The Wide World Over (RCA 2002).


I know my love by his way of walking
And I know my love by his way of talking
And I know my love dressed in a suit of blue
And if my love leaves me, what will I do?

While this is certainly Johnny's theme song, you have to take it from the point of view of one of his (former) girlfriends. Which one? I have no idea. Odds are there's at least one that fits the bill, though.

From Fantastic Four #526.

And the FF uniform is, of course, blue. It fits. (By the way, that panel? It's the recap of a dream. Who's the leafy-haired woman in the bottom right corner, anyway? Just curious.)

And still she cried, "I love him the best,
And a troubled mind, sure can know no rest"
And still she cried, "Bonny boys are few,
And if my love leaves me, what will I do?"

I feel kinda sorry for the main character of this song.

There is a dance house in Maradyke
And there my true love goes every night
He takes a strange girl upon his knee
Well now don't you think that that vexes me?

Of course, the setting isn't right,...

If my love knew I can wash and wring
If my love knew I can sew and spin
I'd make a coat of the finest kind
But the want of money sure leaves me behind

...and the lyrics are a bit old-fashioned (though the fiber arts aren't exactly dying),...

I know my love is an errant rover
I know he'll wander the wild world over
In dear old Ireland he'll no longer tarry
An American girl he's sure to marry

...but this last verse is where it really clicks into place. The Irish setting notwithstanding, Johnny Storm is most definitely an unpredictable wandering type, and he has traveled the wild world over. Not to mention the universe. As for marriage?

From Fantastic Four #300.

Um... Okay, close enough.

Runner-Up: "Help Me" by Joni Mitchell, with lyrics along the same vein and fire imagery in the second verse. Not nearly as fun and upbeat, though.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

On 8 March, 2006

I have to admit, Wednesday was mildly disappointing. Comic shop "missed the boat" on I (HEART) MARVEL: MASKED INTENTIONS, and they didn't have ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #2 in stock. But they may have the latter next week, at least. And I can't stay disappointed, not when Mother Nature is teasing mid-Michigan with hints of spring. There's no way this early March thaw can last -- we have a smattering of winter to come, I'm sure -- but you take what you can get.

But, on to this week's reading:

--Warning: Possible Spoilers--


"There are no accidents." I'm not sure if FANTASTIC FOUR: FIRST FAMILY #1 (of 6) is meant to tie in with recent Fantastic Four events (i.e., a retcon of sorts), but it seems to be canon. Whatever it is, it's mighty confusing, what with Reed's mental landscape and all. Hopefully things will start to make more sense as the story progresses. (I did like seeing Susan taking on a maternal role right off the bat.)

The SON OF M #4 (of 6) is becoming more and more interesting. Not unpredictable, but interesting. The Terrigen Mists are a bad thing for those who are genetically unprepared for them. Pietro has clearly not reformed, and if he was on his father's bad side before, well... he still is, only more so. Not to mention the cheesed off Inhumans. (Also, no wonder Lockjaw wanted to live with Ben Grimm. Poor pooch.)

Okay. I will accept NEXTWAVE as canon. Grudgingly. Trouble is, I do not want to let go of the FIN FANG FOUR... Foom. You know, the human-sized, well-spoken, extremely irritable dragon chef working for Reed Richards in the Baxter Building? That is the real Fin Fang Foom as far as I'm concerned. So how to account for the lizard that attempted to put Boom Boom in his pants? Well, in this blog, he shall henceforth be referred to as "Fin Fang Clone." Problem solved.

Hilarious stuff, though. Warren Ellis is a twisted, twisted man. And I think I may pick up the monthlies after all, instead of waiting for the trades. The fan pages kind of make it worth it. That, and I can maybe hook my brother on comic books with them. I set him up with the first two issues, and Avengers: The Ultimate Guide for reference. (He didn't know who the Avengers even were, which of course had to be remedied.) But that's another story for another time.

XMEN: THE 198 #3 (of 5) is getting good. The government tagging the mutants wasn't a huge shocker (though the tags themselves were.) And there's a new Puppet Master in the house, and he's much creepier than the FF villain.

Some weeks ago, I found GUARDIANS #1 in the dollar bin and was well pleased with it, though Marvel apparently wasn't. Cancelled series. Pity. Well, last week, I found issues #2 and 3 in the dollar bin, and couldn't resist. Then I Googled the series like I should have done in the first place, hence the linkage here. Seems they did in fact finish off the arc, and I've a bit of back-issue hunting to do after all!


For a while now ("a while" is relative), or at least since I entered the comic blog community, I've felt kind of left out about half the time. Not a huge shock. I mostly read Marvel, and the odd independent or three. But mainstream DC is something I'm not very familiar with. (Again, the degree of familiarity is relative.) So... Time to delve, right?

Yes, it's definitely time to delve. But the true delving will have to happen next week, with the assistance of T. at Clems, who's a DC guy. These dollar bin picks just left me cold (GREEN ARROW #26) and confused (JLA #96). And it's not the comics' fault...

A big corporation wants to evict poor people from their homes so they (the corporation) can build a huge mall/office complex. Cocky Robin Hood dude sympathizes with the little guy (because he's a Robin Hood dude, and sympathizing with the poor is a major prerequisite for Robin Hoodness.) So this benevolent archer lends a hand, helping the peoples' lawyers secure enough funding to fight the corporate bigwigs. Just to make things interesting, there's a big green monster tearing around the corporation's construction site. And, no, it's not the Hulk. This is the (a?) DC Universe, after all. It's just a random big green monster thrown into the mix on page 18. GREEN ARROW #26. My introduction to Oliver Queen. Moving on...

Note to self: Avoid starting any story in the middle, especially if you are unfamiliar with the setting of said story. Knowing who Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are did not help me when it came to JLA #96, which was a mistake on a variety levels. There were vampires, though. Speaking of monsters and vampires, let's move on to...


DOLL AND CREATURE #1 is probably the sort of thing I had in mind when I picked up IN THE BLOOD #1 last week.* Adventurous horror! Fun! Murderous gray-skinned drug-crazed monsters out for blood! Just the right amount of gore, even. (That is to say, there was enough to get the point across, but not enough to overwhelm the stomach.) Nice.

*Update: Two weeks ago, actually. My bad.


MAZE AGENCY #1 was another dollar bin pick from last week, and it caught my eye due to title recognition (from a relatively recent review at Polite Dissent.)

Pure murder mystery. No major CSI-style forensics, just good ol' fashioned sleuthing. I generally take a passive role when reading (or watching) mysteries, and MAZE AGENCY was really no exception. Though I did figure out one thing before the end. Nice change of pace, at any rate.

Notes and Rankings (Best to Worst)
*All read Wednesday and Thursday evenings, in my bedroom whilst listening to the Serenity soundtrack. This soundtrack is fine background for stuff like GUARDIANS, FF, and even MAZE AGENCY, but not so much for NEXTWAVE.

3. GUARDIANS #2 and 3
4. SON OF M #4
5. X-MEN: THE 198 #3
7. MAZE AGENCY #1 (Caliber)
9. JLA #96

Panel of the Week: A priceless bit of dialogue in NEXTWAVE #2, complete with Fin Fang Clone lurking in the background.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

On Sexism, Part II

Blog Against Sexism Day continues, and I couldn't find a way to work these into my official entry. Even so, I want this to be a comics blog, so why not stay relevant?

For your consideration, a series of panels depicting Hercules' interactions with She-Hulk through the years.

November, 1989 -- THOR #410:

Hercules: Quintessential Chauvinist

July, 1998 -- HEROES FOR HIRE #13:

Proud son of Zeus, eager to battle alongside a woman.

January, 2005 -- SHE-HULK #9:


I won't try to make more of it than it is but, hey, it made me smile.

On Sexism

I want to blog against sexism. I do. But I'm at a bit of a loss as to how without rehashing ideas and statistics heard and seen a thousand times before, uttered and typed by people far more informed, intelligent and insightful than me. I could rehash, but I really don't want to.

This is a pretty safe topic. In America, at least, I like to think that the "A Woman's Place is In the Home" people are a dying breed. How many will really disagree with something that basically boils down to "Sexism bad, equality good?"

And isn't that essentially what I'm supposed to say? That sexism is bad, that the playing field still isn't level, that we're making progress but we're not there yet? We can bullshit about abstract concepts all day and not get anywhere. Discussion is important, don't get me wrong, but it's not like I'm capable of adding anything of note to the dialogue.

So I will do this, instead:

I will acknowledge that I am female and;

I will accept that my tastes, my thoughts and opinions, will reflect my gender, but my gender alone will not dictate my tastes and;

I will do with my life what appeals to me as a person, not what appeals to me as a woman, or as a woman trying vehemently to deny or oppose traditional gender roles and;

I will hope that I am taking an active step (even if it is just a personal step) in the right direction.

Monday, March 06, 2006

On 1 March, 2006

Unfortunately, the shop didn't have any copies of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #2 on the shelves. (Sorry, Cole.) I'll ask after it this week, if I remember. Putting off the dollar-bin blurbs as well. So this'll be a short post.

--Warning: Possible Spoilers--


THE AMERICAN WAY #1 (of 8) was maybe just a little heavy. Just a little. Hmm...


This week in the Marvel universe, MS. MARVEL #1 proved to be a fast, fun read. Between Carol's major insecurities as a B-list character (Stilt-man didn't remember her name! Stilt-man! Wait, isn't that a good thing...?) and her cell-phone conversation with Captain America, there is a lot of potential for comical goodness here.

There was no weird, supernatural occult stuff in DOC SAMSON #3. No mysticism, no living totem poles or bumbling sorcerer's apprentices. This was just a nice, straightforward superhero psychiatry tale, complete with a normal (sort of) mystery, physical combat, and the sort of witty banter you expect from this sort of thing. And the story didn't even require the coda of an informative essay.

Notes and Rankings (Best to Worst)

*First read Wednesday evening, in my bedroom, listening to Nicholas Gunn's Return to Grand Canyon.

1. DOC SAMSON #3 (OF 5)
2. MS. MARVEL #1

Panel(s) of the Week: Little kids playing superhero in MS. MARVEL #1 and being... well, cute little kids. Corny, yet memorable.