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What I bought – 24 February 2010

One need only admit that public tranquility is in danger and any action finds a justification. (Leo Tolstoy, from War and Peace)

Punch his smug face - oh, Zombie Batman, you card! It's a pictographic adventure-o-rama! I'd like to have a name that appeared in a movie title, but no one's making 'One Night at Burgas's,' unfortunately It's raining men, damn it! Oh, Boris - your cross won't help you now! But ... if they're up there, whose skeletons are those? STILL hating the cover design! Oh, Dave Johnson - you're so groovy! It's so blue and shit! Gotta make sure the breasts are there! I've forgotten to put the collections I've been buying up here, but there haven't been too many; this week, however, we get more Batman awesomeness from DC! More Garcia-Lopez than you deserve! God, I love this book.  I wish it came out more than once a year, though. Apparently, this is quite awesome.  It better be! Are you happy, Pedro?  Are you?!?!?!?!?

BatmanandRobin9Batman and Robin #9 (“Blackest Knight Part Three: Broken”) by Grant “You’d read a Knight and Squire series if I wrote it, wouldn’t you, fanboys?” Morrison (writer), Cameron Stewart (artist), Tony Aviña (colorist), and Patrick Brosseau (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, DC.

Okay, so this has been bugging me since this arc began, but I kept forgetting to bring it up. What are Knight and Squire doing there? We first saw Cyril and Beryl in JLA: Classified #3, when they, along with the rest of the Ultramarines, were exiled to the infant universe of Qwewq to be the heroes there. Then they were back in Morrison’s “Club of Heroes” arc, right? How’d they get back? Did I miss something? I don’t really feel like going to Wikipedia for the answers … but I will if I have to!

Either way, this is a decent if not-great issue, much like the rest of the arc. Stewart’s art is a bit more crisp than it was last time around (and I wondered if Aviña’s coloring gave it the rushed look, and from the black-and-white original art Stewart posted at his blog, I think I was right), with some really excellent scenes (like the thoughts going through faux-Batman’s head) and some good action. It’s just kind of inert. It’s a perfectly fine action/adventure book, but I suppose I just expect more from the God of All Comics. This doesn’t feel like anything more than Batman and Batwoman hitting people, which is fine, but somewhat lacking. There are a few interesting tidbits – faux-Batman’s memories are nice and creepy, and “the sacrifice of the sun” feels like it means more than just a (deliberate) misspelling, but like last issue, the coolest part is when King Coal shows up. Dang, he’s keen.

Anyway, I guess the point of this arc is to let Dick know what we already know – Bruce isn’t dead. Yes, that’s important for Dick, but we already knew it, so it lacks the emotional resonance that G-Mozz is going for. Oh, and I guess we get to see that Alfred owns a cricket bat. I scored a cricket match once. It was kind of fun.

One panel of awesome:

I didn't want to feature Brendan Gleeson twice in a row, but I just love how he's scared his wife will find out about the dollies he's cavorting with!

I didn't want to feature Brendan Gleeson twice in a row, but I just love how he's scared his wife will find out about the dollies he's cavorting with!

CaptainSwing1Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island #1 (of 4) by Warren Ellis (writer), Raulo Caceres (artist), and Digikore Studios (colorist). $3.99, 28 pgs, FC, Avatar Press.

This is an early contender for best titled comic of the year, and it’s a pretty good read, too. It’s Ellis doing his Ellis thing, so if you haven’t been impressed with him in the past, this probably won’t change your mind. But while Marvel Ellis often tones himself down just a bit and makes the stories a bit more silly simply because he doesn’t sell out, his Avatar stuff suffers no such restraint, so he revels in all the stuff that he loves without worrying that it contradicts decades of established character work. You’re not, for instance, going to get six text pages embedded within an X-Men comic in which Ellis goes on about the history of the London Metropolitan Police or electrostatic levitation, but here you will, and it just makes the comic all the more fun. There’s not a ton of meat to this issue, as we get an unusual criminal named Captain Swing who uses electricity to elude the police and fly in a row boat, but Ellis does set up some things for later issues, namely the rivalry between the police and the Bow Street Runners (a pseudo-police force that predated the Peelers) and the fact that Captain Swing is one of Ellis’ favorite character types – he’s fighting against a corrupt regime for control of the future and its technology. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before from Ellis, but it’s done well and Caceres does a nice job. He’s definitely an “Avatar” kind of artist, with obsessive attention to detail and intricate line work, but he does a nice job contrasting the muck of 1830 London with the flashiness of Captain Swing. And as it’s a 4-issue mini-series, I hope there won’t be any trouble with delays. We’ll see.

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Ellis has a few different kinds of stories he likes to tell. I’m not a huge fan of his recent superhuman work for Avatar (even though it’s not bad), but I don’t mind his “the future is ours!” kind of tales that he dips into every once in a while. I don’t know why that is. But if you like those kinds of stories from Ellis, this is a good one to check out.

One panel of awesome:

Check him out, ladies - he's so dreamy!

Check him out, ladies - he's so dreamy!

Choker1Choker #1 (of 6) by Ben McCool (writer), Ben Templesmith (artist), and Tom B. Long (letterer). $3.99, 23 pgs, FC, Image Comics.

While you’re waiting for the next issue of Fell to come out, you can check this series out. Ben Templesmith art? Yes. A man with a secret past who is on the wrong side of his superiors in law enforcement and is given an assignment that could make or break him? You bet (Johnny Jackson used to work for the cops while Richard Fell still does, but in this issue, Jackson is offered a way to get back on the force, so there’s that). A strange, depressing city? Indeed. A horrific crime? Of course! It’s not quite the same as Fell, of course (as this is not written by Ellis, it lacks some of the regular Ellisisms we might expect), but it’s a pretty interesting comic.

This is yet another set-up issue. The first two pages gives us a glimpse of some bad dude doing bad things to his female captive, and then we get introduced to Jackson and his world of Shotgun City. It’s in the near future, cops run rampant beating up undesirables, and Jackson gets a call from his old boss, Milton Ellis (ha!). Ellis wants him to track down Hunt Cassidy, “drug baron and all-round scumfuck,” who escaped from custody. As Jackson brought him in the first time, Ellis wants him to do it again. Jackson is desperate to get back on the force, takes the job even though he doesn’t trust Ellis. Then, on the final two pages, there are vampires. Sigh.

Jackson is a fairly typical anti-hero, not quite interesting yet, but working on it. Ellis implies that he was kicked off the force because he didn’t get “enhancements” that make the cops better but less human, and I’m sure that will be a major plot point, especially as the new cops can’t find Cassidy. So the first issue has a lot of potential even though McCool hasn’t done too much with the characters or the setting yet. The reason I’m willing to stick around is Templesmith’s art, which I love. I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, and if you’re not a fan, you probably won’t be patient with the story, but I just love looking at it. His characters looked lived in, whether that life is vile or not (and Ellis’ certainly looks that way). We think Jackson is a tough guy, but Templesmith gives him remarkable range, as he’s actually quite terrified of Ellis and shows it. I buy almost everything Templesmith draws, and it’s always a hoot.

This will probably read better in trade, when this becomes just an opening chapter, but it’s not a bad read on its own. And you get to learn about Templesmith’s process in the back of the book!

One panel of awesome:

Now those are some people skills!

Now those are some people skills!

FantasticFour576Fantastic Four #576 (“Prime Elements 2: The Old Kings of Atlantis”) by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Dale Eaglesham (artist), Paul Mounts (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Man, I dig that cover. Davis’ covers for this series have been decent, but that’s a nice one. And it’s actually somewhat pertinent to what’s going on inside!

No controversy this time around, I promise, just writing about the issue. I’ve decided that this little arc (which is four issues, I believe), will be the make-or-break one for my time with Hickman’s FF. So far, it’s been okay, but oddly off. So we’ll see. This issue is a bit better than last one, but it’s still a weird mix of good ideas and sloppy execution. It looks like Hickman is going to add a brief text piece at the end of each issue with bullet points wrapping up what happened in the issue, and I don’t like that at all. He takes us under the Antarctic ice, where three aquatic races live, and Sue is given the job to speak for all humanity, because each of the races they meet have a representative who speaks for all of them. With this development and the rising of the city from last issue, Hickman obviously has something on his mind, and I’m willing to see what it is, but the pacing of the issues is so weird that it all feels disjointed. A great deal of this issue is wordless, as the FF head underwater and fight AIM agents and soldiers of the three races, and while it’s impressive-looking, it feels like it goes on too long and cuts off the important developments at the end of the book. Plus, AIM is never a group that the readers can take too seriously, so why even introduce them to the book? It spurs the group into action, but couldn’t there have been another, better reason for them to go exploring? Reed even says that’s the best thing they do, so why do they need a better reason?

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Eaglesham’s art is good as usual, although I’m amused by two things. One, Reed’s stubble. Reed ought to be clean-shaven unless he’s fully bearded because he spends so much time in the lab. I think Eaglesham is giving him the trendy stubble so many people sport these days, but Reed ought to be the anti-trendy. He’s not George Fucking Clooney. If anyone should be sporting stubble, it’s Johnny. Which brings me to my second thing: I always suspected Johnny was overcompensating with his obsessive desire to date hot women, and now, it seems, Hickman and Eaglesham are finally having him come out of the closet:

Um, Johnny?  The Seventies are kind of over.

Um, Johnny? The Seventies are kind of over.

I applaud Marvel, in this world of political correctness where they apologize to crazy people who enjoy calling the president a monkey and telling him to go back to Africa but don’t like being called racist, for having Johnny proclaim his orientation proudly. Way to go! Of course, I’m not sure where he’s going to find a gay disco in Antarctica, but maybe he has contacts.

One panel of awesome:

I dig the fish-soldiers!

I dig the fish-soldiers!

Northlanders25Northlanders #25 (“The Plague Widow 5 of 8: Lives of Crime”) by Brian Wood (writer), Leandro Fernandez (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

We’ve reached the point in this story arc where I can’t really say much about it. If you decided to buy it, you’re probably on board, and if you’re waiting for the trade, that’s your thing. We’ve met the characters, established the setting, and drawn the battle lines. Wood does a nice job continuing the mystery of what happened to Gunborg when he trekked to the other village, and we reach a crucial point in the story as Gunborg decides he’s had enough of the weakness of the leader, and Fernandez draws the shit out of it, of course. It really is a wonderfully brutal issue, showing once again how abruptly life can change on the frontier. I’m just loving this book and this story arc. I’m sure it will read well in a trade, but it’s a lot of fun to get each gut-wrenching episode and wonder where on earth Wood is going with it next.

One panel of awesome:

There's a lot more blood later in the issue, but dang, I dig that panel.

There's a lot more blood later in the issue, but dang, I dig that panel.

Scalped35Scalped #35 (“Listening to the Earth Turn”) by Jason Aaron (writer), Danijel Zezelj (artist), Giulia Brusco (colorist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Aaron steps away from the principal characters to give us a one-off tale of Mance and Hazel, two old natives living in the wilds of the Prairie Rose reservation. He does a nice job with both characters’ internal narration, as we see how living with each for decades can make two people think the same thoughts. It veers dangerously close to cutesy, but Aaron manages to pull it off. It’s a quiet issue with a twist at the end, one we don’t really see coming, based both on the series in general and the way this issue is set up. What makes it worthwhile is not really the emotional impact Aaron is going for – we don’t know enough about these characters and Aaron doesn’t do enough in the brief time we know them to make their situation as resonant as he would like – but the way he portrays life on the rez for those who aren’t caught up in Red Crow and the FBI’s situation. Mance has to go into town during the issue, and we see the rez through his eyes. Aaron does a nice job showing how prevalent Red Crow’s influence is, and he also shows how proud Mance is that he’s been able to live in the sticks for so long and how hard it is to admit defeat, even a tiny defeat. While the relationship between Hazel and Mance is supposed to be the emotional core of the book, for me it’s the way both Mance and Hazel refuse to break.

Zezelj is well suited for the book, because his heavy line work adds age to Mance and Hazel and sturdiness to the bleak landscape in which they live. We can believe almost that these people sprang from the earth itself, they seem so much a part of it. Mance looks so out of place in town, and we see the yearning on his face to get back to where he belongs. I always miss Guéra when a guest artist comes on board, but usually they do a good job. Zezelj is no exception.

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And hey! this came out less than a month after the previous issue! Happy days!

One panel of awesome:

Nice and bleak - like their souls!!!!!!

Nice and bleak - like their souls!!!!!!

SecretWarriors13Secret Warriors #13 by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Stefano Caselli (artist), Sunny Gho (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Secret Warriors continues to confound, because this is a pretty good issue that fills in some backstory, moves the plot along, and features a bit of a shake-up. It’s still a ridiculously slow burn, but maybe I’m just partial to Fenris, and seeing them in this book was pretty cool. I still don’t love the central premise – that Hydra is in any way competent – but that’s okay. I also find myself wondering about what the bad guys are wearing. Does Madame Hydra’s headpiece weigh a ton? I mean, it looks ridiculous, but is it really heavy? And what’s up with that thing the Leviathan dude is wearing? Doesn’t that give him a headache? Sheesh.

And this is an odd way to end the issue. It’s probably my problem, as I’m just not as interested in the “Warriors” part of the Secret Warriors as I am in Nick Fury, so when the issue ends like it does, I think, “Well, as cliffhangers go, that kind of sucks.” I get that it’s not really a cliffhanger in the traditional sense, but it seemed like it was supposed to be more dramatic than it was. Oh well.

One panel of awesome:

Don't fuck with Baron von Strucker!

Don't fuck with Baron von Strucker!

UnknownSoldier17Unknown Soldier #17 (“Dry Season Chapter Three”) by Joshua Dysart (writer), Alberto Ponticelli (artist), Oscar Celestini (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

We learn the identity of the doctor’s murderer, but more importantly, we learn why he was killed, and once again, Dysart does a nice job tying it into the larger conflict. It’s always interesting when murders have more importance than we might think. In a few ways, this arc is like The Third Man, where a crime is connected to much greater geopolitical forces. Too often, murder mysteries are very narrowly focused on what the victim’s close relations get out of it or tie into something bigger but fictional. But not always: The Third Man, for instance, was very concerned with post-war Vienna and what people were doing there, while this arc of Unknown Soldier, while ostensibly a murder mystery, is tied into the Ugandan conflict at large. It’s neat.

We also get a subplot in which Moses’ wife begins to search for him. That’s good to see!

I’m curious to see how Dysart wraps this up, because Moses obviously still has some issues to work through. Now that we know what the case is all about, it will be interesting to see how the revelations from this issue will play out. And what the rhino’s role in all this is!

One panel of awesome:

Gotta love the rhino!

Gotta love the rhino!

WeirdWorldofJackStaff1The Weird World of Jack Staff #1 by Paul Grist (writer/artist) and Bill Crabtree (colorist). $3.50, 28 pgs, FC, Image.

Okay, so here’s my confession: I have never read a Jack Staff comic before. Yes, I’m a bad person. Back in the day when I first saw Paul Grist’s art (in Grendel Tales) I really didn’t like it, so I never had any inclination to seek it out. I’ve grown to appreciate it, but by now, the world of Jack Staff is somewhat convoluted, and I figure getting trade paperbacks is the way to go, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. So when Image offered a “jumping-on” issue with this latest series, I figured I’d give it a shot. It can’t hurt, right?

Well, it didn’t. This is a fine comic book, and I’m also not going to continue buying it in serial format. First of all, as Grist explains on the first page, this is indeed the “weird world” of Jack Staff, meaning all those characters behind the titular one on the cover are featured somewhat prominently inside. Grist explains that he’s always meant for the book to be about all the different characters in Castletown, not just Jack Staff, so they often get as much or more screen time than he does. That’s fine and dandy – I always enjoy a large cast in books. However, it gets back to why I’m not going to buy this in this format: Grist has proven that there’s no way the book can come out monthly. The last time he tried to make Jack Staff monthly, it sputtered out somewhat quickly. I don’t know nor do I care whose fault it was, but the fact is that monthly books from Image are a dicey proposition for the fastest creators, and Grist does not appear to be one of those. If he’s going to create an issue like this, which has one overarcing plot (the “secret origin of Jack Staff,” apparently) but many disparate threads, I’m going to get lost pretty soon. Hey, it’s my problem, I get that. I’m always forgetting plot points of comics (remember last week, when I forgot that Power Girl had sent the blackmail photos to the JSA because it happened in October? that’s what I’m talking about), and trying to keep track of a bunch of them just isn’t something I want to do. Does that make me a jerk? So be it.

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However, if you’re asking for my opinion about this particular issue, it’s quite good. It’s very entertaining, and Grist does a nice job tying scenes together and bringing a strong sense of mystery to the proceedings. On the one hand, it’s goofy old-school fun superheroing, but Grist is able to add some nice menace to it all. Despite all the characters, it’s not hard to follow at all. And as I mentioned, I’ve grown to appreciate his art more. It’s still not my favorite, but he has a nice sense of laying out a page and his character design is quite good. I certainly recommend checking this out. I’m just probably not going to keep getting it, because I’d rather read it in trade format. But if you’ve been wondering whether you should check Jack Staff out, I can certainly say this is a good issue to look at!

One panel of awesome:

With superheroes like that, who wouldn't want to live in Castletown?

With superheroes like that, who wouldn't want to live in Castletown?

XFactor202X-Factor #202 by Peter David (writer), Bing Cansino (penciler), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

David’s first arc of the “new” X-Factor ends weirdly, but in true Davidian fashion, as it leads into plenty of other story threads. The central mystery isn’t bad, although this story is more about Layla and exactly what she’s doing in Latveria than anything else. As it turns out, the mystery of what happened to Sue Richards is interesting because of why Doom took her, but the resolution is a bit abrupt, serving only to illuminate what’s going on with Layla more than anything else. Still, it’s a neat little story, with some nifty tidbits of information. Part of the problem with the resolution comes from the way David and Cansino present it. Okay, Shatterstar opens a portal so they can all get home from Latveria. At the same time, Guido punches Reed in the head, which causes it to stretch out of the panel. A few things happen that aren’t clear until David explains them through narration, which shouldn’t be the case as the art should be explanatory enough. The fate of Mr. Fantastic is explained by the characters because we don’t see it. It’s a fairly gruesome fate, so I can understand why it’s not shown, but this is a company that recently published a comic in which one character ripped another in half, with all the attendant gore, so being squeamish in this instance seems like unnecessary prudishness. Maybe it was David’s decision, but then he could have done a better job with the script and Cansino a better job with the art to show what was happening. It can be done without a lot of gore, but it’s not even attempted. Then there’s Shatterstar’s portal, which closes unexpectedly, trapping him and Layla in Latveria. Well, not exactly trapping, as it appears Layla wanted it to happen. Someone kisses Shatterstar at the crucial moment, breaking his concentration and closing the portal. Here’s a question: Who kisses him? We’re supposed to believe it’s Layla, because she apparently wants Shatterstar to close the portal early (and I’m sure it is Layla, but I’d like to make this point). But it doesn’t look like Layla. In fact, in the final few pages, it appears Layla and Monet are blended together to form one character. When Shatterstar is about to open the portal, everyone is gathered together waiting for him. Layla is standing to Doom’s right in a long shot. Monet is nowhere to be seen. In the next panel, Layla speaks about her big plan. It’s clearly her because she has an “M” tattooed on her face and Doom refers to her as “Ms. Miller.” But the coloring of her hair is dark, not blonde, and she’s wearing a jacket that looks like Monet’s. Earlier we saw that Layla was wearing a brown jacket with no red trim on the collar, while Monet was wearing a black (probably leather) jacket with red trim on the collar, which is what Layla is now wearing. This same person kisses Shatterstar, distracting him. We see the jacket and the red trim and the dark hair, but not the tattoo (Shatterstar’s face obscures the right side of hers). Monet is back in New York with the rest of the team, so I assume the person who kisses Shatterstar is Layla. But the art is very confusing in this sequence. It’s sloppy.

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But it’s still a keen story, mainly because of Doom’s relationship with Layla, which promises a lot for the future. And I love that Doom tells Ben that he’s “outgrown” the Fantastic Four. If only that were true. But it’s a cool thing for David to write!

One panel of awesome:

Victor von Doom - is there anything he can't do?

Victor von Doom - is there anything he can't do?

In Burgas-family news (don’t you just love news about my family?), my daughter had minor surgery on Monday. Read about it here. She’s in a cast for 3-4 weeks, which means she looks like this:

Yeah, I don't envy her.  Poor Mia!

Yeah, I don't envy her. Poor Mia!

Meanwhile, my other daughter got a new shirt, and of course it’s awesome:

She knows it's true!

She knows it's true!

She asked my wife who they were and then, after my wife told her, she asked, “Who’s the bad guy?” She’s obsessed with bad guys! She seemed a bit disappointed that none of them, in fact, were the bad guys. We laugh now, but when she’s a supervillain bent on the destruction of our American Way of Life, we’ll wonder where we all went wrong!

Let’s move on to The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “The Last Mile” – Cinderella (1988) “Monkies on my back I gotta find a better way”
2. “Factory Girls” – Flogging Molly w/Lucinda Williams (2004) “Cigarettes just kill the time”
3. “Waiting For The Bus” – Chumbawamba (2008) “Took us down the station they were beating us for fun”
4. “Tooth And Nail” – Foreigner (1984) “Well let’s see who backs down when the trouble starts”
5. “Adore” – Knots and Crosses (1993) “I’m so alone and I don’t know why”
6. “Lost Cause” – Beck (2002) “Your sorry eyes cut through the bone”
7. “Prince of Darkness” – Indigo Girls (1989) “Someone’s on the bathroom floor, doing her cocaine”
8. “Dream Thrum” – James (1993) “We made you feel the way you are is wrong”
9. “Concrete Smile” – Knots and Crosses (1990) “Never take as fact the lies of lovers caught in the act”
10. “Truth Hits Everybody” – The Police (1978) “I clutch at images like dying breath”

Finally, it’s totally random lyrics time!

“We take the pressure and we throw away
Conventionality belongs to yesterday
There is a chance that we can make it so far
We start believing now that we can be who we are”

Sing it loud, sing it proud!


Dr Doom, you are awesome!

Northlanders was my favourite book this week and with good reason. I believe it is the best Vertigo book at the moment. Consistently of high quality and each new arc feels fresh even the one-shot where the main character from the first arc, Sven, returns. By putting him in a whole different time in his life, Brian Wood made sure to captivate the reader.
Such a good series and sooooooooo new reader friendly. Each new arc feels like the beginning of a new mini-series yet they all share something with viking history and Brian Wood. Even the artists change from arc to arc. Fernandez is probably the most impressive so far. Awesome series.

No, no, it’s “hallelujah,” not “damn it.”

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

February 25, 2010 at 5:58 pm

* It does seem that this arc of Batman and Robin may be the most conventional story Morrison’s ever written; even the dialogue often departs from the usual breathless rhythm of his sentences.

* It seems very much as if the script of X-Factor #202 is trying to fix an art mistake noticed after the fact. Some of the cutting between New York and Latveria during the Fantasticar chase scene is also murkily executed. It’s odd, because the penciller was doing well in the last couple of issues; this feels like someone in the production process was rushed.

* Secret Warriors really, really needs to figure out whether it’s focus is Nick Fury and the Steranko/Kirby creations in the cast, or if Fury is a side character in a book about Daisy and the “caterpillars.” It’s issue #13, and I still have trouble remembering the kids’ names, let alone their respective personalities. So when one of them gets that cliffhanger, I really can’t remember how the character got to this moment. The context of the scene tells me he’s bothered and upset, but damned if I know how or why without rereading the first six issues very carefully.

Really, this feels like a SHIELD relaunch that needs Dark Reign and HAMMER to be written away before it can tell the story it wants to tell. Bendis was the guy who created and “pushed” the caterpillar superkids part of the premise, and it seems more and more that they’re the character Hickman is least interested in writing. Phobos, the only one Bendis didn’t co-create, is the one who’s gotten the most development and the clearest plotlines in the comic so far.

The other kids, including Bendis-fave Daisy (the deus ex machina in Secret War, you’ll recall), get shuffled off to the side and then jammed into action scenes for the special effects value. This is soemthing like the sixth issue in a row we’ve gotten the plot point that Fury’s keeping Daisy out of the loop while pretending otherwise to her, for instance. That’s not a subplot, it’s a holding pattern. Stonewall and the girl who lost her hands have gotten perhaps 4 pages in 13 issues. The rest may as well not be there, from what I can tell.

It’s a frustrating book for this reason. The Fury/conspiracy stuff is very well written and entertaining, but the price of this is that the kid characters don’t carry any plot or dramatic weight even though cliffhangers like this one seem to think otherwise. (Hell, did anyone especially care when one of the characters got her hands chopped off and replaced by cyborg parts?)

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

February 25, 2010 at 6:01 pm

BLAAAAAGH “its” not “it’s.” Stupid irregular single possessive pronoun!


February 25, 2010 at 6:09 pm

It’s a perfectly fine action/adventure book, but I suppose I just expect more from the God of All Comics.

I dunno, his JLA was just a good action adventure book as well – sometimes that’s all you need.

and “the sacrifice of the sun” feels like it means more than just a (deliberate) misspelling,

Good spot!

I was looking through that for clues or a ‘These are words from the future’, but didn’t think of that.

I applaud Marvel, in this world of political correctness where they apologize to crazy people who enjoy calling the president a monkey and telling him to go back to Africa but don’t like being called racist,

Be fair Greg, that’s not all of them, and the rest do occasionally distance themselves from those people if the press pick up on their slurs and it runs in the news for a few days.

I’m curious to see how Dysart wraps this up,

I’m curious as to when there’s going to be a second trade!

The series is up to #17, and there’s only one trade?

Have Vertigo been forced into the DCU trade schedule?

She’s in a cast for 3-4 weeks, which means she looks like this:

That looks like it will be fun for the whole family.

Poor little bugger.

She asked my wife who they were and then,

That is a sweet shirt, but did it hurt a little that she trusts mummy with superhero questions more than you?

Greg are those the lyrics from Grease by Franki Valli?God I hope I’m wrong.

totally had the same problem understanding the Monet/Layla problem at the end of the X-Factor issue. But, the artwork in X-Factor has been inconsistant and, at times, downright awful. well, in the last year or so it has.

Someday, when they ask The Woman in the Tower with the Rifle why she did it, she will say, “Because my Daddy put my Purple Leg Cast picture on the Internet!”

Hmm, back when I was growing up, it seemed like Reed Richards was frequently stubble-faced. This was back in the Marv Wolfman/John Byrne days in the 70s and 80s.

Mutt: Hey, if Mia is talking that much then, we’ll be happy to let her take rifles into the tower!

KCViking: You are correct! That is indeed “Grease,” which is the word, I hear. I love that song and the entire soundtrack, actually.

FGJ: She was with her mom when they bought the shirt, so I wasn’t around. I certainly hope she would have asked me!

Omar: Those are very good points about Secret Warriors. I wish Hickman would make up his mind about what the book is, but I suppose the new SHIELD series will be more espionagey, which means I might have to drop this and start getting that!

“the sacrifice of the sun”

Aside from the initial Bruce association and then the Damian one (and also Dick and Tim, all sons who’ve lost their parents, who’ve sacrificed their lives to Gotham, etc etc), I also thought it was maybe a shout-out to BLACKEST NIGHT and BRIGHTEST DAY … ?

The “bad guy” is Supergirl. The headband is not only bad fashion sense, but clearly indicates she’s been training at Cobra Kai dojo.

I like this issue of Fantastic Four a lot more than last month’s. Probably has a lot to do with how Hickman and Eaglesham present and portray my long-time fave, Dr Storm-Richards. I feel like Hickman has a really good handle on Reed & Sue, but not so much on the rest of the cast. Even before we get Eurotrash Johnny and his beachware, the yuks between he and Ben seem off, forced. They’ve got a really good handle on the type of adventures the four should be having, though, and Eaglesham’s Reed feels like a throwback to Buscema’s square-jawed version. What’s your beef with the “homepad” bullets at issue’s end? They do seem like a shortcut to me, but I don’t hate them. They seem like the updates you’d get at the end of a documentary, and up the awe factor beyond what you get in the main story.

I just commented on Robot 6 that I can never decide whether to collect Jack Staff in trade or singles, but I think you’ve justified my trade-waiting. I can’t believe I hadn’t put that together before – one of the best parts of the book is seeing how Grist connects the disparate character stories together, and that’s easier and more fun when they’re bound and released together. Can’t believe you ever didn’t like his art!

All the best for your daughter’s recovery, man!

Batman and Robin #s 4-5 left me a little cold and I havn’t been able to pick it up again. But I do like the Knight, Squire and Cameron Stewart.
I prefer Ellis’s Avatar work more then his Marvel work. I’ll be ordering Captain Swing but I’m not sure about the new Wolfskin. Does anyone know much about the new artist Gianluca Pagliarani?

Why isn’t Wonder Women, Supergirl, and Batgirl pushed more by WB’s? They are great role models for young girls


February 25, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I love that song and the entire soundtrack, actually.

Anyone surprised?

I miss the days when we would have been.

FGJ: You’re just mean, man!

Brian: Pagliarani drew Aetheric Mechanics and Ignition City for Ellis. He’s quite good.

Sean: I just don’t like that Hickman is doing it in the middle of the arc. You mention that it has a “documentary” feel, and I agree, but those are usually done at the end of the story, while these feel like they’re important plot points that he’s just skimming over.

okay, jokes about Johnny overcompensating made me laugh. Or maybe it was those totally rad shorts.

(And damn. You must be a machine to review all these comics every week, I would just run out of words at some point).

I think this is the second (?) time I actually knew what the lyrics were from! Because… I… I like the Bee Gees, dammit.

Good bit on Johnny “Flamer” Storm. It’s the fact that his boots match his shorts that peg him as either a rock star or a gay go-go dancer.

I haven’t read this newest X-Factor yet, but people were making the same complaints about Layla looking like Monet on Peter David’s website. I’m guessing it’s an artist problem.
So the Fantastic Four found THREE new kinds of underwater people? In addition to the Atlanteans and Lemurians Marvel already had? That’s too many.

So has the regular X-Factor book caught up with the X-Factor Nation-X one shot yet ?

Isn’t calling all teabaggers racist and ignorant the same type of generalisation that you accuse them of?
Ah,screw it. I’m not even American.

Am I the only one that thinks that in that panel Baron Von Strucker looks like Sagat from Street Fighter 2?

Unfair stereotyping is only bad and ignorant when whites do it to blacks or conseratives do it to liberals, dontcha know? When the unfair stereotyping goes in the opposite direction then it’s just “social justice” and “speaking truth to power” and is totally okay.

It would be great if The Butler’s catchphrase after winning fights was “You got SERVED!!” Okay, maybe only to me but still…

This may be addressed in the story, but Captain Swing is an odd name for a steampunk hero given that the name originated as a pseudonym for anti-technology farmers who smashed threshing machines. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Swing for those not versed in early modern history.)

Burgas, take your intolerant comments about other Americans who don’t agree with you and shove them. I imagine you were horrified when they called Bush a chimp. You moron.

Just talk about comics and keep your high school views on the world out of here. Jackass.

Regarding X-Factor, I guess Longshot has 5 fingers now too. Unless he has had 5 the entire time he’s been back since Secret Invasion and I’m just now noticing.

Nice to see everyone’s sense of humor is intact!

Matthew: Ellis does bring up that “Captain Swing” is the name on the communications issued by the organizers of the Swing Riots of 1830. So I would imagine he’s going to do something with that.

Don’t take it the wrong way, Greg. You’re still the man, as far as I’m concerned.
It’s just the double standard thing that annoys me and so I commented on it.

@T: great idea for a catchphrase. Unfortunately I’ve read some Jack Staff comics and don’t remember him using it. Hopefully Paul Grist will read this

I imagine you were horrified when they called Bush a chimp.

To be fair, W. does look like a chimp. Also, Rutherford B Hayes’ beard looked like a Cocker Spaniel’s butt and Taft was once mistaken for a walrus that had escaped from the Smithsonian National Zoo and spent three of the happiest days of his life lolling in the habitat before the error was realized, during which time the walrus, known as Hectoire, appointed Mahlon Pitney to the Supreme court.

Man, the last two days I’ve just been making a mess of my tags.

Dude: Yeah, but when I make generalizations, they’re FUNNY! Big difference! :)

I make fun of liberals all the time, because they deserve it. I was more peeved by J. H., who took me way too seriously. He should read my last FF review – I think people know when I’m being serious!

I hope Mia recovers soon, poor kid.

My 5 year-old son has been playing “bad guys” with me the last couple months. He likes to be Hobgoblin (who he knows from a Marvel Memory game someone gave him), and was fascinated to discover that there is a Green Goblin. We’ve played super-heroes before, but he prefers being a villain so he can do a villainous laugh. He’s roped my 3 year-old daughter into the game, and she told me she was Purple Octopus and she shoots lasers. My wife is as thrilled as you would imagine.

Didn’t know that the Batman/Riddler/King Tut story was being published in a trade. I’m going to have to pick that up — Good story arc!

Fantastic Four #576 — If you have Eaglesham on interiors, why would you let anyone else do the covers?


Greg, girls always like the bad boys.

Wait, what about the Muppet Show book???? I wanted to know how that was. Keep up the good work

Matt: I don’t review collections here, usually because it takes me too long to read them. I did, however, zip through the Muppet Show book, because it’s nice and short. It’s pretty good. If you like the television show, it’s pretty much the same thing. For what that’s worth.

[…] This month’s Batman and Robin is hands-down the best issue of the series so far. Overlooking the rather obvious solution to getting the critically-injured Batwoman out of the cave where the two Batmen fought last issue (ah, the joys of a readily-available deus ex machina), Morrison manages to pull off everything he tries here: The faux Batman returns to Gotham and faces off with Robin, who’s recovering from a spine transplant (!). The impostor speaks in broken English with a mix of old and new styles of Batman jargon, and is gradually decaying as the story goes on. Robin and Alfred put up a stiff fight (always nice to see Alfred show he’s more than just a butler), and then Batman and Batwoman show up to put things away. Robin gets a justified jab in at Batman’s behavior at the end. And Cameron Stewart’s art is outstanding, the finest the series has yet seen (I hate the hair style he and Frank Quitely have saddled Dick Grayson with, though). For a change, I liked this issue better than Greg Burgas did. […]


February 28, 2010 at 4:10 pm

I imagine you were horrified when they called Bush a chimp. You moron.

Didn’t his wife kill a guy?

Check out the original Lee/Kirby FF run or the Byrne run. Reed is often drawn with stubble, which I think makes a ton of sense, given his character.

“I’ve never seen Reed so grim. So resolute. So unshaven.”

That’s a quote from a “Not Brand Echh” parody I read decades ago and have never forgotten. Reed’s stubble has been a Marvel trope forever.

Nothing about West Coast Blues? I read it the other day and enjoyed it a lot – and I usually don’t care about crime fiction!

Do note that the original writer, Manchette, was the guy who revolutioned french crime fiction on the second half of the 20th century. Considering the enormous amount of crime fiction published in France every year, that’s quite an accomplishment!

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Did you read the alt-text? I specifically called you out!

I will have a review of West Coast Blues up soon. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s the very next thing I’m going to tackle. Fret not!

Interestingly enough, the alt-text on this page doesn’t appear automatically on my browser when I pass the cursor over the images. I never knew you used it until now!

Anyway, I’m never happy. Maybe I will when every single eurocomic that exists is published on the US and sales are on the millions…

But do read West Coast Blues, it’s a very good comic! Fantagraphics did well choosing the Tardi books to translate (well, what else to expect from Kim Thompson? He rules!).

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

This is the second time I’ve seen B&R being called straight-forward, which is just bizarre. I think it’s got more metatext than RIP.

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